Wednesday Night Meals at the Fair Play Cafe

Pictured: Joe and Sharon Donnelly with Camile Lui at the Fair Play Cafe.

Pictured: Joe and Sharon Donnelly with Camile Lui at the Fair Play Cafe.

The Fair Play Cafe in Ringsend has been providing cheap and hearty meals on a Wednesday night for disadvantaged people of the community of Ringstown and Irishtown for just over a year now, since early 2015.

It has been designed for people who appreciate a social outlet, midweek in the evening time at the reasonable price of €5 for a starter, main course, dessert and a choice of tea or coffee thrown in. The meal is provided for people in the lower income bracket, those living alone, for people who are without wages and for those living in conditions of hardship.

Joe and Sharon Donnelly run the Fair Play Cafe, and have been actively helping the community for years through various means.

Through his “missionary work” Joe helps to target €20,000 a year for various charities as an annual goal to achieve. The sign above one’s head beside a large shelf of fine books states: “Generosity is contagious!” and this bears great relevance and sincerity to what has been happening here daily, weekly, monthly and yearly!

“The meal starts at 6pm and people come either alone or with friends. Everyone receives a welcome and a hearty meal, is made to feel a part of the community. The meals we cook are of the same standard as the food we serve during regular hours at the cafe,” says Joe.

“We provide food for those living in very poor housing conditions, with poor cooking facilities and sub-housed families. We also provide flowers and window boxes to give to families to give people a lift and a sense of dignity!

“The five Euro’s which people pay will be put into a dedicated fund and used even for those diners who need financial help. For example, we provide subsidised bus trips and outings for our clients. It can also go into a fund so we can go and book a coach. We will leave at 11am and return at midnight!”

Joe has planned an outing this summer, starting with a trip to Glendalough and then on the coast of Wexford and finishing at Arklow, Co.Wicklow for an evening meal with a subsidised cost for the diners along with the Gaels Club that have volunteered.

Photographs by Maria Shields O’Kelly.

Photographs by Maria Shields O’Kelly.

“I would work with different agencies, such as the St. Vincent De Paul, home school liaison teachers and other agencies to help. We have volunteers to help serve up the food, some of which come from the local Clanna Gael Club. If you hear of someone whose house has been burgled into or those who are sick in hospital, we respond by sending them a hamper of food or a container of flowers from the fund. This is the wonderful way in which neighbours can watch out for their neighbours!”

Camile Lui from São Paulo works for the Fair Play Cafe and volunteers on Wednesday nights for the subsidised meal fund. She spoke to NewsFour on her experiences and personal changes which have come about through the Fair Play Cafe and the Wednesday night meals!

“I arrived here with my husband and I was interested in the cafe after much searching on the internet where I came across the website. About one month later I contacted the cafe and I also told Joe I wanted to volunteer despite having little English at the time!

“Being here is like being at home with family! Wednesday nights are an opportunity to learn about solidarity, compassion and charity. Here I can have a simple life. It’s not about money for me but about the charity and the quality of life.

“We have old people coming to us on Wednesday night, widows and people with ailments. There is a good atmosphere here with people singing, a three-course meal and handmade with a lot of love, like a bistro!

“You can learn a lot from old people and I love to be around them. I have learnt English, but lessons in life as well,” she adds poignantly.

By Robert Fullarton