Kerry joins the dawn chorus for mental health on walk from Darkness Into Light
DAWN broke to extraordinary scenes in Kerry on Saturday; thousands of walkers already up long before the sun and plying the streets and roads of the Kingdom.
It was, of course, the annual Darkness into Light fundraiser for the Pieta House suicidal ideation and self-harm crisis charity. And the numbers certainly attested to how acutely Kerry has and is experiencing mental health trauma.
But the strength of this event lies, as ever, in its incredible healing energy as families and individuals gather in togetherness to remember loved ones lost.
The healing energy was felt widely this year with DiL events undertaken in Tralee, Killarney, Listowel, Dingle, Kenmare, Cahersiveen, Glenbeigh and Caherdaniel.
However, a new registration process conducted entirely online hindered the event county and nationwide. Many local organisers took issue with a new approach that cost numbers and a modicum of goodwill.
1,600 walked Listowel last year; 1,090 took part last Saturday in the town.
In Cahersiveen, like in Listowel, there were problems with online registration and securing t-shirts for all participants, problems also seen in other parts of the county.
Attendance was slightly down, Catherine Cournane of the organising committee felt, but she described the small hiccups with online registration and t-shirts as the only blips in an otherwise terrific occasion.
“It was a beautiful event,” she said. “I can’t put a number on the crowd, but we were very happy with it, even though, I think, it was slightly down on last year.
“Thankfully, we got a delivery of t-shirts from Pieta House, and we were able to distribute them to everyone in the lead-up to the event. Everyone who took part on the night had a t-shirt.
“I can understand why registration has moved to online, but I hope it’s something the organisers might look at from here as I want to see the event flourish.
“Otherwise, it was a wonderful event, and the weather was fantastic. I want to thank all who came; the Gardaí and Coastguard; KT Bakery for providing us with lovely food; volunteers and stewards; and Supervalu, Centra, Kerry Coast Hotel, and Markethouse for their assistance.”
Killarney was the first venue after Phoenix Park to host this worldwide sensation, and the popularity of “Nathan’s Walk”, named after the late Nathan O’Carroll, was plain to see in the 4,500-strong attendance at Killarney Racecourse.
Nathan’s mother, Marie, described it as a spectacular occasion, and thanked everyone who turned out. “Without them, there would be no Nathan’s Walk,” she said.
“It was a beautiful night, made all the better for the presence of Seán Hurley; Brendan Fuller; Dan Devane; and Seán Radley. I’d also like to thank the committee of Mike Marshall; Geary and Maureen McCormick; Barry O’Rourke; Máirtn Driver; Cathal Walsh; and my husband, Dennis.”
Events as popular as Killarney’s staging don’t come about without superb assistance, a point well-emphasised by Marie.
“I must thank Ger Coughlan and all his team at Killarney Racecourse for allowing us to use their grounds as a venue. The OPW, Padraig Sullivan, and Harry O’Donoghue have also been most helpful, as have our sponsors. These are Electric Ireland; Henry Bartlett and Independent Irish Health Foods; and Pat Sheehan, Centra Killarney and Glenbeigh. Even afterwards, we had no shortage of volunteers cleaning up for all hours.”
Some 4,500 people took part in Darkness Into Light Killarney.
Some of the crowds taking part in Darkness Into Light Cahersiveen.
Large crowds took part in the Caherdaniel Darkness Into Light