“I didn’t know anyone with Down syndrome”: Daly Dish’s Gina Daly discusses the misconceptions of parenting a child with Down Syndrome

Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

Gina Daly is known for her incredible recipes with the Daly Dish online and in her cookbooks.

But she’s also a doting mother to 15-year-old Holly, 13-old-year Ben and two-year-old Gene.

Gene was born with Down Syndrome, and Gina admits that she “never thought about having a child with Down syndrome”. 

Speaking for the launch of Down Syndrome Ireland’s Ice Cream Fundays, the chef said: “After having my eldest children, Holly and Ben, we thought we were done. During COVID, I had a miscarriage in my 40s. It made me realise life is short and you take for granted having babies. 

Pic: Tommy Dickson

“So we decided if it happens, it happens. I think after having two typical pregnancies and typical children, I never thought it would be anything different. I just thought it would be another stereotypical pregnancy.”

She goes on to say: “Growing up in the 80s and 90s and growing up with older people, there was that stereotype about people with Down Syndrome it was ‘those kids’ and I would have heard ‘you’re stuck with them’ or even ‘they’re babies for life’. So growing up in that era, I didn’t know anyone with Down Syndrome.

“But with the age of social media, I was following some girls who had children with Down Syndrome, before I had Gene. Seeing their experiences, made me realise it was completely different to what it was once made out to be.”

However, she admits that there is “so much more available” for both children and adults with Down Syndrome now.

Pic: Tommy Dickson

“They’re breaking the stereotype, and you realise that they’re capable of everything they want to achieve in life. Gene is treated no differently to my older two children, Holly and Ben, and I don’t see why his future should be any different.”

She goes on to say: “There can be a focus on what they can’t do. They can be grouped into one. I hear it now, people have conversations with me about Gene and they use ‘they’, it’s never about Gene, they’ll say general things like ‘aren’t they so happy’ or ‘they love music’ and like, his name is Gene, he’s sitting right there! There is stereotyping and grouping about what he can do, when everyone is individual. It’s very strange hearing that.”

However, she admits that Gene has his own fans on social media.

Pic: Lili Forberg for VIP Magazine

“I think Gene has a bigger cult following than me! More people want to see him than my food, and I love that his smile is just infectious, and it makes people happy. Seeing that helps create awareness and I’m so delighted to be part of that,” she says.

Gina was speaking at the re-launch of Ice Cream Fundays, which raised vital funds to support people with Down syndrome for 20 years. Down Syndrome Ireland is asking supporters to get involved by hosting their own Fundays parties – register here or visit downsyndrome.ie. 


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