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Friday 17 November 2017

I chat to Donal at grave, says mum

Donal's mum, Elma.
Donal's mum, Elma.
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

The mother of the late Donal Walsh has revealed she regularly visits his grave and warns him to keep his promise to watch over his family.

Speaking in their first TV interview since his death, Donal's parents paid tribute to their courageous son.

"I go to the grave all the time, I give out to him and tell him to mind us," Elma Walsh says in the TV3 interview, which will be broadcast on Monday. "He promised before he died that he'd look after us all."

Speaking from their home in Blennerville, Co Kerry, both Fionnbar and Elma say that their son left behind a legacy that affected the nation – and one that can make a real impact.

"You throw a stone into a pond and there's a ripple effect, this boy threw a rock into an ocean and it spread across the globe," proud father Fionnbar said.

The parents recall that when the teenager was first diagnosed with cancer, he was more upset for his friends than for himself.

"He'd an amazing sense of protection of them," Fionnbar told 'Ireland AM' host Sinead Desmond. He also recalled the night of the 'Saturday Night Show' with Brendan O'Connor on RTE in April, when Donal was determined to walk onto the set despite being in severe pain all day.

"He'd spent most of the day in the wheelchair, it was his first full day pretty much in the wheelchair.

"He was asked if he wanted to walk on or be brought on, but he was determined to walk," Fionnbar said.

The fact that Donal was still alive in April was surprising – previously doctors warned him they didn't expect him to make it through last Christmas.

The doctors advised the family to celebrate Christmas early – but Donal refused.

The teenager bought special, personal gifts for his family on what would be his last Christmas.

He bought his mother a silver locket, which she now guards preciously around her neck. Fionnbar's voice cracked with emotion as he told of how Donal bought him a watch with the words, 'From your loving son, Donal' engraved on it.

Donal died on May 12 surrounded by his parents and sister Jema (18).

His father Fionnbar said he was particularly proud of the dialogue Donal opened about suicide. "One of the things Donal did was he opened up the conversation, which is half the battle, and he just left it out there."

The Walsh family are setting up a foundation in Donal's name to raise funds to improve facilities for teenagers in hospitals.

This September, Fionnbar is involved in the Cross Rugby Legends Cycle in aid of Cancer research. All details are available at www.crossdonals

Tune into 'Ireland AM' on Monday from 8am to watch the interview in full

Irish Independent

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