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Comhaltas award for Michael Hayes

Friday, 21st December, 2018 9:00am
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Comhaltas award for Michael Hayes
Comhaltas award for Michael Hayes

In October, Roscrea Comhaltas were delighted to host an evening in the Whitehouse to present Michael Hayes of Moneygall with a special medallion and certificate to honour his achievements. For those of you who don’t know Michael, the following is a piece that will give you an insight as to why Michael was chosen by the branch for this award.

Michael Hayes was born on December 17th 1992 with the bones of his digits fused.  Having just one finger and thumb on each hand, this made mobility and self-help skills much more complex. He has no functional vision and has been a service user with NCBI – National Council for the Blind – since 1994. Despite having severely impaired fine motor skills, Michael accomplished the technique of long cane skills. This enabled him to become fully independent in both primary and secondary school.

He attended his local mainstream primary school, Scoil Iosaif, in Moneygall from 1998-2006. He had a wonderful SNA, Anne Maher, and with her continued support he learned mobility training as a part of his daily routine.  

Michael got to know the school building and went on his rounds with the roll book every day and eventually managed to take the roll book to all classes independently by using his cane.  He had use of a laptop with a voice activated programme installed and learned every key on it individually so he could use it without any support or aid.  Michael would scan his books and the computer would read the pages for him and he would answer questions and print it out to hand it in for homework. During this time, he learned the keyboard/piano and played music in both school and church for various events.  

In his teenage years, Michael started in St Joseph's CBS, Nenagh, in 2006. With the support of his laptop with talking software, his special needs assistant and his teachers, Michael studied English, History, Geography, Business Studies, German and Music for his Junior Cert.  His hard work and commitment paid off when he passed all his exams with ease.

During this time he also travelled to Euro Disney, Paris, Belgium and Luxemburg with his peers and teachers.  He participated in the production of ‘Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’, Toastmasters and soccer for the blind. Michael got a distinction in the LCA Programme and, as part of Office and Administration, he designed braille signs for all the fire extinguishers in the school (which remain intact for the future) so that other students and visitors who may be visually impaired would know what they were.

In 2008 Michael became a member of Enable Ireland and, in recognition of his dedication to the cause, he was awarded the Bronze Presidents Gaisce Award. In order to receive this award he completed three tasks: Community involvement, shopping for an elderly lady weekly, and developing personal skills by completing a First Aid course, and physical recreation by walking over mixed terrain in the Burren, Co Clare, none of which were easy tasks. Michael was also involved in raising funds to the value of €300, which went towards the provision of services for children and adults with disabilities. His involvement with Enable Ireland is held close to his heart.

Michael also attended Vocational Education in Child Vision, Co Dublin, during which he received several certificates. He has attended weekly bodhrán classes with Tadhg Maher for a number of years now. Tadhg is very proud of Michael and reiterates how Michael really enjoys the classes and has always shown a great sense of commitment to learning the instrument.  

And so, on an evening in October, after treating a wide circle of proud members of the Hayes family, Comhaltas and friends to a couple of tunes on the bodhrán, Michael accepted his certificate and medallion from his teacher Tadhg Maher and Chair of Roscrea Comhaltas Suzanne Costello.  Michael’s acceptance speech was full of thanks to his wonderful parents, family and friends, who have always supported him greatly, and it also showcased his great sense of humour!  

Roscrea Comhaltas would like to congratulate Michael on this fantastic achievement.  Michael has shown that with strength and determination, nothing is impossible, and has proved that the word itself can simply be broken up to mean “I’m possible”.

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