Matthew McNulty - Gold Gaisce Award Winner | Enable Ireland

Personal Stories

Hear first-hand from parents and adults with experience of Enable Ireland services.

Matthew McNulty - Gold Gaisce Award Winner

President Michael D Higgins hands an award to a smiling young man

Matthew McNulty was diagnosed with Dyspraxia and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) at age 6 and with the help of the Enable Ireland team in Wicklow he learned not just to cope with the daily challenges of Dyspraxia but to excel.  In December 2018, Matthew was awarded a coveted Gold Gaisce award by President Michael D. Higgins. 

“My name is Matthew McNulty and I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia/DCD at 6 years old. Throughout my primary school years I struggled with concentration, organisation and team sports. With the help of the Aontas team at Enable Ireland and many invaluable tips from Dyspraxia Ireland, I learned to cope with the daily challenges that I faced. Although the transition to secondary school is particularly difficult for people with DCD with the help of a great resource team and Enable Ireland, I learned valuable skills to help me cope. I learned the importance of communicating with the staff and faculty members I trusted and as my confidence grew I decided that I was not going to let my Dyspraxia prevent me from achieving personal goals. 

When I heard about the Bronze Gaisce award in transition year I was eager to challenge myself. Once I had achieved the Bronze I got the motivation to take on the next level which was the Silver award. I was the only person in my year to achieve the Silver Gaisce. This entailed 26 weeks of community involvement (homework club mentor), physical recreation (gym), personal skill (photography) and a 3 day 2 night hike. It felt amazing to complete the silver award. It was a great boost to my confidence and self-esteem and I knew Dyspraxia would no longer prevent me from achieving what I want to achieve. On the night of the Silver award ceremony I vowed to myself that I would one day achieve the Gold Gaisce award. 

The Gold award is much more challenging as you have to complete 52 weeks of all the challenge areas. I chose: soccer, volunteering and acting, I also spent a week in Barretstown residential camp for children with illnesses. The biggest challenge of all was an 80km hike through the Wicklow mountains. Despite weak muscle tone and co-ordination challenges, I managed to complete the Wicklow way in its entirety in 4 days and 3 nights. There were moments where I wanted to give up but I kept going to prove to myself that I could do this despite my dyspraxia. 

Since completing the Gold Gaisce I have continued volunteering and have become a President’s award leader. My proudest moment was when President Michael D Higgins presented me with my Gold award. This was the moment that I realised dyspraxia is part of who I am and with it I can face anything.

My advice to anyone with Dyspraxia/DCD is to always believe in yourself and DREAM BIG.”