GALLERY: The 'Unmask' project ready to leave its mark at the Rose of Tralee Festival 2 years ago
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GALLERY: The 'Unmask' project ready to leave its mark at the Rose of Tralee Festival

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If you're going to the Rose of Tralee Festival this week, keep an eye out for a very special exhibition around young people and their mental health.

Shane Kenny was the 2015 Escort of the Year and he will be back in Tralee this time around. Shane is taking the opportunity to create 'Unmask for Pieta' - a fundraising campaign for suicide prevention charity Pieta House.

Shane has asked 45 individuals, comprised of both Roses and Escorts, to create masks to reflect both the joys and the struggles of modern life.

Behind the masks are some very frank and very revealing life stories.

A Facebook page has been set up, with new masks revealed on a daily basis, with a fundraising page in place here for those who wish to donate to Pieta House.

These are some of the masks that will be on display at The Rose Hotel in Tralee between 17-23 August, with an official launch event taking place on Sunday at 11am. 

(The creators of these marks will remain anonymous.)

Mask 1: "The staples across my mouth were me feeling I had to keep quiet and not speak up/have an opinion. The bat also represents the shift when I started to 'see' in the darkness and receive my vision/reality once again."

Mark1

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Mask 2: "I have always been a worrier. My brother is autistic, and I suppose it's the future that scares me the most, when mam and dad are gone, how will I cope with the responsibility of being his guardian and how will my life pan out? But we can't worry that far ahead or it will consume us, which I let it do for many years but you just have to let life take its course and deal with it when the time comes."

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Mask 3: "Sleep is still a really important way for me to monitor my mental health and once I start having disrupted sleep or racing thoughts before sleep, it's a prompt for me to look after myself with a little more care."

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Mask 4: "One afternoon while in my parents house, I broke down to my mam, I told her something in my head wasn't right and although I couldn't understand it myself she had all the right words and the next day I went to see my GP.

"After a long talk I naively said to him "what do you think it is?" A little part of me actually thought I'd get an antibiotic and all would be fine! When I heard the word depression I broke...How could I have depression? How did I not notice?? How had I let it get this far?"

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Mask 5: "I found this task really difficult. Because I'm rubbish at expressing anything but the idea of my mask was that when I was sick. I felt so many people when they saw me... would think... oh look at her, the poor "sick" girl... As opposed to just seeing me and began to treat me differently...

"Strangely enough it's something I still get a little anxious about... So I wanted to create something that showed the difficult time but also the same person that I was all of the time and I kept the constant smile in the mask, because I feel I didn't lose that when I was sick either."

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To see the collection of masks in full, click here >

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