Coronavirus Solidarity Diary: ‘Voices of the Frontline’ highlights essential work of frontline workers

Welcome to Chapter Seven of the Irish Examiner's #CoronavirusSolidarity diary.
Coronavirus Solidarity Diary: ‘Voices of the Frontline’ highlights essential work of frontline workers
In the 'Voices of the Frontline' project, frontline workers explain the importance of their work in their own words

Welcome to Chapter Seven 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.

Read Chapter Five here.

Read Chapter Six here.

Sunday, May 3

‘Voices of the Frontline’ highlights essential work being done by frontline workers

Nurses, Gardaí, teachers, LUAS drivers, farmers, emergency service personnel, community and search & rescue volunteers and school children from around the country have all taken part in a special Covid-19 appeal using WhatsApp voice-notes which have been transformed into an animated video.

An emergency services blogger asked some of his friends who are working on the frontline to record one VoiceNote sentence each, which reflects their role in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

Other workers, like supermarket attendants and transport workers, were also asked to use a short voice note to highlight the importance of their work during the coronavirus crisis.

The two-minute video also captures an appeal from some people who are self-isolating or who have to work from home.

In their section of the video, they explain what can be achieved if we all continue to stay at home and continue to observe the 2m social distance measures.

Participants in the video work on the frontline in counties Kildare, Carlow, Laois, Mayo, Limerick, Clare, Waterford and Dublin.

The video was produced by volunteer blogger Declan Keogh, editor and founder of which is a website specific to the emergency, medical, search, rescue, voluntary and security services.

In recognition of the extensive work undertaken by the new ‘frontliners’, he also built another website, which shows all of the great work which frontline workers have done and continue to do as part of Covid-19 operations.

“It’s great to see so much work being done by so many people of various backgrounds and professions, helping to prevent the spread of the virus and also going out of their way in many cases to help those most affected by the virus itself or the restrictions in place,” Declan said.

“This video is an appeal and a vision by those on the frontline and those who are affected by Covid-19, for everyone to continue with the measures in place and to let people see all the great work being done by so many people in the community."

Listen to the Voicenotes and watch the video below:

Saturday, May 2

-Picture: Clan na Gael

Louth GAA club starts touching tribute to frontline staff

Ciaran Sunderland

Louth GAA club Clan na Gael have set up a tribute to frontline workers amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The Dundalk club put up a mural wall at their clubhouse so that members of the community can write a tribute to a frontline worker they know.

The club said they wanted to give a name to the people putting themselves at risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the club said: "The smallest gesture is as important as the biggest gesture. It just shows that you care."

'Reach out when she can't': Safe Ireland urges public to help women at risk of domestic violence

People are being urged to reach out and support women who are victims of domestic violence.

Gardaí have reported a 20% increase in calls relating to domestic abuse compared to this time last year.

It is thought to be linked to victims being confined to their homes with their abusers during the lockdown.

The government says anyone at risk from domestic violence does not have to abide by the current travel restrictions.

Sharon O'Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland, is urging people to help women who need it.

She says: "What I would say to community and family out there; reach out when she can't.

"Find out the information that you need that you may be able to offer her support.

"But if you are really really concerned-call the Guards."

Friday, May 1

St Pat's Athletic open Richmond Park as food bank during Covid-19 pandemic

Ciaran Sunderland

St Patrick's Athletic have announced that Richmond Park is to open as a food bank for those in need during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The move was made with Dublin South City partnership and Frontline Make Change and overseen by St Patrick's Athletic Community Officer, David Morrissey.

Food packs are assembled together containing cereal, pasta, rice, and other everyday household items with deliveries of supplies to take place from this week onwards.

Speaking about the scheme, St Pat's Community Officer David Morrissey said:

"Since the COVID 19 crisis began we have been in constant communication with other community groups in order to see how we as a football club could best serve the people of Inchicore at this time.

"When we were approached by Frontline and when it became clear during discussions that the provision of food parcels locally was a necessity, we were delighted to be able to help to make this a reality."

Dublin artist pays tribute to frontline workers with help of local children

Dublin street artist Emmalene Blake has paid tribute to frontline workers with the help of local children in a series of murals.

Ms Blake’s latest mural, which appears on the walls around Kingswood in Tallaght, features drawings and artwork inspired by children about social distancing, as well as thanking key workers.

The Tallaght native has won acclaim for her murals, with chart stars such as Cardi B and Lizzo sharing her images of them with their millions of online followers.

Ms Blake said: “This mural is a bit different to the others. I was getting such a positive reaction about the murals from the locals in the community and especially the kids, they love all the pieces.

Cork trainer releases printable guide of five exercises for the over 65s who are cocooning

Cork-based Personal Trainer Vilma Zyvatkauskaite
Cork-based Personal Trainer Vilma Zyvatkauskaite

A personal trainer in Cork has released a simple exercise guide for anyone over 65 who has to cocoon because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vilma Zyvatkauskaite, a personal trainer and nutrition coach with David Sisk Fitness in Cork released the printable exercise guide for anyone who doesn't have access to her workout videos on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

“While it’s understandable that older people must stay in their homes for their own health during this pandemic, cutting down on exercise can have a detrimental effect on their health,” said Vilma.

Vilma’s clients asked her if she could put together a workout guide for their relatives that were cocooning.

The guide is designed to be done at home with the only equipment needed being a chair and a towel.

The exercises are low impact and are not designed to put people under pressure.

Vilma said: “We’re not looking at intense workouts with loud music and rising exercise bikes. This guide has five exercises that you can do as a circuit.

Read the story and find the exercises here

Kinsale lights up for frontline medical workers

A message of support for HSE and NHS medical workers on the roof of a house in Kinsale.  Photo: John Allen
A message of support for HSE and NHS medical workers on the roof of a house in Kinsale. Photo: John Allen

The town of Kinsale, Cork has paid tribute to frontline workers by putting up decorative lights showing messages of support.

A colourful tribute to healthcare workers on a boat in Kinsale Harbour.  Photo: John Allen
A colourful tribute to healthcare workers on a boat in Kinsale Harbour. Photo: John Allen

Houses, businesses and boats have all taken part in the tribute.

Both the HSE and Britain's NHS are singled out for appreciation.

Pictures: John Allen Photography
Pictures: John Allen Photography

Thursday, April 30

Bus drivers and firemen show support for health workers in the North

Bus drivers and firemen in Northern Ireland were among those showing appreciation for the health workers on Thursday.

The fire service arranged banners on some Co Antrim stations bearing the rainbow symbol of hope.

Public transport provider Translink positioned buses at a Derry depot in the shape of a heart.

Close shave on offer for those out to support Clonakilty Community Hospital

Sean O'Riordan

Virtually the whole non-cocooning population of Clonakilty is expected to take part in a variety of sponsored activities this May Bank Holiday weekend in an attempt to raise €10,000 for the local community hospital.

One of the leading lights behind the drive has revisited his 'Punk' roots and already got a 'Mohican' hairdo as part of the fundraising effort.

First of the Mohicans: Kevin O'Regan, one of those behind a €10,000 fundraiser for Clonakilty healthcare staff, does his bit for the cause with a sponsored haircut.
First of the Mohicans: Kevin O'Regan, one of those behind a €10,000 fundraiser for Clonakilty healthcare staff, does his bit for the cause with a sponsored haircut.

Kevin O'Regan, who owns shoe shops in the town and Skibbereen, got sponsorship for the late 70s/early 80s punk cut which he said “brought back his youth”.

9-year-old Takes on epic challenge for 'wheelie' Good Cause!

James Cunningham, 9, will cycle 200km next week to raise money for a charity supporting homeless people during the Covid crisis
James Cunningham, 9, will cycle 200km next week to raise money for a charity supporting homeless people during the Covid crisis

Nine-year-old, James Cunningham from Clontarf in Dublin, is preparing to cycle 200km for 12 hours over two consecutive days next week (Sunday May 3 and Monday May 4), in order to raise funds and for the Peter McVerry Trust.

James hopes his challenge will highlight the plight of homeless people, particularly as the country battles Covid-19

James, who has been riding his bike since he was two years old, chose to do the challenge after speaking with his parents and asking them lots of questions on where and how homeless people were living and coping during the crisis.

The family chose Peter McVerry Trust as the charity to donate to for James's cycle as they admire the work the trust has done in the past.

They hope that James’s fundraiser will go some small way to helping those less fortunate during what is a challenging and worrying time for those without homes.

“We are all so proud of James and his decision to do this. James just loves riding his bike. It is all he ever wants to do,’ said James’ dad Keith Cunningham.

“He is a sporty kid and loves all sport, especially running, golf and GAA and rugby, but cycling is his passion and every free second he has , he is either on his bike, talking about his bike or watching cycling on the sports channels.

“He has excellent bike skills and is well able to handle 30 to 40km in a spin without breaking much of a sweat. He has been using the little park in front of our house to get his daily exercise in due to the 2km restriction, riding and riding around it as much as 50 times a day.”

James is an active Youth member of the Quanta-Scott Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club,.

Racing legend Stephen Roche is a past member and James had the pleasure of meeting Stephen back at the Giro d'Italia Grande Partenza in Belfast in 2014.

For next week, James will take on the challenge on an indoor trainer using a virtual riding simulator connected to a large screen. Whilst he would prefer to be outdoors and do it on a road, current circumstances mean having to adapt and it is a challenge he is happy to take on for a worthy cause.

“This is an incredible undertaking by James and we are delighted to have his support,” said Brian Curtin, Senior Community Fundraiser with the Peter McVerry Trust.

“The funds raised will help ensure Peter McVerry Trust can stay open, and that we can continue our work.

In 2019, the PeterMcVerry Trust worked with over 6,184 people and was active in 21 local authorities across Ireland.

The charity are currently playing a lead role in the response to COVID-19 to protect vulnerable people in homeless services.

All James’ family will be with him during the challenge cheering him on with words of support and encouragement.

His sister Elise will be busy baking brownies and flap jacks this week for the challenge in order to keep James's energy levels up during the cycle and Benjamin will be on hand with water bottles and towels.

If you would like to donate to James's virtual cycle you can do so here

You can also follow his progress on Twitter @Jamescun2000 or using the hashtag #goJames

Wednesday, April 29

The priest, who grew up on a small farm in Co Mayo, has always sought to find new ways of trying to meet people “where they were at”.
The priest, who grew up on a small farm in Co Mayo, has always sought to find new ways of trying to meet people “where they were at”.

Priest broadcasts on Facebook Live with 'Mrs Doyle' to entertain parish

Evelyn Ring

Fr John Kenny has found a new fun way of “being church” during the coronavirus pandemic.

After saying Mass the parish priest of Partry, Co Mayo, heads off for his elevenses that he broadcasts live on Facebook.

All dressed up as Downton Abbey's Mr Carson, and with a cardboard cut-out of Mrs Doyle in tow he spends about a half an hour being silly.

“At 10 o'clock I have my regular Mass time and people can tune in for that. But then, I reach out to people who are not as religiously engaged through Facebook,” said Fr Kenny.

The Louth woman was planning a one-woman 90-minute dance party in her back garden to celebrate the momentous occasion.
The Louth woman was planning a one-woman 90-minute dance party in her back garden to celebrate the momentous occasion.

90-Year-old leads danceathon in aid of Irish Red Cross and Age Action

Anna O'Donoghue

A milestone birthday should never go unmarked but Kathleen Lynch will have to improvise this year as she turns 90 years old in whilst cocooning.

The Louth woman was planning a one-woman 90-minute dance party in her back garden to celebrate the momentous occasion but now she’s calling on the rest of Ireland to join her in a bid to raise funds for charity.

At 3.09 pm on Friday, May 1, the exact time that Kathleen was born, she’s asking that the people of Ireland dance for one minute to help celebrate her birthday and raise much-needed funds for the Irish Red Cross and Age Action.

Kathleen herself will now be dancing on the hour, every hour, from 12pm. Her husband, 94-year-old Donnie, hopes to join her for a waltz during that time.

If you would like to donate to Kathleen’s birthday fundraiser in aid of the Irish Red Cross and Age Action, please visit:

Feed The Heroes campaign delivers over 100,000 meals to critical frontline workers

Feed The Heroes has raised over €1,066,290 in the six weeks since its inception
Feed The Heroes has raised over €1,066,290 in the six weeks since its inception

- Steven Heaney

Feed The Heroes, an initiative set up six weeks ago to deliver food to frontline medical staff, has so far delivered 102,000 meals to critical frontline teams across Ireland.

At present, the campaign is providing upwards of 22,000 meals per week to those battling the coronavirus.

Deliveries have been made to critical frontline workers at 101 different sites nationwide.

Those who've meals include hospital testers, contact tracers, laboratory technicians and assistants, and emergency response teams.

To date, Feed The Heroes has helped raise over €1,066,290, with more than 18,100 people donating to the fund.

Speaking today, Feed The Heroes founder, Cian O’Flaherty said: “We'e spent over €600,000 of the fund, delivering over 1000,000 meals. We would like to thank everyone who has donated, what started as an idea a few weeks ago is now a nationwide operation.

"This operation would not have been possible without the public’s generosity, and we want to be here as long as is necessary."

The fund have been prioritising providing meals to ambulance workers, and in the six week’s since Feed The Heroes started, over 10,000 meals have been delivered to members of the National Ambulance Service (NAS).

“Thank you all so much, this is much appreciated each and every day.

"NAS staff, Military staff and HSE staff out on sites getting hot food is important for wellbeing and service support,” said Richard Quinlan of the NAS

Paula Birrell of St. Michaels Hospital Dun Laoghaire highlighted the importance of the service, saying it provided a much needed morale boost to frontline workers:

"A big thank you to Naomi’s Kitchen for supplying nutritious hot meals to the staff of the Covid-19 Units in St Michaels Hospital, Dun Laoghaire on a daily basis.

"It really is nice to know that someone is caring for us when we are busy caring for others."

Individuals and companies who wish to make a donation to the Feed The Heroes campaign can do so at

Tuesday, April 28

Tech company donates €45k to Pieta House

A health services company has announced that it is donating €45,000 to Pieta as they provide assistance to individuals experiencing mental distress during the Covid-19 crisis.

Optum, part of UnitedHealth Group, is pledging €45,000 to Pieta to provide therapy to individuals experiencing mental distress due to the impact of the coronavirus.

“I am delighted that Optum is able to make this generous donation at a time when people are impacted most and charities are finding it difficult to fundraise. Pieta is doing critical work across the country,” said Padraig Monaghan, chief executive officer of Optum Ireland.

Brian McEvoy of Pieta has welcomed the generous donation.

"Without this we could not continue to support those who are among the most vulnerable in our society at a time like this.

"On behalf of Pieta staff and those who need our services at this time: Thank you."

The charity says that more than 80% of its funding comes from the public and due to the postponement of fundraising events such as Darkness into Light, their services are facing "an immediate and devastating financial crisis".

If you would like to donate to Pieta, you can do so here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, you can contact Pieta on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444.

If you are in a medical emergency call 999 or 112.

Brothers' Facebook post helps raise thousands for frontline staff

-Steven Heaney

Senan and Jonah Brady, whose idea sparked the campaign
Senan and Jonah Brady, whose idea sparked the campaign

Two young brothers have raised thousands of euro by creating a Facebook post and and social media campaign which features Ireland’s healthcare workers as Superheroes.

Senan (aged 5) and Jonah Brady (aged 7) from north Dublin posted a picture of ‘superhero potatoes’ to share their message about frontline heroes on Facebook using their illustrated slogan: “Not All Heroes Wear Capes”.

The post quickly racked up hundreds of likes and shares across social media.

“We had a family chat about what really makes a superhero,” Said the boys’ mother Ruth.

"And then Senan said ‘mum, it’s the people who defeat the virus.'"

Jonah compiled a list of people who are doing their part to help the public during the coronavirus lockdown, and then the brothers decided to work together to create the image for their post.

“We are so touched that a little arts and crafts at home to while away the hours has turned into something really positive and special,” said Ruth.

- Read the full story about the campaign here

GAA stars to battle it out in charity All-Ireland FIFA20 Tournament

All money raised in the tournament will go frontline workers in the HSE and NHS across the island.
All money raised in the tournament will go frontline workers in the HSE and NHS across the island.

Stephen Barry

Inter-county GAA players are set to resume rivalries in support of frontline workers combatting the spread of Covid-19.

A hurler or footballer from each of the 32 counties will take part in an All-Ireland FIFA20 Charity Online Tournament over the May Bank Holiday weekend, with Wexford’s Rory O’Connor, Kilkenny’s Paddy Deegan, and Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy the first competitors announced.

The esports tournament is also embracing the straight knockout structure, with each GAA star randomly allocated a Champions League team they must compete with and 1v1 games whittling the field down before the final on Sunday, May 3.

All money raised will go frontline workers in the HSE and NHS across the island.

The brainchild of disability rights activist and Irish Times columnist Joanne O’Riordan, it will be run in collaboration with the GPA and Insomnia Dublin Gaming Festival. Leading Irish gaming community ‘The Republic of Players’ will also be involved with the delivery of the tournament, managing the live stream of matches and administration of the tournament.

“We want to create an event for people of all ages. We want them to watch the games, enjoy the sport of it, and be part of the experience,” said O’Riordan.

Read the full story here

Monday, April 27

Photographer to record Covid-19 lockdown with 'Doortraits' in aid of cancer charity

A Dublin photographer and cancer charity have teamed up to create what they hope will be a living and ongoing memorial to Ireland's response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The project - entitled 'Doors Closed Hearts Open' - is the brainchild of Dublin 8 based photographer Katie Kavanagh whose nephew uses the services of the cancer support centre, Purple House.

The project aims to create a gallery of 200,000 Doortraits to support the 200,000 people living with Cancer in Ireland today.

The public have know been asked to get involved by taking a photo of their family at their front door.

They can then send the photo to Purple House by email and it will be added to the online gallery.

The charity are asking the public that when they take their photograph they text PURPLE to 50300 and donate €4 to help Purple House to support Cancer patients nationwide or visit the gofundme page here

Young Kildare brothers helping in battle to make PPE

By Press Association

Two young brothers are helping in the battle to produce more Covid-19 protective equipment by helping their father print 3D face shields.

Ollie Reilly, 13, and his 10-year-old brother George have produced more than 1,000 face shield frames guided by their dad, Mick Reilly, a chief technical officer in the School of Engineering at Trinity College Dublin.

In response to the urgent public appeal for personal protective equipment (PPE), engineers from the university have deployed a number of their 3D printers to produce face shields for front line medical staff.

While access to Trinity is restricted, Mr Reilly took six of the school’s 3D printers to his home in Kildare.

Ollie, George and Mick have produced more than 1,000 face shield frames to date for a PPE hub and a further 300 full face shields, which have been donated to front line medical staff in hospitals, nursing homes and GP practices throughout Dublin and Kildare.

Mick said: “Having recently set up a very successful Makerspace and 3D printing facility in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering for our undergraduate students, it would have been a shame not to utilise our resources for this initiative.”

The face shield frames are printed in line with the PPE-Hub protocols, using PLA (Polylactic Acid) and PET-G thermoplastic filament materials, which are 100% recyclable and safe for skin contact.

The visor is made from 250 micrometre clear PVC transparent sheets, which have been donated by Codex Office Solutions.

The completed frames are collected by regional volunteers from Blood Bikes Ireland and delivered to a central assembly site at the Garryduff Sports Centre, Cork, where members of the Defence Forces are sanitising, assembling and packing the completed PPE face shields.

The face shields are currently in widespread use throughout the community across a number of care settings including community hospitals, nursing homes, paramedics, drug and alcohol services, community nursing and other services.

It is planned that more of Trinity’s 3D printers will be added to the production line to help meet anticipated future requirements.

Residents of Ringsend flats take part in socially-distanced mass dance

By Press Association

Around 200 families have taken part in a socially-distanced mass dance in Dublin.

Spaces were marked out eight feet apart, the organiser said.

The event was held at a complex of flats in Ringsend and was the brain child of Danika Hopkins and Rebecca Larkin.

Her husband Michael Larkin, 52, said: “It is very important because I have got five kids and we are on lock down like everyone else.

“Everyone is fed up so it is to entertain our flat complex.”

A two-kilometre limit applies for exercise.

Mr Larkin added: “It is really for the kids and the older folk.

“It is really good for their mental health and wellbeing.”

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