Family and friends of Donal Walsh gather to watch documentary

Ronan O'Gara and Damien Varley carrying the coffin of Donal Walsh (inset) at his funeral in Tralee last year

Ronan O'Gara and Damien Varley carrying the coffin of Donal Walsh (inset) at his funeral in Tralee last year


FAMILY and friends of the late Donal Walsh gathered at his family home in County Kerry to watch last night’s documentary on the life of the brave teenager.

According to Donal’s father, Fionnbar, who is native of Knocklong, the family and a number of Donal’s closest friends sat down for supper together at his Blennerville home before watching the RTE documentary which has been trending worldwide on Twitter.

“We sat down together, had supper and watched it. The main participants were with us or in contact with us,” said Fionnbar.

The documentary, Donal Walsh - My Story, was broadcast on RTÉ Two last night to such Twitter reaction that #DonalWalsh is still trending across Ireland almost 24 hours later.

“The reaction has been phenomenal. It’s just unbelievable to see the interest. The fact that he is trending since last night, in second and third place, is unbelievable to watch,” said Fionnbar.

“I certainly didn’t understand what the term trending was until he did his first interview but I’m very much aware now of what it means.”

While Fionnbar said there were some tears shed as they watched the programme, the family were prepared as they had seen a preview of the documentary a week ago.

“It was well put together. It was balanced - it showed the happiness and the fun side of Donal as well as the seriousness of his message.”

Donal’s mother, Elma, sister Jema and his closest friends are, Fionnbar said, “doing as well as they can”.

“We cope most days. Some days he sneaks up on you and it gets very emotional and then other days you find he is laughing at you,” Fionnbar smiled.

Among those featured on the documentary were Munster and Ireland rugby star Paul O’Connell.

“The whole Munster squad and the IRFU got behind Donal early on,” said Fionnbar.

“They realised he was something special. He built friendships very solidly and those who were his friends, were really his friends. Paul and himself would shoot the breeze. They might have lost a game but Donal would give him a positive outlook.”

Donal, who passed away last May, had been battling cancer since he was first diagnosed four years previously.

Last March he wrote an impassioned letter to young people urging them to think twice about suicide and ask for help.




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