By Frank Greally
A few lines from Ewan MacColl’s song The Joy of Living come to mind as we arrive at the 10th anniversary of the Remembrance Run 5K- Walk or Run event. The lines are: Years pass by with the speed of birds in flight/Our lives like the verse of a song heard in the mountains/.
It feels like ten years have simply vanished since I came up with the idea for the Remembrance Run 5K as a great way to celebrate the memory of my dear friend the writer Con Houlihan. Con and I often talked about remembrance and how we all have a primal need to be remembered even in some small way.
I will always be grateful that Athletics Ireland liked my idea of creating a unique Walk or Run event with choirs, music and a special Wall of Remembrance where participants could write names of deceased loved ones, family and friends. Over the years, many participants have told me that they have found special comfort in writing names of loved ones and accompanying messages on the Wall of Remembrance after they have completed the 5K. Athletics Ireland took a leap of faith in my idea for the event and have organised the annual Remembrance Run 5K since 2012. Because of the pandemic restrictions, it was not possible to organise the live event in the Phoenix Park last year, but the virtual event, which is again an option this year, proved hugely popular.
Two years ago I combined with Noel O’Grady to write a song for Remembrance Run called I’m Still Close By. It’s the imagined words of someone who has passed and has a message for those of us who are still able to walk or run and embrace The Joy of Living. ‘The falling leaves are golden now/ And golden too my precious time with you/ I’ve gone to sleep but I’m still close by/For as long as I’m remembered, I will never die/. The hook for that song came from words spoken by Fr Brian D’Arcy at the funeral of legendary sports broadcaster Jimmy Magee. Fr D’Arcy said: ‘As long as Jimmy Magee is remembered, he will never die’ – and the same is true for all of us.
It’s wonderful and uplifting to know that this year’s Remembrance Run 5K will be returning to the Phoenix Park as a live event and I want to thank SPAR for coming on board to support the event. I also want to thank the OPW for their support and encouragement. The 10th Anniversary Remembrance Run 5K on Sunday, November 14th, will give us all an opportunity to pause, remember and celebrate the memory of loved ones – family and friends passed. We will also remember all of those who have died as a result of Covid-19.
It’s important that we pause and remember loved ones passed; especially at this time of year. I feel we need to talk more about remembrance, grief and loss. There’s great healing, too, in remembering and celebrating the lives of those gone before us.
Declan Coyle, author of The Green Platform has a powerful message in his essay called Grieving – From The Green Platform. Declan writes: “We transform suffering with purpose, with meaning and with good works and by making a difference in the lives of others…by using our lives in the service of humanity. This is not about denial. It’s about transcendence.”
Ewan MacColl said it well, too, in a message to his children in his song The Joy of Living: Each of you bears inside of you the gift of love/ May it bring you light and warmth and pleasure of giving/ Eagerly savour each new day and the taste of its mouth/ Never lose sight of the thrill and the joy of living/. Isn’t that a message we would all like to leave to those dear to us when it comes our time to depart this world?
The 10th anniversary of the Remembrance Run 5K – the live or the virtual event – will give is an opportunity to celebrate the memory of loved ones as well as our own Gift of Days.