THE Paddy Fitzgerald Memorial Awards take place every two years and they have become a major event in the farming calendar in the south of Ireland.
The awards are designed to give recognition to the work of ordinary people who devote time and effort to helping others. They were established to honour the memory of Paddy Fitzgerald, a farmer who lived in Caherconlish, Co Limerick.
In 1955, Paddy was a founding member of the National Farmers’ Association, which later became the IFA. A tireless worker in setting up the organisation across the country, he also became involved in other farm related bodies as well as numerous voluntary groups in his community.
He was the ultimate volunteer in that he didn’t even claim travelling expenses, but spent a lifetime striving to improve the quality of life for farming families and the betterment of his local community. He died in 1988 in a farm accident involving his livestock.
Following his death, his farmer colleagues set up a committee with the aim of perpetuating his memory. A substantial financial fund was contributed by the many who knew and admired him. The outcome of this effort was the setting up of the memorial awards.
There are nine IFA executives throughout the province of Munster and each one is invited to nominate a candidate for the awards every two years. To receive a nomination is considered a great badge of honour for any individual.
Nominees are judged on their voluntary work under two headings. Firstly, their efforts to assist their fellow farmers through their work in IFA are considered and, secondly, the candidates are evaluated on their work for the community in general.
Each nominee receives a certificate plus prize money, while the nominee who is judged to be the overall winner is presented with a special certificate and a substantial cash prize. The latest round of the awards were held recently when the presentations took place at a very enjoyable function in Adare, Co Limerick. The West Cork nominee was Tim Creedon of Macroom IFA branch.
Tim, who began farming at an early age on the family farm at Mashanaglass, now runs a dairying, beef and tillage enterprise with the help of his family, as well as an agricultural contracting business. He joined Macroom Macra when he finished school and became one of the club’s most active and helpful members.
He was a founder member of Macroom Ploughing Association in 1970 and he has played a pivotal role in the Association ever since. He has been heavily involved in the upkeep and repair of his local school and helped build an extension to it, voluntarily.
He organised the upgrading and improvement of the local road in conjunction with Cork County Council. He supplied diggers and tractors for the job and as much time as was needed. Tim has served in various positions as an officer of Macroom IFA branch over many years. He has always been actively involved in recruiting new members and he makes every effort to ensure that all IFA events are well supported by his local branch. Tim is held in high regard by his many neighbours for his help and cooperation at any hour of the day or night.
While the overall award at this year’s ceremony went to a truly remarkable man, 79-year-old Con Ryan of Upperchurch in North Tipperary, the people of West Cork can be justly proud of a very worthy nominee in Tim Creedon.