Some of Ireland's top musicians, including Bono, Glen Hansard, Damian Rice, Lisa O'Neill and Liam Ó Maonlaí, will gather together on Christmas Eve night to livestream a busking session from St Patrick's Cathedral in aid of Dublin's Simon Community.
The annual Simon Christmas Eve musical gathering, which usually takes place on Grafton Street but has been cancelled for the second year because of Covid restrictions, will be live-streamed from 9pm and feature musical and spoken word performances to raise much needed funds for the 24,000 people supported by the Dublin charity.
The Grafton Street busk was started a decade ago by Hansard to help Dublin homeless charities and has since grown into a Christmas institution. Last year, a Late Late Show special aired a week before Christmas featuring the musicians who usually take part in the street performance. It raised €1.5 million for people in homelessness.
This year's Christmas performance will be live-steamed from St Patrick's Cathedral across the Dublin Simon YouTube, Facebook and Instagram channels and is free to watch for all. However, viewers are encouraged to donate what they can to Simon Community.
The event is being organised by Collective Films director Mark Logan who will release a recording of the Christmas Eve performance in 2022 to raise further funds for Simon Community.
Mr Logan, who has spent 12 days pulling together the event after it became clear the in-person busk on Grafton street could not take place, said organising the gig had ben a “privilege and honour”.
“When we got the call from Dublin Simon, we knew we had to do something, and with only 12 days until Christmas Eve, we had to act fast,” he said. “The goodwill and determination of people in pulling this event together has been truly inspiring.
"Homelessness in Ireland resides deep within the inherent & structural classism in our society," he said. "It's time we dismantled that. Record numbers of our people find themselves on the streets and that is unacceptable to me.
“In making the film we got to create and build friendships with our country’s musical leaders, who I believe use their voice for humanity and see music as a vehicle to raise the voices of those who often go unheard.”
Head of fundraising for Dublin Simon Community Emma Kilkenny said many recipients of Simon's support had experienced serious mental and physical health issues during the pandemic and that the charity was also seeing a new cohort of older people seeking help. "In a lot of ways, this year has been an even more challenging year for fundraising than last."
The charity was faced with closing out 2021 with a €1.5 million shortfall but “Mark, Damian and Glen came through with a Christmas miracle”, she added.
Members of the public who tune in for the Christmas Eve live gig can donate at www.simonbusk.ie which will remain open for donations throughout the Christmas period. Donations can also be made via telephone at 01 671551.