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Drogheda woman Karen Smith is Leinster Family Carer of the Year


Louth and Leinster Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Karen Smith (left) and Louth Meath Carer Supports Manager Páraic McGahey.

Louth and Leinster Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Karen Smith (left) and Louth Meath Carer Supports Manager Páraic McGahey.

Louth and Leinster Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Karen Smith (left) and Louth Meath Carer Supports Manager Páraic McGahey.


A Drogheda woman, whose daughter says she is ‘a legend and a hero’ has been crowned Louth and Leinster Family Carer of the Year.

Karen Smith from the Marsh Road was awarded the honour by Family Carers Ireland, the national charity supporting Ireland’s family carers.

Karen was nominated by her youngest daughter Megan who describes her mother as “a legend and hero”. Karen is mother of two boys and two girls (24, 20, 18 and 13), three of whom have additional needs such as ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, sensory processing disorder, ODD and dyspraxia. She also cares for her dad who has developed blindness due to diabetes and her mother who has emphysema.

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“Now more than ever, family carers deserve to be recognised for their enormous contribution to our society. Their unyielding commitment to care for their loved ones at home, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis, has been nothing short of remarkable and this sacrifice often comes at a cost to their physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing,” said Louth Meath Carer Supports Manager Páraic McGahey. “These awards are about paying tribute to all of Ireland's 500,000 family carers and shining a light on the immense work that they do, day in, day out, often with little or no help from the State.”

Karen’s daily routine involves dropping her eldest to work, her youngest to school and then taking care of household chores, preparing meals, shopping, collecting prescriptions and providing support to her parents. While evening time is dedicated to providing care to three children.

Megan said her mam has looked after them all their lives and despite her own health issues, she never complains and always puts her children and the community first.

Along with being a family carer, Karen is also a driver for Cú Chulainn Blood Bikes, volunteers with the East Meath Defibrillator Unit and is a keen photographer, offering her skills free of charge to local worthy causes.

The annual awards seek to recognise and shine a light on the remarkable contribution of Ireland’s forgotten frontline who go the extra mile every day in caring for loved ones with additional needs. More than 500,000 people in Ireland provide unpaid care in the home for children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental ill-health, or addiction.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for all of society but especially for family carers and those they care for who saw essential services and supports severely impacted. The blanket withdrawal of supports such as homecare, respite, personal assistance hours and residential care during lockdown forced many to care alone, around the clock. When Ireland shut down, family carers stepped up in support of their loved ones.

Karen is one of four regional finalists who will attend an awards ceremony in The Westin Dublin on Thursday November 25th where broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan will present one with the overall 2021 Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Award.