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  • Northside East

Mental health arts festival set to mark its 10th anniversary

Wednesday, 2nd January, 2019 1:00pm
Mental health arts festival set  to mark its 10th anniversary

David Keegan, co-founder and chief executive of First Fortnight.

Mental health arts festival set  to mark its 10th anniversary

David Keegan, co-founder and chief executive of First Fortnight.

Callum Lavery

A MENTAL health arts festival returns this month for its 10th year with events taking place across Dublin and nationwide. 

Founded in 2009, First Fortnight is an arts-based mental health charity that organises a festival in the first two weeks of the new year. The charity aims to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. 

The festival will see over 150 events taking place in January such as family and child friendly events, music, sports, comedy, theatre, film, panel discussions, workshops and more.

Co-founder and chief executive of First Fortnight, David Keegan, said he began the festival in 2009 to raise awareness of mental health in Ireland.

“In 2009, it seemed mental health didn’t feature too highly on anyone’s list of priorities despite the suicide epidemic Ireland was experiencing at the time, particularly among my demographic,” said Mr Keegan.

“My best mate, and First Fortnight co-founder, JP and I had personal experience of the devastating impact of mental health stigma. 

“It was at that age I began to self-harm and JP lost a brother to suicide. When we sat down, our intention was to design a model to start a national mental health conversation.

“We’d a shared interest in art and culture. It reflects us societally. It was my background. JP worked in the mental health services at the time. 

“Artists have always championed issues of great social importance. Great art can affect great change. Ultimately the festival is a medium through which we start meaningful conversations, challenge stigma and raise mental health awareness at a challenging time of year for a lot of people.”

First Fortnight and the European Mental Health Art & Culture Festival 2019 will feature in the region of 184 events across 24 counties with representation from 12 European countries.

Highlights include shows by Irish actor Emmet Kirwan, Irish screenwriter and playwright Stefanie Preissner, musicians The Academic and Saint Sister and former athlete David Gillick which aim to challenge mental health stigma in Dublin and throughout Ireland. 

Events will be held across Dublin in venues including The Sugar Club, A4 Sounds on St Joseph’s Parade, Smock Alley, The Ark on Eustace Street and The Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin. 

The festival partners include St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Mental Health Ireland, See Change and SpunOut. 

Chief executive of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Paul Gilligan, said St Patrick’s is proud to partner with the festival for another year. 

“St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is proud to once again partner with First Fortnight Festival as part of our ongoing and shared commitment to highlight and advocate for healthier attitudes towards mental health,” said Mr Gilligan.

“While Ireland as a society has made huge strides in raising mental health awareness, unfortunately a deep rooted stigma still prevails and we must continue to work hard to overcome this.”

First Fortnight 2019 is grant aided by the HSE’s National Office of Suicide Prevention (NOSP), Creative Ireland, the Arts Council, Dublin City Council, the Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Tickets and a full line up of events are available at ;

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here