I have been a covert stammerer throughout my life, though I did not know it. I was just trying to find ways to speak without feeling embarrassed but it didn’t work too well.
Growing up was not always easy. There were a lot of avoiding fearful situations but being involved in sports made me outgoing to a certain degree, but always cautious and always waiting for the axe to fall. I have been in many different therapy groups down through the years with limited success.
Eventually, I heard about the McGuire Programme and turned up at an open information day in Dublin. When I heard the McGuire members speak and saw their confidence, I immediately signed up for the next course which happened to be in my home city of Galway. At 58 years of age and a covert stammer, I had a lot of tricks to lose. This was my last chance to overcome my stammer, so I was a determined new student.
Over the next three days, we all worked very hard with the instructors and I began to dream of the possibilities of freedom from the shackles of stammering. In my farewell speech, I said that it was the support group that I most looked forward to.
Over the last number of years, I have found it enormously beneficial. The sharing of experiences and emotions as a group has enabled us to grow as individuals.
During the last few years, I have read at mass frequently. I have given speeches at Toastmasters and became president of my rugby club for a year, none of which could ever have happened without the aid of the McGuire Programme and the coaches who do great work during and after every course.
I now have the opportunity to help other students in the future, to dream of a life free from fear of speaking. Freedoms Road awaits those who dare!