Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson has praised the “amazing” hospice care his grandparents received as he urged the public to get behind a nationwide fundraising campaign.
The 40-year-old Star Wars, About Time, and The Patient star remembered his grandparents Pat and Frank as “very funny and very creative”.
Speaking to the PA news agency at Bewley’s on Grafton Street in Dublin, he said: “My grandma was just full of life, full of stories, always hopping up to do stuff even when she got older – she was always jumping out of her chair to tell stories, and you’re like: ‘No, no, you’re meant to be sitting down.’
“Like just bubbling and bursting with energy and a beautiful woman, beautiful soul.
“And Frank was much more laid back and a kind of a droll sense of humour, funny stories and stuff like that.
“So, both amazing, huge influences in my life. I spent a lot of time with them.
“Amazing people, and then what you want for amazing people is for the hardest part of their life to be as easy as possible – and that’s what the hospice gave them.”
Gleeson was encouraging the public to support the nationwide Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice which has this year set a fundraising target of two million euro for hospice services.
The drive has raised 43.2 million euro since 1992.
This year’s events are due to take place on September 21, or any date that suits local organisers.
Pat and Frank were the parents of Gleeson’s father, another famed Irish movie star, Brendan Gleeson.
The actor said the care in hospices “feeds the soul” of patients and families.
“The work that the people who work there do, I think, especially over the pandemic, has been such an intense time,” he said.
“They make every journey matter for everybody who goes in there, you know, it’s not always end of life care – you might come out, but they make everybody feel special and not like it’s just another problem to them that day.
“The connection I saw between my grandparents and the people who work at the hospice were extraordinary.”
He praised the staff for “giving that much of themselves to so many people so often”.
“My family all became closer in the hospice, going through what we went through, and these coffee mornings are a way to bring people together as well and keep those connections going.”
He said the staff “took some of the burden” from the family and allowed them to concentrate on being around their loved ones as they prepared to die.
“They made that journey as beautiful and as easy as it is possible to be, it’s still a terrible thing.
“But seeing people who I cared for that much have that support, it makes me want to do everything I can for the hospice.”
The Hollywood star is currently engaged in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike which prevents actors from talking about their film and television work.
“There are a million reasons they’re on strike across the whole … the contract they’re making with AMPTP (American Motion Picture and Television Producers).
“It is about the whole contract, but AI is one of the big issues and how residuals are structured and how the studios are held accountable for who receives residuals and how they are doled out and who receives them.”
Gleeson, who starred in the film Ex Machina which is about artificial-intelligence, said AI is a particular concern for SAG: “From a writer’s point of view and from the performance point of the view, both are threats.
“The immediate threat seems to be that right now you can get it to write a film, I think it’s a little harder and more expensive to create a person – like a visual representation.
“But yeah, absolutely, my guild is worried, so I’m worried. If my guild has pointed out a problem and is concerned about it, then absolutely I’m concerned.”
Together for Hospice, The National Hospice Movement, represents 26 Hospice and specialist palliative home care providers supporting patients and their families.
Funds raised locally stay local and go back into each Hospice service, paying for medical and general staff, palliative care beds, home care visits, specialist equipment and new hospice builds.
Dr Sarah McCloskey, chairperson of Together for Hospice, said: “We are delighted Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice, which is one of Ireland’s longest and most loved fundraisers, is now entering its fourth decade of raising funds in support of Hospice in-patient and community services around Ireland.
“It is a chance to celebrate our many coffee morning hosts across the country. This ongoing support is invaluable and funds vital services and quality initiatives enhancing care for patients living with a life-limiting illness.”
Jason Doyle, managing director at Bewley’s Ireland & UK, said the company has stood “side by side” with Hospice since 1992.
“Our business was founded on the principle of caring for people and communities, so we urge everyone to host a coffee morning social to help support the incredible work Hospice carries out every day.”
People can register to host a coffee morning to support their local Hospice on hospicecoffeemorning.ie or by calling 0818 995 996.
People can also contribute via hospicecoffeemorning.ie/donate.