There will be a special information night – titled Rural Isolation, Mental Health and Learning to Cope – on this evening (Thursday, November 9) in Co. Clare, run by the Clare branch of An Garda Siochana.

Held in the Scariff Teagasc offices, Fossa Beg, Scariff, Co. Clare, the meeting will kick off at 8:00pm.

A number of guest speakers are lined up to give talks at the event.

The line-up includes:
  • Seamus Sherlock, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s (ICSA’s) Rural Development chairman, will speak about his own journey through debt and depression, how he overcame it and now how he helps other farmers;
  • Peter Gohery from Embrace FARM, will speak about his own personal experience of losing a leg in a farm accident and how he managed to get through the experience;
  • John O’Reilly, a combination (combo) therapist, will speak about how a traumatic history can affect your anxiety and depression levels, and how these can be alleviated; and
  • Tom McNamara, Mayor of Clare, will also be on hand to talk about Clare’s Rural Development Strategy to 2026.

The event is open to all and everyone is welcome to attend, according to the event organisers. The information meeting is the brainchild of local Garda Edel Burke Curtain, and is in its third year of existence.

The event is to try and show people that there is help out there, Garda Burke said.

Commenting on the speakers for the night, Garda Burke noted that Sherlock gives good advice and will talk to people informally after the meeting – even talking in private if people wish, the Garda added. The Mayor of Clare, Tom McNamara, will discuss the aforementioned strategy – which Clare was the first county in Ireland to produce – to help develop the rural areas of the county over the coming years.

O’Reilly, the combo therapist, has participated for the three years of the meetings; he still gets referrals for family and friends of those who attended previous meetings, Garda Burke said.

Meanwhile Gohery from Embrace FARM will stress to people in attendance to take that five minutes a day to check the safety of their farm. He will discuss not only the physical effect of farm accidents, but also the financial impact and family impact of such incidents.

Tea will be supplied after the meeting by the Clare branch of the ICSA.

Discussing how she came up with the idea of the meeting, Garda Burke said that when she first thought of it, she was stationed in west Clare. She saw the need talking to farmers in the area, noting that she could be the only one some of them talked to on a given day.

Since then, the info night has really taken off. Other counties have been inquiring about the event and there is a real possibility that every county could be holding one next year, the Garda said.

On the more immediate area, people are very good from west and north Clare to attend the night. “It really hits home; both John and Seamus get people to listen as they are speaking from personal experience,” Garda Burke said.

The event organiser encouraged more women to attend the event, stressing that the issue of mental health and rural isolation was not just a man’s problem; rural women and housewives need to look out for the problem as well.

The event is also an ideal opportunity for the local Gardai to get to know the community in an informal setting, Garda Burke added.

Another rural event that Clare Gardai have in the works, Garda Burke noted, is the upcoming community tea party hosted by the Garda Band on November 30 in Scariff Community College.