Irish Sign Language is Deirdre Byrne-Dunne’s native language, she was looking for a new hobby that her and her husband could do together when a friend suggested parkrun.
My name is Deirdre Byrne-Dunne (A6108396). I am deaf and Irish Sign Language is my native language.
I have seven children, two are deaf, and I have two gorgeous grandchildren. When my children had flown away from my nest, I took up swimming, especially open sea swims which I love so much. In 2014 I swam with a relay team of Irish Deaf Channel Team, 7 Deaf women, across the English Channel. We raised €34,000 for Irish Deaf Women’s Group. I had the privilege to swim at the Deaf Olympics in 1977 where I won a silver medal. It was a first medal won ever for Ireland Women’s Group.
My husband Fergus and I had been seeking a new hobby which we could do together. We saw our lovely friend Raymond Grehan explaining on social media how he loves his weekly parkrun in Longford.
The word ‘run’ put me off as I am not a great runner but he mentioned walkers too. He had set up a ‘Deaf parkrun Ireland Facebook page’ so we joined as members of that group. We read, with interest, reports of Raymond’s experience every week.
I have lived in the heart of Terenure for most of my life. We decided to join a local parkrun activity. Fergus went to our local one in Bushy Park, Dublin, a week before to see how it worked.
We then got the courage to both participate on 21st September 2019. It was Bushy parkrun, Dublin event #135 that day. Fergus ran while I walked with my pet dog Ollie. I was in a bit of panic seeing so many runners and was unsure if I was in the right place. The Run Director assured me that there is always a Tail Walker so I had no worries. When I noticed some walkers at the event I could then relax (phew!).
Fergus and I enjoyed taking part in that parkrun. The atmosphere was brilliant and the volunteers were so friendly.
In the following weeks we got to know some of the core volunteer team more. They were keen to learn some signs. We showed them Irish Sign Language for ‘parkrun’. Their welcoming inclusive approach make our weekly parkrun great fun. So much so that I volunteered at be Tail Walker. I found this very rewarding, and I have done so many times since.
In March 2020 the Event Director, Niall, approached me and suggested we have a dedicated event day for deaf participants. I asked the Deaf parkrun Ireland members if they would be interested. They were thrilled with the idea. It was to take place on 18 April 2020 but due to the suspension of parkrun it could not take place. No doubt it will happen shortly after parkrun returns in Ireland.
When Fergus and I want to Berlin for a weekend away we took part in Hasenheide parkrun. We thought how awesome it was to be able to do parkrun in another country. We look forward to participating in many more events in other countries and throughout Ireland where we know several deaf parkrun members.
Sadly my Mum and Dad, 70 years married, both got Covid-19. Tragically Dad passed away on 19th April 2020 with my Mum so ill in hospital she could not attend the funeral. It was a tough time for the family, especially with my children stuck in London and Perth and could not be with us at that difficult time.
At present we do our weekly runs and walks but it is just not the same. We are keeping our hopes that Bushy parkrun, Dublin will resume soon and we can get back to our joyful routine. parkrun is fantastic and we highly recommend any interested runners and walkers to join us.
Thank you parkrun, and Bushy parkrun, Dublin for being so wonderful and helpful to our family.
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