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Join our womens mini marathon team to raise vital funds for brain injury

Irene (left) is pictured with Roisin from our Wexford Women’s Group.

Imagine one minute you’re driving a car with friends and the next you’re waking up at the wheel to the sound of car horns blaring. This is exactly what happened to Irene when she was just 23 years old.

Irene thought she had fallen asleep at the wheel but in fact she had had a seizure. Diagnosed with epilepsy as a child, this was the first time in years and as an adult, that Irene had a seizure.

Out of the blue

Irene had lived a normal life with no sign that anything was wrong for most of her life. Then out of the blue she started experiencing black-outs and seizures.

One of the jolliest people you could hope to meet, Irene has learned to cope with her seizures and make changes to her life. One of the positive changes she has made, is taking part in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon.

Inspired to help others with brain injury

Truly inspirational, Irene has not let overpowering fatigue get in the way. Twice, she has completed the 10k women’s mini marathon to help others who are living with a brain injury.

And this year, she hopes to inspire you to do the same on 2nd June. Register now!

You can make a difference too!

Irene said: “Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has helped me realise that I’m not alone. Now I have people who understand how I’m feeling. They understand that my brain has to work harder now than it used to, to do everyday things or even to concentrate on a conversation. They get me. I cannot tell you what a difference it makes to have people understand what you’re going through. By taking part in this year’s women’s mini marathon, you can help more brain injury survivors like me.”

Irene has been through it all. In her twenties, she learned the hard way that working and studying was just too much for her body – it brought on too many seizures. But Irene is not one to let things go without a fight. So she set work aside and went on to graduate as a mature student with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Limerick.

A real fighter

She said: “By the time I got to the end of my degree, I was wrecked. I was having so many seizures in the last year because I was under so much pressure. Now I know there’s a limit to what I can do but I’m making the most of it.”

A real fighter, Irene has come through life-threatening brain surgery and months of intense recovery. There’s no doubt her life is different after brain injury, but it’s far from over.

She said: “My memory is brutal because of the operation on the hippocampus area of the brain. And I’m a lot less confident than before. Depression was probably the main side effect. I also find background noise and conversation difficult and I’m not as good at multi-tasking anymore.”

Take each day as it comes

But Irene takes each day as it comes and is a keen member of our women’s group in the Wexford Clubhouse in Drinagh for the last five years. Ever the engineer, she feels very positive about the ability of the brain regrow cells.

She said: “Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has made such a big difference to me. I thought I was alone but now I am surrounded by others who understand. We can just be normal with each other. Even when I’m tired, I still come to the group because it’s my escape and I love being here. It makes a big difference to talk about issues because there’s always someone here who has gone through something similar. And I love the creative exploration and expression. It has really brought out my creative side.”

Rebuilding lives

Brain injuries can happen in the blink of an eye. That’s when you and your family need every support to rebuild your lives. At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland we provide personalised rehabilitation because every brain injury is unique.

Join our team!

Join our women’s mini marathon team today and help raise vital funds for brain injury rehabilitation. Email us today and we’ll pop your fundraising pack in the post!


Don’t forget to register with the event organisers at

The VHI Women’s Mini Marathon takes place on the June Bank Holiday weekend, on Sunday, 2nd June at 2.00pm. The race starts from Fitzwilliam Street Upper in Dublin City Centre.


“Peer support is really important when you have a brain injury.”

Sarah Kerr Wexford Clubhouse Acquired Brain Injury Ireland March 2019Sarah Kerr is the acting local services manager in our Wexford rehabilitation service. Our women’s group in Drinagh is one of our longest established services in the country. Here members meet every Wednesday to do everything from cookery to crafts; but most importantly, to connect.

Sarah has seen many women’s lives turned upside down after brain injury. Many had to leave college or a career or are struggling with childcare. Many women were left feeling lost or isolated.

Brain injury can affect your sense of identity

Sarah says: “You get a sense of worth from your employment or from your role within the family. So when you have a brain injury and you have to give up that role – whether you’re working in a shop or looking after your family – it affects your sense of identity.”

But the power of meeting people who understand exactly how you feel, cannot be underestimated. Talking about the magic of the women’s group in Wexford, Sarah said: “Here, the women can come into each other with concerns or issues and the other people in the group can say ‘yes, I’ve had that too’. It’s a really safe space for people to be themselves.”

A place to be yourself

The supportive environment of our Wexford clubhouse where our women’s group meets every week allows people to build their confidence. Whether it’s having the confidence to get out and about again or learning a new skill, our clubhouse is there to help them along.

Sarah added: “A lot of people come to our art classes. Most people never did art before their injury but now they find it is such a good outlet for them. They realise ‘God, this is something that I can do. I’m actually good at it’ and it takes them away from concentrating on deficits and negative thoughts like ‘I can’t do this’.”

Power of peer support

Over time, our women’s group members are supported to achieve their own goals, such as returning to work. But no matter what people’s personal ambitions are, Sarah believes there is huge power in sharing the journey.

Building confidence

Sara said: “People who have been through the same thing as you and have come out the other side, have found outlets for themselves that have given them the support they need. It’s given them confidence and it helps them to be more independent and maximise their abilities and feel positive about themselves.”

This article is taken from the latest issue of Irish Country Magazine, April issue 2019.


say the right thing tips on what not to say to a brain injury survivorBrain injury can be confusing to people who don’t have one. Often when we’re trying to be helpful, we say the wrong thing. Or as a carer, it is easy to say things out of frustration and tiredness. It happens all the time. This Brain Awareness Week 2019, we offer our top 7 tips on what not to say to brain injury survivors:


#1 You seem fine to me

The effects of brain injury are often hidden. A person can look fine on the outside but struggle on the inside with problems like memory, fatigue, concentration, mood. Too often we judge disability on what we can see. Acknowledging these difficulties helps a brain injury survivor feel validated and accepted.

#2 How many times do I have to repeat myself? Or I’ve got a terrible memory too!

We all forget things from time to time and it can be frustrating having to repeat yourself. But after a brain injury, it’s more than the usual forgetfulness, the memories may no longer stored. Avoid saying ‘I told you already’ and try practical tips like setting reminders or writing it down.

#3 Let me do that for you

Rebuilding independence and confidence is vital after brain injury. Your natural instinct may be to help when someone is struggling. Stepping in to complete a task is undermining and will prevent progress in rehabilitation. Try to stand back and offer words of encouragement and support.

#4 You’re lucky to be alive

You may think you’re encouraging positive thinking, but the reality is that not everyone feels this way after a brain injury. Some people may not feel very lucky at all. It’s important to allow the person to have their feeling. Depression, anxiety and negative thinking are common after a brain injury. Like anyone experiencing a trauma that changes their life, there is a lot to process and come to terms with. Encourage them to talk to a professional about how they’re feeling or to participate in peer support.

#5 You can’t be tired already!

Fatigue is a very common symptom after brain injury. It’s completely understandable. Tasks that someone did automatically before their injury, now require major effort and concentration. It’s exhausting. Fatigue can also go hand in hand with depression and apathy. Developing a routine with plenty of rest breaks is important to help brain injury survivors manage fatigue.

#6 Are you in a mood?

There’s nothing worse than being asked if you’re grumpy, when you’re feeling out of sorts. Irritability is common among many brain injury survivors who often feel frustrated with their injury or are suffering from fatigue. Who doesn’t get a bit grumpy when you’re tired? Working on personalised goals help hugely with motivation. Or talking with a psychologist or engaging in peer support after brain injury.

#7 Do you know how much I do for you?

Caring for someone after brain injury is not always easy. Psychologically many families feel bewilderment, guilt, frustration. Offloading to your loved one may add to their guilt about needing more help after their injury. Or quite simply, because of their injury, they may never understand and have no clue how much of your effort it takes to care for them. Your emotional health is very important. It’s good to unload your burden to a good friend or a counsellor.

To find out more about referrals to our services see here. All referrals must be made by a healthcare professional.




Studio shot of vanilla cupcakes with pink, yellow and blue frosting for Acquired Brain Injury Ireland's Bake for Brain Injury during Brain Awareness Week 2019On your marks, get set, bake! There’s a rush on flour and eggs all over Ireland as families and friends touched by brain injury get ready to raise some dough to support our life-changing work!.

Bake parties are set to sweep the nation

This year marks our seventh annual bake party fundraiser. All the monies raised from bake parties go to support our  rehabilitation and family support services right across the country. It’s all happening as part of National Brain Awareness Week, 11-17 March.

Organise your own bake party

It’s really simple – bake whatever you like then invite friends or family around to enjoy your tasty cakes in exchange for a donation to our charity! It’s a win-win for everyone. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked cakes to make you feel a sense of satisfaction and it’s an excuse to catch up with people at home or in work.

Use your flour power!

Our Head of Fundraising Jonathan Power, said: “We’re looking for people to join in the fun and embrace the ‘flour power’ for our annual ‘Bake for Brain Injury’. Host a bake party or coffee morning between 11-17 March. Your support or donation will make a real difference to people who need our help after their lives are turned upside down after brain injury.”

Where the money goes

Monies raised will go to support our local services so we can provide more personalised rehabilitation programmes to more brain injury survivors. Every year in Ireland an estimated 19,000 people acquire a brain injury. Nobody ever thinks a brain injury will happen to them. But it happens to 52 people here every day. Thanks to the generous donations from events like this, we can help even more people get their lives back. So many people with brain injuries have problems that people can’t see. That’s why our rehabilitation services are so important. We help people manage difficulties with memory, fatigue, judgement and we support them in relearning everyday activities to increase their independence.

Let’s beat last year!

Last year more than 50 bake parties took place in homes and communities around Ireland raising more than €10,000 and this year with your help, we can beat it! To register your bake party and receive our fundraising pack visit

Visit one of our local bake parties

Our local Acquired Brain Injury Ireland teams are hosting bake party to raise funds and all are welcome:

4th March:

·       11am-1pm, Edgeworthstown Community Centre, Longford

6th March:

·       10.30am-12.30pm, Tullamore Parish Centre, Offaly

·       10am-4pm, Bridge Shopping Centre, Tullamore, Offaly

11th March:

·       12-2pm at Anvers, 69 Adelaide Road, Glenageary, Co Dublin

·       1-3pm at 153 Mobhi Road, Glasnevin

12th March:

·       In Cork at the Macroom Traders Market from 10am-4pm

·       11am-12.30pm at the Cranog HSE Resource Centre in Bree, Castleblayney in Co Monaghan

·       12pm-2pm at the Derrane centre in Roscommon

13th March:

·       10.30am at Tymon Bawn Community Centre, Firhouse Road West, Tallaght, Dublin

·       11.00am at Unit 4A, Block H, Centrepoint Business Park, Oak Road, Lucan, Co Dublin

·       11.30am at Parlickstown House, Ladyswell Road, Mulhuddart, Dublin

·       12-1.30pm at Milltown Secondary School in Kerry

·       12pm-2pm at Lisrath residential service, Ballymakenny Road in Drogheda, Co Louth

·       12-2pm at the Parish Centre in Castlebar in Co Mayo

·       12-3pm at the Acquired Brain Injury Ireland clubhouse behind the Applegreen Service Station on the Rosslare Road in Drinagh

14th March:

·       11am-2pm at Lucan Supervalu, Co Dublin

·       11am at Side by Side Clubhouse, Northumberland Hall, Northumberland Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

·       12-3pm at 223 Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

·       11am-2pm at Castleisland Resource Centre in Kerry

·       11am-1pm at 66 Ballinvoher on Father Russell Road, in Limerick

·       9.30am-12pm at the Acquired Brain Injury Ireland bookshop on the Main Street in Cashel, Co Tipperary

15th March:

·       2pm at 37 Hillview, Creggaun na Hilla in Clarecastle in Clare

·       10.30am-1pm, Portlaoise Parish Centre, Portlaoise, Laois

·       10am-4pm at AIB Bank in Sligo town

21st March:

·       In Waterford at Cheshire Waterford from 11-1pm

29th March:

·       10am-4pm at Bank of Ireland in Sligo

31st March:

·       10.30am-1pm, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland Teach Fáilte, Mountbolus, Offaly

If you’d like to know more contact Jonathan or Natasha on 01-2804164 or email