So, who is Peter Ryan?

It would be fair to say that Peter Ryan’s sporting dreams once revolved around playing hurling for Tipperary in Croke Park. However, back in early 2010 he noticed that a few things weren’t quite right, like missing balls he should have caught in training. So he decided that he needed to go get himself a set of contact lenses. What came next rocked his life to the core as he was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy [LHON], a rare genetic disorder that left him with between five and ten percent peripheral vision in both eyes. Basically, he was legally blind.

A lot of what happened next is now just a distant memory because at the time Peter wasn’t fully conscious of what was happening. Living in denial, Peter now recounts it as how he lived a very simple live with basic needs. Looking back he had his work, sport and a good social life. Two of these three things were gone, which ultimately meant he found solace in socialising . . . and a lot of it. It was inevitable that he would hit rock bottom at some point and only for all his friends and family around him, he may still be there.

Following a stint in the Aiséirí Centre in Cahir, he began to take his first steps towards rebuilding his life. Part of this glimpse into a future he liked was to re-engage with sport, something that still excites him to this day. His journey back began with a trip to UCD for a Paralympics Open Day in 2012, where he undertook a test on a watt bike which was to prove that he was a capable cyclist. Dial the clock forward to today and Peter is the stoker of a formidable two man cycling team with Sean Hahessy as the pilot. The two, having been paired together via the national para-cycling programme since 2015, have already made their mark on the Irish Cycling circuit having competed in the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.

What has yet to come will depend on the support he can gather on his road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, and you.


Peter Ryan Smiling


2013 1990 29 April 2015 8 th place at the WorldChampionships National champion 2016 Rio Paralympics Game 2020 Tokyo Paralympics Game Trip to UCD for a Paralympics open day Start to be visually impaired 2010 2012

“It works well; we've similar mentalities and he's a bit of a messer as well so that's good. The dynamic between pilot and stoker is huge,”

The team

With blind competitors it’s a little different. The visually impaired rider sits on the back of a tandem bike with a fully-sighted cyclist on the front. Ryan, at the back, is the stoker and Seán Hahessy is the pilot, the two having been paired together via the national para-cycling programme back in 2015. Hahessy is capable athlete in his own right and the pair have developed a close relationship both on and off the bike.

Peter Ryan

Peter Ryan

Peter Ryan is a young man on a mission to show other people with disabilities how to bounce back from adversity. Through his work as a blind Para cyclist he speaks to diverse audiences about his journey from local hero to despair and back again. Peter was a promising Tipperary hurler when he suddenly went blind and thought he had lost everything. After a rough period he got up on the back of a bike and strived towards world domination culminating in in winning a place at the Paralympic Games in Rio in record time. Peter is currently training and competing to do even better at the Tokyo games and works with a number of organisations to encourage youths in their endeavours and help them find a path back from the more challenging aspects of modern life. He is also an accomplished public speaker for some of the worlds’ leading business and philanthropic organisations on overcoming seemingly insurmountable adversity.

Peter Ryan and Seán Hahessy on a bike

Seán Hahessy

Seán is a member of Carrick Wheelers cycling club and is currently studying Sports Coaching and Performance in Waterford IT. As the pilot for a tandem cycling, Seán's career highlight to date was finishing third in the Under 23 2015 National Championships. He is now working hard with Peter towards their combined vision of winning Paralympic Gold in Tokyo 2020.