Anyone driving along Clonmel’s inner relief road in the early hours of a recent Sunday morning would have been confronted by the strange sight of over 500 people walking along the road.
Those people turned out in force at 4am for a very special walk, organised under the banner of Darkness Into Light, by two local women on Sunday, April 28.
The walk was a fundraiser for Aware, the voluntary organisation founded to assist those directly affected by the illness of depression, a cause that has a particular and poignant relevance for one of the organisers.
“I lost my 21 year-old brother Gary Power to suicide last June and decided to organise this event in his memory. It was a nice way to honour his memory”, says Sinead Boyle (nee Power) from Highfield Grove, Clonmel.
Sinead and her friend, Catherine Cashman from Ardgeeha Drive, started to plan the walk last September.
When the time came the event exceeded expectations in terms of the numbers taking part and the amount of money raised.
“When we first started to organise this we thought we would have only family members and a few friends taking part but the response was fantastic”, said Sinead. “480 people were registered and another 30-40 also took part”.
So far more than €11,000 has been raised for Aware, a figure that will rise once all the sponsorship cards have been returned.
Walkers not only came from Clonmel but from surrounding areas including Fethard, Cahir, Carrick-on-Suir, Ardfinnan and Thurles.
“People told us that they got up to walk in memory of someone they had lost. It was unreal looking at all the high-vis jackets going down the by-pass. Everybody was in good form and the feedback we received was unbelieveable”, says Sinead.
The walk started at the Clonmel Park Hotel at 4am and proceeded to Tesco’s before returning to the hotel, covering a distance of approximately 8 kilometres (5 miles). As the name of the event implies, it was dark when the walkers set off and dawn was starting to break through the night sky when they returned.
Sinead and Catherine now plan to organise the walk annually and from next year the proceeds will be donated towards the establishment of a Pieta House in Clonmel. Pieta House is a non-profit organisation providing a specialised treatment programme for people who have suicidal thoughts or who participate in self-harming.
Sinead and Catherine are extremely grateful to all those who participated to raise funds for Aware and who contributed to the success of the event. They include Det. Garda John O’Gorman and the Gardai, the Park Hotel, Glenpatrick Spring Water, the Red Cross, photographer Jonathan Ryan and the Higgins family.