Who cares wins as Peter the Great honoured
Peter Riordan (81), from Naas, Co Kildare, rises at 7am each day and until 11pm he looks after his two sons, Ronan (36), who has Down syndrome, and Bernard (51), who was left brain-damaged and wheelchair-bound following an horrific road crash over 30 years ago that claimed the life of another son, Stephen (15).
A widower, Peter also cared for his wife Eithne until her death in 2004.
"You don't volunteer for that kind of job, but you just do it," he explained modestly as he was honoured at the Tunstall Emergency Response Carer of the Year Awards 2012 in Dublin's Westbury Hotel.
Peter rarely has a day off as the care of his sons has to be meticulously planned. However, the octogenarian insisted that the long days were not a problem to him.
"I can cope with it all, I've no problem with it. I'm fit and healthy and can walk anywhere.
"I would like to have more free time to write my memoirs. I have an interest in genealogy and you need time for that," he explained.
His voice faltered as he recalled the tragic road crash which claimed the life of Stephen, as well as another boy.
"It was a very bad night. Two of the lads and a friend were walking up the road to a party in a friend's house when they were hit by a drunken driver. The other two were killed and Bernard, unfortunately, was left in a wheelchair," he said.
Peter was nominated by Respite care worker Terry Healy, who began working with the Riordans last year and is now "part of the family".
Mr Healy said of Peter: "He's a fabulous man. All the work he does, I think the Government should be doing a lot more for people with disabilities and those who have been caring for them should be looked after now." Peter had previously been named Leinster Carer of the Year and was joined by the other regional winners yesterday, including mother-of-four Deirdre Horan (49) from Tralee, Co Kerry, who won the Munster title for her dedication to her daughter Rachel (13) who was the rare disorder RETTS Syndrome. She also cares part-time for her elderly father.
From Connacht/Ulster, Bridie McLoughlin (64), of Mayo, has been a family carer for almost three decades while also working on the family farm.
Meanwhile, the Dublin Carer of the Year was Linda Yourell (54) from Ballyfermot, who provides full-time care to both her parents, who are in their 80s.