We are delighted to announce our 20 lockdown heroes and their assigned horses in the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes on Sunday 23rd August. Read more about the wonderful heroes below.

We would like to extend a special thank you to our supporters and sponsors of our lockdown hero competition, Ballyhane Stud, Irish EBF, The Heritage Hotel, Colm Quinn BMW, O’Callaghan Hotel Collection, Osprey Hotel, Weatherbys, Irish National Stud and Dunnes Stores.

1st prize  - 4-night staycation at the Heritage Hotel for a family of 4 ( 2 adults and 2 kids), €2,000 cash prize,  luxury car for a week from Colm Quinn BMW

2nd prize - 2-night stay in a O’Callaghan Collection Hotel

3rd prize - 1-night stay in the Osprey Hotel

4th prize – All For One Voucher From Weatherbys

5th prize - A VIP experience at the Irish National Stud

ALL HEROES will receive a goodie bag  including a €100 voucher from Dunnes Stores and a printed image of the allocated horses.


HERO - Caoimhe O’Mahony - Nurse - Naas Hospital


Nominated by: Trevor Duggan

 “Caoimhe is my lockdown hero, she's a nurse in Naas general and always has a smile on her face. She even contacted Covid while treating patients and once she beat it she was straight back to work caring for others even though it meant she couldn't visit her new-born nephew for four months. Couldn't think of a more deserving person for the prize.”

HERO - Catherine & John Merrick - Foodbank Volunteers - Naas


Nominated by: Maud Nolan & Laura Whelan

 “I would like to nominate Catherine and her husband John for keeping the food bank on main street Naas, going during the pandemic. They work all year round to keep food on the table for people in need.”

“They deserve every award going for dedicating time every week and most day to feeding our community across the county. They are tirelessly giving everything to those that need it most. What better person to nominate than the foodbank Naas that have been there day in day out all through the lockdown. They are a light at the end of a dark tunnel for those in need of food.”

HERO - Aoife Green - Emergency Department GP Liaison Nurse - Mater Hospital


Nominated by: Jennifer Pugh

Aoife, an Emergency Department GP Liaison Nurse in Mater hospital, took charge of and ran a GP Clinic as part of ED Mater Hospital to deal with the surge during Covid-19. She ran a team of nurses and doctors, myself included, drafted in from different sectors to help out in the Emergency Department during the pandemic. This was a brand new clinic with a team who had never worked together before, dealing with a disease we had never met before. She was so professional, so reassuring and worked such long hours in one of the hardest-hit hospitals during the pandemic. I was honoured to work with this Green Zone Team all of whom gave everything to help during this time and this lady Aoife, played the starring role, inspiring us all.”

HERO - Caitriona Twomey - Food Volunteer - CEO of Cork Penny Dinners


Nominated by: Joe Steward

“Catriona has kept the homeless and marginalised in Cork fed 3 meals a day and gave them food & clothes parcels with PPE. Throughout COVID 19 she provides this service 24/7 all year but during COVID and Lockdown went beyond the call of duty and worked tirelessly around the clock particularly with those who are sleeping roughly at night.”

HERO - Theresa McGinn -  Healthcare & Physio - Kilkenny


Nominated by: Amy Dunphy

My mam, Theresa, worked the entire way through lockdown as a physio in her clinic. She sent her other staff home and furloughed then as they all had vulnerable family members and she did not want to risk their family’s health for her business. Instead, she took on the workload of 4 physios even though she herself suffers from arthritis and osteoporosis and each night she came home crippled from arthritic pain in her hands from helping people all day. When the lockdown was announced, she was torn between closing the clinic as she did not have the money to afford to work alone and pay all of her staff, or else keeping the clinic open and working alone in order to help patients who were in pain but too vulnerable to risk going into a hospital in the middle of a pandemic. She chose to keep her clinic open and lose money, just to help the people who needed her.
Not only did she work as a physio through lockdown but she was also in the process of moving clinics before the lockdown happened, she was moving from her clinic in a small house that she had bought 26 years ago into a new, modern clinic at long last. So when the builders/painters/electricians could no longer work, she went in and scrubbed and cleaned and painted and moved and built all the storage units (during this myself and my brothers and dad all helped out.) Finally, her new clinic was ready and by this stage she was worn out from working 8am-5 pm doing physio and then working 5 pm -10/11 pm doing up the clinic, and then just as everything had started to reopen and the clinic was nearly ready, there was a leak and the entire floor had to be ripped up and replaced! At this point, mams hair had gone grey from stress, her hands were crippled and she needed me to massage them each evening, and she was absolutely exhausted. Theresa is the most caring and kind person I know and I am so proud of her for keeping her clinic open to help people during the pandemic. During the lockdown, she treated young children who could not go into hospitals because of underlying illnesses, elderly people who were scared to leave their houses but were in pain, and any other person who needed her. After working herself to the bone for the last 7 months, I really think she deserves a well-earned break! She had to cancel her holiday to Hawaii for her godsons wedding because she could not risk travelling and then going back to treating patients after being abroad. She also missed celebrating her 26th wedding anniversary which happened recently. I really hope you will consider Theresa McGinn as a lockdown Hero because I am so proud of all she did to help other people!”

HERO - Niamh Aherne - Doctor - Tallaght Hospital


Nominated by: Bronagh McManus

 “Niamh flew home from Perth, Australia in March to help on the frontline as a Doctor on the COVID wards in Tallaght hospital.”

HERO - Patricia McGuinness - Nurse - Belfast Hospital


Nominated by: Mick McGuinness

My name is Mick McGuinness and I am a passionate 15-year-old racing fan. Although I live in Belfast, I am a very regular visitor to Naas Racecourse and I am really proud that one of my favourite courses has come up with such a brilliant idea.

I would like to nominate my Mum, Patricia McGuinness who, whilst she doesn’t go as often as me, enjoys a day at the races. She also has a connection to Naas because lots of her family live in Hollywood and Blessington.

My Mum is a nurse working in the Ulster Hospital in Belfast in the endoscopy unit. When the coronavirus hit she volunteered to go and work in COVID ICU, which is where they took all the people who were really sick with coronavirus.

She had to wear a big apron, long gloves, a hat, a big visor to cover her face and a mask that fitted really tightly and was very uncomfortable. When she got home in the morning after a night shift her face was all marked and bruised by having to wear the mask for hours at a time.

I think she was very brave going to work because all of the people she was looking after had COVID. Although we were a bit worried about her, myself and my brothers were very proud and clapped her out of the driveway as she drove to work for her first shift in ICU. If she was worried, she didn’t let us know about it.

As well as working in the hospital, my Mum also helped all of our elderly neighbours who weren’t able to go outside at all during lockdown because they were shielding. She did their shopping for them, went to the Post Office for them and even baked them little treats like chocolate brownies and lemon drizzle cake to cheer them up.

After the worst of the pandemic was over, my younger brother got seriously ill (not with COVID) and had to stay in the hospital for about a month. My Mum had to stay with him overnight sleeping in a chair, which wasn’t comfortable at all. So even when the worst of coronavirus was over and she didn’t have to work nights in ICU anymore, she still didn’t really get a break. My brother is ok now.

I’d love her to be nominated as a lockdown hero and be allocated a horse in the Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes. I’d be roaring him home because my Mum really deserves a treat and a luxury staycation would be brilliant. Driving the BMW would also be great because her car is terrible!”

HERO - John Ryan - Postman - Naas


Nominated by: Kevin Loughlin

“During the initial lockdown not only did he work every day(single) so some of his colleagues could get some time off to be with their families but he spent time (from 2 metres) and chatted with the elderly who had no one visiting them. I know on occasions he asked people if they needed milk bread papers etc from the shops and he went and got it (in his own time) and delivered it the next morning or that evening after his shift. This man is always in good humour and I know him most of his life and have never heard a bad word about him.
Please consider him as he would be too shy and unassuming to ever realise what he does as exceptional and put a smile on so many people’s faces.”

HERO - Sharon O’Carroll - Community Volunteer – Kildare


Nominated by: Sean Dunne

“Sharon organised the cooking and delivery of 140 free hot meals a week to the elderly and vulnerable in our community. The meals were cooked on a rota basis twice a week by Hartes of Kildare Town, Dora Mays Bistro (Newbridge), All Seasons Restaurant (Newbridge) and Stepping Stones (Newbridge). The funding for these meals was obtained from donations and corporate sponsors such as The Curragh, Proctor & Gamble and The Ballymore Group.

At Easter, Sharon organised hampers for those who were cocooning. Each hamper held a value of at least €20. Sharon organised a group of volunteers to make up 112 Hampers which were then delivered to the elderly and vulnerable in our community.

This was made possible because Sharon contacted and received items donated by Tesco, Dunnes & Commerford Bakers. Cash donations from Rotary Newbridge, public and a go fund me page on Facebook.Sharon was involved in organising Courier service delivering medical prescriptions from the local chemists to the elderly in lockdown, even a pet to the Vet. She also organised signage to thank front line staff, organised the supply of PPE material for volunteers.

Through all of  this, she was conscious of good Mental Health and organised the sponsorship of wool and materials and then the establishment of a crochet/knitting group which consisted of members of the community.”

HERO - Emma Redmond – Nurse – Vincent’s Hospital – Athy


Nominated by: Clodagh Redmond

“My mam deserves a prize. She is a ward manager in St Vincent’s Hospital, Athy. She has gone above and beyond helping her patients get better each day. She even went to work Easter Sunday dressed as a bunny giving out eggs to her patients. She then got photos of the patient with their eggs, laminated them and sent them to their loved ones. One of her patients was upset, it was his wife’s birthday and he couldn’t see her, so she phoned the singing Garda Sean who went to the woman’s house with flowers to make her day. This is only some of the kind acts she does and throughout this pandemic, she’s made sure nanny Baxter and grandad John has got everything they need as they are cocooning. She works full time, makes sure her parents are happy, minds me and my brother and 2 sisters; has to keep daddy in check, we have 6 chickens and 3 dogs all before she thinks about herself. She’s even just finished another degree on older persons.”

LOCKDOWN HERO - Stacey Looby - Garda - Navan


Nominated by: Lisa Kenny

Stacey works at Navan Garda station during lockdown she looked after the most vulnerable in the community shopping delivering meals collecting prescriptions bringing vulnerable to doctors dentist etc. At Easter she got children to make Easter cards for people living alone cocooning nursing homes children from different parts of the country particularly young and old happy. She also organised a birthday party for an elderly man living on his own bringing him a birthday cake and treats. She is an amazing young Garda who is involved in the community on and off duty. She was very involved in the fundraising initiative for Sean Cox for his rehab always raising money for Temple Street hospital. I am a wheelchair user and soon lockdown restrictions lifted she brought me out to dinner our local restaurant on one of few days she had off I hadn’t been out since the end of January. Garda Stacey Looby please pick her.”

HERO - John Doyle - Postman - Co. Kildare


Nominated by: Mary Howe

I would like to nominate our Super Postman John Doyle. Our John is always smiling and chatty when delivering the post, but during the lockdown, he has gone above and beyond. His route, which is a large one, it covers Pollardstown, Athgarvan, Kinneagh, Kilbelin, Blackrath, Ballysax, New Park, Martinstown and Cut Bush areas. With shops closed due to lockdown, his round was so busy due to people shopping online, and he might have to go back and reload his van a second time with parcels to deliver, and not get home till after 6. Even been that busy, he still checked on any elderly person, anyone cocooned to see if they needed anything and he got them whatever they needed and dropped it to them. He even delivered papers to people at the weekends, and on his weeks holidays, he still drove out and checked on them. Even if they needed nothing from the shops, these vulnerable people might not see anyone from one day to the next, and he would just stop to see were they okay, and even just have a chat with them. He was out in all weathers, rain, sun, heat, and wind, he is an absolute treasure and we here in Ballysax class him as family, and I personally would love to see him appreciated for his genuine heart of gold, and for all the good work he does.”

HERO -Monica O Brien – Clinical Nurse Manager - Naas Hospital


Nominated by: Claire O Brien

My Mam Monica was due to retire in June but as the hospital was under pressure due to COVID she postponed her retirement so that she could help out her colleagues. She even went back working nightshifts onwards which is not her role but she went above and beyond to help. She deserves this prize in my eyes she is a lockdown hero.”

HERO - Hazel Gleeson – HSE Project Manager - Croke Park testing centre


Nominated by: Karen Gleeson

My sister managed the Croke Park testing facility and was working 12 hour days and weekends during the height of the pandemic to help get it open and up and running. She also manages all this being a single mother to a teenager AND did all the running around for my parents who are over 70, making sure they had everything they needed. Once lockdown lifted she drove them to a hotel and picked them up the next day so that they could have a night away but she never treats herself. She hasn’t had a holiday in years - she definitely deserves this!”

HERO - Lorraine Kavanagh- GAA Community Volunteer - Celbridge


Nominated by: Hugh Gallagher

“Lorraine took on the job of coordinating the GAA Volunteers who delivered Groceries and ran errands for people cocooning in Celbridge. Lorraine and the volunteers wanted no recognition or reward for providing this service. I can only speak of the gratefulness of my neighbours on the brilliant service they received. It was confidential and respectful and very necessary in March/April/May months when people were under so much pressure. The service ceased with the lifting of the requests for pensioners to stay home, but the goodwill to Lorraine and her team will live on for some time in the community.”

HERO - Paula O’Connor – Handmade essential PPE for Frontline Staff - Sligo


Nominated by: Adrienne O’Connor

Paula made masks and scrubs for frontline workers when there was a shortage, even though she had a full-time job she spent many late nights and weekends cutting out and sewing the scrubs and masks voluntarily, she is selfless and deserves a treat like this.”

HERO- Justin Kelly - Order of Malta Volunteer - Dublin


Nominated by: Paul McDonald

 “Justin deserves this price because he simply put his life on hold to work on the Irish front line he returned from Australia on 1st of March and immediately signed up to Irelands call when it was published but during his time waiting for paperwork juts was volunteering his time with the order of Malta ambulance providing support and care to those in the community. When just got his paperwork sorted he then was asked would he work in Dublin hospital on a designated COVID ward. Without hesitation, Justin agreed after a week working just was offered a line in Dublin but he would have to relocate to a hotel provided by the HSE. Just spent 4 months away from his family friends and ambulance colleagues to work on the front line for those in need. Justin is so caring and gives up everything to care for others he without a doubt deserves some credit for his hard work.”

HERO - John Fitzsimons - Order of Malta Volunteer –Mullingar


Nominated by: Sgt Sharon Hoey

“John since April 4th 2020 has been out assisting our community on medical transfers 5 to 7 days per week, which he is still doing at the moment, these have included radiotherapy, chemotherapy, pregnancies, hospital appointments etc. Also assisting delivering medications to those isolating/on lockdown, John has given up every day for the last 5 months and continues selflessly to do so. John is in his 60's and I believe he deserves some recognition for the days, hours, weeks and months volunteering.”

HERO - Bernard Murphy - Healthcare Volunteer - Co-coordinator at Tallaght Stadium COVID 19 testing centre


Nominated by: Tricia Nolan

On 12th March, our Volunteer Centre was approached by the HSE to take on a role managing a team of volunteers in the Frontline Covid Testing Centre in Tallaght. Bernard took on the role of bringing together a team of volunteers to work in the Stadium - meeting and greeting those who come for testing as well as gathering bio-data on the clients.

Bernard's normal job is to work 17.5 hours per week but since March he has been in the testing centre day in, day out - hail, rain or shine - working in excess of 50 hours some weeks (for no extra pay!). He's there before we all arrive in the morning and is last to leave in the evening.

He has been a constant presence and encouragement to all those volunteering including making sure the volunteers are well cared for and kept safe.

He is constantly good-humoured and always has a smile and word of encouragement for that volunteering. Alongside this, he has been so reassuring and supportive to those who arrive for testing - treating everyone with dignity and respect. He constantly goes the extra mile - whether it's jump-starting cars that haven't been driven in a long while or having jellies in his pocket to calm down young kids who come for testing!

It's so hard to describe in words how far and beyond Bernard has gone on the Frontline in the testing centre. He has been phenomenal - and the feedback we constantly receive is how welcoming and well look after people feel when they arrive to Tallaght for testing.

Bernard recently celebrated his 65th Birthday and it was a measure of the man that he has happy to work on that day.

We're still working in Tallaght Stadium and Bernard is continuing leading from the front. He truly is a lockdown hero.”

HERO - Sinead Keogh - GAA Community COVID Liaison - Naas


Nominated by: Brendan Kenny

“Sinead has been involved with Naas GAA Club for Years and has done an untold level of work inside and outside the fence. During Lockdown she brought together a large number of volunteers from the GAA Club to help in the local community, whether it was just getting an odd job done to collecting the elderly's shopping while they were cocooning. Sinead never stops giving back to People, and I couldn't think of anyone better to be nominated for this prize.”

View all Blogs and Press