On Saturday 15th September, the Recovery Academy of Ireland were proud to host the 7th annual Recovery Walk: TOGETHER WE HAVE A VOICE
Approximately 700 people joined the Irish Recovery Walk to give their voice to recovery, making history by bringing Recovery right into the heart of the city. For the first time ever in Ireland the Recovery Walk went down Dublin’s main street and brought traffic to a standstill. The walk began at the historic Garden of Remembrance and travelled down through the heart Dublin city, O’Connell Street, and on to Merrion Square.
The focus this year, like every other year, was to make recovery visible in the city and show society that addiction is not an endpoint and that recovery from all addictions can and does happen.
We were joined by people from all backgrounds; people in recovery, families, friends, workers in the field of addiction and a few that joined in along the way.
ALL CELEBRATING AND SUPPORTING PEOPLE IN RECOVERY FROM ADDICTION!
The recovery village in Merrion Square gave everyone an opportunity to meet new and old friends and to share in the celebration while having fun, listening to music, entertainers and inspirational speakers. The recovery wall was a big part of the day, everyone who joined us on the walk was asked to bring something that represented recovery to them and would help display their thoughts and feelings on recovery. Each individual piece was part of a big display and supporting the understanding in recovery that everyone is important and coming together it makes something beautiful.
Minister Catherine Byrne, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, opened the ceremony in Merrion Square. She welcomed everyone to the event in what she called the day ‘A celebration of new beginning for people caught up in addiction for whatever reason’. Minister Byrne went onto speak about her delight that so many people had attended with their children, she said
‘the [recovery] Wall reminded us that recovery is possible. That today was a special day and that we can all work together to make the journey of addiction and recovery an easier one for those affected. It takes courage for people to change and we need to support them to make this change possible.’
The Minister went on to thank the committee for making this day happen and said that ‘walking down O’Connell Street and along the Liffey was a reminder of how powerful people can be when they come together’. Minister Byrne closed off her speech by saying how privileged she was to have been asked to attend and speak at the event. She also reminded us of the words on the Recovery Wall and said ‘the words on the wall had a powerful message of compassion and that no one should feel in isolation because of their or a loved one’s addiction. Each person needs to be encouraged to embrace the celebration of creating a new life’.
One courageous person who was willing to share her story was Ciara Ronan. Ciara very generously shared experience with the crowds in Merrion Square, she spoke about being happy to be part of the walk and what a privilege it was to speak about the gift of recovery. Ciara went onto talk about the many people in recovery who are not seen, and it is time for people to ‘Recover out loud and not hide in the Shadows’. She shared in keeping with the voice of the Irish Recovery walk that
‘Recovery is possible, and it is happening all over Ireland and said that ‘the reality is that people are not only recovering they are in fact thriving in recovery and it’s time for the rest of the world to know that this happening so that people can step out of the hopelessness that’s often felt in addiction’.
Ciara’s story was filled with honesty, hope and courage as she spoke about how addiction had deeply impaired her reality and impacted all her relationships, while recovery has given her the opportunity to connect with others and the world around her.
Tony O’Reilly also shared his story of inspiration and hope, Tony said that he came with a prepared speech but on the walk he realised that he did not need to be prepared and he wanted to share the sense of belonging he got as he walked down O’Connell street with other people and being proud of his journey and what he has achieved.
Along with our speakers we had some great musical entertainment on the stage, each of them freely shared their talents with music for all ages. Along with this we had the children entertained by a puppet show and giant games.
Our Ambassador Kenny Egan also spoke at the event
‘Having built up 8 years in sobriety I have come to terms with myself, recovery has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams. I have my own family now and endless responsibilities, this only came to me after I began to recover and live an authentic life on a daily basis’. Kenny spoke about being proud of his role with the walk and looking forward to being with us next year.
Barry Costello, Irish Recovery Walk Chairperson said about the event
‘As we know and so often hear, addiction does not discriminate or have any social barriers and affects many families and every community in Ireland. The Irish recovery walk brings these people together to celebrate recovery from addiction. This day was so special in every way. We made a big piece of history this year, as this was the first time people in Recovery took their rightful place in society and brought the walk down our capitals main street. Every hour of planning the committee put in was worth it to be a part of and see the colour purple take over the city’s streets. We collectively sent out the message that change is possible and recovery can happen. Our voices matter, we can begin the conversation, we hope that days like this go towards changing how society views addiction and recovery, we send out a message of hope to individuals, families and communities that recovery is real. Each person should be very proud of themselves’
Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE Clinical Lead for Addiction Services, also gave his support for the Irish Recovery Walk
‘The HSE is pleased to support the 7th Irish Recovery Walk organised by the Recovery Academy of Ireland. Tackling substance misuse and enabling recovery from addiction is an important priority for the HSE. Treatment services are for many the first step on the road to recovery from drug or alcohol dependence. The importance of providing an evidence-based, best practice addiction recovery model in Ireland is highlighted by the development of a new MSc in Addiction Recovery in Trinity College Dublin started this year’.
This year the walk also got some significant mentions, along with the buzz around social media, we were mentioned on RTE radio 1’s Sean O’Rourke show the most listened to morning radio in Ireland, the Ray Darcy show on RTE 1 on Saturday nights and we got two big articles in the Irish Examiner and LovinDublin.ie
We would like to thank all the people who provided support and services on the day, our volunteers, our members and all those who turned out to celebrate recovery during recovery month
The Board of the Recovery Academy of Ireland would especially like to thank the following:
The Organising Committee of the 7th Irish Recovery Walk, you all did an outstanding job and should be very proud of what you managed to achieve this year
Minister Catherine Byrne
Dublin City Council
An Garda Síochána
Health Service Executive
Dublin North Inner City Drug and Alcohol Task Force
Kenny Egan, Irish Recovery Walk Ambassador
Dublin Bus, in particular Robbie
Choir and teachers of Our Ladies of Consolation, Donnycarney, Primary School
Carambola for supplying water and kids packs
Fiona McGarry (M.C.)
10 Central Music
Ryan J (Musicians)
Austin Prior (Musicians)
Durkin Building Services
Order of Malta
Puppet Show – Julie Rose McCormack
Signature Fire Protection LTD
Tolka River Project is a community development programme working with people from all over Dublin who are stable on prescribed meds and people who are drug-free. We also provide aftercare for clients of the programme, also there is a recovery for people from the area who struggle with social issues in their community. For me, the recovery walk is the opportunity for me to socialise with people in recovery and celebrate who we are. There are so many positives for people in recovery in Ireland as I feel that now we have a movement. Also I felt a certain amount of freedom on the walk. There is the talk of what our banners are going to be like for next year but for our project they loved it and their families felt very involved. The feedback for them was they achieved something. James, Tolka River Project.
The feeling of pride and togetherness was felt to the bone. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the obvious, to see fantastic organisation and facilities that were provided. The Garden of Remembrance as a start point was very apt even though it’s to honour those who lost their lives fighting for Irish freedom the day was to honour those fighting for freedom from addiction. The family day in Merrion Square after the walk was beautifully put together with the cause never lost to the entertainment, but also giving families a safe place to enjoy their achievement together. I for one will continue to attend all Recover Walks in the future as the sense of pride I feel with my association to addiction recovery will only grow. Yours sincerely, Philip – A proud member of the recovery movement.
I would just like to sincerely thank all the organizers of the recovery walk, it was a fantastic day. The atmosphere was so wonderful, the sense of togetherness and hope was present throughout the day. The speeches in Merrion Square were inspirational and the entertainment was excellent. I will definitely be at the next one, helping to get rid of the stigma attached to addiction and I will be proud to be in recovery, walking through the centre of the city for all to see. Together we can change society’s views and give people a voice. Thank you for all your hard work– Jenni, a family member with 13 years of her own recovery.