681 Days!

Yes – it has been 681 says since Covid-19 hit us and our world changed. From today, 22 January 2022, most restrictions in the state are gone, apart from the continuing need to wear masks in certain public places. Hopefully that West Cork sky over our house this morning, above, is a good omen for us. Today’s paper shows the stark tally:

The population of the Republic of Ireland as I write this is 5,023,337 (no doubt that is changing by the minute). That tells the story: 22.6% of the people here have had the virus. And of course it hasn’t gone away yet… But at least “social and economic life can begin to return to normal” says the Taoiseach. In order to mark the significance of the moment, my post looks back to our experiences over the last 681 days: in particular, how our lives changed at the beginning of the outbreak.

These two images of Ballydehob, taken at the beginning of April, 2020, sum up the shock of empty streets, closed businesses and everyone being advised to isolate. It all seemed very bleak: our movements were initially restricted to 2km from home, then that increased to a radius of 5km. If you lived in rural areas – as we do – you were permitted to travel beyond those distances if you needed to in order to shop or use essential services. We breached those rules on occasion – sometimes to get exercise in the deserted countryside all around us.

As the days went by, an amazing spring emerged, with day after day of beautiful weather. Human activity was curtailed, but the natural world continued along its course as though nothing was awry!

We humans are pretty adaptable. It was amazing to see the ingenuity of folks creating outlets for their energies without having to mix. Food-on-the-go blossomed as a craft industry: here are some examples.

We were very impressed with many of the examples we encountered – and which have survived over the months. Hopefully they will carry on, as casual coffee stalls in the middle of nowhere are welcome to us in our travelling. Pre-pandemic they were probably frowned upon by ‘the authorities’ – and they are certainly regulated – but ‘authority’ would have had to be very hard-hearted to close down these little lifelines. In our experience, every one we encountered was well-run, and spotless. It was an incidental opportunity to have a distanced ‘chat’: always a source of good local information on how others were coping.

We took the opportunity to climb – and descend – Knockaphuka during the pandemic. It’s a mountain a short distance from Nead an Iolair, but a little outside the limit. No-one was watching! I suppose being restricted to our immediate environment for so long – day after day – made us re-assess it, and our lives. Certainly we have got to know the fine detail of the beautiful place we call home.

Here’s a social issue: we couldn’t get a haircut for months! Finola kept me in trim, but it was a relief when salons were once again allowed to operate, albeit with some restrictions.

This is us having coffee on our own terrace, looking out over Roaringwater Bay in the wonderful spring of that first pandemic year. In fact, each of the two last years has been benign – with a few exceptional winter storms. We would have felt less relaxed if we had had persistent rain (which sometimes happens).

A sprig of green appears on a doorstep on May Day, 2020: a sign that we all still want to continue the old (perhaps ancient) traditions… There were ups and downs: things eased as the year went by and then the new variations came in. Numbers went down and we breathed out. Then they soared – especially with the Omicron variant, and everything went haywire again. Let’s hope that the present easing is here to stay. But the future can never be told…

16 thoughts

  1. This is beautiful Robert. ‘the sprig on the door’. I hadn’t known of that one.
    Depths, of everything, is to be found on Roaring Water Journal… from playing the concertina to the queue in Newquay Airport, to… to rock art, the giants table etc etc
    I have seen so much on here. Its heading towards the infinite at this stage.

    I will never forget that ye had Fionn Mac Cumhaill coming up the street of Ballydehob at the turn of the millineum. Just awesome.

    I just went looking for the sleeping Fianna in the cave but couldn’t find it, maybe it was one of Finolas posts
    https://sheilacurrie.com/blog/2021/03/26/fionn-mac-cumhaill-the-fiana/

    Again, that, and, and such, would be lost, had you not captured it. I sent you an email on 681

    Like

  2. This is beautiful Robert.
    ‘the sprig on the door’.
    I hadn’t known of that one.

    Depths, of everything, is to be found on Roaring Water Journal… from playing the concertina to the queue in Newquay Airport, to… to rock art, the giants table etc etc
    I have seen so much on here. Its heading towards the infinite at this stage.

    I will never forget that ye had Fionn Mac Cumhaill
    https://sheilacurrie.com/blog/2021/03/26/fionn-mac-cumhaill-the-fiana/

    coming up the street of Ballydehob at the turn of the millineum. Just awesome.
    Again, that, and, and such, would be lost, had you not captured it. I sent you an email on 681

    Like

  3. Lovely post. We spent lockdown at Kilbronogue, somewhat by accident. Three months of Mick finding how to do his exercise round the lanes, trying to stay in his 2 km limit only to find as an over 70 he shouldn’t have been out at all! The great lad from Supervalu who brought our fortnightly groceries and tried to refuse each time a small tip. Getting to know at last our neighbours on their outings, socially distanced meetings over the wall with conversations that often went on so long we needed refreshments. Shouted greetings to other walkers also working out whether they’d infringed their 2km borders.
    We counted ourselves the luckiest people doing our lockdown there.

    Like

  4. Thanks for the post Robert. It’s great to hear about how you’ve been doing over these past nearly 2 years and to see the photos of your area. With any luck we may be able to come back to Ireland this year probably in September or so. We’ve been having pretty much the same problems here in North Carolina.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That amazing rainbow must surely be a sign of good things to come. What an extraordinary couple of years and you have documented them so well – amazing how humour, resilience and inventiveness abounded, we need to hang onto those.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.