A Kinnitty teenager has been named the CarePlus Pharmacy Leinster Young Carer of the Year for 2017.
Alannah Donnelly (15) helps care for her 12-year-old brother Conor, a boy with intellectual disabilities and behavioural issues.
A transition year student at the Community School in Birr, Alannah was nominated for the award by her mother Clare.
Speaking to the Offaly Independent this week, Clare, a single mother who works full-time, described her daughter as an exceptional person, mature and caring, and fully deserving of the award.
“She is a sensible kind of kid, which a good head on her shoulders. This is the thing. It is strange to open up your story in this way, but I felt that it is important for Alannah to get recognition, but I'd like to think that she still has a good a life as she can have.
“The reality is that she is restricted in ways that someone who doesn't have a sibling like Conor isn't.”
Clare says that summer is particularly hard for Allanah as Conor's school St Anne's in Roscrea closes. However, the strong bond that exists between Alannah and Conor helps.
“The get on very well. She is very loving towards him...She is also very practical in how she looks at things and has a pragmatic understanding of things.”
Speaking at the awards ceremony in Dublin last Wednesday, Alannah, who was one of a number of young carers who appeared on last Friday night's Late Late Show, said that she was “delighted...because there are so many other young people doing amazing things”.
She also spoke warmly of her relationship with Conor and how her life differs to her friends.
“Conor is a really bubbly boy. He has a great personality. His speech is great, so he can tell me what he wants.
“But his behaviour can be very unpredictable. If he is having a bad day, he can be quite aggressive, and he is very strong. So it can be tough sometimes. Once he gets in a bad mood, you just have to wait it out until it is over.”
“I cannot be spontaneous and walk out the door to see my friends. Everything has to be arranged.
“So if I want to go to my friend’s house after school there has to be someone to take care of Conor. Sometimes it is a bit frustrating.I know everyone else has problems, so I deal with mine as they come to me.”
Offaly’s CarePlus Pharmacy Carer of the Year is Nancy Nestor. Nancy is caring for her husband Michael for over 20 years. Nancy’s nomination said she has carried out her caring role in a low-key way for many years and has never sought any recognition for the care that she provides.
One in twenty people in Ireland today is a family carer, collectively providing €10 billion in unpaid care each year.
Family Carers Ireland estimate there are 360,000 family carers in Ireland. By 2030, demographic changes will require one in five to take on a caring role and an increasing number of carers provide care for more than one person. Family carers prop up an inadequate health system, often at a high personal cost financially, physically and emotionally.
“We host the Carers of the Year awards to recognise the huge contribution of our family carers. It was fantastic to see 30 carers from counties across Ireland represented to celebrate with their families, including those from Offaly. We really appreciate the support of our new sponsor, CarePlus Pharmacy,” said Catherine Cox, Family Carers Ireland.