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Shay Kinsella, the founder of the Share A Dream Foundation passes away

Liam Burke

Share A Dream Founder Shay Kinsella pictured at the Dreamland play centre before his passing. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22

Shay Kinsella, the founder of the Share A Dream Foundation passes away

By I Love Limerick Correspondent Mary Doyle

Shay Kinsella

Dreamland was founded and developed by Shay




Shay Kinsella, the founder of the internationally renowned Share A Dream Foundation, passed away at Milford Hospice this Sunday, July 26, after a battle with cancer. Shay spent his life making the dreams of thousands of terminally-ill children come through since the establishment of his Share A Dream Foundation in 1989, and he will be greatly missed by everyone familiar with his work.

Originally from County Wexford, Shay Kinsella established the Share A Dream Foundation in Limerick after meeting a seven-year-old girl with leukemia whose dream was to go to Disneyland. This inspired the idea for Share A Dream, as seeing this little girl having to fight for her life was heartbreaking for Shay, and he was determined to make her dream come true.


Share A Dream has gone from strength to strength over the past 31 years, offering amazing opportunities to thousands of terminally ill children and their families, such as attending concerts, going on trips abroad, being honoured at the National Children of Courage Awards and Dream Ball, and enjoying family holidays; all of which would not have been possible without Shay.

Shay also opened Dreamland on the Dublin Road in Limerick, which is the world’s first-ever fantasyland where both non-able-bodied children and their able-bodied siblings and friends can play alongside each other.

Shay’s passing has occurred just two months after the death of his Share A Dream colleague, Ciara Brolly, who also passed away from cancer at Milford Hospice. A sad time for the Share A Dream family, but Shay’s son John Kinsella said, “I am determined to continue to carry the torch and ensure that his father’s foundation continues with its life-changing work.”

Dreamland Limerick opens

Shay Kinsella, Share a Dream Founder, pictured in 2016 with children and volunteers at Dream Land, Limerick. Picture: Cian Reinhardt/ilovelimerick

Many have paid tribute to Shay’s beloved character on social media. Chairman of Avea Ireland and former Managing Director of Shannon Heritage, Niall O’Callaghan expressed his sympathy on Twitter saying, “Saddened to learn of the passing of Shay Kinsella. A gentleman who worked tirelessly for a great cause @shareadream. We raised a few bobs for Shay on a few occasions; the launch of the fairy trail at Malahide Castle being one. A memorable day.”

Chairperson of Inclusion Ireland, Lorraine Dempsey, also tweeted, saying, “The Dream Maker Shay Kinsella has died. Condolences to his family and all the team behind @shareadream RIP Shay.”

Another Twitter user wrote, “Shay Kinsella was an absolute diamond.  The work he did to make children’s wishes come through was amazing. He was one of a kind and completely devoted to his work at the Share A Dream Foundation.  RIP Shay & thank you for all your incredible work.”

Shay is survived by his beloved wife Amy, and children John, Anthony, Damien, and Sheena, as well as grandchildren Megan, Anna, Amy, Amelia and Elise, and extended family. His Requiem Mass, which will be streamed live online, will take place at St Nicholas Church, Westbury, on Wednesday, July 29, at 12 noon, followed by the burial in Castlemungret Cemetery.

His family requested no flowers with donations if desired to Milford Care Centre or the Share a Dream Foundation.

Michael Collins, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick has opened a book of condolence in memory of Shay Kinsella, founder of Share A Dream Foundation.

Mayor Michael Collins said, “Shay worked tirelessly to help children who were terminally ill saw their dreams come true. He founded the Share A Dream Foundation in 1989 after meeting a seven year-old-girl who was battling with leukemia and since then through the work of the foundation brought smiles and happiness to thousands of sick children and their families.”

“The people of Limerick thank Shay for his drive and desire to help those children. Shay’s legacy will live on in Dreamland, the purpose-built fun centre near Castletroy which allows children of all abilities to ‘just be children’ and not think about their illness or disability.”

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the book of condolence is only available online. It will remain open until Tuesday 4 August 2020 before the book is collated and presented to Shay’s family.


For condolence link for Shay Kinsella, click HERE

For more stories on Share A Dream Foundation, click HERE



Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.