Demand increases for free Christmas dinners at RDS
More than 3,500 meals given to poor and homeless at 92nd annual event
John and Gwyneth Heffernan from Blanchardstown at the Knights of Columbanus Christmas dinner in the RDS. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
A festive guest at the Knights of Columbanus Christmas dinner in the RDS. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Éoana Rata, and her daughter Karmina, at the Knights of Columbanus Christmas dinnner in the RDS, Dublin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Shazia Butt and her son Muhammad Gabrielle (2) at the Knights of Columbanus Christmas dinnner in the RDS. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Attendees dancing at the Knights of Columbanus Christmas dinner in the RDS. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
More than 3,500 free meals have been given to to the poor and homeless in Dublin as the Knights of St. Columbanus hosted the 92nd Christmas Day Dinner at the RDS in Dublin.
The ongoing homelessness crisis has seen demand for the dinners increase year on year.
The Christmas Day Dinner Committee and over 300 volunteers distributed more than 3,500 free meals, through sit down meals in the RDS and takeaway meals delivered to shelters and to those in need.
Chariman of the Christmas Day Dinner committe Adrian King said the demand on the service has increased from 1200 meals in 2011 to 3000 meals in 2015 and 3,500 this year.
More than 300 volunteers gave up their Christmas Day to help out, from transporting people to and from the RDS, to serving the meals and providing entertainment.
Mr King said each year they are inundated with requests from people looking to volunteer.
Normal services for the homeless or those in need do not operare on Christmas Day so guests are encouraged to attend the free dinner which is held each year in the RDS.
“On Christmas Day, people like Brother Kevin of the Capuchin Day centre takes the day off so we fill the gap on that day and unfortunately demand has increased,” said Mr King.
Guests were provided a three course meal of soup, Christmas dinner, Christmas pudding and mild refreshments. The catering team is led by chef Patsy McGurk.
There was also be music and entertainment to add some special Christmas cheer to the day, with singer Paul Harrington performing.
“When Charlie Haughey used to visit the dinner when it was held in the Mansion House, he used to sing his party piece. I’m not sure what he sang though!,” said Mr King.
On leaving, guests were provided with a goody bag.
“Apart from the takeaway meals, we also have a goody bag of provisions with nutritional and hygiene items. This year we will hand out the bags with the takeaway meals for anyone who wants them,” he said.
“When they leave the RDS they can also take a back pack which has a good quality fleece and hygiene items.”
Mr King said more families are attending the dinner so they will also be providing toys for children on the day.
“Unfortunately demand for the Christmas dinner has increased but the volunteers and everyone involved will make it a special day for all the guests,” he said.