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Thursday 14 December 2017

Donal Walsh's legacy hailed at Zeminar

Donal Walsh pictured with his parents Finbarr and Elma Walsh.
Donal Walsh pictured with his parents Finbarr and Elma Walsh.
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The mother of late teenager Donal Walsh has hailed her son's legacy and said his message helped to cut the number of incidents of suicide.

Elma Walsh urged young people to be stubborn in following their dreams and chasing what they want in life.

Elma Walsh. Pic Mick McCormack
Elma Walsh. Pic Mick McCormack

Donal, from Blennerville, Co Kerry, was just 16 when he passed away in 2013 after battling cancer three times.

He came to national attention for speaking out against suicide and urging struggling young people to get help.

Ms Walsh yesterday spoke at the Zeminar event, in the RDS, Dublin, where she described how her son defied doctors' expectations. And she told the crowd how suicide rates had dropped to zero in Kerry in the months after Donal went public with his story.

"Stubbornness was used by Donal in a very, very positive way," she said. Ms Walsh recalled how her son survived long after doctors told him he didn't have long to live.

Despite being told to celebrate Christmas early, Donal survived, went to his debs and on a trip with friends to Paris.


Ms Walsh recalled how he called her into his room one day.

"He said 'mom you know what day it is today' and I said no, and he said 'It's the first day of summer. F**k the doctors I made it to summer'," she said.

The proud mother said stubbornness can be a positive when you are following what you want to do.

"Be stubborn to do the things you want to do in life.

"But don't be stubborn with anybody else, because it's not their fault," she said.

Singer, mental health awareness campaigner and former coach on the Voice of Ireland, Bressie, also spoke at the event, where he was greeted by a raucous crowed of young people.

He said the Irish school system has to change and students need to be taught mechanisms to cope with life.

He also dispelled misconceptions around therapy. "If you ever need it, don't ever think of it as anything other than a bit of time for you," he said.

Irish Independent

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