Mental Health celebrated through the arts

Bantry choir

Posted on: 6th October, 2014

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

Above: Bantry Community Choir

“When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit; then I must remember there’ll be days like this.” 

VAN Morrison said there’d be ‘Days like this.’ And here it is, a celebration of the arts and wellbeing for everyone to share in West Cork’s contribution to World Mental Health Day and there’s so much going on it will be a ‘Week like this’.

Inspirational speakers, drama performances, music, visual art, creative writing and drama workshops are all part of the regions very own ‘Week like this’. West Cork Mental Health Forum has joined forces with the HSE and Clonakilty’s Wellness Committee to provide this festival of the arts and wellbeing — which is open to all the community from Monday, October 6 to Sunday, October 12.

World Mental Health Day is not an international gathering of the planet’s politicians, movers and shakers. It is a celebration and examination of what affects everyone in every community everywhere – and that includes West Cork.

There are broken people in our society and they need help, acceptance, understanding and love. The programme assembled is for everyone to share:

At the Quality Hotel in Clonakilty on Friday, October 10, starting at 11am, leading authors Louise O’ Neill and Fionnbar Walsh will talk powerfully about their work.

Louise’ debut novel ‘Only Ever Yours’ has been described by Marian Keyes as “utterly magnificent”.

Louise said writing the book was cathartic: “The process of going back to it day after day, working through it and letting it come, forced me to face my greatest fears of not being good enough, or not doing something perfectly.

“I am delighted to be part of this event, which celebrates inclusion and community. If I could change anything in our society, it would be inequality — in sex, gender, race, age — everything. If only we could let go of trying to focus on our differences and allow others to be who they want to be and appreciate them for who they are.”

Fionnbar Walsh is the proud father of Donal Walsh. He has only just written a book about his late son Donal and his extraordinary journey: Donal’s Mountain – How One Son Inspired a Nation. In it, Fionnbar reflects on how Donal came to terms with his illness and how he spent his last week’s making as much of a difference to other people’s lives as he could.

Shortly before he passed away in May 2013, Donal wrote: “I’ve climbed God’s mountains, faced many struggles for my life and dealt with so much loss. And as much as I’d love to go around to every fool on this planet and open their eyes to the mountains that surround them in life, I can’t. But maybe if I shout from mine they’ll pay attention.” Fionnbar will read from the book and talk about how he has dealt with the last year since Donal’s passing.

As well as guest speakers, the event will celebrate the connection between creative expression and wellbeing. Adding in song, poetry, live music, drama and a few special surprises, it promises to be an event not to be missed!

There will also be an exhibition of artwork produced from an arts project supported by the Cork Education and Training Board. HSE business manager Priscilla Lynch will officially open the event.

Light refreshments will be served, because sometimes we can all do with ‘Days like this.’

West Cork Mental Health Forum spokesman Martin Mulchrone said: “Participation in the arts, whether it’s singing, painting, writing or simply watching and listening, helps us – like Kipling’s bear Balou in the Disney cartoon of the Jungle Book, to ‘forget about our worries and our strife’ for a while. “But the arts are also a potentially important tool for the expression of the range of feelings that we experience and help us to create something beautiful and to nurture hope for the future.”

Other events scheduled for the week include an Official Launch of the week at the Cumasu Bus, which will be in Bantry Square on Monday, October 6 at 1pm where Dr Pat Bracken and Mr. Rory Doody will officiate. An ‘Open Door music session will be followed by a performance of ‘Eileen’ written and performed by Karen Minihan.

On Tuesday, October 7, schools throughout the region will be attending West Cork Youth Mental Health Day at the Maritime Hotel in Bantry.  Tuesday evening  promises to be a night to remember when  the intereactive “Sing –Along-A-Grease” will take place at a pop up cinema venue.  Keep an eye on the facebook page for further detail.

Wednesday, October 8 sees the Cumasu Bus in Dunmanway in association with the Dunmanway Family Resource Centre. The fun starts at 10am with Music at 11am, a Men’s Shed demonstration at 12.15pm and ‘Open Door Music Session’ at 1.30pm. Creative writing and Haikus with Tess Leak will follow at 3pm, closing after a performance of ‘Eileen’ by Karen Minihane at 4pm

The Maritme Hotel in Bantry is the venue for the ‘Live life and Sing’ event on October 8 in the Maritime Hotel at 8pm. This event will mark the official launch of the Bantry Community Choir and will also feature Baltimore Singers, St Mary’s Gospel Choir and West Cork Choral Singers. The event is also a celebration of community and life, inspired by the message and legacy of the late Donal Walsh.  Musician and broadcaster, Evelyn Grant will be the host for what promises to be a special evening of song.  Tickets are €10 and are available from The Maritime Hotel and Hickeys Music, Bantry.  Proceeds from the event will go to local charities, including SVP Bantry and The Live Life Foundation.

Perrot House in Skibbereen will host a ‘Laughing Yoga and Music Session’ on Thursday, October , from 11am to 12.30pm. There will be an Interactive Cinema Night at the Park Cinema with ‘Sing-Along-A-Grease’ starting at 7.30pm with a Cheese and Wine reception.

The Cumasu Bus will be in Skibbereen Car Park at the back of Field’s SuperValu on Saturday, October 11 in association with the Family Resource Centre. Events start at 10am with tea and coffee, followed by a Haiku workshop with Tess Leak and the launch of a Creative Writing Group with Tess and Francesco Biondina at 11am. From 12.30 to 1.30pm there will be a selection of short films presented by The Skibb Scenes Youth Project. An ‘Open Door’ Music Session with Liz Clarke and Skibb Smiles Youth Project will commence at 1.30pm.

On Sunday, October 12, it is hoped that if West Cork has any energy left, there will be a Walk in Loch Hyne. Details still to be confirmed. The complete schedule of events for the week will be available shortly at


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