Visually-impaired Shane rows the Atlantic

Shane Ryan from Ballybricken has returned home from his Atlantic rowing challenge which saw him and a team row from Europe to South America. He is pictured here with father Tom and mother Marie, and locals who stood outside their homes to welcome him back. Picture: Keith Wiseman

A 31 year-old County Limerick man, Shane Ryan from Ballybricken, has become the first blind person to row across the Atlantic from Europe to South America, writes John Barrett. Shane, who has a severe vision impairment, was joined by an international rowing crew of five, including skipper Ralph (Holland) Livar (Faroe Islands), Predrag (Serbia) and Darragh (Cork) as they departed Portimao in Portugal aboard the Rose on Wednesday, 4th March. The County Limerick man and his crew encountered numerous obstacles during the arduous 53-day sea journey, including problems with solar-powered batteries, satellite system failure and a destroyed rudder following a frightening shark attack.
However, on completing the historic journey, Shane and his crew safely docked in Cayenne, French Guiana. After two days’ rest, the Ballybricken man and another crew mate travelled to Paris together, with Shane then continuing on to Dublin through virtually empty airports.
On arriving back to Co.Limerick on Wednesday of last week, Shane was given a Garda escort over the last few kilometres to his home. His neighbours and friends in Ballybricken, who had followed his progress over the weeks, including local Independent Limerick City and County councillor Brigid Teefy and her husband, Joe, were on hand to welcome Shane back and stood outside their homes cheering and waving flags. A delighted Shane said it was fantastic to see all the local support coming out to welcome him home. (See full story and photographs inside).