Breda Morrissey Named Netwatch Family Carer of the Year 2023

Posted on Thursday 30 November 2023


Pictured are Netwatch Family Carer of the Year 2023 Breda Morrissey and her husband Timmy. PHOTO: Mark Stedman

Thursday, 30th November 2023: Breda Morrissey from Ballyvolane, Cork has been announced as the overall Netwatch Family Carer of the Year for 2023. Her story of caring for her husband following a life-changing car crash is marked by resilience in the face of adversity and stands as a testament to the selflessness of family carers across Ireland.

The Netwatch Family Carer of the Year Awards shine a light on the invaluable work of family carers, acknowledging their immeasurable contributions and unwavering support within our communities. Held at the College Green Hotel, the awards ceremony served as a tribute to the often hidden work of family carers and young carers, recognising their tireless efforts and sacrifices in providing care and support to their loved ones.

In 1999, Breda's life changed in an instant, forever altered by an abrupt knock on the door from two Gardaí. It is an experience that sends shivers down the spine of anyone who has witnessed or imagined it. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of a journey fraught with challenges after her husband, Timmy, survived a life-altering car accident.

Timmy became a quadriplegic due to severe head injuries sustained during the accident and a subsequent fall in the hospital. Breda, amidst the chaos of hospitals and rehabilitation centres, balanced caring for him and tending to their children at home. Determined to bring Timmy home, she tirelessly transformed the house by setting up a bed in the sitting room where she slept next to him for years and tended to his every need - dressing, feeding, and providing constant care - a commitment that continues unabated.

Despite all of this, she receives no assistance or financial support, no medical card to ease the burden and navigates the complexities, challenges, and hugely physical demands of caring entirely on her own. The lack of support meant that not only did Breda worry about basic necessities like food, she was also left solely responsible for arranging essentials such as wheelchairs, bed modifications and physiotherapy.

Throughout the years, Breda has remained an unwavering pillar of support, not only for her husband but also for her sister, whom she cared for tirelessly during a 10-month battle with cancer. Her dedication goes beyond her role as a family carer as she also devotes herself to volunteering for charities and aiding others.

Five exceptional young carers were also celebrated during the event. The Netwatch Young Carer of the Year Awards honour remarkable young people who provide significant support to their families facing diverse challenges. The awardees include Conor Byrne (19) from Wicklow who was named Netwatch Leinster Young Carer of the Year in recognition of the care he provides for his mother; Laura Keelan (12) from Dublin who helps to care for her siblings and is the Netwatch Dublin Young Carer of the Year; Lyrah Dooley (17) from Cork who was recognised as Netwatch Munster Young Carer of the Year in honour of the care she gives to her mother; Cillian McCarthy (10) from Galway who was acknowledged as Netwatch Connacht Young Carer of the Year for the support he provides to his twin brother; and Cameron Mills (12) from Monaghan whose care for his father was recognised with the Netwatch Ulster Young Carer of the Year award.

Pictured left to right are Netwatch Young Carer of the Year Award recipients Cameron Mills (Ulster); Conor Byrne (Leinster); Cillian McCarthy (Connacht); Laura Keelan (Dublin) and Lyrah Dooley (Munster). PHOTO: Mark Stedman

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Policy at Family Carers Ireland, commended Breda’s extraordinary commitment:

"Breda’s story is not merely a tale of personal endurance, but a poignant reflection of the untold sacrifices made by countless family carers across the country. Her resilience and selfless commitment are an inspiration to us all.

“While these awards highlight the exceptional commitment of a few, they truly celebrate the entirety of Ireland's family carers who consistently go above and beyond to care for their loved ones. As a society, it's imperative that we not only listen to their stories, but also recognise the indispensable role played by family carers and provide the necessary supports and services to enable them to care safely at home.”

Awards patron Miriam O'Callaghan, who hosted the event, praised the dedication of all the award recipients, saying:

"These awards celebrate the immense love and courage shown by family carers across Ireland. They underscore the role family carers play within our communities, serving as beacons of inspiration and reminding us of the incredible impact of their work.”

Netwatch Brand Ambassador, Mick Galwey, added:

"Netwatch is honoured to support these awards, recognising the unwavering dedication of family carers such as Breda and young carers Conor, Cameron, Laura, Lyrah and Cillian. Each of them has made an indelible impact, reflecting the incredible power of love and care within our communities."


Young Carers of the Year Bios

Netwatch Leinster Young Carer of the Year: Conor Byrne, Churchill, Wicklow – 19 years old

Conor became a carer for his mother after she suffered a severe stroke when he was only 8 years old. He has sacrificed personal milestones, like social outings and events, to care for her without complaint. Conor handles household responsibilities, manages finances and diligently oversees his mother’s care, even attending to her during nighttime check-ins. Despite facing homelessness, Conor remains an empathetic, resilient young man dedicated to his mother's care.

Netwatch Dublin Young Carer of the Year: Laura Keelan, Clongriffin, Dublin – 12 years old

Laura, the youngest in her family, supports her siblings, especially Janice, who has Cri-du-chat syndrome, and Seán who is autistic. Laura's days are filled with caring for Janice, from morning routines to reading stories and assisting with daily activities. Despite facing family challenges including her stepfather's illness, Laura remains steadfast in her care for her family. She brings joy and unwavering support to her siblings, providing comfort amidst adversity.

Netwatch Munster Young Carer of the Year: Lyrah Dooley, Castletownbere, Cork – 17 years old

Despite experiencing personal loss, Lyrah remains an unwavering support for her mother. Her sacrifices and selflessness, coupled with her positive attitude, are truly commendable. Lyrah's dedication to her mother's care, coupled with her ability to remain positive amidst adversity, is remarkable.

Netwatch Connacht Young Carer of the Year: Cillian McCarthy, Oranmore, Galway – 10 years old

Cillian's incredible nature and support for his twin brother, Fiachra, who has Down syndrome and is autistic, illustrate a level of understanding and care beyond his years. From dressing to comforting, Cillian's understanding and patience surpass his years. He is a remarkable young carer with a heart of gold.

Netwatch Ulster Young Carer of the Year: Cameron Mills, Drum, Monaghan – 12 years old

Cameron has been a devoted caregiver for his father, who battles a rare and challenging condition called IBMPFD. His father's severe health issues require constant care, and Cameron steps up, helping with various tasks like monitoring oxygen levels, and assisting with mobility. Despite missing out on typical childhood experiences, Cameron's commitment to his family's care is profound.

About Family Carers Ireland

Family Carers Ireland is the national charity supporting the 500,000+ family carers across the country who care for loved ones such as children or adults with additional needs, physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, those with palliative care needs or those living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges, or addiction. It provides a range of services and supports for family carers through its Carer Support Centres nationwide and through its National Freephone Careline 1800 24 07 24. See for more information.

About Netwatch

Established in 2003 and headquartered in Carlow, Netwatch is a world leader in proactive visual monitoring with a stated mission ‘to create a fearless environment’ where clients can feel safe and secure in their business. Netwatch revolutionised the Irish security market introducing the first proactive visual monitoring solution that, unlike static security cameras, allowed for interventions to take place immediately where the security perimeter was breached. This provides immediate, preventative and peace of mind protection for clients.