Although Colin Farrell had returned home to Dublin for Christmas with his family he took time out to meet with Debra Ireland, an organization that provides support to ‘butterfly children’, whose skin blisters at the slightest touch.

Farrell felt he could identify with the parents of these children as his own son suffers from health problems. The disease in question is epidermolysis bullosa (EB) and he spent two hours talking to families before he whisked eight lucky ladies off for dinner at the famous Irish American steak house, Shanahan’s on St Stephen’s Green.

His own son, James, aged 7, was wrongly diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one-and-a-half. The doctors later found that he was suffering from a condition called Angelman Syndrome. He said that he can sympathize with parents whose children suffer with health problems.

Speaking to the Herald he said “Everyone's journey is specific to them. So I can't say I understand how the parents feel -- the confusion and fear, concern for the future of their children, nor can I understand the pain they are going through…But at the same time I have my own version of the experience."

Farrell was particularly touched by Emma Fogarty's story. The 26-year-old is the patient ambassador with Debra Ireland and has had EB since birth. Emma’s fingers have fused together and she finds it difficult to walk. She has spent months in hospital.

He said that he could not imagine the suffering that people with EB go through.

“With James's condition -- there is not really that much pain involved…But with EB there is so much pain and discomfort on a daily basis and just being incredibly cautious not to knock things."

"It's just astonishing what some people deal with on a daily basis - how it's just the simple things we take for granted, that we are so fortunate."

He said “I think this will be a completely enriching experience for me.

"I'm really grateful that I can be here, have a laugh and hopefully we can have a lovely dinner and that in itself is reason enough for me to come home."

Farrell has to travel by boat to get home for Christmas as planes in London and Dublin had been grounded by snow storms.

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