Kerry County Council honours Fionnbar and Elma Walsh and the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation

Kerry County Council today hosted a Civic Reception to honour the work of Fionnbar and Elma Walsh and the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation. At a reception at County Buildings in Tralee, the legacy of Donal Walsh and the work being done by his parents to promote his message of positivity was acknowledged by the Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council, Cllr Norma Foley and her elected colleagues.

Members of the Walsh family as well as family and friends of the late Donal Walsh were present in the Council Chamber to hear congratulations for the efforts of the foundation which has raised over €500,000 for charitable causes. It was also noted that Fionnbar and Elma Walsh have brought Donal’s message to 50,000 students per annum through visits to schools around the country in recent years.

In her remarks, Cllr Foley said:

‘A Civic Reception is the single highest honour that can be bestowed by Kerry County Council and the people of Kerry. It is conferred upon those who by their deeds and actions bring both honour and distinction to our county.

‘I can think of no couple or indeed no organisation more worthy of today’s reception than Fionnbar and Elma Walsh and the Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation. Fionnbar and Elma, today Kerry County Council and the people of Kerry make a public statement of our admiration and appreciation for your exceptional work and the rich tapestry of achievement by the Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation.

‘When Donal appeared on the Brendan O’Connor Show on RTÉ in 2013, when battling cancer at the age of just 16, it had a deeply profound impact on everyone watching. One cannot watch that interview, even now, without forcing yourself to think deeply about life, about the challenges life presents, and how to confront and deal with adversity.

‘Donal spoke with bravery, honesty and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of humour that helped to defuse the magnitude of the fate that awaited him just a short time later. Inspired by his faith, his family and a unique fortitude, he conveyed a message of hope and positivity that resonated across the country, and still does to this day.

‘Donal forced us all to think about the beauty, the fragility and the value of life. He shone a light on the oftentimes challenging nature of mental health and well-being. He confronted head-on the ever-increasing issue of youth suicide, reminding us all. ‘Appreciate what you have. Know that are always other options. There is help everywhere.’

Cathaoirleach Foley said that Donal’s message also resonated with sports stars and celebrities who relayed and echoed what he had to say. Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, Conor Cusack and others used their profiles to repeat and acknowledge the words of their friend.

‘Behind all of the profile, the fundraising, and the campaigning, however, there is a mom and dad who have lost a loving son. Sometimes, our natural instinct at a time of grief is to close to door, to retreat into ourselves and seek solace in a private way. But Fionnbar and Elma chose to embrace what Donal encouraged everyone to do and that is to be positive, promote positivity and live life to its fullest. And so was born the Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation.

‘The establishment of the Donal Walsh Live Life Foundation has been one of the real legacies of his life and his message. Its vision is to reduce the suicide rate in teenagers and to continue the promotion of Dona’s message. Through the foundation, Fionnbar and Elma speak to schools across Ireland and now have a reach of approximately 50,000 students per annum. When they speak, young people listen, something I have witnessed first-hand myself. The Foundation has also raised over half a million euro in Donal’s memory.

‘I thank you both for your generosity of spirit and nobility and bravery of heart. Your contribution to the health and wellbeing of our young people is incalculable and our gratitude is immeasurable,’ Cllr Foley concluded.

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