Members of the community in Crossmaglen will come together in a dawn walk next month to raise awareness and funds for two mental health and wellness charities.
This will be the fifth year of the Darkness into Light event in the town, with at least 1,000 participants expected.
All money raised will be shared among two Newry charities, PIPS Hope and Support and Samaritans, along with Pieta in the Republic of Ireland, which supports people affected by suicide and self-harm.
The walk, supported by Electric Ireland, will take place at 4.15am on the morning of Saturday, May 6.
There are more than 200 official walks for Darkness Into Light in 2023 across 15 countries spanning five continents.
Here in Co Armagh, other walks run by PIPS will be taking place in Armagh city, Lurgan and Bessbrook.
In Crossmaglen, the Darkness into Light committee is made up of members from a number of organisations, including Crossmaglen Community First Responders, Crossmaglen Community Association, Crossmaglen Credit Union, Fire Service Northern Ireland and Crossmaglen Rangers GAC.
Committee member Ciara Murphy said the walk first began after people identified a need in the community, not only to promote health and wellbeing services but also to raise money for them.
“We also wanted to bring the walk close to home and for people to see friends, family and neighbours taking part and maybe if they were in despair to be able to talk to someone. Often, it’s easier to talk to someone who isn’t a family member,” she said.
“We want to give people an opportunity to donate money but the most important thing is that everybody is welcome to talk together for the most important sunrise.”
The walk will start from Cardinal O’Fiaich Square, with walkers asked to be there for 4am.
They will follow a 5km ‘loop’, passing Crossmaglen Rangers Walking Path, Culloville Road, the Lissaraw Road, Dundalk Road and back to the starting point for tea and coffee.
Parking is available at St Joseph’s High School, St Patrick’s Church and Casey’s Eurospar. No parking is permitted around Cardinal O’Fiaich Square.
“Anyone who takes part should reach the Lissaraw Road as the sun comes up and they’ll have a great view over Dundalk,” Ciara explained.
“We also have candles along most of the route and a silent kilometre, with musicians to mark the end of the reflective stretch, so it will be lovely.”
Anyone wishing to register can do so at darknessintolight.ie
Last year, the four walks in Co Armagh raised £29,500 for PIPS while £39,100 has been raised by the Crossmaglen walk alone for Pieta and local charities.