Friday, 31 July 2009

The great August sale in Portrane

The beach at Portrane ... a little corner of heaven worth visiting during the August weekend (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Forget about the winter weather that’s blasting through Dublin at the moment.

Forget about the economic disaster that we’re facing in Irel;and at the moment.

Get into the summer mood, and go and help someone who’s in greater need than we are.

For nearly 20 years, my cousin Mary Lynders of Portrane has been working tirelessly for those less fortunate both at home and abroad.

Each year for the three days of the August Bank Holiday weekend she transforms her beautiful tropical garden on the North Dublin coast into a monster market to raise much needed funds for the charity Heart To Hand, which works with people in need in Albania and Romania.

Mary was moved to work with Hand to Heart after watching the television news on Saint Stephen’s Day 1990, when news broke about the collapse of the old regimes in Albania and Romania. She was horrified at the images on the news and felt she had to make a difference.

Since then she has been running her great sales in the Portrane each bank holiday weekend.

This year’s sale starts on Saturday 1 August and runs until Monday 3 August (inclusive) 2009.

Don’t worry about getting washed out. Don’t worry about the fact that we all have less money in our pockets. The fun is great, the cause is well-deserved, and I can guarantee you’ll get more than you give.

There will be tents, gazebos, marquees and open tables for the book stalls, the bric-a-brac, the antiques, the furniture, the designer clothes, the Halloween and Christmas gifts, the toys and novelties, the children’s gifts, the plants … and the wheel-of-fortune, where most of the children – and even some of the adults – put their hopes on winning the Giant Toblerone.

You name it and Mary had someone to run a stall with it to raise funds for “Hand to Heart,” the project that has become her life’s mission and that consumes every waking and thinking moment of her committed life. Mary’s enthusiasm is so infectious that she has persuaded, enlisted, cajoled and conscripted the most diverse but wonderful group of assistants for the mega sale, which takes place in full carnival atmosphere.

Those who come to support the mega sale each year can hardly imagine the year-round slog of hard work and preparation that goes in to making this weekend the success it is. Mary and her daughters, Antoinette, Mar, and Anna, spend sleepless nights and forego weekends just to get everything together, and to pack the containers that no-one sees during the sale.

“Heart to Hand” is a registered, non-denominational, charity working with the poorest of the poor in countries like Albania, Bosnia, Moldova and Romania, sending out medicine, clothing, shoes, food, non-perishable goods, furniture, and other humanitarian aid, as well as helping education, building and training projects, with support channelled through local communities, schools, orphanages and churches.

“Heart to Hand” has helped to build Saint Joseph’s House, a shelter for street children in Bucharest and that opened in 1999 to cater for 26 street children and that is run by an organisation known appropriately as the Street Children of Bucharest. “Heart to Hand” is also involved in supporting Caritas in northern Romania in training and education programmes. One example is provided by a massive attic that has been converted into school rooms, offices and toilets for the children of a local village, where a state-of-the-art school is now in place.

Will this year’s sale in Portrane equal if not pass last year’s figure of more than €32,000?

If you miss the sale, you can still send your donation to “Heart to Hand,” c/o Mrs Mary Lynders, the Quay, Portrane, Co Dublin. But I’d prefer to see you there. If you don’t go, don’t ask afterwards where did summer go.

You can read more about “Heart to Hand” at www.hearttohand.net, where there is more information about the charity and its story.

Anglicans need to emphasise reconciliation

The Church of Ireland Gazette, in today’s edition (31 July 2009) carries the following photograph and report on page 3:

Linda Chambers de Bruijn (centre) of USPG Ireland at the USPG conference with two new USPG area mission advisers from Ireland, Nola Nixon (left) and Declan Barry.

Anglicans need to emphasise reconciliation,
USPG annual conference told


Anglicans need to access their God-given capacity for “forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation” instead of insisting that some people are “not worthy of full respect, dignity or inclusion.” This was the message of Dr Jenny Plane-Te Paa, principal of Saint John the Evangelist Theological College, in Auckland, New Zealand, at the annual conference of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) – Anglicans in World Mission.

Dr Plane-Te Paa suggested there was a tendency among Anglicans – especially some of those in leadership – to debate issues on impersonal committees rather than engaging in “vulnerable and intimate” dialogue.

In her closing address at the USPG conference held at the High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, she said: “There is a postmodern tendency for shifting moral responsibility away from the self towards socially-constructed agencies or by floating responsibility inside a bureaucratic rule of nobody.” As a consequence, she said, the problems of the Anglican Communion “are managed by disengagement and commitment – avoidance rather than by unseverable vulnerable intimacy and the struggle to understand the other as divinely, albeit differently, created.”

She spoke with disappointment about meeting a very few bishops and archbishops who regarded some people as “not worthy of full respect, dignity or inclusion.”

By contrast, in travelling the world, she had found “there is very little which radically differentiates the ways in which the ordinary every day Anglican people gather in abiding faith and witness.” The way forward was to concentrate on “finding our proper selves in God who is love.”

She said: “It is only in our capacity and willingness to let go of outrage, despair and memories of hurt that we can act with grace. There, and only there, can we fully exercise our God-given capacity for forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation.”

The theme of the annual USPG conference was “Mission, reconciliation and hope.” Representatives from dioceses in Britain and Ireland met representatives from throughout the global Anglican Communion to consider how they could participate together in resolving conflicts, both on their doorsteps and in other countries.

In two seminar-workshops attended by international delegates, Ms Linda Chambers de Bruijn of USPG Ireland and Canon Patrick Comerford of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute spoke of the work of the Hard Gospel Project in the Church of Ireland and the barriers to reconciliation that still remain in Ireland, north and south.

Canon Comerford and the Revd Ken Gibson of the Leprosy Mission were recently elected by the Standing Committee to represent the Church of Ireland on the Council of USPG.

At the USPG council meeting during the conference, the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, the Right Revd Michael Burrows – who chairs the board of USPG Ireland – was co-opted to the council. Mrs Linda Ali, a lay canon of York Cathedral, was elected chair of USPG in succession to the Revd Dr Alan Moses.