Charity offers free Communion wear to families in need

Cork Penny Dinners to host pop-up shop for boys and girls

Schoolchildren from Ovens National School, Cork, model dresses and accessories donated to Cork Penny Dinners for their First Holy Communion Appeal. Pictured are Lisa Murphy, Lucy Dornan, Emma O’Sullivan and Doireann Moynihan having their hair done by Joseph’s Hair Salon. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

A Cork charity best known for feeding the hungry is now coming to the aid of families struggling to meet the costs of Holy Communion through providing free dresses and suits.

Cork Penny Dinners has been providing hot meals for over 170 years to those down on their luck on Leeside. It currently serves about 1,000 meals a week.

The charity is now branching out to help families struggling to meet the costs of Holy Communion, as volunteer Caitriona Twomey explained to The Irish Times.

“There’s a family we know who have a daughter going for Holy Communion this year and we knew from talking to them that it was going to be very difficult for them financially.


“I was thinking about how we could help out when I got a call from Ann O’Brien, who does our food collection, and she told me she had been offered two Communion dresses.

“We weren’t sure the dresses would fit the girl in question so we put out an appeal on our Facebook page and we were inundated with offers of dresses and suits for boys.

“Some people bought us new dresses and suits and others donated their own, and Cremins Cleaners offered to dry clean any outfits that needed cleaning, free of charge.”

Pop-up shop

The result is that Cork Penny Dinners now has 200 dresses and suits, and is hosting a pop-up shop at the River Lee Hotel this Sunday, March 1st, for anyone who needs one.

“Families can come along and their child can try on the dress or suit, and if it fits them they can take it away with them for free and they can keep it - they don’t have to give it back,” Ms Twomey said.

While the service has a good stock of dresses and suits, she added, they are still appealing to the public for shoes, head dresses, prayer books and rosary beads.

“Communions can be very expensive and our plan was that if we can take the sting out of it in terms of the child making Communion, families might be able to manage the rest.”

The charity has also been offered the services of a hairdresser for the month of May where hair stylists will do children’s hair free to help reduce the costs of the sacrament.

Anyone who wants to help and either donate a Communion dress or suit or any other items can do so by contacting Caitriona Twomey of Cork Penny Dinners on 085-1201742.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times