'Christmas Celebrations of Light' take place nationwide to remember those who died by suicide
The ceremonies were organised by suicide prevention charity Console
Nine 'Christmas Celebrations of Light' took place across the country this afternoon as families and friends of those who lost their life through suicide came together to remember their loved ones.
Console, the national suicide prevention and bereavement charity organised the ceremonies which took place in Maynooth, Cork, Wexford, Athlone, Galway, Limerick, Tralee, Clonmel and Swinford.
Identical services featuring music, poetry, song and reflection took place simultaneously, beginning at 4pm.
The ceremony in St Patrick's Maynooth was led by broadcasters Eileen Dunne and Christy Keneally, and featured Jack L, Paul Hennessy, Rebecca Storm and Liam Lawton among others.
Last year 459 people died by suicide, and Console say the real figure could be even higher.
Paul Kelly, founder and CEO of Console said that while the loss of a loved person is always devastating it can be even harder to deal with when it occurs through suicide.
He established the organisation after his sister Sharon took her own life at the age of 21.
“Christmas can be an especially hard time and our Christmas Celebrations of Light provide families and friends with a gentle and understanding environment to celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
“People throughout Ireland find that these special services give families and friends the opportunity to come together in solidarity to honour the lives of their loved ones – with the lighting of candles showing that their memory is very much alive.
“For this reason, the Celebration of Light has become the most important event in Console’s annual calendar,” Paul said.
Grainne Kennedy from Dunboyne lost her son Gary to suicide in 2011.
“This is our Christmas celebration with our loved one – a chance to spend dedicated time with like-minded people who have the same grief and understanding as ourselves,” she said.
Console offer counselling services and 24-hour helpline support to people in crisis and those bereaved by suicide.
Any individual, family, children or couple affected by suicide can arrange counselling sessions.
Console can be reached at any time on 1800 247 247 and many resources and useful information can be found at www.console.ie.