They were sitting in silence on a winter’s night in the Carrigtwohill club rooms, with the only sound that of a hurler belting a sliotar in the adjacent ball alley.
There was silence, because the topic was suicide among the young of the town and parish.
“We had a consensus that the club needed an initiative in this area,” says David Sullivan, Carraig Óg PRO. “Sadly, we have lost three former members of our juvenile club to suicide during the last three years. The key focus of this event is a topic that is close to the hearts of many people in Carrigtwohill.
“When we were deciding on what kind of event we would try and do, the sound of that hurler alone in the ball alley kept coming back to us. So, we decided to put the sound of somebody hitting a sliotar right at the heart of our initiative.”
The subject of suicide possesses serious local significance.
“I have been informed by Pieta House staff that East Cork has the highest rate of suicide in Ireland, and one of the highest in Europe,” said Sullivan. “Although I’m not 100% on that statistic, clearly suicide is a subject that affects pretty much every family in Cork. We need to do as much as possible in this area and, therefore, the club decided on our initiative.”
Through much hard work and organisation, their decision bears fruit on Sunday, when Carrigtwohill Juvenile GAA Club will hold an overnight ‘puckathon’. This event is a central part of the club’s mental health awareness initiative for 2017.
A number of celebrated sportspeople from various codes have given their support to the event via brief video clips. “Many of these videos are already uploaded on our Facebook page,” said Sullivan. “People have been so generous with their time, people such as our own Anna Geary and Luke O’Farrell in Cork, as well as Éamonn Fitzmaurice, Colm Cooper, John Mullane, Austin Gleeson, Joey Holden, and Henry Shefflin right across the country. David Corkery and Dermot Bannon also chipped in, which was great.”
The puckathon takes place in the ball alley at the club grounds at West End, Carrigtwohill. Participants will be playing members (from U12 up to Senior) and retired members of Carrigtwohill GAA Club. The event involves the continuous pucking of sliotars from dusk (9.45pm on June 4) until dawn (5.17am on June 5).
Other events have also been organised, as Sullivan outlined: “There will be street leagues for the younger age groups, along with music, prior to the event proper kicking off. We hope to have some well-known people from the GAA community in attendance on the evening.”
The weekend has a twofold ambition, said Sullivan: “The main purpose of the event is to increase mental health awareness, but we also wish to raise much-needed funds for Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre. All proceeds from our event will go directly to the Cork branch of Pieta House.”
He explained that Pieta House has an annual expenditure of approximately €10m and is reliant on approximately 87% (circa €8.7m) of this amount coming from charitable donations. Funds will be raised via the club’s Gofundme page, sponsorship cards and collection buckets during the upcoming weekend.
“The fundraising is secondary to the mental health awareness focus of the event, but it is nonetheless important,” said Sullivan. “A staff member of Pieta House said something in conversation that resonated with me: It was along the lines of the fact that there would be no Pieta House without the community. It is community run and funded for and by the same community it serves and strives to help.
“In that regard, Pieta House and the GAA are a great fit. The same core ethos is there, of being community-based, focused and run, with a net benefit accruing to the whole community.”
Carrigtwohill hopes this weekend’s event will be the first of many puckathons. ‘Camán Till Dawn’ has been copyrighted and trademarked. They are keen that clubs nationwide will run their own Camán Till Dawn.
Sullivan said: “For a nominal fee of €250 [split evenly between Carrigtwohill GAA Club and Pieta House], we will provide a comprehensive pack in electronic format. The pack will include details of running the event, promotional media [signage, flyer, poster, T-shirt, souvenir sliotar, and bag design]. It deals with all the aspects we uncovered through our own preparations.
“There isn’t a county or a GAA club in Ireland unaffected by the issue of suicide. We really have to try to find ways to tackle this ongoing issue. Camán Till Dawn is just one club in Cork making a start on it.”
Contact: David Sullivan, Carraig Óg PRO (086-8213185; firstname.lastname@example.org )
Pieta House, Cork: 021-4341400
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