The Liberty Soup Run – the heart of Dublin city  

The Liberty Soup Run has been a huge factor in helping people sleeping rough and people struggling with addiction for the last five years. From one man in a van handing out food, clothing and toiletries to those in need, it’s become an organised soup run with a team of 33 volunteers that give up their time to hand out these same necessities every day. 

Christopher O’Reilly, who hails from The Liberties, began this mission five years ago. After suffering from alcoholism himself, Chris went on to get the help he needed and “fell in love” with helping others with the same struggles.

He had been working in construction, but wanted to do more. ”There was something missing inside me, so we started our own little soup kitchen five years ago in Meath Street in Dublin 8, right at the heart of The Liberties.” 

As O’Reilly recalls, “The first night we started we had a small little table with a few sandwiches and a hot flask of water and now it’s grown into something I can’t even explain – it’s just crazy. 

“We have 33 volunteers, we’ve two vans on the road out seven days a week, 365 days a year. It’s all voluntary – we don’t get government funded, we only rely on the public’s help. That shows how fast it’s grown, we’re now feeding over 100 people a night.”  

With two vans on the road every night it can be tough to run the operation with only donations to keep them going.

“I’m constantly on social media, begging if you want to say that, looking for support and help, so our main thing is to keep our vans full every night. To fill one of our vans for a night would cost about €600, probably more, that’s sleeping bags, stockings, underwear, toiletries, hats, gloves and scarves; on the other side you’d have goodies, sandwiches, tea, coffee.

“It’s a big operation, you know, to keep two vans. Thank God since we started, we’ve always had our vans out. Even if we didn’t have anything, we still went out with whatever we had tea or coffee and biscuits or something.” 

“That’s where we struggle in that area, to find the proper support, now as I said we get great support from the community and local businesses and people all over the country donating to us; but it’s a lot of work. You’re constantly on the go.” 

The Soup Run recently had a donation from Irish professional mixed martial artist and professional boxer, Conor McGregor.

“Conor reached out to us, he seen we had a GoFundMe around Christmas time appealing for donations. We were struggling, and Conor donated €10,000 to our GoFundMe. He texted me on Instagram, and he said he wanted to support us. Two weeks later then he came down to Thomas Street to see what we do, and he promised us a van. True to his word, he got a van for us, so here we are today with a second van, and now thanks to Conor McGregor. He’s going to help us out now going forward.” 

How can others help? “You can follow our Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok we’re all over them. We have a Revolut account and a GoFundMe, there’s also the option of going out and buying the stuff yourself, for instance, pot noodles, crisps, sleeping bags, all the above, really.” 

The Liberty Soup Run came from humble beginnings but has since grown to a bigger operation. Thanks to the 33 volunteers and local support, this is all possible. “We have local volunteers from around the area that give up their time and drive the vans for us, and we have walking teams that walk around the city with trolleys. We do a big setup every Thursday, we set up tables up, we send people to treatment centres, it’s, we send people to treatment centres; it’s almost a full-time job.” 

The dedication and hard work from O’Reilly and many others have got people through the winter. After the death in late February of Ann Delaney, a well-known woman in Aungier Street who was a rough sleeper and a friend of O’Reilly, he wrote: “With the death last night and the deaths in recent years, we’re losing people on the streets, something has to be done about this; we need proper resources, we need more residential treatment centres and we need more drop in centres.”

O’Reilly concludes: “It just needs to be highlighted that we need more support because we can’t do this on our own, we’re only a little drop in the ocean. There’s 14,000 homeless in Dublin, there’s 4,000 children and there’s about 300 rough sleepers around Dublin every single night. We do what we can, and we put everything into it. That’s all we can do for now.”  

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