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Rock Against Homelessness Christy Dignam reveals he was homeless "for about six months" after marriage breakdown

Christy will perform with Aslan at Independent.ie's Rock Against Homelessness online concert on June 20

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Christy says he is struggling to make ends meet.

Christy says he is struggling to make ends meet.

Christy says he is struggling to make ends meet.

Irish singing legend Christy Dignam reveals that he once ended up homeless after the breakdown of his marriage.

The Aslan star also tells how the Covid-19 lockdown has left him struggling to pay his mortgage after it wiped out his savings.

Christy, who will perform with Aslan at Independent.ie's Rock Against Homelessness online concert on June 20, fears that many people are "just a couple of pay cheques away from being homeless."

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Christy Dignam and wife Kathryn split at one stage.

Christy Dignam and wife Kathryn split at one stage.

Christy Dignam and wife Kathryn split at one stage.

 

In an exclusive interview, Christy tells the Sunday World how he found himself depending on friends for a bed at night when his marriage to wife, Kathryn, hit a rocky patch in the heyday of his career through his own fault.

"When I was messing around I split up with Kathryn, so for about six months I was homeless myself," he says.

"I was kind of doing a bit of couch surfing that would last for a couple of weeks before people would obviously get a pain in their a**e with me sleeping on their couch.

"Then I was totally homeless, so I know what it was like. It's a horrible place to be.

"I remember years ago we were playing in New York in the winter and it was snowing. When we arrived in the afternoon there was a guy on the street outside the venue begging with a cup. He was still there in the early hours after our gig and I got talking to him.

"I was asking him how he ended up on the street and he said he'd been married, he was a carpenter. One day he came home on his wife's birthday to surprise her and caught her in bed with a bloke. That split up his marriage and his life spiralled out of control.

"In America you fall through the cracks because there's no social welfare.

It was the first time I realised how people can end up on the street. I had never really thought about it before.

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"These are human beings with stories and lives and dreams and aspirations, and we forget that.

"When I was a very young kid, about seven or eight years old, a woman across the road went over to New York on a holiday. This was back in the late 1960s when it was a big deal.

"When she came back all the auld wans were around the hall door talking to her, and us kids we were all sitting on the steps listening to these stories about this place New York that we'd see on the television.

"She was saying, 'Do you know what's crazy over there, you walk up the street and there's these people they call homeless people and they're just lying there on the street with people walking by them.'

"We were totally appalled at the concept of that back in the Sixties because in those days you had nothing like that in Dublin. Now it's 2021 and the homeless scandal here in Ireland is outrageous. It doesn't seem to be getting any better.

"We shouldn't have to be doing gigs like this (Rock Against Homelessness). It should be sorted out by the Government. This shouldn't be happening in a civilised world."

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Aslan front man will join Gilbert O’Sullivan for the fundraiser

Aslan front man will join Gilbert O’Sullivan for the fundraiser

Aslan front man will join Gilbert O’Sullivan for the fundraiser

 

Christy, who will duet with his songwriting idol Gilbert O'Sullivan on the show, says he's happy to draw attention to the plight of the homeless.

"This pandemic has shown us that most of us are a couple of pay cheques away from being homeless," he says.

"The last year has been a nightmare financially for me because I didn't get any of the pandemic grants and I still have a mortgage to pay. The mortgage has to be paid every month regardless of whether you're working or not.

"So all my savings are gone; it just depleted everything. I've had to get loans from people to keep going. But everybody is in the same boat.

'It's not just me that this is happening to, so I can't really complain.

'That's the only way to look at it, otherwise you would just crucify yourself.

"Anyway, I've too much to worry about than to be worrying about f**kin' money," adds Christy, referring to his health issues.

Dignam was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer in 2013, and was told he had only six months to live.

However, he beat the odds, and continues to fight his amyloidosis through chemotherapy.

"When I first got diagnosed and was given six months, I remember at that moment it didn't matter what car I drove, or that I was in Aslan, or what house I lived in. The only thing I wanted was to see me grandson's Communion and me granddaughter making her Confirmation. They were the only things that were important to me…the simple things.

"It's ironic that for years I was taking drugs looking to see what life was all about, and it was in front of me all the time."

• Tickets for the Rock Against Homelessness streamed event cost €23 and are available now via Ticketmaster. The concert will be available in its entirety to view for seven days after the event (4pm, June 20), so attendees can watch it at a time that suits them.

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