Portlaoise Parish Priest, Fr John Byrne was named Laois Person of the Year for 2008 at the Leinster Express People of the Year Awards.


Fr John Byrne PP (left) with Bishop Jim Moriarty at the re-dedication of Portlaoise Parish Church

The Leinster Express People of the Year Awards was held in Portlaoise Heritage Hotel on 7th February 2009. Fr Byrne was presented with the Award from guest of honour, Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody.

Awards were presented to 15 recipients in the sporting, community and business sectors. Fr Byrne had earlier received an award in the community category. He was honoured for his tireless work and initiatives on a range of community projects, including the award winning parish centre.

Announcing the Laois Person of the Year, Brian Cody underlined the importance of community and voluntary endeavour. It was a point also taken up by Fr Byrne, upon his receipt of the award.

Last year was also a momentous year for the parish with the completion of a major refurbishment of St Peter and Paul’s Church. With the assistance and work of many in the parish and support of the diocese, Fr Byrne led the way in making the Parish Centre a resource for the entire community. Apart from being used by the parish, a wide range of groups make use of the centre for many activities. National recognition of the centre’s contribution came last year with the awarding of a Pride of Place Award.

The Carlow native was the driving force behind the 2m refurbishment of St Peter and Paul’s which culminated with its re-dedication last November.

Apart from his other roles, Fr Byrne has actively campaigned and lobbied to have schools in Portlaoise, the Heath and Ratheniska upgraded. A site has been secured in Portlaoise for new primary junior and senior schools and plans are in place for a major overhaul of Scoil Bhrde in Knockmay.


Each award winner received a specially commissioned limited edition painting of the Glenbarrow by Portlaoise artist Maria Conroy. The evening was hosted by RTE’s, Eileen Dunne.

The full list of the Leinster Express People of the Year Awards 2008 is as follows:

Louise Donlon – Arts;
Hugh Sheppard – Community;
Fr John Byrne – Community;
Nelllie Thompson – Community;
Paddy Lalor – Hall of Fame;
Liam and Aishling Hurley (Team Woodcraft) – Business;
Br Matthew Hayes – Education;

Garrett Culliton – Outstanding Achievement in Sport;
Seamus Graham – Greyhound Racing;
Brian Campion – Hurling;
Cahir Healy – Football;
Aileen O’Loughlin – Ladies Football;
The Harps – Camogie;
Mary Mulhare – Athletics;
Daniel Murphy – Golf.

source – Leinster Express