During lockdown last year, Garda Olive Lafferty and Deirdre Waldron, Manager Castlebar Voluntary Social Services, came up with the idea of socially distanced music events for the elderly in the community as a way to try and alleviate loneliness and let older people know the community is still thinking of them.
Being in contact with the client base through the meals on wheels service and telephone befriending service, highlighted the depths of fear and isolation the elderly were feeling.
Ms Waldron approached Mayo County Council and applied for funding through the ‘Community Resilience Fund’ and 'with the fantastic help of Henry McGlade', she was able to source the perfect entertainment for the elderly and planning commenced.
Recalling the success of the event, she stated: "There was great enthusiasm when staff let the residents on the Ross and Carra Suites, Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar, know of the plans for the music event, with special guest Brendan Shine.
"The weather forecast for Bank Holiday Monday June 7 was mild with a chance of showers but nothing could dampen the spirits of the residents, knowing that their favourite performer, Mr Brendan Shine, would be providing entertainment for the afternoon, alongside many others.
"The residents assembled around the beautiful, landscaped garden in the Sacred Heart. Some sat outside, some inside; some residents chose to listen to the talented musicians from the comfort of their rooms. The event was accessible to all.
"MC Henry McGlade introduced the music event to everyone with a word of welcome from Carole King, Director of Nursing. Then the music started and it wasn’t long before residents were tapping their feet, clapping their hands and singing along to familiar songs and melodies. A few could not resist the urge to dance, especially to the ‘Old bog road’, ‘I met her in the Galtymore’ and the old favourite ‘Shoe the Donkey’.
"The staff recognised the obvious joy in the residents and it gave everyone great pleasure to be able to share in the enjoyment. It was wonderful for all to experience the music, the fun and the laughter once again.
"Both residents and staff felt the music event came at exactly the right time and it uplifted everyone’s spirits after such a long, arduous year."