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A Dublin woman set up a Christmas Day lunch for 300 people so no-one would be alone on the big day

Margaret Brown and her volunteers will cater to around 300 people this Christmas

Image: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

AN ANNUAL CHRISTMAS lunch for people living alone will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.

Founded in 1986 by Margaret Brown, the Christmas Day lunch in Dublin brings people together who would otherwise be by themselves come Christmas.“It’s just for people who are on their own and have nowhere to go,” said Brown.

“Christmas can be lonely and isolating, especially if they have lost a loved one the year before. It is impossible for me to explain how hard Christmas is for people on their own.”

Overall the lunch is expected to cater to around 300 people. Some 200 people will attend the lunch in Blackrock Rugby Club, while Brown and her volunteers will also be delivering traditional dinners to a further 100 people at the Bentley House Homeless Hostel, to Traveller families in Ballyogan and to three families living in caravans at the west pier in Dun Laoghaire.

Beginnings

Brown said that she was inspired to start the lunch after she was asked to deliver a few items to a scout hall one Christmas. According to Brown, the image of the people she saw there eating lumpy soup and cold meat huddled around a heater stuck in her memory. Brown became determined to do something about it.

I realised the great need for a happy, festive meal for those who live alone and are socially isolated on the very day when everyone else is sharing gifts and delicious food with their families and friends around them.

Beginning in 1986, the first dinner was planned for 40 people to attend, but 80 people showed up. Brown’s mother brought down the turkey that was cooked for their own lunch to help feed the extra people who had arrived.

The Christmas Day lunch moved around various locations over the years before settling in Blackrock Rugby Club.

Brown and her 35 volunteers start their preparations for the lunch in October every year.

Funding 

In order to raise money for the lunch, Brown and her group of volunteers avoid going out on the streets looking for money. Instead it is supported by a fashion show which is held in early December every year.

“There is no shaking boxes, this is not a thing you beg for money for” said Brown “We just have the fashion show, and friends and family support us”.

The fashion show is not run by the lunch but all proceeds go towards it.

Celebrations

The lunch starts at 12.45pm on Christmas Day and this year, since it is the 30th anniversary of the event there will be a special celebration. Guests will celebrate by blowing out candles on a huge birthday cake and have a toast for the occasion.

According to Brown, it’s not just for the people of Dun Laoghaire, but for anybody who wants to be a part of it. In the past she has had people come from Wicklow and Meath to be part of it.

Read: We’re spending less in shops this Christmas – blame it on Brexit and Trump

Read: TD Joan Collins loses Supreme Court appeal over €31 billion promissory notes

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