Teenage inspiration in fight against cyberbullying and Anthony Foley honoured in Limerick Person of the Year awards

Luke Culhane

14 year-old Limerick boy, Luke Culhane, whose viral video warning against cyberbullying,  and the late Anthony Foley – posthumously receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award – were the top recipients at the recent Limerick Person of the Year awards.

The creation of a powerful video – ‘Create No Hate’ – saw Luke Culhane, from Castletroy View, selected as the January award recipient and made enough of an impact to have him selected all of 12 months later for the Limerick Person of the Year Award for 2016.

A budding filmmaker and blogger, Luke was motivated to create the video after being a victim of cyberbullying himself and, with over 500,000 views, its success was such that the story was picked up by Sky News, BBC, MTV, Fox, RTE and UTV, among others. The international admiration for his efforts stretched all the way to December when he was named Young Person of the Year by prominent French newspaper Mon Quotidien.

Accepting the award, Luke Culhane said: “Thank you so much to everyone that supported the video, the main thing is that helped loads of other children, after I Skyped a school in South Africa it inspired them to make their own video. It’s not just me that won, it’s the whole of Limerick.”

Rugby Legend Anthony Foley

The  event, held at the Clayton Hotel, Limerick last week, also saw Olive Foley, wife of the late Anthony Foley, receive a Lifetime Achievement award on behalf of her husband, whose death on October 16th last led to one of the single greatest outpourings of sadness ever experienced across and well beyond Limerick city.

The legendary Shannon, Munster and Ireland No. 8 Anthony moved with his family from Murroe to Killaloe when he was 3 years old but had an indelible connection with Limerick over the years. He was schooled at St. Munchin’s, where he first gained prominence as a schools rugby star, before going on to become the most coloured captain in the history of Shannon and Munster rugby.

Speaking at today’s event, Limerick Leader Editor Eugene Phelan said: “It’s fair to say that the two recipients today were utterly inspirational in very different ways but we are here with mixed emotions in relation to them today. “We all marvelled at Luke’s courage and, indeed, technical ability in putting this video together. It relates to an area that all of society is exercised and very concerned about but when it is a 13 year-old member of that society, as he was then, we are all humbled by what he did. Luke is clearly a leader and I suspect that this is the start of what will be a hugely successful career in film and one that, will no doubt, leave its mark in a very positive way on society.”

Speaking of the award to Anthony Foley, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon said: “With regard to Anthony Foley, all of us who love rugby and sport generally were totally shocked by news of his death. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like the collective sense of loss that greeted this. He was an incredible man both on and off the field. “We all celebrated his rugby achievements and got so much joy here in Limerick from that. But the other side of Anthony was what he did off the field, his charity work and just how he held himself as a person. He was arguably the most modest sports star and this is an acknowledgement that he totally deserves.”

Speaking at the event, Olive Foley said: “I’m pretty sure Anthony would be recoiling with the attention here today. He was very proud of his association with Limerick and from a sporting perspective will always be associated with Munster and Shannon, with many of his greatest rugby moments here in Limerick. “We know that everyone here misses him and it goes without saying that we do. But we really appreciate the fact that he is thought of and remembered so fondly, including with this Lifetime Achievement Award.

Now in its 16th year and sponsored by The Limerick Leader, Southern Marketing Design & Media and the Clayton Hotel, the Limerick Person of the Year Award was set up to honour the achievements and success of local people. Pat Reddan, General Manager, Clayton Limerick Hotel said: “We are delighted to sponsor such an event that showcases the very best of Limerick and the people who call it home, they truly are all inspirational.”

Congratulating all nominees, Dave O’Hora of Southern Marketing Design & Media said: “each of the nominees have in their own way made an outstanding contribution to the cultural, sporting, business and community scene in Limerick, today Limerick celebrates and it should.”

Past winners of the title include philanthropist JP McManus, world champion boxer Andy Lee, rugby stars Paul O’Connell and Tony Ward, author Donal Ryan, transatlantic rower Paul Gleeson and Thomond Park developer Pat Whelan. This year’s Limerick Person of the Year judging panel consisted of Eugene Phelan, Editor of The Limerick Leader; Conn Murray, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council; and Cllr. Kieran O’Hanlon, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick.