07 Aug 2022

Then & Now: Pulling together during unprecedented times

'Pulling together during unprecedented times' - Tom Aherne

Strange days indeed

LIFE CONTINUES in West Limerick in a locked-in way as the unseen enemy continues to wreak havoc on people's lives and livelihoods. For many life may never return to normality and the future looks bleak with job losses and closures all round. Memories of the Celtic Tiger and the downturn that followed come to mind when the country had to be bailed out by Europe. This was a very difficult period in our history and sections of the community through no fault of theirs suffered due to the greed and reckless behaviour of others. This latest threat to the health of the nation and economy will be major and may surpass those dark and depressed days. How many will come out the other side is anybody's guess, but it looks like another marathon and not a sprint.

Leo Varadkar’s latest address to the nation last Friday night, is a warning to us all the seriousness of the situation, and all the health guidelines should be followed. The song "From a Distance" by Bette Midler comes to mind and this is the way we must lead our lives for the foreseeable future. Many new phrases have been introduced into our everyday language, and words like social distancing, isolation, and cocooning are becoming too familiar. Our thanks are expressed to all people on the front line of operations against the Covid-19 virus. They are the real heroes, and we pray they and their families stay safe and healthy.

At this time, we seek comfort in the words of the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" as all people pull together to help others in their communities.

When you walk through a storm

Hold your head up high

And don't be afraid of the dark

At the end of the storm

There's a golden sky

And the sweet silver song of the lark.

March is the month the music died for so many as all entertainment events ceased outdoors. At present it is a throwback to olden times when all the dances were forbidden to be held during Lent by the Catholic Church. Drama groups performed plays and filled the gap, and now it is the time for social media sites to provide entertainment to pass the time. It is a tough time for all involved in the music industry who brighten up all our lives.

It was inevitable that something was going to happen as many sections of society had lost the run of things. The Olympic motto higher, faster, stronger, was pushed to the limit and beyond and this year's event has been postponed for only the third time in its history. Climate change had issued warnings with storms droughts and constant rainfall that affected all countries. Our wildlife had declined drastically as humanity squeezed out their habitats and way of life. Mother nature decided to give us a kick up the you know what, and to take a break to see how we could cope with this virus. When Covid-19 pass as it will we should all look at ourselves and how we treat our planet.

Our world is very divided with thousands of people dying from hunger and displacement each day as others stockpile their wealth at the expense of others. A more equal society is needed where all occupations are treated fairly and not looked down upon. The wage gap must be narrowed to reflect the daily work of all be they chief executives or in our less thought of occupations. The ordinary jobs are just as important as the highflyers (now grounded) of this world. What this virus has taught us is that all types of workers are needed to work side by side in time of need. This should continue in the future to form a rich and more caring community. People who are good at blowing their own trumpets about their own and family successes and achievements might take a deep look at themselves from behind their ivory towers and think of others.

I was disappointed to see journalists being laid off as they play a vital role in bringing the real facts to their readers. It is a difficult time for all local newspapers and local radio stations, due to the loss in advertising, but is vital that they continue to publish and inform. Social media sites have their place in everyday life, but for the real factual news, the paper and radio cannot be equalled. I welcome the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland announcement to waive the broadcasting levy for the first six months of the year. This action will save local radio stations one million. The print media do not qualify for any assistance at present which is worrying. The government through An Post could ensure that people( unable to visit their local shop ) receive a copy of their local paper to keep them informed.

In these uncertain and worrying times for all, please consider the welfare of small businesses in our locality. Lots of these small businesses could, and most likely will go out of business due to the Covid-19 outbreak. They will find it very difficult to survive weeks of little or zero cash flow, despite the Government assistance. The Tescos, Dunnes, Lidl and Aldi, of this world will be fine, but it is another story for the local grocers, butchers, hairdressers, bakeries, fuel merchants, furniture manufacturers etc. These businesses involve our neighbours, friends, and acquaintances, so please consider them first, or they may not be there, when this virus will pass as it will in time.

I was delighted to see more gardai being employed than ever before, and more of them being put out on the beat, in a reversal of recent years. It is great to see them engaging with the public and helping people who are in need at present. The station closures, cutbacks and withdrawals of personnel from rural areas left the country areas free for criminals to develop and expand their operations. The drug lords took advantage to set up and move into our villages, destroying some of our youth’s dreams and ambitions. The elderly and isolated were targeted and attacked in their homes, and farmers had their livestock, diesel, and machinery stolen. We saw in recent weeks how emergency laws can be passed quickly if there is a will, as always there is a way. May be this present crisis may be a turning point in how the gardai are allowed to operate for the betterment of our people into the future.

Silence is golden (apart from the bird song and animal and pet calls )but after a few weeks it can become eerie, and even a passing plane flying overhead on the way to Shannon Airport can be a pleasant distraction. Remember everything ends in time, and it is what you do when you have nothing to do that reveals yourself. The glass is always half full and never half empty.

Barbara Jemison wrote the following verses which are worth recalling at this time.

Your chin was made for keeping up

Your hand for holding on

Your upper lip for keeping firm

When all your luck seems gone

Your head was made for holding high

Your heels for digging in

With this kind of anatomy

You're in the race to run.

Now is the time to answer Ireland's Call

Side by side

We stand like brothers

One for all and all together

We will stay united through darker days

And we'll be unbeatable forever.

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