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WATCH: Limerick comes together to Shine a Light on the River for Mental Health Awareness

Shine a Light on the River for Mental Health Awareness. Picture: Shane Vaughan


Limerick comes together to Shine a Light on the River for Mental Health Awareness

Over 1,000 people came together in Limerick City on Monday the 8th of October to Shine a Light on the River.

The event, Shine a Light on the River which was a joint initiative by Limerick Mental Health Association and Jigsaw, a mental health support service for young people, to celebrate Mental Health Awareness week, saw 34 specially illuminated boats carrying over 60 people, and the Liam McCarthy cup travel between the three city bridges as spectators looked on shining lights to light up the river. The Garda Sub Aqua unit from Dublin joined the Fire Service, Civil Defence, the Limerick Men’s Shed, and boat clubs from Limerick to Foynes on the water while Limerick Suicide Watch and teams of student volunteers from Limerick’s three third level institutes stewarded the event on land.

The Director of Limerick Mental Health Week, Patrick Fitzgerald, described Shine a Light on the River as transformative.


“Limerick has a unique relationship with the river and the city bridges. Despite the beauty of them, when Limerick people think of the river and three city bridges a negative association with mental health can come to mind. The Limerick Mental Health Week team wanted to change that. We aimed to bring the community together to reclaim the river, reframing it in people’s minds,” he said.

“We were delighted with the turnout and support for this event in its first year. We are proud to say it was the biggest event in Limerick Mental Health Week history, but more importantly, we feel we achieved our goal. I have no doubt that for those who attended, thoughts of the city bridges will be positive and they will remember standing shoulder to shoulder as a community to shine a light on an issue that was in the dark for so long in this country,” he continued.


Tanya O’Sullivan, a youth and community engagement worker with Jigsaw Limerick and the primary coordinator of the event said the idea came from one of the young people they work with: “It made it all the more special that the idea came from Hannah Kelly, one of our Youth Advisory Panel (YAP). Hannah, who is a first-year social care student in LIT is a member of our brilliant YAP team. The YAP are a group of 16 to 25-year-olds who make sure the youth voice is represented in what we do and they help guide our service. In 2017 the colleges of Limerick came together on the UL campus for a candlelit procession. Limerick Mental Health Association wanted to bridge the event into the city this year, and we were already planning an illuminated boat parade so it made sense to combine the events together,” she said.

“Building relationships with the community is key for jigsaw to influence change in the mental health landscape. This was truly a collaborative event, involving over 20 different organisations. It began as an idea, but it became a reality when other Limerick organisations were enthusiastic to help.. We are delighted it went so well after all the hard work. We know boat parades have happened in places around Ireland but this was much more than that, it was something special, definitely the first of its kind in Limerick and maybe Ireland,” she concluded.


 Lucy O’Hara, Public Relations Officer for Limerick Suicide Watch spoke about the amazing turnout: “we had 60 plus people on the water and 75 stewards on land. While hundreds of spectators gathered on Sarsfield Bridge where there was drumming, music and singing, clusters of people watched on from the Shannon Bridge and Thomond Bridge and everywhere in-between. We were delighted to be involved.” Following the event, the Limerick Suicide Watch began their regular patrol of the bridges. 

For more information on Limerick Mental Health Week 2018, go here

For more stories on Limerick Mental Health Week 2018, go here

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.