The Chairman of the South Tipperary MS Ireland Branch - Paul Tierney.

Tipp's link with MS Day campaign

Paul Tierney, the Chairman of the South Tipperary MS Ireland Branch from Fethard, Tipperary is one of the chosen “faces” for MS Ireland’s World MS Day campaign on this week.

The theme of the “Faces of MS” exhibition featuring Tipperary’s Paul Tierney in the St Stephen’s Green Centre in Dublin in partnership with Novartis is to highlight and challenge the perceptions of what people living with MS look like and are capable of.

MS Ireland is commemorating World MS Day with an exhibition of portraits of eight members of the MS community as part of MS Ireland’s schedule of events marking the international awareness day all over Ireland.

World MS Day on the 30th May every year aims to raise awareness and support for people living with Multiple Sclerosis, the most common debilitating neurological condition affecting young adults in Ireland. This day of celebration brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign for everyone affected by Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis is different for each person impacted by it. They experience different symptoms, with different degrees of severity for different amounts of time. There is no one way to ‘have’ MS, there is no one way to live with MS. The aim of the exhibition is to showcase a range of experiences so people will better understand that MS is a very individual condition.

Describing his MS diagnosis, Paul said “I was diagnosed with MS in 2013, at the age of 21. I live on a farm with my family in Tipperary. My story is a bit different to most or all. I began experiencing groin/hip problems and was referred by my GP to Whitfield where I underwent surgery. Soon after, I underwent a balance test and the surgeon wasn’t satisfied with my balance and coordination. They referred me to a Neurologist in Dublin.

“Soon after, I was given the news that I had MS. I remember being asked if I had heard of MS before. I said no. After receiving the news, I remember feeling numb. I was unaccepting of the diagnosis and hid it from friends for some time. Once I did accept it and shared news of my diagnosis with friends it weirdly felt like a massive relief. It removed the strain and energy I was using up hiding the diagnosis.

“One challenge I have faced is having to adapt my sporting life. I miss playing and competing in rugby and GAA however, I have found alternatives like volunteering at Parkruns and coaching yoga -something I never would have done before. When I think back, I realise the inner strength I had.

“My advice to those diagnosed is not to dwell and to try to stay as positive as possible. I have found the family support and new people I have met due to MS a bonus. From those I have met in South Tipperary to those I have met in the National MS Care Centre in Bushy Park and further afield, I have enjoyed getting to know new people and that has been a benefit in my view”.

Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland commented: “There is no singular experience of MS, the journey is unique to each individual. Our community has seen huge developments in terms of treatments and therapies over the past three decades but we still have hurdles to overcome. This World MS Day we want to challenge misconceptions around MS and redefine the “face of MS” in public perception by shining a spotlight on the full and varied lives of those who live with it.”

Caitriona Walsh, Managing Director Novartis Ireland said: “World MS Day 2023 is particularly significant as it marks almost thirty years of scientific developments and progress in the field of MS in Ireland. Over the past three decades thousands of people’s lives have been impacted by the developments in treatments, therapies and groundbreaking research and development that have changed the face of MS. At Novartis we are dedicated to harnessing the power of scientific research and development to ensure that the progress continues for many years to come and that we continue to support people living with MS in Ireland and worldwide.”

MS Ireland is holding events and activities to raise awareness on World MS Day through its great network of local branches and regional offices throughout Ireland with all details on their dedicated webpage