Irishtown Special Olympics Club Turns 25

special olympics irishtown club_p3

Irishtown Special Olympics Club was set up 25 years ago this March by Carmel Malone. Carmel has put in so much work and passion into the club over the years and became an ambassador for Special Olympics six years ago.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The Irishtown Special Olympics Club is one of 85 in the eastern region in Dublin. The club provides year-round sports training and competition.

Carmel Malone set up the club in 1989 as part of a new journey for herself and her son Brian who has Down syndrome. She knocked on doors of people who were in the same boat as Brian and got a group of nine participants to train and be part of this new journey as a team.

At the time, there was nothing in the area for people with intellectual disabilities so Carmel took it upon herself to do something about it. “When I came up with the idea I asked Bernie Griffin to join me so we both went on coaching sessions to learn how to be a coach before we started,” she said.

Clanna Gael had only opened that year so Carmel booked a session in the hall every Monday night from six to seven to allow for training to commence and 25 years later a dedicated team still train at the same time every Monday. The club’s main sport is athletics and the group participate in the 50-metre run, the 100-metre run, the 400-metre run, the throw ball, the shot put and the relay.

In 1992 Brian was asked to travel to Barcelona to compete in athletics for Ireland. Brian came back to Irishtown with a gold and silver medal, placing Irishtown Special Olympics Club on the map.
Gillian Davidson joined forces with Bernie and Carmel four years ago and today there are 16 members who train every Monday.

Irishtown Special Olympics is the longest club of its kind running in Dublin. Exciting times are ahead for the club as in June five will be competing in Limerick for the Ireland Games and if they get through, it’s off to Los Angeles in 2015 for the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Above, the Irishtown Special Olympics Club, from left, back: Carmel Malone, Mark Rooney, Timothy Morahan, Liz McNally, John Donohue, Ron Staunton.
Front: Gillian Davidson, Vivian Clinton, Brian Malone, Brian Jackson, Dean Coleman, Bernie Griffin.

By Donna Dunne