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We have a funny Christmas story to share with kiddies before Santa comes and it’s written by one of our talented brain injury survivors, Michael Hopper.

A Prawn Cracker Christmas…


It’s December in the North Pole and Santa is locked out of his toy room.  His shed is frozen solid and there’s a tornado on the way.

Santa has a big frown on his face, he’s sobbing, and he is knocking on a door.

On the other side, 42 elves were cranking the machines in the toy room.

“NO, NO, NO.” Santa is shouting “let me in, let me in”.

The elves were laughing, “Ho,Ho,Ho” and “Ha,Ha,Ha”.

They had locked Santa out and taken over his job.

Next thing a delivery boy arrives with a Chinese take-away,

“What’s the matter Santa? Why are you crying?”

“The elves have locked me out of my toy room and they have taken over my job,” sobbed Santa.

“I’m really sorry Santa,” said the delivery boy.

He handed Santa a plate of sweet ‘n’ sour chicken balls, egg fried rice and prawn crackers.

But Santa was so upset he turned the food upside down in the snow.

The elves could smell the food outside and they were terribly cross.  They hadn’t eaten in the past 43 millennia because they were so busy.

“It’s all your fault, Santa,” they cried. Then they broke down the door only to find Santa sipping a glass of mulled wine.

“Hi kids!” Santa was suddenly merry and bright.

“Will you help me deliver the toys?” asked Santa.

“And I promise you all Chinese food when we come back?”

The elves grabbed cups of mulled wine and toasted Santa.

“Ho, Ho, Ho!” they sang as the reindeer pulled the sleigh across the sky.

All the children in the world were happy to see their toys under the Christmas tree.

But the children were very surprised to find a packet of prawn crackers in each parcel!!


The End


Roving presenter Malachy Murray (played by FM104’s Terry Fahy from Tullamore), is ready to release his charms on the people of Offaly in our upcoming Valentine’s Ball fundraiser. And Malachy’s most pressing decision between now and then – is which cravat to wear at this year’s spectacular black-tie event! Malachy is famous for those lovely awkward moments where his interviewees don’t quite know what to say. He is a well-loved character in the midlands.

“Nothing speaks of love like a burly man in formal attire…”

Malachy said: “My New Year’s resolution is to bring as many of the delightful people of Offaly to the doors of the Tullamore Court Hotel on 16th February. On the night, I promise to rekindle the dim flicker of romance right here in the midlands. To the men I say, nothing speaks of love like a burly man in formal attire with a healthy dash of Old Spice aftershave. To the ladies I bid you come join me for a glittering evening. I’ll sing, I’ll sparkle, I’ll look ravishing. You’ll love it!”

Saturday, 16th February 2019

February 2019 marks the second year of our glamorous black-tie fundraising event. It is organised by our Acquired Brain Injury Ireland team in Mountbolus to raise vital funds for neuro-rehabilitation services for our brain injury survivors. The Valentine’s Ball will take place on Saturday 16th February 2019 in the Tullamore Court Hotel. The event includes a drinks reception at 6.30pm, a four-course meal, music entertainment, dancing and lots of great raffle (& Auction) prizes to be won.

Making life better after brain injury

Our Local Services Manager, Martin Nunan who works in our service in Mountbolus, said: “Our team is delighted to bring a second Valentine’s Ball to the midlands. We’ve got an unforgettable line-up for everyone who joins us. It’s pointless trying to resist the charms of our hilarious host Malachy Murray so you might as well give in and buy a ticket! Funds raised from this event make an enormous difference to our work. We believe every brain injury is unique and we champion personalised rehabilitation plans for all our brain injury survivors. Ultimately our goal is that our clients won’t need us anymore. By joining us on the night, not only will you enjoy an incredible experience but you will also help to make life better for people with brain injury right here in the midlands and around the country.”

53 brain injuries in Ireland every day

As many as 19,500 brain injuries happen in Ireland every year from causes including stroke, road traffic accidents, falls and assaults. That’s 53 people every day – men and women of all ages – acquiring a brain injury that can affect their lives and those of their family for months and years after the initial injury. In Offaly, our Mountbolus service is working to rebuild the lives of more than 160 brain injury survivors across the midlands (Offaly, Laois, Longford and Westmeath).

Every donation helps

Our Chief Executive Barbara O’Connell said: “Brain injury is a hidden phenomenon in Irish society. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them. Our neuro-rehabilitation and family support services offer a vital lifeline to help people rebuild their lives nationwide. After brain injury, many people experience problems with memory, fatigue, judgement. Many need support to help them relearn everyday activities. We support 1,200 people and their families each year through our personalised, clinically-led rehabilitation programmes. Thanks to the generous donations from events like our Valentine’s Ball, we can help even more people get back to living their life in the community.”

Tickets on sale now!

Tickets for our Valentine’s Ball on 16th February are priced at €60. To order tickets by phone contact Natasha Olohan in our head office on 01-2804164 or email

If you’re in Offaly – pop into your local Acquired Brain Injury Ireland service near you in Mountbolus to collect tickets in person!


Here at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland we are experts at goal setting as we help hundreds of brain injury survivors relearn vital skills and rebuild their lives.


Your purpose

We’ve all set goals that are perfectly good but somewhere along the way we’ve lacked the motivation to achieve them… and the goals fall by the wayside.

With our brain injury survivors, it’s important that goal setting is aligned to the person’s own sense of purpose so they are motivated in making progress with their personalised rehabilitation plan.

And this applies to you too. We look at the whole person – who they are, what they are good at, what they like, what interests them? These are useful questions to ask. Aligning goals to your own sense of purpose and sense of soul is crucial to your success. Anything else is not authentic to you.

Look at your goals everyday

Write them down! Writing down goals in a plan is an important start to make them real. Even better, put your goals on the wall where you can see them every day.

Our brain injury survivors look at their goals and reminders every day to keep them on track to achieving success in rebuilding their lives.

Find a goal buddy

Find a goal buddy to share your goals with and keep you on track. You’ll have more success if you’re accountable to someone and have support.

Our rehabilitation assistants and keyworkers regularly check in with our brain injury survivors to track their progress.

Your goal must be important to you

Rehabilitation is full of ups and downs and so is any goal worth achieving. Change won’t happen overnight – it takes time and commitment. That’s why your goal has to be important to you so you can find the drive to keep going.

Know the roadblocks

It’s a good idea to write down possible barriers or obstacles that could cause you to lose motivation. By writing down potential roadblocks before you start, you can make a plan to overcome them. Plus you won’t lose heart and better able to take the rough with the smooth to stay on course and achieve your goals.

If you found this useful and would  like to help more brain injury survivors achieve their goals in 2019,  join our Never Say Never Club here.


Ho ho ho! We are thrilled to celebrate 15 years in Limerick this festive season – it’s the icing on the Christmas cake! Limerick 15 Year anniversary


In fact, our Limerick service was one of the early flagship locations for Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s unique neuro-residential homes when it opened its doors in 2003.  From there it went from from strength to strength and it wasn’t long before it expanded to provide rehabilitation in the community as well.

Now as we celebrate 15 years, our local services manager Alan O’Connell who has worked with the organisation for more than a decade, remembers the first time one of his residents achieved their goals to move out and live independently.

A feeling of pride and reward

Alan said: “It’s hard to describe the feeling of pride and reward that comes when a resident reaches their goals to progress to the next stage of moving back home. As we celebrate our 15-year anniversary ahead of Christmas, it’s a lovely time to take stock and remember those incredibly special moments. A particular memory for me was in 2008 when one of the original residents was the first to move out to independent living. Ultimately our goal is to rebuild lives so that our residents need us less and less until they no longer need us at all.

“It is just brilliant to see how this man went from intensive neuro-rehabilitation 24/7 in our Limerick house down to a visit once a week from our community rehabilitation assistant.  He has come full circle after his brain injury caused by a car crash from being unable to prepare his meals, manage his medication and deal with social situations. Now he maintains his apartment, cooks for himself, has completed training courses and is looking for work. Now that’s worth celebrating.”

A home from home

A ‘home from home’, our Limerick service offers long-term tailored neuro-rehabilitation and support to four residents in a house at a given time. Each resident has an individual rehabilitation plan with their own goals to relearn vital skills and maximise their independence in a safe and homely place on a 24/7 basis. While our community rehab team delivers one to one support to help brain injury survivors achieve their goals at home.

Alan continued: “Like any home, the kitchen is a real hub in our Limerick house where all the action happens! With support from our rehabilitation assistants, residents prepare their own meals and they have a rota for cooking dinner for everyone. It’s a real family affair. We’ve got plenty of enthusiastic bakers in the house and they’ve been hard at it rustling up tasty nibbles for the celebration.”

Since it began, our Limerick service has supported 14 people through residential neuro-rehabilitation and the community service supports 50 brain injury survivors at a given time. Of course we cannot celebrate 15 years in Limerick without a word from our Chief Executive Barbara O’Connell who is delighted to mark this great milestone.

Our staff makes the difference

She said: “Our Limerick service has been at the heart of rebuilding lives in the Midwest of the country. We give people their lives back. This week we are delighted to celebrate our 15-year anniversary in Limerick to mark the incredible journeys of our brain injury survivors and the tireless dedication of our staff. Neuro-rehabilitation takes time. It requires the ability to see things differently and think outside the box. Every day Alan and his highly skilled team bring their passion to brain injury survivors in Limerick and that’s what makes the difference.”

If you would like to support the work of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland this Christmas, you can make a donation at or call us on 01-2804164.



“You won’t forgive yourself,” is the honest and heartfelt message from our brain injury survivor Derek Crilly to anyone tempted to drink and drive this festive season.

After almost 30 years, Derek has bravely decided to share his story as a warning to anyone considering driving after taking alcohol this Christmas.

Fighting for his life at 21 years old

Derek was just 21 years old when he was left fighting for his life after a drunken lorry driver crashed into his car. It happened on a drive home after a hurling match with friends when the car he was in, met a drunken lorry driver on the wrong side of the road.

Derek, 50, said: “The lorry crashed into the car and my life changed forever. I had head injuries and was put on life support for two weeks. I was even given the last rites because I was so badly injured.”

A talented hurler and bright college student, Derek’s life as he knew it was wiped out in an instant. Instead he was left blind and in a coma for two weeks. As well as losing his sight, Derek sustained serious physical and cognitive injuries.

Derek continued: “I was unconscious for a long while. When I regained consciousness, I couldn’t see and I couldn’t speak. The accident took everything away from me.”

9,000 arrested for drink driving

We checked the latest figures from the Road Safety Authority which confirmed that alcohol is a factor in 39% of fatal crashes in Ireland. Last year (2017) almost 9,000 drivers were arrested here on suspicion of drink driving.

Our Chief Executive Barbara O’Connell has publicly expressed concern at the continuing high trend in drink driving. She has stressed the traumatic impact it has on families all around Ireland left to cope with brain injuries.

Road accidents are one of the biggest causes of brain injury

Barbara O'Connell Chief Executive Acquired Brain Injury Ireland talking about the importance of community neuro-rehabilitation

Barbara O’Connell, Chief Executive

Ms O’Connell said: “Brain injuries shatter lives and one of the biggest causes we see is road traffic accidents. Most people don’t know about brain injury and they don’t know the devastation it causes. It is extremely brave of Derek to share his story and put a face to the trauma people are living with every day. There are 150,000 people like Derek, living today with a brain injury in Ireland. What’s worse, there are 30 new brain injuries happening in this country every day. It is beyond concerning to see that already in the first nine months of this year, the drink driving trend continues with almost 6,600 motorists arrested so far for driving under the influence.

“We fully support the introduction of new drink driving penalties last month (Oct 2018) including a 3-month mandatory disqualification for anyone with blood alcohol concentration between 50mg-80mg. Please, this Christmas, don’t drink alcohol if you’re getting behind the wheel. Too many lives are lost and as we know all too well, too many young lives like Derek’s are robbed from them.”

Please donate this Christmas

This Christmas, Derek is also the face of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s fundraising appeal. The appeal is urging the public to donate to help more brain injury survivors rebuild their lives.

Derek concluded: “Acquiring a brain injury at 21 years old means there will be a lot of dreams you may never see through. Life changes but it doesn’t end. Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has allowed me to set new goals and see different dreams.”

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is the country’s leading provider of community rehabilitation for those of working age (18-65 years) living with and recovering from an acquired brain injury. At any one time, the national not-for-profit organisation delivers dedicated individual rehabilitation and support to 1,100 brain injury survivors and their families, to rebuild their lives.

For more information see



At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland – people come first.

Our culture is person-centred which means we care about our brain injury survivors, their families and our employees. Our teams are highly skilled and qualified in their area and they are extremely passionate about the work they do.

What are you looking for in a job and in your life? Happiness? A sense of purpose? To improve your skills?

Benefits of working at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland: join our team job opportunities hiring careers

  • MAKE A DIFFERENCE: people often join us because they need a job, but they stay for the sense of fulfillment.
  • VALUES: our culture is extremely strong, compassionate and real because we live our values every day. We are dedicated to the people we support and the staff members who assist them. We are one of the top rehabilitation employers in the country and always strive to be an “employer of choice”.
  • LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT: We provide ongoing education opportunities for support professionals who would like a career with us.

Our people make us unique – they bring the magic.

Rebuilding lives through neuro-rehabilitation takes time but the rewards are huge. Working with brain injuries requires the ability to see things differently and think outside the box. That’s why we hire people who are problem solvers and willing to go the extra mile to preserve our clients’ right to choose how to live their life.

This month we have exciting new rehabilitation opportunities for you. Come join our team.

“The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes,” Dalai Lama.



We all need a friendly nudge from time to time… to remind us to do something we keep meaning to do. The weeks keep flying by and suddenly, it’s October. When was the last time you tried something new? Or when did you last really enjoy your food, and savour the taste instead of rushing to the next thing?

Today on World Mental Health Day… we are here to give you a friendly nudge to stop and take a breath. Today’s the day to choose one thing to do for yourself.

To help you get started – here are some ideas:

chicken rice dishCook a new recipe

Learning something new is great to boost our mental health because it helps to boost our self-confidence, self-esteem and build a sense of purpose. And it doesn’t have to be formal learning like a new qualification – it can be something low-cost and everyday like cooking a new recipe, a new DIY project or taking up a new hobby.

Set a coffee date

Call that friend today that you keep meaning to meet up with. Call them and set a date to meet for a coffee. It’s easy to feel so busy that there isn’t time to see the people most important to you. Take back control and prioritise spending time with someone you enjoy like a friend or family member. Social relationships are so important for our mental wellbeing. Don’t be afraid to say hello to someone new!

Get outside

We all know that exercise is good for us but with a busy job and changeable weather –where will you find the time? Well the good news is you don’t need to be fit or join a gym – just put on comfy shoes and off you go. A quick half an hour of brisk walking is all you need for health benefits. And if you bring a friend along – you kill two birds with one stone!

Grape time!

Mindfulness is all the buzz and with good reason. Too often many of us are caught up in our heads with ‘things’ floating around in our brains, often keeping us awake at night. Mindfulness is about taking notice and using your senses to be in the present moment. To notice sounds, smells, tastes and sights. A useful trick to help still your mind is to sit still, eyes closed and hold a grape in your mouth. Focus on how the grape feels in your mouth. Then when you’re ready, eat it and savour the taste and sensation.

For lots more tips check out the five ways to wellbeing from Mental Health Ireland.


This week all the way in Dallas, Texas, our CEO Barbara O’Connell joined thousands of experts as they gathered at the largest rehabilitation research conference in the world #ACRM2018. Barbara O'Connell CEO Acquired Brain Injury Ireland attends ACRM conference in Dallas, Texas

Barbara was there to share our research findings with international experts from our joint research project with the University of Limerick (UL) on the lived experience of brain injury in Ireland.

The research looked at the experience of people after brain injury to understand how it affected their social identity. A number of themes emerged including the role of the family and the difficulties that people with brain injury faced in getting services, being accepted back into their communities and re-starting their lives again.

One participant in the research described it as “it’s like getting my life reset. Some parts of your head get reset and it makes you a different person and that’s it”.

More than 3,000 delegates from across the world, including clinicians, researchers, academics, policy makers and service providers attended the conference.

Check out our poster from the conference exhibition here: ABII Social Cure

Or you can read the full research report Getting My Life Reset.


In our pre budget submission to government, we are calling for greater investment in case management services to reduce discharge delays, care costs and improve quality of life.

More than 13,000 people acquire brain injuries in Ireland annually but we know first hand that many families face a lone, uphill battle to access neuro-rehabilitation services. This could be alleviated by greater government investment in brain injury case management services.

Families are struggling to cope

Thousands of lives are devastated in Ireland every year by brain injuries acquired through falls, road collisions, attempted suicides and strokes resulting in a silent epidemic leaving families struggling to cope in every corner of the country. This is because there is a gaping need for investment in case management services not only to ensure brain injury survivors have access to appropriate services but also to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and delayed discharges.

Our National Services Manager Dr Karen Foley, said: “We have had brain injury case managers in the East of the country since 2006 and their effectiveness with regard to value for money is proven. Now we are calling for that case management approach to be replicated across each HSE CHO area so we can provide basic coverage for families of brain injury survivors nationwide. Currently, there are little or no services covering Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow. While services that exist for Dublin are severely under-resourced and under pressure.”

Benefits of case management are proven

An acquired brain injury case manager acts as a single point of contact for families and provides a clear pathway to support an individual’s transition from acute settings through post-acute and into community rehabilitation services. Research in the UK has shown that case management for complex cases of brain injury has enhanced quality of life for individuals. Additionally, earlier research focused on the northeast of Ireland (Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Louth) showed acquired brain injury case management services drove net savings for our health service of €3.5m due to:

·       reduced level of support required for individuals

·       reduced admission to nursing homes and hospitals

·       reduced discharge delays from nursing homes and hospitals

We know brain injury specific case management is hugely cost effective and reduces the burden of care by avoiding expensive hospital admissions.

“I am someone families can reach out to.”

Our Case Manager for the Cavan/Monaghan region Kathleen Brennan, said: “A brain injury is a sudden onset of trauma for a family and the individual and they feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn. My role as case manager is exactly designed for these times of distress. I am someone families can reach out to, a point of contact that listens to their need and identifies resources applicable and available to their situation. In the early days, there is often a high level of contact. There are times when younger people are inappropriately placed in nursing homes and being able to support these younger people to return home or access services in the community is very important. It’s extremely rewarding, working with people in this way.”

“Getting my independence again.”

Leanne Matthews, 49-year-old mum of two suffered a severe stroke in 2016 that caused left-sided weakness and loss of sight in one eye. Leanne is currently placed in a nursing home in Monaghan and says she is “the youngest person in the place”. But thanks to the efforts of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s case management service, she is now supported to be at home for half of the week. Leanne said: “Without the help of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s case manager and the HSE team she works with, it would be unlikely that I would ever get home at all but have to live permanently in a nursing home. She has been my link to the community services. Now that I have found my voice and able to speak for myself again, she is supporting me to get my independence again.”

We are calling for investment of €542,000 per annum to cover eight full-time equivalent case manager roles in areas of critical need including: Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim, West Cavan (CHO 1), Galway, Roscommon, Mayo (CHO 2), Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary, East Limerick (CHO 3), Kerry, North Cork, North Lee, South Lee, West Cork (CHO 4), South Tipperary, Carlow/Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford (CHO 5), Wicklow, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin South East (CHO 6), Kildare, West Wicklow, Dublin West, Dublin South City, Dublin South West (CHO 7), Dublin North, North Central, Dublin North West (CHO 9).

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is Ireland’s leading provider of community rehabilitation for those of working age (18-65 years) living with and recovering from an acquired brain injury.

To read our full pre budget submission or useful infographic, click here.


Jack Fadden Brain injury survivor Kildare Clane 5k 10k Fun Run

Join Jack on 10 November – Suitable for all levels – so no excuses!

“If I can do it, you can do it.”

This is the message from our inspirational brain injury survivor Jack Fadden from Kildare as he urges you to join him in the Clane 5k/10k Family Fun Run on November 10 in aid of our charity. The event is sponsored by T&I Fitouts and AMOSS Solicitors. At just 28 years old, Jack is training hard to achieve his goal of running the race in full for the first time.  And he wants you to join him!

Jack Fadden returns with Kildare’s biggest fun run this November

More than 650 participants took part last year (2017) and this year, it is expected to grow even bigger. The Clane 5k/10k Family Fun Run is fast becoming a firm favourite on the Irish running calendar.  It’s all about making life better for our brain injury survivors right across Ireland, with €35k raised to date.

Aim for your goals

Jack said: “Like many people after a brain injury I’ve struggled with fatigue and memory problems. With the help of my family, friends and keyworker, the Clane 5k/10k was created three years ago. Organising this event has motivated me to build up my physical strength. And it has tested my memory with planning and organising. In year one I walked 5k. In year two I walked and jogged 5k and now in year three my aim is to run 5k in full.”

Seven years ago, at just 21 years of age, Jack suffered a brain injury caused by a bleed on the brain. It left him unable to walk, talk or eat. And it happened when he was six thousand miles away from home after travelling to Thailand on his way to Australia. It was a shock when one of his friends found him unconscious in his room.

“I had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again.”

The young carpenter was rushed to hospital in Thailand. He remained there for three months before his family were able to fly him home. Then Jack spent a further three months in the Mater Hospital in Dublin relearning how to talk and eat again. Jack left hospital in a wheelchair to go for intense rehabilitation with the NRH (National Rehabilitation Hospital). Eventually he was discharged home to begin community rehabilitation with an Acquired Brain Injury Ireland keyworker, Aidan, who gave him the confidence and motivation to get his life back.

Jack said: “I made a promise to myself that I would never sit in a wheelchair again and from that day to this, I have fought every day to further myself and I refuse to give up. In the beginning I struggled to walk for more than 20 minutes and there were times when I felt like giving in. But with Aidan’s support, I refused to let it define me.”

Getting his life back

Thanks to the support of his keyworker Aidan from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, Jack feels he has regained his life. He is now back driving with confidence which is incredible. And he is studying to become a healthcare assistant so he can help other brain injury survivors. He has also joined his local running club and now runs three or four times a week.

Jack is unstoppable

Our Head of Fundraising with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, Jonathan Power,said: “Jack is an incredible inspiration to everyone who meets him. He is fabulous ambassador for our charity. Organising an event on this scale is an enormous task and Jack has a fantastic network of support around him, making it happen. Jack’s determination and commitment to help more brain injury survivors is unstoppable.

Where the money will go

“Every day in Ireland, 35 people acquire a brain injury from stroke, road traffic accidents, falls and assaults. The funds raised from this event make an enormous difference to our work. This year, everyone who takes part in the fun run will be helping to fund a new day facility serving Kildare and West Dublin. Our day services provide essential peer support and training for people affected by brain injury. This is often the final step before someone returns to independent living.”

Register now!

Clane 10k & 5k Family Fun Run 2018, 10 November, 10am-12.30pm. 5k ticket €20, 10k ticket €25. Entrants receive a technical tshirt and bespoke medal. Post-race refreshments provided courtesy of Clane GAA.

Register to take part with or see more info on their facebook page.

Tweet #RunWithJack