A Cork journalist who started a new job in Wales a month before the pandemic hit has been honoured with a prestigious award for his work.
Ryan O’Neill from Douglas was named Young Journalist of the Year at last month’s virtual Nick Machin Prize ceremony.
Mr O’Neill, 27, previously worked for the Cork Independent and the Irish Examiner before making the move to Wales in August 2019.
“I’ve always been someone who quite likes to travel. I spent time abroad studying before and I also had a desire to live somewhere else for a period of time,” he told The Echo.
“My girlfriend was going to be studying over in Cardiff as well so we both had the idea that we’d like to spend some time somewhere else."
Mr O’Neill started work with Media Wales in February 2020, a month before Covid-19 necessitated the move to remote working.
“I was only in the office for about a month,” he said.
“You don’t really know what you’re doing in your first few weeks of any job. You’re just getting to grips with it.
“I felt like I learnt so much in the office itself but I suppose it’s been at home where I’ve honed the skills a bit. It’s been strange, but you do adapt and you do get used to it.”
After some convincing from his colleagues, Mr O’Neill decided to take the plunge and enter the awards, but winning came as a complete surprise.
“When they called my name out I was in shock.
"I’m not sure what came out of my mouth afterwards when they were asking me questions,” he said.
“It was a really nice thing to be a part of, especially given the fact that the award itself is in memory of Nick Machin, who was a former news editor who passed away a couple of years ago.”
It’s been almost 12 months since Mr O’Neill has been able to visit his native Cork and he is keeping his fingers crossed for a resumption of travel sooner rather than later.
“It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen my parents and my sister back in Cork. That has been hard.
“I think you can only get so much from Zoom calls and from phone calls.”