Sean Byrnes wins Garda Siochana Award

Sean Byrnes has won an individual Garda Siochana Youth Award and has spoken on Live 95FM’s Limerick Today where Joe chats to Sean and his parents John and Fiona about winning this amazing award.

You can listen to the podcast on the Live 95FM website by clicking the link below.


Sean Byrnes lists all of his incredible achievements to date in a letter:

I really enjoy getting involved in as many activities as I can. I have many achievements to date:

Here is a sample taste of some of the many activities I have taken part in.

In 2009, at the age of 6yr I had the opportunity to take part in swimming lessons. Mid – West Spinabifida Association organised swimming lessons for members in Bawnmore Sports Centre. After the first swimming lesson, I said to my dad “Lets do it again”. I continued to do lessons after 6 months of training I was really getting confident being in the water. Swimming brought great challenges and joy to me as I do not have use of my legs that most people take for granted it makes swimming even more challenging. It was a great feeling to finally complete my 1st achievement “How to swim without the aid or assistance from my instructor”.

In 2010 one evening when my dad and I were coming out of swimming, we observed activities going on in the sports hall. We went into watch I thought it was very cool there was a group playing Wheelchair Basketball. I thought it was amazing and exciting at the same time the intensity and the competition between the both teams were fierce. I knew there and then this would be my next challenge. This was the first time I had ever seen Wheelchair Basketball being played. Over the next couple of weeks, we went in to watch the teams train. On the third night one of the coaches came over and asked me if I would like to participate. I did. This continued every Monday after swimming for the next 2 years, up until then there had never been a junior wheelchair basketball team in Limerick.

In September 2012, Limerick Sports Partnership in collaboration with Mid-West Spinabifida Association and (IWA) The Irish Wheelchair Association ran a 6-month trial program these included Wheelchair Basketball, Hurling, Tennis, Badminton and Track & Field events. This was an all-inclusive program where able bodies, siblings and friends could take part. When the program ended my parents had a meeting with (LSP) and (IWA) to discuss starting Limericks first junior basketball team. In March 2013 my dad who was Chairperson of the Mid – West Spinabifida Association had a follow up meeting with Paul Ryan (Sports Officer in IWA) who visited Scoil na Tríonóide Naofa in 2017, to discuss starting a junior wheelchair basketball club in Limerick. A further meeting took place with St. Colm’s mainstream basketball club, to ask them if they would be interested in working with the junior team they agreed. In September 2013 St Colm’s provided the court, facilities and (MWSA) provided the bus transport and sport wheelchairs. Over the next 4 years my Mam & Dad collected the sports chairs and drove the bus to training on Wednesday nights. Our team travel to Dublin, Galway, Cork, Kilkenny, Carlow and Belfast to take part in the (IWA) Junior Blitz basketball tournament. There would be 50 to 70 kids from all over Ireland including the North of Ireland between the age of 8yr to 15yr participate. It was great to play and meet so many new teams where I made new friends. Each team would hold a home event and we really looked forward to holding our home event in Limerick. In 2014/15 season I was awarded Irish Junior Wheelchair Basketball Blitz’s (Best Young Player) of the year. I was delighted and very proud of the achievement. That was my 2nd achievement.

That same summer in 2014 I had my first swim in the sea this was a very different feeling as the water was much colder then the pool. My dad had been scuba diving for many years, so I decided to take part in a Discover Scuba lesson at Waterworld, Castlegregory, Kerry. The experience was fantastic I decided to do the PADI Seal Team course. This had many different new challenges to take on submerging under water, breathing under water, intentionally letting water into your mask/goggles and been able to clear the water out fully, buoyancy another tricky challenge been able to hover mid-way between the top and bottom of the pool and finally in the deep end knowing how to equalize the pressure in your ears while under water. This had been the biggest challenge to date. I completed the course and was certified PADI Seal Team Diver in June 2014. This was my 3rd achievement.

In the summer of 2013 Paul Ryan (IWA) loaned me a 3 Wheel Hand Trike. This would be a whole new experience for me. My mam and I started training every evening on the road starting at 1km and working our way up to 2/3/4/5Km each time we went out. This time I was competing with myself it was hard work at first but as I became more fit my endurance to continue and clock up the Kilometres was a new exciting challenge. At the end of the summer 2014 I had to return the Trike to (IWA). So, then we had to figure out where can we get another Hand Trike as they are very expensive to purchase. When I attended my next physio appointment in (CRC) Central Remedial Clinic, Clontarf, Dublin we mentioned to Deirdre my physiotherapist my activities during the summer with the Trike and that we had to give it back to (IWA) to pass on to another person. Deirdre said she would look out for a Trike for me from time to time members who would have purchased their own hand Trikes when they stopped using them they would pass it on to younger kids like me. Deirdre called my Mam and said we have a Trike just in that may suit Sean. My dad collected it in Dublin 3 days later and I have never looked back since. My Mam and I continued to train on the road. Finally, I had my very own Trike. That same year a group were taking part in the (GLR) Great Limerick Run to raise funds for Mid-West Spinabifida Association. My Mam and I decided let’s take on the GLR 10km challenge. I had never done 10km so we knew this be a big challenge for both of us. We registered with Suzy Kennedy, GLR and the date was set. We arrived on the morning of race day the were thousands of people waiting to start. The stewards allowed my to start the race 1 minute before the first large group the buzz and excitement at the start line was amazing my adrenaline was pumping. They gave me a 10 second countdown then we were off. The cheers and encouragement from the spectators was fantastic as we head down the streets of Limerick. The weather was bright and sunny as we complete every kilometre the excitement grew it was truly a great day. At times we faced long slow climbs that took all of our strength to get to the top but we keep driving forward. I will never forget as we were nearing the end as we passed over Sarsfield Bridge the support and cheering from the spectators we electric. I new then we were about to complete our first 10km challenge. As we turned the corner at Debenhams and we were heading back up O’Connell Street the finish line was in sight it was a relief, overwhelming and emotional all at the same time what a feeling. As we approached the finish line I heard my name been called out the crowed cheered me on I got a burst of energy and bolted for the finish line. You could see the pain, relief and excitement as participants crossed the finish line it was without doubt one of the most amazing experience I had ever had. We finished in 1hr-31mins this was my 4th achievement.

I have complete my 4th Great Limerick Run on my Hand Trike here are my times.

2015 1hr-31mins / 2016 1hr-11mins / 2017 1hr-7mins / 2018 1hr-7mins

Best regards,
Sean Byrnes 
(ATAP) All Things Are Possible

Caherconreafy, Pallasgreen, Co Limerick

Post Author: Deirdre Brogan