Call us: (01) 280 4164

Hot off the presses!

We are delighted to tell you about our new STEP AHEAD vocational service for young people affected by brain injury, supported by Pobal’s Ability Programme. STEP AHEAD is a national service with two centres in Cork and Dublin. This practical programme is geared to help more brain injury survivors return to education, training or work. STEP AHEAD also provides essential brain injury information and education for employers, tutors and trainers.

Who can take part?

Our STEP AHEAD programme offers a vocational assessment and work-related support service free-of-charge to individuals with an acquired brain injury and who meet the following criteria:

·         Aged between 18 – 29 years old

·         Have sustained an acquired brain injury

·         In receipt of disability allowance or invalidity pension; or

·         In receipt of illness benefit for more than three months; or

·         Referred by a relevant organisation or service supporting young people with disabilities i.e. Primary Care Teams, HSE Disability Services, Residential or Day Services

Expert service

Led by a senior occupational therapist, our STEP AHEAD service will assess the individual’s work skills, knowledge and experience. The programme provides practical assistance for people with a brain injury who may be struggling to hold on to their existing job or trying to return to education, training, or employment. Two vocational facilitators will also support the development of a Personal Vocational Plan for each participant, outlining person-centred, vocational goals.

Thank you to our funders!

Pobal’s Ability Programme launched in June 2018 to provide supports to over 2,600 young people with disabilities. A great initiative, it is particularly designed to assist in the transition from school to further education, training and employment. The Ability Programme is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s new STEP AHEAD vocational assessment service would not be possible without this funding.

Who to contact:

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland STEP AHEAD Dublin

Call Emer Duffy, Senior Occupational Therapist: 086 603 7353 or email:

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland STEP AHEAD Cork

Call Sinead Stack, Senior Occupational Therapist: 086 603 4633 or email:


While our organisation welcomes the long-awaited launch by the HSE of a new national rehabilitation implementation plan, we cannot stress enough the need for immediate action. We call on the government to start with a focus on community rehabilitation. As many of you know, every year in Ireland an estimated 19,000 people acquire a brain injury caused by stroke, road traffic accidents, brain tumours, falls and assault. But too many of these cases don’t get the rehabilitation they need.

Ongoing, hidden crisis of brain injury

In our view, it is an ongoing hidden crisis that thousands of brain injury survivors are left without the necessary rehabilitation that could help them live more normal lives. Worse still, we are still seeing many young people stuck in hospitals, psychiatric wards or nursing homes after brain injury. This is not good enough.

New HSE plan announced today HSE neuro rehabilitation implementation plan

Today the HSE has announced a new implementation plan. And today, we would like to see the government prioritise investment in community rehabilitation because this will go some way to ensure people with brain injury can move from one service to another in a timely fashion and maximise their potential recovery.

Too many brain injury survivors left without rehabilitation

Our Research and Policy Manager Grainne McGettrick said: “Through our services we see the huge challenges people with brain injury and their families face every day. For these people, the worst has happened – their life is suddenly turned upside down after a stroke or car crash and they are fighting for their lives. But saving their life is just the beginning. For many brain injury survivors, they are left with nothing. We are witness to their difficulties in getting access to the rehabilitation services they need in order to recover and maximise their potential. Not to mention coping with the impact of not being able to work, family members suddenly having to become carers, experience financial stress and broken-down relationships.

“Rehabilitation services for people with brain injury in Ireland are seriously underdeveloped and under-resourced right across the pathway from hospital to home. Ireland is at the bottom of the European table. At a very basic level there are not enough rehab services for the level of demand and the piecemeal, patchy nature of the services has serious life-long consequences for the individual and their family. But positively, where rehabilitation services are provided, we can see how effective they are.”

The benefits of neuro-rehabilitation include:

–         Realising an individual’s potential and improved patient outcomes

–         Significant reduction in care giver burden

–         Lessening of societal costs

–         Lessening unnecessary dependency on health services

Need to fill the gaps in services

Ms McGettrick continued: “The HSE’s new implementation plan for neuro-rehabilitation is vital to improve and fill the gaps that are faced by thousands of families in Ireland in need of rehabilitation and support after brain injury. We very much support all efforts towards a more integrated pathway for brain injury survivors which will in turn, not only benefit individuals in their recovery but it will also reduce delays in discharge and free up hospital beds. However, we now need to move to action and commence implementation. We want leadership from the Department of Health and our politicians.”

How the HSE plan will work

Under the new implementation plan, the HSE approach proposes a national framework of acute, inpatient and specialist community services through:

–          Clear governance structures with identifiable leadership and accountability

–          Development of local implementation teams in local HSE areas

–          Development of neuro-rehabilitation services into a Managed Clinical Rehabilitation Network (MCRN) model

The HSE’s national neuro-rehabilitation implementation plan (2019-2021) also recognises that continued investment in these services will need to be prioritised beyond the 3-year period.

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 our policy briefing here.



Don’t miss THE Valentine’s event of the season featuring our sensational comedy host Malachy Murray. It’s happening this Saturday 16 Feb in the heart of the country in the Tullamore Court Hotel. Tickets are just a click away !

To give you a taste of what you don’t want to miss – check out the latest hilarious video footage from Malachy Murray, played by FM104’s Terry Fahy, one of Ireland’s favourite impersonators…



Malachy Murray played by FM104's Terry Fahy is to host Acquired Brain Injury Ireland's Valentine's Ball in Tullamore on 16 February 2019Love is in the air in Tull-Amore as roving presenter Malachy Murray (played by local native and FM104’s Terry Fahy) gets ready to don his cravat as Master of Ceremonies at our second annual black tie Valentine’s Ball.

Tipped as the romantic event of the season, we are urging people in the midlands to avoid disappointment and order tickets online today! You don’t want to miss the ‘chance of a glance’ from the smooth-talking, debonair host Malachy Murray.

If you’re in Offaly, you can also get your hands on tickets at Galvin Tullamore, Sally West, the Wooden Hanger or from the team in our Mountbolus centre. Our black-tie ball takes place on Saturday 16 February in the Tullamore Court Hotel to raise vital funds for more neuro-rehabilitation services for brain injury survivors.

Rekindling romance in the midlands

We have a great night in store for our guests and highlights will include a comedy sketch from Malachy Murray, music from The Secrets and guests will also hear from real life brain injury survivor Niamh Cahill from Portlaoise.

Malachy said: “When people ask me what’s more important – food or love. I don’t usually answer because I’m eating. But this Valentine’s Ball in aid of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has it all – fine food, love, music and with my natural charms on display, you’re sure to be smitten with at least one person on the night. I’ll also be showing what happened when I ventured onto the mean streets of Offaly, a celebrity chef will teach you how to cook the ultimate aphrodisiac and there’s a special address from the President himself, plus much, much more!”

Why do we need to raise money for more services?

Well, the reality is that acquired brain injury is something of a hidden phenomenon. A lot of people don’t realise that as many as 19,000 brain injuries happen in Ireland every year. What’s worse is that brain injuries often happen suddenly, without warning from causes like 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.

Rebuilding lives in the midlands

In Offaly, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s neuro-rehabilitation service based in Mountbolus is working to rebuild the lives of more than 160 brain injury survivors across the midlands in Offaly, Laois, Longford and Westmeath on an ongoing basis.

Our Local Services Manager, Martin Nunan, in Mountbolus said: “We believe every brain injury is unique and we tailor rehabilitation plans for all our brain injury survivors. Ultimately our goal is that our clients won’t need us anymore. By joining our Valentine’s Ball, our guests will not only enjoy an incredible experience, but every donation will help make life better for people with brain injury right here in the midlands and around the country.”

Hurry – get your tickets now!

So hurry up and get your tickets! You don’t want to miss the Valentine’s Ball of the year! Tickets are priced at €60. Order online or call Natasha Quinn in our head office on 01-2804164 to order by phone. If you’re near our centre in Mountbolus why not swing by to collect tickets in person! We look forward to welcoming you to the Tullamore Court Hotel on 16th February 2019 for the black tie drinks reception at 6.30pm.

A ‘tux’ of class

Gentlemen – if you haven’t organised a tuxedo already, fret not because Galvin Tullamore will sort you out. For every €50 tuxedo hired, they will donate €15 to our charity!

Note: Photographs and video will be taken at this event.



Tom was an entrepreneur from a young age and set up his own business in precision engineering by the age of 18. Like many of us, Tom had no idea what life would throw at him. Then 12 years ago, while driving for business, he suffered a brain injury after another car ran into the back of his. The impact caused damage to his front lobe. The father of five had to give up work for 8 years and let his sons run the business. During that time he worked on managing his memory problems and fatigue. You’d think a life-changing accident like this might get you down… but not Tom. His positive outlook shines through.

How did your brain injury affect you?

My memory went quite bad. The accident affected my long and short term memories. I wouldn’t have a notion how to go to a shop in my own town or where the street would be even though I’ve lived in the town about 22 years. I was getting my daughters’ names mixed up with my sisters even though I knew who they were.

How did you work on your recovery?

I was lucky I had help. Acquired Brain Injury Ireland sent a rehabilitation assistant – David Scanlon – he’s a gem. He’s a gift from god to people like myself. He was very helpful. I had to learn to read and write again. I could only go at it for 15-20 mins and he would know when I was too fatigued to continue. He was coming to me twice a week. If I’d overdone it, I wouldn’t recover for the next bit. He helped me manage my fatigue and make progress. Dave was with me about 6 years. I’m well enough now to look after myself and find out things for myself. I was always independent and able to look after myself and keep my house tidy, it’s how I was brought up.

How did you cope with your brain injury?

We are where we are. If you’re not a good patient you’ve no hope of getting better. I kept a positive outlook. I feel that it worked. I didn’t get down. I never came down my stairs without grooming. I had to learn how to keep my balance again. I was sent to a sports therapist used by the Wexford hurling team when they’re injured because he would help them back to full strength. I was lucky as well that my speech was okay. I can drive to work now after I did a test to drive with NRH. I did everything I was asked to do.

How are you today?

I’ll probably never be the same as I was. But you don’t know. Mostly I feel back to myself. I’ve no problem now watching a TV programme but in the beginning, I wouldn’t have remembered what I watched. My memory at the moment is better than a lot of people I know. With a brain injury it’s the only injury you can have and not know. I’m back to a normal routine, I have a lovely lifestyle. I was on a couple of holidays. I had to learn and try very hard with my recovery. When you’re in a learning mode, where does it stop. You crank it up.

What would you say to someone else just diagnosed with a brain injury?

No.1 – you want to listen to the people who know what they’re talking about. My GP sent me to the best of the best. No such thing as saying I can’t do that. In America they’re talking about sending people to Mars… that billion miles is going to start with a single step and the same applies to a brain injury. It might be difficult to remember things and it’s easier to say, aw I can’t do that. But you can take that first step.

What difference did our service make to your life?

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland meant a lot to me. I’d hate to think where I’d be without them. There would be a hell of a void in my life if I’d had to turn down their invitation. If I hadn’t been able to work with David it would have been a disaster for me. I do still go along to the Wexford Clubhouse and thanks to Acquired Brain Injury Ireland I am officially an artist. There was no art when I was going to school, I’d never done it before. Every Christmas I choose a piece of my art and I go to the printer and I run off a couple of 100 cards and I give them out at Christmas time. After my car accident, I said this in the high court in Dublin- I told the judge I’m with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and if you have somebody in my position you should recommend it to them because the management choose the staff carefully for their kindness.

If you are interested in accessing our services, talk to your GP or healthcare professional about making a referral. A consent form must also be completed and returned with the referral form.











When I was only 15 years old I was sent for a scan on my sinus that turned out to be a brain tumour. I’d had blurry vision, morning headaches and facial pain and when I was diagnosed, they told me it was low grade. Five years later, doctors told me the tumour was getting bigger and that it would have to come out.

I wasn’t really taking it in.

Like any 20 year old, I was more concerned about my friend’s 21st birthday party. I didn’t really pay any heed to the seriousness of my situation – that I was going to have brain surgery. I remember I went in laughing to the anaesthetic room. But I was oblivious about what was ahead of me. When I woke up after surgery my left side was paralysed and I thought it was the anaesthetic wearing off. It’s still surreal to think that I was actually paralysed.

From wheelchair to walking

I left hospital in a wheelchair and started intensive physiotherapy programmes. Every day I did about 4 or 5 hours of physio. I think I was in survival mode because I never wanted to believe I couldn’t walk. I struggled to understand what had happened to me. If I couldn’t understand what I was going through, how could friends understand? I felt very alone and felt as though I didn’t have many people on the outside who understood.

I was in denial about my brain injury

After lots of physio, I managed to walk again but now I had a limp and left side weakness. Before my injury I loved cycling and I was keen to get back to it. But after my injury it was hard to accept that I needed to rest. I wouldn’t accept that I was different and I pushed myself very hard. It wasn’t until I did work experience in a Montessori School that it really hit me. I struggled with balance bending over young children and my concentration was really poor. When I had to do jigsaws with the children, I found them hard to do.

Sensory overload was a big thing

When all the children arrived in the mornings with all the noise and chaos, that was difficult for me. My brain was having to work harder to do normal things and I was absolutely fatigued. That was when I really came to accept that I had a brain injury.

New lease of life

I was a very sociable person before my brain injury but afterwards, I really lost my confidence. I didn’t want to leave the house. But now thanks to the Wexford Clubhouse with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, I have a new lease of life. I’ve rebuilt my confidence to get out and about on day trips with the clubhouse.  I even started aqua aerobics and it’s now one of my favourite things. I’ve started building connections with people and I’m able to do things that I never would have done.

I wouldn’t change a thing

Brain injury recovery is one of the hardest but most rewarding things you’ll ever do in your life. It has taught me to listen to my body. It has taught me acceptance. Every time I share my story, I am healing myself another bit more. To other young people like me, I say: “You have survived a brain injury, you are not defeated, wear your scars with pride, be proud.”

Roisin attends our Wexford Clubhouse where she sees her friends every week. She continues to work on managing fatigue and building personal connections that make a strong support network for the future. She also shared her story with the Irish Independent to help raise awareness of brain injury which is often invisible to many.

Read more about our day services here. Referrals can be made by a healthcare professional and must be submitted with a consent form.




I don’t think anyone would sit down and have a chat with me today and know I had a brain injury. My injury was always invisible.

But to those who know me best, my struggles weren’t invisible.

Back in 2008, more than 10 years ago, I became very ill out of the blue. I was just 19 years old and it started with a jerk in my leg. This was the first sign of a seizure which put me in Portlaoise Hospital on and off for weeks. I suffered multiple seizures and was transferred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. I was treated for many different neurological illnesses, but nothing worked. With every seizure, I was losing a part of myself and coming closer to death.

I even received the last rites twice.

Doctors were fast running out of options. As a last-ditch effort to save me, I was blindly treated for an auto immune triggered Encephalitis (brain swelling), all while in a medically induced coma. Eventually, with treatment I started to come back to life. But I was a shadow of the person I once was. I was seriously compromised. My vocabulary was non-existent, and the psychotic effects of the illness meant I was hallucinating a lot. Recovery was not going to be easy. I received intense speech and language therapy as well as occupational therapy at the NRH. I could express myself and do things for myself again. But I wasn’t ready to face the world as a 19-year-old woman.

My confidence was gone.

When I came home to Laois, I was lucky to get help and support with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland through their community keyworker, Sinead. My aim was to go back and pursue the second year of my degree. Sinead was someone I could talk to, who understood my confusion and frustration with my situation. My friends’ lives were moving on while I was struggling to keep control of mine. It helped more than anyone will ever know to have someone there who understood the ins and outs of my injury and the feelings that went along with it.

Having someone who understood me and my injury made all the difference

My ability to learn had changed too. Short term memory problems meant I had to change my approach to learning in order to get through college. Sinead helped me use different approaches to learning; the most helpful of which was mind-maps. I could approach learning visually and this tool helped me graduate from Maynooth with a 2:1 degree and saw me go on to pursue a Masters. My meetings with Sinead happened over the course of months leading up to my return to college. Without her support both psychologically and practically, I don’t think that return would have been possible.

I was so conscious of my speech for years after my brain injury and my confidence took a huge knock. I also struggled emotionally, and I suffered terribly with fatigue. I’d hit a wall and nothing would bring me back, only a long sleep. Simple things were overwhelming to me.

Over-catastrophizing was one of my favourite hobbies

The first day of my Masters, I missed my bus in Dublin and the tears came. A 22-year-old standing at a bus stop crying, thinking nothing worse could have happened, that my day was completely ruined and nothing could fix it. It was a small thing, but I remember how the anxiety that runs through you makes nothing else matter in that moment. After the brain injury, having the emotional capacity to deal with certain things was not there.

I wouldn’t be here without the support from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland

Brain injuries can be invisible and the stories and struggles behind them can be too. As a person living with an acquired brain injury, the support I received from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland was invaluable to me. In so many ways, if life deals you a brain injury, the odds are stacked against you, because the whole area is under-serviced. But Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has been helping people to get back their lives all over Ireland for so long. They have given a voice to a group of people who may be otherwise voiceless. I’m so thankful to have found a community of people who understand my story and who fight for other people like me.



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.