We’re delighted that Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, Oideas Gael’s Educational Director, has been named Donegal Person of the Year for 2013. He recently received the award at a special gala dinner in the Regency Hotel, Drumcondra, Dublin. Liam took the opportunity to emphasise that Irish is a “good news story” with thousands of adults in Ireland and around the world eager to learn and to use the language.
The Donegal Association, Dublin, presents this accolade annually. Fr. James McDyer, another noted person associated with Gleann Cholm Cille, was the first person to receive the honour in 1978, and famed folklore collector Seán Ó hEochaidh, of Teileann, is among the other awardees. Jim McGuinness, manager of the Donegal Gaelic football team, was last year’s recipient.
Liam with Finín Mac a’ Bhaird, Donegal Association Committee.
Liam spent over twenty years as a primary teacher and school principal in Dublin. Liam and his co-founder Prof. Seosamh Watson established Oideas Gael in 1984 with the aim of enabling adults to enjoy learning Irish in a natural and supportive environment while helping strengthen the Gaeltacht communities of Gleann Cholm Cille agus Gleann Fhinne through local enterprise.
Liam was chairperson of Oireachtas na Gaeilge (1991-1994) following the festival’s visit to Gleann Cholm Cille in 1989. He spent ten years (2002-2012) as chairperson of Údarás na Gaeltachta, and at present he is a member of the Donegal County Tourism Board and a board member at the Donegal Enterprise Fund.
Oideas Gael was awarded the Board Fáilte/AIB Rural Tourism Award 1997. Liam was named the Rehab/AIB Donegal Person of the Year in 1997 also. He is a recipient of the UCD Bord na Gaeilge Alumni Award (2008) as well as Gradam an Phiarsaigh (2010) for his contribution to Irish education and the promotion of the Irish language.
Liam Ó Cuinneagáin with Oideas Gael co-founder Seosamh Watson and his wife Vivienne at the announcement of the Donegal Person of the Year 2013 in the Mansion House, Dublin.
At the award ceremony, Liam said that the award of Pearsa Thír Chonaill was particularly special and that he was proud to receive it. He said that we would accept the honour on behalf of all those who are active in the promotion of the Irish language, especially those located in Gaeltacht communities around Ireland. He referred to the Irish diaspora around the world and the work they do to spread the language. Liam noted the large number of people who have been encouraged to learn Irish as a result of the positive attitude and commitment of these ambassadors. Half of the attendees at Oideas Gael each year come from countries outside of Ireland and Oideas Gael is committed to providing the best teachers and learning materials to empower these learners.
Liam paid special tribute to his friend and Oideas Gael’s co-founder, Prof. Seosamh Watson, to the communities of Gleann Cholm Cille and Gleann Fhinne, and to the friends and supporters of Oideas Gael around the world. We were very happy to welcome two long-time friends of Oideas Gael, Liam Guidry and Stiubhard Cassell, who travelled from the United States to be with us on the night.
Liam Guidry, Daltaí na Gaeilge, Finian McGrath, T.D., Liam Ó Cuinneagáin, and Stiubhard Cassell.
You can view photos from the award announcement here and from the award ceremony here.