Joanne O’Riordan

My tree is an oak tree located in the Millstreet Town Park, Millstreet Town, County Cork. My tree is important to me as it was sat by the Boys National School in Easter 1997. The students at the time and the principal, Jim Bradley, decided to set this tree in honour of me. The tree was, in their words, like me. At the start it was small and delicate, almost like me as a baby.

As the tree grew, so did i. The oak tree grew to extraordinary heights and so did i. The tree was like a new companion for me, as it grew, so did I and the tree and I are continuing to grow as time goes along. Like my life, the tree has its ups and downs, this tree has battled storms, constant threats, and everything imaginable. But it still grows… and I grow with it.

The tree is located in a peaceful part of the park and many people sit by it in order for peace and tranquility. It’s safe to say I do that also, as it’s an amazing place to have a minute to yourself just to absorb whatever is occurring in your life.

In my opinion, I believe the story behind my oak tree and I is a story of growth, power and determination. Yes, we might have obstacles and other things thrown at us, but the two of us have overcome everything. We now both stand tall and proud and together we will continue to grow and tackle life. As Joyce Meyer once said ‘Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don’t see what goes on underground – as they grow roots. Trees must develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don’t see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree’.


Joanne is one of seven currently living people born with the condition Tetra-amelia syndrome, meaning she has no limbs, is from Millstreet, County Cork, Ireland. She has successfully taken on Taoiseach Enda Kenny, addressed the United Nations and discussed technology with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Apple.[1] She has been named Cork Person of the Month and Young Person of the Year at the People of the Year Awards. She has received a Cork Person of the Month award, having been nominated by MEP Brian Crowley. In September 2012, she was named Young Person of the Year at the People of the Year Awards, Ireland’s version of an honours’ system, which has been televised each year for many decades.