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Women in Media  

The Women in Media conference is delighted to announce two special Award Winners, honouring not only the recipient, but the pioneer from whom the award garners its name. These are the Mary Cummins Award for Women of Outstanding Achievement in the Media, and the Joan Kennelly Special Merit Award.

Mary Cummins Biography

Mary Cummins was born in Castletownshend, Co. Cork on the 19th November 1944.  Her father was a Garda sergeant and so his job took the family to Knocknagoshel, Co. Kerry and finally to Ballybunion.

After completing her Leaving Cert in St Joseph’s Secondary School in Ballybunion, Mary worked briefly in the Civil Service before training as a nurse and qualifying as a midwife in Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital.

Mary’s ambition was to write and so she pursued freelance journalism until she was hired by The Irish Times in 1970.

Part of the first generation of women who broke into the male dominated mainstream of Irish journalism, she wrote news and features in Dublin before going to the paper’s London office, where in 1971 she had the world exclusive story of the pregnancy of Bernadette Devlin MP.

Mary returned to Dublin in the late 1970’s where again, working with The Irish Times, she held a number of positions before being appointed Women’s Affairs Correspondent in 1991, a role she combined with reporting from the Seanad.

In October 1996, Marino published a collection of her About Women columns which they say, since 1993 ‘has surprised, provoked, and infuriated readers- and stimulated discussion of many aspects of Irish life.  Mary Cummins had no hesitation in taking on church, state, politicians, or any other structures that need to be reformed’.

Mary died of lung cancer on the 15th of November 1999.

Mary Cummins Award

The Mary Cummins Award for Women of Outstanding Achievement in the Media is annually awarded as part of the Women in Media conference. 

Recognising the contributions to forwarding the role Women have played shaping the landscape of the Media industry in Ireland, the Mary Cummins Award is for all concerned an integral part of the Women in Media conference.


Past winners of the prestigious Award include Miriam O’ Callaghan, Geraldine Kennedy, Olivia O’ Leary, Mary Maher & Dearbhail Mc Donald.


The award was designed by artist Folker Fishman.

Dearbhail McDonald winner of the 2017 Mary Cummins Award for Women of Outstanding Achievement in the Media.  Presented by Miriam O'Callaghan and Joan O'Connor.

Note from The Artist:  Folker Fishman


"I worked for 42 years in Glass-refinement, specifically as a glass painter.   I have created “The Lady" by a  special glass-melting process.  Every sculpture is unique and I model it in a heat resistant sand.  The mould is a lost form and after heating the glass there is only dust.  I form the mould with different tools, like spoons,  scraping knives & sometimes my fingers.  The heat resistant sand is very fine grained.  The mixture is sworn to secrecy by the Inventor.  Some people think that it is moon dust.  Who knows?   Some say that “The Lady” is born out of a sandcorn.  Glass is a crystal fluent and the heating unlocks it from rigidity.  Careful heating is very important. At 800/900 degrees the glass falls smoothly into the mould.  Having been held at this heat for approximately 4/5 hours the finished glass-sculpture needs a long time for the cooling process.  This can sometimes take 20 to 30 hours.  It is crucial to cool slowly as there cannot be any tension in the glass.   The green hue is born from metal-oxides which reflects the inner light so it appears three dimensional.  Finally, I put it together on the socket with an ultra-violet adhesive and lamp.Combining the wooden pedestal and its beautiful grain created by Donnchadh O’ Connor provides “The Lady” with its finishing touch.!"

Joan Kennelly Biography

By any standards, Joan Kennelly was an extraordinary woman.  She had not chosen photojournalism as a career, but jumped aboard the media agency formed by her husband Padraig in 1953 and became a pioneer in her time.


Joan was driven and unaware of the glass ceilings she was unwittingly punching through in Irish media and for equality for more than forty years.


At twenty six years old, she married Padraig in 1956 and quickly mastered the ropes of shooting stills and movies for Irish and international media clients. There was also the matter of finding the stories and dealing with the logistics of shipping real film to broadcasters from remote locations.


Joan took this all in her stride and regularly scooped rivals, shooting film and stills while rearing a family of four. Joan is most famous for her scoops during the visit of French President Charles de Gaulle and his wife to Sneem in 1969. While others in the media pack obeyed an instruction that photographs could not be taken, it was too much of a temptation for Joan. Joan slipped a half frame Canonet rangefinder camera from her handbag, framed, focused and rapidly shot off half a dozen frames in the dimly lit church at 1/8th of second exposure before she was removed from the Church by Special Branch detectives.  She declined to be interviewed or arrested and made her way back to their Tralee headquarters, auctioning the prized images of the French President. Paris Match magazine was the winner, splashing her scoop across a double page spread.


When Joan and Padraig decided to jump the barriers and become media owners themselves in 1974, Joan was the business brain that made it happen. She ensured that the fledging Kerry’s Eye flourished and still made her mark, reporting, photographing and on page make-up. Their firm stance on the separation of editorial from commercial policy was up front and central with Lord Byron’s quote which was carved on the front steps of their building “Without or with offence to friends or foe, I sketch your world exactly as it goes”.


Joan died on 30 December 2006, but forty four years later, Kerry’s Eye continues to  prosper under the guidance of their sons Padraig Jnr., Brendan and Kerry and editor Gerard Colleran.

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