A Go Fund me page 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 March 22nd at the Mercy Hospital in the city, two days after his 31st birthday.
Leon frequented homeless services in the city and in recent times he slept outside the Debenhams building on the main thoroughfare of Patrick Street.
Poignantly he slept under a Debenhams picketers sign which read: “Taoiseach you have let us down”.
A vigil was held in his honour on Patrick Street on Monday night.
He was very kind-hearted and looked out for everyone.
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. 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.
"Leon was found unresponsive and [the medics] worked on him. They got his heart beat back and brought him to the Mercy. I was convinced he was going to pull through. But he passed.
"We aren't 100 per cent on the cause of death until we get the postmortem back," Kayleigh said.
“His family did everything they could for him but with addiction they can't see the help that is in front of them," she said, adding Leon had been homeless for many years.
The way people are losing their lives on the streets it could be any of us some day.
"I used to go to him at the tent at Debenhams and he said when people came over to him and gave him notes (cash) 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," she said.
Kayleigh said her heart is broken for the Kavanagh family.
"[Leon's] mother is devastated. She is burying her second son in four years. Any bit of help would be huge for the family. [Leon] is after breaking a lot of hearts. He will be missed."
Leon is survived by his parents and his nine siblings. A private funeral will be held in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions. The family have asked for donations to be made to Cork Penny Dinners in lieu of flowers.
Donations to the cost of the Leon's funeral can be made on the GoFundMe page here.