There were smiles galore and lots of proud moments at a very special celebration for the Donegal Down Syndrome community on Sunday.

McElhinneys have officially launched their ‘See Me’ portrait book celebrating inspirational young people from across the county.

The book, in aid of Donegal Down Syndrome Association, features 56 members of the Down Syndrome community from Donegal and the surrounding areas with portraits and a description provided by their families – the people who know them best.

The wonderful young people featured in the book were the guests of honour alongside their families at yesterday’s launch party in the Villa Rose Hotel Ballybofey.

John McElhinney and Tommy Gallen celebrate the See Me book launch at the Villa Rose

The purpose of the portrait book is to showcase that young people with Down Syndrome are so much more than a label and it’s important that they see themselves represented in society.  They all mean more to every person they meet, every life they enhance, and every day they brighten up – just by being themselves.

The ages of the participants in the See Me book ranged from just two-years-old to 52, and all of the young people featured in the book were photographed by McElhinneys in-house photographer Clive O’Donohoe.

All proceeds from the sale of the See Me Book will be going towards the Donegal Down Syndrome Association and the incredible work they do to support people with Down Syndrome in the North West of Ireland.

Little Saoirse, the goddaughter of McElhinneys GM Sandra Devenney who features on the front cover of the book

The McElhinneys team, led by Owner John McElhinney and General Manager Sandra Devenney, have set out to spread the happy faces within the book far and wide and get as many people as possible to talk about this incredible community of people from Donegal and beyond.

Speaking about the launch of the See Me book, McElhinneys General Manager Sandra Devenney said: “Donegal Down Syndrome is a small charitable organisation run by parents who work tirelessly to ensure their children can enjoy every opportunity available to them. I hope when you read this book you too will see the light in their eyes, the beauty in their smiles and cherish every detail.”

Gina Grant, PRO of Donegal Down Syndrome Association said: “We would like to change society’s perspectives of people with Down Syndrome. Often there’s a preconceived idea of who they are. People should be able to see beyond the syndrome and see a real person. The funds raised from this fantastic book will go directly to providing the therapy that is so vital to our members and enable us to continue supporting our members of all ages.”

McElhinneys have issued a special thanks to their primary sponsors, including Browne Printers LTD, Villa Rose Hotel, Jackson’s Hotel, McFadden Unites and An Chuirt Hotel. 

A spokesperson said: “We are so grateful for all the support we have received for the book already and in particular; we would like to thank our generous sponsors who were instrumental in helping us to get the book printed, which has allowed for all the money raised from book sales to go towards this worthy cause.”

The book is now available to purchase for €30.00, with all proceeds going towards the Donegal Down Syndrome Association.

View the book online here:

Check out more photos from the party here, with thanks to McElhinneys: