Knights treat poor to a festive feast
THEY'VE been doing it every Christmas Day since 1924, and yesterday was no different as the Knights of St Columbanus brought several hundred of Dublin city's poor and homeless together to share in the true spirit of the season with a traditional festive dinner at the RDS.
From early morning, the Knights bussed their special guests from special pick-up points dotted around the city centre to Ballsbridge for turkey and ham and all the trimmings, followed by pudding and cake served up by scores of dedicated volunteers who had come from far and wide, in spite of the arctic conditions.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Knights of St Columbanus Chair Pat Costello noted the impact of the country's ongoing economic turmoil on the dinner this year.
"There are the new poor and the new homeless. And secondly, both from the point of view of the guests and the volunteers, we have a range of nationalities: we have French, German, Latvian, Polish and our Irish homeless and volunteers as well," Mr Costello said.
Expressing his satisfaction with the event, he added that: "It's a day very well spent from the point of view of the volunteers and of the guests as well. For the Knights of St Columbanus who have been working on this project for the past two-and-a-half months, there is a certain sense of fulfilment that we have done a good job. Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves. They're tucking into their dinner, and the volunteers who I thought wouldn't make it because of the weather have turned up in their droves. It's really very, very encouraging."
Inside the RDS dining hall itself, the Knights' several hundred guests were full of good cheer as they ate and drank their fill, and sang and danced to the songs performed by legendary showband star Jim Farrelly, accompanied by Cecil Coyne and his band.
One man told the Sunday Independent that while this was his fifth Knights' Christmas dinner as a guest he looked forward to taking part as a volunteer in the future, having recently managed to secure housing with the assistance of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who had taken an interest in his case.
Volunteer Lyndsey Cavanagh said that this was her fourth year of helping.
Lyndsey, a teacher at the Senior College in Dun Laoghaire, said: "I'm having a great day. I was out dancing and everything."