A Decade of Humanitarian Heroes Honoured

31 May, 2019

In 2008, the Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Society was formed in his home town of Killarney. It was decided we should honour his memory by acknowledging his humanitarian works during the 1930’s in Haiti and San Domingo and the early 1940’s
during WW2 in Rome. He was posthumously awarded the inaugural Killarney International Humanitarian Award. It was presented to members of his extended family at a special ceremony in Killarney on November 15th, 2008. At this Ceremony,
it was announced that from then on, the Award would be known as the Hugh O’Flaherty International Humanitarian Award and would be presented annually to worthy recipients.



The 2009 Humanitarian Award recipients were Sharon Commins and Hilda Kawuki. They were both GOAL Aid Workers in Darfur in Africa. On July 3rd, 2009, they were abducted by rebels and were not released from captivity until October 18th – after 108 days in captivity.


The 2010 Humanitarian Award recipient was Fr Michael Sinnott. He was a Columban Missionary in the Philippines. On October 11th, 2009, he was abducted by rebels and was not released from captivity until November 11th. Despite his age and his traumatic ordeal, after a period of recovery in Ireland, he returned to his missionary duties in the Philippines.


The 2011 Humanitarian Award recipient was Newry born Sally O’Neill. She was Director of Operations for Trocaire in South & Central America. While most of her 40 years with Trocaire were spent in Central America, she also worked at the frontline of other troubled areas throughout the world including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Ethiopia.


The 2012 Humanitarian Award recipient was Sr Agnes Hunt. Having spent some years as a missionary in Zambia, Sr Agnes spent 16 years as the RC Chaplin at the high security Wormwood Scrubs Prison in the UK and since 2001 has worked as a volunteer for the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO).


The 2013 Humanitarian Award posthumous recipient was Tralee native Donal Walsh RIP (16). Donal became an inspirational international role model for youth when after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, he spent the remaining time of his
short life speaking tirelessly to his peers on recognising the priceless value of human life and appealing to them to step back from thoughts and deeds of self-harm.


The 2014 Humanitarian Award recipient was Dr John Beavis. A renowned orthopaedic surgeon in the British health system, he was forced to retire from his role following serious cardiac problems at the relatively young age of 54. Following recuperation, he decided to dedicate his life to helping those in medical need at natural and man-made disaster events around the world. He founded the overseas medical charity IDEALS and has spent the last few years at the frontline of conflict in Gaza.


The 2015 Humanitarian Award recipient was Fr Sean Myers. In 1960, the young Killarney born Redemptorist Missionary went to Northeast Brazil to establish a mission for the oppressed and deprived people of that area. Some 55 years later he
continues to serve the needs of his c. 27,000 parishioners in a parish almost half the size of Ireland. He has confronted and overcome institutional oppression of the poor and dispossessed despite experiencing arrest and imprisonment.


The 2016 Humanitarian Award recipient was Fr Shay Cullen. In 1969, he was ordained as a Columban Missionary and was subsequently assigned to parishes in Zambales and Olongapo City, Subic Bay, on the main Philippines island of Luzon.
Father Shay Cullen established the PREDA Foundation in Olongapo City, in the Philippines in 1974 to promote human rights, justice and peace. His mission for justice and peace is ecumenical; open  to people of all faiths. It is based on taking a stand for human rights and protecting the dignity of every person, in particular exploited women and children.


The 2017 Humanitarian Award recipient was Loreto Sr Orla Treacy. Professed as a Loreto Sister in 2005, one year later she headed to the large African state of Sudan with four other Loreto nuns to establish a Mission in a diocese the size of Italy with
just two secondary schools. She has spent the last 11 years in war-torn Sudan, establishing a Primary & Secondary School in Rumbek in South Sudan.


The 2018 Humanitarian Award Recipients were “Ireland’s Rescue Services”, represented by the RNLI, Irish Coast Guard and Kerry Mountain Rescue – the great majority of these organisations being unpaid volunteers. Be it windswept high mountains, dangerous shorelines or stormy seas, when called upon, at a moment’s notice and without regard for the race or creed of those in need, they put their lives on the line to help others. Over the years, members of these rescue organisations have lost their lives while attempting to save others.


The 2019 Humanitarian Award Recipients were “Ireland’s UN Peacekeepers”. The Irish Defence Forces have continuously served in UN Peacekeeping Missions all over the world since 1958. During that time, 86 of them have died while on UN