On 24th March, the school community was privileged to be given a talk by Fionbarr Walsh, father of the late Donal Walsh. The aim of the talk was to inform us, through Donal’s story, about the value of life and as Donal said to his friends “living life to the full”.
Fionbarr began his talk by showing us a 2 minute video montage of Donal throughout his treatment, put together by Donal and his friend. Donal was a normal teenager who enjoyed having a laugh with his friends and played rugby and football like many students here in Glenstal Abbey School. He was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 12 and fought it off twice like a true warrior. It kept coming back though until 5 tumors were detected in October 2012. The doctors told him to have “an early christmas”. In May 2013, Donal was still there. He tweeted “Up yours cancer, I am still here. Up yours” 11 days later he passed away peacefully, in the company of his family and friends.
Throughout his ordeal, Donal remained active cycling, looking after the fitness of his Under 15 rugby team and fundraising for the Donal Walsh Fund in Crumlin Hospital. (http://www.cmrf.org/in_memory/page/36647). The fund has raised over €150,000 since its creation. The Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation was also set up by Donal’s family and friends to provide support for young cancer patients (http://donalwalshlivelife.org)
Fionbarr concluded by playing a video put together by ReachOut.com, of Donal’s interview on the Saturday Night Show with Brendan O’Connor. It came about because he had written a letter to the Irish Times that received international recognition, about the value of life. After this short powerful video, Fionbarr opened the floor to questions.
Only one question was asked as the majority of people were still coming to terms with all that had been heard in the previous hour. Fionbarr was then presented with a Glenstal fleece as a thank-you from School Captain Karl Glynn and Vice-Captain Rory Hogan. Br. Martin thanked Fionbarr who was greeted with a standing ovation. Invaluable lessons were learnt, and we are all extremely grateful to Fionbarr for making the journey and to Donal for inspiring millions with his simple but powerful message to value life.
Colm Hogan (5th Year)