Best Christmas ever for family of boy who survived 70 ft hotel balcony fall

Best Christmas ever for family of boy who survived 70 ft hotel balcony fall

A toddler, known in Limerick as "the boy who could fly" warmed hearts in his native Limerick city tonight as he switched on the Christmas lights amid freezing temperatures, writes David Raleigh.

Little Neil Shanahan (2) miraculously survived a 70 ft fall from the top of the Limerick Strand Hotel on July 2 last.

Despite a few minor injuries Neil was home again after spending a little over a month in hospital.

His parents Martina and Mike beamed as they admitted this Christmas will be the best they've ever had.

"I'm not sure we can possibly have a better Christmas than this. We are here tonight at the invitation of Limerick City and County Council, turning on the Christmas lights when it could have been so different," Martina said.

“It could have been the worst Christmas imaginable but it’s turned out to be the one we are most grateful for because Neil is with us."

Best Christmas ever for family of boy who survived 70 ft hotel balcony fall

“It does make us think, at the same time, of those who have not been so lucky and our hearts really go out to them," she added.

Mike said adventurous Neil, who rode a lift up to the top floor of the Strand hotel before falling over the rooftop balcony but lived to tell the tale, lapped up tonight's festivities.

“We were delighted to be invited in for this. It was an incredible experience tonight. Neil, having had so many medics around him during his recovery, is well used to attention and he lapped it all up. He loved it," Mike added.

Best Christmas ever for family of boy who survived 70 ft hotel balcony fall

The ‘Light up Limerick’ switching on ceremony took place on the city's main thoroughfare O’Connell Street.

Mayor Kieran O’Hanlon, who helped Neil kick start the Christmas cheer remarked: “We’re delighted to have had this incredible young man with us tonight. His story is one that gives us all hope and Christmas is a great time for hope. To see the smile on his face and his parents’ face was fantastic."

Over 4,000 people warmed up the atmosphere despite freezing fog and below zero temperatures and special snow cannons sprayed the crowd under a dazzling fireworks display.

"It's what Christmas is all about. What an end to Neil's story and what a great start to Christmas in Limerick," added Limerick Arts Officer Shelia Deegan.

As the fireworks faded into the fog, and the crowd dispersed, little Neil and his parents linked arms as they headed home, all together again.

Best Christmas ever for family of boy who survived 70 ft hotel balcony fall

More on this topic

Leona Lewis writing Christmas songs in lockdownLeona Lewis writing Christmas songs in lockdown

Less alcohol bought at Christmas but binges on bread, sweets, and frozen foodLess alcohol bought at Christmas but binges on bread, sweets, and frozen food

British retailers round off worst year as M&S shares slideBritish retailers round off worst year as M&S shares slide

Meath couple celebrate after baby 'born beside the Christmas tree and just in time for Santa'Meath couple celebrate after baby 'born beside the Christmas tree and just in time for Santa'

More in this Section

Man due in court after shots fired at gardaí in CorkMan due in court after shots fired at gardaí in Cork

Cowen says no outstanding driving offences following 'serious lapse of judgement' in 2016Cowen says no outstanding driving offences following 'serious lapse of judgement' in 2016

No new deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland but 18 more cases confirmedNo new deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland but 18 more cases confirmed

Brothers who drowned in Tipperary tragedy named locallyBrothers who drowned in Tipperary tragedy named locally


Lifestyle

On June 26, we sat outside the first bar to open here since lockdown began on March 15. There are only two bars in the valley. Cafes serve drinks, but these are bar-bars, the kind that stay open after midnight.Damien Enright: Fruit trees are laden with their bounty as we prepare to leave

In October 1986, 52 mute swans, living peacefully on the Tolka in Dublin, were drenched in diesel oil accidentally released into the river. Swan-catchers went into action; only one bird died before they reached it.Richard Collins: Human crisis will offer chance for wild animal research

It's a typically Irish summer’s day of sunshine and occasional showers. Travel restrictions have been eased again and we venture forth to one of nature’s gems, Gougane Barra, deep in the mountains of West Cork.Donal Hickey: Gougane Barra has peace and wildness

When the ferryman pulls away from the pier and the salty spray of the sea hits your face the feeling of release from the mainland is deeply pleasurable. Your island awaits. Whether for a day trip or a holiday, the lure of the islands is as magnetic as ever.The Islands of Ireland: The lure of the less-visited

More From The Irish Examiner