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Leon Kavanagh Red FM
Leon Kavanagh

Fundraiser set up to pay for funeral of homeless Cork man who saved person's life days before he died

Leon Kavanagh died just two days after his 31st birthday.

A FUNDRAISER HAS been set up to pay the funeral costs of a young homeless man who died just days after he saved the life of another member of the community who had taken an overdose of tablets.

Leon Kavanagh, who was originally from Mount St Joseph’s Heights in Baker’s Road on Cork’s northside, passed away on 22 March at the Mercy Hospital in the city. He had turned 31 two days before his death.

Leon frequented homeless services in the city. In recent times, he slept outside the Debenhams building on the main thoroughfare of Patrick Street.

A vigil was held in his honour on the street on Monday night.

Kayleigh Lawless, who was a childhood friend of Leon’s, told the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM that there was so much more to the deceased than his addiction.

“When people saw Leon they just saw him as a homeless drug addict but that is not what he was,” she said.

“He he was more than that. He was very kind-hearted and looked out for everyone. Leon was amazing. He had a heart of gold. He helped people up until the day before he collapsed.

“The amount of people telling us stories about him. He actually saved somebody’s life last Monday night. Then this happened.”

Lawless described how Leon was found unresponsive and medics attempted to save him before he was brought to hospital.

“I was convinced he was going to pull through. But he passed. We aren’t 100% on the cause of death until we get the postmortem back. “

She also revealed that Leon was homeless for many years.

“His family did everything they could for him but with addiction they can’t see the help that is in front of them.

“I used to go to him at the tent at Debenhams and he said when people came over to him and gave him notes, it broke his heart. It used to upset him when people gave him notes. That people were so caring to give him money.

“I have one message from him where he said ‘the way people are losing their lives on the streets it could be any of us some day.’

“Heroin is one of the cheapest and easiest drugs to get. No matter where you go in Cork our streets are destroyed. There is not enough help out there.”

Leon’s death follows that of his brother Ross, who passed away in December 2016 having been diagnosed with epilepsy three weeks earlier. His family are still paying off the funeral for him.

Leon is survived by his parents and his nine siblings. A private funeral will be held in compliance with Covid restrictions. The family have asked for donations to be made to Cork Penny Dinners in lieu of flowers.

Donations to his family can be made here.

Olivia Kelleher
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