A three-year-old Limerick boy who made a miraculous recovery after falling six stories has returned to creche for the first time.
Neil Shanahan spent six weeks in Temple Street Children’s Hospital after falling from the sixth floor of the Strand Hotel.
And this week, the smiling toddler, who only turned three last week, returned to play at the Rainbow Childcare Academy at the Riverpoint complex for the first time since his accident last July.
“He has just settled back in with so much ease. A lot of children have enrolled this year. He wouldn’t have known them. But he’s just slotted in. He loved all the activities. He’s very sociable. He’s just a delight to have,” said manager Nichola McEwan.
When asked about what happened to him last year, Neil who is the middle child to his brothers Billy, 1, and Martin, 5, said: “I fell off the hotel and broke my bones”.
He then launched into the Batman theme, before declaring: “I like Weetabix!” Despite Neil’s ordeal, which included him being placed in a body cast — Nichola says he does not need any special care or attention.
“It’s really miraculous. He listens and just gets in the thick of it. Just like one of the other kids. But he has been through something quite horrific. Looking at him there, you cannot relate the two things,” she said.
Neil’s mother Martina said she and husband Michael are delighted with the creche.
“We think the creche is so professional. It is very nice to leave him there, and to collect him as we get a lot of information on how he is doing. The staff are wonderful,” she said.
Neil returned home in August last year, and in the autumn, his parents held a Halloween trick-or-treat event, which raised €3,000 for Temple Street. A mother-and-toddler bake sale raised a further €200. And at Christmas, Neil had the honour of switching on Limerick’s festive lights.
Before the fall, Neil and his family had been attending a community coffee morning at the Strand Hotel. Neil ran ahead of his parents and stepped into a lift before making his way to the rooftop balcony. From there, he fell to a concrete area on the first floor of the hotel. In the crucial moments following this, an American nurse, Julie Genova, who was on holiday in Ireland and visiting Limerick at the time, came to administer first aid to the toddler, before he was rushed by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick.
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