Approximately 1000 people took part in the ‘Light The Way’ candlelit procession and positive mental health event in Carrick on Suir on Friday last, March 28, to promote awareness and raise funds for the Donal Walsh #LiveLife Foundation, Piéta House and Aware.
Organised by Transition Year students from Scoil Mhuire, Greenhill, the event captured the imagination of the whole community and Carrick on Suir was a sight to behold with candle-bearers converging on St. Nicholas’ Church from a number of starting points on the outskirts of the town.
Following an introduction by Caoimhe Meaney and a rousing rendition of ‘Lean on Me’ there was standing room only in the parish church when the gathering was initially addressed by Peter Mackey. Peter works in the area of addiction with the HSE. He emphasised the importance of mindfulness and gave practical advice to those gathered on how we can care for our mental well-being.
The story of Donal Walsh, the Tralee teenager who passed away in May 2013, is well-known and his father Fionnbar was next to speak.
Fionnbar had a captive audience as he recounted his son’s story – Donal’s cancer diagnosis, his treatment regime and his determination to speak out to young people about the value of life and the importance of connecting with friends and family when faced with challenges in their lives. In an address that contained both sadness and humour, anecdotes and memories, Fionnbar spoke movingly of how Donal lived out his determination to promote a positive outlook on life and to raise funds for teenage treatment facilities.
A spontaneous standing ovation as he finished speaking demonstrated the gratitude of all present to Fionnbar and his family and friends for their work to promote Donal’s message since he passed away.
The final speaker on the evening was Dermot Keyes, a journalist who attended secondary school in CBS Carrick on Suir.
Dermot outlined, through a reading of one of his recent columns, the importance of seeing and appreciating the beauty and value of ordinary things in everyday life.
Following a powerful rendition of ‘To Dream The Impossible Dream’ by Dermot and members of Carrick on Suir Musical Society, Monica Griffin spoke on behalf of the Scoil Mhuire students and thanked all present for supporting the event.
A music gig in Scoil Mhuire, showcasing the great talent of the young people of the area, brought a memorable evening to a close.
The students hope that ‘Light The Way 2014’ will encourage all members of the community to reflect positively on life and provide support and friendship to each other in the face of life’s many challenges.
Everybody involved found it to be an incredible experience and organisers were overwhelmed by the huge turnout.