Fionnathan exists to have fun and change the world, to trouble your understanding of ability, to reveal superstars in our midst, and to prove that, in fact, we are the people we've been waiting for.
We share our stories of audacious creativity and abiding optimism with the masses, opening one heart at a time. Through music, live presentations, videos, and visual arts, we seek to collaborate with diverse people who are passionate about what they do. We playfully engage with the world of celebrity and pop culture. And we are seriously into social justice and conserving natural habitats. With this project, we hope to achieve three primary goals:
1. to win for Fionn an excellent life, while documenting and sharing the journey
2. to inspire and support other people in achieving their own dreams
3. to shift the societal paradigm, so that unique and alternately-gifted people are celebrated
Through example, we show that the best way to support one another is in loving interest: that's how each one of us shines.
The Fionnathan story
Fionn is a young man from County Clare, and one of the first people in Ireland with cognitive impairment (Down syndrome) to create and manage his own supports. With help from family, he explored the programs of traditional service providers, formed a limited company, proposed his own plan, and, in 2015, agreed to start a pilot project for the HSE.
As a film maker and musician (traditional Irish fiddle) he has appeared on RTE’s Saturday Night Show, Today with Maura and Daithi, and Nationwide; TG4’s Dúiche; and IrishTV’s Clare Matters and Offaly Matters. He has served asm Public Relations Officer on the National Advisory Council of Down Syndrome Ireland and has given presentations to the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) and the Anthropological Association of Ireland.
Fionn has taught thousands of primary and secondary school students through placements as a Heritage in Schools Expert and Slingshot Academy Mentor; given dozens of guest lectures and conference presentations in colleges around Ireland and in seven other countries.
His father, Jonathan, has 20 years’ experience in Education: with children and adults, through mainstream and learning support, in Ireland and America. He co-authored a government report on the public response to disability service reform initiatives, as well as Good Lives: Perspectives of People with Disabilities and Families published by the Centre for Disability, Law and Policy at NUIG. He is researching a PhD thesis on these themes.
Fionn and Jonathan often work together, having established a social enterprise called Fionnathan Productions. They have professional involvement with both of Ireland’s only two HSE-agreed agents for individual funding: as clients of and consultants to Áiseanna Tacaíochta, and as producers of a promotional documentary film commissioned by PossibilitiesPlus. Based on these experiences, they pioneered a new model of support, combining personal budgets and paid employment for the individual with disability.
They serve as researchers for and members of the Self Directed Living Research Group (NUIG), the Inclusive Research Network (UL and Trinity College), the HSE’s Transforming Lives Working Group 3, and the Dept. of Health’s Personal Budgets Task Force. For their ongoing independent research project to determine what people living with and without disabilities love most in their lives, they have conducted 600 interviews over six years, the videos from which online have more than 380,000 views.
Through collaborations with The Citizen Network, The Community Partnership Training Network, The Disability Federation of Ireland, Inclusion Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland, Down Syndrome International, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, National Down Syndrome Society, Camphill Communities, Brothers of Charity, Clan Beo, Leap, the Galway City Partnership, and the Clare Advocacy Platform, they have delivered workshops and consultations on the theme of living a good life to community groups across Ireland, the UK, Australia and in North America.
Stats at a glance
Our work in education has taken us on 113 visits to 64 primary schools, 6 secondary schools, and 43 colleges and universities. So far, we've done this work in 7 countries and met thousands of students and teachers.
To date, we have had 17 art exhibitions, including one in
New York City!
We've produced dozens of our own projects, and had 22 film commissions, so far.
We have interviewed over 600 people. A few highlights include Angela Lansbury, Coolio, Lucinda Williams, and Brian Eno.
We love playing fiddle (Fionn) and guitar (Jonathan) any chance that we get!
Friends & memories
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT OUR WORK
"Jonathan and Fionn visited our school earlier this school year. What a treat! They brought a beautiful lesson to my second grade class which included acting , Irish music, and a movement game. At the faculty meeting they shared their personal story working with inclusion in a Waldorf School in Ireland and beyond. They started a much needed conversation at our school concerning the challenges we face to become more inclusive. Throughout the day they modeled masterful teaching, inclusion, respect, and compassion."
Conradine Sanborn, Extra Lesson Specialist
Minnesota Waldorf School