HUNDREDS of people took part in this year’s Mensana Festival, Carlow Mental Health Association’s series of events aimed at promoting positive mental health.
From walking tours and park runs, from sound baths to kettle singing and from events to overcoming adversity, the whole idea behind the various activities was for people to feel better about their lives and themselves.
Now in its tenth year, Mensana has grown over the past decade and incorporates various agencies and organisations, which host or organise events. All of the volunteers were easily spotted during the feel-good fest because they all wore bright yellow t-shirts to bring a cheery, breezy atmosphere to events.
Events took place all across the county, including in Forward Steps, Tullow; St Catherine’s Community Services Centre, Carlow; and in IT Carlow, where the students’ union organised a series of fun events.
The organisers like to introduce new elements every year, so, this time, they used the gorgeous community garden, An Gairdín Beo, as the headquarters for the festival. An Gairdín Beo is right beside the Mercy Convent on the Dublin Road, where various community groups and organisations have their own flowerbeds or vegetable patches. There’s also fruit trees and gardens for visitors to explore and it is known as a haven of peace and tranquillity.
Not only did the garden host a multitude of workshops and talks, there was also a pop-up café called Connect, which people were encouraged to pop in to meet friends or make new ones.
Kathleen Chada from Ballinkillen is the chairperson of the committee, while Sinéad Tynan is the PRO. She said that while there were many highlights to the festival, the success of the Connect café and people’s discovery of An Gairdín Beo were special.
“The highlight for me was knowing that people came to An Gairdín Beo for the first time and made connections. They know now that there’s a space right in the town where they can go and relax and just wander around.”