Homeless emigrants to get their hands on Sam

Gaelic footballers are to bring the Sam Maguire Cup to homeless Irish emigrants in London, it emerged tonight.

Gaelic footballers are to bring the Sam Maguire Cup to homeless Irish emigrants in London, it emerged tonight.

There are hundreds of Irish people still living on the streets of London.

Kerry forward Paul Galvin and veteran Tyrone defender Chris Lawn are bringing the Sam Maguire Cup to the Cricklewood Homeless Centre on Wednesday.

The director of the Cricklewood Homeless Centre, Danny Maher, said the visit would bring great joy to the emigrants.

“Most of them are between 45 and 60 and have been here for many years. They would never have dreamed of staying in the same room as the Sam Maguire Cup, never mind the players,” he said.

The centre provides hot meals and health care for around 300 Irish people. Mr Maher said that the GAA was still one of the most common topics for the emigrants even though many of them had not been home for years.

“The mention of the Sam Maguire Cup to these lads was like Santa coming before Christmas day. It’s a great boost,” said Mr Maher, who is originally from Limerick.

But he said that the life expectancy of the homeless emigrants was still very short.

“Forty-two is the average (mortality) age for an Irish street drinker in this town and when you see them in person, they look like they’re 90. It’s the ravages of alcohol and street drinking.”

The majority of the emigrants are from counties on the Western seaboard like Kerry, Galway, Mayo and Donegal but around one quarter hail from Northern Ireland.

The visit of the Sam Maguire Cup is being organised by the Sinn Féin Mayor of Kerry, Toiréasa Ferris, who witnessed the terrible living conditions of some Irish emigrants on a trip to London several months ago.

“I am delighted that both the Kerry and Tyrone County Boards have offered their support for this trip.

"Not only have they provided two well-known county players, but Tyrone has also agreed to bring Sam Maguire over as well,” she said.

Ms Ferris and the players will also be delivering more than 500 gift-wrapped presents from Kerry businesses and hundreds of Christmas cards from schoolchildren in the county. Her father, Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, is also travelling to London for the presentation.

The Sam Maguire Cup will also be brought to Arlington House hostel in Camden Town, which provides accommodation for 380 men.

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