Participants in the Darkness Into Light Le Mo Chairde event at the House Fitness gym in Athlone last Friday into Saturday. Some 120 people took part in an exercise challenge from 10.30pm to 6am, raising over €11,000 for Pieta. Photo: Jack Kelly.

Large turnout for Darkness Into Light events in Athlone area

The annual Darkness Into Light fundraiser for the suicide prevention charity Pieta attracted strong support locally at the weekend, with approximately 1,500 people taking part in the dawn walk in Athlone on Saturday.

Gerard Tiernan, Community Fundraising Officer for Pieta, said he was delighted with the turnout for the walk, which started from Athlone Town Football Stadium at 4.15am.

"It was one of the biggest walks we have had in Athlone over the years. It was great to see people come together to support those in suicidal crisis and those bereaved by suicide," he said.

"As a community, it was chance to come together and let people know it's ok not to be ok and that you are not alone, so please reach out and talk.

"It was also very special to take a few moments before the walk to remember those who sadly have died by suicide, and those families who have been bereaved."

The Darkness Into Light walk in Athlone on Saturday morning last.

The House Fitness gym in Athlone this year hosted a significant fundraising event as part of Darkness Into Light, called Le Mo Chairde.

Starting from when it became dark, at 10.30pm on Friday, the event was an exercise marathon that lasted until the daylight had returned, at 6am.

Some 120 or so people take part in Le Mo Chairde at various stages. They took on the challenge of lifting or pulling the average weight of a person (85kg) along designated distances in order to convey the message that a group of friends can carry each other through anything.

A scene from the Le Mo Chairde event at House Fitness in Athlone last weekend. Photo: Jack Kelly.

This was the first time the event had been staged at House Fitness in Athlone and it was very successful from a fundraising perspective, with some €11,500 having been generated for Pieta at the time of writing on Monday afternoon.

Since 2018, the Darkness Into Light walk in Ballymahon has been stewarded by the students of the town's vocational school.

With the weather conditions ideal, some 400 people took part in the Ballymahon walk this year.

Some of the participants in Ballymahon’s Darkness Into Light walk last weekend.

Thomas Dennigan of Ballymahon Vocational School, who helps coordinate the event, paid tribute to the school's students for their involvement, and spoke about the importance of Darkness Into Light in raising awareness of mental health struggles and suicide prevention.

Ballymore's Cllr Vinny McCormack said there was "a fantastic turnout" for a Darkness Into Light event hosted by Ballymore GAA, and a number of other local GAA clubs also organised events this year, including Tubber GAA and Tang GAA clubs.