|The origins of the Starfish Club are in Waterford
where a few mothers of children with disabilities took the
initiative of booking a session in the Waterford Glass swimming
pool. Dr. Condon whose child has Down's Syndrome and Máirín
Conroy who was Hon. Secretary of the Waterford branch of
the Irish Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus
(IASBH) persevered in those early days when, at times, they
would have the whole pool available for their two children.
They were aware of the great benefits of activities in water.
While swimming is a gentle, whole body exercise with high
aerobic cardiovascular value for improving fitness, it is
also a recreation where a person's special needs can be
Máirín made contact with Mary Arrigan who was using the
Halliwick method in Clarenbridge, Galway and Jim Daly volunteered
to be trained at a course in Limerick. In 1983 Mary and
Jim arranged a combined A & B Halliwick course directed
by Halliwick's senior instructor in Britain - Dan O'Mahony
- in the Waterford Glass pool. From that came the first
Halliwick club in the Republic - Viking.
The Waterford club grew to the extent that it was necessary
to set-up a second club based in South Tipperary. Members
from Waterford helped the development of Dolphin based in
Ferryhouse and this club developed rapidly into a large
and active centre.
The Conroys moved to Kildare and in 1987 they started a
swimming session in Moore Abbey, Monasterevin, supported
by the Kildare branch of IASBH. In 1989 an experienced swimming
instructor - Gerry Moran - joined and together with Kevin
Conroy founded the Starfish Club. "Everyone who takes part
is a star," said Gerry. Kevin pointed out that there are
1,600 different species of starfish with a very wide variety
of sizes and shapes and the name symbolised the many varieties
of disabilities that the club is open to. Pat Harding of
Newbridge designed the crest.
Associated with the Association of Swimming Therapy, films,
videos, tapes, slides, talks, demonstrations and courses
are all readily available. The club developed well and helped
organise "Splashes" with our sister clubs in Munster and
Connaught. Some members competed in international galas
in New York and in Scotland and in the CPI national championships.
Two major club trips to Wales, where there are more than
20 clubs, were great successes and established long lasting
friendships. Trips and activities in conjunction with Kilcullen
Canoe Club, Naas Snorkel Club, Tralee Sub-Aqua club and
high speed water sports at Terryglass on Lough Derg have
contributed to a friendly and fun club atmosphere that loves
The club officially helped form ASTRA 14 (Association of
Swimming Therapy Regional Area 14) with officers from all
the existing clubs in Ireland. Then in 1995 the Starfish
club helped Bernadette and Pete Shinnors set-up the North
Star club in Celbridge. Their Chief Instructor is Deirdre
Moran who is highly qualified in Halliwick methods, is a
Lifeguard, a certified Swimming Teacher, Water Safety Instructor
and Snorkelling Instructor.