IMAGINING the scorching hot Summer’s day when the Limerick hurlers run out in a packed Gaelic Grounds is what is keeping a lot of us going.
But for now the Gaelic Grounds is being used as a Covid-19 test centre and the hurlers’ sliothars are on holiday.
But Limerick’s kitman’s Ger O’Connell has put them to good use. The Pallasgreen man – known for his attention to detail – used the sliothars to write a giant message on his front lawn.
Luimneach 3:16, Covid-19 nil was inspired by the GAA’s response at this time of national crisis, our healthcare workers, the late Frank Hogan, who originally carried a John 3:16 sign, and the late Sean Holmes.
“I have all the gear here including up to 400 sliothars. The idea was something that came into my head. The GAA nationally, Limerick County Board and all the clubs have offered their services to help out. When there is something to be done in our communities the GAA are the first to be counted on. This is my own little tribute,” said Ger.
The scoreline of 3:16 reflects that magical day in Croke Park in August 2018. And the late Frank Hogan’s sign – For God so loved the world, that he his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The Covid Nil part of the message pays tribute to all the the healthcare staff putting their lives on the line to save ours.
“Everything is eerie and scary now but we are a very resilient country and everybody is rallying around each other. Our wonderful doctors and nurses are on the frontline and we all have to try and help them to beat this. I wanted the message to show that if we all work together we can beat this and come out the other side,” said Ger.
As he carefully placed the sliothars on his front lawn, Ger said the late Sean Holmes – Limerick U20 football selector – was very much in his thoughts.
Ger can’t wait to gather all the sliothars up and bring them to training in the Gaelic Grounds. And for the championship to start!
GER O’Connell did the sliothar display, on top of this page, in honour of communities and GAA clubs just like Kilteely-Dromkeen.
Robert Holmes is secretary of Kilteely Dromkeen Cloverfield Community Council and GAA club.
“None of us know what will be our normal day, tomorrow, next week or next month. In Kilteely-Dromkeen we will treat it as any other day. We will look out for ourselves, family and neighbours,” said Robert, who is a dairy farmer.
He continued: “We in Kilteely-Dromkeen have many more people around every day who wouldn’t normally be. Many are working from home and many more have no work to go to at present. They are worried, we are worried – even many are frightened.”
On Monday night, Robert was registering their community volunteers with Limerick City and County Council for the Covid-19 response team. They have an incredible 36 people in the parish who want to help. The council’s special phone number to respond to the needs of vulnerable members in the community is 1800832005.
Robert says when the impact of Covid-19 became apparent they got in touch with all their community groups to see what sort of action they needed to undertake.
“We got a list of people who were willing to coordinate whatever support is needed. This list of names and relevant information was made available to each household in our community. Both local shops have offered to assist those who choose to self isolate,” said Robert.
Communication is key, he says, and their community office continues to circulate a weekly newsletter as well as a daily email to update people with relevant information. People in different areas have set up WhatsApp groups in order to communicate better locally.
“We are also in the process of identifying those who are vulnerable in our community as requested by the Gardai. We're still in regular contact with all households. Even though the churches have closed fully now - we are planning to get information out to the elderly this coming weekend - to inform them of the Easter ceremonies which will be televised on RTE,” said Robert. As we know, he says things can change very quickly in this crisis.
“We have a community that will adapt to this change – whatever this will involve. The structure of the voluntary network of people is strong and the willingness to make sure that our neighbours are OK is very evident throughout our community,” said Robert.