And DJ Steve (of Behan’s fame) filled the blanks over the course of several hours playing exactly what the crowd wanted to hear. Not to mention later into the evening Big Girls Blouse (who donated a full three hours – not including set up – of their time for PJ), had the dance floor full.
But the musical part of the benefit wouldn’t have been a success without the hard work of Niall Callaghan, Margie Mulvihill and John Reynolds. Margie and John were at the hall from early morning until late into the evening, never once complaining and doing a fantastic job. Aside from providing a great seisiun, they also made sure all the other bands were set up and ready to go.
At many benefits we take it for granted that there will be music, but in all honesty how many of us want to give up time on our weekends anymore? It gave me goose bumps to see the outpouring of generosity from these super busy people and the fine music they provided.
Naturally there was dozens more people working super hard behind the scenes, including Donnchadh Costello, Joe Collins and the rest of the fundraising committee to ensure the day went as smoothly as possible.
Pat Buckley did a fantastic job with the raffles. A great Kerryman, Pat O’Donnell, took charge of the bar, and he and his staff made sure everyone’s throats were watered.
Community great Frank Brady also popped over for a few hours to host our very successful auction, and as always he did a fantastic job.
Friends of PJ provided kids entertainment, and this went down a treat. Then there were the older kids, many of them children of committee members, who did an awesome job selling raffle tickets on the floor. For sure without their enthusiasm and effort we wouldn’t have sold half as many tickets.
There were dozens of spot prizes donated by individuals and businesses for the day, and all the auction items came from donors both here and in Ireland.
And I could go on. Donations poured in from every corner.
People I know who don’t have much money and are finding things a little tight at the moment showed up to donate something to PJ’s cause. Others dug really deep into their pockets to help him out.
People came from all over. There was a gang down from Boston to support the benefit.
A lovely woman called Elizabeth took two buses from the city to get there, and a huge crowd left Pearl River for the day to come out and support the cause.
I kept thinking to myself -- if this was Ireland would there be such an outpouring of support?
Financially I know things are much tighter in Ireland, but would dozens of good people give up their time to help out? Would hundreds of people from the community come out on a Sunday afternoon and give their hard earned cash?
I’d like to think so, but it made me super proud that weekend to be part of this Irish community in Woodlawn and Yonkers.
I came home that night (feet sore) and spent an hour with John raving about how great Irish people really are when it comes down to it. I’m so proud to be Irish and even more so in New York.
I was sad (and shed a few light tears) thinking about this all coming to an end for us in three months. We move back to Ireland for good on May 21.
We will miss the sense of comradeship that was so obvious at the benefit. I just hope that we will see the same level of compassion and giving in Ireland when an occasion calls for it.
I then woke up the following morning (hoarse and very happy) with an email from the Aisling Irish Community Center to let us all know that every Tuesday from March onwards the center will be providing free luncheons to senior citizens of the community. Thanks to the generosity of local restaurants and shops this shows another fine example of the caring that goes into looking after our own in New York.
So that’s it for now. I’m off to play with my son, pack a bag for the hospital and if I don’t go into labor early you’ll hear from me again before I become a mother of two, God willing.