‘My happiest day for a long time’: Cork charity feeds 200 homeless

Penny Diners charity serves Christmas dinner to homeless people in Cork city

Timothy Hourihane, who is in his early fifties and a trained chef, said he was grateful to sit alongside his fellow diners for a meal provided by the River Lee Hotel in Cork city.

Timothy Hourihane, who is in his early fifties and a trained chef, said he was grateful to sit alongside his fellow diners for a meal provided by the River Lee Hotel in Cork city.

 

A homeless man in his fifties who had his Christmas dinner at the Penny Dinners charitable service in Cork this morning said it was his best Christmas in quite some time.

Timothy Hourihane, who is in his early fifties and a trained chef, said he was grateful to sit alongside his fellow diners for a meal provided by the River Lee Hotel in Cork city.

Timothy says his addiction is alcohol. He has battled through periods of sobriety only to see his life derailed by relapses.

“I stayed off alcohol for a year and a quarter and I was proud of that. At least I am trying. I was on the Simon floor last evening but we were out at seven this morning.

I went to mass this morning at the church down the road at half eight. I went to the Polish mass last night. There was a beautiful woman who prayed for me. It was fantastic.”

Timothy said Christmas is a reflective time where one thinks of loved ones who have passed away or people you have lost in life through your choices. However, this Christmas morning was a positive day for Timothy.

“This is relaxing and I feel safe. This is my happiest day for a long time. Because I went to the church. I came here. People are lovely.”

He has sought long term accommodation through the local authority but has had no luck.

“You go around in circles forever. Homelessness is out of control. I knew Kathleen O’Sullivan the woman who died (on the streets of Cork) earlier this month. She had a good heart for me.

“When you sleep on the streets you are lucky to wake up with your trainers still on. It has happened to me where I have woken up with one trainer missing. You have to laugh cos you think why didn’t they take the two?”

Timothy paid tribute to Caitriona Twomey, who runs Penny Dinners, saying she has the “most beautiful heart in Cork city.”

Meanwhile, Penny Dinners, which is based in Little Hanover Street in Cork, fed almost two hundred people this morning with arrivals starting before 9am.

The Christmas tree was laden down with presents and the seasonal music came courtesy of George Michael’s Last Christmas.

Caitriona Twomey was was still delivering Christmas hampers prior to her arrival at Penny dinners.

Ms Twomey says homelessness is at a chronic level in Ireland.

“We are looking after people who are homeless in hotels and B&B’s and we were out delivering hampers.We are lucky today because Michael Turtle of Exec Cars has given us a fleet of cars to pick people up and drop them home.

“I am involved with the homeless since I was young but solidly seven days a week for over 10 years. The numbers are going up and it is shameful. People are just trying to survive. There is an awful lot of brokenness out there.”

Ms Twomey said that the people of Ireland have “nothing to answer for”

because the general public are very generous.

“It’s our Government need to be looking at it. Our people are incredible. We need to be able to be proud of the Government.”

Penny Dinners operates a daily food service for the needy in Cork city. For information on how to donate go to corkpennydinners.ie.