ACCLAIMED author Donal Ryan and style icon Celia Holman Lee enjoyed the VIP treatment in Limerick this week when they were respectively honoured with the Limerick Person of the Year 2013 award, and a lifetime achievement award, for their outstanding successes in both the literary and fashion worlds.
The Limerick Person of the Year awards ceremony at the Clarion Hotel, also heralded a new chapter in the history of the Limerick Leader when editor Alan English announced that the paper and its sister title, the Limerick Chronicle, have been purchased by Iconic Newspapers Ltd, owned by businessman Malcolm Denmark.
Mr Denmark later expressed delight at becoming the papers’ new owner, after the Johnston Press media group sold its 14 regional titles in Ireland for a reported €8.7 million. “I feel lucky and privileged to have bought the Limerick Leader. It has come back into private hands,” he said.
“I think that newspapers and local news content have a great future in this country, not least because of the fantastic sense of community that still exists here. Our aim is to make sure that we remain the pre-eminent source of news and information in our local communities, whether that content is consumed via a traditional print product or digitally.”
Mr Denmark went on to give an assurance that the newspapers would continue to be produced and published locally, saying: “Ireland is a unique market – it is my intention that this business will be managed and run from within the country.”
The Leader celebrates its 125th anniverary this August and Mr Denmark said he was extremely conscious of the paper’s role in local life since 1889. Speaking about our sister paper, he added: “The Limerick Chronicle is the oldest paper in Ireland [founded in 1768] and I think it is a title that is very important to what we want to do.” He also stressed the importance of ensuring that the communities served by the papers “are very involved in their future and their progress. We know that we are just custodians now of some very important brands in Ireland,” he said.
Limerick Leader editor Alan English said the newspaper is moving into a new phase. “It’s a new dawn and everyone here is very much looking forward to working with Malcolm and the new team,” he said.
The Limerick Person of the Year awards – sponsored by the Limerick Leader, the Clarion Hotel and Southern – acknowledge local people who, through talent and hard work, have made a difference in their chosen field.
Donal Ryan who achieved worldwide acclaim for his debut novel The Spinning Heart - which was longlisted for the Booker Prize last year - said he was “humbled” to be named the Limerick Person of the Year 2013.