A LONDON pub landlord has offered up his holiday home in Ireland to ensure a charity that brings vulnerable Irish people back to their homeland could take its annual trip this week.
When the Aisling Return to Ireland Project found the house they visit annually in Donegal had been sold by its owner, they were unsure whether the regular trip would go ahead.
But when publican Pat Logue, who owns The Sheephaven Bay in Camden, heard of their plight he decided to step in.
“I have been a long term supporter of the work of Aisling and have a home in Sheephaven Bay in Donegal so when I heard they no longer had place to go I was happy to share it with them,” he said.
Thanks to Pat’s kind gesture the group of 10 men, some who have not been home for decades, were able to make the much anticipated trip to Donegal this week.
“We bring different groups of clients back to Donegal each year and a lovely lady always offered us her home as accommodation for the week for free,” Aisling coordinator Alex McDonnell told The Irish Post.
“Unfortunately due to the downturn in property back home she was sadly forced to sell the house this year and we were unsure where we would go instead,” he added, “but Pat was quick to offer his place to us, which meant we could take the trip as planned.
“It was such a kind gesture and this is just another example of the generosity of Donegal people. We’re very grateful for Pat’s support.”
The charity, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, largely works with vulnerable Irish men in Camden and around London, many who fell on hard times while working on British construction sites over the years.
A high proportion of those have turned to alcohol and substance abuse over the years and many are too ashamed to return home to Ireland.
The charity’s work assists the most vulnerable Irish men and women on a daily basis and helps with health, welfare and benefits services as well as coordinating regular trips back to Ireland for them.
For Pat, who hails from Sheephaven Bay in Donegal we should all be doing more to support the work of such a ‘great’ Irish charity.
“The fact that I can offer them a place to stay in Ireland, free of charge, is only a small thing, but every little helps and if it saves them some money than that is worthwhile to me,” he added.
“Of course it would be great if other business could also help out in other ways to support this charity, after all Aisling brings Irish people home. They are the forgotten Irish really, but thanks to the work of this charity they are given hope.”
Pat and a number of Camden-based publicans, including Tom Maloney of the Oxford Arms, The Conlon Family of the Dublin Castle, Mary Murphy of the Golden Lion and the late Mick Doheney of the World’s End pub, have all been long-term supporters of the Aislng Project.
“Some of the men the charity helps drank in our pubs and so it always felt like a little payback to support the organisation that was supporting them,” Pat added.
“Back when the charity first stated we used to charge people £1 each to stay in the pub after closing time, and all of that money went straight to Aisling,” he recalled.
The Aisling Project continues to provide a lifeline for vulnerable Irish men and women in London and has managed to reconnect many of them with their home towns and families in Ireland over the years.
Meanwhile some of Ireland’s best comedians including Ardal O’Hanlon, Dara O’Briain and Ed Byrne will take part in this year’s Aisling Comedy Benefit 20th Birthday Party in London on May 25.
Ian Stone, Aisling Bea and Abandoman complete the line-up for the show, which will take place at the Union Chapel in London.
Aisling is a London-based Irish homeless charity that reaches out to Irish people who are vulnerable, isolated and alone providing supported holidays in Ireland for long-term emigrants fulfilling for many a dream of seeing their homeland again and helping long-term emigrants reconnect with their families and friends.
Tickets are available here.