Thousands turn out for local Darkness into Light
Over 3,000 people gathered at O'Raghallaigh's GAA grounds in the early hours of Saturday morning to take part in the Darkness Into Light walk through Drogheda.
The turnout is the biggest yet in Drogheda since the first local walk back in 2014 with runners, walkers, parents, children and pets setting off at 4.15am for the 5km walk around the town.
'Everything went really well, thank god, the biggest priority for us is getting everyone around safely in the dark,' said Martha McCabe, one of the organisers of the Droghda event. 'People started arriving from around 3.30am, they congregated in the carpark at O'Raghallaigh's, we had a few words and then everyone set off. The atmosphere was amazing, it's so special. People said they've never done anything like it before.
'Amazingly suicide seems to touch everyone. The services Pieta house offers are available to everyone in Drogheda even though it isn't based in Drogheda and it's free which is why it's so important to support this event. They estimate it costs €1,000 for one person to go through therapy at Pieta house from start to finish. Last year we raised €50,000 so that's 50 people it will help.'
The runners were at the front to lead the charge with the first runner back in an incredible 18 minutes, followed by a steady stream of families, friends and those remembering loved ones while taking part in the dawn walk.
'It was amazing to see so many people out, there were parents with buggies and families with dogs, everyone came out to remember people or in solidarity with others. We had people carrying pictures of loved ones they have lost and other people with lights,' said Martha.
'We haven't got a final figure for what we raised yet but we've exceeded last year. It's just unbelieveable the support there is for it.
'We had about 80 stewards who came out in the middle of the night to help and they deserve a huge thank you because without out them we couldn't do it. We're thrilled with how it went and Pieta house is thrilled that so many people came to support it.'
She said the organisers thought the numbers in Drogheda could be down this year as last year there was no walk in Dundalk but instead of that the numbers have actually grown with a large crowd taking part in Dundalk this year also. 'It's a fantastic show for Louth and long may it continue,' said Martha.