Rory O’Connor, the Ashbourne man behind the ‘Rory’s Stories, video clip series, has spoken openly about his mental health battles and previous issues with gambling.
He admitted he has a “very addictive personality” and has worked hard to overcome that, having started gambling when he was around 16.
“I didn’t realise it was having a massive effect on my mental health,” he said.
“That’s why in 2013, I realised I needed to ask for help as I was going down a bad road, the help was there for me.
“I got advice and help and that’s where Rory’s Stories began. I wanted to start something I was passionate about, that was comedy and the rest is history.
“That’s why I do so much mental health awareness stuff.
“With my own stories, I want people to understand there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” O’Connor said.
He was speaking as part of the ‘Shine A Light Night’ campaign, organised by Focus Ireland and Bórd Gáis Energy.
Rory will be sleeping out in his garden with his family on October 15 as he tries to help raise €1.5m in funding for the homeless charity.
And he revealed his own brush with homelessness a few years back.
“Back in 2019, we were renting accommodation for seven years and the landlord had to sell the property so we had to move out,” he said.
“But there was nowhere affordable in my local area to rent so we had to move back in with my parents. But it was a thin line.
“If we didn’t have my parents there, we could have well found ourselves in emergency accommodation like a hotel,” the father-of-three said.
“I remember putting it on social media at that time, just for other people to make them aware.
“They just think stereotypes when they think of homelessness but it can happen to anyone in this day and age because of the lack of houses etc.
“So when I was approached, I said I’d love to get involved in the campaign because it’s such an important topic at the minute.
“During the lockdown, there weren’t as many homeless but now that we’re getting back to normal, people’s rents aren’t frozen anymore and people are finding themselves in emergency accommodation.”