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Joan Kennelly Award

Women in Media  

The Women in Media conference is delighted to announce three special Awards, 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 and the new Social Media Influencer Award.



The Joan Kennelly Award  is annually awarded as part of the Women in Media conference.

General Rules & Guidelines for nominations / candidates 2019

  • Candidates should have made or are continuing to make advancements in the fields of Cinematography whether that be in the art of Photography or Camerawork in Film-Making.

  • Candidates who have previously won the Joan Kennelly award within the last two year previous will be ineligible for award.

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 Kennelly


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 five years after its foundation, the 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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