Back in 2009 Pieta House held its first Darkness Into Light walk in Phoenix Park, and year on year the number of venues continue to grow. And now in 2015 there was over 80 venues all over the world hosting this fantastic event……………AND BALLINASLOE WAS ONE OF THOSE VENUES!
This was an exciting time for us at Galway East Life Support, as we facilitated this event, and we are only delighted to be able to share it with our community
The International Launch for Darkness Into Light 2015 took place in Dublin at the Irish film Institute on March 10th, and Supported by Electric Ireland it was Officially Launched by a number of high profile guests, Pieta House founder Joan Freeman, New CEO of Pieta House Brian Higgins and Award Winning actors Moe Dunford (Patricks Day & Vikings) and Rachel Pilkington (Fair City & Moone Boy). We were also privileged to meet members of other DIL committees from around the country in particular from Phoenix Park…………the venue where it all began back in 2009
Ballinasloe DIL held our own launch night on Thursday 19th of March In The Shearwater Hotel Ballinasloe. We had some special guests of our own down for the night including Tom McEvoy, Kieran Brady, Marie Peelo, Donna Burke and Cindy O’Connor all from Pieta House, Pat Lam and Ballinasloes very own Conor Finn from Connacht Rugby, Ballinasloe Queen Of The Fair and GELS ambassador Avril Smyth and Ballinasloes Geraldine Lynagh from TV3.
We extended the invitation of our launch night to other DILs around the country and we had members of DIL Tuam, DIL Kinvara amongst others also in attendance. In the days leading up to the Launch Night, we received a call from friend of GELS to say that she had organised to get a cake made for our night. She had ordered the cake and organised to collect it but when the lady who made the cake heard what the event was for and who it was for she insisted that the cake was to be a donation from her to us, for our night. So from All at GELS and Darkness Into Light Ballinasloe, we would like to thank Fiona Hynes the very kind Ballinasloe Lady who made this AMAZING cake.
It really was as delicious as it looks!
At the launch all our guests said afew words and one thing that Pat Lam said that really struck a chord with people was:
“Let us be the light that brightens up the message of HOPE and that brings people together for this event” – Pat Lam
Geraldine Lynagh spoke and says:
“I am proud of Ballinasloe and delighted to see this event take place in here, It shows how the people of the town have not just embraced Pieta House and what they do but also the subject of creating awareness around suicide and becoming part of the solution” – Geraldine Lynagh
These messages stuck in peoples minds for the rest of the night and really hit home with alot of people as we are the vessels to carry the message of HOPE forward for all to see! And at GELS will do our best to do just that.
And so May the 8th arrived……………..the day before the main event. Our dedicated teams worked during the day to prepare for the night. They hung the bunting, set out the tables for food, registration and water bottles etc. On any normal Friday night/Saturday morning, Ballinasloe is usually quite silent, empty and asleep……………..but not this night. From 2am onward the walkers, runners, teenagers, kids and dogs started to turn up and by 4:15am on may 9th there were over 1000 people lining the streets ready to walk from The Darkness Into The Light.
The scenes that followed were truely amazing, to see the river of people walking up Brackernagh, was just phenomenal. People walked and talked,and connected with each other. With just over 90 mins gone the first of the walkers and their dogs started to return with smiles on their faces. The atmosphere that was generated in The Emerald Ballroom afterwards was immense, the conversation was all about how people enjoyed themselves and which part of the walk they enjoyed most. “Was it being suprised to see a small group of people singing in a latern lit area as they entered Garbally Collage or the candle lit walk way leaving Garbally Collage?” was the main question.
The night would not have been possible without the support of everybody in the community. We had over 70 volunteers on the night from various organisations including: Ballinasloe GAA, Ballinasloe Civil Defence, Ballinasloe Fire Brigade, Ballinasloe Vintage Club, Mountbellew Vintage Club. They were there and ensured that not only was everybody kept safe but also that everybody enjoyed themselves.
Our main supporter was The Shearwater Hotel, from the very first minute that they heard what we were doing they could not have been better to work with. They provided the room for our official launch in March, they provided refreshments for the walkers on the morning of the DIL walk and then also put on breakfasts at a special rate for all DIL participants from 6:30am. They couldn’t do enough for us, We cannot thank Catriona and Garrett and the staff of The Shearwater Hotel enough for all their hard work and support during Darkness Into Light 2015 and we look forward to working with them in the future.
To say that Darkness Into Light Ballinasloe was a success is an understatement. Yes it was a lot of hard work, a lot of hours by all the Ballinasloe team but it was most definetly ALOT OF FUN! To see the community come together the way they did, to see people connect the way they did made everything worth while and we at Galway East Life Support are very proud of what was achieved and want to thank everybody that was involed in making this historic event what it was.
More pictures of our launch night, and of the walk night itself can be found in our gallery.
Darkness Into Light is the flagship fundraising and awareness event for Pieta House, and without your support, they could not have helped so many people in distress over the last nine years. To give you a little more information as to how Pieta House have grown here is a brief timeline:
- 2006 – Pieta House opened its doors in Lucan
- 5 staff initially employed
- 2008 – 2 outreach centres opened in Tallagh and Finglas.
- 2010 – New centre in Limerick opened
- 2011 – New centre opened in Ballyfermot
- Almost 150 staff now employed in the delivery of their service
- over 17,000 people have been helped
- 2013 – New centres in Galway, Tipperary and Cork opened.
- and 2014 new centre in Kerry opened
As you can see the growth of Pieta House has been phenomenal and has only been possible because of the help and support of you the people!
For more details on Pieta House visit: www.pieta.ie, the numbers of all the centres plus more can be found there. Pieta House Tuam can be contacted on 093 255