Celine Byrne, Dermot Earley and Brent Pope cook up interest for Mission!

Soprano Celine Byrne is known for hitting the high notes in the top Opera houses all over the world but this time she is lending her voice and her cooking skills for a major charity cook off that is dear to her heart!.

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A nationwide cookery challenge has been launched by World Missions Ireland as part of a drive to highlight its campaign to provide one million dinners for children in the developing world and promote its many mission projects.

Missionary Children is its’ dedicated children’s charity and every cent raised under its fundraising division goes to children’s projects in Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Along with Celine, popular GAA sports star Dermot Earley, RTE Rugby pundit Brent Pope and Mary O’ Rourke, former Minister and probably Ireland’s favourite Mammy, are supporting the cook off.

The idea behind the campaign is that contestants will devise a dinner menu to feed a family of six for €5.

The entries will be whittled down to just FIVE and a cook off will take place between the finalists in October, the traditional month of mission.

Jackie Pallas, National Secretary of Missionary Children says “This is going to be lots of fun. Cooking is the new passion in Ireland and very importantly it is one that families can do together. We are looking for people to devise tasty, nutritious food for a family of six for just a fiver. Yes, I know this is no mean feat but there are so many ways in which food can be imaginative. We will allow for the fact that people will have lots of spices and other bits and pieces in their cupboards and they can use all these. What we want people to do is go out and shop for their main ingredients with just €5, send us on their recipes for the meals they have made and we will then have the difficult job of deciding on the five finalists!”.

On a more serious note Jackie says it is one of the huge global injustices that so many people are dying from food poverty every day.

Millions of people are going to bed hungry every night and millions more are dying from hunger. It is heartbreaking and though I’ve worked in this area for the past 14 years, I can never become immune to this terrible reality. While €5 may indeed be a very limited amount for people in this country, despite our own economic difficulties, it is a lot of money for impoverished families in so many parts of the world. During my mission trips to India, Uganda and South Africa for instance I have seen families prepare meals for just 20 cents, they stretched that money in the most incredible ways”.

“We are thrilled to have support from Celine, Dermot, Brent and Mary; after all they love food and the Irish people love them so it’ a great mix!”  

For her part, Celine says she is delighted to take part in this initiative. “It’s wonderful and it’s fun for a great worthy cause”.

“Look, we all love food, and let’s face it we are so lucky that we have food to eat. It is a simple basic need and sadly we can take this for granted. In many ways we should; everybody should have enough to eat. As a Mother, as a human being, it pains me to think of people, irrespective of age, going hungry and suffering, so hats off to ‘World Missions Ireland’ for this drive. I want people to get their thinking caps on and get busy with the pots and pans. Yes, it will be quite challenging and will take a bit of thought as the budget is very small but it’ll be worth it”.

Well used to the challenges of the playing pitch in the past, and having gone on a charity Mission to Swaziland, Dermot Earley says “I’m urging the people of Ireland to get behind this challenge. It is a great idea and while it may be difficult to come up with ideas for recipes, it is nothing compared to the difficulties people in the developing world have to face every single day of their lives. We can do this! “I wouldn’t be the best cook in the world myself” admits the affable Army Officer but “I am actually looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and experimenting. It’s a wonderful initiative, both for the World Missions Ireland itself but for the people of Ireland too as they can get busy with their recipes and how they can make a fiver stretch. I’m up for the challenge!”.      

Recipes can be sent to pr@wmi.ie or posted to World Missions Ireland, 64 Lower Rathmines Road, D6. Telephone 01 4972035. Closing date 26th September.