It has been described as ‘a year like no other’, but that barely scratches the surface of how devastating the impact of Covid has been on every aspect of our lives.
A full 12 months in, the grip of the virus has left us saddened, subdued and in many cases fearful for our financial future. Those we have lost to the devastating virus are equal in number to the capacity of Dalymount Park – the Dublin stadium known for its legendary ‘roar’.
Pictures best tell the tale of what a difficult time we have had, beginning with the terror of the unknown, which manifested in the panic-buying of loo roll and Soviet-era-style queues in the supermarkets, which turned out to be entirely unnecessary, thanks to the hard work and stoicism of frontline retail workers.
As then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressed the nation on St Patrick’s night last year, asking people to “come together as a nation by staying apart from each other”, our horizons shrank.
His speech was our first introduction to the word ‘cocooning’, as older and more vulnerable people were advised to stay at home to avoid exposure to the virus.
A 5km limit saw Garda checkpoints mounted around the country.
The new essentials when leaving the house became, in order of importance: mask, phone and, much less vital, wallet.
An unforeseen consequence of lockdown and social distancing meant a dog became the most reliable and comforting of companions to see out these strange and lonely days.
On our much quietened streets, the sight of elderly people up on their balconies or in gardens, conversing with relatives and friends, was proof of our resilience as a nation.
For parents, specifically women, lockdown brought the unsettling new reality of homeschooling, combined with the impossible juggle of working from home, as closures of schools and creches exposed care inequalities.
But perhaps the most difficult aspect to get to grips with has been the stark austerity of the Covid funeral. The age-old rituals of mourning were stripped away, as funeral directors across the country adjusted to a new way of doing things. Level 5 lockdown restrictions saw funerals limited to a maximum of 10 people.
Communities adapted, showing their support in deeply moving displays of solidarity, lining the roads.
Through it all, our frontline medical workers have entered the fray, again and again, amid their own exhaustion, battling the virus.
A glimpse into the ICU ward of University Hospital Limerick showed the harrowing reality of the illness.
Now, 12 months after it all began, we are seeing the first powerful images of older citizens delighted to receive the vaccine.
Hope is finally shining.
Source: Irish News