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Legacy of two Donals

Madam – Young or old, it's the human legacy left behind that counts. Last weekend, within a day of each other, two noteworthy people sadly passed on to their eternal reward.

In normal circumstances they would have nothing in common, other than both were male and bore the same Christian name. They were born distances apart – the older one in Warrenpoint, Co Down and the younger in Blennerville, Co Kerry.

Renowned cancer specialist Professor Donal Hollywood of St James's and St Luke's Hospitals, Dublin, died of cancer at a relatively young age. His funeral Mass was at the Church of the Three Patrons, Rathgar on Monday and he was interred in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

Brave teenager Donal Walsh, a terminally ill 16-year-old rugby fanatic lost the battle and died of cancer.

On Wednesday, amidst huge crowds, his remains were removed to St John's church in Tralee for requiem Mass.

While fighting a terminal illness from age 12, the young man inspired the nation with his writings and pleas through the media telling youngsters to cherish life and seek help if any suicidal tendencies occupied their thoughts.

How equal those two people became at death. Each was named Donal and both died prematurely of cancer.

The famous, yet kind and gentle, cancer specialist Hollywood, saved a great many lives and brought hope to hundreds of people.

Donal Walsh spent most of his living hours pleading with young people to be grateful for the gift of life and advising them to live it fruitfully.

What a legacy they both left us!

James Gleeson,

Thurles, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent