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Walsh family overwhelmed by response

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TRAGIC: TV show focused on life of teenager Donal Walsh, here with his parents Elma and Fionnbar

TRAGIC: TV show focused on life of teenager Donal Walsh, here with his parents Elma and Fionnbar

TRAGIC: TV show focused on life of teenager Donal Walsh, here with his parents Elma and Fionnbar

THE family of teenager Donal Walsh say they have been "overwhelmed" by the response to the documentary on his life.

Donal's father Fionnbar said watching the programme was "emotional" for the family but they did it together at home with his son's aunts, uncles and cousins.

Since the documentary on his life aired on television two days ago, the inspirational teenager has continued to be one of the most talked about topics on social media.

Viewing figures for how many people tuned in to watch Donal Walsh – My Story will not be available until later today but a spokesperson for RTE said that judging by the response to the show on social media these are expected to be high.

"It's just been phenomenal and it has been trending on Twitter in second and third place since," Fionnbar told the Herald.

"It's unreal the response of people and what they're saying but it's great because it keeps Donal's message alive."

The programme was broadcast on New Year's night as part of RTE2's Reality Bites series.

Filmed during the summer, the documentary used never-before-seen footage of the teen taken by his friends on their mobile phones, as well as interviews with Donal's parents, Fionnbar and Elma, his sister Jema and his closest friends.

BALANCED

"It was a lovely balanced programme that showed Donal and his friends enjoying life. There were parts of it as well that were humorous and showed his character and sense of mischief and fun.

"It was a little bit emotional but in the main, very positive," he added.

Though battling terminal illness, Donal (16) came to national attention after he spoke out about young suicide and encouraged others to seek help if they were experiencing difficulties. He used his final few months of his life to raise awareness about youth suicide and also the conditions for terminally ill children and teenagers at Crumlin Children's Hospital.

The programme had contributions from rugby stars Paul O'Connell, who became a close friend, Richard Wallace, David Wallace and Mick Galwey.

The documentary makers also spoke to Donal's teachers at CBS The Green in Tralee, footballer Marc O Se, and Ruairi O'Rahilly, who nominated him for a local hero award.

South Kerry coroner Terence Casey spoke of how Donal's appeal to young people had dramatically reduced the numbers taking their own lives.

hnews@herald.ie


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