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The Venue

RDS Gold Medal Award for Enterprise Award Winners

Since its inception in 1992, when Ray McSharry was awarded the Gold Medal in recognition for his work as European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the Medal has been awarded to many of Ireland’s most prominent business people including:  Dr Peter Sutherland; Sir Michael Smurfit of Jefferson Smurfit; Sir Anthony O’Reilly; Dr Craig Barrett of Intel; Mr Kieran McGowan of the IDA;  Dr Bernard Collins, of VHI Healthcare; Mr Willie Walsh of International Airlines Group; Dr Pearse Lyons, of Alltech; Mr Owen Killian of Aryzta;Gary McGann, formerly of Smurfit Kappa Group; the 2016 Award Receipient, John Moloney.

RDS Gold Medal for Enterprise

The RDS Gold Medal Award for Enterprise is one of the Society's flagship awards, presented annually to an individual who has made an exceptional impact on Irish industry and commerce.


To have been nominated for the RDS Gold Medal for Enterprise the individual must have shown considerable professional and leadership skills and have an outstanding track record in business achievement which has contributed to employment and economic development in Ireland.


2019 RDS Gold Medal

Breege O’Donoghue

Chair of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland and former Executive Director of Pennys/Primark


Breege O’Donoghue’s record of achievement marks her out as one of the most important figures in Irish business over the last 40 years, and that alone makes her worthy of the Gold Medal. However, what sets her apart from her colleagues on the famous Pennys/Primark ‘Gang of Four’ will be her legacy as a role model for women in business that will act as an inspiration for future generations.


Penneys/Primark is a remarkable Irish business success story with 360 stores in 11 different countries worldwide and a turnover of €8.1 billion in 2018. Ms O’Donoghue is recognised as being responsible for much of this expansion with her dynamism and vision leading the company’s into Europe in 2006 and subsequently into the American market in 2015.


On top of her work in Penneys/Primark, the businesswoman has held board positions with State companies including An Post and Aer Rianta and was Chairwoman of the Labour Relations Commission for seven years. She is currently chair of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, where she is leading the drive to promote Ireland’s design and craft capability in international markets.

Previous Gold Medal Recipients

Since its inception in 1992 the Medal has been awarded to many of Ireland’s most prominent business people including: Dr Peter Sutherland; Sir Michael Smurfit, Dr Craig Barrett of Intel, Willie Walsh of International Airlines Group, Dr Pearse Lyons of Alltech, Gary McGann of Smurfit Kappa Group, John Moloney of Glanbia, Moya Doherty of Riverdance and most recently Ciaran Murray of ICON.

These past winners have made a huge contribution to the socio-economic situation in Ireland and through their success have helped bring about the self-confidence we now have in our own ability to not only succeed when times are good but to meet head on these challenging times that we now face to develop our economy in new and dynamic ways.

2019 Ms Breege O'Donoghue
2018 Mr CiarĂ¡n Murray
2017 Ms Moya Doherty
2016 Mr John Moloney
2015 Mr Gary McGann
2014 Mr Owen Killian
2013 Dr T. Pearse Lyons
2012 Mr Willie Walsh
2011 Dr Bernard Collins
2008 Mr Kieran McGowan
2006 Mr Niall FitzGerald
2005 Mr Richard Burrows
2004 Mr Craig Barrett
2003 Mr David O Reilly
2001 Dr Christopher J Horn
2000 Dr A.J.F. O' Reilly
1999 Dr Martin Naughton
1998 Mr Denis Brosnan
1997 Mr Tony Barry
1996 Mr Peter D. Sutherland
1995 Dr M.J. Smurfit
1994 Mr J.P. Culliton
1993 Sir George Quigley
1992 Mr Ray McSharry



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