Longford / Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty pictured with volunteers and walkers from Mary's Meals last Wednesday in Market Square, Longford town Picture: Shelley Corcoran
There was a great atmosphere around Longford town’s Market Square last Wednesday afternoon as volunteers and walkers from Mary’s Meals were welcomed to the county.
The volunteers, who walked from Derry and Dublin, met up in Edgeworthstown around 12.30pm before they headed for Longford town. John Coppinger and Mary Ross, of the Longford Branch of Mary’s Meals, joined them en route.
Longford Branch Chairperson Dolores Kiernan explained, “No big group walk has been allowed for the last two years so it was great as the Step by Step walkers approached Longford town. There was a nice crowd to support them from St Joseph’s School up to the Market Square where Louis Herterich supplied everyone with lots of beautiful food and beverages to keep the spirits up.”
A charity static cycle ride has helped raise €1,044 for St Joseph’s Care Centre, Longford.
Mrs Kiernan said, “It was so good to hear the excellent sound of the pipes once again. We never appreciated our Longford Pipe Band until we were not allowed to have it. There was a welcome committee on the square for everyone. Joe Flaherty TD welcomed the walkers, supplying them with dessert, and giving them the praise they richly deserved for raising funds for the most vulnerable children on our planet.”
Patricia Friel, the Mary’s Meals National Organiser, explained about the work of Mary’s Meals, how every cent is accounted for, how this can be clearly seen on their website and where the yearly accounts are featured.
She also collected whatever monies had been given on the day as there are no collection bucket permits being issued by An Garda Siochana. Mrs Kiernan outlined, “All donations in Longford are to go through the Branch Treasurer Gabrielle Devine, who will be happy to accept all donations on behalf of Mary’s Meals. To ensure transparency she will also issue an official receipt for every cent received and lodged.”
Ms Friel highlighted that every local area supplies its own food for its own school. She said, “Mary’s Meals pay for the food supplied but everything else, be it washing, cooking, serving and cleaning up this is all voluntary. Keeping the funds local enables the local economy to thrive, something like the Co-Op Societies of old in Ireland.
“If members of Mary’s Meals from Scotland or elsewhere go to Africa they have to pay for the flights themselves, that is their commitment to Mary’s Meals. While there is adverse publicity out there with other charities, Mary’s Meals main focus is feeding children while at school.”
Ms Friel concluded, “So if anyone can spare €18.31 they will feed a child at school for a year. Please give as generously as you can.”
Mrs Kiernan said Mary’s Meals Longford wish to extend a very big thank you to An Garda Siochana, Longford Pipe Band, Patrica Friel, Joe Flaherty TD, walkers from near and far, and all who came out to support them on the day, especially the children who were.
She continued, “The small Longford Mary’s Meal group have actually walked 4.3 miles each evening for the last nine evenings. There were six to twelve volunteers each evening who between them walked 314 miles approximately, just around Longford.
“If you wish to sponsor these walkers please do so on the Mary's Meals Longford GoFundMe page, on sponsorship cards which are in a lot of Longford town shops or alternatively give to Gabrielle Devine. Please do not donate to anyone else, just in case Mary’s Meal does not receive your donation.”
The walkers left Longford on Thursday continuing their walk to Knock. They were delighted to see so many join with them as they set out, some walking to Lanesboro or to Roscommon, some ended up in Knock on Sunday, August 15. Unfortunately, the Our Lady of Knock Shire was not open to the group collectively so they returned to Ballaghaderreen.
Mrs Kiernan concluded, “We hope to walk one evening every month together to build up our stamina so that maybe in 2022 our group will walk with the other walkers from Derry, Donegal, Dublin and further to Knock. Ireland has its own history to reflect on, we do not want any other nationality, regardless of colour, creed or country to have to suffer from hunger when the world is overflowing with food.”
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