A follow up from my poem ‘Under the Great Gates of the Bank of Ireland’

Just giving you some more back round information on how I wrote the poem about homeless people.
Anybody living in a city will have come across homeless people many times as there are many people homeless. These days, there are a lot of young people who are homeless. We all feel pity for these people because we see them at their most vunerable. They are exposed to us all. We see them unclean, where they sleep, what they eat and drink and their habits.
The rest of us do all the same thing, but we have the dignity of privacy. I used to sit outside the wax museum on Dame street, Dublin, sipping my Starbucks coffee while waiting for Yasmin to do a speech and language drama class in the Gaiety school of acting in the Temple Bar area. It was in the height of our recession in 2012 and I didn’t have any spare cash to pay parking, never mind go shopping. So I’d sit in the car and drink my cappuchino, (I could afford that).
It was 11.30 am every Saturday morning and there were always the few homeless people sleeping beside those great big steel gates of the Bank of Ireland’s back door.
These lads were only teenage boys and it was really sad to see them so young at this stage in their life. What drove them to it? Abuse at home? Undiagnosed learning difficulties that prevented them fitting in?
Anyway, what ever it was, it made these young kids feel more at home on the streets of Dublin, where drugs became their friend. I couldn’t do much to help these people, I had my own huge responsibilities, but I could treat them with respect and I could teach my children to treat them with respect. I truly admire the many people of Ireland who give up their time to help these homeless people and the parents who have just lots their kids to drugs. They do their best to get these kids a bed for the night, but they have to be sober and in at a certain time and these kids aren’t ready to do that.
When the sleeping bodies awoke, they would gather up their pennies to try buy a cup of tea or coffee from Starbucks. What ever spare I had, I would give to them and sometimes I would get their cuppa’s for them. Although very heavily drugged, I noticed their concern for each other.
These young people were very grateful for any small help.
Another day, towards Christmas, when I walked up to Gino’s ice cream place on Grafton street with my girls, there was an obvious homeless person in front of me ordering two of the largest ice cream cups he could buy. He had collected about 10 euros from begging that evening and he was bringing his pal back an ice cream who couldn’t walk up that far. (I was thinking of what state that poor creature could be in) He was about 30 and he was carrying his black bag of belongings because he couldn’t leave it anywhere. I was chatting with him as I would any person and I could see other people staring in distaste as he had the slow talk of a drug user, but he wasn’t in any way aggressive. The guy needed a bag of a sort to help carry the ice cream and I gave him a little bag and he was delighted. ‘Merry christmas’ he bade me as he went on his way.
Some people who live on the streets for a good few years, like my husband’s cousin Liam Mcmahon who lives under Queens Bridge in New York, can never adjust to living under a roof again. Living outside in extreme conditions has an effect on the mind. Homeless people are always on the look out for people who want to bash them or kick them for no reason. Liam was beaten very badly before and that made him very suspicious. Liam lost everything because of his alcoholism.
But he still deserve’s to be treated with respect. That’s all he wants. xx Jean

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