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Thousands to mourn a true inspirational hero

A hero, an inspiration and a giant: just some of the terms used to describe Donal Walsh.

Today more than a thousand people are expected to pay their respects to the 16-year-old.

Messages of condolence and support have poured in and Donal's heartbroken parents, Fionnbar and Elma, and his older sister, Jema, have been overwhelmed by how he touched so many lives.

Yesterday, the Walsh family appealed for privacy as they spent their last precious moments with Donal.

Today they will open their home in Hare Street, Blennerville, Co Kerry, to those who wish to pay their respects to a brave youngster whose life-affirming message may have saved countless lives.

Donal continued to receive people right up until his last hours.

One of those was Andrew Gray, who had asked his parents if he could come home from boarding school because he wanted to see his friend one last time.

"That was the type of child Donal was and he leaves behind a huge legacy," Andrew's father, Adrian, told the Herald.

Principal of CBS The Green in Tralee, Anne O'Callaghan, said the school was devastated.

"His courage in bearing his illness has been inspiring for both students and teachers."

Donal's remains will be taken to St John's Church, Tralee, tomorrow for Requiem Mass, followed by burial at New Rath cemetery.