Sunday 21 January 2018

Joy as rugby fan JP (7) gets new signed jersey

SANTA came early for one very special rugby fanatic.

JP Byrne (7) had a dream come true when he collected his new signed Ireland rugby jersey on a day trip to Dublin.

The Byrne family were victims of a break-in at their home in Tullow, Carlow while they were on a special Make A Wish trip with JP, a quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy patient, to Disneyland Paris.

Even before they took off for Paris, JP's favourite collection of rugby jerseys was plundered at his home by the heartless thieves. But the Scott family, from Portrane in north Co Dublin, came forward with a very generous donation of an Ireland rugby jersey, signed by the players on the Rugby World Cup tour 2011.

And yesterday afternoon, JP and his family made a journey to the Herald offices to collect the special present and a few more surprises.

And JP's face broke into a huge smile the instant he saw the jersey.

"It is just unbelievable. We felt as if the tables turned completely on our bad luck," JP's dad Brendan said.

"It is the whole magic of Christmas.


"The unbelievable generosity of so many people out there that you don't know, that are willing to help.

"It would bring a tear to your eye."

The family, which includes children Michael (13), Aaron (11), John Paul (7) and Ellen (4), also received an anonymous present of a British and Irish Lions Flag from 2005.

"The person had read the story and their grandchild had a 'wish' granted before with Make A Wish," Brendan said. "We don't know who that person was -- it was just signed Aaron, Co Wicklow.

"We thought it was extra special because JP was born in 2005."

The family said that the Irish and Leinster players are particularly kind to JP all year around.

"Sean O'Brien visited us when JP was really sick," Brendan said.

"He was very pale and withdrawn, but the minute Sean entered the room, his face lit up. Literally all colour returned."

JP watches all the rugby matches and even insists on having a game playing as he is going to sleep. Doctors initially told his dad Brendan and mum Enisa that he wouldn't survive, but he has proved everyone wrong.


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