On 9 September 2018, 120 singers gathered in Heuston railway station Dublin, Ireland. They were there to publicise and mark World Suicide Prevention Day, which was the next day. Under the banner Working Together To Prevent Suicide, the singers were convened by music director and pianist Andrius Kozlovskis. On hand to add guitar were Prof Dermot Hehir and Martin O’Hara.
The singers came from several choirs: Athlone Choral Society, OCC Choir, Le Cheile Singers, Westmeath County Council Choir, St. Brigids Community Choir, Alkermes Allegro, Navan Male Voice Choir and Tullamore Hospital Staff Choir. The chosen song was appropriate: Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. While there is some discussion over whether the song was written about former band member Syd Barrett or missing aspects of lyric-writer Roger Waters’ personality, the song conveys a sense of great loss:
The performance was organised by Pieta House. Pieta started in Lucan, County Dublin, in 2006 as a facility to help people suffering from suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm. It now runs 20 facilities across Ireland and employs over 300 therapists and support staff. It’s services have expanded to include a 24 hour freephone helpline, bereavement counselling, and it directly supports many needy households devastated by a suicide in the family. All of the services are offered free of charge
There are many social media comments about how the video and the underlying cause moves people. Kirk Swanum writes, “This was so beautiful and magical it brought tears to my eyes”. Our next video is a pandemic-era (2020, and hence outdoor) Lights On The Bridge performance by the Gospel Choir Kilcullen on behalf of Pieta House, Kilcullen. The video includes a lantern march through town and concludes with the singing of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on a memorial candle bedecked bridge.
The most moving comment on the YouTube post of the Heuston Station Wish You Were Here video is from Mythics Music, three years ago: “The man playing guitar on the left side was my father, Martin O’Hara. Shortly after this event, he was diagnosed with cancer, and very recently, after a long hard battle, dad has passed away.
So this was one of dad’s final performances. It meant the world to him that people took the time out of their day to slow down and listen. It also meant the world to him when I told him how many of you people online have resonated with this moment. To slow down that day and stop to listen to those performers and singers was an effortless decision for any passers-by, but it meant a great deal more to him and I, it really was an honour. And dad died with that pride and peace that you gave him, so on his behalf, thank you so much for listening.” If you would like to see more from Pieta House, visit their official website for more information.