This Sunday a Tuam man will arrive home to his native town after undertaking a gruelling challenge to raise funds for Pieta House. Setting out almost three months ago with no accommodation booked, Colm Farrell has walked the 26 counties of Ireland. Armed with just a rucksack, map and iPod on his departure on May 7, Farrell has relied on the generosity of the public to put him up for the night over the course of his 1,330km journey.
He has been delighted with the response he has received: “It has been mighty, thank God. Some bad days with a few difficulties, but I have met lots of great people. There has been an unbelievable reaction, nothing like I expected. The website has 73,000 views from people in 43 different countries. I have got a bed every night so far. When I arrive in a town I go on Facebook and let people know my whereabouts. Sometimes I have a response in minutes, and I had to wait eight hours on one occasion, but I always got a bed for the night.”
Pieta House are a suicide and self-harm crisis centre. They fill an extremely important gap in the battle against suicide by providing free of charge clinical services at a time of crisis. Their primary aim is to reduce suicide by helping people get through that critical phase when suicide becomes a plan rather than just an idea. From their research Pieta House have identified that the vast majority of suicides are incident based and not, as is the common perception, due to mental health or psychiatric disorder. Its annual figures for 2010 show that the number of people who are suicidal or self-harming who visited the centre are up 33 per cent on last year. Farrell believes that no one should be more than 100 miles from a Pieta House, and hopes to see one in the West in the near future:
“We have a big issue with suicide in this country, and I wanted to raise awareness of it. I have encountered people who have experienced suicide in their families and never talked about it, but they came and talked to me. There is help for people to deal with suicide, and hopefully we will have a Pieta House here in the West soon to service Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon.”
The fundraising response has certainly been noteworthy. More than 300 people have expressed an interest in walking the last five kilometres with Farrell for a donation of five euros. His site as mycharity.ie has raised more than €2,500 while Rigney’s pub in Tuam also cancelled their annual trip to the Races on Monday in favour of holding a fundraising drive. People have also joined him for parts of the walk, including visits from members of the Saw Doctors.
As well as finding out more about his venture, donations to Farrell’s campaign can be made at http://colmwalkstheline.com/