The Elm Park Residents Association has entertained Clonmelâ€™s senior citizens at Christmas for several years now and this year will be no different.
The associationâ€™s 11th annual Christmas party will be held at Hillview Sports Club on Thursday evening, December 19, beginning with Mass celebrated by Canon Brendan Crowley, Parish Priest of Ss Peter and Paulâ€™s, at 6.30.
While the event is organised by the Elm Park group, almost 150 senior citizens from all over the town are invited to share in a community celebration that makes the festive season all the more memorable for everyone involved.
â€œItâ€™s a huge commitment but thereâ€™s great satisfaction out of itâ€, says Darren Ryan, chairman of the residents association. â€œWe know from talking to some of the old people that itâ€™s the only Christmas dinner theyâ€™ll haveâ€.
The party costs about â‚¬4,000 to organise, and while thereâ€™s an amount of goodwill from across the community and businesses for the event the residents association admits that itâ€™s struggling to meet that cost in the current climate.
â€œWeâ€™re great to raise a few bob but we know weâ€™re up against it this year because of the recessionâ€, says secretary Deirdre Landers.
While donations have fallen in recent years, the organisers are very grateful to everyone who has supported the party.
Once again this year the red carpet will be laid out for the senior citizens, who enjoy an evening free of any cost. Theyâ€™re collected at home and brought to and from the party, thanks to the generosity of John Oâ€™Donoghueâ€™s bus and Noel Petersâ€™ taxi firm, as well as the Red Cross, which makes its wheelchair-accesible minibus available; they enjoy a four-course meal; a complimentary drink; music by Stefan Grace and a present from Santa.
For the past 9 years the sports and social club at Abbott Vacular has donated â‚¬1,000 for the presents and its members are invited to present them to the party goers.
â€œThe amount of support we get from across the community is hugeâ€, says Darren Ryan. Civil Defence, the Red Cross, main chef Anthony Hackett, Stefan Grace, Johnny Callanan, the Mayor, Sean Ryan and teenagers from Elm Park (who act as waiters) all combine to make it a major success every year. St. Oliverâ€™s School pupils also help by designing and selling Christmas cards.
Any individual, group, club, organisation or business that wishes to contribute towards the cost of the party should contact the Elm Tree Community Centre, Elm Park, Clonmel, tel. 052-6189461.