Civic Reception honours exceptional athletes Gemma Haire and Margaret Turley for their achievements at the Special Olympics World Games

LtoR: Gemma Haire and Margaret Turley with Civic Recognition Certificates which were presented to them by Cathaoirleach and Elected Members of Kilkenny County Council. Photo: Vicky Comerford

Photos by Vicky Comerford

The Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Michael Doyle, and the Elected Members of Kilkenny County Council, extended Civic Recognition yesterday evening to two exceptional individuals who have brought immense pride to our County through their extraordinary achievements in the world of sport. We celebrated Gemma Haire and Margaret Turley, two athletes who have displayed determination and resilience on their journey to represent Ireland and Kilkenny at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin.

The Special Olympics World Games, an event uniting athletes from 187 nations, witnessed Gemma and Margaret shine brilliantly, showcasing their exceptional talents and dedication. For these remarkable athletes, the Games represented far more than just a competition; they symbolised the culmination of years of hard work and the realisation of dreams.

Gemma Haire, a 23-year-old native of Graiguenamanagh, made our County proud by donning the Irish Equestrian Team jersey at the Special Olympic Games in Berlin. Her impressive achievements included securing 7th place in English Equitation and an astounding 1st place in Working Trials. Gemma’s 15-year journey in Special Olympics, spanning various disciplines from swimming to kayaking, exemplifies her spirit, as embodied by her motto, “you can do it.” Beyond her sporting prowess, Gemma’s talents extend to filmmaking and radio hosting, showcasing her remarkable versatility.

Margaret Turley, aged 33 and a native of Kilkenny, has been living independently in Dublin since 2017, employed with Ernst & Young. Her journey into sports began in 2012 at Trinity College, where she passionately participated in basketball and skiing. Margaret’s roots in sports trace back to her early years in Kilkenny, where she engaged in swimming, bowling, bocce, and athletics as a dedicated member of the Special Olympics programme during her school days. Despite a setback in 2019 due to a broken wrist, Margaret’s tenacity led her to achieve her long-held dream of representing Ireland at the Special Olympics World Games in 2023, where she clinched a gold medal.

Gemma and Margaret’s remarkable journeys inspire us all, proving that dreams know no bounds. They have not only achieved excellence in Special Olympics but have also become examples of what can be accomplished with hard work and determination.

We also acknowledged the invaluable support of the Special Olympic Committees, coaches, and volunteers who have tirelessly nurtured and trained these athletes. We commend them for their dedication and commitment to Special Olympics. Furthermore, the families of Gemma and Margaret, who have been pillars of support throughout their journeys, deserve our appreciation.

In conclusion, the Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council expressed his congratulations and admiration to all those involved in these incredible journeys, with special recognition for Gemma and Margaret. Cllr. Michael Doyle said, “Gemma and Margaret have made Kilkenny incredibly proud, and their achievements will continue to inspire future generations of athletes in our great County.

As we celebrate Gemma and Margaret’s remarkable achievements, let us remember the words of the famous Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” These athletes have shown us that dreams can indeed become a reality.”

Margaret and Gemma with family and Elected Members and Officials of Kilkenny County Council.
Photo: Vicky Comerford
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