"I live in a part of the world that is surrounded by mountains. I can't turn my head without finding a bloody hill or mountain and I suppose those were God's plans for me. To have me grow up around mountains and grow climbing a few too. And that's exactly what I've done, I may have grown up in body around them but I've fully grown and matured in mind climbing his mountains.
He's had me fight cancer three times, face countless deaths and losses in my life, he's had my childhood dreams taken off me but at the end of the day, he's made me a man.
I am always called brave, heroic, kind, genuine, honourable and so many other kind compliments, but I have to try and explain to everyone why I seem to reject them. I have never fought for anyone but myself, therefore I cannot be brave or heroic, I've only been kind because my religion has taught me so.
What impact could I ever make on the world if I was fake or how could I ever be honourable if I was not honoured to be here.
I am me. There is no other way of putting it, little old Donal Walsh from Tralee, one body, one mind with a few other cobwebs and tales thrown in.
I've climbed God's mountains, faced many struggles for my life and dealt with so much loss. And as much as I'd love to go around to every fool on this planet and open their eyes to the mountains that surround them in life, I can't. But maybe if I shout from mine they'll pay attention.
If I start to accept these compliments, I'm afraid of what I'll become. Will I be braver than YE? Will I be kinder than YE? More genuine than YE? Or more honourable than YE? Better than YE? No. I can never accept that there is a YE. We are all the same, we are all given one body, one mind. The only difference for me is that I'm looking from the mountain."
Donal Walsh was born and raised in Kerry, went to primary school in The Spa, Tralee, continued his secondary school in CBS The Green, Tralee, played GAA Football with Kerin’s O’Rahilly’s and Rugby with Tralee RFC. A passionate player who won a county medal at U12 Football, a determined youngster who craved perfection in all he triedAt 12years of age Donal was diagnosed with Osteo Sarcoma (Bone Cancer) in his tibia and after an operation to give him a prosthetic knee and nine months of chemotherapy Donal came back to the playing field not as a trainer but as a coach to his peers. They respected him as the fitness coach because they knew that whatever he asked of them was only the minimum he had asked of himself to learn to walk again in six weeks. They saw Donal for the man he was and played their games for the hero they saw.
In February 2102 the Cancer returned, this time to his lung and Donal had again to go under the knife to have half of his lung removed and endured another round of chemotherapy treatment until June. This time, in order to increase his lung capacity, for rehabilitation he took up cycling and reached regular trips of up to 60k. Donal joined the http://crossrugbylegends.com on their inaugural cycle in September that year from Moll’s Gap to Killarney and led the tour into his home town of Tralee to a rousing reception from family and friends.
In October 2012 Donal was diagnosed for the third, and ultimately final, time with tumours in five places and a further number of lesions. This was to be his biggest battle and to see a teenager grow into a man who a nation came to respect. Over the years Donal had raised funds totaling €50,000.00 for St. John’s Cancer Ward in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin and in his final battle this grew to €65,000.00. Donal took to writing in his last months and told his story of his battle with cancer and what it took each time to fight his way back to living life. He also wrote about his anger at Teenage Suicide while he was battling to get as much out of living his life. The third thing he wrote about was him “Climbing God’s Mountains” and how difficult that was but how his faith had allowed him to reach the mountain top and scream from it!
The interview with Brendan O'Connor on RTE:
Shortly before he died, 16-year-old Donal Walsh wrote this moving account of his battle with cancer and how he won his life back in the face of a terminal illness
Donal Walsh was posthumously awarded Joint Young Person of the Year for his courage, strength, determination and desire to show young people the true value and meaning of life, and for being an inspiration to so many. Donal, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year at the age of 16, inspired everyone around him with an insatiable appetite to #livelife right. The award was presented to his parents Fionnbarr and Elma Walsh by Saturday Night Show host Brendan O’Connor, whose interview with Donal earlier in the year led to an outpouring of love and support for the teenager. He used the opportunity to speak out about his love for life and against the epidemic of young suicide, pleading with youngsters to get help and enjoy life as he did, irrespective of his illness.
You can read more about and support the LiveLife Foundation HERE.