‘Staff helped patients like me to believe we can get on in life’

OLIVER Murphy, Ireland’s first paralympian and co-founder of the Irish Wheelchair Association, was one of the first patients to attend the National Rehabilitation Hospital.

Mr Murphy, now 75, was a patient at the hospital in 1962. He still attends the hospital’s out-patient spinal injuries services and remains in good health.

In 1959, at the age of 25, he was paralysed from the waist down after falling while he worked at the Sugar Factory in Carlow.

The following year, he was transferred to Stoke Mandeville in Britain.

Mr Murphy was then transferred in 1962 to the NRH where he forged lifelong friendship with staff and other patients.

He is one of the NRH’s longest living patients.

He recalled using the hospital as an office when helping to establish the Irish Wheelchair Association. “Staff at the hospital helped patients like me to believe we can get on in life — that there is another way of doing things.

“Even though I was confined to a wheelchair, I got going, became part of the community and went on to live a full and happy life.”

A little over a year after his accident, Mr Murphy represented his country in Rome as part of the Irish Paralympic team.

He took part in four Paralympic Games between 1960 and 1972, competing in weightlifting, basketball and archery.

Mr Murphy and his co-founders of the IWA worked to achieving full social, economic and educational integration of people with disabilities.

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