MULTI-award winning novelist Donal Ryan has been announced as the 2013 Limerick Person of the Year.
The announcement was made this afternoon at a gala awards lunch in the Clarion Hotel in Limerick where fashion icon Celia Holman Lee was also honoured with a lifetime achievement award.
Mr Ryan, 37, who lives in Castletroy achieved worldwide acclaim for his debut novel The Spinning Heart which was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2013. The publication also won the Bord Gáis Energy Book of the Year 2012 and the 2013 Guardian First Book Award.
The Spinning Heart, written in 2010, has been described as an original, poignant and timely debut and one of the first literary novels to deal with the catastrophic social and human effects of Ireland’s financial collapse.
Mr Ryan is married to Anne Marie (nee Sheehan), a native of Newcastle West, and they have two young children, Thomas and Lucy.
Mr Ryan was nominated among 11 other outstanding Limerick people including global entrepreneurs Patrick and John Collison; Lions, Ireland and Munster star Conor Murray; local fundraisers Fergal Deegan, Shellie Murtagh and Martin Kiely, Limerick’s senior hurlers and local representatives on the Irish women’s rugby team.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kathleen Leddin, paid tribute to the “raw and exceptional talent” of Donal Ryan saying he has made an outstanding contribution to Limerick, particularly as it celebrates its reign as National City of Culture 2014.
“In his debut novel, Donal Ryan managed to capture the heartbreak and hopelessness of life that many people felt during the post Celtic Tiger years in a compelling read that also had humanity and warmth,” she said. “Donal has had phenomenal success both in Ireland and internationally and I’m delighted that he and his family call Limerick home. I’m looking forward to much more from this gifted writer and at a time when we’re celebrating our cultural riches, he’s a worthy recipient of the Limerick Person of the Year.”
The judging panel consisted of Alan English, Limerick Leader editor; Conn Murray, Limerick City and County Council manager/CEO; Mayor Kathleen Leddin and Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, John Sheahan.
The awards are proudly sponsored by the Limerick Leader, Southern Marketing Design & Media and the Clarion Hotel.
Proud Limerick woman, fashion stylist and TV presenter, Celia Holman Lee, was also honoured at the ceremony with a lifetime achievement award.
Limerick Leader editor, Alan English, said Ms Holman Lee’s pride in her city and determination to fly the flag for Limerick at every opportunity was the ultimate reason she was selected for the award.
“Celia has achieved excellence in her field, she’s extremely successful and is rightly regarded as one of the country’s leading lights in the fashion world,” he said. “But there are no airs and graces, she’s a true Limerick lady, a wonderful ambassador for the city and she never forgot where she came from.”
Ms Holman Lee is married to Ger and they have two children, Cecile and Ivan.
Now in its 13th year, the Limerick Person of the Year Awards was set up to honour the achievements and success of local people.
The nominees for the Limerick Person of the Year Award are the 12 winners of the Limerick Person of the Month Awards featured in the Limerick Leader newspaper.
The 2013 nominees were:
January: Fergal Deegan, volunteer fundraiser
February: John Keyes, soccer coach and community leader
March: Limerick representatives on the Irish Women’s rugby team
April: Tony Brazil, Mid West Region ambassador
May: Jessie Griffin, cancer services fundraiser
June: Conor Murray, Lions, Ireland and Munster rugby star
July: Limerick Senior Hurlers, Munster Champions 2013
August: Joan MacKernan, former county arts officer
September: Donal Ryan, award winning author
October: Martin Kiely, Walk of Life fundraiser
November: Shellie Murtagh, Inspirational teacher (RIP)
December: John and Patrick Collison, global entrepreneurs