Coronavirus Solidarity Diary: Cork nursing home piloting new tech to monitor staff temperatures

Welcome to Chapter Five of the Irish Examiner's #CoronavirusSolidarity diary.
Coronavirus Solidarity Diary: Cork nursing home piloting new tech to monitor staff temperatures

Welcome to Chapter Five of the Irish Examiner's #CoronavirusSolidarity diary.

Every week we will be highlighting for posterity those stories which capture the unique community spirit of Ireland's response to the ongoing crisis. Please let us know about community initiatives which have been set up to offer support to those most impacted by the crisis or examples of people who are going above and beyond the call of duty. Tag us at @irishexaminer and use #CoronavirusSolidarity.

Read Chapter One here.

Read Chapter Two here.

Read Chapter Three here.

Read Chapter Four here.

Sunday, April 19

Cork nursing home piloting new tech to monitor staff temperatures

By Digital Desk staff

A nursing home in Co Cork is piloting an early warning system to detect Covid-19 among staff.

A census of mortality in Ireland's nursing homes is now underway with priority testing of staff and residents also taking place.

Over half of all deaths from coronavirus have been associated with nursing homes.

Diarmuid Ó Dálaigh, owner of Oaklodge Nursing Home, is testing the detection system from UCC and tech company, 8 West.

"Each staff person here will wear a thermometer under their arm, a tiny little sensor which is connected via Bluetooth to their phone and on to a central system here.

"The staff person themself and the Director of Nursing can see if there's any spike in their temperature overnight, on their days off or indeed while they're at work while they're wearing this."

Saturday, April 18

Personal trainer Ray Lally V Daíthí Ó Sé

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the dangers, physical and mental, of sedentary behaviour and low levels of physical activity in light of the restrictions currently in place in so many countries. It has recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both.

From Monday on, personal trainer Ray Lally will be challenging Daíthí Ó Sé to a 15-minute training session in a new RTÉ series as part of Today With Maura and Dáithí.

Ray Lally and Daíthí Ó Sé
Ray Lally and Daíthí Ó Sé

“Ideally, I would be looking at people who are self-isolating or cocooning or beginners,” Lally explains. “People of any age who are beginners and just don’t know what to do so that at least every day they would have that consistent time where they can do a session.

It’s 15 minutes a day and there are three sessions in the show so they can get their break during the show, grab some water when they need it. I just want people to get active, people who aren’t that active that often.

Joe Wicks, otherwise known as The Body Coach, has also connected with millions around the world with his PE classes for kids.

Celebrities as diverse as the Hollywood actor Chris Hemsworth and British TV presenter Davina McCall have contributed their expertise in similar fashion.

Friday, April 17

Mallow labelmakers to ship 500,000 tokens of appreciation for frontline workers

A Mallow-based print firm are among the Irish-owned businesses applauding frontline workers across the country this week with a special initiative.

Munster Labels, based in Mallow, Co Cork, have designed a label which will be sent to food producers nationwide to thank workers for their efforts.

The labels will be sent to a number of companies to be put on food products and liquid containers, to say 'thank you' to medical workers amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Speaking on C103's Cork Today Show, Patrick Whelan of Munster Labels said people can subsequently apply the label to clothing or uniforms.

Whelan has said the company is starting to produce 500,000 labels, to be delivered across the country on a non-profit basis, with companies already looking for the labels in Dublin and Donegal.

Hundreds of tablets donated to Covid-19 patients to help them see loved ones

By Press Association

Many critically-ill Covid-19 patients who are unable to see their families while in intensive care will be given access to video-conferencing equipment following a huge fundraising campaign.

Restrictions on visitors mean that patients battling coronavirus can go for weeks without seeing family or friends.

A number of people have died without having the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones because many hospitals in Ireland are operating a no-visit policy to curb the spread of Covid-19.

After a group of friends from Dublin saw the devastating impact of Covid-19, they saw an opportunity to help allay some of the difficulties patients face, particularly the elderly.

Suzanne Stewart, a medical devices specialist, experienced first-hand some of the trauma people face after her partner, an ICU doctor, was admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

The group have raised almost €22,000 to buy tablets for Covid-19 wards and critical care units.

Ms Stewart said: “It was when my boyfriend was in hospital that it was really highlighted how hard it is to communicate with someone when you can’t see them, especially when they’re really sick.

“Lots of people who go to hospital in an ambulance don’t think about their phone, tablet or charger.

“Also a lot of elderly people don’t have those kind of capabilities, they might have a regular phone and hospitals don’t have that kind of technology either.”

Ciara Close, an electronic engineer, said they are hoping to purchase some 300 tablets and have received over 100 donated tablets.

The group are also donating tablets to nursing homes across Ireland after visiting restrictions left thousands of elderly people unable to see loved ones.

Four sisters running 400 miles in four weeks in different counties for aunt

By Louise Walsh

Four sisters have started running 400 miles over the next four weeks in three different counties to raise €4000 for a hospice where their aunt started living in recent weeks.

Deirdre Bonar (43), twins Sinead Ui Ghibne and Carol Scott (48) and Mairin Higgins (50) have already chalked up almost 60 miles since they started running in Louth, Meath and Wicklow on Easter Monday.

Carol, Sinead, Mairin and Deirdre (nee McNally) who are running 400 miles in four weeks in three counties to support their aunt.
Carol, Sinead, Mairin and Deirdre (nee McNally) who are running 400 miles in four weeks in three counties to support their aunt.

The virtual running partners, who are originally McNallys from Dublin’s Dun Laoighaire, notch up the distances each day while keeping within the 2km Covid-19 restriction distance.

Deirdre goes running around her home outside Dunleer, Co. Louth while Sinead jogs the length of Donore, Co. Meath and Carol and Mairin train near where they live in Co Wicklow (Arklow and Blessington respectively) Deirdre said they started the challenge to give back what Our Lady’s Hospice in Dublin’s Harold’s Cross has done for their aunt Cecil who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease last May.

"Cecil lived on her own and was really independent and thanks to the outreach supports and day services provided by Our Lady’s Hospice, she managed to stay at home until three weeks ago.

Mum Ber, Mairin, Sinead, Deirdre, Carol and aunt Cecil
Mum Ber, Mairin, Sinead, Deirdre, Carol and aunt Cecil

"She now lives in the long-term extended care unit for people with palliative conditions but loads of life still in them.

"Our Lady’s Hospice have set up virtual visits so families and friends can call residents and patients on different media platforms, which has been of huge peace of mind to us and company for Cecil.

"We were doing a bit of running anyway and putting screenshots of our distances up on a shared WhatsApp group for the sisters and we decided on Easter Monday we would do this and start straight away.

"It is a bit challenging with the 2km distance but we are getting creative. We are running down old lanes we find on our journey or creating a new route around a new circuit within the limits. We are virtually running together for the next few weeks."

Anyone who would like to donate can do so here.

Thursday, April 16

Double celebration for garda who beat Covid-19

Paul with staff from Beaumont Hospital.
Paul with staff from Beaumont Hospital.

By Olivia Kelleher

Sgt Paul Cullen, a father-of-three from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, was initially under the impression that he had a chest infection.

He had finished a course of antibiotics from his GP when his symptoms deteriorated to the point where he required hospitalisation at Beaumont Hospital.

The Sergeant, who works in north inner city Dublin, went to the Emergency Department at the beginning of April with a high temperature and shortness of breath.

He believes that having a public facing role as a Garda had probably put him at greater risk of contracting the virus.

He said he never anticipated going from experiencing a shortness of breath to being told he required an induced coma.

Paul was treated with oxygen, and then required very high intensity support with continuous positive airway pressure ventilation for five days. Thankfully he didn't need to be intubated.

After 14 days of treatment Paul was recently released from hospital.

Arising out of Covid-19 restrictions Paul had not seen his family for the duration.

Sgt Cullen says the team at Beaumont continue to monitor him at home.

I am very grateful for that and I am looking forward to getting my strength back and returning to work in a few weeks time.

"I am grateful to be at home with my wife Sharon. I am looking forward to being able to spend time with my dad again as its hard to be away from him and the kids and grandkids.

"As for the promotion. That was a surprise as I didn't think that would happen with all that is going on."

Irish teens use time at home to fundraise for charity

A group of teenagers used their Easter break to put their heads together and figure out a way to raise money for charity while staying at home.

Participants in the Mustard Seed Ireland Volunteer Programme, they were unable to do the fundraising as they had planned and so they came up with a new plan.

Last year, they had written a song to the tune of Billy Joel's Piano Man and so they got together on Zoom and recorded a rendition of the tune.

They posted it online and are asking people to donate €4 to Mustard Seed.

Mustard Seed Communities is an organization that provides lifelong care to children and adults with disabilities, children and teenagers living with HIV and supports teenage mothers in crisis in Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

"The Mustard Seed Volunteer Programme is the best thing I’ve ever done and it’s so hard to think about the residents in Jamaica now that all the fundraising has stopped. We just want to do what we can," said Maya Scott, a fifth year student at Templecarrig, Greystones.

Daniel O'Boyle from Oatlands College, Dublin said that they know that a lot of people are struggling financially at the moment but he believes that those who can support the charity will.

"Irish people are really generous and this might be a way for us to help the kids in Mustard Seed while we're at home."

As part of the programme, the volunteers visit the Mustard Seed Communities in Jamaica where they get to meet the residents and staff and see the farming projects, building projects, therapies, education programmes and business projects that their fundraising supports.

The song they wrote was originally written as a thank you to the staff and residents in Kingston Jamaica.

The group would have been preparing to travel over to Jamaica again but this changed once the coronavirus hit.

The charity is something that is close to their hearts and they decided that while they could not travel, they could still do what they can to help the communities.

"We can stay home but we can't stay quiet," said Conor Saunders, a student at St Benildus College, Stillorgan.

Wednesday, April 15

Cork man runs around his garden for 14 hours and raises €20k for charity

By Kevin O'Neill

Some 80 families are set to benefit after a marathon fundraising effort from a local entrepreneur.

Dan Sweeney ran around his back garden continuously for 14 hours. He set himself the target of raising €5,000 but the public interest saw him hit a whopping €20,000.

The money raised will go towards supporting people staying in Edel House, B&Bs and other emergency accommodation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Sweeney has donated the money to Good Shepherd Cork (GSC), which runs the services.

Take part in the Irish Examiner family bake-in

Many parents around the country have been looking for fun ways to entertain and bond with their children over the past few weeks.

Baking has been one of the most popular pastimes to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.

Instagram feeds have been filled with videos and photos of the process and the finished products.

If you have been getting busy in the kitchen with your kids then why not join in the Irish Examiner family bake-in competition?

Send us your favourite family baking recipe that you've made with your children.

Whether it's a treasured recipe passed down through generations of your family, something you came up with yourself or a recipe that you tried for the first time during the past few weeks - we want to see them!

We have already received some delicious-looking entries as you can see.

The McCahey family's entry
The McCahey family's entry

The McCarthy's
The McCarthy's

The Flaherty's entry
The Flaherty's entry

Once we have all the recipes our resident baking expert Michelle Darmody will choose the winner and it will be printed in the Irish Examiner for everyone to enjoy.

The overall winner will also receive a VIP family experience at Fota Wildlife Park, Cork while the runners-up will win a family ticket to Fota Wildlife Park.

You can submit your recipe here

Make sure you enter before midnight on Sunday, April 26.

Famous Irish faces come together in musical tribute to Covid-19 heroes

An Irish singer-songwriter has been joined by a raft of famous faces in his tribute to those forced to cocoon and frontline workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

Come Sing With Me, written and performed by one of Ireland’s top country music artists, Michael English, features opening words by actor Patrick Bergin and the Kildare man is also joined by his friends from the world of show business.

English, awarded entertainer of the year last year, was approached by several people in the music industry asking him to put together a song, “for all of the heroes throughout the pandemic,” he said.

The famous faces and singers who got involved for free in the haunting lilt include, Mary Byrne of X Factor fame, Britain’s Got Talent’s Fr Ray Kelly, Sandy Kelly, Louise Morrissey and Mike Denver.

Others hitting the high notes are GAA pundit Joe Brolly, Dancing with the Star’s Cliona Hagan, Fair City stars and actors Johnny Ward, George McMahon, Brendan and Emily Shine along with musicians Keith and Lorraine McDonald and Johnny Carroll.

So I thought about it for a while and I suppose I thought that the only way I could help was to put to pen to paper and write a song.

"When I thought of the word heroes, of course I thought of all those people who are helping one another by risking their lives.

“But I also thought about the silent heroes. The people over the age of 70 who are cocooning, all the grandmothers, great grandmothers, aunts, uncles, the people providing for these people.

“All those who are living alone throughout this pandemic, everyone working night and day to help people survive.

"The word hero covers a multitude of people. These people sometimes go unnoticed but this song is to recognise those people.”

The 41-year-old Kildare man thanked all of those who took part, who contacted him, wanting to get involved in the project.

“Everyone involved came together virtually in their homes to join me in the song.”

Thousands of people have already applauded all of those who gave of their time for free to recognise the work of everyone during the pandemic.

One fan said: “Oh My Goodness absolutely amazing. Michael English again you have outdone yourself. Another amazing song for our amazing heroes.

"Thank you and all our great stars that sang with you on this. We are so lucky in this Country to have stars like you. Absolutely love this. Well done again.”

In an introduction to the song, actor Patrick Bergin says, “Come sing with me with one voice. For those who care and make the choice.

"Come stand with me and side by side - we salute them with pride.”

Tuesday, April 14

Rose Murphy, (left) co-owner, Murphy’s Pharmacy, North Main Street, Cork, and Clodagh O’Sullivan, pharmacy technician at the pharmacy. Picture Denis Minihane.
Rose Murphy, (left) co-owner, Murphy’s Pharmacy, North Main Street, Cork, and Clodagh O’Sullivan, pharmacy technician at the pharmacy. Picture Denis Minihane.

Rose Murphy, a pharmacist operating in Cork, has seen a dramatic increase in deliveries for patients over the age of 70.

She and her team are busy collecting postcodes and telephone numbers to deliver prescriptions to their cocooning clients.

“We’re delivering to the over-70s,” says Rose. “We had a home delivery service anyway, but it’s now become manic.

"We have a significant volume of patients who are over 70, so we’re phoning them to make sure that they have access to their medication.

“We deliver Monday to Saturday. Work takes longer with all the deliveries, we have up to 100 prescriptions to deliver. But really, we’re just doing what we do anyway.”

“In the pharmacy profession, we’re meeting the same people every month,” she says. “We get to know people very well, which is nice. There’s a local community feel here, even though we’re in the centre of the city.

“We’d never want it to be a big place where we didn’t know patients."

-Liz Dunphy

Couple who got married in Marymount Hospice live stream ceremony to siblings

An appeal for donations last week resulted in enough iPads for the ceremony to be streamed.
An appeal for donations last week resulted in enough iPads for the ceremony to be streamed.

A couple who got married over the weekend in Marymount Hospice in Cork were able to transmit their ceremony to siblings in various parts of the world via iPads following a successful technology appeal onsite which has raised nearly €30,000.

Four days ago the palliative care centre in Curraheen made an appeal online where they asked the public to donate money or old iPads and tablets to allow patients to keep in contact with their families.

Patients have been cut off from their families since last month arising out of Covid-19 visitor restrictions.

Cork woman makes toiletry bags for frontline staff

A Cork woman and her children have made hundreds of toiletry goody bags for frontline workers, to show solidarity with those at the forefront of the Covid-19 crisis.

Hilary Coughlan, who is originally from the Glanmire area, says she was cleaning out her cupboards and found lots of toiletries she could not use, so she decided to make a goody bag to donate to frontline staff.

Read the full story here

Food donation appeal

The ‘Good Grub’ initiative has launched an urgent appeal for donations to deliver fresh fruit and vegetables to disadvantaged DEIS school children in the Dublin area.

DEIS students normally receive their breakfast and lunch at school but during Covid-19 their families are struggling to put enough food on the table.

While DEIS continues to supply a basic food pack to thousands of families in the Dublin area, Good Grub is trying to raise at least €100K to deliver fresh food to these school children for as long as the crisis continues. Donations can be made here or via the Good Grub website.

Good Grub O'Reilly family volunteers
Good Grub O'Reilly family volunteers

“The brilliant DEIS schools programme understands that you can’t feed a student’s mind unless the body is also properly fed,” says Denis O’Reilly, Chairperson and Co-Founder of Good Grub.

“The breakfast and lunches provided to these disadvantaged children were often the only healthy meals they were getting in a day and now that schools are closed, there’s a serious danger that thousands of kids are going to miss out on proper nutrition at a time when they really need it.”

Friendly call

Yvonne Qullligan and Patricia Cotter with some of the packages of food for delivery. Friendly Call has augmented its service to fight isolation during the pandemic.
Yvonne Qullligan and Patricia Cotter with some of the packages of food for delivery. Friendly Call has augmented its service to fight isolation during the pandemic.

- Liz Dunphy

Cork County's Friendly Call has augmented its service to fight isolation during the pandemic, they are now also arranging grocery deliveries, dog walks, prescription collections, and even birthday greetings.

Some 40 volunteers now serve 390 people, physically isolated in their homes but kept connected to the outside world by the Friendly Call team.

Last week, a Friendly Call volunteer was reduced to tears when she saw how happy a new client — who turned 93 that day — was when she brought him a birthday cake and Easter egg on his special day.

“Some people don’t have anyone, a birthday card from us is the only one they’ll get,” Ms Barry said.

“Anyone who’s isolated or anxious, we can talk to them, and if they need anything practical we can help with that too. You get to know the person, and their needs.”

Her colleague Gary Hornibrook had dropped a donated TV to a woman who was cocooning alone with no television.

Staff and volunteers from Cork City Partnership , providing a ’’friendly call service’’ , by doing shopping and deliveries for the elderly in Cork city. Pictured is Gary Hornibrook
Staff and volunteers from Cork City Partnership , providing a ’’friendly call service’’ , by doing shopping and deliveries for the elderly in Cork city. Pictured is Gary Hornibrook

“She has been locked in for weeks and her TV was broken,” Mr Hornibrook said. “So we brought her a TV along with a bag of groceries.

“She said she’d be lost without the service. Some people haven’t been out of the house in four weeks because they have underlying health conditions or immunosuppressant illnesses that could make this virus fatal. A lot of people are really appreciative when we’re there to help.”

A grassroots message for health workers

A community which wanted to say a simple thank you to the country’s frontline workers as they battle the Covid-19 crisis have brought out their creative sides with their lawnmowers.

Residents of the Forest Hills housing estate, in Rathcoole, Co Dublin made a sign with a difference on the community’s green area over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

David McGuirk, a plumber who lives in the housing estate, was driving home late one evening last week following an emergency call-out, and started thinking about all the hard work all the various frontline workers were doing and he just wanted to thank them.

He explained:”I just wanted to say a simple thanks to them all because the current situation due to the pandemic is obviously not easy for them to cope with."

"I also wanted to bring our community together as I’m very conscious of our older people and how they are coping with cocooning and I wanted them to feel included.”

Mr McGuirk got the idea to cut the housing estate green as the grass had grown higher than it should have. “I thought if we could mow out a, thank you, to them wouldn’t that be great but I honestly didn’t know if people would be interested in doing it.”

“I phoned friends Gazza Byrne and Derek Gallagher whom I knew had good lawnmowers and I floated the idea with them and they thought it was a great idea. Then other guys Stephen Conway, Anthony Talbot and Keith Farrelly got involved.”

The friends brought out their lawnmowers to the green and once they got the grass to a manageable height they practiced creating the letter T and four hours later they had the sign, Thank you front line staff, mowed.

“Once we managed to mow out the T and figured out the dimensions that were needed we kept going all within the social distancing rules.

“Residents both young and old then noticed what we were at and everyone wanted to help as best they could within the rules. It really got everyone communicating and it became a real party atmosphere on Saturday evening. The weather being so good was a real bonus.

“We wanted to get a photo of the message and as luck would have it a resident here, who is a real messer at the best of times, said he had a cherry picker to help us capture it.

“Well no-one believed him about the cherrypicker but we all had to swallow our doubt when he turned up with it and we managed to get some wonderful photos.”

But little did the group of friends know, that the Garda helicopter, which refuels at nearby Baldonnel airport, got wind of what the residents were doing.

They were able to fly past several times during their work operations and capture the residents message from a better height.

“Everyone pulling together was just fantastic and it was wonderful for everyone’s psychological health no matter what age they are.

“It really has pulled our community together and it sent out a message too that everyone is in this fight together”.

Sarah Slater

Cork balloon artist's bid to inflate happiness levels

Jenny Murphy, Clonakilty, Co Cork of Red Balloon Cork put these balloons up in her front garden as part of a worldwide project One Million Bubbles of Joy to help bring smiles to people’s faces. Picture Dan Linehan
Jenny Murphy, Clonakilty, Co Cork of Red Balloon Cork put these balloons up in her front garden as part of a worldwide project One Million Bubbles of Joy to help bring smiles to people’s faces. Picture Dan Linehan

A balloon artist was up at the crack of dawn over the bank holiday weekend adorning her colourful house in a bid to spread some positivity.

For Jenny Murphy, it’s all designed to help make people smile.

The bright display outside her house in Clonakilty is part of the worldwide initiative called One Million Bubbles, launched to help cheer people up during the current situation.

“It’s about creating a positive atmosphere in your locality, whether you might be in an apartment, or an estate,” says Jenny.

More than 1,860 people have taken part so far.

“People have been going with ‘stay safe’ or ‘be kind’, I thought the most important thing we can do is wash our hands, so I went with that instead.

“It was set to be lovely and bright and sunny on Monday so I went out at six o’clock in the morning and started to attach the balloons to the outside my house.”

The balloons are fastened to a string of fairy lights, which will be turned on when it gets dark.

“I did it in the dark of night, throwing fairy lights out the window and I thought to myself ‘no one really knows what I’m at’ so I must have looked very funny,” says Jenny.

“Everyone here is kind already. We live in West Cork, everyone is always kind, we’ve fantastic neighbours and there’s a lovely positive vibe around the place.

“We need to keep our social distance of course but we also need to make sure we keep making people smile. There are so many people who are in social isolation in a house by themselves. People are so nervous and a smile can make a big difference. Especially if people are on their own right now, day and night.”

Like many businesses across the country, Ms Murphy’s business, Red Balloon, based in Ballincollig, has felt the effects of the Covid-19 shutdown due to the cancellation of many events and social distancing restrictions.

“We’re working on a plan to do a courier delivery service because we can’t deliver balloons ourselves, we’re a non-essential service, but we can send them out,” says Jenny. “We’re looking at sending out balloons in boxes so people can still receive them, because even though we are in this time, people are still having birthdays and celebrations.”

It’s important to keep celebrating events like birthdays and anniversaries, she believes.

“There’s two days between my neighbours’ birthdays, they turned 13 and 15 respectively. It was lovely being able to send them balloons. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t give my mum balloons because she lives in another part of the county and I couldn’t travel out to her. So I thought, ok we need to do something.”

Red Balloon is working on setting up the service via its website, she adds.

“Hopefully we will have it up very quickly.”

Jess Casey

Irish Olympians reach out to asylum seekers and refugees

Olympians, asylum-seekers and refugees are virtually coming together every week to exercise thanks to an innovative project led by former Irish Olympian Claire Lambe.

A member of the Sanctuary Runners’ Movement, which uses running and exercise to bring together those in Direct Provision with the rest of Irish society, Lambe gives #SanctuaryStrength exercise classes online each Saturday morning with hundreds logging on to stay in shape.

And what’s more, she’s roped in fellow Olympians to film videos in their homes and back gardens which Sanctuary Runners can access during the week.

“The Sanctuary Runners’ now has over 2,000 members across Ireland with about a quarter coming from Direct Provision centres. Normally we’d meet up to run every week but because of the Covid19 crisis that’s not possible – so I thought why not use technology to connect people and ensure they stay fit and healthy during this – even if they are living in the confined space of a Direct Provision centre.”

Each Saturday morning at 11am Sanctuary Runners (both Irish and in Direct Provision) log into Zoom for a half hour of energetic exercise hosted by Claire Lambe.

“Its incredible, we feel connected even though we are all apart,” explained Sanctuary Runner Deborah Oniah.

Living in Direct Provision in Cork she added: “Its very difficult for many in Direct Provision to exercise during this crisis and energy levels can drop but the #SanctuaryStrength class really lifts us, makes us stronger and lets us know there are people thinking of us and loving us. You don’t need lots of space to do the workout and its recorded and sent to us so we can do it over and over again during the week.”

Other Irish Olympians have joined the #SanctuaryStrength initiative as Claire Lambe explains:

“Olympic Silver medallist Annalise Murphy sent us a workout last week from her back garden which we were able to share with everyone. Thomas Barr, Sanita Puspure and Natalya Coyle have also filmed exercises and we’re so grateful to them. And Ciarán O’Lionáird is sending some exercises all the way from the States. We hope to add some more well-known names in the weeks ahead.”

Graham Clifford, founder of the Sanctuary Runners, said the #SanctuaryStrength initiative enables people to show solidarity, friendship and respect to those in Direct Provision during the Covid 19 crisis.

“For people living in Direct Provision the ability to exercise now will be greatly diminished. And people in centres are stressed because the chance of catching the virus is greater than for the rest of us. Many are living in confined spaces, sharing bedrooms, bathrooms, eating areas and so on. This enables people to exercise, to feel that virtual hand of friendship over their shoulder.

"We also have all of our Irish Sanctuary Runners – people exercising together as families from their kitchens, hallways, bedrooms, back gardens and even farms. Claire, and all the other Olympians, are making a massive impact to the lives of so many people through this. This is the epitome of the Olympic Spirit.”

If you would like to join the Sanctuary Runners, and take part in the #SanctuaryStrength exercise sessions drop us an email to

Lions Clubs pledge to raise €100k for 'Hero Shield' visors

Lions Clubs have pledged to raise up to €100,000 in order to fund 200,000 'Hero Shield' face visors.

The project, led by James O'Sullivan of Macroom Lions Club, will see the visors distributed free of charge to frontline health workers around the country.

It has gained the support of the 106 Lions Clubs in Ireland.

So far €20,000 has been raised including €10,000 from the Cork clubs and a further €10,000 in match funding from the District Humanitarian Fund.

"Twenty companies across the country are giving their time, talents and tools free of charge to produce these visors which are manufactured here in Ireland, are certified and meet EU Standards," said organiser James O'Sullivan.

"Covid-19 teams North and South have already approved the Lions Hero Shields.

"An Garda Síochána, Hospitals and, Care Homes North and South across the country have been contacted and are anxious to take delivery of our PPE's as soon as possible.

"The need is clear as statistics show front line staff account for almost a quarter of the Covid-19 cases in Ireland."

The visors are manufactured in Ireland by Hero Shield, a new not-for-profit collective of companies, and are certified as meeting all relevant EU standards.

The HSE has already noted that, as the visor has no moving parts, it is easier to sterilise and reuse than many existing solutions.

Lions Clubs District Governor Bernard Black said that the project enables Lion Clubs to make "a meaningful contribution to the battle against Covid-19 in Ireland."

The Hero Shield will be available free to HSE and An Garda Síochána personnel in the Republic of Ireland and NHS and PSNI personnel in Northern Ireland.

Cork GAA club raises thousands for PPE for hospital and nursing home

A Cork GAA club is hosting a one-off gig to raise €3,000 for local hospitals.

St Michael's members Sarah Carroll and Leah Coughlan have organised a Kenny Live Facebook gig this Saturday, April 18.

They are hoping to raise €3,000 to help Mercy Hospital and St Luke's Nursing Home, Blackrock to buy much-needed PPE for their staff to help protect them and their patients from the spread of Covid-19.

On Monday morning just one day after the GoFundMe page was set up, they had raised almost two-thirds of their fundraising goal.

Sarah and Leah are asking anyone who tuned into the gig to donate a minimum of €5.

"We, as a club and a community, would like to raise a few bob to help keep our critical workers - who are already sacrificing so much - safe from Covid-19," the pair said.

You can tune into the gig this Saturday on the club's Facebook page from 8pm.

You can make a donation on their GoFundMe page

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

Execution Time: 0.232 s