Pieta House walkers welcomed in Portlaoise

Cross country walkers raising money for suicide counselling charity Pieta House are to stop off for a night’s rest in Portlaoise next Monday, September 17, and the local community are being urged to come out and support them.

Cross country walkers raising money for suicide counselling charity Pieta House are to stop off for a night’s rest in Portlaoise next Monday, September 17, and the local community are being urged to come out and support them.

The Tomathon is a 240km walk led by Tom Moran, owner of Moran’s Red Cow Hotel. Accompanied by his family, friends and supporter, the group left Askea in Limerick last Tuesday and are expected to reach Portlaoise by about 5pm on Monday, where they will have a pipe band escort to a waiting reception in Laois Shopping Centre.

The walkers hope to raise €100,000 to support the work of Pieta House, a free counselling service for anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts. The charity relies on donations for 80 per cent of its funding, and are hoping to soon open a centre in Roscrea to serve the midlands.

Joe Laffan from Mountmellick is busy organising plenty of local support for a cause close to his own heart.

“Pieta House have saved a lot of lives so far, but more people are being killed through suicide every year. In my family we have experienced personal tragedy ourselves. The generosity of people is marvellous, especially for this cause,” he said.

Throughout the day on Monday, all kinds of musical entertainment will be laid on for shoppers at Laois Shopping Centre, with volunteers shaking their buckets.

That night at Peig’s Bar, more music is planned for the fifty or so walkers and all are invited out for a fun night in a good cause. After their well deserved rest, the group will continue their trek up to Dublin, to arrive next Friday, September 21.

Last year 16 Laois people committed suicide, say Pieta House, who have already seen a 40 per cent rise in the numbers of people using their centres this year.

“We’re hoping that fundraising events like this will help increase public awareness of the unique service we provide. We believe that mental health is a basic human right and we want to reinforce the message that communities need to embrace people who are in suicidal distress,” said Joan Freeman, CEO and Founder of Pieta House.

Local musicians or volunteers interested in taking part or in joining up with the Tomathon, can contact Joe Laffan at 085 7162978.

See www.pieta.ie or call Pieta House at 01 6282111.