OUT FRONT?Mary Mulryan of Enable Ireland is pictured outside the organisation’s shop on Hopkins Road, Castlebar.?Pic: Alison Laredo
Mary Mulryan talks about Enable Ireland’s work in Mayo
A human dynamo. And an unbridled enthusiasm for what she does. Job titles mean little to Mary Mulryan. That’s why she struggles a little when asked what her official role is within Enable Ireland in Mayo. She’s Community Fundraising Co-ordinator but her duties stretch way beyond that. It’s governed by whatever needs doing at the time and Mary willingly rolling up your sleeves and getting it done.
“Just like everyone else around here does” she quipped when we caught up at work in Castlebar’s Enable Ireland’s shop on Hopkins Road. The always busy bric-a-brat outlet and browser’s paradise is another source of income that supplements the funding from the HSE in Mayo.
When Mary Mulryan got involved initially back in 1992 it was known as Cerebral Palsy Ireland. Her oldest daughter Helen was born with cerebral palsy.
“When Helen was diagnosed I was in bits and had no idea where to turn. I was determined that no other parents would find themselves in a similar situation as we were in. But we never accepted that Helen had a disability, because in our eyes Helen was, and is, the same as everyone else. And Helen herself has gone on to lead an active and fulfilling life and her greatest love is Mayo football.”
In 2000 the name was changed to Enable Ireland. Mary sees the positives behind that moniker adjustment. “It’s far more suitable because it has now opened our doors to people with other needs besides cerebral palsy, and it means nobody is tagged with a particular ailment. And it also means everyone is going to become enabled and that’s what we’re about.
“I got involved initially with the fundraising selling the yellow ribbons. When I started first we had €82 in our account in Mayo but through the sales of the infamous yellow ribbons we suddenly had €4,500. The big plus in it is that all funds raised in Mayo are spent within the county. That’s what attracted me to this in the beginning and that’s very important. People can see where their money is going and how it’s used.
“I was chairperson for three years and when the post of Community Employment Supervisor came up and I took that on. At the time the CEO of CPI, as it was then, gave us funding to purchase a bus and we travelled all over Mayo providing a service.
“My dream was always to have a one-stop shop as it were in Mayo and we realised that in 2008 when we opened our Safari Centre in Moneen.
“It provides essential services such as physiotherapy assessment and early intervention, hydrotherapy, social work, assistive technology and training, children’s personal assistance, transport, summer activities, respite care to 330 children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy in Mayo. “
Her pride in Mayo is evident as she talks of the support and goodwill towards Enable Ireland. “Without the people of Mayo we wouldn’t survive. It’s harder to fund-raise because of all the cutbacks and there’s less disposable income now. It’s as simple as that.
“A few years ago we’d get €20, and now it has gone down to €5 or even €2. But the great thing is people still contribute and we never have anyone walking by us without giving us something and that means so much.
“And nothing would be possible without the amazing group of volunteers we have. The wonderful thing is that so many of them have no need of the services we provide but they just want to help. They give of their time to work hours in the shop and provide assistance in the Safari Club. When I’m organising collections all I have to do is lift the phone.”
Much has changed and mostly for the better since the days Mary Mulryan sold yellow ribbons around Mayo for Cerebral Palsy Ireland. ‘No Limit’ is their fund-raising banner now. No limit either to Mary Mulryan’s energy for a job she loves and does with purpose.