Stephen Faley tells us about his win at the Listowel Writers Week Literary Festival
My name is Stephen Faley.
I live in Ballyline, Ballylongford and I am almost 26 years old.
I have Down syndrome. I was invited to tell you all about my recent win at the Listowel Writers Week Literary Festival in Listowel from Wednesday 31st May 2017 - Sunday 4th June 2017.
I was awarded 2nd Prize of €400 in the Over 18’s Adult Special Needs Category for my story “The Night I Heard The Lightning” which was sponsored by Pierse & Fitzgibbon Solicitors, Listowel.
My teacher, Peggie O’Shea and class room assistant, Michelle Burke got the students in the Latch-On/Mote Course to enter a story for the Writers Week in Listowel.
My story was judged by an independent judging panel and my teacher Peggie was told by Eilish Wren of the Listowel Writers Week Office that I had been awarded 2nd Prize.
The night of the Opening Ceremony I was in the Listowel Arms Hotel with my Mom & Dad, teacher, Peggie and class room assistant Michelle and Jill O’Brien, the link person between Down Syndrome Ireland and the Latch –On/MOTE Course in Tralee.
I was nervous and excited. When my name was called out I went up on stage to accept my Prize. I was delighted and I had my photo taken afterwards.
Kit De Waal who won a big Prize for her book – My Name is Leon invited me to stand in with her in a photo when she saw me wearing a badge like she was.
My teacher Peggie O’Shea took a lovely photo of me with Brendan Kennelly who is from Ballylongford, where I’m from. He is a very famous writer.
I get his books and John B. Keane’s books from the Library in Listowel.
I like writing pieces from newspapers and books about sports and politics and I get very excited when a general election is called because I can go to the polling station to vote for my favourite politician.
Since I was 17 years old I have worked for two hours each week from Easter – October in the Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms in the National Park in Killarney which is run by Down Syndrome Kerry during those months.
Last year I began working for 2 hours every week in the Down Syndrome Kerry Branch 321Charity Shop & Full Stop Cafe in Tralee.
I am part of a Social Farming Group in North Kerry with the St. John of God Adult Services.
I am chatty and friendly and I like meeting people.
Volunteer Work & Fundraising:
I volunteer to help out for Down Syndrome Ireland National Fundraising Collection and local Church Gate Collection for Down Syndrome Kerry and also for the Ring of Kerry Cycle and Tour De Munster.
I also help with a Church Gate Collection for the North Kerry Eagles Special Olympics Club and the Special Olympics Ireland National Collection in April each year.
In 2014 I volunteered for the Special Olympics Ireland National Games in Limerick in the Football area in UL to help out with the other volunteers every day during the National Games.
I was awarded Volunteer of the Games and I have a photo of my award.
Interests & Hobbies:
I am an athlete with the North Kerry Eagles Special Olympics Club.
I cheer for the Kerry GAA Team and my favourite players are The GOOCH (Colm Cooper), Kieran Donaghy and David Moran.
I support the Munster Rugby Team and the Ireland Rugby Team when Johnny Sexton is playing.
I have been to rugby matches in Thomond Park.
I love music and I download music discs of Nathan Carter, my favourite singer and other singers on to my ipad and iphone.
I use them when I am asked to be DJ Steve at St. John of God Discos in Tralee and Killarney.
I like drama and I have a social media Facebook page. I enjoy watching Mrs Brown’s Boys.
I love travel and I have no fear of flying in planes.
Here at home I have been to Croke Park, Spike Island, Knock Shrine and Birr Castle to see the Giant Telescope.
I like looking at the night sky to see the moon and the stars.
My first plane journey was to Lapland in Finland when I was about 10 years old to meet Santa Claus.
I got Certificates of my visit there. With Nano Nagle Special School in Listowel I have been on School Tours to Lanzarote, Tenerife and Mallorca and also to Orlando, Florida.
I have been on two IHCPT Pilgrimages to Lourdes. Mom took me to New York in 2012 for my 21st Birthday and to visit my sister there and we had to stay there for extra days because Hurricane Sandy happened after we got there.
Last year Mom took me to Rome for my 25th birthday to see Pope Francis.
I was happy to see him in St. Peter’s Square. I am always busy because I like to be involved in life.
That’s my story. Bye for now. Stephen