'Amazing' stranger opens floodgate of goodwill on Kerry Women's Centre

When Dee first noticed the young man, he appeared as if he were searching for something, walking along the sand of the Cashen looking intently here and there.

Little did she know that what he had lost would multiply manifold in aid of a cause dear to her heart and the hearts of thousands of women in the county.

"It looked like he was looking for something. I was just out for a walk and got talking to him and it turned out he was from Cork and travelling the coastline by hitching lifts and walking as he wanted to maintain the lowest carbon footprint he possibly could," Dee Keogh told The Kerryman this week.

"But as I got talking to him I just became aware of how extraordinary a person he was. He had just replaced a chick that had fallen out of its nest back into it and as we got talking the conversation turned to society.

"I was telling him about the work I do in the community, and we just got talking about kindness in general I suppose. It was getting late at this stage and I said 'where are you staying'? He said 'I'm staying behind these rocks, I have my tent'."

Dee wouldn't stand for it, inviting him back to her home for a meal and a bed for the night, already deeply impressed by the young man's kind-heartedness. That impression grew and grew as they spoke over dinner. "He took a potato out of his pocket at one stage and told me he found it in a bin and that he was eating from bins to an extent. 'Not because I have to, but because there is just so much waste.

"He also spoke very movingly about mental health issues and the challenges he had overcome himself."

Dee dropped him off at the Tarbert ferry the following morning, but as he went on his way he told her he had left something in the car for her work with the Kerry Women's Resource Centre.

The centre oversaw numerous programmes helping no fewer than 2,700 clients in vital personal development work until its recent closure under a swingeing cut in public spending - leaving its many clients broken hearted.

"There was a smiley face on it and when I opened it there was €50 in it. I just started to cry. I was just so moved by the gesture of this young man, who looked like he had nothing."

That was just the start of it as the story took an extraordinary turn. Dee heard about the recovery of a substantial sum of money at the Cashen in Ballybunion on Radio Kerry; immediately ringing the young man whose number she had sought. It turned out he had indeed lost the money on the beach.

"He just said 'Dee, I'm in Clare and not going back. I've left that go and I want you to have it for your centre." No remonstrating by Dee could change his mind.

Newcastle West man Jim Mackessy had recovered it and was put in touch with the young man - who does not wish to be identified - verifying beyond doubt it was his cash.

Dee meanwhile spoke with Deirdre Walsh on Radio Kerry about the whole story last week, later meeting Jim in Newcastle West, on Friday, to accept the donation on behalf of the centre.

The story struck a massive chord with the public, however.

"Following on from Dee's story on Radio Kerry, we have received an offer of an accountant, an offer of space for our interim board to meet, legal advice, a painting donated by artist Phil Sheehan for auction, and an auctioneer to auction the painting. We have 38 women running in the marathon, and sponsorships are flying in. Our Gofundme request has received a huge boost," Women's Centre administrator Lisa Basire told The Kerryman.

"This one act of kindness has lifted our campaign to re-establish the KWRC in a new space. It has all just been phenomenal," Dee said.