Humanitarian honour for Donal Walsh
INSPIRATIONAL teenager Donal Walsh, whose message to appreciate life captured the heart of the nation, is to be honoured with a humanitarian award.
Donal has been named as this year's recipient of the Hugh O'Flaherty Humanitarian Award, named after the Irish priest who saved thousands of lives in Nazi-occupied Rome during World War II.
The Tralee teenager, who lost his battle with cancer in May, is only the second person to receive the honour posthumously.
The first was Msgr O'Flaherty himself, when the award was founded five years ago.
Donal's parents, Fionnbar and Elma, were at the St Stephen's Green Hibernian Club in Dublin last night, when Donal's nomination was announced at the launch of this year's Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty Memorial Week which will be celebrated in Killarney, Co Kerry, from October 27 to November 3.
The Walsh family will receive Donal's award at a ceremony in Killarney on November 2.
Donal's father said they were familiar with the Msgr O'Flaherty story.
"My daughter, Jemma, did a school project for her Leaving Cert on him and I had to borrow a copy of the film about him from the tourist office in Killarney for her."
Born in Kiskeam, Co Cork, and raised in Killarney, Msgr O'Flaherty became known as the "Scarlet Pimpernel of The Vatican".
He is credited with saving more than 6,500 Jews and American and British soldiers by hiding them in safe houses.
Jerry O'Grady, the chairman of the Hugh O'Flaherty Memorial Committee, said Donal had touched the lives of countless people.
"In a short few months at the end of his short life Donal Walsh had a greater positive influence on life in Ireland than many of our leaders have had over decades," he said.
This the second award bestowed on Donal (16) since his death. He was also recently named Rehab Young Person of the Year.