Donegal Person of the Year 2019 Noel Cunningham
The Donegal Association in Dublin has rescheduled its annual gala ball due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Popular hotelier Noel Cunningham was due to be honoured as the Association's Donegal Person of the Year for 2019.
The Association also confirmed that it will not be seeking nominations for the 2020 accolade.
A spokesperson for the Association said: "In the interest of the health and safety of our guests we have decided to postpone the event until next February 27, 2021.
"We will not be seeking nominations for a 2020 Donegal Person of the Year but Noel will continue his work and represent us for the two years.
"Given the unpredictable future for our county and indeed our country who better than Noel to carry that title and help us promote our county and carry a message of positivity into the future.
"Noel is aware that this year due to Covid-19 we are in such a precarious situation about people gathering to celebrate and do good work which is what he wants to do as Donegal Person of the Year. ‘Covid 19 has made that impossible.
"It is wonderful to have an opportunity next year when we all put our shoulder to the wheel and get out there and promote every golden inch of Donegal.
"It couldn’t be a better time to hit the ground running. In all the sadness with no celebration, the great thing is we will do that next year and my role will be much more acute and urgent next year."
Noel’s hopes for the county is that we will open with our arms outstretched to welcome back visitors, tourist and locals alike.
Noel said: "My hope will be that they will come in greater numbers because for the foreseeable time ahead we are going to be holidaying at home.
"I also know that the great people in Donegal will ensure that the welcomes will be better than ever. Lingering doubt will be gone and people from Northern Ireland and further afield will know that a heartfelt welcome lies in the hills.
"I also hope that businesses in other areas that are non-hospitality based will find new ways of conducting their businesses in the new reality that is post Covid.
"I hope to be at the forefront at any aspect of promoting our county in any area of business, community, charities and hospitality. As they too have been devastated in recent months.
"John Carr was instrumental in bringing Donegal to Dublin as Donegal Live showcasing what we are about. I would hope that we could rekindle that in the year ahead to remind Ireland that we are back in business and we are an extraordinarily special place.
"Social media and digital marketing weren’t as important at this time and this shone a great light on our county. A showcase of our county in our capital would be amazing."
Noel concluded by saying that he is overwhelmed by the huge outpouring of congratulations and support since the announcement. He hopes in the year ahead when hard work and dedication are required that he will lead that charge.
He hopes in February that we can have a celebration to really reaffirm the great work that is being done by the Donegal Association and the work which will be done post Covid 19.
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