Under His Umbrella




Minnie Mélange writes:

Whilst walking through Dublin yesterday afternoon, it began to rain. Within minutes, what was a light shower, quickly became torrential and I had forgotten my umbrella. In the midst of searching for shelter, I crossed paths with a man who appeared to be homeless and was asking passers-by for their loose change. Reaching into my coat pocket, I had less than one euro in coppers and apologised for the small amount but placed the coins into his polystyrene cup.

As I continued my fast-paced walk, I heard someone calling ‘Love, love, love’ from behind me. I turned around and the man who I had just given money to was trying to gain my attention and was asking me to come back to where he was sitting on the concrete. He asked me if I had an umbrella and having explained that I’d left mine in college, he offered me a navy teddy-bear umbrella; one of the very few possessions he had on his person. I refused and said that I couldn’t take it from him but it fell on deaf ears. He told me that the rain was too heavy and I would get sick if I was walking around in it for much longer. He placed the umbrella in my hand and merely asked me to return it the next time that we run into each other

I was completely flabbergasted. I asked him his name, introduced myself and shook his hand. The rain continued to worsen and as I raced back to college, I could not help but think of how cold and wet that man must now be. Two hours later, the weather cleared and Dublin experienced some brief sunshine. With the umbrella and a thank you card in-hand, I meandered back to the location where I first met him and luckily, he was still there. Shaking his hand, I thanked him for his generosity and incredible kindness. His response? You’re welcome.

For What It’s Worth (Millie Mélange)

(Sam Boal/Photocall ireland)

Thanks Kieran

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64 thoughts on “Under His Umbrella

    1. Maisy

      Are you serious, she said he wouldn’t take no for an answer – i’m sure she didn’t WANT to take it!!! ffs

  1. Jdawg

    I wish I wasn’t so skeptical. I’ve lived and worked in Dublin 2 for 10 years. I pretty much know all the faces of people begging. Yes it’s sad. But I know begging is also a profession.

    I used to see a kid hide his lovely coat down the back of a wall and then sit shivering beside an atm.

    I saw a guy use crutches and limp, then walk off fine.

    The deaf short guy that goes around showing you a piece of paper, then goes into every bookies.

    The unending use of rabbits as gimmicks.


    I saw another guy beg for money and then go into a porno store???

    These are just a few of the many tactics and use of money I’ve seen in Dublin.

    I know a lot of people are in desperate states and mentally in well.
    But I’ve seen so many tactics to make people feel good for giving Jeffers money that I see it as street art now.
    I’m glad you got your good feeling and the guy got a little bit of money.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      I think it’s right to be sceptical.
      When you hear the old line “spare us a few coppers for a cup o’ tea”, go and buy the cup of tea and offer it and see how that goes down.
      The begging in Dublin is now out of control.

      1. fluffybiscuits

        Im kind of betwixed and between. There are those who beg who have better shoes, runners and coats than I have! For me some weeks come the Monday before payday I have €20 to get me through four days (which is a lot better than others!). Bear in mind though there are the genuine homeless guys. The lad with the rabbit on Henry St.

      2. Nikkeboentje

        I was in Edinburgh for a weekend recently. There were numerous people begging along the main street. I noticed that a lot people in Edinburgh give homeless people food and beverages instead of money. Which I thought was a good idea, but the food seemed to be cheap junk food. I was heading to M&S to buy my lunch, so I bought an extra sandwich, fruit salad and a bottle of water. I gave it to a guy who looked like he needed it. He was so grateful when he looked into the bag, he told me he couldn’t remember the last time he had fresh fruit. That made me sad.

        1. Spaghetti Hoop

          Nice gesture, and yes, I believe giving in that way separates the genuine poor from the artful dodgers.

        2. andyourpointiswhatexactly

          I gave a homeless guy a slice of pizza from steps of rome a few years ago and he complained coz it wasn’t hot.

          1. Delacaravanio

            The Italians are passionate when it comes to pizza.

            It’d be the same as giving a homeless fella here cold chips.

        3. Alfred E. Neumann

          I played a homeless man the allegro moderato from Bach’s first cello suite and he complained that my bowing was “sloppy”.

          1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

            Why would they redact the words “passionate French kiss”? How puritanical of them.

          2. jungleman

            I redacted it myself for the laugh. They appear to have redacted it completely though. They literally redacted my redaction.

          3. andyourpointiswhatexactly

            Heh. Redaction redaction.
            Though I did get that you’d redacted it yourself. I only pretend to be halfwitted on here. In fact, I’m devastatingly intelligent.

      3. James

        The other day I walked past guy begging on the bridge by Heuston Station. I don’t normally do this, but I had some coppers in my pocket, so gave it to him.

        the next day, around the same time, he was busy talking on the phone. Not sure if it was iPhone 5 or 5S, defo one of those. Wasn’t sure if I should just sit next to him and hide my old 4S in embarrassment…

        1. ahyeah

          A couple of years ago I got off the train in Heuston after a couple of weeks wandering around the West. I was perhaps looking a little rough and disshevelled. I was sitting on the steps outside waiting for a friend. This guy, about my age, walked up to me and put €50 into my hand.

    2. Soundings

      So true, and the cynic will wonder how much money that student will give that man in the next few years, she can hardly pass him by and just smile, can she? But for the rest of us, why not clutch the sliver of hope that the homeless man was genuine and that a good deed was done under a downpour on a stormy October day in Dublin.

    3. bisted

      …I’ve seen that guy with the crutches who limps and then walks off fine….definitely one of the usual suspects…you should confront him.

    4. munkifisht

      F**k you and your cynicism. There are people who are genuinely homeless. Who drop off the end of society. There are people who will abuse your generosity, and then there are people who’s lives depend on it.

      Every second a**hole has a story of “oh I saw a guy and offered him a potato and he told me he’d shove it up me hoop”, and of course there are some who will manipulate you, so what? They’re just d**ks, but that doesn’t encapsulate everyone.

      And ye know, maybe this guy just wanted that “good feeling” that you talk about (although frankly I don’t know what you’re harping on about. There’s noting to feel good about when we live in a society where people are allowed to lose everything, even a place to call home)

  2. Birneybau2

    Great story and all but I’m sure he’d prefer something, anything, other than a thank you card???

    1. Murtles

      Not if it was one of those musical cards that played “You are my sunshine”. That’d brighten up the day no end.

    2. Joe Dolan

      Your sure, yeah? How sure? Why, cos he doesn’t have a mantel piece??
      Perhaps he’s never gotten a thankyou card before, and will treasure this possession. Maybe he’ll start a little business selling/renting umbrellas and ponchos to Ill prepared paddies who forget it rains more here than in a Frank mc court novel.
      Maybe that thankyou card will remind him of a little bit of love.
      But you feel free to drop him down a cup of tea and find out which he prefers.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        In fairness I think Birneybau2’s point was why spend €3 on a piece of non-functional card with thank you written upon it when you can say it in person along with €3 / a hot meal / new woolly hat etc.

  3. Custo

    Sitting on a chair at my desk in my office this morning, I opened the internet browser on my computer and clicked on Broadsheet.ie.

    While scrolling with my mousewheel I came upon a story about a college student who had forgotten to place her umbrella in her bag with her keys, phone and purse.

    I decided to read the article by moving my eyes horizontally accross the letters and words, and processed them with my brain, which is in my head.

    It was overly descriptive, I thought to myself silently with my mind.

    But it is a nice story.

  4. LiamZero

    Nothing more heartwarming than reading Broadsheet readers’ comments on a cold and grey autumn morning. You’re all such lovely people!

    1. ahyeah

      Actually, quite selfish of Minnie Mélange not to tip Donal off that this would be happening. You can get some beautifully atmospheric shots in an afternoon downpour.

  5. andyourpointiswhatexactly

    “Spare some change, love?”
    “Change comes from within, man.”

    It’s such a great douchebaggy reply.

    1. Mani

      *tackles passerby, and starts clawing his stomach*
      ‘Liar! There’s no money in here. Just guts’

      1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

        “Silly homeless person! You misunderstood my witty repartee. Now take me to hospital, I’m pretty sure I’m dying. And gimme your umbrella. It’s raining.”

  6. andyourpointiswhatexactly

    Nope. A homeless man GAVE her an umbrella, doing a good deed. Hopefully that made him feel better. Why the cynicism? I think it’s a nice story. The teabagging was unnecessary (as it often is) but maybe it made him feel even better.
    Good times.

  7. Lilly

    There’s a young homeless couple who sit hunched together on Nassau St, just past the Tiger shop. He always has his arm protectively wrapped around her. They look like they have nothing but each other. I hope they find a home before winter sets in.

  8. isintheair

    … Two hours later, the weather cleared and Dublin experienced some brief sunshine. With the umbrella and condoms in-hand, I meandered back to the location where I first met him and luckily, he was still there.

  9. DaveyBoy

    A couple of years ago I was walking past Heuston when I saw some guy about my age sitting by himself on the steps, muttering to himself about “exploring the West”. To say he looked a little rough and disshevelled is an understatement. Anyway, my heart broke for the poor guy so instead of going to Ryan’s of Parkgate Street for a few pints and a steak as intended, I instead walked straight up to him and put €50 into his filthy outstretched hand.

    1. Alfred E. Neumann

      I hope he turned his life around. It would be sad to think he ended up as some kind of keyboard warrior, wasting his time on internet “message boards”.

  10. Joe

    A few times, out of genuine curiosity about why homelessness is still such a difficult problem to deal with, I’ve been told by people who work directly with homeless people that it’s not a good idea to give homeless people money on the street.

    Apparently, the sum total of the logic in their argument is that there are services and government policies in place to deal with the situation and giving money out on the street keeps them from engaging in the process to get a real solution to their specific needs.

    I’ve handed out a small fortune(for me anyway) over the years and I’ve always said fxxk it, they need it more than me. I’ve known half of them most likely were scams but who am I to judge someone willing to beg for help. To be honest, it’s easy to dismiss it and say “who cares if they are scams, I hope they get a good buzz out it” but recently I’m not so sure. Maybe it is causing the problem to persist but one thing is for sure the state is doing next to nothing to deal with it and invest the time and resources in any real strategy or coherent plan.

    Does a thank you card mean any less and is it really worth any less than another hot meal, a woolly hat or a handful of change? Go ask the homeless guy.. and on BS sarcasm, Pope and the PR fools seem to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

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