Donegal Person of the Year 2019 speaks from the heart
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A memorable evening for Noel Cunningham


There was a time when the main outing for Donegal people to Dublin was the odd outing to Croke Park to see Donegal in the odd National League final or indeed on St. Patrick's Day to see some of our Donegal lads playing for Ulster in the Railway Cup.
With major work on the infrastructure, the trips are now just regarded as another trip up the road.

 Last weekend the Donegal Association in Dublin hosted the much-anticipated announcement of the recipient of this year's Donegal Person of the Year with Noel Cunningham being the popular and deserved choice.


 Indeed for one who is in the public eye so much - television, hospitality, an author and one greatly involved in charity work, it is amazing that the Donegal Association managed to keep it under wraps for so long.


At the reception in Donegal's home-from-home in the Harcourt  Hotel, Noel was accompanied by his family, friends and the Donegal diaspora for what was quite an emotional evening for the Kilcar man.


Speaking to the Democrat at the weekend, the Kilcar man revealed that it was one of the most nerve-wracking but memorable events in his life to date.
 “People often assume because you are in the public eye that you are just brimming with confidence but in situations like this you have no props; you are speaking about yourself on a one to one basis with your audience. You are literally revealing yourself, warts and all to your community.


“To me, this award is very humbling and meaningful and provides me with an opportunity to highlight some very important issues in society - acceptance, inclusion, addiction, sexuality - all of which are impacting on our youth today.
 “It is time now to initiate a conversation on these issues in the hope that we can create a much more caring and open environment.


“One of the most important aspects is the ability to talk about these issues and share them. There is little point in going into a shell and bottling them up. It's just so important to talk - we can all help each other.”

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