SAFE Home Ireland’s first ambassador—celebrated Irish musician Seán Keane—will lead a star-studded cast as part of a virtual St Patrick’s Day Facebook Live concert.
The charity—which provides support to older Irish emigrants looking to relocate back to Ireland after years living abroad—is hosting the event in order to raise vital funds for the organisation. To date, their services have directly assisted 2144 older Irish people to return home and provided countless others with outreach, information and advocacy services, since it was set up 21 years ago.
The lunchtime concert will feature an outstanding line-up of internationally acclaimed singers, songwriters, musicians, spoken word and Irish/Sean-nós dancers. Some will perform from iconic locations around Ireland including Ashford Castle, Kilronan Castle Hotel and Spa, Fanad Lighthouse, Gougane Bara Church and the Aran Islands. There will also be performances from Perth and London and audiences will hear from some people who have benefited from the charity’s services, giving hope to others who wish to take this step.
Safe Home Ireland CEO, Karen McHugh, said at a time when we must all stay apart, this virtual concert will give people ‘a unique opportunity to connect with family and friends living abroad and enjoy an afternoon of ceol, caint agus craic, together!’
“We know that everyone wants to connect with their Irishness on St Patricks Day and particularly for the Irish abroad and those of Irish descent, it is a day to be proud of our heritage and being part of a global family,” she said. “2021 marks Safe Home Ireland’s 21st Anniversary and this Concert will launch Seán Keane as our first ambassador as well as launching our fundraising drive to raise €21,000 in 2021. These funds will help us to support people returning home in crisis once restrictions are lifted and travel is permitted again.”
Ms McHugh also explained how the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on Safe Home Ireland’s services and the people it supports, with a significant increase in queries from people returning home to Ireland in crisis, many having suddenly lost their jobs. Others have issues with their visas/immigration status and have found themselves unexpectedly destitute and unable to qualify for welfare supports overseas.
“We are seeing cases of people arrive home with little or no income, unable to secure or fund accommodation for themselves,” she said. “The option of staying with family or friends here in Ireland is not always available, particularly in cases where relatives are elderly with underlying conditions and where quarantine options are not available. There are also cases where people have been away for a long time and family relationships no longer exist.
“One of our main challenges is promoting our service so that the Irish community abroad are aware of who we are, what we do, and how they can access the supports that we offer. We know that having Seán Keane as our ambassador will immediately elevate our profile and standing at a local, national and global level. Seán is such a kind, caring and compassionate person as well an internationally acclaimed Irish singer and musician.”
Seán Keane (above), who will lead the concert, said: “I was delighted to be asked to be an ambassador for Safe Home Ireland and I intend to take this role very seriously. The work of Safe Home Ireland highlights a cause that is very dear to my heart, having been an emigrant myself, I got a first-hand insight into the myriad of mixed emotions of the Irish emigrant experience. From the good times of dance halls and friendships, to the loneliness and isolation faced by some who were forced to leave their home and loved ones behind. It is a great pleasure for me to be able to work with Safe Home Ireland in recognising all Irish emigrants who left Ireland in the hope of finding a better life for themselves and their families. Most importantly, I am committed to helping, where I can, those who now wish to return home again.”
Dr Cowley, Safe Home Ireland’s founder and chairperson expressed her delight that Seán had decided to take up the role and that he would lead the St Patrick’s Day concert.
“We are delighted and honoured to have Seán Keane as our first ambassador, she said. “Having a real understanding of the Irish emigrant experience is something that our Board felt was vital for anyone taking up the ambassador role. While Seán has long since told the story of emigration through his amazing songs and music, it is his experiences as a young emigrant himself that gives him the great empathy with our work and those we seek to assist.
“We are very grateful to Seán for his generosity of spirit in taking up the role and helping to promote Safe Home Ireland along the way. Working together, we will ensure that anyone who may need our help will know, who we are, what we do, and how to contact us. Ní neart go cur le chéile.”
The concert takes place from 1pm to 2.30pm on Wednesday March 17 and can be viewed by clicking HERE
If you would like to support the work of Safe Home Ireland you can make a donation via their Go Fund Me page: https://ie.gofundme.com/f/coming-home-in-crisis or via PayPal at: https://safehomeireland.com/support-our-work