Home > More Than That Festival – celebrating recovery from addiction.

Doyle, Anne ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2776-3476 (2024) More Than That Festival – celebrating recovery from addiction. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 87, Winter 2024, pp. 22-23.

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The inaugural More Than That Festival to mark recovery month was held in Naas, Co. Kildare, on 30 September 2023. It was organised by the South Western Regional Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (SWRDATF) area to celebrate recovery from addiction.1 A series of activities and events were held throughout the day, beginning with the Recovery Champions 5K Run, which featured famous Kildare faces such as former Gaelic footballer Anthony Rainbow, leading out a run/walk in support of addiction recovery.

The festival continued with music and conversation with musician and mental health advocate Bressie (Niall Breslin) at Naas Farmers Market followed by Lunchtime Songs and [Funny] Stories, culminating in the ‘Leave a Light On’ Fireside event hosted by former 2FM DJ Keith Walsh. A lively and often emotional evening of music and heartfelt stories of addiction and recovery experiences could not but move the audience.

Former Ireland international footballer Niall Quinn regaled the audience with tales from his time with Arsenal Football Club in the 1980s and 1990s, but it wasn’t all glitz and glamour! Niall recalled a team sheet his mother had kept dating back to one of his early days at Arsenal. He went on to list the (many) names of players who had developed addiction issues and how alcohol, drugs, and gambling had been such a core part of many of their lives.

L to R: Keith Walsh, Kiera Dignam, Mary Hulgraine, Aubrey McCarthy, and Niall Quinn

Aubrey McCarthy, chairperson of SWRDATF, presented the Christy Dignam Recovery Champion award to Mary Hulgraine, the Kildare GAA All-Star ladies footballer and mental health advocate in acknowledgement of her work educating others about addiction recovery. Mary’s own recovery story began with her winning a prestigious college basketball scholarship in the United States. However, prescribed OxyContin after surgery for a leg injury led to dependency on the drug and later alcohol too. Back in Ireland, her mental health problems and addiction continued, but having hit rock bottom, a chance meeting with a stranger while out walking her dog on the Curragh ignited some hope. Mary now shares her experience openly to highlight how recovery is possible.

The night ended with the audience on their feet, singing along to a rousing rendition of ‘Crazy World’ led by Kiera Dignam, daughter of the late Christy Dignam, and words from Steven Joyce, community harm prevention coordinator, declaring that ‘the light is on and we’re going to bring them home’.

1    For further information on the More Than That Festival, visit: http://swrdatf.ie/more-than-that-festival-30th-september-2023/

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 87, Winter 2024
March 2024
Page Range
pp. 22-23
Health Research Board
Issue 87, Winter 2024

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