‘It proves that you should never judge a book by its cover’

WORLD Down Syndrome Day on Tuesday took on a whole new visibility in Donegal and beyond this year after Belfast actor James Martin won the Oscar in Hollywood for ‘An Irish Goodbye’ and became an inspiration for many.

James made history being the first person ever with Down Syndrome to win an Oscar and a Bafta. His win has inspired local man Shaun Bradley and given huge hope to parents of children with the condition.

To mark the international day on Tuesday Donegal County Council ran a ‘See Me’ campaign in local libraries featuring the Finn Valley’s Aoibhe McConnell.


The campaign highlights the facilities local libraries offer for those with Down Syndrome.

Gina Grant is the chair of the Donegal Down Syndrome Association. The organisation was founded in the early 1980s and offers a host of services for children and families.

After James Martin’s Oscar win Gina contacted parents to get their reaction.

One parent responded stating “whilst absolutely delighted for James, it’s what his father Ivan said in an interview with the media that struck me most.

“Having been told that he may never speak, once he started, he never shut up”.

This gives me hope that our little boy will also start speaking and will “never shut up”.

Another parent in the association responded saying “I think it’s fabulous. It’s a great boost for anyone who has a child/adult with Down Syndrome. It just proves given the opportunity they can do anything.”


Shaun Bradley from Letterkenny has Down Syndrome but he does not let it hold him back. Shaun (39) has performed in Letterkenny Musical Society productions and the local pantomimes when not working at his job in Sinead Bradley’s Solicitors office.

He told the Donegal News this week that James Martin was an inspiration for him and other people with Down Syndrome.

“It proves that you should never judge a book by its cover. What we always say is see the person not the disability. Going on stage was scary at first but the more you do the more you get used to it.

“I am a huge fan of the Oscars and a real movie buff. When I heard about James Martin’s role in the film I thought OK but it was not until I watched the film. It was amazing and I really enjoyed it. That James, someone with Down Syndrome, is being recognised by Hollywood it blows my mind and shows what is possible.

“Celebrating his birthday at the 95th Oscars while having all the Hollywood stars singing happy birthday is a memory he will never forget. If it was me in his shoes it is certainly something I would love. An amazing achievement,” Shaun said.

He hopes James Martin’s international success will dispel some of the ignorance some people have about people with Down Syndrome and treat everyone equally.

“The most serious aspect is that some people don’t treat you as you want to be treated. I have always wanted to do what James Martin has done but I have not got that far yet. He is an inspiration,” Shaun concluded.

An Irish Goodbye is a 2022 short film written, produced, and directed by Tom Berkeley and Ross White.

The film stars James Martin, Seamus O’Hara, Paddy Jenkins and Michelle Fairley and was filmed in Northern Ireland.

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