Hard times force oldest charity into new home

 

TODAY MARKS the newest chapter in the storied history of Dublin’s oldest surviving charity. The Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers Society is probably also the one with the oddest name.

Today the society – which was established in 1790 – is moving up in the world, sort of, as it changes location from 34 Lower to 74 Upper Leeson Street.

In reality, the change, which moves them farther from the city centre, is necessary for the organisation’s survival. Put simply, it can no longer afford the rent during a time when donations are scarcer and requests for help more frequent.

So yesterday, paintings came down, mementos were taken off the shelves and hundreds of years of Dublin city’s history was packed into boxes to be moved to a new home across the Grand Canal.

This is not the first time that headquarters have had to be relocated. Originally limited to working within the Ormond Quay area of Dublin, in 1855 the society moved to Palace Street where its building became a landmark.

It remained there for close to 150 years before realising in the mid-1990s that equipping the building to comply with new legislation on access for disabled people would cost a small fortune.

Thus it moved to Lower Leeson Street instead.

Despite a name that might imply a particular concern for the housekeeping profession of the late 18th century, the society is a non-specific charity.

Chairwoman Ann Farrell said: “We help out with whatever temporary financial difficulties that people have.

“We ideally try to keep people from being dependent on social welfare and look at it on a once-off basis.”

While the core values of the charity have remained the same, the methods have changed with the times.

“We don’t hand out potatoes at the door any more,” trustee Stephen Wynne said.

In order to work more efficiently, the society only accepts cases referred by a social worker.

Ms Farrell encouraged anyone willing to help to contact the organisation at its new offices at 74 Upper Leeson Street or via e-mail at roomkeepers.society@gmail. com