20 Jan 2022

Dundalk man's story raises money for charity

Dundalk man's story raises money for charity

Domhnall Flynn with his autobiography ‘My life story so far’

Domhnall Flynn has raised more that €1,200 for charity by publishing his autobiography.

The Dundalk man, who attends RehabCare in town, wrote a book entitled ‘My life story so far’ which has been described as "a handbook for how to negotiate life when you live with a disability’.

Domhnall’s book is a collection of vivid memories and personal achievements detailing his childhood in Dundalk, numerous celebrity encounters, from Cristiano Ronaldo to President Mary McAleese, and starring in an RTÉ quiz show.

Domhnall said: "During the first lockdown, everything was shut down, including my RehabCare centre, but the staff from RehabCare called to visit me on Thursdays."

It was during these outreach visits that the staff suggested to Domhnall to document his life story.

"I started writing a bit each day during lockdown and it just grew into a book.

"At times it was difficult, but I enjoyed it and my Mum kept me going by checking my spellings.

"Gerard Roe, my support worker, always asked how it was going when he rang me or called to the house," he said.

The book delves into Domhnall’s happy childhood, however, as a child born with a cleft palate, he says he was frequently misunderstood.

"I have a mild intellectual disability, mostly speech and language difficulties.

"The teachers and pupils found it hard to understand me, and I found it hard to concentrate. "All the other pupils would try to guess what I was saying and shout out to the teacher.

"All the teachers were very kind to me and one teacher used to give me extra lessons after school.

"I stayed at Bay Estate School until I was about 10-years-old, when it was decided that I would cope better at St. Brigid’s Special School in Dundalk.

"On my last day, my teacher asked everyone in my class to sing a song to say goodbye to me. Instead all my classmates started to cry because I was leaving."

RehabCare Support Worker Gerard Roe has been working with Domhnall for 20 years and speaks of Domhnall’s determined spirit.

"I asked him if he was interested in going to college", Gerard said.

"He asked if his siblings were able to go, why couldn’t he?

"All Domhnall would want is reassurance that his place in the RehabCare centre, with his friends, would remain."

Gerard added: "I think this autobiography is a fantastic achievement.

"He had a teacher who gave him extra lessons, staying with him after school to help him learn to read and write.

"This book is because of that teacher, it’s because of his family circle, it’s because of the community. It’s a personal achievement for Domhnall, but I can also say that all those people are the pieces of the jigsaw, and they have helped make this masterpiece of a jigsaw. Domhnall has an exceptional memory, he had all of these stories of his life in his head."

Speaking of the support services, Domhnall said: "I can't imagine what my life would be like without RehabCare.

"Since I was 18, I have attended the centre and the horticultural centre and lots of my school friends also attend it. We do so many activities like snooker and football.

"Gerard always encourages me to try new things and he has been a great influence on me and my friends over the years.

"The staff set us achievable goals, and they all have a great sense of humour and fun.

"The years since I started have flown by because I have so much enjoyed RehabCare. Without it, I would have just been at home with my parents searching for ways to fill my days."

Domhnall has a positive outlook on his future goals.

"I am attending Southern Regional College in Newry doing a catering course as I love cookery and different foods.

"When I finish the course, I hope to get work in catering one or two days a week.

"I did work experience in a restaurant which I loved, so when Covid is over that would be great to get back there and still attend RehabCare a few days also," he said.

Domhnall has asked for a charitable donation from anyone purchasing the book, with over €1,200 collected so far.

Domhnall will present a cheque to his local St. Vincent de Paul service in late June.

"I wanted to give the money to a charity that helped people suffering from poverty.

"When I donate the final amount, it will all go to helping families in my local community," he said.

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