I suppose we’re all living in the one land now, which is dominated by coronavirus.
It is quite amazing, since I last talked with you all a week ago, how fast the pace has become, how quickly the new rules are in, and how devastating the whole matter has been, not just for our country but for nearly every country that we know of, particularly throughout Europe.
It is difficult to imagine how swiftly the virus has taken hold here in Ireland. Now that there are new, quicker ways of having the test done, I expect that for this week at least there will be a huge upsurge in confirmation of the virus.
Of course, it is all so overwhelming and so difficult to absorb. And yet, we are not alone. It is by each one of us doing what we have been told to do, particularly with regard to social interaction and personal hygiene, that we will be able in some way to slow down the onset of the virus. Life will go on, but at such a different pace.
Again, I repeat the earlier advice I have given: listen to what the health committee is saying. It will be on every RTÉ/ Newstalk bulletin and also of course on RTÉ TV. Listen to what they have to say and do your best to follow their guidelines.
It was only a few weeks ago that I told you about my grandchildren hoping school would close after the closure of the second-level school in Dublin. Now, of course, all schools are closed and I hear that the grandchildren are upset – there are no playdates, there are no gatherings, there are no meetings together. Any of the interactions between the young people and their peers will be by way of mobile phone or any of the apps which go with social media. But I would caution here: don’t believe every wild tale you hear on social media.
So what are we left with? We can talk, we can write, we can read – all of which are very useful activities.
As we are talking about reading, in the post during the last week a lovely book was sent to me called Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church, by a man called Austen Ivereigh. This book was sent to me by a priest friend I have, Fr Iggy O’Donovan, who is a member of the Augustinian Order and is presently in Fethard in County Tipperary.
Many years ago, Fr Iggy asked me to his church in Drogheda where he did a 12 o’clock Sunday Mass, and as often as possible he used to have a guest speaker, and on one Sunday he asked me to be just that.
I was delighted to take up the invitation. As you can all imagine, it was terrifying to face into a packed, indeed over-packed church, from the front of the altar, but all went well. Since that time, Fr
Iggy and I have corresponded with one another and talked several times on the telephone, as well as meeting him at various functions.
He is a very fine, sensible priest, and one in whom I would certainly put my faith and my confidence.
It is Fr Iggy who sent me this beautiful hardback book, which I have not yet started but I’m keeping it by for the long days which lie ahead.
As I said, it came in the post to me, and we should pay tribute to the post men and women who arrive faithfully at our doorsteps every day. No matter what the weather is like, no matter what the state of coronavirus is, you can be sure that if there is post for you, it will be delivered safely to you. Well done to An Post.
Many young people (including my grandchildren in Dublin and here ) are facing into doing the Junior Cert this summer, for which the orals were to start this week. As you all who have such young people in your family know, the orals for all exams are now postponed, both for the Junior Cert and the Leaving Cert. There is, as yet, no knowledge as to when they will be reinstated, but all that will come in good time. Apart from anything else, the necessary distancing required for social interaction between the examiner talking through the orals with the student would not be possible, hence the postponement all round.
As we are going through this difficult time, we should pay such a huge tribute to all our health workers and all who work in any area of the health service. They are open to all of the possibilities of coronavirus, as we all are, and yet we continue to have trust and faith in them and to hope that they will be able to continue all the tremendous work they are doing. Well done to each and every one of them.
I am sure, like many of the readers, you are lost without the sport on TV, which has been shut down all over Europe and indeed all over the world. The last sport to get through, which I watched on TV, was the Irish women’s international soccer team who played their game against Montenegro and won that game 3-0.
It was a great result. Little did we know, those who were viewing it, that it would be our last such event for quite some time – as you know, every other sporting event since that has been shut down, postponed, cancelled, or whatever until the threat has passed.
As I am compiling this piece, it is a beautiful say outside: bright sunshine, in a frosty climate but welcome nevertheless. I hear on the radio that mid-week this week the weather will become kinder, and the temperature will go up, all of which is to be welcomed and enjoyed when it comes.
Keep reading your newspaper, not just the admirable Advertiser newspaper, but if you can get your hands on a daily newspaper it will make you feel immediately that you are part of a wider community, and of course that is allied to the excellent programmes we will be having on TV.
Make sure to view a programme you might not normally view, and perhaps you will be surprised at the knowledge you will gain, and the enjoyment you will get from such a programme.
As I say each week, heed the advice from the national emergency health committee which is given out each evening, and then you will know exactly where you are with what you can do and what you cannot do.
Keep your spirits up, and keep in communication with your friends and neighbours.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill.