Life after lockdown

What will be the first thing you’ll do when you can travel further than 2km, and see family and friends again? Ciara McDonnell asks some well known faces

Vicky Phelan

Vicky Phelan: “People are inherently good and that is something we often forget.”
Vicky Phelan: “People are inherently good and that is something we often forget.”

Life has been generally good during these strange times.

I have a roof over my head, enough money for food and really decent WiFi, which is so important during this lockdown, and I am being given the opportunity to spend more time with my two children, which, for someone in my situation is a blessing. Of course there are days when we are killing each other — we would not be a normal family if that were not the case!

On the whole, though, we are all spending more time with each other and doing more things together than would have been possible if we were not forced to spend this time together.

On the negative side, I have really been struggling in the past two weeks with the lack of physical contact with other people.

A good friend of mine died from cancer and I was unable to see her or go to her funeral and sympathise with her husband and their families because of the coronavirus. I cannot stop thinking about her and all the families who have lost loved ones during this crisis, who have been unable to grieve properly. The sadness, at times, has been overwhelming.

I can’t wait to hop in the car with the kids and head down home to Kilkenny to see my parents and the rest of my family — my sister and brothers and my aunts. I am a big believer in visualisation and so I visualise the day that we land at my mother’s house and Mam will have a big pot of her legendary leek and potato soup and fresh bread waiting for us.

I also really miss meeting friends for coffee and lunch and fantasise about the day when I will be able to go out in the world again and do this again.

I never took this pleasure for granted as I am fully aware that the day will come that I will not be able to meet friends for coffee because I will be in a hospital or hospice waiting to die but I never thought that this pleasure would be taken away from me for any other reason, other than my illness.

The sense of community that has shone through over the past few weeks has really made me smile over the past few weeks and has made it easier, in some respects, to adhere to the lockdown restrictions.

Stories of people setting up volunteer hubs to help deliver food parcels and check in on elderly people in the community to my own story of a knight a shining armour, Pat Keogh, who runs a chauffeur service, offering to drive me to Dublin for my treatment a few weeks ago and to hang around for the day and pick me up when I was finished and drop me home.

People are inherently good and that is something that we often forget until tragedy knocks on our door. This pandemic has really shown how good people really are.

  • ‘Overcoming’ by Vicky Phelan (Hachette) is out now.

Jennifer Zamparelli

'The kindness from everyone big and small gestures reminds me why I moved home. Ireland is one special place.'
"The kindness from everyone big and small gestures reminds me why I moved home. Ireland is one special place."

The last few weeks been very quiet and, for me, a time of reflection.

Before this all kicked off I was working on Dancing With The Stars and presenting my radio show six days a week with bits in between. So it was hectic. So to be honest it’s been really nice.

Not nice that all my husband’s gigs this year have been cancelled or postponed but we’re still feeling grateful. I am grateful I can do my show and work even though it’s from my son’s bedroom!

This experience has made me rethink my goals. I’ve been thinking about what’s important and what I want do when this is all over.

I’ve been doing the usual, playing a lot with my kids and baking and learning so that’s been so nice. I do have waves of anxiety that creep in. It’s not every day but it happens sometimes and I’m not used to that.

I really miss my Mam and Dad. I miss planning and wonder when will I see my family again. We had a big holiday planned for July for my 40th and that’s just not going to happen. Having said that I still feel extremely fortunate.

The last place I was in before the restrictions were put in place was probably The Devlin hotel in Ranelagh having dinner and drinks with some pals. I got a random phone call from my friend who is a doctor and told me things were going to get serious. We discussed it at dinner while drinking Prosecco, not in a million years knowing that that dinner would be our last out for a while and my friends warning should have been taken more seriously ... we probably would have stayed out longer!

When this is over, I’m looking forward to live shows and bumping into someone at a gig. I’m looking forward to sitting in traffic. I’m looking forward to sitting in my studio and giving out about things not working and meeting my team and having a good laugh. I’m looking forward to driving 40 minutes with my kids screaming in the back to go see my Ma and Da and having the chats.

I’m looking forward to a creamy pint in a pub and an overpriced dinner in Dublin. I’m looking forward to a big night out with my pals. I’m looking forward to normality. I miss doing just normal things. And a holiday. Getting on a plane. Sitting on a beach. I cannot wait to do that.

I have been struck by the kindness that is out there. Unbelievable kindness.

Not just donations to charities, communities coming together but I’m getting calls on my show from parents commending their kids for keeping things going in the house with siblings because they have to work. People giving their time to volunteering. People keeping friends family sane during this crazy time.

The kindness from everyone big and small gestures reminds me why I moved home. Ireland is one special place.

  • Join Jen every weekday morning on 2FM from 9am to 12pm.

Neven Maguire

'I cannot wait for the kitchen to be operating at full stretch and the buzz of customers in the restaurant and cookery school.'
"I cannot wait for the kitchen to be operating at full stretch and the buzz of customers in the restaurant and cookery school."

Life has certainly been very different for us over the last number of weeks.

It has been great to have some family time. But, as anyone in business knows, it is desperately hard to be closed and have so many brilliant staff wanting to work. We love what we do, and we miss it. I cannot wait for the kitchen to be operating at full stretch and the buzz of customers in the restaurant and cookery school.

Before the restrictions were imposed here in Ireland, I had been watching what was happening in other countries, so I arranged a staff lunch in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. It was great to have everyone together and the food was wonderful, and I am very glad that we had that time together now.

The country has come together in some really heartwarming ways. It is gratifying to hear stories of people going the extra mile to help friends and neighbours.

I just don’t know if we will change for good as a result of this experience. Maybe there are things that we took for granted that we will appreciate more now. At this early stage I would just be speculating, but I do have great hope for us.

Aoife Hearne

'I’m most looking forward to is giving my mam and dad a hug... I really miss the warmth and comfort of that.'
"I’m most looking forward to is giving my mam and dad a hug... I really miss the warmth and comfort of that."

Life has been good — we are all healthy, but it has been hard at times ... many times.

There is the guilt that I have colleagues working on the front line and we hear the death toll on the news and we just have to stay home and mind our kids, so there is that feeling that I shouldn’t be complaining.

The juggle of working and also minding the kids is chaotic at times. Myself and my husband have been juggling our workload with family life.

It has been stressful and I’ve been at my wits end a lot — some days more than others. I have cut back on work and as the weeks have gone on I’ve tried to have better boundaries with it. I suppose the hard thing with work and being at home is that work is more fragmented.

Like many families around the country we are just trying to keep things going as best we can. Keeping everyone fed and alive! It’s safe to say we are not one of those families that are learning any new skills or languages and all the stuff we see on social media ... we are just surviving through this crazy, crazy time.

The biggest positive is all the time we are getting together as a family. There is no real time pressure or rushing as there is normally and that is a huge relief and I think we all needed a break from that actually! I’m normally on the road so much and I definitely don’t miss that.

My husband is a part-time farmer, so we have been lucky to be able to get out to the farm and help out. I feel it has brought us closer as a family. And I love that my kids are getting all this time together ... it’s a unique opportunity for them really and seeing them playing and laughing and enjoying each other’s company is heart-warming... for about 5 minutes!

I’m most looking forward to is giving my mam and dad a hug... I really miss the warmth and comfort of that.

And just to be able to go to a friend’s and family member’s house for a catch up etc is probably the thing I look forward to most. I’ve really, really missed the people in my life and spending more time with them is what I really look forward to.

I think it’s impossible not to change as a society. I hope that we continue to appreciate people more than things! I know so many people who just want to spend time with their nearest and dearest... It’s not about what we are wearing or what our hair is like, human connection is what we crave and what we miss most.

Daithi O’Sé

'I am looking forward to seeing my mother; we are talking on the phone every day and keeping in touch, we can’t wait to meet up.'
"I am looking forward to seeing my mother; we are talking on the phone every day and keeping in touch, we can’t wait to meet up."

I have been very busy with work during the last few weeks with work, thank God. As well as The Today Show, I’m working on a new fitness show, which is great I think for people who can’t leave the house. If you do a small bit of exercise you feel much better afterwards.

I drive through eight Garda checkpoints every day and it is great to see them out. They are all very, very polite and they are doing a great job, I have to say. You feel safe when they are out and about.

It’s like a normal week, and then when I’m home we are so aware of how lucky we are to live out in the countryside with the garden. It certainly makes me feel for those people who don’t have a garden and live in apartments and can’t go very far. Particularly, those with young children — I’d imagine that’s very, very hard.

There is definitely a heightened tension in the air and a general sense of unease in the air. That’s across the board with everyone, even people who say that they are getting on fine. I think people are worried.

That said, I think the government is handling it very well and is coming across in a very reassuring manner. It makes me glad to live where we do.

We cover the news on the show but in the evenings at home, I try to focus on the positives, and the idea that there might be light at the end of the tunnel, even though it might be hard to see it.

I look forward to the tension dissipating from society. I am looking forward to seeing my mother; we are talking on the phone every day and keeping in touch, we can’t wait to meet up.

Of course, I can’t wait for a pizza and a nice pint of porter.

There is a great joke going around: ‘Did you hear about the man who walked into a bar? The lucky bastard!’

  • Watch Dáithí in his new fitness show called Ray & Ó Sé’s Fitness 15 each weekday at 2.20pm on RTÉ One And catch him on Today with Maura and Dáithí Mon-Fri from 3:30pm on RTÉ One

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