A YOUNG Limerick man wakes up every morning aiming to try something new.
Michael O’Doherty, aged 20, from Montpelier has a mild form of cerebral palsy but he isn’t letting his disability dominate his life.
Known to his friends and family as Mikey, he love to go surfing in Lahinch, make radio programmes, play boccia, is on Bridge United’s committee and loves to travel. If that isn’t enough he studies contemporary living in Mary I, sits in on other lectures to learn more and started a poetry group in Enable Ireland in Mungret.
“Just because you have a disability it doesn’t have to slow you down. If you have a gift, no matter what obstacles are put in front of you, you can achieve your dreams if you work hard,” said Mikey.
The poetry group has become known as the Thursday Club. It grew from just a couple attending to over 20 every week and they have just published their first book.
It was launched in Mary I by the Kerry poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Dr Eugene O’Brien, head of the English department.
Michael Cronin, of Enable Ireland, said everybody at the launch was blown away by the quality, beauty and honesty of the poems.
“The poetry session takes place every Thursday between 11am and 12pm. We get various people to read poems like Gabriel Fitzmaurice. We also invite teachers and children from local schools to read poems,” said Mr Cronin.
“Gabriel spoke about writing poems about everyday life, for example, when he was a principal. The whole thing changed after that. Service users and staff, who attend the meetings, started to write their own poetry. That’s how the book came about,” he adds.
The talent flowed from their pens and the book entitled The Thursday Club stands tall beside any poetry book.
“Mikey has a tribute to the late Seamus Heaney that is absolutely unbelievable. Some poems have disability themes and some don’t. The standard is very high,” said Mr Cronin. Transition year students from Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh, St Clement’s College, Salesian Secondary College and sixth years from CBS Sexton Street have all visited the poetry group.
“It is to make them aware about disabilities and it is amazing how the kids relate to people. They read the poems they learn in class and then start to compose their own poems. It is a wonderful experience every Thursday,” said Mr Cronin. Letters from school children with their thoughts of Enable Ireland are also featured in the book.
The man weaving his magic wand behind it all is Mikey.
“We have a lot of poems by a lot of different people. The book is an incredible achievement by everybody. I am very proud of everyone writing their own poems and the effort put in by everybody.
“It means a lot to me and a lot to everyone in Enable Ireland,” said Mikey, who would love for him and his friends to recite poems during Limerick City Of Culture.
He hopes to progress the poetry group and get involved in different projects in the future.
“I have a good family behind me, good friends, Enable Ireland, Mary I and I am truly happy,” said Mikey.
The Thursday Club is available to buy for €5 from Enable Ireland in Mungret or by ringing 061 301830.