Thursday, 1 January 2015

Good news in Dun Laoghaire
at the beginning of a new year

On the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

It is a good idea to begin as you want to continue.

I want to continue enjoying my walks by the sea this year, and to try to do something different or something new each month.

The long winter holiday has continued throughout this week, and today, New Year’s Day [1 January 2015], seems to be a lazy continuation of that holiday, with many people sleeping off last night’s festivities, and waiting until next Monday [5 January 2015] to return to work.

Two of us rang out the Old Year and rang in the New Year last night with friends and neighbours and their families. By this afternoon I needed to get some fresh air and to have a brisk, refreshing walk by the sea.

Although there has been a high wind and successive showers of rain throughout the day, two of us took the 15 minute drive to Dun Laoghaire early this afternoon, parked by the Royal Saint George Yacht Club, and went for a brisk walk along the East Pier.

New Year’s Day on the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Later, we met up with two friends in Insomnia Café close to Dun Laoghaire Town Hall ... two double espressos, one regular coffee and one mug of tea.

I was fascinated to hear from my colleague, the Revd Ása Björk Ólafsdóttir, Vicar oif Dun Laoghaire, about her work and the work of her parish in “The Dining Room” in Dun Laoghaire.

Ása came to Dun Laoghaire from Kells, Co Meath, and with the unanimous support of her select vestry at Christ Church, Dun Laoghaire, she opened the church hall on Park Road to provide free hot meals at lunchtime. At the moment, they are only open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, but they hope to extend this to the full week in the near future.

She explained “The Dining Room” is not just for homeless people but is also open to people who are suffering the effects of food poverty or who are just lonely. The project also welcomes people addicted to drugs or alcohol as long as they are not “high” or drunk.

The initiative has attracted volunteers from all churches and none, and has the support of the local community gardai, the council and area social workers. The next stage is to find premises where the Dining Room can be open six days a week for several hours at a time.

This truly is putting the Gospel into action, and good news at Christmas-time. “I don’t discuss religion with people unless they start the conversation and even then I am really careful,” she said in a recent interview. “God comes to us where we are. This is about putting the Gospel into practice.”

As Saint Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said: “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words”

There is a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thediningroomdunlaoghaire and anyone is welcome to drop in.

Now there’s good news to start a good new year.

New Year’s Day in Dun Laoghaire this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

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