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'Superman' who founded Share a Dream charity dies


Enthusiasm: Shay Kinsella ‘was a big kid and the kids loved that’. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

Enthusiasm: Shay Kinsella ‘was a big kid and the kids loved that’. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

Enthusiasm: Shay Kinsella ‘was a big kid and the kids loved that’. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

The family of Shay Kinsella, who founded the Share A Dream Foundation 31 years ago, have paid a touching tribute to the "Superman" who made wishes come true for thousands of terminally ill children, after he died yesterday.

Mr Kinsella (79), originally from Wexford, died in his adopted home of Limerick, where he based the internationally renowned charity. He was suffering from cancer.

He also opened Dreamland, in Limerick, the world's first-ever fantasyland where both non-able-bodied children and their able-bodied siblings and friends could play side by side.

In a dreadful twist, his assistant at Share A Dream, Ciara Brolly, also passed away from cancer last May.

Mr Kinsella's son John said he would help carry the torch, to make sure the charity continued its work for vulnerable and terminally ill children.

He said his father had left an "incredible legacy" others could only dream off.

"After Ciara's passing it's been a double-whammy for everyone. (Shay) was a larger-than-life character, but to all his children he was our dad, and a husband to my mam. As everyone who knew him would appreciate, dad was a big child at heart, but he had great drive, and that's why it's so hard to believe he is gone," Mr Kinsella said.

"He seemed like he was Superman, and we all used to say he'd see us all down.

"Everyone would have known him and Share a Dream and what type of guy he was, full of enthusiasm.

"He has left a great legacy... People have lived and left no thing like anything as near what he has left."

Mr Kinsella said even though his father had been diagnosed with cancer, the family did not expect his death to happen as quickly as it did. He died at Milford Hospice.

"His dream was that Share A Dream continues, and we'll definitely have to do that, continue on where he has left off," said Mr Kinsella.

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He said his father had remarkable skill in convincing celebrities over the years to support the charity, which organised dream trips for children and their families to destinations all over the world.

"I don't know what it was. You can't buy that sort of enthusiasm, he always had everyone eating out of his hands," he added.

"We were laughing there this evening that it's probably a good time for him to go, because every person he met he'd be hugging them or grabbing their arm, the (social distancing Covid-19) rules just didn't apply to him.

"I think that's why kids loved him so much. When you have kids yourself you're tip-toeing around them, and he'd be throwing them from one end of the place to another.

"He was a big kid, and the kids loved that."

In keeping with Covid-19 restrictions, Mr Kinsella's funeral on Wednesday at St Nicholas Church, Westbury, will be restricted to family and close friends only. However it will also be live streamed.

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