Bono urged people to dig deep into their pockets and bring hope to the homeless as he led a Christmas Eve busk in Dublin city centre.
U2’s frontman and guitarist The Edge joined dozens of other performers outside the atmospheric 19th-century Gaiety Theatre in the heart of Dublin’s main Grafton Street shopping district.
An empty guitar case served as a collection vessel for the Simon Community housing charity.
Bono said: “As the buckets go around, fill them with silver, fill them with hope – the season of hope.”
Almost 10,000 people are without homes this festive season in Ireland, support group Focus Ireland has said, a major political issue a year out from a general election.
Sofa-surfing, sleeping in hostels, cars, tents and in street doorways is an acknowledged problem.
Despite a booming economy evidenced by the bustling crowd of Christmas Eve shoppers, affordable new houses are not being built quickly enough and rent rates have risen significantly, campaigners have claimed.
Glen Hansard, who founded Dublin rock band The Frames and organised the Christmas Eve busking event, sang a song which name-checked members of the Irish Government in a less than favourable light for its handling of homelessness.
Nearby, the pedestrianised streets of the capital were thronged with last-minute gift-buyers.
Bono and The Edge were introduced as “two lads from north Dublin”, the culmination of a parade of Irish talent, which included Liam O Maonlai with an as gaeilge (Irish) performance about a love affair in the west of Ireland which demanded audience interaction as well as the more mainstream sounds of The Coronas’ Danny O’Reilly and Damien Rice.
Bono urged all the other performers onto the stage, and said anyone with a guitar and a soul was welcome, adding: “This is very special for us, you should be proud of this.”
They were joined by fellow Irish acts Hansard and Imelda May for a rendition of Mariah Carey’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).
The were also poetry readings.
A resident of a Simon Community homeless centre on Harcourt Street in Dublin city centre stepped up to the microphone wearing a Christmas hat and gave a confident rendition of Gotta Have Faith.
Bono and The Edge stayed for a couple of songs.
A quick embrace with May and other performers, a wave, and they were gone.