Owen Receives Award For Services To Milltown Community

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Vincent Prendergast of Milltown Chamber Alliance presents the ‘Stephen Lawlor Community Award’ to Owen O’Shea. From left: Vincent Prendergast, Ann Lawlor, Owen O’Shea and Celia O’Shea.

A POPULAR author and former journalist received a surprise on Saturday night when he was awarded Milltown’s highest honour.

The ‘Stephen Lawlor Community Award’ was presented to Owen O’Shea at a surprise ceremony in The Plough Bar.

Owen, who is the Media, Communications & Customer Relations Officer at Kerry County Council, was temporarily at a loss for words when he realised what was happening.

The former journalist with Kerry’s Eye and Radio Kerry was congratulated by M.C. Maurice Harmon and Milltown Chamber Alliance’s Cultural Officer Vincent Prendergast.

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Mr Prendergast outlined Owen’s lifetime of volunteerism with many groups, including the Credit Union, Comhaltas and politics, and noted how Owen’s vision and leadership inspired the many community projects and events in which he has been involved.

His most recent success was chairing the 2018 County Fleadh Cheoil, injecting energy and variety into a local festival of traditional music and free family entertainment.

Three major concerts were organised, including the unique solstice celebration at the Killaclohane Portal Tomb.

Owen thanked the organising committee, and spoke about Stephen Lawlor, after whom the award is named, and how Stephen was the epitome of community spirit and volunteerism.

“He was an exemplary community member, working hard with various local groups including the Tidy Towns and Comhaltas,” explained Owen.

He also thanked Stephen’s mother, Ann Lawlor, who provided the perpetual trophy and travelled from her home in Longford to present the award.

Stephen passed away in 2013 and is remembered in Milltown through this award. This year Owen joins previous recipients, local volunteers Willie Hanafin, Denis O’Mahony and Tom Hanafin, as a worthy winner.

Owen also spoke about the huge community spirit in Milltown, especially visible at this year’s Fleadh.

“My work as chairman was made easy by the team of over one hundred local volunteers”, he said, and added “I’ve enjoyed all my community work, and I love the meetings and the craic at events. It’s great to be out, doing something positive, building community and meeting new people. The recent culture of individualism needs to be challenged and we must reach out to people and help them feel part of a strong and supportive community.”

This has been an important aspect of community work in Milltown, given the dramatic rise in population in recent years.

Owen thanked his wife Celia for her support in all his involvement, recognising Celia’s own voluntary work as Treasurer for the 2018 Fleadh saw her head a team that raised the €70,000 to host the event and provide over €12,000 worth of free entertainment in Milltown. Owen also remembered the late Denis Courtney, who worked tirelessly for the community and Owen said it was his mission to organise “one hell of a Fleadh” in Denis’s memory.

Hosts at The Plough Bar, Denis and Bernie Griffin, provide a commemorative trophy for the event and this was presented to Owen. Celebrations continued with traditional music and song from Owen’s fellow musicians and many friends.

As well as his voluntary and professional commitments, Owen is also the author of several books, the latest of which is “A Century of Politics in the Kingdom: A County Kerry Compendium”, co-written with Gordon Revington, and goes on sale this month.

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