Rathkeale Champion Awards

Introduced by David Lamont, the Rathkeale Community Council was first in Ireland to adopt the collectable coin concept to thank its citizens for making it a better place to be and to encourage others to lend a helping hand.

First Champions

52 people were nominated and selected as Champions who made Rathkeale a better place to be. The people of Rathkeale chose a diverse set of Champions that include the Tidy Town’s crew, the council street sweeper, a teacher, a Limerick County Council administrator, Gardaí, a journalist, a Special Olympian, a prolific marathon runner, community and county councillors, members of the Traveller community, people who run popular clubs/societies, local employers and TDs.

Their contributions make our town nicer, friendlier and more prosperous. Their leadership inspires, encourages and sometimes cajoles us to reach our full potential. And, their fame brings regional, national and international credit to the town.

Sheila Arrigan coordinates the provision of hot meals to the older members of our community through the Meals on Wheels programme. This valuable service provides nourishment and outreach to many in our community and would not be possible without the efforts and generosity of a small army of dedicated volunteers.

Eilish Baggott, a retiring teacher, has educated the young people of Rathkeale for over 30 years. During this time at St. Anne’s Primary School she helped many children achieve their full potential, especially in important areas like literacy and numeracy. Her kind and caring nature always rubbed off on the students in her care.

Tracey Bourke has served as Secretary of the Community Council for 5 years. She is a very valued and involved member who helps organise and run Rathkeale’s very popular St. Patrick’s Day parade. The annual parade brings the whole community together and has grown to become one of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day highlights in the county of Limerick.

Ciss Breen helped the Chamber of Commerce, Community Council, Tidy Towns, the Historical Society, Meals on Wheels and is always visiting the sick and housebound. She ran the Christmas Toy Savings Scheme which helped many a Rathkeale family to budget for Christmas. She raises funds for the church by collecting for the Split the Pot draw. Ciss also helped aspiring artists and craftsmen by offering their wares for sale through her shop.

Karen Butler, an administrator in the Rathkeale office of the County Council, is excellent in following up any query, always helpful when dealing with local issues and helping navigate the larger and sometimes confusing Council. She is also involved in organising the Junior Wardens in Rathkeale.

Seamus Cawley brings honour and positive publicity to Rathkeale as “Marathon Man.” He is an ardent and active member of West Limerick Athletic Club. Seamus has gained notoriety as one of only 13 runners who has completed all 40 Dublin marathons.

Niall Collins, Fianna Fail TD for County Limerick, always lets the Community Council know when grants or funding is available, and he is helpful when it comes to forwarding applications. Niall was involved in helping Limerick Innovation acquire the old Jewellery Factory.

Kayla Cooley is co-founder of the Community Crisis Response Team, a nationally praised service associated with its headquarters in Rathkeale. The investment of time, money, energy and the sheer dedication that has built this life-saving service that began with a passionate desire to help and a second-hand phone, cannot be estimated.

Johnny Dinnage (RIP) spent over 60 years promoting Rathkeale. As treasurer of 10 or so committees he accounted for every penny. His shop was a citizen’s information centre, and he would always greet people with a smile. He proudly welcomed the World Special Olympics to Rathkeale. Johnny was a founder of St. Mary’s Athletic Club and the Butterfly Club. He was also involved with the Sheltered Housing Association, Community Council, arts, the Pastoral Council, Graveyard Committee, the Community Games, Meals on Wheels, bingo, Workspace and the Welcome Home Festival.

Podge Doherty is a past chairman, current treasurer and valuable member of the Community Council. He was instrumental in the streamlining the Council while chairman and has maintained the finances in good order.

Peter Donovan has been an active and valued volunteer in Rathkeale for decades. He supported the town’s business community as a member of the Rathkeale Chamber of Commerce and has participated in many roles in the Community Council for more than 30 years. As Chairman of the Tidy Towns Committee, Peter has led a team of dedicated volunteers who have steadily improved Rathkeale’s score and image over the years. 2019 saw Rathkeale win the People’s Vote and €1,000 in the Go for Gold competition- a great show of community pride.

Lorraine Dunne exemplifies the neighbourly and generous spirit that makes Rathkeale special. She inspires others to get involved. Lorraine has raised funds for worthy causes, such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Pieta House, Meals on Wheels and Tidy Towns. Indeed, she had to be stopped from her ladder acrobatics while watering plants on the bridge! Lorraine gives generously, too, of her time, transportation, and ladders even in the face of personal illness.

Niall Flood, Garda Inspector, demonstrated a dedication to Rathkeale, met tirelessly with all relevant authorities and groups, especially Limerick City and County Council, Roads, Fire Department and Rathkeale Council with a determination to make the town better and safer for everyone.

Anne Gaughan established Rathkeale Online in 2010, the first sizable online information site for and about Rathkeale. She graciously passed that torch to the Rathkeale Community Council website, rathkeale.com, in 2019.

Brian Geary is a local businesses man who helped put Rathkeale on the map. He provides local employment and has sponsored many events in Rathkeale and its surrounds through the years. Brian is also known for his charitable work with Romanian Children and other causes.

Margaret Geary is a founding member of Rathkeale’s Butterfly Club and an active volunteer. She is also involved with Meals on Wheels and St. Vincent DePaul. Margaret brings an easy charm and a steady pouring hand to many fund-raising teas.

Eileen Giltenane, of Giltenane’s Pharmacy, consistently delivers compassionate care and advice. Her calm, reassuring manner and big heart is not restricted to her human patients so many a farmer or pet owner have also been aided. Eileen has also welcomed many Transition Year students giving them an invaluable opportunity to explore careers as pharmacists.

Breid Guinane was secretary of the Rathkeale Community Council for over 30 years and also a Trustee (retired.) She was a chief organiser of Rathkeale Sheltered Housing (22 units) and its honorary secretary for the past 23 years.

Anita Hawkes is an active promoter of the Rathkeale and District Historical Society and a friend of Rathkeale. Historical Society events are regularly enjoyed by Rathkeale residents, attracting celebrities and facilitating the sharing of memories. The Society’s pictures and posts are viewed worldwide, generating goodwill and encouraging tourists to visit Rathkeale. Anita also engaged early with the Challenge Awards program making suggestions that allowed the off-line community to participate.

Sean Hennessy has championed Rathkeale all his life. His sponsorship has contributed to the success of local clubs, societies, events and the Community Council over the years. His business also provides valuable local employment in the town.

Seamus Hogan is a great advocate for Rathkeale on West Limerick 102fm. He was a founding member of Rathkeale Town Action Group and undertook many projects including providing bus shelters seating and the restoration and maintenance of the Famine Graveyard. Seamus was also a member of Rathkeale Community Council for 26 years and continues to help with the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Mike Hunt is manager of the Rathkeale Community Employment Scheme. He and his team offer valuable assistance to many clubs and organisations throughout Rathkeale, including St. Mary’s Church, Sheltered Housing, Meals on Wheels, GAA and Soccer. He also volunteers every week at the bingo.

Stephen Keary is a previous Lord Mayor and current Fine Gael Councillor with Limerick City & County Council. He is very approachable about all Rathkeale matters and has contributed financially from his council budget. Stephen has also given freely of his time in his professional capacity as an Engineer to many community projects.

Billy Kerins joined the Rathkeale Community Council when the Playground was added to the Community Council portfolio. He volunteers at Bingo, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Church Gate Collections and many other community activities. As caretaker at St. Anne’s Primary School Billy welcomes each child by their name every day and goes out of his way to make each child feel special.

David Lamont architected the new rathkeale.com website which has had a huge positive response. He conceived and launched the Rathkeale Rising Challenge Champion Awards to thank those who help make our community a better place to be and to encourage others to do their bit. He also took over the mantle of Media Correspondent in the local papers.

Maura Lenihan coordinates the popular Wednesday Club for the older members of the Rathkeale Community. She and her team organise day trips and a holiday in Ballybunion each year. Maura is also involved with Meals on Wheels and St. Vincent De Paul.

Packie Lynch (RIP) is a very active participant in Rathkeale’s Tidy Town initiative and takes care of our beautiful Marian Shrine. Packie’s positivity and upbeat outlook on life, even as he undergoes a long and difficult recovery from cancer, has made him a role model for many facing difficulties and hardships.

Aileen Magner, Garda Superintendent, met and listened to Rathkeale concerns and has implemented a community centric approach to policing over the Christmas period when the town’s population swells. When working with the media she presented a fair and balanced view took care to articulate the town’s positive aspects.

David Mann, a local businessman, has been very generous with his sponsorship of events in Rathkeale and surrounding areas over many years. He employs locally and promotes a positive attitude towards Rathkeale.

Tom Markham devotes time and energy to maintain the beautiful and serene Marian Shrine. The Shrine is beloved by Rathkeale residents, features in most tourist guides for the town and is widely admired by visitors.

Caitriona McMahon is co-founder of the Community Crisis Response Team, a nationally praised service associated with its headquarters in Rathkeale. The investment of time, money, energy and the sheer dedication that has built this life-saving service that began with a passionate desire to help and a second-hand phone, cannot be estimated.

Johnathan Mooney, former manager of the Rathkeale Eurospar, past member of the Community Council and Rathkeale Business Association, supported local charities, clubs and societies on an ongoing basis. Jonathan has also won many awards and titles with Rathkeale GAA and soccer clubs.

Bernie Naughton, a member of the Rathkeale Community Council, assists with activities such as Tidy Towns, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Church Gate collections. She was also a volunteer with the Butterfly Club for 10 years.

Richard Naughton is a long-term member of the Rathkeale Community Council who has worked in many different roles. He is currently the Vice Secretary, looks after the very important Community Employment Scheme and any major building projects in the Community Centre. Richard volunteers with the bingo fund-raising and has been involved in the town’s Credit Union for many years.

Eithne Neville, whose family formerly owned the land now known as Mick Neville GAA Park, was secretary of the Rathkeale Community Council for many years and teacher at Rathkeale Vocational School and Coláiste na Trócaire. She was very involved in camogie organisation and holds an All-Ireland Senior Camogie Medal, she is also an active member of the Rathkeale and Districts Historical Society.

Pat Neville has led the Rathkeale Community Council as its chairperson for 5 years. Pat dedicates his time to Rathkeale every week by liaising with the politicians, county council executives, Gardaí and he is always available to encourage or assist others.

Tom Neville makes himself very accessible to the Rathkeale community, attending meetings and holding clinics in the town. He follows through on issues raised with him, including signs and access on the Great Southern Greenway. Tom was the alert and information conduit for many in the community during the no drink and boil requirements for our local water. He posted alerts and updates that were more detailed, accurate, wide-reaching and timely than anything that came from Irish Water.

Dave Noonan, a valued Community Council member, has nearly completed a tidying up of all the Community Council’s properties and portfolios with the Council’s solicitor – a major, time consuming undertaking. Helps also out at bingo fundraisers.

Celia O’Connell, a newer member of the Rathkeale Community Council, joined after many years on the Playground committee. Celia has volunteered with our local scout group for many years.

Patrick O’Donovan, Fine Gael TD, is quick to follow up on any issues relating to Rathkeale and attends many functions in the locality. He was also instrumental in ensuring the Jewellery Factory ended up in the correct hands.

Damien O’Grady, Vice-Chairman of the Community Council and proprietor of the Rathkeale House Hotel, has supported and sponsored many community groups and events. He facilitates most Council meetings, AGM and other gatherings without charge. Under his stewardship the hotel attracts visitors to the area, has become the focal point for the local community and has provided many local jobs.

Brian O’Sullivan helped Ireland’s soccer team claim bronze at the 2019 Special Olympics. His participation and achievement were positively recognised in the regional and national media as another athletic success for Rathkeale.

Norma Prendiville stands out among journalists because of her interest in Rathkeale, willingness to consider stories that others won’t, and the audience she has won among Limerick Leader readers. She is also a founding member, chairperson and long-time contributor to the popular Rathkeale Community Arts Group.

Nora Quilligan is a member of Pre-Social Cohesion Steering Committee, member of Rath Caola Le Cheile and a proud member of the Travelling Community. She promotes community events to the Travelling Community and is a strong voice on issues affecting them. Nora leads by example when it comes to good community relations and is a prominent proponent for building good communication among all who reside in Rathkeale.

John Scanlon of Limerick City & County Council cleans Rathkeale’s streets daily. He does this job extremely well and always in a very pleasant manner. John is one of the everyday friendly faces that make our community a warm and welcoming place to call home.

Mary Sheridan is a member of the Pre-Social Cohesion Committee, member of the Rath Caola Le Cheile, a prominent member of the Monday night Prayer Group and a proud Traveller woman from Rathkeale. She was a significant figure in raising funds for the Parish Hall, has engaged in many community events over the years and has spoken passionately about her love for the town.

Nora Shiels is a resident of Court Villas Sheltered Housing in Rathkeale. She looks after the flowers and grounds of all the sheltered houses. Nora truly leads by example and is a go-to resource for many problems. Nora helps with shopping, getting to Church, doctor visits and much more. She is also behind the very welcome teas provided for the Good Friday Clean Up and Afternoon Tea Party.

Trish Sibbel, a member of the Rathkeale Community Council, assists with activities such as Tidy Towns, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Church Gate collections.

Adam Teskey is the current Deputy Mayor of Limerick and recently topped the poll for the Rathkeale area in May’s local elections. Adam, a Rathkeale native, is very involved in Rathkeale issues and has lobbied the local authority for financial support for the town and its people. Adam is also chairperson of the Rathkeale and District Historical Society and continues to support other organisations along with his council duties.

Noel White started work in PBR at the age of 11 and went on to run the very popular Deel Bakery. He is a very active member of the community and has been involved in, and even a founding member of, many of Rathkeale’s great organisations, including the soccer club, athletic club, pioneers, cub scouts, St. Mary’s Church Pastoral Council and choir. He was Chairman of the Rathkeale Community Council for 12 years. Noel is also the Chairperson and a founding member of the Butterfly Club.

Joe Williams and the acclaimed Boxing Club are associated with Rathkeale and have been the subject of TV programs like The Butcher and White-Collar Boxing. The club has won over 90 Irish National Titles. Joe is always a willing fundraiser for Rathkeale and in 2019 he got grants from IABS and the government to put new roof over entire Creamery building used by the club and others.

Mossie Woulfe has been the driving force behind Rathkeale Community Games for many years. The Community Games brings young people together to participate in sports and social activities. It is a valuable resource for building healthy habits, relationships, pride in Rathkeale, and future community leaders.

Latest Champions

After the Covid pandemic Seamus Hogan presented the coin to 42 achievers in 2023.

Con Horan, Pa O’Dwyer, Theresa White, Niall Quilligan, Amanda McCarthy, Calum Flynn, Carol Blodau (+ Lifetime Achievement award), Calum Hogan, Conor McNamara, Sharon Geoghegan, Helena Naughton, Jean O’Brien (+ Lifetime Achievement award), Derek Downes , Denis Robinson, Triona Doody Kennedy, John O’Keeffe, Brendan Markham, Theresa Kelly, Bunny Hennessey, Geraldine Woulfe, Valerie Foley, John Comer, Reymond Hogan, Fintan McNamara, Conor O’Shaughnessy, Chirstina Backo (Kristina Bako), Joseph Wilmot, Jason O’Grady, Gwen McNamara, Geraldine Culhane, Geraldine Meade, Valerie Noonan, Tadhg O’Connor, Patsy Cronin Meskel, Dr. Tom Curtin, Ian O’Sullivan, Nancy Markham, Mary Conway, Katie Geary, Claire Young, Mo Foley, and Jason Power.