An Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented legendary European Tour player and Ryder Cup hero Christy O’Connor Jnr with the “Jerry Donworth Outstanding Contribution to Golf Award” at the 2014 Gala Irish Golf Awards last night at Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, Co.Mayo. Christy O’Connor Jnr was recognised by the IGTOA –Ireland Golf Tour Operator Association for his lifetime contribution to the Irish golf industry. Christy O’Connor Jnr is a legendary European Tour, a European Senior Tour player, a Ryder Cup star, a prolific Irish golf course designer with projects all over the world and one of the greatest ambassadors for Ireland and Irish golf across the globe.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny wished to congratulate Mr. O’Connor Jnr and all the award winners who have received national accolades on the night:

“I am delighted to present one of Ireland’s greatest golf ambassadors Christy O’Connor Jnr with the “Jerry Donworth Outstanding Contribution to Golf Award” this evening in recognition of his lifetime contribution to Ireland and Irish golf. Christy has represented Ireland on over twenty occasions and his career has provided many memorable and exciting moments for us all to be proud of as a golfing nation. I wish to also congratulate all the recipients of the “2014 Gala Irish Golf Awards” and I commend them on their hard work to achieve this recognition.

This is about celebrating the excellence of the golf that is offered and played on this island. The combination of breathtaking scenery, challenging courses and our friendly people offers a unique golfing experience to the many international visitors that play our golf courses here each year. This in turn brings jobs, opportunity and investment across our country in accommodation, bars, good food and all the things that make an Irish holiday great. We know that the golfers who come here are happy with the experience so it’s thanks to the hard work of those in the industry that we can take pride in Ireland’s being a superb golf tourism destination.”

Richard Hills, Ryder Cup Europe Director wished to congratulate Christy O’Connor Jnr and all the winners on behalf of Ryder Cup Europe and the European Tour:

“On behalf of Ryder Cup Europe and the European Tour I would like to congratulate Christy O’Connor Jnr on this richly deserved recognition by the Irish golf industry. Christy’s professional golfing career on the European Tour, the European Senior Tour and The Ryder Cup spans four incredible decades, bringing a high level of success both in terms of tournament victories and superb Ryder Cup moments. Those nine worldwide wins and two Ryder Cup appearances were a source of deep personal pride, but more significantly they earned Christy the respect from the world of professional golf.

His contribution to the game of golf in Europe at all levels has been outstanding, and he remains an inspiration to his fellow players across all the global Tours. Christy has delivered many historic and memorable golfing moments during his career – none more inspiring that his glorious two iron at the final hole to defeat Fred Couples in the singles at The Belfry in 1989.

Christy has left his mark on the game through his educational and charitable activities while his signature course design is stamped on many impressive courses across the world. Christy has been a great ambassador for Ireland and Irish golf and in particular for the tourism industry. This award acknowledges the high regard in which he is held. We wish Christy continued success in his golfing career and the very best in the future.”

A selection of leading Irish companies in the golf tourism industry received accolades on the night with winners in the hotel, golf course and golf resort categories. The event was hosted by CNN Presenter Shane O’ Donoghue.

The companies accepting awards on the night were as follows:

2014 IGTOA Boutique Golf Hotel of the Year Award
– The Bushmills Inn

2014 IGTOA Large Golf Hotel of the Year Award
– Ashford Castle

2014 IGTOA Golf Resort of the Year Award
– Castlemartyr Resort

2014 IGTOA Parkland Golf Course of the Year Award
– Galgorm Castle Golf Club

2014 IGTOA Links Golf Course of the Year Award
– The Island Golf Club

2014 IGTOA Golf Manager of the Year Award
– Bernard Gibbons, Powerscourt Golf Club

2014 Jerry Donworth Outstanding Contribution to Golf Award
– Christy O’Connor Junior

The event is run each year by the Ireland Golf Tour Operator Association (IGTOA) which is the recognised national representative body for the Irish golf tourism industry and is pro-active in supporting the promotion, growth and development of Irish golf tourism overseas.