Donal's parents urge young to remember his message as they face first Christmas without him
THE family of Donal Walsh have called on the youth of Ireland to remember their son's message against suicide as they face their first Christmas without the inspiring teenager.
Donal's parents, Elma and Fionnbar, and his sister, Jema, will this year spend December 25 without the 16-year-old, who passed away on May 12 following a lengthy battle with cancer.
In a statement released by the family to thank the public for their ongoing support, they stressed the importance of remembering Donal's message.
They added that their "dearest wish" is for young people to cherish life and to seek help rather than suffer in silence.
Donal (16), from Blennerville, Co Kerry, used his final few months to raise awareness about youth suicide and the conditions for terminally ill children and teenagers at Crumlin Children's Hospital.
His message to young people was simple -- that suicide was never an option and there was help out there and not to be afraid to ask for it.
Thousands of mourners attended his funeral in Tralee where his coffin was carried by members of his beloved Munster Squad.
Remembering Donal yesterday, his family said: "This time last year we had Donal with us. He was demanding that the tree and crib should be in place. He wanted all the presents perfectly wrapped and was busy organising outings with his friends.
"But this year we are facing into a very different Christmas. The words of 'Silent Night' will strike a chord like never before."
Last year, the Walsh family organised a surprise party for Donal with 20 of his friends and an appearance by Santa Claus.
Recalling that special time with her brother, Jema said they are moments she will cherish forever. "Donal and I always had a tradition, on Christmas Eve, that we could open one present each. So, on Christmas Eve, we opened the presents that we got for each other.
"He got me a bracelet -- on the outside it was engraved with my name, and he had his name engraved on the inside. I'll always treasure that," she said.
'Donal Walsh -- My Story' will air on New Year's Day, RTE Two, 9.30pm.