Kerry joins the dawn cho­rus for men­tal health on walk from Dark­ness Into Light

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS -

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.”

Photo by Kon­rad An­toni Switlicki-Paprocki

Some 4,500 peo­ple took part in Dark­ness Into Light Kil­lar­ney.

LEFT AND ABOVE: Pho­tos by Christy Riordan.

Some of the crowds tak­ing part in Dark­ness Into Light Ca­her­siveen.

Large crowds took part in the Ca­her­daniel Dark­ness Into Light

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