BRAVE DUBLIN man Philip Walsh enjoyed a 27th birthday to remember thanks to the efforts of Robbie Keane, a few other familiar faces and the local community.
An avid football fan and Manchester United supporter, Philip, of Seabury Walk in Malahide, has been through an incredibly difficult time at home.
His father sadly passed away just six weeks ago while his mother, Deirdre, is currently undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.
The pandemic also meant Philip wouldn’t be able to celebrate his birthday with his friends and family.
When Keane heard Philip’s story he decided to reach out and pay him a surprise visit.
The Republic of Ireland’s all-time top scorer dropped in on the Dubliner outside the family home with a signed shirt and some birthday cards ahead of the big day.
But the former Tottenham, Liverpool and Leeds star wasn’t finished there.
Taking to Instagram after meeting Philip, Keane posted a picture of the pair alongside an appeal asking people to help make his upcoming 27th birthday extra special.
“Philip has been reading in the paper about people who can't have a Birthday party but are getting 100s of cards in the post,” Keane wrote.
“Philip’s birthday wish is to get as many Birthday cards as possible.
“I would really appreciate it if you could spread the word around the nation to send Philip a birthday card and help make his wish come true.”
This past Saturday, May 22, Philip’s birthday wish came true with An Post delivering thousands of cards to the courageous young man’s doorstep.
But if the Dubliner thought that would be the end of the festivities, he was wrong.
Later he was treated to visits from An Garda Síochána, Dublin Fire Brigade, Civil Defence, the Irish Coast Guard and the National Ambulance Service, who all arrived in Malahide with lights and sirens whirring to deliver even more cards and gifts.
Malahide Gardaí joined Philip Walsh to celebrate his 27th birthday today with plenty of lights and sirens from the Emergency Services! Philip has been having a tough time lately and we were delighted to join his birthday celebrations!
Happy Birthday Philip🎈🎂🎉 pic.twitter.com/t2LfpGFgb9
— Garda Info (@gardainfo) May 23, 2020
The local Mayor of Fingal,Eoghan O'Brien, also paid him a visit, naming Philip the Lord Mayor of Seabury Walk and "Malahide's biggest celebrity".
He even loaned him his prized chain of office to wear on his big day.
I popped down to Seabury today to wish Philip Walsh, Malahide's biggest celebrity, a happy birthday on behalf of @Fingalcoco. He's now the Mayor & I've stepped down! Last I heard the card count was knocking on 3000! Well done all who made today such a special one for Philip 👏🎂 pic.twitter.com/Dq9n2SMdbK
— Eoghan O'Brien (@CllrEOB) May 23, 2020
Westlife star Nicky Byrne also stopped by with a present and a card, posing for photos with the birthday boy and sending best wishes on his big day.
To cap it all off, an ice cream van arrived later, delivering Philip a few scoops of his favourite flavour while his neighbours sang him Happy Birthday.
The birthday messages weren’t just limited to cards and visits either with Keane’s appeal reaching some of his celebrity pals in the US and beyond.
There were messages from fellow Ireland soccer legend Paul McGrath and well as Teen Wolf actor Ian Bohen and WWE star Aleister Black, who filmed a happy birthday video for Philip, who is a massive wrestling fan, inviting him to his next show in Ireland.
Later that day, Keane returned to Instagram to thank everyone involved in making Philip’s birthday one that he will treasure forever.
"This has all been an incredible boost for Philip and his family, his front porch is decorated with birthday cards," he wrote.
“It’s the simple acts of kindness like this that make me so proud of our country.
"You have made him feel incredibly special on his big day and it is absolutely heartwarming to see how happy Philip was today alongside his lovely mother Deirdre, I know it means the world to them."
He also paid tribute to Philip himself as a young man whose story has touched the hearts of an entire nation and his “amazing” mum Deirdre, who put the plan in motion.
"You are an incredible young man, you and your mum are inspirational and I’m so privileged I got the opportunity to meet you both."