About Cork Penny Dinners

Cork Penny Dinners is a warm dry place in the heart of Cork City with a welcoming atmosphere. The premises is open to all 7 days a week all year round, No questions are asked, no judgements are made.

All our services are free of charge to those that need them. Our friendly volunteers ensure that our service users are well looked after on a daily basis. Our door is always open, we never judge, we serve.

Cork Penny Dinners is currently serving up to 2000 freshly made meals per week at our premises compared to approximately 150 or less per week prior to the recession.

Sometimes a cup of tea, a handshake or a friendly chat can go a long way towards beating the loneliness and isolation that is a big issue for many that come our way.

There has also been a huge increase in homelessness and mental health issues that are affecting so many people which have forced them to avail of our services.

In the last few years we have also seen a big increase in the number of families availing of our service.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life; nurses, truck drivers,scientists, general operatives, musicians, teachers, students, solicitors, unemployed people, retired people and clergy. Our volunteers are made up of many different nationalities, but what we all have in common is empathy for our fellow human beings and a willingness to offer a hand in support. Service users and volunteers at Cork Penny Dinners interact with good humour and mutual respect always.

Food packages are also distributed to people in need. We do not have paid staff at Cork Penny Dinners, all work is on a voluntary basis.

Cork Penny Dinners is a Charitable Trust. Our charitable objective is to feed those in need and to offer support to homeless people.

Cork Penny Dinners will have the opportunity to expand its services thanks to the phenemonal generosity of fundraisers from Cork and beyond. In the near future  service users of the organisation will benefit from a state of the art faciility offering boundless educational opportunities. The centre will also provide medical care and assistance in everyday adminstrative tasks.  Located in James Street, the building will house a clinic operated by some 52 doctors. This service will be operated on a rotatory and voluntary basis by local GPs. A full music programme run by voluntary tutors will pave the way for the Cork Penny Dinners Orchestra. The idea behind this is to foster social interactions while cultivating new skills. Classes in sewing, cooking and repair will be put in place to revive survival skills of old.

It is estimated that the project will cost in the region of €800,000. CPD Volunteer Coordinator, Caitriona Twomey said she hopes the building can be a "one stop shop" to enhance existing services available to those experiencing financial difficulties. All services will be provided free of charge.

"Our main objective is to help people achieve their dreams," Caitriona added. "Over time the intiative will evolve and there are so many possibilities to look forward to."Service users have the option of free counselling sessions. The centre will act as a haven for abuse survivors who, with professional support, can strive for solace and healing.


Fundraising comes from individuals, companies, local organisations and businesses, social and sporting clubs. Many help with donations from their voluntary fundraising events which they have organised for the charity's benefit and also donate goods, produce and expertise. These donations are what enables the continuance of our service into the future. 

As we do not fundraising ourselves we would like to extend a massive and sincere thanks to all those who have and continue to support the charity. We are very grateful to all those who organise and take part in their voluntary fundraising efforts, food drives, challenges, quizzes, cake sales, music gigs, sporting events, school events and so many other diverse initiatives. The goodwill of people has been absolutely outstanding.

Third-Party Fundraiser Responsibilities

·        Fundraisers must disclose that they are third party agents.

·        It is the responsibility of the fundraisers to obtain relevant Garda permits.

·        Fundraisers should familiarise themselves and comply with the laws of the land relating to fundraising activities.

·        Fundraisers must be able to communicate the purpose of the  Charity.

·        Fundraisers must  conduct themselves with integrity and honesty at all times.

·        Fundraisers must ensure their actions enhance the reputation of  Cork Penny Dinners.

·        If buckets are used for collections, ensure the buckets are sealed,  and that unrelated people are involved in counting the money.

·        Fundraisers should ensure they receive a receipt from Cork Penny Dinners when handing over the proceeds.

Cork Penny Dinners are a Registered Charity – CHY4971.

A special thanks to Macroom Motors for the donated Van which is invaluable to our work.


Penny Dinners Trustees Volunteer coordinator, Caitríona Twomey is the driving force behind Cork Penny Dinners. Operating on a purely voluntary basis, she became involved with the charity some years ago through her father Tom Lynch. During Caitríona’s childhood, Tom would devote much of his Christmas Day to cooking hot meals for the homeless community in Cork. Then, following hours of graft, he would return home and do the same for his children . “My father never told us where he was going which only fuelled my curiosity”, Caitriona said. “I was thrilled when he agreed to let me come with him one year. From helping out I was shocked to see the number of people suffering. It made me realise how truly lucky I was.” Since then Caitríona has dedicated her life to easing other people’s suffering.  Her trained background as a psychotherapist attests to this. A Cork Person of the Month award is among her many accolades. Caitríona’s teenage daughter Alesha is already following in her footsteps after receiving the prestigious “Garda Youth Award’ for her ongoing charity work. “I believe in our ethos of being non-judgemental as that was firmly rooted in my childhood,” Caitríona said. “My strong points are many, my weak points even more. However, myself and the volunteers do a magnificent job everyday of the year. We Serve!”

Gerald Kean began his first job with the late solicitor Michael Martin in Dublin before setting up his own practice by the late 1980s.He set up his solicitor’s practice, Kean and Co., more than 15 years ago. The businessman was initially introduced to Cork Penny Dinners after volunteers invited him to participate in an event intended to raise the organisation’s profile. The renowned solicitor was only too willing to join other celebrities in the kitchen as part of a “volunteer experience.” While his duty on the day was simply peeling potatoes, he made quite the impression on service users. His compassionate nature lent itself well to his volunteering work in CPD in the years that followed. In 2014 he joined the CPD trustee board. Mr Kean is also an accomplished author. He penned a book about his experience of featuring in the first season of RTÉ’s Celebrity Banisteoir. He has appeared on numerous television shows through the years including Tubridy Tonight, The Panel and Operation Transformation.

Limerick native Gary Heslin felt compelled to join the Cork Penny Dinners team after learning of their invaluable work from television show the Secret Millionaire which aired almost seven years ago. The cause was close to his heart, given the number of people he encountered sleeping on the streets during a normal working day.The now  retired firefighter was so touched by their appearance he decided to volunteer in the soup kitchen which dates back to famine times. Gary spent 27 years working with Cork City Fire Brigade and has also garnered much respect in the community through his voluntary work with the RNLI.

Sarah Horgan developed a love for helping others after offering her services as a voluntary make-up artist in Saint Patrick’s Marymount nine years ago. While she quit the beauty industry, her love for charity remained. She worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years before securing a job as a full time News Reporter with the Evening Echo newspaper. Her collection of work saw her nominated in the regional journalist of the year category back in 2012. During the course of her work Sarah was introduced to CPD and came to know many of its service users and volunteers.  Some of the voluntary work she has conducted through the charity includes the Finding Your Voice Project which saw her teach journalism skills to three women rebuilding their lives after homelessness. All three involved had their end of term pieces published by the Evening Echo. Sarah’s hobbies include filmmaking, styling and coordinating fashion shoots.

Noel Heany

JJ O Connell