Ladies Football stars take part in homeless crisis sleep-outs

LAST Saturday night, over 400 former and current inter-county hurling, football, Ladies football and camogie players came together in 13 different locations in Ireland and abroad to show solidarity with the homeless by sleeping rough for a night.

The events included a nationwide minute’s silence for those who have died on our streets.

This was led by Fr Peter McVerry at the GPO in Dublin who congratulated the players on their efforts and said the crisis was worsening by the day and that it is very much a political issue. 

The ‘Solidarity Sleepout’ initiative was the creation of Gaelic Voices For Change, a new social action group of past and present GAA inter-county players who are keen to use their profile to do more to make a difference.

Supported by the GPA (Gaelic Players Association) & WGPA (Women’s Gaelic Players Association), the group is keen to sound the alarm on Ireland’s housing and homelessness crisis in Ireland.

To date an impressive just over €180,000 has been collected and will be as well as support charities that include the Peter McVerry Trust, DePaul, the Simon Community, Focus Ireland and the Capuchin Day Centre, Cope Galway, Thomand House, and Novas based in Limerick.

New Dublin hurling manager Pat Gilroy joined his squad for the sleep-out in Dublin, and the Clare hurling squad joined the Limerick event.

The Carlow Ladies football team and Laois hurlers also participated as squads.

The Carlow ladies footballers took part in the sleep-out.

Locations included Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Belfast, Portlaoise, Naas, Sligo, Wexford and Carlow.

Former Monaghan player Ciaran ‘Nudie’ Hughes led a sleep-out in Times Squad New York, another was held in Boston, and a former player, who chose to remain anonymous, also did it alone in Quebec in Canada in freezing temperatures.

Former Wexford hurling captain Diarmuid Lyng led the Wexford sleep-out and was in a reflective mood after it wrapped up. 

Lyng said: “The thing that struck me most was hearing the chorus of voices on the street sincerely dissatisfied with the Governments response to what is fast becoming a humanitarian concern. People walking around their fellow people, one up the other down, serves the humanity in neither.  

“People who spoke to us said that they accepted that they have a role to play too in their own behaviours, how they contribute to the issue, but fundamentally they feel that at a structural level, we are creating this problem by becoming economic slaves to vested interests in this land.  Accepting that is accepting of a miserable inequality for all concerned.

“This magical country with its beautiful people shouldn’t be subjected to that reality. The Government must act in the interests of it’s citizens and improve levels of social protection. 

“It was also a privilege to stand with fellow players, everyone that joined together got far more out of it that they could possibly have imagined. This was always going to be an upside of this effort, more balanced players make better players, but that all played second fiddle to the issue at hand.”

Speaking from New York, Ciaran ‘Nudie’ Hughes said: “When you are in a position to help the less fortunate especially living away from home and seeing and hearing how bad things have gotten I felt it was only right to help out.

Former Cork star Valerie Mulcahy.

“Being in Times Square for 12 hours in below freezing weather was frightening and hard to believe that people are actually sleeping in this cold weather. This experience has made me realise how lucky I am and I will hopefully continue to carry out charity work in the near future”

Roscommon footballer Alan Moore commented: “My reflection on the night is how vulnerable you feel when you actually bed down for a night on the streets, how uncomfortable and unnatural it is and how inconceivable it is for someone to do that day in and day out.

“While I have a warm bed to go home to, many people do not have this luxury and for me this is simply not acceptable in 21st century Ireland.”

Former Sligo footballer Eamonn O’Hara said: “The motivation – Change! 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!  

“The reflection was simple, at 4:57am a gentleman approached our camp, his first 4 words caught everyone attention, “I was once homeless…” he went on to tell us how he got back on track and that every night, 7 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 when he said that small gestures will give you hope and that he was very proud of what the group were doing.”

Maurice Hurley (former Dublin hurler and coordinator of Global Citizenship School): “I went to the GPO to express solidarity with those suffering from a nation gone haywire and I learned a hell-of-a-lot from chatting to homeless people with real stories.

“Woke up at about 5.30am as the rain was starting and said aren’t I lucky to have a proper bed in a real home to go home to and not face the streets of a city for another day of wondering where will I sleep tonight. Genuinely humbling.”

Morgan O’Callaghan, former Kildare ladies football team manager said: “The most evident aspect of the night in Naas was the generosity of people and the real empathy for the cause.

“There is no doubt that there is a desire among the Irish people to tackle homelessness and with the right guidance and leadership a solution can quickly be found. Our actions tonight struck a real chord with people and there was a genuinely positive feeling and sense of respect for what we were doing.”

Former Cork All-Ireland ladies football star Valerie Mulcahy added: “I’m delighted to support this campaign. I feel like it’s important to use our voices as players and help those that are vulnerable in our society, not turn our back on them. That is why I took part.

“It’s not acceptable to have people homeless in Ireland. Gaelic Games are built on communities, with a collective sense of belonging and supporting your neighbour. This sleepout was a wider expression of that ethos by the players involved, extending a helping hand to others in our community.”

For more information see:

  • Twitter and Instagram: @GaelicVoices4Ch
  • Facebook: Gaelic Voices For Change
  • #SolidaritySleepout 
  • Email: 
  • Web:


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