2012 Volunteer Ireland Awards, Arts, Culture and Media

Michael Delaney/Bernard Mulvihill, The Helium Music Festival for Ataxia Ireland


Since 2009, The Helium Music festival has been organised in Ballymahon co. Longford on a 100% voluntary basis to raise funds and awareness for Ataxia Ireland. Ataxia is a rare condition that affects the central nervous system.

The Helium Festival was established by local residents Michael Delaney and Bernard Mulvihill along with hundreds of their friends. A school friend, Thomas Colohan, suffers from the condition and the festival was established to help Thomas and others across Ireland who suffer from Ataxia.

Over the years the event has played host to Ash, The Coronas, Damien Dempsey, Duke Special, Kila, Ham Sandwich, Jape, Delorentos, the Kanyu Tree and lots more.

As well as been a charitable event it has fostered a great sense of community spirit in Ballymahon with many different people from all walks of life and different community groups giving up their time to make the event possible.

The event has enjoyed a reputation of being organised to a highly professional standard and has recently won awards at the AOIFE awards.

Mary Colohan nominated Micheal and Bernard for a Volunteer Ireland Awards, she said "people can not believe when they hear that its organised on a 100% voluntary basis. Anyone who is involved in the production of music festivals will know the months and years of planning that go into a successful event which makes the achievement of Michael, Barney and the Helium committee all the more commendable.”

Photographs by Frank McGrath.