Kilkenny Olympians celebrated at Mayoral Reception

Olympians Margaret Turley and Gemma Haire receive certificates to mark the occasion of their visit to City Hall from Mayor David Fitzgerald on behalf of the Council

Photos jbs photos Kilkenny

Two Kilkenny Athletes will represent Kilkenny and Ireland at this years Special Olympics World Games in Germany in June. Local athletes Gemma Haire and Margaret Turley will participate in the SO World Games due to be held in Berlin. Gemma joins the Irish Equestrian Team and Margaret will compete with the Irish Basketball Team. They will join over 7000 athletes, supported by 3,000 coaches and 20,000 volunteers from 170 countries.

Recognising the achievements of Gemma and Margaret, Mayor David Fitzgerald said it was important that we changed the language of disability to reflect a more positive approach to disability, placing far more emphasis on ‘the abilities and talents people have, including the joy and happiness they bring to us all”. Mayor Fitzgerald presented both athletes with Mayoral Certificates of Achievements to recognise the significance of their achievements for themselves, their families and the wider community of supporters.

Cllr Maria Dollard also spoke of her personal experience of the Kilkenny Special Olympic Club. She thanked the volunteer coaches and referenced the way that “we all feel like a family when we get together and the fun we have as a club, firmly bonded together through our many happy shared experiences.”

Both Gemma and Margaret spoke at the celebration, thanking their families and friends for all the support. Gemma Haire thanked in particular the Equestrian Team from Mount Juliet for their sponsorship and guidance throughout the year. The Head Coach of the Ireland Equestrian Team, Etta Hayes praised the dedication and determination of Gemma and all the athletes she has worked with over a long voluntary career.

Margaret Turley, also thanked all the people who helped her on her journey. Margaret who is originally from Kilkenny and started with Kilkenny SO Club, now lives and works in Dublin. Margaret who has a track record in self advocacy has featured in a recent video as a Champion for the recently enacted Supported Decision Making Legislation.

These young women have worked extremely hard to get to these games and were wished well by everyone. The Mayor helped the ladies cut a celebratory cake, enjoyed by all. They will proudly represent Ireland under the Special Olympics motto. “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”


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