Sunday 22 October 2017

Donal's life-affirming words live with us still

Hero: Donal Walsh's 4th anniversary mass was celebrated last Friday in St John's Church, Tralee. Above are Elma Walsh (Donal's mother), Aoife Wallace, Ruby Verling, Riona Walsh, Fr Tadhg Fitzgerald, Rebecca Devane, Laura Devane, Darragh Walsh and Jemma Walsh (Donal's sister) Photo: Domnick Walsh
Hero: Donal Walsh's 4th anniversary mass was celebrated last Friday in St John's Church, Tralee. Above are Elma Walsh (Donal's mother), Aoife Wallace, Ruby Verling, Riona Walsh, Fr Tadhg Fitzgerald, Rebecca Devane, Laura Devane, Darragh Walsh and Jemma Walsh (Donal's sister) Photo: Domnick Walsh
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

Four years ago last week, 16-year-old Donal Walsh passed away from cancer - but not before inspiring thousands of people with his life-affirming attitude. Shortly before he died, he wrote this moving account of his battle with the disease, and how he won his life back in the face of a terminal illness.

"I live in a part of the world that is surrounded by mountains. I can't turn my head without finding a bloody hill or mountain, and I suppose those were God's plans for me. To have me grow up around mountains and grow climbing a few too. And that's exactly what I've done, I may have grown up in body around them, but I've fully grown and matured in mind climbing his mountains.

"He's had me fight cancer three times, face countless deaths and losses in my life, he's had my childhood dreams taken off me but at the end of the day, he's made me a man.

"I am always called brave, heroic, kind, genuine, honourable and so many other kind compliments, but I have to try and explain to everyone why I seem to reject them. I have never fought for anyone but myself, therefore I cannot be brave or heroic, I've only been kind because my religion has taught me so.

"What impact could I ever make on the world if I was fake or how could I ever be honourable if I was not honoured to be here? I am me. There is no other way of putting it, little old Donal Walsh from Tralee, one body, one mind with a few other cobwebs and tales thrown in.

"I've climbed God's mountains, faced many struggles for my life and dealt with so much loss. And as much as I'd love to go around to every fool on this planet and open their eyes to the mountains that surround them in life, I can't. But maybe if I shout from mine they'll pay attention.

"If I start to accept these compliments, I'm afraid of what I'll become. Will I be braver than YE? Will I be kinder than YE? More genuine than YE? Or more honourable than YE? Better than YE? No. I can never accept that there is a YE.

"We are all the same, we are all given one body, one mind. The only difference for me is that I'm looking from the mountain."

- Donal Walsh

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News