‘Heroes’ honoured for services to deaf community

Singer Daniel O’Donnell thanks winners for being inspirational and not giving up

Daniel O’Donnell at the “Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards” with sportsperson award winner Stuart Foy from Glasnevin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Daniel O’Donnell at the “Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards” with sportsperson award winner Stuart Foy from Glasnevin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins


“I always thought she should get an award for just putting up with me,” Declan Buckley, aka Shirley Temple Bar, joked as his mother Maura was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for services to the deaf community today.

The Hidden Hearing Heroes Award was presented in recognition of her pioneering work as a founding member of the Deaf Action Group, being the first deaf woman to become a qualified teacher in the State school system; and the first deaf woman to become a vice principal at St Mary’s School for deaf girls in Cabra, Dublin.

Ms Buckley was among a number of ‘heroes’ thanked by singer Daniel O’Donnell at an awards ceremony in Citywest, “for being an inspiration to the deaf community, and the wider community, and for not giving up”.

Among those honoured were businessman Denis Broderick from Belfast, who overcame his hearing loss to forge a successful business career, holding many posts including president of the Hotel, Catering and International Management Association and chairman of the board of governors of St Patrick’s College, Maghera. His citation said he was also an active fundraiser for children’s charities and a torch-bearer at the London Olympics.

An award for social contribution was presented to a team of seven people behind the “Signs of Life” photographic exhibition which features personalities from the worlds of sport and the arts communicating through sign language. The seven were Treacy Treanor, Maggie Owens, Johnny Corcoran, David Somers, Fran McNulty, Wendy Murray, and Caroline Whelehan.

A family award was presented to sisters Abigail and Anna Cahill from Killarney, Co Kerry, who were described as an outstanding support for their family, particularly their brother Patrick who has special needs.

Abigail took last year out from college to help look after Patrick and is retuning next month to study special needs. Anna works in St Joseph’s Home for deaf and blind as a care worker.

Róisín Ormond from Kerrpike, Cork, was presented with an award for services to young deaf people particularly as a junior leader with the Cork Deaf Association’s Smiley Children’s Club and the Cool Youth Club.

A sportsperson’s award was presented to Stuart Foy of Glasnevin Dublin who is the most capped deaf football player in Ireland. He was the first Irish schoolboy player to take part in the World games for the deaf in 1989, and has been involved in the sport at club, European and international level. He recently lined out for Ireland in defence at the eight Deaflympics.

Congratulating the award winners, Mr O’Donnell said they had refused to be held back by their difficulties and they left him in awe. He said the winners were an inspiration to all who had difficulties of any sort, and in answer to questions from reporters said his wife was well after recent breast surgery.

Talking to The Irish Times, Mr Buckley said the awards were an important recognition of the extra efforts deaf people must make to take part in what would be considered ordinary events - such as a team game, like football.

He said the awards also served to create an awareness of deaf issues in the wider community. He said both his parents were deaf and he had learned to sign as a child.

The Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards are an all-Ireland joint initiative between the organisation Hidden Hearing and the Irish Deaf Society.