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Father helps son fight for a full life irrespective of intellectual disabilities

When Fionn Crombie Angus was reaching the end of his secondary school days, it was clear that the supports in place for people with Down Syndrome were not a fit for him.

Far from wanting to spend his time in a day care service, Fionn wanted to travel the world, find his own hobbies, spend the odd night on the town and, in his own words, “be the next David Attenborough” – not to mention hone his fiddle skills on Shop Street where he’s a regular busker.

But as an 18-year-old with an intellectual disability, there were countless barriers in his way in a society that had a very prescribed way of ‘dealing’ with people with disability.

However, Galway City resident Fionn, now 27, set about breaking the mould and having travelled to more than 20 countries, given lectures at universities around the world and even performed stand-up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it’s fair to say he’s gone a step further and created a template of independent living in Ireland where one had never previously existed.

Fionn and his parents, Jonathan and Veronica, began to look for an alternative path for Fionn when he made it clear he wanted to set his own course and manage his own support projects.

The result was Fionn moving from his home in Mountshannon, Co Clare, to Galway City at 19 years old, and seven years later, Galway has become his home – living independently in Murrough with his father Jonathan employed as his support worker.

“I said I’d rather do my own thing and manage my own supports,” says Fionn as he recalls a disabilities officer presenting him with a list of services to choose from.

“They said no,” recalls Jonathan, “but we talked them into it”.

“After that, Fionn became the first person with an intellectual disability in Ireland to manage his own funding and then he had the freedom to move to Galway, to travel around the world and do things outside the 9 to 5 working week,” said Jonathan.

Caption: Jonathan Angus and his son Fionn in Quay Street. Photo; Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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