LORD of the Dance Michael Flatley has said he was "deeply moved" by the "heroes" during a visit to Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.
The 56-year-old played the role of Santa Claus as he paid an emotional Christmas visit to the Dublin hospital where the kind-hearted star also brought along a €10,000 cheque from the Michael Flatley Foundation for their Children's Medical & Research Foundation work.
"We talk a lot about heroes in our society today but these people are the real heroes," Flatley told the Herald after the visit that lasted several hours.
"I have never seen such courage as shown by these kids in the face of ill health and such dedication as shown by the staff at Crumlin.
"They are absolutely incredible people and I was deeply moved by the love and care that they show to these children on a daily basis."
The star, who was accompanied by his wife, Niamh, said he was particularly moved by his tour of the St Joseph's Ward where youngsters with cardiac problems are treated.
"I wished every one of them a Merry Christmas but you get a lump in your throat as you realise that a lot of these kids and their mothers and fathers will spend their Christmas in hospital.
"As I was leaving the hospital I stopped to talk to an ambulance paramedic and I wished him a happy Christmas.
"He told me that he would be working on December 25 just like he did last year. These people are a credit to Ireland."
Fiona Whelan, a spokesperson for the Children's Medical Research Foundation, said Flatley was "absolutely fantastic".
"There was such a great buzz about the place because of his visit and there were lots of smiling faces in the hospital yesterday."
The visit and charitable donation is part of a series of bequests organised by the Michael Flatley Foundation this Christmas. The Simon homeless charity will also receive a donation.
Michael Flatley's Crumlin visit came as the Chicago-born star faces a hectic Christmas and New Year.
His new show, Lord of the Dance - Dangerous Games, is proving a sell-out success and will visit the 3Arena in Dublin in March.
The show opened to rave reviews in London last September and has now been booked for a 200-date world tour ranging from the United States to Europe and from Africa to Asia.