NEWPORT businessman Sean Kelly has been named Mayo Person of the Year by Muintir Mhaigh Eo. Atha Cliath.
He will recieve the Virginia Gallagher Award at a gala presentation ceremony in Dublin's Ballsbridge Hotel on Friday night, February 10.
The recipient of the 2017 Mayo Meitheal Award is Ballyhaunis GAA while the recipient of the 2017 Young Mayo Person of the Year is Olympian swimmer Nicolas Quinn.
This is the first year that Muintir Mhaigh Eo Atha Cliath have presented such an award to recognize the achievements of the youth of Mayo.
The adjudicators said Sean Kelly had introduced countless people to his native county through building his business in Ireland and abroad he has used the platform to promote and introduce his native county to countless people.
The citation stated: “He does this in person when he meets people at shows or journalists and media. He does it through mass media via his countless radio and television interviews. He makes Mayo and Newport part of his message and has done more to attract visitors to the county than almost anyone else.
“He makes Mayo and Newport part of his message and has done more to attract visitors to this county than almost anyone else. His pride in his native county shines through whenever he speaks about it.
“Sean is devoted to his community and will do anything to help businesses and individuals. Sometimes this happens in a fanfare of publicity (sponsorships, putog throwing championships at the Newport Festival, parading Frenchmen down the Main Street when they came to “knight” him). But often it is done quietly and even anonymously – a kind word, practical support, financial assistance or just a listening ear.
“Sean believes in paying it forward, in doing a good turn without expecting something in return. “Sean has been described as the man who put black pudding on the map. That is true – but more than that, he has put Mayo on the map in many ways and in many counties.
Newport and Mayo are in Sean’s blood and everything he has done in the business has had his hometown and county at their centre. All expansions and developments have been in Newport, and this is where his heart lies.
“Newport is even in the company name - Kelly’s of Newport Artisan Butchers. The iconic church and seven arched bridge were in the branding for years. Sean works closely with the farming community in Newport area and has been buying animals off the same farmers for 50 years.
"Bord Bia have supported Kelly’s and featured their products at the Slow Food International Forum in Turin. Failte Ireland recognised Sean’s talents and brought him to the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham where Kelly’s products took centre stage.
“They honoured him as a Tourism Ambassador and he went to Tourism Ireland’s New York launch of Discover Ireland's Wonderful West campaign in 2008. Through Failte Ireland a regular stream of journalists and media find their way to Kelly’s of Newport where they meet Sean and are introduced to the area in his own inimitable style.
“This brings Newport and Mayo to the attention of a worldwide audience – the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are amongst those journalists who have visited. Sean ensures that everyone knows that Kelly’s, Newport and Mayo are completely intertwined.”
The panel was impressed by the fact that Mayo is central to Sean’s business message.
“He has helped put Mayo on the map nationally and internationally from an economic tourism and community perspective. He understands the links between those sectors. He has developed a sustainable business strategy which has seen him through the recession of the past decade. His warmth and enthusiasm shines through the application. Sean is a true ambassador for Mayo,” the citation added.