The Irish and their friends in Rome are once again preparing to get out their dancing shoes for their 13th annual Celtic Ball for Charity. As W.B. Yeats wrote "For the good are the merry, and the merry love the fiddle, and the merry love to dance".But dancing at the CELTIC Ball is no mere gathering of twinkling toes and merry minds. Proceeds are destined for Il Chicco in Ciampino, Rome and The Arrupe Society in Dublin.

Il Chicco Community is part of the Arche International Federation founded by Jean Vanier some 35 years ago. Its driving principle is to provide permanent and stable homes for people with serious intellectual and physical disabilities and to aid those frequently rejected by society. Helpers choose to devote a period of their lives to living in a community for six months, year, many years or even their entire lives. The communities also have the assistance of rehabilitation specialists, doctors and many other medical professionals.

The Arrupe Society was founded in 1983 in Ireland by Fr. Peter McVerry, S.J., to provide care and accommodation for homeless boys. Its target group are boys aged 15 to 18 who are in need of alternative accommodation because of the inadequacy of their home situation. Children under 16 will also be provided with accommodation if no other suitable service is available to them. The young people the society caters for are homeless, unemployed, poorly educated and at very high risk. Ultimately, the objective is to help them take control of their own lives.

On Saturday 13 March at the Sheraton Hotel in EUR the black tie evening includes a champagne reception starting at 19.00; gala sit-down dinner at 20.30; the hotel orchestra playing throughout dinner: an Irish musical interlude to help celebrate Irelands presidency of the European Union; some excellent raffle and spot prizes. For information e-mail sandra.tracy@fao.org and mary.kennan@iveagh.gov.ie