THE founder of the ‘Jack and Jill’ children’s foundation will be in Letterkenny tomorrow (Thursday) to sign copies of his new book.
Mr Jonathan Irwin is best known as the man who, following the tragic death of his son at 22 months old, set up the charity so that other parents would not have to go through the hardship his family did to nurse their sick child at home.
Mr Irwin is coming to Easons, Letterkenny Shopping Centre, tomorrow from 12 noon to sign copies of his book ‘Jack & Jill: The Jonathan Irwin Story.’
The charity has supported over 1,800 sick children nationwide with home nursing care since 1997, including 45 in Donegal.
In 2010 alone, the foundation provided home support to two families of sick children in Donegal at cost of almost €4,000 per year.
Mr Irwin is an outspoken critic of the state’s lack of support for these families and most recently he has been heavily involved in the medical card debate.
He has been calling for automatic medical cards for children with life limiting and life threatening conditions in their own name, in their own right, with no means testing of their parents.
In the last chapter of the book, Jonathan reveals his intention to get into politics, with a view to shaking up the status quo on medical cards, children’s rights, the new children’s hospital, caring for the carers and ensuring that the money follows the patient right into the home.
The book gives full details of the story behind the charity, Jonathan’s struggles to establish and maintain it and its ongoing fund-raising efforts.
To date he has raised over €55 million for the charity and supported over 1800 sick children and their families from every community in Ireland.
What is less well-known is Jonathan’s intriguing background.
He was very involved in the Irish horse-racing industry and ran Goffs bloodstock sales for many years, including at the time of the kidnapping of Shergar, which is detailed in the book.
He was also involved in the early days of Ryanair and the book provides a fascinating insight into his relationship with Michael O’Leary, who had a very different vision from Jonathan as to where the company should go.
‘Jack & Jill: The Jonathan Irwin Story’ is published by Mercier Press in hardback at €16.99 and is available in book stores nationwide and online including www.jackandjill.ie with proceeds going to the Jack & Jill Foundation, at a time when the charity if facing a shortfall in donations of €200,000 for 2014.