Sunday 21 April 2019

Over 60's Talent Competition founder Paddy is the 2019 Corkonian of the Year

Bill Browne

The well-known and very popular community worker and founder of the Over 60's Talent Competition, the evergreen Paddy O'Brien, has been bestowed with another prestigious accolade by the Rebel county.

Mr O'Brien, who was the 2010 Cork Person of the Year, has named the Cork Person of the Year has been honoured by the Cork Civic Trust with their Corkonian of the Year award for 2019. 

The 80-year-old was nominated for the award by Cork City councillor Ken O'Flynn for his outstanding commitment and contribution to many community projects over the past six decades. 

He is perhaps best known as the founder and organiser of the Over 60's Talent Competition, which he established in 1977 to help combat isolation among the elderly and raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation. 

Since then, the competition has evolved into one of the most popular and eagerly anticipated events on the Cork social calendar, with heats taking place in communities across the city and county. 

The Corkonian of the Year award was presented to Mr O'Brien during a black-tie bash  at the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel.

The event was attended by a veritable 'who's who' of Cork society including business leaders, Mr O'Brien's family and friends and politicians, including the leader of Seanad Éireann Senator Jerry Buttimer who led tributes to Mr O'Brien who was given a rousing standing ovation as he picked up the award.

 In his acceptance speech Mr O'Brien said he was deeply honoured and humbled to receive the award. 

"There are so many wonderful people out there who do fantastic work on behalf of the people of Cork and their communities who are far for worthy of this than myself," he said. 

"I am deeply honoured by this award and proud that my sons Ronan and Brian are here tonight with me," he added. 

On the night ten former winners of the Over 60's Talent Competition performed in front of guests. Although born are raised in Spangle Hill, Cork City, Mr O'Brien has strong links to the north Cork regions as his mother hailed from, Aubane, Millstreet. 

He told The Corkman he remains deeply proud of his links to the region, with he and his late wife Pat even going as far as naming their home in the city 'Aubane'. 

Mr O'Brien left school in 1953 at the age of 14 to work as a messenger boy and became involved in social work, running errands for elderly people.  He arranged his first concert in 1957 and two decades later founded the Over 60's Competition, now in its 43rd year. 

"I'm thrilled and delighted to be able to give people the opportunity to go on stage to display their talents. The competition is now the biggest social event in Ireland for senior citizens, bringing great joy and happiness to so many people," he said.