A Diary Part 9
Saturday 18th April

It’s now five weeks on, and the indications are that the sacrifices being made by the Irish people in terms of the restrictions are beginning to pay off in terms of positive cases and lives lost which is fantastic. But if anyone thinks that we will be returning to any kind of normal in the foreseeable future, they are going to be very disappointed. This will take a long, long time to resolve.

It may be that after May 5th that the ban on over 70’s going out might be lifted and that some hardware and shops and garden centres will be allowed to open. It may also happen that some construction work will be allowed to re-start, but that will be it.

I am not a health expert of any description, but it is hard to see the schools opening again before September. The pubs will be the last businesses to be allowed to open. In fact anywhere that there is the possibility for crowds to gather in close proximity will be out for most, if not all of this year.

Chatting to several people this week I am now convinced that there cannot be any team sports this year, and that includes the GAA.

Let’s ignore the crowds for a minute. If any kind of GAA (or any amateur team sports) were to resume we would be asking 50 (2 teams) of young men and women to gather in dressing rooms togging out. They would then be expected to run hard, tackle, sweat and cough as players do in every game, and then they would have to tog in again.

But the biggest danger is that every one of those young people would have families that they have to go home to, elderly parents and grandparents, partners, girl-friends and boyfriends, brother and sisters. I would be amazed if that was allowed to happen. Rugby is in the same position and so is amateur Soccer.

The Premier League and the elite players in that sport are in a different position. They are still vulnerable but they are contracted to play when they are told to do so even if they have reservations. With so much money involved I can see the Premier League and the Champions League being completed behind closed doors and on TV in July and August.

But without a vaccine I cannot see much team sport happening this year. There is no way around it.
I can see how Golf would be allowed to resume without any spectators, maybe Tennis and Horse Racing too without any people attending. The next few months will tell.

But that’s just sport ,and we will get by without it if we have to. The situation in our nursing homes is heart breaking and very sad. The huge loss of life in our care homes is one real down side of this crisis. So many old and vulnerable people are losing their lives.

It is heart breaking that these elderly people who have worked all their lives and in most cases have raised families, are faced with ending their days alone with no family there to comfort them.

The HSE, the Government and HIQA and making frantic attempts to improve the situation in nursing homes which is welcome but I hope that it is not too late.

With so many health care workers testing positive for covid-19 it is a further reminder to us that these people are putting their health at risk every time they go into work. We will be forever in their debt.

On a personal level, the exercise is continuing thankfully and the weather is fine but it is hard to see an end to the grinding boredom of this lockdown. Our only consolation is that it’s for the greater good.

Here’s to better days ahead.

Stay Safe People.

A Diary Part 10

Wednesday 22nd April

It was tomorrow six weeks ago that Leo Varadkar made his speech from Washington and since then our lives have been turned upside down. I have tried to be as honest as possible writing this diary and have tried to accentuate the positives where they exist. There is much that is positive going on for sure, but I have to say my mood has darkened considerably this week.

On a personal note the fact that it is unlikely that there will be any local or inter-county sport this year and also the fact that the pubs will probably be the last businesses to re-open means that it is very unlikely that I will have any work to go to for the rest of this year.

A neighbour and good friend of mine and of our family over many years passed away suddenly last night and it is extremely frustrating not being able to go into the house and sympathise with his heartbroken wife and family. This is one of the worst things about this situation brought about by this cursed disease.

I read today that it will shortly become mandatory for people to wear a mask in public because talking may spread this virus. So as bad as things were up to now, we are now being told that not alone are we to avoid any contact with other people, we are told that we probably should not be talking to them either.

Before people come with the arguments about saving lives and being responsible I understand all that fully and I have complied to the letter of the law with the restrictions.

I have family members on the front line of the health service too and I understand the challenges they face every day. But there is a big difference between existing and living and what most people have been doing over the past six weeks has been existing, hoping that the day passes as quickly as possible. There are only so many times you can cut the lawn and go for a walk and watch the news.

There are no arguments to the social distancing rules, but the facts are that they are having a devastating effect on the mental health of some people who are afraid to speak out. I would ask the question, is this a price that we as a society are willing to pay or what will be the fall-out?

If, for instance, there is not any significant changes in the restrictions for the rest of the summer what type of society are we going to return to in the long term? One where people avoid each other at all costs? It’s something that we will all have to think about over the next month or two. We have all done our duty for the past six weeks but if you told people that this situation will probably last until 2021 would the reaction be any different?

It is clear that the restrictions being endured by people are having a positive effect in the general population although the ongoing situation in our nursing homes is very worrying.
The nurses, doctors and the front line workers are doing a great job under enormous pressure and they will be forever in our debt as a nation and that needs to be said as many times as possible
But the question I ask today is how long are people willing to exist before they have a chance to live their lives again?

Stay Safe People

A Diary Part 11

Monday 27th April

First the positive stuff, and there is much that is positive. The weather has been simply glorious, and for those of us who were not great in terms of taking exercise, this situation has been a God send. Thankfully I have not missed a day in over 6 weeks. It has meant a small bit of weight loss and I am definitely in better shape now than I was 15 years ago. It also means that I can sleep at night too!

It would also appear that sport will be easing back into our lives as the weeks go on. Golf and maybe even Horse Racing could be back behind closed doors within the next month as they operate in big open outdoor areas and social distancing will be possible.

Other sports such as GAA, Rugby and Soccer will be far more tricky to organise and return. Today I read where the GAA could well agree to a programme to testing for players, backroom staff , media and anyone else who might attend a championship game behind closed doors although I think we are a long way off that scenario at the moment.

But I just want to mention the members of the Roscommon senior football team who organised the fund-raiser for the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice. They set a target of 30,000 Euro and now it look like they will get closer to 50,000 Euro. That’s a charity that is close to my heart and I have been involved for the past few years with the group. The pandemic has meant that their fund-raising has collapsed and this is a wonderful gesture from the Roscommon players led by Colm Lavin.

There are a lot of great initiatives in terms of fund-raising going on all over the country and it is hugely positive to see that even in the face of such a calamity people are prepared to think of others.

But the enormity of the implications of this horrible virus are beginning to dawn of people. Only last week on one day I learned of a threat or the cancellation of The Galway Races (150,000 people), The Ploughing Championships (250,000), The Electric Picnic (60,000), and the Rose of Tralee (100,000 ).
Those are just four big events out of the thousands of smaller ones that go on every summer in this country. Quite how the economy is going to recover from all this is hard to comprehend.

Every day I look at the death notices in the papers and on every single notice for the past 6 weeks it says ‘a mass in celebration of his/her life will be held at a later date’. At this stage by my reckoning there are well over 1,000 such situations. The uncomfortable fact is that the vast majority of those masses will never be said. The priests are not there to say them number one, and unless families agree to have fifteen or twenty names included in the same mass it won’t be happening, which is sad. The longer the restrictions go on the less likely it will be that those masses will ever be said.

The PC brigade are out in force on social media too and there are a number of people who would be delighted if the pubs in this country never opened again. There is no doubt that pubs will be one of the last sectors to re-open but for the mental health of a lot of people that day will be welcomed by the majority. In this country people in the minority frequently have the loudest voices.

It’s also very amusing to look at some of the social media coverage here on Facebook and especially on Twitter. It is amazing how many health and other experts that we have in this country. Thankfully it is not these people who are running the country.

It’s hard to believe that it is over 80 days since we all voted in a general election and still there is no Government in place in the midst of the biggest crisis of our lifetime. The politicians should be ashamed of themselves that they have not been able to elect a Government.

We are going to have to deal with the massive problems as a result of this pandemic for many years to come. I would say to them all ‘Get up off your arses and make it happen. Do the job you were elected to do and stop posturing’

While most people are doing what they have been told in terms of the restrictions the pictures of a packed Salthill prom at the weekend and increased traffic on the roads shows that some people just don’t get it and what is trying to be achieved. Stay at Home FFS!!!

In that context I am not expecting any major easing of restrictions in the next week. Hopefully the construction industry will come back and some people will get back working again. Maybe the over 70’s will be allowed out to exercise but that will be about it.

For the rest of us there won’t be much change.
We are in this for the long haul unfortunately.

Stay Safe People

A Diary Part 12

Saturday the 2nd May

Another week of lockdown has passed but at least on this Saturday morning we have a plan. Whether it is realistic or not will become clear as the weeks go on, but at we have something to aim for. People want direction, and now we have some. I know that there are three third level students cooped up in our house for the past seven and a half weeks and their mood is definitely the most positive since this lock down started since yesterday evening’s speech.

There is still a lot of uncertainty and one thing is for certain. This virus will be with us for many months ahead and maybe even a year. But it is good to imagine that life might well return to normal and we need positivity.

A lot of people will be looking forward to July the 20th when hairdressers and barbers will be re-opening. Never will a nation lose so much hair as it will over the days and weeks following that deadline!

Like the rest of the nation I listened intently to what Leo Varadkar had to say on the Late Late Show on Friday night and his opinion that “An All Ireland could take place this year” is a bit previous to say the least.

As a sports fanatic I desperately want sport to re-start, and the GAA activities in particular, but if there is even the slightest threat to the safety of the players or their families then it is certainly not worth it. Club and county players will have to be consulted in conjunction with the medical advice and only when everyone is one hundred per cent happy should action resume and we have a long way to go in that regard. I would still be pessimistic about the inter-county scene returning this year.

I know the Taoiseach was trying to be positive but when it comes to sport I cannot think of two public figures who know or understand less about sport and how it works than Ryan Tubridy and Leo Varadkar.

There have been soundings that the Premier League in Soccer will be completed starting in June behind closed doors, and at neutral venues however in the past week players have begun to voice their severe reservations. It’s not a done deal yet.

But there should be good news for club golfers. It is easy to observe the social distancing rules on a golf course and it would be great to see clubs re-opening. The club houses could remain closed for another while. At least it would be something.

Other sports like Horse Racing ,Darts, Tennis and other individual pursuits can resume again I presume and that is all very positive.

But we haven’t gone from one extreme to the other in the space of a week. The number of people who have passed away in our nursing homes in particular is a frightening and very sad legacy of this horrible disease.

The hammer blow to the economy might take ten years to recover from. Many tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs will never get them back.

Small shops, pubs, restaurants, car dealers, cafés hotels and others will find it very hard to survive and re-open at all when this situation eases. Even if the pubs were to re-open in the morning would people be wary of congregating in big crowds. ? I would say that the answer to that question is yes.

Many people have suffered a sudden and very severe blow to the system. I have been out of work for the last seven and a half weeks and it is the first time since I was 18 that I have been without a job to go to and it is very difficult to get used to it. I’m not on my own, and like many others there is no guarantee that that work will ever return.

Of course public health is by far the most important aspect of all this but there is an economic reality too. The Government have been spending huge amounts of money since this pandemic started and rightly so too. If we had 64 billion to bail out the banks in 2011 surely we can help out our people in times of crisis.

But the reality of it all is that this money will have to paid back at some stage. In the past it was the ordinary people who footed the bill and we have to be careful that doesn’t happen again.

In the meantime while all this is happening the politicians are still dithering and delaying and the formation of a new Government is as far away as ever. We have had a situation over the past seven weeks where a cabinet which includes several people who lost their seats at the election, are making some of the biggest decisions in the history of the state while those who were elected are engaging in petty squabbling and ego massaging. They should all be ashamed of themselves. We need a Government and we need one now.

In the meantime we must all deal with this virus.

It is truly amazing that in the space of a couple of months it has brought the world to its knees. It doesn’t matter how many cars you have outside the door or how much you have saved in the bank or how many letters you have after your name, this virus has stopped everyone in their tracks.
It goes to show that no one is indispensable.

Sometimes when you’re feeling important
Sometimes when you ego is in bloom
Sometimes when you take it for granted
You’re the best qualified in the room

Sometimes when you feel that you’re going
Would leave an unfillable hole
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul

Take a bucket and fill it with water
Put your hand in it up to the wrist
Pull it out, and the hole that’s remaining
Is a measure of how you’ll be missed

You can splash all you wish when you enter
You may stir up the water galore
But stop and you’ll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before

The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can
Be proud of yourself – but remember
There is no indispensible man

Stay Safe People