DIT societies raising money for charity

Every year, DIT societies run a Christmas Appeal where each society puts on events to raise money for charity.

Each year, charities are chosen by the students in societies and this year the Irish Cancer Society, St. Vincent de Paul and Pieta House were chosen.

From pie-throwing to fashion shows and bungee runs to dance showcases, this year’s societies had every type of event covered.

Check out their events below!


Follow Rachael on Twitter @racheibrien

Bluebell residents jet off for unique trip to Valencia

Last month, an elderly gentleman’s group got to experience what might literally be the trip of a lifetime as they travelled to Valencia, Spain, thanks to the Bluebell Community Development Project (CDP).

For many of them, it was a first trip outside of Ireland. Tommy Coombes, who manages the CDP, on behalf of the Canals Community Partnership, led the charge for this unique expedition.

“I’m interested in life’s journey. There are 60 occupied housing units here in Bluebell, and they are occupied mainly by men. These are gents who would [in many cases have had tough lives]. We have tended to experience a strong sense of apathy amongst a lot of the men in this community,” Tommy explained.

Tommy, a PHD student in Maynooth University, has worked in Bluebell for over seven years now. He has worked hard to try and promote health and a sense of well-being with these older men, in the hopes that it will bring them out of their shells, which seems to have been successful.

“We’ve organised various trips, gone out fishing for example. We tend to try take these chances. Importantly, we do what the men want, not what we want.”

This philosophy was what led to this whole trip coming to life.

“One of the men a while ago said: ‘Why don’t we just get out of here for a while and do something?’ While you had a few lads up for it, with places like Limerick mentioned, he goes: ‘No I mean out of the bloody country!’

“So since last January or February they’ve been saving to go to Valencia in Spain. Initially, when someone suggested Valencia because they had a mate who owns a pub there, most thought he actually meant Valentia in County Kerry. It became sort of a dream or wish and we set out to get funding through fundraisers. We engaged with local councillors, with Sinn Fein helping out massively,” explained Tommy.

With most men having never left the country before, the organisers were met with many obstacles, most notably, the organisation of passports. Ed Nolan, also of the CDP, has lived in the community for less than a year. As the new kid on the block, he was tasked with the challenge of helping to get everything together.

“Tommy asked me to organise the Valencia trip, so myself and a couple of others did the work for it. It took a lot of organisation, but we got there in the end. It’s all been worthwhile,” explained Ed.

“Some people here hadn’t even had a passport before. It took a lot of work getting everything together, especially with first time passports. I had a scheme where everyone gave €3-4 a week so that when it came to the day, you would have a few bob in your pocket at the very least,” Ed added.

Tommy, who himself is in his sixties, works hard to try and make sure that these men get the chance to continue to live fulfilled lives through retirement, and in this case, experience brand new things.

“I suppose the idea was to allow the men to experience the life of other older men in another culture. Also, the adventure. With most men never having a passport, it was a serious challenge at first. Fears of flying, fears of the unknown. A general fear of being taken out of their own comfort zone. A lot of these men have a very set framework,” Tommy explained.

“From getting up in the morning to going to bed at night, they have a strict structure that’s very hard to step out of. A lot of work from all the staff was pivotal in helping the men realise they could do this,” he added.

While it might not seem like much of a battle to those lucky enough to travel abroad on a regular basis, it unfortunately was too daunting a leap for some.

“Maybe to us who have gone away and travelled, it may not be a big deal, but for these lads, who may have barely seen the upstairs of a Dublin Bus, it’s a massive step. So much so, that a few men actually had to pull out because they couldn’t take that leap of faith,” Tommy revealed.

However, one man that could make the trip was a resident suffering from cancer, who had just finished his final chemo treatment. As Ed recalled:

“We didn’t ask him to come along originally as his chemo and radiology wouldn’t have been finished until the end of September when we had originally planned on going. Now because of funding and that we ended up going on the 18th of October, [he] was finished up by then.

“Four or five days before we left I asked him if he would come. We checked with the doctors and he was well enough to go. As it turned out, he hadn’t got a passport either. I went down to the passport office morning, noon and night and we managed to get it literally the day before we were going. It was great.”

On reflection, the whole event was deemed a massive success for Bluebell CDP, and for the group of men who got to have a life-changing trip that won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Ed finished: “It was a great little experience for all the lads. Even some in wheelchairs got to go around and see what was an absolutely beautiful city. And of course we had an old sing-song in the evenings. You never know, this could be a yearly thing.”

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Dublin Rose sleeps out for the homeless

Aisling Finnegan, who represented Dublin in this year’s Rose of Tralee, sat down with Rachael O’ Brien to catch up on the Rose of Tralee festival and what she has been getting up to since, including the Focus Ireland Sleepout tonight.


Why did you enter the Rose of Tralee?

“I’ve always watched the Rose of Tralee and it’s something that I thought would be an amazing experience to do but I never proactively searched for the Dublin selections.

“It was actually my friend who couldn’t speak more highly about it, he was involved a few years ago, and he got the ball rolling for me. But when I met all the girls at the first Dublin Rose meeting that’s one of the reasons I really did it because I was on the fence about it. When I met them all I realised they were the same type of people as me and I honestly just did it for the experience.”

What are some of your highlights since becoming the Dublin Rose in July?

“The highlight was definitely the support I got from everyone. I had to get one hundred thank you cards printed because of the amount of cards and good wishes from everyone all over the world.

“The support I got was unbelievable and something I still can’t get over. From a Tralee point of view the highlight was seeing my family on the Sunday before the actual filming. You only see your family for about four hours over the whole week. I got to spend about two hours with family and friends in the Meadowlands Hotel and everyone had their own area and it was nice to break away and see them.”

What was your reaction when you saw yourself on the cover of the Irish Independent?

“That was funny! I still haven’t watched back my TV night so that was the closest thing I saw to the stage. My mum and dad were ecstatic that I was on the front of the Independent so it was amazing.”

Folkster, a vintage shop located in Temple Bar supplied Aisling with her dresses. Did you get to keep any of the dresses that they gave you?

“Folkster were so good to me for lending me all of my dresses and then I got a call off them after I did my stage interview where I mentioned them. They were so happy that I talked about them that they said while I would have to give back my stage dress, I could keep all my other dresses.”

What is the Focus Ireland Sleepout and how are you involved?

“It’s a Focus Ireland [event] in conjunction with a bar in town, Sober Lane. One of the escorts for this year was sponsored by Sober Lane and he mentioned it to a group of us, and asked us would anyone be interested in doing it. I jumped on it as it is an amazing charity to fundraise for as it’s something at the moment that is so important.

“There are ten of us doing it and it’s a twelve hour sleep out from 8pm this Saturday to 8am Sunday morning. The aim is to raise €100 each, so €1000 in the end, and it’s in Ringsend Football Club this year.”

Do you have many Rose duties for the rest of the year now that Tralee is finished?

“Most of the events I’m involved in are charity events so I can manage them around work as best as I can. I go to launches and opening of events and just help out as much as I can. I suppose you make it your own year and be as proactive as you want for the year so that’s what I’m going to do.”

If you want to sponsor Aisling for the Focus Ireland Sleepout you can do so here and to keep up with what she’s doing check out her Facebook page.

Walk In My Shoes broadcasts from St Patrick’s Hospital

This week, Walk In My Shoes (WIMS), a charity aimed at promoting mental health awareness, are running a pop up radio station, which is broadcasting from St Patrick’s Mental Health Services.

The aim of the radio station is to raise €10,000 to help young Irish people with their mental health.

WIMS Radio is hoping to encourage listeners to become involved in the conversation and stigmas that often surround mental health. It aims to get young people talking about their mental health, as early detection is key when it comes to dealing with it.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the motto of the charity is ‘a small step, a huge difference’.

Stephen Cahill is a radio student in Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE), who is currently working on the research team for the Aiden Power and Andrew Stanley show in the mornings.

“I’m really enjoying working on the show. I worked on it last year and already I’ve noticed a massive improvement in the quality of the show,” said Stephen.

“It’s mostly run by students from BCFE, and we’re so lucky to get this experience.

“I’m also a massive advocate for mental health myself, so even on a personal level I’m delighted to be involved in the show,” he added.

WIMS radio aims to interview guests who may have previously suffered with their mental health, or that have a positive message that they could share with their listeners.

“We had William Meara (former DIT Student), on the show on Monday morning, and he is running a two night retreat called ‘UnPlug’ which basically teaches you how to manage your social media rather than letting it managing you. It includes activities such as Yoga, and provides a full vegetarian diet to help you relax and unwind,” he said.

“I think that’s definitely very important in today’s society as people don’t realise how dangerous social media can be for our mental health.”

Other familiar faces on the station include Bressie,  Al Porter and Sile Seoige.

“I remember Bressie being on our show last year, and I was just in awe. The way he spoke about his own battle with mental health really resonated with me. This was just before the launch of his book ‘Me and My Mate Jeffery’, which I’m sure he’ll be discussing later in the week,” Stephen said.

If you’ve missed any of the shows on Walk In My Shoes Radio, don’t worry, as you can catch their podcast on their website or listen in live on 94.3FM.

You can also donate €2 by texting ‘Shoes’ to 57802, or for more details simply visit their website.

Brides-to-be say ‘I do’ for refugees

A very special event is set to take place on the 28th of October in House on Leeson Street.

“I Do, for Syria” is an auction of pre-loved wedding attire in order to raise much needed funds for the Irish Red Cross, who are currently working with Syrian Refugees.

Roisin Kelly, the event organiser, is encouraging women to give away their wedding gowns for the good cause.

Roisin told The City: “I don’t have a huge amount of money to donate, but what I did have was one very expensive, worn once, beautiful wedding dress. The images of Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a beach really made me sit up. It broke my heart. I’ve always wanted to help the refugees and now was the time to do it.

“So far, we have received about 40 dresses from past brides and bridesmaids. Even bridal stores including Sharon Hoey, Myrtle, Ivory to name just a few have donated. I can’t begin to describe the response. Not one person or store has said no to getting involved and for the most part we’ve hardly had to ask.”


Parting with her dress wasn’t an easy decision for Roisin. She said: “It was hard but I’ve made my peace with it. Seeing what this has become makes me prouder than the dress ever could. It’s a beautiful dress and hopefully it will go to a good home and money raised will help aid the refugees.”

On the night before the auction, there’ll be a fashion show held showcasing the dresses .

“What we are doing is the tiny tip of a very big iceberg. Hopefully the auction makes tons of money for The Irish Red Cross,” she said.

Brides who would like to donate are asked to get in contact via www.facebook.com/IDoForSyria for further information.

Art auction proves popular with punters

The Third Space Café in Smithfield was transformed into an art auction house as the Supporting Children Out Of Poverty (SCOOP) Foundation held its annual art auction on Wednesday night.

The auction was held to raise money for SCOOP towards building a new school in Cambodia, which is the third school they have built.

The auction saw 95 pieces of artwork go under the hammer from artists nationwide and even a few pieces from abroad were available as well.

The artists who provided pieces for the auction ranged from full-time artists to graduates from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Thomas Street.

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Also available for sale on the night was the ‘SCOOP Art Cook Book’ which was a book containing paintings from artists with the central theme of food. Paintings that featured in the book were also under the hammer at the auction.

The chief organiser of the event, Andrew Sweeney, was delighted with how the night played out. He said: “I was overwhelmed. It was an absolute success. It looks like we hit €20,000 under the hammer. I think there was about 100 people in the room, there was a really good energy around the place. Good things are going to happen from now on.”

On a side note, Sweeney announced that he was doing his final fundraiser with the organisation, having established it in 2011 so he felt that this one was important for him as well as the organisation.

“This is definitely one of the best for the publicity we got and the money we raised. This is my last one so I feel I’ve gone out with a bang,” he added.

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There is hope also that there will be a dinner organised by the SCOOP Foundation before Christmas which will run along a similar theme to the cookbook project that was a major part of this auction.

To find out more about the organisation and to buy the ‘SCOOP Art Cook Book’, you can visit their website scoopfoundation.com or else find them on both Facebook and Twitter.