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“Depression is the great deceiver…”

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PADDY HANNA, the Grand Pocket Orchestra man turned solo artist, has put out an affecting video for Camaraderie, the plaintive B-side to recent single Austria.

The film, directed by Luke Byrne, depicts a man isolated by depression and recalls the singer’s own experience of being holed up in his Howth home last summer feeling at odds with the outside world.

Paddy said: “The song was written during a month-long bout of depression, when the cloud lifted long enough for me to write….My cottage is next to a popular beach for families and a drinking spot at night time.

“The sound of revellers is very audible, and through isolation they began to distort, the happy sounds grew almost sarcastic, like a stab at my character. Obviously this wasn’t the case, but depression is the great deceiver, and quite often it had me fooled.”

It wasn’t an easy feeling to get across in a song.

“I am mostly unproductive when depressed,” he said. “It’s hard describing nothingness. The song is a look at the world through illogical glasses, born out of a desire to be creative in spite of a sense of internal nothingness.”

Paddy also went through a long period of isolation as a teenager until music helped him out of his shell. “I didn’t start going to gigs until I was 18 or so. Over time, I mustered the courage to record some songs of my own with the encouragement of friends. I had zero confidence but was tremendously fortunate to have known one or two people with shared interests to offer a leg up.”

These days, he credits a lot of turmeric in the diet and a new-found openness for keeping him on an emotional even keel. He said: “Not being afraid to let people know when you’re blue is number one.

“Of course, you don’t want to be an attention seeker but just acknowledging your condition is enough.”

Austria/Camaraderie (Trout Records) is available from iTunes.

By Fiona Smith

@fifilebon

First Fortnight table quiz returns to Dublin on June 4

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The First Fortnight table quiz is happening again! This epic table quiz is becoming an annual event and we have some amazing prizes up for grabs again this year! 

On June the 4th we’ll be taking over dTwo on Harcourt Street where comedian Eleanor Tiernan will be quizzing you on your knowledge of everything from pop culture, sports, music, film, theatre and anything else we might throw at you!
There will be some awesome prizes up for grabs as well as a raffle and finger food!

Tables of 4 are €40, and you can pre-book here on eventbrite.ie

Subject to availability tickets will be available on the door but pre-booking is advised. We don’t want to have to turn anyone away, so book early to avoid disappointment!

Doors: 7pm Quiz: 7.30pm

If you can’t make it down on the evening and would still like to help out, you can do so by donating here:

First Fortnight is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers.

Although we get amazing support from artists, venues and sponsors there are still a lot of costs to cover, any support is greatly appreciated.

We have been so lucky to have had so many great prizes donated so get your tickets now!

See you all there!

#ItsATableQuiz

Pharmacists, on yer bikes! – Dublin to Galway cycle launched in aid of First Fortnight

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Pharmacists across Ireland are set to do their part to challenge mental health stigma by taking part in a fundraising cycle in aid of First Fortnight.

The Frontline Cycle will see up to 50 pharmacists from all across Ireland get on their bikes and cycle more than 230km – from Dublin to Galway (via Athlone) – over July 17th and 18th.

Now in its third year, the Frontline Cycle is a fundraising event that encourages pharmacists to fundraise on behalf of a nominated charity each year. The Irish Pharmacy Union’s IPU Review journal is the official media partner for the Frontline Cycle.

Pharmacists play a key role in the mental wellbeing of the communities they work in. They are often at the frontline when a person is in a place of distress and vulnerability and work closely each day with patients experiencing mental ill health.

In 2011, the Frontline Cycle raised more than €9,000 for the Irish Cancer Society’s Action Prostate charity. More than €12,000 was raised for the same charity in 2013 as pharmacists again got on their bikes, this time to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer.

The Frontline Cycle is organised by Mullingar-based pharmacists and brothers, John and Robert Keane. Launching the event, Robert Keane said: “We’re really excited about this year’s cycle, which is already shaping up to be our largest event to date.

“As pharmacists, mental health is an area where we work closely with our patients every day and we are delighted to support First Fortnight and their aim to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in Ireland. We’ve had huge support from sponsors over the years and this year is looking like our event will be even bigger with many sponsors on board already”.

First Fortnight co-founder/director David Keegan added: “As a provider of Art Psychotherapy to those experiencing homelessness and mental ill health, First Fortnight has huge respect for the role played by frontline health professionals in our communities. Pharmacists are on that frontline when a person is in a place of distress and vulnerability and thus the name of this fundraising cycle is very apt.

 “Pharmacists play a vital role in the mental wellbeing of local people, providing help and advice. We were delighted when John and Rob told us they would like to show support for our cause in challenging mental health stigma through the arts and providing creative therapy to those in greatest need, the money raised will help fund a therapist to work with homeless clients for a six month period.”

The Frontline Cycle begins in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Fri 17th July at 9am and will end in Galway on Saturday 18th July.

Countdown is on: Training Tips for the 2015 VHI Women’s Mini-Marathon

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SO IF you’ve signed up to run the VHI Women’s Mini-Marathon in aid of First Fortnight, a huge thank you!

With the race fast approaching on June 1, hopefully your training is coming along nicely but if you’ve left it all ’til the last minute, don’t worry, there’s still time to get a bit of practice in.

Here we have some expert tips from award-winning personal trainer Paul Byrne of Body Byrne Fitness on how to get the best from your race preparations.

1. If you are new to running, the Couch To 5km training programme is a good starting point to guide you through three sessions a week as it is free and available online with a handy smartphone app.

2. Buy a pair of well-fitting runners and train in the same pair each session. Use these same shoes on race day – brand new trainers could spell disaster! The last thing you need is a blister. Comfortable clothes are a must obviously, a supportive sports bra is a good investment and with the Irish summer what it is, you are going to encounter all manner of weather so get a light-weight waterproof hooded jacket too (and grab a pair of shades if blazing sun is on the cards).

3. Make a weekly plan and stick to it. Try to get in two short runs and one longer run each week, and mix up your route every so often as it is good to get used to different surfaces, the race route could involve slightly different terrains.

4. Warm up properly before training sessions – a quick trot and a bout of static stretching gets blood flow to the joints and muscles – flex calves, hips, quads, hamstrings and back. Then do a combination of squats, lunges, press-ups and planks, 10-15 repetitions (there are many tutorials online if you’re not sure of correct body positioning or better still consult a professional trainer!).

5. Go at your own pace and feel free to rest wherever needed. No one knows your body better than you – if you feel uncomfortable or in pain, drop to a walk until you feel right again. Eat a balanced breakfast with plenty of carbs beforehand, keep hydrated and pocket a cereal bar or even a couple of sweets for a last-minute energy push en route.

6. Most importantly enjoy yourself – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to keep up serious pace on these runs. Make your main goal to enjoy the race and complete it – if you have to walk or jog a bit that’s no problem.

7. Do a warm-down. A few stretches after your run will stop your muscles seizing up later when you should be merrily celebrating your achievement.

And whether you catch the bug and decide to take up running on a regular basis pre- and post-marathon, it’s worth bearing in mind that as well as that vital fitness and fresh-air boost, many find running a brilliant stress-buster.

It’s a fine way to clear the mind and should also help you sleep. Plus there’s the inevitable sense of achievement and the joy of doing something for a good cause to motivate you. So get those runners on – and best of luck!

By Fiona Smith
@Fifilebon

Mark O’Halloran on Lippy, male isolation, mental health and Garage

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MARK O’Halloran is an Irish scriptwriter and actor best known for his award-winning screenplays for the films Adam & Paul and Garage. A native of Ennis, County Clare, we were delighted when Mark dropped by First Fortnight HQ to discuss the theme of mental health in his work. 

Listen below and download via iTunes

Presenter: JP Swaine
Produced and edited by Steve Cummins

First Fortnight podcast #3 – Mark O’Halloran

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