Monday, September 20, 2021
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The man of the moment…..Donegal Person of the year Noel Cunningham

Noel may have been keeping quiet for the past while but he is still larger than life! This man is certainly no stranger to Donegal or in fact anywhere in the Country. He is now the proud Ambassador of Harvey’s Point Hotel after holding the title as GM for the past 10 years.

Noel Cunningham said ‘After almost 10 wonderful years there, I have taken partial retirement and I am delighted to be an Ambassador for the Hotel. I am ever grateful to the new General Manager Niall Coffey for allowing me to still treat Harvey’s as my own.

Harvey’s Point is such a platform for promoting Donegal. It is the perfect stage for me to show Ireland and the World just what a special hotel it is and what a stunning county it is in. Harvey’s also supports my many charitable endeavours and like Deirdre Mc Glone before, Niall Coffey GM and the new company continue to really help me achieve so much for my charities, my county and of course the hotel which has an International reputation for excellence. Noel says his pride in the hotel and Donegal is unending’.

This has been rather a strange year for us all and as you know Noel holds the title of   Donegal Person of the Year. There was huge excitement last winter when he was announced as the Donegal Person of the Year in Dublin. He was overwhelmed to be chosen and on that night he outlined his own enthusiasm for using his year to further promote his beloved Donegal and work even harder for his charities. Alas it was not to be. Whilst planning a few major events for his pet charity, Cancer Care West Cancer Centre in Letterkenny and looking forward to hosting hundreds of other events for various charities and causes …….the world changed.

The Gala crowning Ball in Dublin was cancelled in March by the Donegal Association because Covid19 reached our shores and all our lives changed. It has been rescheduled for February 2021 but nothing is guaranteed next year either.

Noel is philosophical saying he will have his big night but more importantly that he will hit the ground running when eventually a medicine is found to fight this pandemic. He has no doubt that better times lie ahead! He will use his honour to its maximum when normality returns!

He is no stranger to excitement and drama in a life that is worthy of a book. Leaving his much loved home place in Kilcar as a young man he travelled all over the world in his hospitality career. He joined the old Jury’s Hotel Group in Ireland after college and soon afterwards he was headhunted by the old Trust House Forte Hotel Group. This saw him move to London and later while still in his twenties he took leave of absence to travel the world with Cunard and P&O.

He cruised on the top Liners and did more than 5 complete World Voyages. This was when cruise ships were most elegant with first and second class passengers. A very different World from Kilcar laughs Noel. He returned to Trust House Forte and had a great hotel career.

Noel has spoken movingly of his battle with booze. He attributes this partially to being bullied because of being gay in a very different Ireland than today. It was when this battle with addiction was at its most destructive that Noel lost his much loved sister and her husband in a dreadful car accident. That tragedy was life changing and was the reason he returned to Ireland. Despite the terrible sadness this return home and the terrible sadness of his loss helped him get on track to recover from alcohol addiction. He is fulsome in his praise of the AA and the people of Donegal. Noel says he wouldn’t be here today had it not been for the healing powers of his much loved County.

His new life at home saw him in his much loved Kitty Kelly’s for almost 12 years.

Noel concluded by saying ‘it was you Gabrielle who gave me many introductions when I was first finding my feet back home in Donegal. So a big thank you to you for this and all the great charitable work you have done through ‘Gabrielle’s Diary and thousands raised  for several amazing local causes’.

We will dance again says Noel and his infectious laugh and charisma leaves nobody in any doubt that the pandemic will not stop this whirlwind from achieving his many goals for his term as Donegal Person Of The Year

Check out some of the great offers at Harveys Point on their website, home from home   

Noel doing a bit of hiking in Carrauntoohil recently.
Noel with his brother Willie Joe, sisters Caroline and Geraldine.
At the announcement of the Donegal Person of the year in Dublin last January.
Noel has always been a great supporter of Newbridge Silverware
Noel with Mary Kennedy at Dancing with the Stars.
Pat Kenny at the launch of Noels Book ‘Modern Manners’
Noel with brothers Gerard and Ciaran Byrne, World Champion Dancers.
Noels garden at the front of his house in Kilcar.
Best buddies Daniel & Noel.

Olivia Newtown John with the main man.
Up close and personal with Anne Doyle.
Noel at the Peter Mark Style Awards in Dublin, looking dapper as always.
Isn’t this ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ Joanna Lumley with Noel
Niall Coffey, General Manager of Harvey’s Point.

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