30th Offaly Person of the Year

Thursday, 12 April 2018

30th Offaly Person of the Year thumbnailThe 2017 Offaly Person of the Year, John Flanagan and the 2017 Rose of Tralee, Offaly woman, Dr Jennifer Byrne admire the award presented to John at the gala dinner on Saturday night last.

A LIFETIME of achievement in the worlds of business, politics and community affairs was celebrated on Saturday night last when Tullamore's John Flanagan was fittingly honoured with the 30th Offaly Person of the Year.

The prestigious award was presented to Mr Flanagan by the Chairman of the Offaly Association [Dublin] selection committee, Liam Fleury at a packed function in the Bridge House Hotel.

Glowing tributes were paid to the builder and developer for his remarkable achievements over a lifetime spanning nine decades.

Despite his success, the recipient never forgot his humble roots on a small farm in Cappincur and these were referred to on the night by Mr Flanagan himself, his daughter Rosaleen, in a special reflection piece, and in the official citation itself.

Among those who joined family, friends and business colleagues to celebrate with the award winner were former recipients of the honour, representatives of Tullamore Chamber of Commerce, Offaly County Council and the local Fianna Fail organisation.

In a warmly received acceptance speech, Mr Flanagan retold anecdotes from his long career and also spoke of the tough economic times in his youth and when he attended school in the now long forgotten Meelaghans N.S. Of his 30 classmates, 27 emigrated and only one went on to secondary education.

Previous recipients of the award in attendance were former Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, Construction Industry Federation Director General Tom Parlon, Edenderry's Dr Philip Brady, local historian Michael Byrne, Maura Allen, Clonbullogue while apologies were received from Matt Connor and Paddy Fenning.

Apologies were also received from organising committee members Connie Hanniffy and Noel McCann together with former Garda Superintendent Denis Bowe, Shane Murray, Cathaoirleach of North Offaly FF Comhairle Dail Ceanntair, John and Rosaire Doyle, Helen Flanagan, Cappincur and Paddy Burke.

Also in attendance were the reigning Rose of Tralee, Dr Jennifer Byrne, Deputy Barry Cowen, Cllr Liam Quinn, Cathaoirleach, Offaly Co. Council, Anna Marie Delaney, CEO, Offaly Co. Council, Cllr Declan Harvey, Cathaoirleach, Tullamore Municipal District, Cllr Danny Owens, Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick and Tommy Byrne, Chairman of Offaly GAA Co. Board,

At the outset of proceedings, committee chairman, Liam Fleury, a native of Drumcullen, extended a warm welcome to the capacity attendance and in particular the 2017 award recipient and his family and past award recipients.

Explained Mr Fleury: "There were a large number of nominees for the award and each one of them was a winner on their own right and I want to thank everyone who nominated a person for the award. We are delighted to be here tonight to acknowledge the achievements of John Flanagan.'

He extended thanks to the award sponsor Noel Tynan of Le Bon Crubeen, Talbot Street, Dublin, "a proud Coolderry man who is sponsoring the award for the 20th time".

"Le Bon Crubeen is a superb premises and I would encourage all Offaly people when in Dublin to call in," stressed Mr Fleury.

He also thanked the local media for their coverage of the award, Brosna Press for printing the souvenir programme and committee member, Pat Teehan for the superb work he did in preparing the programme.

Added Mr Fleury: "I work with a superb selection committee and I want to thank them for their support. The committee is composed of Connie Hanniffy, Ann Carey, Ger Scully, who was Master of Ceremonies for the proceedings, Peter Carter, Pat Teehan and Noel McCann.'

Concluding he extended best wishes for a speedy recovery to the 2016 award winner Pat Smullen, who is presently ill.

The Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council Cllr. Liam Quinn congratulated John Flanagan on receiving the award and said it was great to see so many former winners present at the function.

"John Flanagan served as a member of Offaly County Council and as cathaoirleach. He is a wonderful man and I congratulate him on his award and wish him well for the future," stated Cllr. Quinn.

He added that the award recipient had always promoted Offaly in both his political and business lives.

Committee member Pat Teehan, who is current vice-chairman of Leinster Council GAA, spoke of the great association the Offaly Association (Dublin) has with the GAA.

"When the Offaly Person of the Year award was inaugurated it was with the intention that people like John Flanagan would be acknowledged.

"John Flanagan and his family have contributed enormously to GAA in Offaly. The Tullamore Court Hotel continues that tradition and the Furlong Bar in the Court Hotel is an integral part of GAA in the county.

"When Offaly County Board took on the development of O'Connor Park, the Flanagan Group came to the fore and one of the first cheques presented was by the Group without them even being asked to and the Flanagan Group continues to support Offaly GAA.

"John Flanagan is a true gentleman and on behalf of all in Offaly GAA I congratulate him on receiving the 2017 Offaly Person of the Year award," said Mr. Teehan.

Stressing how deeply honoured he was to receive the award, John Flanagan thanked

all who had supported him over the years and my family, who, he emphasised, "are the backbone of the organisation" for their support.

"Each member of my family is very dear to me as are all the friends I have made over the years," said Mr Flanagan.

He went on to speak about how difficult it was economically for people in his youth, particularly during the Second World War when many essential commodities were rationed.

"I remember leaving school at a young age. Only one of my class went on to second level education and only three of the class stayed in Ireland.

"They were very tough times. People had to leave school early and go in search of work with farmers and others.

He added: "I had no education then, but the world was a great educator, but I would advise young people when they are given an opportunity to receive an education to make sure they take it."

Reflecting on episodes from his his business carer, Mr Flanagan recalled: "I remember when I bought the Tanyard and I got a letter from the then County Manager, the late Dan Dowd who wanted to talk to me about developing the Tanyard. I listened patiently to him and what is in the Tanyard is what Mr Dowd recommended to me to do."

Continuing, Mr Flanagan stated: "My late wife Kitty would have enjoyed this function. The family is the backbone of the organisation and I thank them again for all they have done for me."

"I want to thank the committee for selecting me as the 2017 Offaly Person of the Year. It is an honour for me to receive the award. I want to thank Noel Tynan for his sponsorship of the award."

He added: "This award seems to be growing in popularity each year and I wish the committee continued success. I want to thank the previous speakers for their kind words."

"I want to thank my grand-daughter Karen for all the hard work she put into tonight and Michael Byrne [who organised a pictorial slide-show to accompany proceedings] for the wonderful all his work on the night," concluded Mr. Flanagan.

Prior to the formal presentation of the award, the citation for Mr. Flanagan at the 61st Offaly Association (Dublin) dinner dance was read out by selection committee PRO Ger Scully.

On behalf of the 2016 winner Pat Smullen, committee member Peter Carter asked all present to raise their glasses and salute a very deserving 2017 winner, John Flanagan.

Formal proceedings were brought to the close by the reading of a special reflection by the award recipient's daughter, Rosaleen.



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