The celebrated children’s rights campaigner, Christina Noble, will be the guest of honour for a special event in Castlebar next month.
The Dublin born woman, who has dedicated her life to the protection and care of impoverished, marginalised, abandoned and abused children in Vietnam, will be one of five recipients of the annual Diaspora Awards hosted by Mayo Cherishing the Irish Diaspora group.
The awards will be presented at a gala Moonlight in Mayo concert at the Royal Theatre on September 20, headlined by Foster and Allen and compered by Henry McGlade, who will record the event for later transmission on the iMayoTV weekly programme.
Christina Noble was raised in a Dublin orphanage, lived rough on the streets of the city and suffered domestic violence before visiting Vietnam to care for children there after a recurring dream, during the Vietnam War, of the children pleading for her help. Her visit, and the mission she undertook, led to the creation of the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, for which she was later honoured with the OBE. A film of her life, ‘Noble’, was released in 2015.
Her visit to Mayo, where she has established strong links over the years, promises to be a special occasion. Christina’s award is to be named in honour of Martin Campbell, a great friend of the Mayo group, who himself had been homeless on the streets of London for 28 years, before he was befriended by the Simon Community. The gala concert will include a short video of the life of Christina Noble.
Functions she will perform during her visit will include the laying of a wreath on the grave of the late Michael Morgan, who contributed so much over the years to the work of Mayo Cherishing the Irish Diaspora.
The organising committee of the gala concert comprises Kevin Bourke, Marianne Staunton and Brendan Mulvey, who have been instrumental in the Mayo Diaspora group since its foundation over 20 years ago. In that time, the group has arranged holidays for over a thousand Irish people in England who have either lost touch with home or may have fallen on hard times. In many cases, the returnees have been reunited with families they have not seen or been in contact with for, in many cases, over 50 years.
There is a great line-up of artistes for the concert, with a sparkling array of performing talent to complement the appearance of Foster and Allen. Patrick Feeney, Anne Marie O’Riordan, Paddy Joe, the Garvey Brothers, Tomas Langan, Wavelength and the talented Atlantic Rhythm Dance troupe will provide the entertainment, with dancing later to Kieran Lundy.
The proceeds from the show will be divided among a number of selected charities, including Mayo Special Olympics, the Mayo Roscommon Hospice, Irish Community Care (Merseyside, Liverpool), the Irish Guide Dogs’ Association, Mayo Suicide Awareness Group, and Mayo Arthritis Association.
As in former years, the guests will include a group of Irish emigrants in London, many of them returning home for the first time. They will be taken on scenic tours of the county, and will be made welcome by local community groups who have been very generous in their support of the Mayo Diaspora venture since it began – among them the community groups of Cushlough and Murrisk, who always extend a heart cead míle fáilte to the visitors. And, in the words of Kevin Bourke, money could not buy the warm memories that the exiles will take back with them to their adopted country.