Page 3 Profile: George Cunningham, homeless man


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The Independent Online

Christmas? Bah, humbug!

It’s not all trampling over crowds of people to get your hands on a flatscreen TV. A homeless man will be reunited with his family this Christmas after 12 years apart, following a Facebook appeal. George Cunningham, from Dublin, had his photo published on the social media site after he told the arts website Humans of Ireland that his main concern over the festive period was finding somewhere warm to stay and eat his Christmas dinner.

That helps put things in perspective…

“I’m homeless and travelling around to any town that has shelter for the homeless so I can get a bed for the night, as a lot of places are full. If I had to sleep out in this cold, I’d be dead already,” Mr Cunningham was quoted as telling photographer Lee Furlong. “The only thing I care about at the moment is finding a place to have a Christmas dinner,” he added. When the website shared George’s photograph and story on its Facebook page, it was inundated with responses, with dozens of people offering to pay for his meal or even host him themselves.

How did his family find him?

Mr Cunningham’s sister, Sheelagh, whom he had not spoken to in over a decade, saw the post and contacted the photographer, telling him that their mother wanted Mr Cunningham to spend Christmas with his family. He has now spoken on the phone to his sister and his mother, and next Wednesday he will be going home.

I stand corrected – it’s a wonderful life!

The good cheer doesn’t end there. Mr Furlong said a hotel near the family home has offered the wanderer a night’s accommodation, and a local clothes shop has given him a new suit for the big reunion. Mr Cunningham told the Irish Independent that he found it “all hard to believe” and that he was “absolutely overwhelmed” by the reaction to his story.