That’s what friends are for as Ian and Michael form special bond

A KILLARNEY teenager who has dedicated so much of his time to helping and sharing experiences with a friend who was paralysed in a fall has been honoured for his caring attitude, his outstanding qualities and his unselfish approach to life.

When 16-year-old Ian O’Connell from Killarney suffered life-changing injuries when he fell from his bicycle in the summer of 2017, best pal Michael Horgan was right there by his side to render any assistance he could.

Football fans Ian and Michael celebrate East Kerry’s victory in this years’ Kerry County Senior Football Championship

Friends from childhood and classmates in St Brendan’s College, Michael comforted Ian, kept him calm and alerted the emergency services. He also reassured him that, at least, he would have a great excuse if he didn’t have his homework done.

Ian was paralysed from the shoulders down but during the long and painful process of rehabilitation, in hospital and at home over the past three years, Michael has always been there to keep him company, to enjoy outings, to share a joke, to talk about sports and to keep him up to date with everything that was happening in Killarney.

Ian has described Michael as “my hands and legs” and they spend so much time together at sports events and doing whatever it is teenage schoolboys tend to get up to. Whenever Ian’s wheelchair is seen out and about, more often than not it is Michael that is steering it.

Last year Ian’s bravery in the face of adversity was recognised when he was named the overall winner of the Lee Strand sponsored Kerry Garda Youth Achievement Awards and, not surprisingly, Michael was there by his side to lead the celebrations.

This year, however, the roles were reversed and it was Michael that was in the spotlight when he was nominated for a Garda Youth Award of his own for his dedication and kindness to his good buddy.

Michael and members of his family with members of An Garda Siochana and representatives of sponsors Lee Strand at the awards ceremony

Michael, from Spa-Muckross, was nominated by Ian as well as their principal in St Brendan’s College, Seán Coffey, and the citation at the awards ceremony read: “Michael can be described as the best friend anyone would want to have in their lives”.

He was presented with his Youth Achievement Award at the gala ceremony in Tralee by Killarney Garda Superintendent Flor Murphy.

Michael is also a fine hurler with Dr Crokes and footballer with Spa and he is an exceptionally gifted musician who performed with his school on Britain’s Got Talent as well as taking to the stage with brilliant instrumentalist Liam O’Connor to raise funds for the school.

He also cycled the Ring of Kerry in 2018 to raise sponsorship for the Ian O’Connell Fund and when he volunteered as part of a school group to travel to Lourdes, to assist those in need, guess who there was by his side?

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