Saturday, May 28, 2011

Charlie McGrath will take the scorching heat in Kenya in his Bernie English

AFTER 41 years of firefighting in Kilkee, Charlie McGrath will take the scorching heat in Kenya in his stride. Charlie will be retiring as station master this coming December, having spent his whole life in ther service of the community.
But far from taking a well-deserved rest, Charlie’s first plan is to get on a plane and travel with the Building of Hope volunteers to make life better for the children at the School for the Blind and Visually impaired in Migombani.
A Kilkee man born and bred, Charlie will celebrate his 60th birthday in January with his family before jetting off to Kenya in February with the last group of volunteers to make the building ship-shape.
After the last project in which volunteers built a polytechnic in the parish of Cranny priest, Fr Martin Keane, the Clare building vrew was so moved by the plight of the blind children that they vowed to come back and help.
The project in January will replace their comfortless living accomodation, bunks with no sheets, broken showers, filthy toilets and open-fire cooking area with bright, modern facilities.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” Charlie told The Clare People. “Now is my chance. A Friend of mine went on the last project and he came back and told me all about it and I said, right, that’s what I’m going to do now that I have the time and the chance.”
Charlie has attended more than 3,000 fires in his time with the service and seen his fair share of tragedy. But that hasn’t stopped him wanting to make the world a better place and so he’s off to Kenya.
“I’ve never been to Africa before so I’m really looking forward to it.
I’m not a builder but I’ll be painting and helping finish the project in the last group going out,” he said.
To kick off his fund-raising Charlie has organised a great night of music and dancing in Garrihys of Moyasta.
Pj Murrihy will be providing the music on the night and there are lots of great spot prizes. Doors open 9.30pm and entry to the fun night in a good cause is just €7.

Gerry O’Malley fundraise for 2012 Bernie English.

Fr Martin Keane from Cranny takes a close interest in everything that goes on in his Kenyan parish but the organisers of a special fund-raiser for the Building of Hope are a tad relieved that the latest project there does not directly involve him. “I’m not sure how appropriate it would be to hold a Vicar’s and Tart’s night for a project Fr Martin is closely involved with,” said Cree volunteer, Marion O’Malley.
When Gerry O’Malley came back from the last Building of Hope project in Kenya in Fr Martin’s parish, his wife Marion and their friends didn’t expect that he would be so moved by the plight of children he saw at another school there.
“People would ask him how he got on, probably expecting him to say ‘grand’ but instead it would become and hour long conversation – it was so interesting. I’ve never seen him so affected by anything.” said Marion.
After returning from Kenya and the building of a ploytechnic for Fr Martin and seeing conditions in the nearby School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Migombani, Gerry from Cree and two other volunteers, Michael Lillis also from Cree, and Michael Haugh from Doonbeg had all become firm friends. The three were determined to go back and make life better for the blind children.
A project like Building of Hope was always something Marion wanted to do and the three veteran volunteer’s sheer involvement and conviction that the children need a new home got Gerry’s friend, Paul Rees from Kinaboy and pal, Tina Fitzgerald from Ennis involved.
The six decided they would club together in their efforts at fundraising to reach the ambitious target of €18,000 between them and so began a series of Thursday night planning meetings.
Their first fundraiser wsa golf clasic held in Eniis Golf course on May 14 and a night of fantastic music and dance was held with the Kilfenora Ceili Band and friends at the weekend in the Auburn Lodge.
Both were a great success.
“We’de really like to thank everyone who helped or supported us. It was agreat night and people were so generous,” Marion said.
But the push dosn’t stop there and now the six amigos are planning two golf Four Ball outings, one in Spanish Point and one in Kilrush on June 18 and July 16 respectively.
And going from sport to having great sport, they are also planning a Vicar’s and Tart’s night in the Claremont Disco in Lahinch on July 29.
“Tina’s husband, Ger Fizgerald is giving us the disco and there will be music in the front bar as well on the night. We asked all the younger crew what sort of theme we could have for the night to make it a bit of fun. We got a lot of suggestions like a beach party and one of the young ones suggested the Vicars and Tarts and everyone thought it would be great fun.”
On the night, Willow in Ennis have kindly sponsered a Guess designer handbag for the tartiest tart and a Ennis Fuji Center are sponsering a digital camera for the vicar with the shiniest halo!
Tickets for the disco and registration for the Four Ball are available from Mc Carthy’s garage Milltown, from Marion at 086-2600844, Tina 085 -7645910, or by contacting any of the volunteers.