Christmas Carol Sing Along

Why not come and join in on Saturday and help us spread a bit of festive fun.

“Lighting Up Minds and Hearts: A Story of Giving Back

As the festive season approaches, the twinkling Christmas lights in Bagenalstown offer more than just a visual delight; they serve as beacons of hope and support for mental health awareness. This year, a remarkable initiative has taken shape, intertwining the spirit of the holidays with a profound dedication to mental well-being.
John Gladney, a proactive member of the Bagenalstown community, has embraced the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way. Having experienced personal struggles and overcoming them with the assistance of mental health services, John felt impassioned to share his journey and help others in similar situations.
Reflecting on his own experience, John reached out to the Carlow Mental Health Association, initiating a collaborative effort to disseminate crucial information about mental health during the Christmas light display. A dedicated space has been set up to provide visitors with valuable insights, breaking down stigmas and offering support to those who may need it.
“It’s something very important in our house,” John shares. “I was lucky enough to avail of services when I felt lost and broken. Now, we’re offering this platform to ensure others don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about seeking help.”
The display is not just about the dazzling lights; it’s about illuminating the path towards understanding and support. Alongside the visual spectacle, a donation bucket has been set up to gather contributions for the Carlow Mental Health Association. John emphasizes that even the smallest donations can make a significant impact, potentially changing lives and providing crucial aid to those seeking support.
John Gladney’s journey is an inspiring testament to the transformative power of support systems and community engagement. His willingness to share his story and collaborate with an esteemed association demonstrates the resilience and compassion necessary to create positive change.
“Thank you, John Gladney, for sharing your story and creating awareness of the importance of looking after our mental health,” expresses the Carlow Mental Health Association. “We are delighted to work with you on this important initiative.”
As the Christmas lights shine brightly, they serve as a reminder that within our communities, there exists a network of compassion and support, ready to embrace and uplift those in need.
This heartwarming initiative exemplifies the true essence of the holiday season—spreading goodwill, fostering understanding, and lighting up not only the streets but also the conversation of Mental Health for individuals within the community.”
A link to the Go Fund Me page can be found here   


The Vault on Tour

Saturday October 7th , The Exchange in Carlow played host to a remarkable event as part of Mensana Fest 2023, organized by the Carlow Mental Health Association (CMHA). The vibrant atmosphere at The Vault on Tour session was a testament to the power of music and the incredible talents of the local teenagers. The theme of youth, which CMHA has been actively championing throughout the year, took center stage, showcasing the transformative impact of music on mental well-being.

The Vault is part of Carlow Regional Youth Services ( CRYS ) where they provide direct programmes and services for young people at risk and support young people by putting their agendas on the agendas of the decision makers. CRYS provide a wide range of services and opportunities through community based youth work programmes, drop in, specialised services for young people at risk, and leadership training. A big thank you must go out to Mick and Jimmy for organising all the equipment and the running order for the show.


The event kicked off with a captivating performance by Shannon Basso Gaule, a Carlow comedian who delivered a crucial message to the attending teenagers – it’s absolutely okay to embrace and be true to oneself. Shannon gave his time to reach out to the teenagers from the vault. The stage was then handed over to the real stars of the show – the talented teenagers who had been eagerly waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

The diversity of talent on display was nothing short of staggering. From the electrifying beats of rock to the soulful melodies of folk, and from the harmonious sounds of acapella to the enchanting notes of the violin, the performances showcased the rich artistic landscape within the local youth community.

What truly made the event memorable was the sheer joy radiating from the faces of the teenage performers. Throughout the week leading up to Mensana Fest, these young individuals had been anticipating their chance to shine. The moment finally arrived, and as they took the stage, the room lit up with enthusiasm and positivity.

With over a hundred people in attendance, the crowd became an integral part of the experience. The exchange of energy between the performers and the audience created a sense of unity and encouragement. Each artist was met with resounding applause, and the support extended to every act was a testament to the appreciation for the hard work and dedication invested in their performances.

The infectious energy emanating from The Exchange didn’t go unnoticed. Passersby’s who may not have initially planned to attend were drawn in by the lively sounds and vibrant atmosphere. Though unable to stay for the entire duration, they were treated to some unforgettable performances that undoubtedly left a positive imprint on their day.

Mensana Fest 2023’s The Vault on Tour session at The Exchange was more than just a musical event; it was a celebration of the talent, resilience, and creativity of the local youth. The transformative power of music was evident in the beaming smiles and confident strides of the teenage performers, leaving a lasting impact on the hearts and minds of everyone present. This event serves as a reminder of the incredible potential within our youth and the importance of providing platforms that empower them to share their voices and talents with the world.


Playwright Niall O’Muirí talks about “A Face in the Crowd”

A Face in the Crowd is a short performance depicting the lives of four individuals who have lived with mental illness.   The play takes us through their varied experiences as they navigate through services and make a life for themselves living with their enduring illness. The performance will take place on Tuesday, October 10th at 7pm in the George Bernard Shaw Theatre. Tickets are available from the Visual Box Office or online here.

Have a listen to what Conor Harris has to say about joining us for MensanaFest 2023

Conor Harris, 23, is from Kildare. He is a young footballer and was a popular participant in RTE’s Davy’s Toughest Team. Conor will speak about his battle with mental illness and addiction, how he conquered his addiction and how he now lives a life of recovery today, free from the use of drink and drugs. Conor will also share the tools he uses to stay well in his daily life. We are really looking forward to hearing his story. He’ll be popping into our Pop Up Shop on Potato Market (beside the rear entrance to the Barracks) on Saturday, October 7th at 1pm