Tuesday 20 March 2018

Rugby heroes raise €12,000 for Donal Walsh's suicide charity

Dorothy Walsh with some of the items
Dorothy Walsh with some of the items
Peter Clohessy with Olive and Anthony Foley at the auction of Lions' rugby gear in aid of the Live Life Foundation
Donal Walsh

Kathryn Hayes

MORE than €12,000 was raised in aid of the Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation after hundreds of Munster Rugby fans queued to buy team kit worn by their heroes.

Jerseys, socks, shorts, boots and hats – worn and used by the players – were sold off at Peter Clohessy's bar in Limerick to avid fans of the men in red. The event ended with a silent auction for Munster Rugby items worn by Paul O'Connell and official British and Irish lions gear used by Conor Murray.

The Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation was set up in memory of the 16-year-old cancer victim (pictured below), who touched so many through his writing and TV appearance. The Live Life Foundation is expected to benefit by thousands of euro from yesterday's unique event.

Many of the Munster players attended the funeral of the young Tralee man after he lost his brave battle with cancer.

Those same sports stars from Munster Rugby donated "bags of stuff" to event organiser Olive Foley, who is married to rugby legend Anthony Foley.

Olive said that the idea for the sale was discussed at Paul O'Connell's wedding in France last month and, within just a few days, the former Lions captain had persuaded his teammates to part with hundreds of items.

"Paul (pictured below) has been an amazing support really and obviously Donal Walsh was a huge fan of his. I think we all have a lovely connection with Donal and people really wanted to support this wonderful charity," she said,

The former international rugby player's wife said that the players' response was overwhelming.

"All of the gear was donated by the players. They donated everything and they literally came with bags of stuff for me" she added.

With up to 100 people queuing outside the pub from early morning, Olive added that they had 77 numbered jerseys, priced between €50 and €90, that were used in Heineken Cup, Rabo Direct and International games in the past 12 months.

"We had to limit them to a quota of two per customer because there was such a demand," explained event organiser Olive whose husband, Anthony, was also present yesterday.

Pub owner Peter Clohessy said he had one eager customer queuing for hours before the midday start, such was his determination to get his hands on some of the coveted paraphernalia.

"There were queues from 9am and I even had one guy here at 8.30. I reckon we had about 80 people outside before the door even opened and the sale didn't start until midday," he said.

Donal's mother, Elma, and brother, Finbar, were among those expected at the event.

"I told all my friends and the staff who helped volunteer with the event that nobody was allowed to hold any stock but I have to confess we did put aside the number 5 jersey for Finbar as it's his birthday and I couldn't resist," said Olive.

"I told Elma that she was under no pressure to attend the event but she said it is these types of events that are helping the family work through the grief and wild horses wouldn't keep her away," added Olive.

Among those sifting through the rugby stock was Kerry woman Helen Joy who was also hoping to win one of two signed jerseys which were raffled.

"My uncle in Kerry is organising a charity event for the Cancer bus that runs from Kerry to Cork. I told him I would try to win the jersey so he could have it for his event and he could tell people where it came from and also it would be going back to Kerry which would be lovely as Donal Walsh left such an impression on people there.

"Kerry has the highest rate of suicide in Ireland and, with Donal coming out and saying he was dying but he would have loved to prolong his life, he did a huge amount for suicide awareness," she added.

Irish Independent

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