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'Inspirational' RTE viewers moved by man's discussion of spinal cord injury on Tommy Tiernan Show

I dived in over a wave, not realising how shallow the water was, and my head collided with the sandbank and I broke my neck... Life took a bit of a turn at that moment"


RTE viewers were moved by a candid interview with a young man who opened up about the spinal injury that changed his life forever on The Tommy Tiernan Show last night.

Former pharmaceutical student Jack Kavanagh was just 20 years old when he suffered the injury while on holiday.

“Just before I went back to college, myself and a few friends headed off to Portugal for a holiday,” Jack explained.

“I dived in over a wave, not realising how shallow the water was, and my head collided with the sandbank and I broke my neck... Life took a bit of a turn at that moment.

“The water and the mountains was where I wanted to be, just out exploring. In an instant, you're as vulnerable as a newborn again. I was on a ventilator learning to breathe.”

Despite the life-changing accident, Jack said that he can still find humour about his disability, especially with other people who have suffered similar injuries.

Speaking about his time in hospital, he said: “Predominantly, spinal injuries happen to younger men mostly. A mixture of car crashes, falls and so on.

“Everyone’s grappling with the same and different. The craic is - in a really dark way, you’d be in your element because you can say things that nobody else can say and you get away with stuff that, in any other circumstance, wouldn’t be tolerated.

“Dark humour becomes a big part of it. But there’s days where you just need to pull the curtains and be with yourself and they’re the times when someone sticks their head in and says, ‘Do you want to chat?’"

He spoke about his gratitude that his situation isn’t worse.

“And everyone’s in different places too. There’s the guy with more function than you that you’re aspiring to be towards and then you have huge gratitude like, ‘I’m lucky I’m not in that scenario.’

“You get an appreciation. I’m lucky – I had fantastic family support and I had a lot of friends in college living in Dublin at the time. That all goes a long way as well.”


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RTÉ viewers took to Twitter after the show to praise the “inspirational” young man.

One viewer said: “JUST watching @Tommedian chatting to @JackKavanaghIRL one thing I noticed is Jack’s sense of gratitude and resilience. Despite this guy having a life altering accident he still maintains his humor and great energy, LEGEND! More power to you. #JackKavanagh #TommyTiernanShow.”

Another wrote: “Remarkable interview with @JackKavanaghIRL on #TommyTiernanShow, what an inspiring man Jack is and how much he enjoyed the chat with Tommy, who treated Jack as an equal with such dignity, humour, and respect, just brilliant.”

While a third added: “The interview with #JackKavanagh is the inspiration I didn’t know I needed today! Thank you @Tommedian #TommyTiernanShow.”

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