‘That’s me in the corner, losing my religion’ R.E.M. (1991)
‘That’s me in the corner, restoring my faith in humanity.’ GPM (2019)
GPM? Gerard Peter Moran i.e. moi. The corner in question is the corner, just inside the main
entrance, of the Supervalu store in Loughboy. It’s 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon and I am
perched on a high stool with, not a pint before me, but a plastic container for any donations
from the passing shoppers for the Fr. McGrath Family Resource Centre in St. Joseph’s Rd. in
the parish of St. Canice’s, in the Butts, one of the most historic parts of our medieval city.
Collecting for a St. Canice’s charity in the heart of the Village is challenging to say the least
but I also say this, with the utmost sincerity – they’re decent people, the Village People. This
I know from the burgeoning contents of my plastic container (I’ve never seen so many five
Euro notes in a collection box before) but this I also know as an ‘honorary’ Village man (I
like to think) having lived and worked in the parish of St. Patrick’s for over thirty years. My
own parish pedigree – is mixed, to say the least. Born and bred in St. Canice’s I was blessed
to have had Fr. McGrath on the scene organising hurling and basketball leagues and annual
sports in the Waterbarrack for us kids. Then Bishop Birch (a mighty man too) moved the
goalposts i.e. changed the parish boundaries and overnight I found myself in the parish of St.
Mary’s! I then got married and lived on the Continent i.e. in the parish of St. John’s for a
couple of years before migrating to St. Patrick’s where I’ve been domiciled for over thirty
years - which reminds me, I must apply for citizenship soon! So, a parish-mongrel or what?
Anyway that was me in the corner in Supervalu collecting for the Fr. McGrath Family
Resource Centre (Google them and see what marvellous voluntary work they do in the
community for kids, youths, married couples, older persons not to mention education and
employment) The Supervalu Corner (SC for future reference) is a good posting – the last two
years I was a foot-soldier on High St, exposed to the elements and sometimes doing more
shuffling (of feet) than collecting (of cents). I consider a seat in the SC a promotion: you’re
off the street, out of the cold and sitting down. Or maybe the organisers realised that Moran is
getting on and didn’t want him catching cold or pneumonia resulting in him suing the Centre
for copious quantities of Lemsip and batches of antibiotics!
The other thing about the SC is that it’s conducive to a chat – too conducive perhaps as it
allows the mean people, the tight people (people I actually know) to slip past while you are
empathically engaged with someone about their recent knee-operation or stroke (and I was) I
was tempted to run after those ‘meanies’ and roar, at the top of my voice: ‘You mean auld
feckers.’ Which would, of course, land me in PC Prison and spell the end of my flag selling
days. Overall, however, people were generous – I absolutely loved the woman who took one
look at who we were collecting for, opened her purse took out a fiver and slipped it in the
box, and then handed her two children a euro each to donate also. Seven Euros! That’s a
sizeable donation on any flag day. And I appreciated the lady who contributed going in AND
coming out. And I also loved the lady who laid down her three chock-a-block, shopping bags
to haul out her purse and make a contribution. A lot of shoppers use the old two-hands-full
(with shopping bags) as an excuse to pass you by, as in: ‘You hardly expect me to drop my
bags and rummage for a few cents?’ I do, missus. I do, I do, I do. Others, fair dues, donate the
Euro from the shopping trolley they return. And then there are those who never have, and
never will, drop one red cent in your box regardless of the cause and your pleasant mile (and
my predecessor in the SC checked my smile before he left and gave it the all clear) Smile or
no smile – some people give regardless. And they did. And thank you all from the Fr.
McGrath Centre and from me in the corner, you restored my belief in the goodness and
generosity of mankind.