Mary Brady, from Ballineen, received the accolade after being nominated by neighbour Noreen O’Neill, who said the mother of six was “an inspiration to all our community”.
Ms Brady and her husband Tom have five children with special needs, the oldest aged 40 and the youngest in their 20s.
The children require 24-hour care but at yesterday’s award ceremony in the Gresham Metropole Hotel, Ms Brady told them: “You have brought so much love and joy to us and made life-long caring so rewarding for your carers.
“Thank you Sean, Catherine, Evelyn, James and Thomas for being the unique people that you are.”
Kathleen Lynch, the Minister of State at the Department of Health with Responsibility for Disability, congratulated Ms Brady and said her work as a carer was exceptional.
“Mary Brady has shown that by providing such a great amount of care and love, people who face greater difficulties can lead fulfilled and happy lives,” she said.
In spite of the full-time nature of the caring provided to her children, Noreen O’Neill said her neighbour was “always smiling and laughing and does lots of community work”.
The annual award is open to all carers in Ireland. It acknowledges the dedication of informal carers at home and in the community who provide an essential service to the vulnerable and display true humanitarian values.
The Irish Red Cross publishes a Helping You to Care Handbook and provides training for carers throughout the country in an eight-week course. This consists of modules such as mobility, adapting the home and home hygiene.
Both the handbook and the course are designed to give the carer the knowledge and skills they need to ensure that the person being cared for achieves the best quality of life.
* Anyone interested in the carer training course or handbook should contact the Irish Red Cross on 01 6424600 or visit redcross.ie.