A little girl paralysed by a rare virus is being allowed home for the first time in more than a year and is now looking forward to starting playschool.
Poppy Mernagh (3) has been on a hospital ventilator since contracting acute flaccid myel- itis in June last year.
However, she has enjoyed her first visit home after battling the condition that has left her paralysed from the chin down, unable to swallow or cough.
Her family, from Rathnew, Co Wicklow, are looking forward to having her stay regularly once two nurses are appointed to help provide the 24-hour care she needs.
"It was very surreal to bring Poppy home for the day but it actually felt quite normal to have her there," said her mum, Jennifer.
"Poppy was delighted being home and loved her new bedroom, but was still happy to go back to hospital as that is the life she is used to at the moment."
The family's life was turned upside down when Poppy became ill.
"She had flu-like symptoms but she had problems breathing and her lungs began to collapse," said Jennifer.
"We brought her to A&E in Tallaght and they diagnosed her initially with pneumonia and sent her to a ward."
Then Poppy's "whole body started to shut down and became paralysed".
She was moved to intensive care at Temple Street Children's Hospital where an MRI scan revealed the gravity of her illness, caused by the enterovirus D68.
Jennifer and her husband Edward have said the support from the acute paediatric unit as "amazing".
"We're looking at getting Poppy eye gaze equipment, where new technology allows her to control things using her eyes to give commands," said Jennifer.
"Poppy genuinely is one of the bravest little girls ever. She very rarely complains. She was so happy getting out again and loves going for walks. She's so intelligent and loves telling stories to anyone who will listen.
"We as a family will treat her as we do her six-year-old sister Annabelle and make sure she gets to live as normal a life as she can."
The family's Precious Poppy appeal is €5,000 short of its €40,000 target as they raise money to help her adapt to life at home. Donations can be made through gofundme.com/ 2cskjbb8.