One of Ireland’s first ever Paralympic athletes, Oliver Murphy, will be honoured alongside fellow Paralympian, Anne Ebbs, at the much-anticipated Paralympics Ireland More Than Sport fundraising ball which will take place this coming Saturday night, July 2nd at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin.
This weekend’s event has enormous significance for Mr. Murphy in particular, as the date (July 2nd) marks 57 years to the day since an accident at work decided the course of his life.
“An accident at work that night left me with a broken spine,” he explained. “I nearly died that night a number of times as I was taken to hospital. The medical staff did a great job on me thank God as I very nearly wouldn’t have been here today.
“Thankfully though, I pulled through and while I had to adjust to life in a wheelchair I had, and still have, incredible support around me from family and friends.”
Indeed, just one year later he, along with Fr. Leo Close, Jack Kerrigan, Joan Horan and Jimmy Levins, travelled to Rome for the 1960 Paralympic Games – a Games that would prove to be the foundations of Paralympic sport in Ireland.
It was after those Games that Mr. Murphy and his other team members founded an organisation that would impact on the sporting landscape of Ireland for years to come with the establishment of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA).
“We came home from Rome that year after an incredible time. From there, we formed the IWA and focused primarily on promoting sport. It was all about letting people know that they could take part in sport no matter what.”
Mr. Murphy will be honoured, alongside fellow Paralympic athlete, Anne Ebbs, on Saturday night as part of a new Paralympic Recognition Programme that is currently underway by Paralympics Ireland. Each Paralympic athlete who has represented Ireland at the Games over the years will receive a unique number and pin to recognize their achievement. Mr. Murphy will receive the number one pin this coming weekend and Mrs. Ebbs will receive number 22, while a special event to recognize all Irish Paralympic athletes since 1960 will take place next year, in 2017.
“I’m deeply honoured that I will be recognized by Paralympics Ireland this Saturday night,” Mr. Murphy stated. “It’s a wonderful movement and has grown enormously since our first foray in 1960. I’d like to thank Paralympics Ireland for this programme which will honour and record forever the athletes who have competed at Paralympics Games.”
Also looking forward to the occasion was Anne Ebbs, a Paralympic athlete who represented Ireland at the Paralympic Games from 1972 to 1984, where she won two silver medals (1972 and 1984) and a bronze medal (1980). She was also the driving force behind the foundation of the Paralympic Council of Ireland (now Paralympics Ireland) in 1987, where she was the organisation’s Secretary General until her retirement in 2008.
“I was shocked when I was told that I was going to be honoured as part of the new initiative,” she stated. “I’m very happy to be receiving this honour and very, very humbled.”
The Paralympics Ireland More Than Sport fundraising ball takes place on Saturday, July 2nd, at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin.
If you know someone who competed in Paralympics Games gone by and would like them to be recognized at a special event to be held in 2017, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can contact us here.