Birthday girl Joanne O'Riordan ‘feels like Bono’ at Áras

President Higgins, his wife Sabina, and their dogs, Shadow and Bród, with Joanne O'Riordan and members of her family, including her brother Steven, grandmother Kathleen, sister Gillian, aunt Kathleen and mother Ann, at Áras an Uachtaráin.

Cork teenager Joanne O’Riordan, who celebrates her 18th birthday today, was almost dizzy with excitement when she met President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday.

It was a really cool way for the teenager, who was born with no limbs, to begin her birthday celebrations and she loved every minute of it, especially meeting the ‘First Pets’ — two Bernese mountain dogs called Shadow and Bród.

The dogs took to her immediately, almost knocking her over with their affection, so they earned their spot in the official photographs.

Joanne, dressed in red, had travelled to Dublin with her brother, Steven; sister, Gillian; mother, Ann; grandmother Kathleen O’Mahony, and aunt, Kathleen Sweeney.

With just six weeks to her Leaving Certificate, Joanne, from Millstreet, Co Cork, decided to leave the books behind and enjoy feeling a “bit like Bono” for a bit.

At one stage, Joanne looked at her mother gleefully and said: “I will be a legal adult tomorrow and you won’t be able to boss me around anymore.”

She admitted acting “a bit like a Diva” but, sure why not, she was the birthday girl.

Joanne and her family chatted happily for about an hour with the President and his wife, Sabina, before heading home.

Later today, Joanne will celebrate her birthday in style and is insisting on a “blue concept.”

A 40ft marquee has been erected outside her home so there will be plenty of room for all her close friends and family.

“I think it holds like 200 people and it has its own bar. I’ve hired a local DJ to rock out some tunes then, after that, we will head to the local nightclub. It could get messy, but, hey, you only turn 18 once.”

President Higgins had asked to have Joanne and members of her family visit the Áras after asking Steven for a copy of his documentary about his sister No Limbs No Limits.

Steven was previously invited to meet the President with a number of women who worked in the Magdalene Laundries.

The producer of Forgotten Maggies took up the women’s cause and is still helping them with their compensation claims.


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