If you could only bag community spirit — you can in Ballingeary

Senior citizens get a taste of their own medicine with some meitheal goodies 
If you could only bag community spirit — you can in Ballingeary

Abbey Uí Laoire takes delivery of gifts from the community. Picture: Nóirín Uí Thuama

A lockdown gift initiative spanning the generations has aimed to recognise the contribution of senior citizens to creating a strong sense of community spirit in a Cork village.

Pupils of Scoil Fhionnbarra in the Gaeltacht village of Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh designed and coloured Easter cards for each member of the local community aged over 70. 

The cards were included in ‘goodie bags’ delivered to senior citizens along with colourful spring plants, Easter eggs, crocheted baskets, and baked treats from the Gougane Barra Hotel and Cronin’s Cafe.

The gift bags, delivered by a team of volunteers to 78 households, also contained a message from local development committee, Coiste Forbartha Béal Átha ’n Ghaorthaidh, urging senior citizens to maintain social interaction via phone calls, email, and social media until face-to-face contact can be resumed.

We’d have no community without them

The senior citizens had “given an awful lot to the area and it was time to give back to them”, said one of the volunteers, Maria Uí Laoire of Cronin’s Cafe.

“We’d have no community without them. There’s a great sense of community spirit around the place and we wouldn’t have that meitheal or sense of helping out, only that the older people instilled it in all of us.

“Older people are really losing out on meeting family and friends, so this was something to brighten up the day some little bit for them, with something nice as a surprise,” she said.

“It was to give people a bit of hope, to know there are people out there thinking about them, and to show that nice things can happen in bad times.” 

The gift delivery was the fourth and possibly the last such initiative organised for senior citizens in the area since the start of the pandemic.

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