Thrills and chills as taxi drivers host annual fun day out
It was 'fangs for the memories' for Dublin vampire 'Paddy Drac' Finley as he marked 45 years of children's outings provided by city taxi drivers.
He took centre stage at the launch of another annual Dublin taxi drivers' outing for special needs children at Parnell Square yesterday.
The 70-year-old Dracula impersonator has been entertaining young people with disabilities every year since his first taxi drivers' day out in 1969, aged 25.
"Now I have to spray my hair black. I've worn out 24 coffins since then," he said.
"I love entertaining the children year after year. I didn't have much as a child growing up in Crumlin, so I'm always happy to help out with the young people," said Paddy, who added that he lives in 'Tallaghtsylvania'.
Johnny Walker (79), chairman of the Dublin Taxi Drivers' Special Children's Outing committee, said: "We have 500 taxis bringing almost 1,000 children and young people with mental or physical disabilities for the annual day out party at Leopardstown Racecourse.
"Paddy Drac has never let us down all these years. He's brilliant," said Mr Walker.
City taxi drivers donate their services and their taxis free of charge for the day-long event each year.
The first outing involved bringing five children to Dublin Zoo in 1960 but since then, the annual event has grown into a big annual occasion.
Taximan Paul Matthews (51) said: "Drivers turn off their meters for the day and enjoy helping out with the children, whose smiling faces make it all worthwhile."
The drivers picked up the young party-goers at hospitals, care centres and at their family homes. All party food at the racecourse was prepared by 30 taxi drivers.
Geraldine Tyrrel, from Tallaght, brought along her daughter Lesley.
Lesley's friend Nadine Ledwidge was there with her mother Kim.
The two daughters attend the Airton Road training centre. Both mothers were delighted with the generous deeds of the taxi drivers.
The Garda Band provided a rousing accompaniment as the convoy of balloon-festooned taxis set off from the city centre.
Dublin's Deputy Lord Mayor Larry O'Toole waved them off.
"I know the marvellous work that the drivers put into this event. It's a great credit to the taxi drivers of Dublin," he said.