Almost 10,000 people in four locations across Meath turned out in the early hours of Saturday morning for the Darkness Into Light walks in aid of Pieta House.
The event returned to Fairyhouse for a third year running, with 2,100 people completed two circuits of the track for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Many of the walkers and runners enjoyed a complimentary breakfast in Ratoath GAA afterwards and a number of local businesses also opened early.
“The support by local people and businesses for Pieta House and the valuable work that it does was absolutely incredible. It was a fantastic community event for a great cause, that has a special resonance to most families locally and nationwide,” said Andrew Ralph, Chairman DIL Fairyhouse.
“The event kicked off formally when the ribbon was dropped by Ashbourne resident Carol Warren, who is a member of the committee. Carol tragically lost her son Derek to suicide, but since then she has become a beacon of hope and resilience for families bereaved and for those struggling with their mental health.”
In Navan, over 3,500 people took part in the sixth annual DIL. “We were very thankful for the walk in Moynalty this year as without it we would have been over capacity,” said Chairperson Eugene Smyth. He thanked all the volunteers who helped out including local scouts, Dunderry Fair committee, Clann na Gael GAA, civil defence, Meath River Rescue, Order of Malta, Irish Red Cross and the many individual stewards. He also thanked local gardai for their assistance in car parking and road crossings, Navan Rugby Club for again hosting the event, Meath County Council for use of their car park and Carolan Coaches and Philly Cabs for providing the shuttle bus service.
“The weather was good and there was a great community spirit. It gave people a chance to walk and talk and remember their loved ones and also to show their support for those who may be doing through a difficult patch,” said Eugene.
It was the first year of the event in Moynalty, where the organisers were thrilled to see over 2,000 people turn out for the walk, which started at the Steam Threshing Museum.
“It was a fantastic success. When we started organising it, we thought 500 would be great. It was way beyond our expectations,” said spokesperson, Paul McCabe.
Celtic Tenor, Matthew Gilsenan sang Bob Dylan's 'Forever Young' as the walkers set off at dawn.
“It was very emotional. There were a lot of people there who lost family members to suicide taking part.
“We have had wonderful feedback about the event,” Mr McCabe added.
This year Enfield also hosted its first Darkness into Light and the event was a huge success with more than 1,600 people taking part. The venue was the local primary school where the participants returned to tuck into an array of scones, cupcakes and other treats. The canoeists provided an awesome sight in the dark with their bedecked canoes. The organising committee has thanked everyone who supported the event and helped make it such a success.
DIL came to Ardee for the first time and the inaugural event was a resounding success as a huge crowd ofwalkers and runners followed the 5km route from darkness into light.
PICS: KIERAN MAGUIRE