Participant Stories: Michelle Murphy

A student in NUI Maynooth, Michelle began her Bronze award in 2010, she received her Silver award in 2011 and had her Gold completed by 2013! Michelle loves nothing better than a challenge and decided to start her Gold award while still doing her Leaving Certificate.

For her community involvement section, Michelle was an active member of the Arklow Youth Council. The issues they addressed were often brought to a county, national, and even international level. This led to her being involved with Comhairle na nÓg as Vice Chairperson, as well as being involved in the National Youth Council of Ireland, particularly with the “Vote at 16” campaign. Of all these achievements, Michelle’s personal high was being elected as the first female chairperson of Arklow Youth Council. Unfortunately, due to funds being cut, the Arklow Youth Council was forced to stop running. Michelle maintains that this only made the County Comhairle stronger and more resilient.

With the aim of running in the Flora Women’s Mini-Marathon, and wanting to get fit, Michelle joined her local athletics club. As with most athletic groups, the winter months proved tough to meet up and run, but the effort put in was very rewarding. Her coach taught her several techniques to improve her running ability, and the importance of persistence, to try and better their P.B. every time they ran. Michelle did run in the Mini-Marathon, as part of a school team, running for the Dublin Plurabelle Paddlers Dragon-boat team. As well as learning self-belief, self-control, and persistence, she believes that without athletics, she wouldn’t have got very far in her adventure journey!

Michelle’s passion lies in figure skating/off-ice skating. For her personal activity she learned different types of jumps, and improved her flexibility & strength. Her highlights include performing at concerts at Christmas, Halloween, and during summer. Despite the glitter & glam of skating, there were bumps & bruises to go with it. As usual with Gaisce awardees, persistence pays off as Michelle fought through the hurt and continued to follow her passion. She often travels up to Belfast to use the Dundonald ice rink, due to the lack of ice rinks in the south.

She volunteered at Sunshine House in Balbriggan for her residential project. Sunshine House is a holiday camp for children form disadvantaged areas of Dublin, and gives them an opportunity to spend a week in a Sunshine House. She was responsible for looking after 12 boys between the ages of 6 & 12. She took care of them and they did lots of activities including arts & crafts, trips to the beaches, sports, movie nights, and treasure hunts. The children were never bored as they were always doing something. The high & low point was leaving the boys back home and saying goodbye. She was delighted that they were showing their families the pictures they drew during their time there and she was glad she could make a difference. She enjoyed the experience so much, that she signed up to do another 2 weeks for the following summer!

She took part in the Gaisce/Tar Eis Oir organised hike for her adventure journey. She met with other participants from Slovenia, Czech Republic, Ireland, and Latvia. They planned their hike for 3 days; forming teams, choosing routes, menu planning, and even practicing CPR methods. Each day they hiked from 8:30am to 9:00pm. After the 4 days of hiking, they had climbed a total of 24 mountains, and covered over 100km. After the hike, the group debriefed and enjoyed many of the sights in Dublin. Michelle believes that the hike changed her as a person, she showed her determination & strength, and that she can do something when she really puts her mind to it. She has since joined a Rover’s hiking club – as she was hooked after completing her adventure journey!

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