The Hollywood star, who was in Dublin last week to promote his new film The Lobster, took time out to visit children from the Katie Rose Foundation, a charity which supports children with mitochondrial disease and their families.
“It was my honour to visit them, it really was. And people thank you for it but the gratitude is the other way around as far as I’m concerned, parents like that letting me into their lives, and into their children’s lives, even for a minute,” he told the Irish Examiner.
“The parents I met were just incredible. They’re just trying to love their children and provide for their children as much as they can and afford them the comfort and dignity and respect that they should have.”
The experience, he said, was “very moving, very inspiring, and very painful”. He urged the Government to do more to support families dealing with this illness. He also pledged his support to the cause.
The foundation was set up in memory of Katie Rose Rodgers, who was diagnosed with a mitochondrial condition called Leigh syndrome at just 19 months old.
After Katie passed away aged two, her parents Fiona and Seán Rodgers set up the charity in her name.
Gráinne O’Sullivan, whose son Eoin is one of about 150 children in the country with the disease, said Farrell was “visibly moved” when he met Katie’s parents.
“He showed a very deep sense of empathy on meeting them and hearing the story of Katie’s life and death. Looking at Katie’s photo he said she was absolutely beautiful,” said Gráinne.
“He was genuinely shocked to learn that there is currently no mitochondrial specialist in the whole country. He expressed his dismay and shock at the lengthy delay involved in accurate diagnosis.”
Ashling Nibbs, whose son Orán also has mitochondrial disease, explained to Farrell how she spent three years trying to get her son a concrete diagnosis and said at one stage the star was moved to tears.
For more information see thekatierosefoundation.com and @Katiesbigcycle on Twitter or The Katie Rose Foundation on Facebook.