Dublin played host to the opening ceremony for the European leg of the World Harmony Run, the world’s largest torch relay for international friendship. In conjunction with Dublin European Capital of Sport 2010 the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Emer Costello launched the event in a gala ceremony in Dublin’s City Hall yesterday. From Dublin, an international team of runners will then carry a flaming torch on a 24,000km journey for 7 months through 49 European countries, finishing in Moscow in September. At the same time, another Asian run will begin in Japan and travel westward through South Korea, China, Mongolia and all the former Soviet states to also finish in Moscow at the same time in September – a unique link between East and West spanning over 36,000kms! During the ceremony Irish running legend Catherina McKiernan received a Torch Bearer Award from the World Harmony Run for her services to the athletic comunity. The ceremony also featured readings from poet John F. Deane, founder of the Poetry Ireland Review and music from flautist Martin Doyle. The runners then embarked on a circuit of the city cheered on by the people of Dublin before setting off on their journey.
Since its founding by humanitarian Sri Chinmoy in 1987, the World Harmony Run has passed through over 120 countries. Every year, over one million people participate in the Run, passing along the torch from hand to hand and adding their hopes for a better world. The Run is a non-political, non-fundraising event that simply aims to demonstrate mankind’s shared wish for harmony. The Run has visited Ireland many times over the last 20 years, always receiving a tremendous céad mile fáilte from the Irish public – receptions were held in Arás an Uachtarain for the runners by Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, and also by Ministers of Sport and Education and Mayors of various cities and towns. In 2009, the World Harmony Run ran around the entire coast of Ireland in a 2 week, 1500 km journey. Endorsements have come from many world figures, including President Nelson Mandela, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Carl Lewis. As spokesman for the Run he said, “By carrying the Torch, millions of citizens are taking a step for Harmony and bridging the cultural and social boundaries that separate nation from nation.”
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Emer Costello holds the flaming Harmony Torch outside City Hall, where the European leg of the World Harmony Run 2010 was launched.