Inspirational Clonmel boy (10) wins inaugural Tipperary Young Carer of the Year Award

Jack Cooney cares for older brother James who has cerebral palsy.

Dylan White

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Dylan White

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dylan.white@iconicnews.ie

Inspirational Clonmel boy (10) wins Tipperary Young Carer of the Year Award for 'special bond' with older brother

Tipperary Young Carer of the Year Jack Cooney with his brother James and mother Linda McCarthy.

An inspirational 10-year-old boy was honoured with the first-ever Tipperary Young Carer of the Year Award at Hotel Minella,  Clonmel, on Monday (November 6th).

Clonmel’s Jack Cooney, the son of Linda McCarthy and James Cooney,  has been caring for older brother James who has cerebral palsy since he was two-years-old. 
Jack describes the “fantastic bond” he shares with James. “We do lots of fun activities like bowling on a Saturday. On a day to day basis we play football together and go for a walk if it’s sunny. When it’s raining we go swimming or I read a book to James,” Jack smiles.
Proud mother Linda says Jack is “unbelievable” to James, who turns 16-years-old this month. "Jack helps get James ready for school at Scoil Aonghusa in Cashel every day. He puts on James’ favourite music, lies in bed and reads to him, and always makes sure he is ok. They go swimming and play football in the garden together - James is in a wheelchair and always goes in goal but he loves it,” Linda tells The Nationalist.  

“Jack is always worrying about his older brother. If he is going to a match at the weekend he will make sure that it isn’t too cold to have James outdoors. I’m always trying to shield Jack and tell him ‘It’s ok, I can do it’ but he insists on caring for his brother. Jack doesn’t see James as being different to anyone else, and the special bond they share makes me unbelievably proud,” Linda smiles.  

Linda feels Jack is “completely different” to other kids his age. “We have video footage of a two-year-old Jack pushing James around in his wheelchair. Jack goes to all of James' school plays and helps him prepare for the Special Olympics. He is honoured to receive the Tipperary Young Carer of the Year Award, and it's only now that his friends in fourth class and teachers at Rathkeevin National School realise how much help he gives James,” she adds.
Family Carers Ireland area manager Cllr. Richie Molloy says Jack is “invaluable” to his parents and brother James. “Jack is a worthy recipient of the first-ever Tipperary Young Carer of the Year Award," Cllr. Molloy praises. 
Cllr. Molloy also highlights the importance of recognising young carers across Ireland. According to Census 2016 figures, there are 3,800 children aged under 15 providing care, accounting for 1.9% of 195,263 carers in Ireland. 
Mattie McGrath TD, Pat Grogan (regional area manager, Family Carers Ireland), Linda McCarthy and her son Jack Cooney (Tipperary Young Carer of the Year 2017), Mayor of the Clonmel Borough District Cllr. Catherine Carey, and Cllr. Richie Molloy (area manager, Family Carers Ireland).

“We introduced the young carers award this year to generate awareness that there are young carers out there like Jack. There are 138 young carers under the age of 18 in Tipperary and 5,000 young carers across Ireland who do tremendous work and get very little recognition. 

“While some young carers have the support of parents, others are caring for loved ones on their own. I encourage them to make contact with Family Carers Ireland’s Clonmel office on Sarsfield Street on 052-6170455. We hope to set up a support group locally for young carers in the near future,” Cllr. Molloy concludes.