With one of the yearly highlights of the Donegal community in London taking place this weekend at the Donegal Association of London dinner dance, a GAA stalwart will be honoured as the association’s person of the year.
Kilcar’s Michael Cunningham is a well-known face in his home community of Carrick and Kilcar, as well as his adopted home in London where he has lived for many years with wife Teresa, daughter Grace, sons Conor and Kieran. Another son, Callum, sadly died.
A passionate GAA administrator, Michael, is a strong supporter of his home club and this year's county finalist's, Kilcar, as well as being the chairman of the minor board at Tir Chonaill Gaels in Greenford, North London.
The club is a hive of activity throughout the year and is a pivotal part of the Donegal Diaspora in London, where friends and family often gather to enjoy gaelic games as well as the lively social life at the club house.
The club hosts some of the largest youth GAA tournaments in the English capital and Michael and his team have a busy schedule of training and competing for the Gaels
Michael resides in Perivale, North London and works for the prison services in the UK.
He explained that he initially studied engineering with Anco, now FÁS, in Gaoth Dobhair before heading to England.
“I did an apprenticeship there in engineering and got into several different engineering jobs here. I got into the prison service working in their engineering workshops with the prisoners and that is where I have been for over 20 years,” he explained.
His job, which includes overseeing the construction of aluminum windows and doors by the inmates, sees him travel all over the UK , to manage the productions.
But it is his passion for GAA and his dedication to the Tir Chonaill Gaels that sees him take the honour from the Donegal Association of London in their 69th year of existence, just as the club's busy time of year winds down for another season.
He explains: “We have our annual dinner dance the week after the Donegal Association dinner dance and that normally wraps up our season. That's really the end of it for another year.”
He says his club's on both sides of the Irish sea enjoyed good seasons making major finals and while they have no silverware to show this year, he said it a good sign they are reaching finals and competing at a high level.
“We lost every final going but it is good to be in them,” he said.
While humble about his award, he says he is looking forward to this Saturday's event and it will be a special night with family and friends, from both sides of the Irish sea who will travel over for the function.
“I’ll take it (the award) while it’s going. It is a lovely thing to get, or even get considered for, as it was never the type of thing that ever even crossed my mind.
“But it will be nice and we will have a good night,” he added.
The event takes place in the Clayton Crown Hotel in Cricklewood on Saturday night, November 19th.