UNSTOPPABLE Pallasgreen teenager Sean Byrnes has never let a disability stand in his way and his latest achievement is to become Ireland’s first officially qualified bike mechanic.
15 year-old Sean’s motto is that “All Things Are Possible” and he is the living embodiment of that, despite being born with Spina bifida and Hydrocephalus and having no use of his lower limbs.
Sean has played wheelchair basketball, learned to swim and scuba dive, founded the Limerick Hand Trike Club and raised money to buy hand trikes for other disabled users. He completed five Great Limerick Runs with his mother Fiona and has just become Ireland first and youngest Certified City and Guilds Bicycle Mechanic.
Sean was honoured with a Mayoral reception last year and was selected as a winner in the Garda Youth Awards for his many achievements.
He told the Limerick Post, “I really enjoy participating in as many activities as possible with a can-do attitude to life.
“In 2013, the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) loaned me a three-wheel hand trike for three months. Unfortunately, I had to return this. Luckily for me, Deirdre McDonagh, a physiotherapist in the Central Remedial Clinic in Dublin who I see once a year, donated another hand trike to me.
“This proved to be a lifeline as it gave me the opportunity to continue to enjoy going out on the road at weekends, meeting the neighbours for a chat along the way.”
Sean completed an intensive four day Professional Bicycle Mechanics Training Programme at The High Nelly training centre in Pallasgreen to become Ireland’s first City and Guilds certified bicycle mechanic which will allow him to be the official bicycle mechanic for his club.
“The programme was physically challenging but when I completed the final day and received my certification, it was the proudest day of my life”.
Sean now has his sights set on participating in Europe’s first Engineering Academy for Bicycle design and Manufacture in Limerick as part of his transition year school programme.
He hopes that the 20-week programme will help him achieve his goal of one day building his own customised hand trike.
Marty Mannering of the Bicycle Engineering Academy said they were delighted when Sean asked if he could attend their professional bicycle mechanics training programme.
“We have fixed Sean’s professional hand trike a few times and every time we worked on the incredible machine we wondered how well he was doing in making a name for himself among the hand trike competitive world. The bike is an engineering work of art and Sean can now do the work needed to keep it maintained himself.”
“We would hope that Sean will join the first lucky students to avail of the full-time bicycle engineering design and build traineeship which will be based in Limerick City at our new Academy in Roxboro which is due to open its doors in September.
Details on the Bicycle Engineering Academy are available on www.BEA.ie