Portlaoise rapper and radio DJ in youth mental health project

Local young people came together last weekend for unique workshops, which gave them a chance to speak their minds, as well as learning some exciting new skills.

Local young people came together last weekend for unique workshops, which gave them a chance to speak their minds, as well as learning some exciting new skills.

The weekend co-incided with the screening of a film documentary made about the life of Portlaoise rapper, Wally O’Loughlin who attempted suicide in 2009. This unique training weekend was funded by Laois Partnership and was called ‘Hear Me See Me.’

Ann-Marie Kelly, well known from her Breakfast show on Midlands 103, filmed the documentary and was the project manager for the weekend. She was delighted with the results from the weekend’s workshops, which was shown to the audience in the Dunamaise Arts Centre before the documentary was screened last Sunday.

“The group were great, they were more than I ever imagined they would be. They were really open and got heavily involved in the process,” said Ann-Marie. “They responded really well and by the end of the weekend they got great confidence and produced really high quality work.”

‘Hear Me See Me’ was born out of the realisation that Wally did not have the confidence or the tools to express himself, and the weekend aimed to address that. As a result, the training weekend brought 40 young people and youth workers together on common ground, to express themselves through the arts. 40 young people from transition year in Mountrath Community School were given the chance to take part in radio, music and film training.

They made two radio shows, a short film and recorded three songs, and all training was done by professionals in the industry. Special guest appearances were made by RTE’s Eileen Dunne and the Republic of Telly’s Bernard O’Shea who were both interviewed by the radio group. Paul Walsh from the band Royseven also facilitated a music workshop, along with Wally himself and Stewart Quinn from local band Transmitter.

Ann-Marie Kelly and Midlands 103’s Will Faulkner facilitated the radio workshops. From Birr the film company Hello Camera faciliated the film workshops. Ann Marie said that she would love to complete another weekend like this. “Laois Partnership were great to give the funding, and I would love to do it again. Transition year students are great, really open and they are at the vital age of being vunerable.” As well as a successful weekend’s workshops, Ann-Marie and Wally also enjoyed a full house and standing ovation in the Dunamaise for the screening of the documentary. Check out Stage Left for information on upcoming screenings.