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Cork Lives
David Punch with his cousin Jack O'Driscoll
David Punch with his cousin Jack O'Driscoll
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

A song in honour of my brave cousin Jack

WHEN his cousin, Jack O’Driscoll, was left paralysed by a freak accident during Storm Emma last year, David Punch was devastated.

Already close through their family ties, the two young men both studied in CIT and often ran into each other on the campus’s corridors.

David recalls that Jack, a keen hurling and soccer player, was often on his way to sports practice when he bumped into him him and the two enjoyed a happy conversation almost every day.

“I was in my final semester in CIT when the accident happened, and I was shocked, I was in a really bad state,” says David, 23.

Jack, 20, suffered the serious injuries when he was out with friends in the snow in Mayfield last March.

David is now a student of Music, Management and Sound at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa (CSN) and remained badly affected by his cousin’s accident.

While in CSN, he confided in his course co-ordinator about how he was always struck by Jack’s drive and about the waves of emotions he had been feeling since his accident.

“He said ‘Why don’t you write a few little words about how you feel about him and the accident?’, so that’s what I did,” David says. Soon, he had the music to accompany the heartfelt lyrics.

The resulting song, No Limits In Your Eyes, is set to be released in March on online streaming services with all benefits going to the Jack O’Driscoll Fund.

The crowdfunding campaign, which has already raised nearly €140,000 of its €200,000 target, will be spent on Jack’s full recovery and rehabilitation.

David Punch, who has written a song to raise funds for his cousin Jack O'Driscoll
David Punch, who has written a song to raise funds for his cousin Jack O'Driscoll

For David, it is a fitting tribute to a cousin who he says has remained positive and inspirational, despite the life-changing nature of his accident. Jack has discussed plans to go into coaching in the future.

Perseverance is clearly a trait that runs in the family, for as I talk to David about his life and love of music, it emerges that he too has overcome adversity to achieve his ambitions.

“Bullies were one of my greatest inspirations,” he admits to me cheerfully.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of four, David says he grew up feeling lonely and isolated in Cork city.

“I just didn’t have any social skills, and I was very clumsy,” he says.

“In primary school, I couldn’t communicate with any of my classmates. I felt different from other people.”

It was during his time in primary school that David’s mother told him that his overwhelming social anxiety was due to Asperger’s, and he promised himself to get on with life as best he could.

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism, can have unique talents and abilities, but find it difficult to socialise and communicate and tend to be physically clumsy.

It is believed that symptoms of conditions that fall under the title of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including Asperger’s Syndrome, typically become clear at around two years of age.

A new report published by the Department of Health last year revealed that the prevalence of ASD within the school-aged population in Ireland has increased with male students four times (4.5%) more likely to be identified with the disorder.

David, who has a confident, friendly demeanour, has excellent maths skills and holds a BA degree in Information Technology (IT) from CIT. His heart, however, was always set on becoming a musician.

“My family are all music-orientated,” he says.

“My uncle is a musician, my mum sings as well, and my grandad was in a one-man-band playing the keyboard in a few pubs around Cork.”

He was well aware that becoming a musician meant stepping miles out of his comfort zone, but he was determined to give it a try.

“My biggest fear was playing in front of people because I couldn’t even leave the house at the time,” he says.

The young musician first started singing while in secondary school, but he says it attracted negative comments from some of his fellow pupils.

David Punch, who has written a song to raise funds for his cousin Jack O'Driscoll
David Punch, who has written a song to raise funds for his cousin Jack O'Driscoll

“I could hear them behind me, like, but I couldn’t say anything to my teachers because I was scared.”

David, who is known as Punchy among his friends and fans, took taunts about his singing voice seriously, but instead of becoming disheartened, he enrolled in singing classes to improve.

“If it weren’t because of my bullies, I wouldn’t have taken singing lessons,” he says. “But I did really improve after those lessons.”

Combining his love for music and comedy, he now makes parody covers of popular hip-hop songs, which he describes as “piss-taking videos” and uploads them on Facebook and YouTube. = His most famous song, Cork City Kid — a parody cover of American rapper Tyga’s Rack City — has gone viral with more than 126,000 views on an Irish entertainment Facebook page called ‘Meanwhile in Ireland’.

David says people now recognise him on the streets because of it, and he is often stopped for a selfie.

“When I first started putting the videos on Facebook and YouTube, everyone started laughing at me saying, ‘Oh look at this fool’,” he says.

“People are saying to me now that you’re an inspiration, you’re the new Cork legend. But I had to overcome those (negative) reactions, you know.”

Pursuing a career in music has dramatically increased David’s self-esteem, mental health and life satisfaction. He has since performed in front of large crowds.

Last year, during CIT Rag Week, for example, David sang for a group of more than 600 people.

Meanwhile, all the money raised during CIT’s upcoming Rag Week in February will go to his cousin Jack’s fund.

To donate to Jack O’Driscoll Fund visit https://www.gofundme.com/jackod-fund.

Life was busy on the go,

You played football like a pro.

You dreamt of reaching the very top.

And with a talent no-one could stop.

Pre-chorus

One winter’s day, your life turned round.

The wind it roared, as trees fell down.

It seemed to take your dreams away.

But nothing can hold your spirit today.

Chorus

Set your sights and set your goals.

Onwards and Upwards, way to go.

Follow your dreams to the sky.

There’s no limits in your eyes.

You’ll never give up of that I am sure,

Your heart’s too strong, your will is pure.

Take every challenge you take, in your stride,

And fill your family’s hearts with pride.

Pre-chorus

One winter’s day, your life turned round.

The wind it roared, As trees fell down.

It seemed to take your dreams away.

But nothing can hold your spirit today.

Chorus

Set your sights and set your goals.

Onwards and Upwards, way to go.

Follow your dreams to the sky.

There’s no limits in your eyes.

Strength and Hope is all that’s needed.

You may be down but not defeated.

On the journey through this life,

You got good friends you’ll be alright

Set your sights and set your goals.

Onwards and upwards, way to go.

Follow your dreams to the sky.

There’s no limits in your eyes.