Thursday 13 December 2018

Plenty of Christmas cheer to go around as hundreds enjoy festive dinner in RDS

Gavin Kearns and Gerry Moran at the Christmas Day Dinner at the RDS. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Gavin Kearns and Gerry Moran at the Christmas Day Dinner at the RDS. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Hundreds of homeless people and those on low incomes were given some much-needed festive cheer - as dinners, drinks and even a bit of a sing-song were served up yesterday.

More than 300 volunteers came out in force to help ensure that everyone had a day to enjoy, as part of the annual Christmas Day Dinner event held by the Knights of St Columbanus in Dublin's RDS.

It is estimated that 3,500 meals were distributed by the volunteers in Dublin 4 - some through sit-down meals and others delivered to sheltered accommodation and the homes of those in need.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the numbers attending were higher than usual - but he insisted those there were in good spirits.

"There are more here this year, and there are quite a number of people here living on their own and rough sleepers," he said.

"Some of them are veterans. I've met elderly people here who have nowhere else to go.

Noelle Larkin celebrating Christmas Day with Rachel Garland (28) (right) at the Christmas Day Dinner at the RDS. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Noelle Larkin celebrating Christmas Day with Rachel Garland (28) (right) at the Christmas Day Dinner at the RDS. Photo: Steve Humphreys

"They're not homeless, they've just nowhere to go for Christmas and there's quite a number of children here too," he added.

Gavin Kearns (28), originally from Swords, is homeless and said that he must call the homeless service each day to arrange somewhere to sleep for the night.

"Hostels, every day just ringing up on the freephone - it's been on and off for three years," he said.

"I love it [the RDS event], it's absolutely great. This is my first time.

"Everyone makes you feel welcome, great food, it's excellent. You couldn't ask for any more - really good hospitality," he said.

His pal, Gerry Moran, has been going to the dinner for the past five years.

"This is great. I'm coming here the last five years. They put a great spread on.

"I like to come up here and get to know the guys. It really makes Christmas for us.

"There's a lot of people, if they didn't have this, where would they be?" he added.

Volunteers Aisling Gregory (25) and Jessica Akomfrah (27), from Wicklow, and Blackrock, Co Dublin, respectively, are regulars in the RDS.

"This is our fourth year volunteering," Jessica explained.

"It's giving something back and being able to help people in Dublin who aren't as fortunate, I suppose, over Christmas dinner.

"I've done Christmas dinner before here and people really enjoy themselves, it's so atmospheric and it's just such a great time," she added.

Irish Independent

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