Paud Sexton (89) from Stradone enjoying his meal in a cafe in Blackrock - paid for by an anonymous stranger.

From the editor's desk: It’s nice to be nice!

A charming email popped into my inbox yesterday morning, early.

It told a story of a random act of kindness. It was timely as I had only just heard a reflection on RTÉ radio one’s ‘Rising Time’ on its ‘Word in Edgeways’ feature about another such kind act and the importance of being kind. They both struck a chord.

The email was from a lady called Pauline Sexton who told me how her father-in-law Paud Sexton (89) from Stradone and his daughter Claire and granddaughter Kaitlin went on a trip to Blackrock to relive memories of family trips to the seaside. Claire was visiting from the Isle of Man and they had not been to Blackrock together for 40 years.

In Pauline’s words : “As it was a rainy day, they went into a cafe for dinner. When they went to pay, they were told some man had paid their bill!

“They have no idea who did this but it was a very sweet surprise. They would love to know who did it and why so they can thank him for his kindness.”

They assume the man overheard Paud and Claire reminiscing and their trip down memory lane touched the kind stranger.

Pauline asked us: “If you would like to share this story, I am sure many would be encouraged to know there are still people in Ireland with kind hearts.”

Consider it done Pauline and we will post it on our website and social media channels also.

The kind stranger may well wish to remain anonymous but the story deserves to be told all the same so that people can realise the importance of being kind.

The reflection on RTE radio one was from a religious man, Fr Terence Harrington, a brother, who was cocooning at the Capuchin Friary in Dublin’s inner city during the recent Covid pandemic.

He told a story of a clamper who was redeployed by the local authority to deliver prescription medication during the lockdown. The man arrived with the delivery of medicine and also handed the brother some biscuits and sweets. Asked what it was all about, the volunteer replied – that’s just a little gift from myself for the community because I know that you are all cocooning. A small thing perhaps, but it touched the brother so much that it inspired a written reflection.

He advises, faced with a choice between doing the kind thing and doing the right thing, you should always choose the kind thing because, then, you will always be right! It is an interesting way to look at it.

It’s true though – nobody ever knows what’s going on inside another person’s head or what troubles, pain or insecurities they are harbouring. They may smile and joke and laugh but, inside, they could be broken.

Recently, I was in McCarren’s in Cavan Town and saw post-it notes attached to the coffee machine with messages from random strangers urging people to ‘have a coffee and a donut on them’. They had already been paid for. I thought what a lovely idea!

It also reminded me of a story we carried five months ago about a trend started by the Relaghabeg Bar on the Cavan Meath border that saw anonymous gifts being left on doorsteps all over the east Cavan area to lift people’s spirits during Level Five Covid restrictions.

Kind acts and deeds don’t need to involve money or gifts – a kind word, a smile, letting somebody out of a parking space or go ahead of you in the supermarket because they only have a few things in their hand.

A kind act or word can change the course or mood of your whole day – in some cases your whole life. That’s true for both the person doing the deed, as well as the benefactor.

Many sayings come to mind – it’s nice to be nice; if you haven’t got anything good to say... But a personal favourite of mine is the old Irish saying: ‘Níor bhris focal maith fiacail riamh’ or, directly translated, A good word never broke a tooth. There are many things we can teach our children but teaching them to be kind is one of the most important.