Irish Press Photographer of the Year named

by Alison O'Hanlon
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Alan Betson of The Irish Times has been crowned the AIB Press Photographer of the Year 2024 at an awards ceremony in Dublin on Friday night. 

An Tánaiste Micheál Martin TD was guest of honour at the event, the 46th annual awards of the Press Photographers Association of Ireland (PPAI), which took place at the RDS, Dublin. 

Broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan introduced the ceremony, with the award-winning and highly commended images encompassing some of the past year’s many highs and lows through the lenses of Irish press photographers from right across the island of Ireland. 

First – News Category Title: Burning City Description: A burning bus on Dublin’s O’Connell Bridge during riots in Dublin City Centre in the aftermath of a knife attack on school children on Parnell Square.

Alan Betson won praise for his ability to find the unusual in everyday life and outstanding news photography, with the judges commenting “The overall Photographer of the Year Award goes to a photographer who showed huge versatility. Their portfolio showcased outstanding news photography as well as a strong eye for quirky daily life images. They are well able to compose images and have a strong sense of design, a keen perceptive eye and the ability to find the unusual in the everyday. The judges were unanimous in their selection”. 

Second – News Category. Title: Relieved Description: On a back lane, a child is carried to safety from her school, Scoil Mhuire, as Gardaí and emergency services attend Parnell Square in Dublin in the aftermath of a knife attack on school children and their carer.
Photographer: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The judging panel was led by former picture editor of The Irish Times, Frank Miller alongside this year’s two judges Helen Healy who is former Head of Pictures at the Financial Times and Shaun Botterill of Getty Images. Journalist Philip Bromwell and former RTÉ cameraman Michael Lee led the judging of the Multimedia category. The judges had the challenging task of selecting the winning and highly commended images and video from over 1,200 entries entered by members of the PPAI.

First – Politics Category. Title: Improving Foreign Affiars Description: Minister for Justice, Simon Harris; Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan; Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin; Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris; Minister of State for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker, MP; and Minister of State for Media, Data, and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez, MP speaking to media after a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Farmleigh House.
Photographer: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Speaking at the awards ceremony, An Tánaiste Micheál Martin said “I want to congratulate all the winners of tonight’s awards. The skills and experience necessary to be able to capture and tell the truthful story of an event, a moment, an emotion in a single image, are truly invaluable.”

First – Arts and Entertainment Category. Title: Tears of Joy – Niall Horan Fans
Description: Niall Horan fans go wild as he performs at Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Co. Laois.
Photographer: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

In thanking AIB and the event sponsors, David Branigan, President of the Press Photographers Association of Ireland, said “This year’s winning and highly commended images truthfully highlight many of the very difficult moments of 2023, both in Ireland and internationally through the medium of powerful press photography”. 

Times Title: Moon Swim Description: Swimmers took to the chilly seven degree water in a full moon Nollaig na mBan swim at Clontarf Baths, as part of a fundraiser for Women’s Aid. Photographer: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

AIB CEO Colin Hunt, said ”Recognising the important role that photography plays in shining a light on the world around us, AIB is honoured to support the Press Photographer of the Year Awards again this year. I would like to congratulate the winners and to pay tribute to the extraordinary quality of all the work being showcased here this evening.  AIB is very pleased that the PPAI is, once again, making a special award for the entry that best reflects the theme of sustainability. It is our hope that such images will drive action to protect our planet, our people and our prosperity for future generations”.

Title: Who’s Looking at Who? Description: Shelley Bridges from California viewing the Tony O’Connor equine artist stand on the first day of the RDS Dublin Horse Show 2023. Photographer: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Awards were presented across 10 distinct categories – News, Daily Life & People, Sports Action, Sports Feature, Portrait, Nature & the Environment, Politics, Arts & Entertainment, Reportage and Multimedia in addition to the AIB Sustainability Award.

The AIB Sustainability Award was presented to Dan Linehan of Irish Examiner for his image, ‘Hair-Raising Devastation’ which showed the utter devastation of a hair salon in Midleton, Co. Cork, which was destroyed by flood water following Storm Babet last October. The torrential flooding was the worst Midleton had seen in 70 years. The striking award, “True Inspiration”, carved by the artist Éibhlin Ní Chonaile of Celtic Roots Studio, was created from ancient bogwood over 5,000 years old.

Winner – Sustainability Award. Title: Hair-Raising Devastation Description: Rosaleen O’Donnell, proprietor of the HS2 Salon in Midleton, Co. Cork, standing in her hair salon which was destroyed by flood water brought by Storm Babet in October. The torrential flooding in Midleton was the worst in 70 years and the town’s flood relief scheme is not due to start till 2025. Storm Babet was the second named storm of the year to hit western Europe. The storm left 100 homes flooded and dozens of businesses in Midleton destroyed. Photographer:Dan Linehan / Irish Examiner

The winner of the Multimedia award was Mediahuis Ireland Irish Independent/Sunday Independent photographer Mark Condren for his short film ‘Mooving’. The film, described by the judges as “beautifully filmed” shows a Galway farmer moving his dry stock herd across a 100 metre wide stretch of the River Shannon. 

Winner – Multimedia Award Title: Mooving Description: a Galway farmer moving his dry stock herd across a 100 metre wide stretch of the River Shannon
Photographer: Mark Condren Irish Independent/Sunday Independent

Also recognised at the event, attended by over 200 press photographers and guests, was PPAI member Jerry Kennelly who was conferred with Honorary Membership in recognition of his commitment to press photography over many decades and his outstanding business success.

All the winning and short-listed images from the ‘AIB Press Photographer of the Year’ 2024 can be viewed at the touring exhibition visiting various venues across the country over the coming year.

The first visit on the exhibition tour will be the Library at the RDS, Dublin, where it will be on display until 15th February 2024 before visiting dlr LexIcon in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, in March. 

For further details on the exhibition and to view the winning images, please visit www.pressphotographers.ie 

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