Darkness into Light’s Estimated 500 Walkers Raise Over €8.5k in Castleisland

Locals out early for the Castleisland 5am start of the Darkness into Light Walk on Saturday morning included, from left: Tara Walmsley, Tina Brennan, Caroline Martin and Eilísh O’Leary. ©Photograph: John Reidy 11-5-2024

Tadhg McGillicuddy of The Forge Restaurant reminded people at every opportunity of last Saturday’s and Castleisland’s third and early, very early, Darkness into Light Walk at 5am.

Walkers were advised to gather outside ‘The Forge’ at the Back of the Forge and well within the Latin Quarter at no later than 4:45am.

Parking was quite scarce in the vicinity last year and the rain didn’t help in that regard but it was fine this time as the morning weather obliged so remarkably as the walkers set off back Tralee Road behind their Garda escort at 4:54am. An estimate of more than 500 walkers gathered and raised €8,500 on that morning.

Different This Year

However, things were different this year – so different and, to some, unspeakably different.

While light was the topic of the early morning because of the show delivered during the night by the Northern Lights in the sky over Castleisland, there was a certain irony in that a shining light was missing from the community and from the event itself on the occasion.

This time last year the late Gerard ‘Gerdie’ Murphy was there in all his glory as Grand Marshall – a role he reveled in – and he was so good at it. He had the love and respect of his ‘subjects’ wherever and whenever he applied that side of his diverse character in community affairs.

In Contrast to its Bustling Heyday

Last Saturday morning the sports shop, across the road from the walk starting point, stood in stark silence like an abandoned ship and in such sharp contrast to its bustling heyday.

So many people remembered that morning last year when Gerdie whipped the crowd into shape before they hit the road with a blast of his whistle.

This time, people glanced across the road and shook their heads, still barely believing the news that shook the town just a few short weeks ago.

His loss is irreplaceable and there was no or little attempt made to appoint a grand marshall for the 2024 event here.

Call from New York

Gerdie’s brother, Rory, rang from New York on Friday afternoon and asked that Gerdie’s memory be honoured in some way.

In the course of our sad conversation Rory asked that the people of the locality be thanked for the love and support they showed to the family during the trying days around and after his tragic death and funeral.

There was no greater honour possible for Gerdie and his memory than the fact that his friend, sporting and broadcasting hero Dara Ó Cinnéide joined the walkers here on Saturday morning.

Long Journey from the West

His long journey out of the west to Castleisland was made to represent their friendship which endured over many years and the long association Vincent and Gerdie and their sports shop had with Cumann Caide na Gaeltachta.

In a town which has had more than its share of this kind of lingering and unspeakable grief and sadness, the realisation of the need for events like this is a very real and stand out issue.

And especially for those who live through and really feel and understand the weight of every implication and syllable of the morning’s event title: Darkness into Light.

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