Maureen’s Bench

Pictured from left to right: Shay Connolly, Eamonn Dolphin and Joe Donnelly enjoy a cup of tea on the new bench dedicated to Maureen.

Pictured from left to right: Shay Connolly, Eamonn Dolphin and Joe Donnelly enjoy a cup of tea on the new bench dedicated to Maureen.

June 19th sadly saw the passing of Maureen Barry, a local treasure and someone who never stopped caring and giving right to the end. Most everyone in Ringsend would have known or recognised her, and even if they didn’t, she would most likely have known them, such was her interest in her community.

NewsFour caught up with her daughter Angela, who told us, “She just lived to help people and she was always looking for ways to support people in difficulty around the area.” The mother of eight, a keen dancer with by all accounts some impressive moves, was born, reared and lived her life in the Ringsend area. Angela went on to tell us that, “If she saw someone who she thought was struggling, she would worry about them, she’d have done anything for the people around here, and was always asking what she could do.”

Maureen was featured in NewsFour recently for her generous donation to the Fair Play Café’s loyalty card scheme. Indeed she was the first to step up and support the idea, which involves a different person or company every month matching the contents of the tip jar in the café. They then upload this amount as credit to smart cards and give them to others to distribute to those who need them. People can then use the cards to get a free lunch. Food poverty was something Maureen felt particularly strongly about.

Given her support and interest in the Fair Play Café, it was decided to commemorate her generosity of spirit in some way, and what could be better than a bench of her own in the choicest spot in the garden. Joe Donnelly of the Fair Play Café spoke to us about the plans. “We wanted to make the nicest setting possible for a bench, to do her justice. She was an inspirational woman, and we want to remind people that you’re never too old to stop making a difference to people in need.”

The bench is special and a piece of history in itself, and was made, most likely onsite, in 1896 from the same Oregon pine that is used throughout the building in ceiling beams, panels and doors. The bench is certainly a part of the fabric of the building, but as with anything that’s 118 years old, it was in need of some tender loving care.

Eamon Dolphin has been doing a lot of praiseworthy work for the café recently and gave it the special attention it needed, skilfully repairing the damage caused by years of weathering; he also treated it so that it won’t deteriorate in the elements. Who knows, it will probably still be there or somewhere in the area in another 118 years. It is fitting that it will always be known as Maureen’s bench.

By Steve Kingston