This post was written by Luke Clerkin, a singer and songwriter from Dublin. He’s a youbloom grad, having played at youbloom Dublin and LA in 2016. He is an accomplished musician who recently released his first EP “Ink Written Messages”. He has supported another rising youbloom star Aine Cahill and will host his own gig in Whelans in Dublin on Feb 22nd. He is heavily involved in the Home Sweet Home campaign to end homelessness in Ireland. Here he tells the story of his experience and the role music played in bringing thousands of people together.
Don’t let the title fool you, this blog post isn’t about a gig at the Apollo Theatre. The Apollo mentioned refers to the world famous Apollo House, an abandoned office block in Dublin which was turned into a homeless shelter by a group of activists, trade unionists and artists. I found myself playing there a number of times for the residents and volunteers. Here’s an extract from a Facebook post I wrote on the day Apollo House was vacated:
Reflecting back upon the 3 weeks of my experience with Apollo House and Home Sweet Home, I find myself humbled to be able to say I played quite a minor part in such a huge movement.
My experience began with answering a call out on Twitter by Glen Hansard to come down for a sing along, I responded by arriving at Apollo house with my guitar. I then found myself on top of the car park of the building with Glen and some of my biggest influences, singing to hundreds of people who were supporting the movement.
The experience continued as I supported the movement within the high courts, this is when I caught the Home Sweet Home bug, this is when I got to see beyond the artists and unions, this is when I got to see the people behind it.
Christmas then approached and I went to Cavan for a few days. When I returned, I saw another call out for musicians, and again I found myself at Apollo House with my guitar. This time it wasn’t to play to hundreds of people, this time it was to play to the people that really mattered, the residents and volunteers. This is when I was hooked! I got to see what happened inside of the building. I got to see what many people would have been amazed by, the result of the generosity of the thousands of people who donated their time and money. I got to see an office building turned into a home for forty people who would have otherwise been on the streets.
The following week, I marched with Home Sweet Home from Apollo House to the department of Finance as they handed the minister a letter with thousands of signatures asking him to open up Nama buildings for the Homeless. I then found myself back in the building entertaining the residents and volunteers once again.
Each time I was invited back to play, I got to meet more and more of the residents and volunteers, each one as amazing as the other! Each time they welcomed me with open arms and open ears, and the respect was like no other !
Out of all the times I spent at Apollo House, the final day and night were probably the best, as everyone stood together shoulder to shoulder (literally) and the public showed how much belief and passion they had for the cause.
It was sad to see everyone say good bye to Apollo House, but for Home Sweet Home, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.
Thank you to all the volunteers and residents for everything you’ve done for the people of this country, and thank you for allowing me to be part of it.