On Saturday night and Sunday morning on the streets of Dublin, Boston, Belfast, Sligo, New York and many more towns and cities, over 400 GAA players slept on the streets in a remarkable show of solidarity to raise awareness for homelessness.
The Gaelic Voices for Change are a group of hurlers, footballers and camogie players past and present intent on making a difference.
Eamonn O’Hara and Mark Breheny were two of the players who camped out on in O’Connell Street in Sligo and said there was a very generous response to the appeal.
"The motivation? Change," said O'Hara. "Change the fact that we have families forced to move from home to a car or to the streets. The reaction of people in Sligo to us shows that they want change too.
"I’m overjoyed and delighted that a group has come together and were willing to drive the message."
Eamon a Sligo GAA All Star and Connacht title holder described the experience.Caught Attention
In particular he explained the impact of four words spoken to his group by a man who approached them just before 5am Sunday morning. See link
O’Hara told the website Balls.ie
how “at 4:57am a gentleman approached our camp.
“His first four words caught everyone's attention — 'I was once homeless…'
“He went on to tell us how he got back on track and that every night, seven days a week, he makes sandwiches to bring around to the few homeless people he knows to make sure they’re ok.”
“His departing words summed it up for me,” O’Hara told the website.Weekend Campaign
“He said that small gestures will give you hope and that he was very proud of what the group were doing,” recalled the Sligo All Star.
Apart from Sligo, venues chosen by the GAA for its weekend campaign include the GPO in Dublin and Times Square in New York.
An estimated €185,000 was raised through the involvement of over 400 GAA figures past and present in the weekend event.
Over two months ago an initial group of 20 gathered in Dublin to discuss what they could do to use the voice and platform that the GAA has given them so they can give back to their communities.
The homeless crisis struck a chord, and with the support of GPA and the WGPA it was decided the group would train their efforts on raising awareness.