We Walked the Walk
“Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking….”
Maud Fitzmaurice, Cliona Cogan, Billy Keane and Eleanor Ryan
Jim and Liz Dunn with Máire Logue
All around me on Saturday morning May 6th 2017 at 4.00 a.m. on Listowel racecourse were smiling faces. Listowel has always lent great support to Pieta House and to any agency that helps people who have suffered because of self-harm. Many of the early risers on the Island were thinking back to that awful moment engrained forever in their memories ; the moment when they heard the unbelievable news that someone they loved had died by suicide.
A Tarbert choir was on hand to raise our spirits;
Cora O'Brien, director of Pieta House, Tralee, sings along with the choir
“Lean on me when you’re not strong,
I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on” we sang as we tried to convey hope to the sad and lonely souls who sometimes feel very alone.
People brought their dogs and their children. “We are there for you “ was the message. You are never alone. It’s okay to say you are not okay.
“Hope for the sunshine tomorrow after the darkness is gone.”
Hundreds of us set off to the strains of Walking on Sunshine.
We made our way along by the racecourse to the candlelit bridge and there in the water was the stark word, Hope, reflected in the waters of the Feale. Some stopped to take photos, some caught their breath as they remembered other waters in another places.
We walked on along the well-stewarded route through the Square and down Bridge Rd. to the Arch and into the Silent Mile. An eerie silence fell on the previously chattering hoard. The only sound was the birdsong as we walked the road beside the Garden of Europe, a path the organisers had lit with candles and decorated with wind chimes.
We turned the bend for home at Cahirdown and we walked the eerily deserted streets of our fair town. Many windows were decorated in support. Candles flickered and everwhere posters and T-shirts whispered the message of hope, You are not alone.
Up William Street we went, some tiring a little, others getting their second wind. We rounded the roundabout at the John B. Keane Rd. and we were in the home straight. There was one more jolt in store though. Along the railings at the back of the preschool were several banners with the names of people who should be here with us. This is what it’s all about. We are all walking and praying that no one who is here today with us will be named on that banner next year. This was a stark reminder that we were not on a merry morning jaunt. We were here on a deadly serious mission to try to stem the tide of suicide.
“Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.”
We ended our walk back at base, at Listowel Racecourse where so many of us had so many happy September days. As we returned home we hoped for the sunshine tomorrow.
We had done our small bit to help Pieta House deliver its twin aims of Hope and Consolation.