OVER 60 Limerick expats saw the dawn break over Bondi Beach when they participated in Pieta House’s Darkness into Light event in Sydney.
Australian Paralympian John Maclean cut the ribbon to start Darkness Into Light on Bondi Beach last weekend. In 1995, John made history by becoming the first wheelchair athlete to finish the course at world’s toughest multi-discipline sporting event – the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.
Maclean, having spent the last 25 years in a wheelchair, has begun to walk again and last Saturday morning he walked in support of Darkness Into Light Sydney. Over 1,000 participants joined him on the Sydney leg of the newly globalised event in support of Pieta House.
The 5km walk which started and finished on Bondi Beach was organised by Limerick expats Des Ryan, Deirdre McElliott and Fiona O’Shea.
According to Des, who is originally from Raheen, an estimated €40,000 was raised from the Sydney event.
“We managed to run the Sydney event without having to spend a cent, thanks to the support of many Irish businesses here. As a result, everything raised will go directly to Pieta House,” he told the Limerick Post.
“We were targeting the Irish community in Sydney, but we’re delighted that a large number of people turned out who had no Irish connections. At least 60 people from Limerick would have been in the crowd,” he explained.
Pieta House’s flagship fundraiser in association with Electric Ireland went global this year with events taking place in London and Sydney. Darkness Into Light Sydney started under cover of darkness at 5.15am and concluded symbolically as the sun rose.
“Like everyone, the Irish in Australia have been affected by the same epidemic of suicide that the rest of Ireland has. Another aspect that not everyone in Ireland might see is the challenge of mental health in the Irish emigrants here.
“Leaving your family and friends to establish yourself in a foreign country is difficult. There is a glitzy view that life is great in Australia. For many it is, for many it is also very difficult. You have to give up so much to establish a life in Australia and sometimes it takes many years to settle.
“In the meantime many fall victim to depression which is known to be more prevalent in immigrants,” Mr Ryan concluded.