There was a large attendance in the Thomas Mac Donagh GAA Park Club Room in Cloughjordan recently for the presentation of cheques by caring local lady, Mrs Teresa Willliams, to ”Living Links” and the Irish Heart Foundation, following two walks by 73 folks from all over North Tipperary, including Nenagh, Borrisokane, Cloughjordan, Roscrea, Kilruane, Lorrha, and Toomevara.
The guest speaker was Mr Michael Egan, National Coordinator of “Living Links”, the body which provides outreach and support for those bereaved by suicide. He is an ex-Garda and native of Cloughjordan who now lives in Puckane. A cheque for €1,500 was presented to Dr Roisin Costello of Cloughjordan who is Treasurer of North Tipperary ”Living Links” and also National Treasurer of that worthy body founded in Cloughjordan and named by former Parish Priest, Fr Tom Hannon, who is now on a spiritual course in England. A €525 cheque for the Irish Heart Foundation was presented to Helen Deane of Cloughjordan. The founders of “Living Links” were Michael Egan, Fr. Tom Hannon, Cloughjordan, Dr Roisin Costello, Cloughjordan, Noreen Spain, Kilruane, Carmel Toohey, Nenagh and Geraldine Duggan, Borrisokane. ”Living Links” can be contacted at 087-9693021
The walkers who braved rain and wind for the good cause were welcomed to the presentation ceremony by Mr Gilbert Williams, husband of organiser, Teresa Williams. Teresa and Gilbert Williams lost their beautiful daughter, Mary, through suicide a few years ago and since then Teresa has spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness of the problems of young people. She has done this through her writings, discussions, and fundraising for groups such as Teen-Line, Aware, Samaritans, Living Links, Irish Association of Suicidology, St. Vincent De Paul.
In the past four years she has raised a total of 16,810 Euro for these six good causes and she has been universally praised for the great work she is doing in highlighting difficulties that people, especially young people, are experiencing.
Mr Williams congratulated and thanked everybody who took part in the walks for “Living Links” and the Irish Heart Foundation. He underlined the importance of a healthy mind in a healthy body and said it was therefore appropriate that the walks embraced both areas. He stated there would be a memento for all participants who were presented with certificates and medals to honour their wonderful achievements. The huge attendance included Fr. Tom Whelan, Cloughjordan, Teresa Morkan, Liam Gaffney, Mary Hogan, Geraldine Daly, Anne Heffernan and all the walkers.
Mr Michael Egan, the National Co-ordinator of “Living Links”, said his organisation was founded in 2002 in Cloughjordan, in an attempt by people in the community to try and develop something that would help and support those that had been bereaved by suicide. Mr Egan said “When we started initially we were focusing and still do focus on the family. We then realised in a very short time that people within the community were affected by suicide and that they would need support as well, For example, the first responders to suicide who would be the Medical people and the Clergy and the Guards. And then, of course, you have the neighbours and friends as well, who may wish to talk about it. And the service that we started is based on what we were told by those that have been touched by suicide-what helped them and what they found unhelpful, -particularly what would best meet their needs at the time. So, we and others were aware of professional services that were available. But they would say that they didn’t have the energy to attend groups or, indeed, go to counsellors. And also at the time there was a huge stigma surrounding suicide. So, what we started then was what they call a Listening Support Service. And the difference between us and others in the professional field would be the fact that we would visit them in their house or any other venue that was suitable for them. And we’d basically just sit and listen and let them talk about the dreadful, horrific experience that they’d had. Also, by listening to them we developed a Training Programme which initially started off as a three- day Training Programme and ’it’s now a four-day Programme.
We do the Programme wherever we set up a branch. We have fourteen branches in Ireland. At the end of this year we will have sixteen branches, covering twenty four Counties. We also have people that would not have a branch per se but are trained, in Fermanagh and Derry. And when we get a call from that part of the country they are available to do the necessary for us. And the branches in Cavan, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal will also provide support to people across the border that request that support. But we are in the process of developing a Training Programme for people in the North of Ireland. The only difference between the North and the South relates to the Inquest. An Inquest here in the South is mandatory but the Coroner usually leaves it up to the bereaved in the North, to decide whether or not they want to have an Inquest. And, of course, Police procedures are a little bit different as well. So, we have identified a member of the PSNI and we had identified a Coroner who, unfortunately, died suddenly. So, we are looking for another Coroner up there now who will do the necessary for us.
Yes, we have made great progress in just a few years”. Mr Egan said they also noted that, unfortunately, the stigma still surrounds suicide and mental health
“We would be hoping that events such as this would reduce the stigma. It’s “absolutely fantastic to think that that so many people would attend an occasion like this and were prepared to sit and listen to matters concerning mental health. I think it’s through that we are going to reduce the stigma and that people will become aware of the needs of the mind. I think Gilbert (Williams ) was very proper in saying that we do spend a lot of time concentrating on our physical health. We do know it’s possible to reduce the incidence of Suicide” Mr Egan said that they have two from every Province on the ten- member National Committee. The attendance was also addressed by Helen Deane of the Irish Heart Foundation.
The wonderful repast for all, in the best traditions of Cloughjordan hospitality, was courtesy of Peg Murphy, Mary Casey and Carmel Daly. Mo cheol sibh, ladies. Absolutely wonderful fare, a la Cloughjordan, for all tastes!
The caring folks who undertook the walks for “Living Links” and the Irish Heart Foundation were:-
Dr Roisin Costello, Teresa Williams, Gilbert Williams, Noreen Spain, Maureen Spain, Donal Shelly, Mary McGrath, Maureen Shelly, Ann Mahon, Joan Fox, Nora Delaney, Bridget Greene, Miriam Hasset, Tadhg Hassett, Edel Hassett, Veronica Tierney, Aoife Tierney, Emily Tierney, Breda Flannery, Sean Flannery, Peter Flannery, Ava Flannery, Carol Larkin, Nell Darcy, Sam Darcy, Mary Maher, Noreen Maher, Mary Darcy, Aaron Dunne, Ciara Willliams, Mary Grace, Bernie O’ Meara, Teresa Reid, Mary Reid, Olive Reid, Noeleen Murphy, Mary Quinlisk, Helen Walsh, Brid Morgan, Elaine Madden, Angela O’Sullivan, Irene Hodgins, Mary Corrigan, Antonia O’Keeffe, EmilyO’Keeffe, Mary Gibson, Ciara Gibson, Niamh Gibson, Laura Williams, Freddie Williams, Anne Williams, Nola Flynn, Helen Deane, Emby Foote, Gary Feighery, Anne O’Brien, Aine McLoughlin, Faye Ryan, Breda Butler, Nora Peyton, Stephen Williams, Liam Hannon, Conor Fahy, Jenny Fahy, Ann Bradley, Rose Dreeling, Nicholas Dreeling, Ann-Marie Nugent, Wayne Deane, Heather Persse, Meryl Gillespie, Geraldine Williams and Tracy Culleton.