Archaeologist and Dublin native, Dr. Niall Gregory, is the twenty-sixth Cashel Person of the Year. He was presented with his award by Cashel Lions Club President, Seamus J. King, in the Council Chamber on last Thursday night. The award is organised annually by the Lions.
In his acceptance remarks Dr. Gregory said he was “overwhelmed, privileged and honoured” to be given the award. To have been nominated was a huge honour but to be selected was beyond his dreams. He said was conscious of the person he was succeeding, Joe Currivan, and knew he had a pair of “great big shoes to fill.”
Niall Gregory was chosen for the outstanding work he did in organising Cashel’s hosting of the European Rural Communes annual meeting in the town last June. As his nominator, Tom Wood, stated, when he spoke of his and Maribel’s reasons for nominating the winner, Niall was officially communications officer of the organising committee, but he was much more besides.
He was the ‘voice and face’ of the Charter. He knew many of the delegates who were attending. He was there to greet them when they arrived and while many of the committee were ‘jaded and tired’ from their efforts, he was present to say goodbye and wish them well when they departed.
Niall was outstanding also in sourcing funds for the event, which cost close to €E100,000. At a time of such economic downturn this was a huge achievement and Niall stood out as the person most responsible to this achievement and the overall success of the visit.
He was deserving of the award as the person who contributed so significantly to the life of the town during the past year. Cashel was a better place as a result of the visit of so many people from so many countries and Niall had a vital role to play in that success.
The proceedings were opened by Mayor Maribel Wood who spoke of the short time since she presented the award to Joe Currivan in 2011, when she stood in for the late Mayor Michael Browne. She admired the wonderful work Joe did during his year for the community. She was delighted with the success of Niall Gregory. His contribution to the town during the past year was major and he was a fitting recipient of the award. She was delighted, as Mayor, to be associated with the event.
Before presenting the award Lions President, Seamus J. King, spoke of the work of the Lions and the delight they experienced in organising and presenting the Cashel Person of the Year award. It was in existence since 1987 and it was a wonderful initiative at the time. The award was an extension of the ethos of Lionism, whose motto was: We Serve. The award honours those who serve Cashel best, helping to make the community a better place to live. The recipients of the award over the years are a who’s who of generous service to Cashel and District. Niall Gregory was a deserving recipient and fitted seamlessly into the line of previous holders of the award.
Having received the award Dr. Gregory was generous in attributing the success of the Charter visit to an outstanding working committee. He received an unprecedented level of help from so many people. He also spoke of the significance of the Charter of Rural Communes as the grass roots level of the 500 million European Community. They represent the voice of the smallest units in this great body and their representations go all the way to Brussels. The interaction between the 27 Rural Communes is ongoing and he mentioned events coming up in the near future at which Cashel will be represented. He also mentioned those who in the past had promoted the Charter idea in the town and represented Cashel at meetings over the years. He singled out the late Sean Hill and Helen Kelly, as well as Paddy Downey.
The final part of the formalities was a presentation of an inscribed piece of crystal to Joe Currivan. The Lions President congratulated Joe again for an outstanding year of service to the Cashel community. Joe thanked the Lions for their work, congratulated his successor, thanked his nominator, Michael Doyle, and expressed his appreciation of the honour of being Cashel Person of the Year 2011.