Pres girls walk from 'Darkness Into Light'
DONAL Walsh's message of celebrating life was not lost on the young of Listowel, where the entire student body of the Presentation Convent responded almost as one to that very message by taking part in a deeply meaningful act that had it at its heart.
Hundreds of students of all ages at the Convent secondary set off from Listowel at 2.30am on Saturday morning to walk the Darkness Into Light event in Killarney National Park.
The event was in aid of a suicide and self-harm charity that is making an increasingly profound impact on mental health all over the country: Pieta House.
Donal Walsh sadly passed away on Sunday. But his message of hope is vibrant among the students of the Presentation Convent at present, encouraging them to think more positively about their place in the world.
Speaking in response to the growing spectre of suicide, the 16-year-old famously issued a challenge to young people everywhere to look more deeply at life and its myriad positives rather than ending it all.
It was a very similar challenge that Presentation Principal Sr Nuala O'Leary issued her students ahead of the Darkness Into Light walk. Sr Nuala also reaffirmed the message of hope in an address to the school on Monday prompted by Donal's tragic passing.
"We presented the girls with the challenge to celebrate life by taking part in the Darkness Into Light event in aid of Pieta House which is such an important organisation," Sr Nuala explained.
"It tied in with our recent graduation Mass and our annual challenge celebrating the life of the Presentation founder Nano Nagle where we ask 'who will light the lantern'? This year we gave them the opportunity to answer that question in a very specific way by taking part in the event."
While sixth year was initially involved, the whole school ultimately responded. "Students from first year to sixth year took part in a very heartening indication of how deeply they all engaged with the theme and the work of Pieta House."
Even those who could not participate in the night-time event raised money for the fundraiser. It would appear that the message of loving life, as outlined by Donal Walsh, Sr Nuala and all who took part in the Killarney event, is well and truly illuminated through the Presentation lantern in Listowel.