MARGARET Brennan was a regular performer at the annual Console Christmas event for the suicide bereaved. This year she was mourning the loss of her own sister.
"Sing and I will hear you, no matter where you are, a song to light the darkest night and guide me from afar," she sang as she remembered Alison.
Margaret never thought she might also be among those mourning a loved one, but last New Year's Eve her sister took her own life.
She told those gathered at the remembrance service last night in Maynooth that the same song, 'Under the Boab Tree', had moved her so much in the days after Alison's death that she put it on her Walkman.
"I listened to it as the tears flowed," she said.
Those at the Console gathering in the College Chapel of St Patrick's spent time remembering those whose lives had been extinguished too soon.
Clannad's Moya Brennan said few people in Ireland were not affected by suicide.
"It's terrible and it is important not to sweep it under the carpet," she said.
Referring to the death of the teenage Gallagher sisters in Donegal, she said it was a "tragedy you can't even comprehend".
MC Christy Kenneally said the gathering was valuable because "sometimes we can become enclosed in our grief".
Families sat in near darkness and listened to Frances Black, Eleanor Shanley and Frankie Laine, Paul Harrington and ' Britain's Got Talent' star Ryan O'Shaughnessy, while newsreader Eileen Dunne did several readings, including a poem called 'Remembering'.
A candle was lit for each of those who had died and a flame from one was used to light a larger candle for all the families affected by suicide who were unable to attend. At least 500 people took their own lives in Ireland last year.