Scoil Eoin Gets New ‘Buddy Bench’ As A Thank You For Caring For Erin

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Erin O’Sullivan (second left) with friend Rebecca O’Brien, sister Megan O’Sullivan and Róisín O’Callaghan on the new ‘Buddy Bench’ made by the Vale Of Avoca Men’s Shed group. Photo by Dermot Crean

A WICKLOW man travelled to Tralee to deliver a brand new ‘Buddy Bench’ to Scoil Eoin in Balloonagh, to thank them for the great care they gave his granddaughter over the past eight years.

Erin O’Sullivan, a 12-year old sixth class pupil from Gort Na Greine near Gallowsfield has an extremely rare disorder called Ataxia Telangiectasia, a condition that combines the symptoms of muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and immune system disorder.

She has needed care since she started school all those years ago and is now preparing to leave Scoil Eoin this month.

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Her grandfather, Pat Cronin, who is part of the Vale of Avoca Men’s Shed group made a ‘Buddy Bench’ for the school, on behalf of the O’Sullivan family, to thank them for the care given to Erin.

A ‘Buddy Bench’, or ‘Friendship Bench’ is a special place in a school playground where a child can go when they want someone to talk to. Erin’s mom, Caroline, explained why the bench was donated.

The new ‘Buddy Bench’ at Scoil Eoin.

“The school has given our daughter every opportunity in education. The saying inscribed on the bench is ‘Is Féidir Linn’ or ‘yes we can’, made popular during President Obama’s visit to Ireland. Our attitude is, if Erin can’t do something, we find a way for her that she can do it, through her teachers and SNA Aine Baker, who has been with her for the past eight years. She has made it possible for Erin to have a normal school life.”

Principal of Scoil Eoin, Kieran O’Toole, thanked Pat, the Vale of Avoca Men’s Shed group and the O’Sullivan family for the donation.

“The quality of the work is unreal. The fact that Erin’s grandad is involved is special. We want to thank Erin’s family for their generosity, it’s been a pleasure to have Erin over the past eight years. She always has a smile on her face,” he said.

Erin’s mom and dad Caroline and Paul, sisters Megan and Louise, grandparents, classmates and teachers were all present for the presentation on Wednesday.

Pupils, staff and the family of Erin O’Sullivan at the presentation of a ‘Buddy Bench’ at Scoil Eoin on Wednesday. Photo by Dermot Crean

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