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DARKNESS INTO LIGHT
A Nation’s Response
Joan Freeman
Foreword by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Afterword by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Beehive Books, 2022
www.beehivebooks.ie
ISBN 9781800970304
pp. 166 • €16.99/stg£15.30

In an age, when each week may bring the tragic news of yet another death by suicide, it is encouraging to read Darkness into Light, in which Joan Freeman recounts how this extraordinary event began and reflects on what it means to the people of Ireland today. Micheál Martin, in a forward to the book, remarks that ‘it is truly remarkable that the inaugural walk, with 400 people in the Phoenix Park in 2009 has grown to over 200,000 people taking part in 16 countries across 5 continents’. This annual fundraiser, in support of the work of Pieta has grown into a worldwide event.

     The Darkness into Light event serves a dual purpose: it welcomes people to come together, to remember their loved ones in a positive way and it raises much needed funds for Pieta. Joan Freeman realised that the most important part of this entire venture was that of ‘acknowledgement’ - that suicide exists and that those who died by suicide left an impact on the lives of people around them (P. 69). The sense of desolation and despair felt by family members and the phenomenal success of Darkness into Light, is by no means accidental. Many volunteers helping to organise this annual event have personal reasons for doing so.

     Over the past decade, the light from this extraordinary movement, with its theme of hope, courage, resilience and love, have spread to towns and villages across Ireland. Darkness into Light events now take place in many countries throughout the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This interesting read, with its account of some harrowing stories and also where despair and grief are replaced by hope and courage.

     Dr Harry Barry, GP and best-selling author, succinctly stated: ‘This is the story of how love brought light out of darkness. It is for us all.’

Reviewer: Geraldine Coyle Tallanstown, Co Louth

 

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A BREATH OF FRESH ÉIRE
Olga Balaeva

Beehive Books, 2022
www.beehivebooks.ie
ISBN 9781800970151
pp. 128 • €14.99/stg£13.50

In her preface Olga Balaeva describes A Breath of Fresh Eire, her latest publication as ‘a personal declaration of love for the natural Irish beauty.’

     For those who grew up with the natural Irish beauty the appreciation is often less keen then for those who have discovered Ireland such as Olga, a Moscow born linguist, writer and Gaeilgeoir who has already published a user-friendly guide to the Irish language. Using her other great skill as a photographer Olga illustrates her rhapsody about islands, cities, mountains, sacred spaces and seasons with small but lavish photographs that feature the most attractive aspects and lighting of landmarks and ancient buildings. However, the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words may not quite fit in this instance because Olga’s gift for words is at least equal to her eye as a photographer and her lyrical descriptions linger in the mind and draws the reader back to reflect again on the carefully chosen words and phrases.

     Over 5 chapters and 125 pages we are invited to revisit many familiar and perhaps also taken for granted beauties on our doorstep. Flowers and oceans, the four seasons and four corners of the island all form part of this word and image tapestry prompting us to look again and love with new eyes the land that Olga Balava has fallen for. She well fulfils the description of being more Irish than the Irish and this small but perfectly formed publication is a rare gem.

Reviewer: Paul Clayton-Lea, Armagh Diocese