For the past few days I have been remotely immersed in the Galway of the future...or a certain future anyway. Reporting from the oral hearing into the proposed new road to bypass Galway, it seemed surreal, to be contemplating concepts that seemed more logical last Spring but which have changed a thousand times since the hearing last sat.
I started that process at a hearing that commenced in one world, the world before March; having the same conversations in a different world, the one with Covid in it; and now discussing concepts and plans that if implemented will take place in yet another world, the one post-Covid.
And yet, we have no idea what that last world will be like.
One thing is for sure though — we can determine the shape of it and the delivery of it.
The figures for Galway have been growing and growing in recent weeks. Already our towns and communities have taken a pasting. Jobs have been lost, sporting fixtures have been cancelled, family events rushed and condensed, our tourism attractions silent, the tills ringing empty.
Last evening we received the confirmation that the Galway Christmas Market has been cancelled for this year. And although the market was not in itself a place that all of Christmas revolved around, it was a signifier for the time of year and drew in hundreds of thousands.
Every November as soon as the Big Wheel and the market stalls set up, there was an instantaneous drop in temperatures, as if the Gods somehow turned down the heating to get us more in the mood for mulled wine and beer-tents.
For years now, the Big Wheel has revolved and revolved right outside my window here at the Advertiser, its cascading lights sending out a feeling of festive seasonality. Last year for the first time, I went up on it, one wonderfully chilly Thursday evening when the delights and the bustle of the city were spread out before me.
A few weeks later I saw in the New Year at a wonderful ceremony of bell ringing at St Nicholas — the midnight peal being responded to by boats in the docks to mark the start of a year of celebrations.
Little did we know then that we were about to enter a year that promised so much and delivered nothing but fear and death and trauma. One that would test us to the hilt.
But we will get through this. And our community will get through this. If hindsight was foresight (and not just in the eyes of a gobshite ) and we were told this time last year that all we had to do to stop this beastly virus appearing in the first place would be wash our hands, mind our hygiene, and etiquette and socially distance, we would have done it.
We have to ask ourselves honestly if we are doing our bit to get the figures down, to hold this second wave at bay, or if not, to let it flow over us with minimum impact?
Have we reduced our social interactions? Are we observing the proper hygiene etiquette. Are we keeping back from our friends and neighbours when we meet them for a chat on the street?
Are we really doing all that we can? Or are we complacent and cutting corners? Having a few friends around? Leaning in for a hug? Having your sandwich inside the cafe rather than outside, because sure, nobody will know.
If we get the figures down, then we hasten the time when Galway and your town and village will be fully open again. If we do our bit, we will see the joy of an All-Ireland run in the heart of winter; warm fires roar in our hostelries; and smiles on the faces of those who service our communities.
These things will be celebrated and welcome but they will only happen if we play our part.