'We are losing too many people': Cork choir sing out on Patrick Street in memory of lost loved ones 

“Paul was loved, and he is loved, and we wish he was still with us.”
'We are losing too many people': Cork choir sing out on Patrick Street in memory of lost loved ones 

(front four) Patsy McCarthy, Delores Hughes, Miriam O'Shea and Nuala Panek singing with The Cork Penny Dinners High Hopes Choir Pictures: Larry Cummins

“It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiney day” rang the decidedly optimistic refrain on a gloomy St Patrick’s Street as lunchtime shoppers stopped to sing along while the Cork Penny Dinners High Hopes Choir raised voices and hearts in memory of a friend who died tragically a year ago.

Paul Coveney was a Penny Dinners volunteer who had been known as the baby of the High Hopes choir, and he was only 25-years-old when he died last year in tragic circumstances.

At the height of the Covid-19 lockdown, Paul had been instrumental in the establishment of the Penny Dinners Knight Riders, when volunteers on bicycles brought food to homeless people and rough sleepers across the city during a frightening and uncertain time.

'Knight Riders' Brian O'Sullivan, James Crowley and Michael Relihan at the memorial performance. Pic: Larry Cummins.
'Knight Riders' Brian O'Sullivan, James Crowley and Michael Relihan at the memorial performance. Pic: Larry Cummins.

Addressing a gathering outside Brown Thomas, Penny Dinners co-ordinator Caitriona Twomey remembered a talented soccer player and a good friend who was known for his unfailing kindness and generosity.

“Paul was loved, and he is loved, and we wish he was still with us,” Ms Twomey said.

Leading the crowd in song were singers and musicians Hank Wedel, John Adams and High Hopes musical director Fabrice Fortune, as well as volunteers from Penny Dinners, Cork City Missing Persons Search and Recovery, Circle of Hope, Shine a Light Suicide and Mental Health Awareness, and representatives from the Samaritans and the Sexual Violence Centre Cork.

 Patsy McCarthy, Delores Hughes, Miriam O'Shea and Nuala Panek singing with The Cork Penny Dinners High Hopes Choir. Picture: Larry Cummins
Patsy McCarthy, Delores Hughes, Miriam O'Shea and Nuala Panek singing with The Cork Penny Dinners High Hopes Choir. Picture: Larry Cummins

Ms Twomey said the commemoration was to remember Paul Coveney, and to stand with all who have lost loved ones, while raising awareness of mental health, suicide, homelessness, addiction, poverty, and loneliness.

We are losing too many people, and now, in the run-up to Christmas, we are appealing to the powers that be that they throw extra resources into services, and we are asking this so that the spirit of goodwill may be extended to all who live on this island of ours.

“We have been at a crisis point for far too long, and we are directly calling on all politicians, on compassionate grounds, to put their shoulders to the wheel so that we won’t be looking back in the future and wishing we had done something to save somebody’s loved one while there was still time,” Ms Twomey said.

 The Cork Penny Dinners High Hopes Choir perform at St Patrick's Street, Cork City, at noon on Saturday. Pic: Larry Cummins
The Cork Penny Dinners High Hopes Choir perform at St Patrick's Street, Cork City, at noon on Saturday. Pic: Larry Cummins

Remembered too at the gathering was long-time High Hopes member Dave Foley, who passed away this week after an illness.

As family, friends and volunteers, some in tears, held aloft ribbons reading “Love”, “Mental Health” and “You’re not alone”, and saluted those departed, Hank Wedel led the crowd in a chorus of his song “It’s All About the Time You Share”.

Call the Samaritans free, day or night, 365 days a year, on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.ie, or visit www.samaritans.ie.

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