Sometimes, it’s the kind word that makes all the difference – and ‘kindness rocks’ have been making all the difference in Gorey since they launched last summer!

So, what’s a kindness rock, I hear you ask … Essentially, it’s a rock hand-painted with an inspirational image or saying. Its function – to bring a smile to your face and a lightness to your day! Gorey Town Rocks is about kindness, giving, mental health, and paying it forward,” says Emma Brophy who co-founded the initiative with Nicole Kelly.

The idea was adapted from similar initiatives in other towns and took Gorey by storm over the summer – with loads of photos of people with their kindness rocks.

Then, the indomitable pair added a well to their repertoire, with the help of Gorey Tidy Towns and Gorey Men’s Shed. The well, made by volunteers from the Men’s Shed, is a place for people to place their kindness rocks and to pause for a moment. The group also did wonderful creating a feather garden at the Little Angels plot in the town, bringing much-needed love to the area.

Now, “we’re working with Meals on Wheels Gorey to create kindness boxes for the Christmas Day dinner recipients”, says Emma. “The box will have handmade gifts in them, from the children of Gorey Town Rocks. It can be a letter, a card, a story book, a painting, or craft of their choice. They can include a homemade Christmas card, and if they want to ask family members to contribute to their kindness box, they can.”

Emma Brophy Gorey Town Rocks

Gorey Town Rocks started in response to Emma’s own mental health difficulties and the isolation she felt as a stay-at-home mother. “I’m quite happy to talk about how low I felt after I left work to look after my baby, it was very isolating. I needed something positive to focus on so I started painting the rocks and asked people on Facebook to help. Now, we have 2,660 parents in the group and their children. Really, I just wanted to teach empathy and kindness and get the children out again, which they don’t do as much because of technology.”

The rocks are also a conversation starter among strangers – “they get people talking to each other, so that instead of being on your own, you can ask someone if they’re looking for a kindness rock.

“It’s also a way of paying forward kindness. The rocks will make you smile and that is a gift from someone to you, maybe on a day when you needed a lift.”

Emma has also brought her considerable creative talents to Gorey Tidy Towns, and is hoping to help them increase their volunteer numbers.

Now, this incredible initiative is also on Twitter and Instagram, and still spreading cheer wherever it goes! And Emma’s creativity goes from strength to strength too – she’s making Christmas tree decorations as gifts and going to set up an online store in the New Year! “It’s all about adding sparkle to people’s day, including my own!”

Interview and photos: Deirdre O’Flynn