Over 200 volunteers from all Ireland have registered to attend the 99th edition of Christmas Day Dinner, the free meal for the poor and homeless of Dublin which also this year will be held in the RDS on Christmas Day .
On the 1st of October each year the Knights of St. Columbanus, the Catholic order that has organised the event since 1924, open their Christmas Day website – www.christmasdaydinner.com – for volunteer registration. Within 2 weeks the registration has seen an overwhelming response by students, workers, housewives, retired professionals and anyone from the society who felt attached to give something more on Christmas Day!
All together they will help in the RDS by providing a three-course meal of soup, Christmas dinner, Christmas pudding and mild refreshments for up to 550 poor and homeless of Dublin City.
With the assistance of St. Vincent de Paul, Simon, Alone, Age Action, Dublin City and other groups who provide transport, volunteers will provide over 4,000 takeaway meals and “goody bags” (whose provision is subject to the amount of product available and the Committee welcome any donations of product delivered to the RDS during the week before Christmas Day) containing food, toiletries, soft drinks and household products for the following days, which will be delivered to the needy in their own homes.
The need for the takeaway dinners is increasing every year reflecting the difficulties experienced by the community in these serious economic conditions, especially if we consider how the housing cost in Ireland is becoming more and more expensive with a number of families that cannot afford to buy or rent a house..
Recent data from the Department of Housing confirmed this trend, revealing that by the close of the third quarter in 2023, 13,179 individuals were accessing emergency accommodation.
This represents an increase of 88 families (4.8 percent) compared to the end of the second quarter and a notable rise of 291 families (18.2 percent) from the third quarter of 2022. Within this group, 3,904 are children and 6,426 are individuals residing in Dublin, a city designated as the 9th most expensive in Europe according to the ECA report.
The figures become more scatier if we consider that this data only includes those who are living in emergency accommodation and do not account for people sleeping on the streets.
Trevor Macmanara, the newly appointed Chairman of the Christmas Day Dinner Committee, remarked on the event’s resilience, spanning almost a century, and the crucial role played by donors, sponsors, and the brigade of dedicated volunteers.
“We invite those in need to celebrate Christmas Day at the RDS with us, the admission, meal and service is free,” said Trevor. “We also encourage businesses and individuals to donate by contacting us at www.christmasdaydinner.com or by sending any contribution to Ely House, 8 Ely Place, Dublin 2 in order to sustain the biggest and oldest charity meal on Christmas day in Ireland.
Entrance to the RDS is from Anglesea Road and the Christmas Day Dinner will start from 11am”
Volunteers will provide a free transport coach shuttle service to and from the RDS from “Pick Up” locations at Dawson Street opposite Mansion House; Four Courts Quay/Buildings; and O’Connell Street under Clery’s Clock. The free coach shuttle service will operate every 20 minutes from 9:30am. Coaches will return from the RDS up to 1:45pm
The comfortable surroundings of the RDS will contribute to an atmosphere of celebration for Christmas Day and the Knights of St. Columbanus are extremely grateful to the members of the Royal Dublin Society and the RDS Management team for their continued support.
Also, besides the service and meal a warm welcome will be provided by the musical bands and dancers who volunteered to bring positive energy to the special guests. This year there will be a warm and spiritual welcome for members of several Irish homeless associations who have confirmed that they will be attending the dinner.