Local Faces: Sinead Tighe

By Hayden Moore

TALLAGHT is known for its strong community spirit and Sinead Tighe, who has worked tirelessly to build an inclusive community for children with special needs, embodies that spirit.

Born and raised in Watergate estate, Sinead is Tallaght to her core with generations of her family living and working in the area.

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Sinead Tighe

A pupil in St Maelruain’s Primary School and Old Bawn Community School, Sinead was very active in her school years and was a Majorette for nine-years in Tallaght Youth Band.

After her first job in News Extra in the village, Sinead was part of the opening of The Square Shopping Centre 30-years-ago with Roche’s Stores. 

Indeed, Sinead’s roots run deep in Tallaght. All based in and around Tallaght Village, Sinead’s grandfather Paddy Murphy ran a grocery shop, uncle Michael provided locals with their supply of coal through his coal yard and aunt Maura was a hairdresser.

In her family history, they all seem to have a passion for their hometown and Sinead follows suit.

Sinead was named Tallaght Person of the Year in 2017 after being nominated for being a “tenacious and devoted” mam to her son Daniel, who at the time of his birth was one of around 40 children born with a rare genetic disorder called Sotos Syndrome.

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Sinead Tighe

Sinead has cared full-time for Daniel since he was 2, after being forced to leave work.

“Looking back on my time as Tallaght Person of the Year, it was the most special thing,” Sinead recalls.

“Being in Tallaght all my life, I have always loved where I was from.

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Sinead Tighe

“When I started doing all of the things I had to do that year, it really opened up my view of what Tallaght was capable of, seeing all of these different people working to make Tallaght a better place for everyone and it made me even prouder to be from here.

“I loved the exposure of the role, the exposure it could give to inclusion.”

During her tenure as Tallaght Person of the Year, Sinead’s remit was to build a more inclusive community for children with special needs and their families.

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Sinead Tighe became a key figure within the community in 2017 when she and her family went public with their struggles to provide a better quality of life for her son Daniel

Promoting inclusion throughout the community, Sinead was behind the creation of Tallaght’s first inclusion networking event and helped stage the country’s first inclusive parkrun in Tymon Park.

Since handing over the coveted chains of Tallaght Person of the Year to Gar Tyrell, Sinead has begun working with Tallaght Community Council (TCC) as their Inclusion Officer.

Today, Sinead lives in Riverside with her husband Keith and two children, Shauna and Daniel.

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Former Tallaght Person of the Year and Inclusion Officer with Tallaght Community Council, Sinead Tighe

The 47-year-old became a key figure within the community in 2017 when their family went public with their struggles to provide a better quality of life for Daniel.

To continue providing Daniel with the best quality of life, the family reached out to the community to help in raising funds to enable them to adapt the downstairs of their home.

That’s where Daniel’s Voyage began.

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Sinead Tighe

“We had been talking about adapting our home for about three-years previous to that and when we costed everything, we were thinking we were never going to be able to do it,” Sinead tells The Echo.

“It took a huge amount to put our hands out and ask for help, it just wasn’t something we wanted to do.

“Eventually I was like look, I’m going to run the Dublin City Marathon and ask for support and that’s it, I’m just going to do this for 10 months and then it’s over.

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Sinead Tighe

“From there it grew legs, the community ran with it organising different events all within those 10 months and by the end of the year we had made €106,000.”

Sinead has raised awareness of the isolation and exclusion that families caring for a loved one in the home can feel.

A few years after Daniel was born, Sinead started running as a means to work through the anxiety and stress she would build up while full-time caring.

“I started to bring Daniel on runs then and you could see how much of a positive impact that would have on his mood and his behaviour.”

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Sinead Tighe

Alongside Sinead, her husband Keith, who is a GAA man, started running as a way of bonding with Daniel and from there they started training for the marathon.

In late October of 2017, the Tallaght mother became the first woman to ever push a child across the 26-mile race in the Dublin City Marathon.

Sinead’s love for running has grown since then, becoming the ladies captain in Brother Pearse Athletic Club and running to Leinster gold last year.

Next year, Sinead is hoping to put some serious miles in the tank to try receive acclaim on the national running front.

The Tighe family have pulled together in caring for Daniel, with Sinead’s daughter Shauna being recognised as Young Carer of the Year in 2018 for her dedication to caring for her younger brother.

Due to Sotos Syndrome, Daniel has a severe intellectual disability, cortical visual impairment, sensory processing disorder, overgrowth, low mobility, severe epilepsy and is non-verbal.

Daniel is now 13-years-old and is outgrowing the family, making it more difficult for Sinead, Keith and Shauna to care for him.

Despite the community getting behind the family and national coverage of Daniel’s Voyage, the fight for care hours continues.

“We were getting some respite but that stopped,” Sinead says.

“You always have to fight for care hours. We got none for a year and then we were going to be getting them in Cheeverstown in March but that was put on hold because of the pandemic.

“So that will be two years without care.

“I work with the disability team in Tallaght, so that would be the HSE and I would be constantly relaying on our story because if you don’t, they’ll think you’re grand now and are going to go away.

“We need to be realistic; Daniel is 13 now and he’s becoming man-sized. I’m only getting older so we are going to need that help in caring for him.

“Unfortunately, it feels like whoever shouts the loudest gets what they need.

“But if they appoint a new person to that department then the process starts all over again, you have to start from the very beginning and tell them your story all over again.

“As a carer that is hard because it becomes so tiring and exhausting, I call it my Groundhog Day - you’re just saying the same thing over and over and over again just to try get some help.”

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic with schools closed and services shut the family found themselves in a “sink or swim” situation, having to try establish a new routine for Daniel to balance his behaviour.

“You take the good with the bad, he’s actually doing quite well at the moment but his behaviour can get quite challenging at times,” Sinead says.

“I’ve found that I’ve actually learned so much about Daniel during the pandemic.

“We’ve found that he has this love for music therapy so he’ll be going along with his tambourines - he loves it!

“We were just very lucky to have the house adapted because we just wouldn’t have been able to do it without it.”

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