Special report: Missing the little things of 'normal' life during Covid-19

People are experiencing the lockdown in different ways and are missing each in their own way the little things from their daily lives,

Michael Moynihan speaks to some of them about what they are missing most.

Eleanor Moore
Eleanor Moore

Eleanor Moore, community worker Cork/Kerry Community Healthcare: Cork.

“I’m really missing doing Pana (Patrick Street) - being able to go into the centre of Cork on a Friday evening and stroll around the shops, to meet up with my family and friends, to have a coffee, all of that.

It surprises me a bit to be missing the freedom to just mooch around the middle of Cork and meeting people face to face for a chat and a gossip.

I don’t think it bothered me the first few weeks and I thought somehow we’d be back by midsummer, but the longer it’s gone on, and knowing we won’t be doing it for a long time yet - that’s made it harder.

I’ve gone into town to support the English Market and the other traders, but that’s very different - very early on a Saturday morning, in and out. I dropped into Three Fools on the Grand Parade for a takeaway coffee and it was great to see them open, but you can’t really talk, you get your order and you're gone, rather than sitting down for a chat.

This time of year I’d usually head into town buy a pair of sandals for the summer, but not this year.

I also miss swimming - I go open-water swimming with a group of friends and it’s a great activity for the mental health - the swimming itself, the slagging about each others’ speed, all of that’s very enjoyable.

We’d invite people over to Cork for the Lee Swim every year to show the city off, but that’s gone now as well, which was another disappointment.”

Micheal O Domhnaill.
Micheal O Domhnaill.

Micheal O Domhnaill, filmmaker and developer: An Cheathrú Rua, Galway.

“What I’m missing is the connection with people, and with some specific people in particular.

My mother is in her nineties and lives in a granny flat next door to me, and she has people who call to her - one of her them, Bridin

Jimmy, is a great friend, they’re very close. I’d usually drop Bridin home after the visit and she’d tell me all the scealta, everything that was going on.

That’s gone now and I’m missing that kind of encounter with people, but it has to be done. Bridin is a carer looking after people in her own place, so she obviously wants to make sure nothing comes into her own house - she has to be absolutely careful, but it’s very difficult.

I’m missing sports, too. I’d feel for sports fans - for Liverpool supporter who thought they’d see their team win the league but had it pulled out from underneath them for instance, just as they felt they’d be able to stick their chests out and say this was their moment.

In Galway there’s huge disappointment because we’re missing out on how the county footballers would go. They have Padraic Joyce in charge and they were going well in the league before the whole thing stopped.

Where I’m from, An Cheathrú Rua, the biggest GAA event ever was winning the county senior title in 1996, beating our rivals, Corofin. That was the golden moment.

But the way the club has adapted to help the local community in this, with the members helping those in the community - these present-day guys have taken over the mantle of heroes from the ’96 players.”

Jim Carroll.
Jim Carroll.

Jim Carroll, RTE Brainstorm editor: Dublin.

“I’m missing the cinema, of all things. For years I worked in music - I was an A & R man and a music journalist, so I was at gigs most nights of the week, seeing bands and interviewing musicians.

But I stopped writing about music about three years ago and became a big cinema fan, though I’ve only realised that in lockdown. When it was taken away in the lockdown I’ve realised how much I enjoy it, the whole experience of going to a film in the cinema.

Yes, you can draw the curtains and fire up Netflix and watch a movie, but it’s not the same thing. At the cinema you're noticing the person with the blue screen of their phone a couple of seats away, the smell of the popcorn and nachos, the clown who always comes in late - all those things.

It’s an entire experience. If I’m watching a film on the TV at home I could flick on my phone and mess around with it, but I wouldn’t do that in a cinema, an environment where you pick up other people’s reactions - much like a live sports event, where the occasion is made by the other spectators almost as much as the athletes.

I think what we’re all realising is we’re missing that human connection across all these communities - live music fans, hurling fans, cinema fans, festival fans.

Even in a world where we all hide behind by our phones and can get on zoom calls with each other, it’s the interaction between people playing off the event in question that contributes to the overall experience of being at that event in the first place.”

Robert Brennan
Robert Brennan

Robert Brennan, bank official: Moville, Donegal.

“I’m missing family - my daughter Cliodhna is working in the NHS in the UK so it’ll be a while before she gets back here to see us. My parents are down in Waterford, so I haven’t seen them for quite a while.

I’m missing the first swim of the year, which is a huge loss. In Donegal I’d go to Kinnego and Shroove, and in Waterford to the Guillamene or Saleens, but it’s just not on in the current climate.

It’s funny how there’s no social acceptance of swimming in the lockdown. I’d miss travelling home down to Waterford as well to see the family and heading on to GAA games - as much for the social aspect of that as the games themselves.

This time of year you’d travel home to Waterford, meet friends, go for a swim in the Guillamene on the Saturday night, head to the game Sunday and socialise afterwards, chatting about what you’ve just seen. All gone.

What strikes me now, though, is that even though we’ve done it all our lives it seems so alien now - as if you can’t imagine it ever happening again.

It’s something you’ve done for decades, and now suddenly you can’t because your world has shrunk so much. It’s amazing to me how it seems now that it’ll never happen again - how quickly that feeling has taken hold, the sense that this is permanent.

Now that feeling doesn't make sense, but it surprises me how quickly it’s taken root.”

Ruth Medjber.
Ruth Medjber.

Ruth Medjber, music photographer: Dublin.

“I do a lot of music festivals and gigs, so I’m missing those because it’s my work.

But I also miss the social aspect of that. You’re on the road, you’re mixing with people - the buzz that’s at a festival is incredible, and I’ve been shooting at festivals since I was a teenager.

It’s quite a solitary job that I do, so I tend to meet colleagues in similar jobs at those events - and if those events aren’t happening, then I’m not meeting those people.

The social aspect of the job isn’t something I’d have considered that much until this happened. A lot of people have that social side to work - meeting people at work, chatting in the office and so on - that you don’t have as much as a freelancer.

And that was brought home when Electric Picnic was cancelled, because I remembered then that there’s a whole raft of people I only meet once a year at that festival - sound engineers, stage managers, musicians, all those people, and I really look forward to meeting them for the few days of that festival.

They’re friends I’ve been working with for ten or fifteen years, and now I realise I mightn’t see them for another year.

I’m missing my job and my income, and the sense of worth that comes with that, the sense that you become what you do. When I can’t do that you get an overall sense of loss and you start to re-evaluate things.

I’ve started a new project away from music (see Window Portraits online) but I don’t want to be known as the window photographer but as the music photographer, so I can’t wait for music to come back.”

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