The older man or woman who lived alone because life’s opportunities had passed them by were once more familiar figures in many communities.
These individuals were often alone because they had dedicated most of their lives looking after parents or others no longer capable of independent living.
The normal opportunities to socialise, to travel and maybe form a relationship and a family of their own were inadvertently denied them. A kind of isolation, tolerable or not, beckoned.
The 350,000 plus people who dedicate their lives to caring for dependants may not be as isolated today but the challenges they face, the relentless demands they satisfy cannot be underestimated.
Their lives, and the lives of those they care for are shaped by those most powerful instincts —a sense of familial duty and the most powerful motivation of all — enduring love.
Those realities were recognised yesterday when national carers awards were presented. Marcin Filak, who lives in Co Meath and cares for his wife Ola who suffered a stroke three weeks after the birth of their daughter won the overall award.
Lily Power, 18, from Co Cork, who has cared for her mother, a long-time Parkinson’s patient won one of the young carer’s awards. It is all too easy to be glib, to take carers’ contributions for granted.
However, no-one who relies on them could possibly make that misjudgement. Know you are cherished.