Longford, Born and reared on Dublin Street Longford Town. Parents
Joe and Mary Nee MacCaffrey. Grandparents Jack and Elizabeth
(Nee MacKiernan) MacCaffrey.
Joe ‘ may I add, not that Joe from Local Radio ShannonSide
, but of equal or more importance to local life, Dare I say.
Joe schooled in the Convent, before he went to Stone Park, and
onto St Mel’s where he finished the full time their.
In between that Joe was always working, weekends, Summer
time. started in Jimmy Newmans. would have been beside
Bank Of Ireland, where their is a new Barber Shop now.
Mixed Pub and Grocery store, worked their Fridays and Saturdays
after school. Big sporting man, From playing County football with Longford
Minors U21. Slashers GAA, to Rugby for Longford Too, also Longford Town Football,
to playing some hurling too.
In his summer time he also worked some time in Annally Hotel.
The Annally Hotel, Brian Healy was manager at the time. also Spiders
Night Club, ran by Gerry Harrington, and Gerry Reilly, Gerry previous
had a record shop. followed on to Ding in Spiders Nightclub.
Joe worked staright into management from school. was 19/20 years of
age. ‘Annally hotel’ he tells me ‘Was a great place, mainly for couples
family's. I was fulltime bar manager. a lot of people might not know, that
before the Rugby Club existed. The Annally Hotel, was the place that
the team went to, before Rigby Club was built. In 1980, onwards, I
went to work for Aidan O’Fea, delivering milk. Went into partnership
with John Nolan, to open The Dandy Diner, in the 1990.s.
To where I am now, since 1996. St Martha’s as its known now, used to
be called ‘Nights Of The Road. I was employed and still am here, and
only missed one day in twenty years.
at the time my position was called care taker, to manager now. St
Vincent De Paul, are runners of it. Helped by Government, via DOE
Department Of Environment, also HSE, and Thrift shop in Town,
Longford Town, Dublin Street. they were purposely opened to help
fund St Marthas. Also thanks to Billy Beahen, Frank Kane, both bikers
organise a charity run every Christmas, to help Bethany House and
St Martha's. we make sandwiches for all the bikers that gather and
two pots of soup. that's our contribution as a group.
St Vincent De Paul. also run different Conferences,, Ourselves
St Martha, Bethany House, St Martins social housing, where was
formerly Fondermans, just over Railway bridge in Longford Town.
Also a visitation centre, the family centre behind the Cathedral in
Longford Town. Help out family, in many means, and hampers, at
Christmas time, vouchers etc. all voluntary organisation's’’.
We got chatting and I had mentioned The late
Mick Doyle, the gentleman. ‘’Mick was here, he actually lived in a
campsite with his brother, John. only around the corner from here on
the Dublin Road, just past us and Bethany House, on a patch of green.
We helped him get a house one time. just off of Michael’s Road,
Longford Town’’ Laughing he proceeded to tell me about Mick. ‘’at that
time, people housed would get a grant. Mick was no different, think it
was two and a half grand. Mick always wanted to have a real nice three
piece sweet. he spent 3 thirds of the grant on the sweet of furniture.
and as we offer follow up care and help. I went to visit see how he
was getting on. the house was near empty bar a very nice sweet of
furniture, I asked him, where is he sleeping where's the bed. I couldn't
afford one. I had to persuade the shop to take back the three piece
sweet, and for Mick to fil the house with necessity's.
Some history about St Martha's. ''A Father Vincent Connaughton and Sub
Committee saw a need for a hostel. ST Mel's conference member Michael
Neary, who had put up homeless men in his own home for years, was
delighted at the news.
Official opening 29th March, 1996, by Bishop Colm O'Reilly. Mr Michael Killeen
delighted to see S V P, Saint Vincent De Paul, Longford, taking a lead role with help
form HSE DOE, and various departments. One caretaker and twenty volunteers.
started operating as a night shelter, catering to mainly for nights of the road, and
the homeless men, maximum was ten. two night for referrals from Gardaí, and or priest.
six men to three bed units. two beds units to cater for domestic abuse women and kids,
linked with social workers maximum stay two weeks.
in 1997 converted a garage to self contained unit to take one extra family,
with alarm system for more security for women and children.
2003 the hostel went full time, with two extra full time and one part time staff.
upgraded to 11 bed, bed hostel, open 24hrs daily and 365 days yearly.
service users have changed from road me, to men with alcohol/drug
and gambling addictions.
also mental health problems. staff assisted with key working and help
of local services to get service users help with and access to doctors,
drug counselling, housing department, and a homeless nurse.
numbers rose to over 2000 beds used annually, in 2009 , two thousand
and eight hundred beds used.
in Jan 2009, built extension, consisting of 4 single rooms and large
washroom, with wheelchair access, official opening was 3rd Dec of that
year of the ew extension. in may 2009, St Martins, conference formed
to run ten two and three bedroom houses, a centre
with service users from both hostels being cared for.
What we do here is to help people back on to their feet. Back onto a level
playing field. You never know what may happen tomorrow. we do take
people with various problems, be it alcohol, drugs, domestic abuse,
gambling. We redirect them to the various help available. Rehomed, but
that is tougher to do now, their is no social housing, think its two
thousand on the waiting list. last year in 2015 we rehomed 58 out of a
total 71 residents in 2015. Its proving more difficult this year, because
of lack of houses, and rents beyond most people in rental market.
Our organisation covers four county’s, 'Westmeath, Offaly, Laois,
Longford. originally as I said, it used to be called Nights Of The Road.
People that were seeking such help, back then could have been moved
place to place, depending on places available, they moved town to town.
This year alone so far 60 plus, but very hard to get them moved on
because of housing situation, their is many on waiting to come here
too.’’ I asked and what is their situation where are they staying. ‘’they
are staying with friends. sleeping on couches etc.. we have house in
Canal walk and also run the community centre for people in that
community. As I was saying in the early days it used to be place to place
almost like Duffys Circus I use to say. open at 8 in evening and closed
9 the next morning, you were moved on, today it is 365 24/7. apart from
myself there is Edel Croghan, David O’Keefe, and Tony Dowler, that
run St Marthas here. this is a mans only refuge, Bethany House is for
women and children. People think that homelessness is only a city
problem. Homelessness in Ireland gets only 1 percent of national budget.
on the 25th of Oct their is a documentary by RTE 2 on at 9pm should be
interesting. We run by a very tight budget, everything accounted for.
We by a rule take only people that are from within the community, but
others in extreme cases.
Food Cloud, is an new system started by two ladies from Dublin.
They seen a incredible amount of waste, in food in supermarkets,
We now, Thanks to Tesco’s Longford Town, and since last year Aldi,
are giving us food, that is still within its sell by date, but before would
have been wasted, we take it. we have cut or food spend in excess of
30percent, over a year, we could spent fifteen thousand a year on food
I cant not mention my beloved other half. Fionnula (Nee Kenny.
Edgeworthstown) and we have three daughters, Arlene, Emma and