Kerry McCarthy, Brian Dillon and Breeda Harty, Development workers with the Tipperary Rural Traveller Project.
The Tipperary Travellers’ Horse Owners Association will hold a Horse Drive in Cahir, this weekend.
Suicide rates in the Traveller community are seven times higher than in the settled community and this event, with the support of Pieta House, is to highlight the urgent need for action to address the problem.
This morning (Monday, July 24) Tipperary Rural Traveller Project representatives met with County Council officials, Pieta House members and representatives of An Garda Siochána in Cahir House Hotel to finalise details of the ‘Charity Horse Drive for Hope and Change.’
The Drive is taking place this Sunday, July 30, and is in aid of Pieta House. Those taking part will gather at 10.45am at the Mitchelstown Road entrance to Cahir and travel down to Inch Field (Castle Street Car Park). Speakers will start at 11am, then participants will go back out via Tipperary Road at 11.45am. The event is expected to take about an hour.
Speakers on the day will include John Connors, the actor and writer who starred in Love/Hate, Margaret Casey, Brigid Quilligan and a speaker from Pieta House.
There will be road closures in the area to facilitate the event. The old N8 Cahir bypass will close from 9.30am to 3pm from the Mitchelstown Road to the Tipperary Town road roundabout (this is where vehicles and horses will gather).
As the Drive makes it's way into and out of town there will be rolling road closures from the Mitchelstown Road to the Inch Field. Closures will be for a very short time and all closures will be manned by trained marshals or gardaí.
Organisers hope the Drive will highlight the need for urgent action to address the high suicide rates in the Traveller community and show the importance of horses to Travellers and the mental health of Travellers. Being involved with horses gives Travellers an important activity and outlet to be involved in for their mental health.
Less than 30 people and horses (carriages or sulkies) will take part in the Drive and it will have a garda escort as it travels through town.
It is also hoped that the event will gain support from across the community for efforts to promote positive mental health.
Organisers would like to make this an annual awareness event.
All are welcome to come along and show their support for Pieta House and suicide awareness.