'We lived in the moment for generations, now we've just gone back to it' – Irish celebrities reflect on the lessons they have learned during lockdown

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‘We lived in the moment for generations, now we’ve just gone back to it’ – Irish celebrities reflect on the lessons they have learned during lockdown – Independent.ie

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Daithi O Se

Daithi O Se

Daithi O Se

Aoibhin Garrihy

Aoibhin Garrihy

Aoibhin Garrihy

Daniel O'Donnell

Daniel O'Donnell

Daniel O’Donnell

Marissa Carter

Marissa Carter

Marissa Carter

Domini Kemp

Domini Kemp

Domini Kemp

Fr Brian D'Arcy

Fr Brian D'Arcy

Fr Brian D’Arcy

Miriam O'Callaghan

Miriam O'Callaghan

Miriam O’Callaghan

Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

Daithi O Se

Forced to slow down, we have all been inventive in finding ways to occupy, and distract, ourselves. Sarah Caden chats to some of our favourite people about what they did, and learned, in lockdown; a time of frustration, fear, worry and boredom, but also of silver linings, strange joys and even the occasional revelation

Dáithí Ó Sé

Daithi O Se

Dáithí Ó Sé continued to co-host RTÉ’s The Daily Show with Maura Derrane through lockdown. He commuted to the RTÉ Cork studios three days a week from his home in Galway, where he lives with his wife, Rita, and their son Micheal (six)

PRACTICAL

“We always cut the lawn. We’ve a house on about half an acre, and Rita wanted to buy a ride-on mower, but I don’t want one. I like the push lawnmower. It takes about an hour-and-a-half to do it, but I think it shouldn’t be done too quickly. I enjoy it.

“There are briars that I probably should have tackled earlier, but never had the time. So I bought a slash hook in lockdown. I went at the briars, and it was probably the best workout I’ve ever had in my life.

“We’ve an open-plan bird box down the end of the garden, so that was a challenge. I had to take it easy around there, where I now know there’s a robin. Before, I’d have gone down there with a petrol strimmer and just madly strimmed the whole thing, fast, birds and all. But I’ve changed in that way.”

PERSONAL

“I leave the house about 8.30am in the morning, and I’m home about 8pm. It’s like an ordinary job, but I think when you do TV all the time, you get in the habit of really going at a pace. You don’t notice time going by. Like, ‘what is after happening? What do you mean my son is six? I only brought him home from the hospital a few days ago…’

“But you get used to going at a pace and there’s nothing, until this, to slow you down. I remember years ago I went up the Shannon on a boat. I rang a friend and told him I would be in Athlone that day at 3.30pm, all going well. The next day, I called him and said I’d be in Athlone on Thursday or Friday. The boat would only go at a speed of five knots and no faster, and that was that. I’ve never been slowed down like that since, until now.

“The world has slowed down and I’ve slowed down with it. I’m up to bed at 9pm, watch the news headlines, read a book. I used to head up about 10.30pm, but I’d go up at 8pm now, if I could. It’s still bright out, but I’m gone by the second story of the news. I’m out and about more, eating better, sleeping better. Going back to nature sounds flowery, but we’ve gone back to more how we lived years ago. It’s just simpler.

“We lived in the moment for generations, now we’ve just gone back to it.”

Aoibhin Garrihy

Aoibhin Garrihy

Aoibhin Garrihy

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Aoibhin Garrihy

Aoibhin Garrihy, who runs Beo, a wellness and self-care events business with partner Sharon Connellan, was locked down at home outside Ennis, Co Clare, with her husband, Armada Hotel owner John Burke, and their two daughters, Hanorah (23 months) and Liobhan (six months)

PRACTICAL

“The hotel has never really been closed before. Even when it closes at Christmas, it’s prepping for opening again, but this is the first time for John’s family to really shut the doors, and it’s unnerving. John goes down there to work, but Spanish Point is dead. He comes home with these amazing photos and there are basking sharks now around the Point, but there’s no one to see it. I’m not getting to see it; we’re more than 5km away.

“I started to record poetry recitations in the wardrobe with my little mic and put them up through our Beo website, beowellness.com, and on podcast platforms, partly because I was finding words healing myself. All our Beo wellness events through spring had to be cancelled, and I started to wonder what might bring people comfort.

“Poetry has always been something I have been very much into, but when you get caught up in life and you get busy, I suppose it falls aside. My drama teacher of old, Maeve O’Donoghue, instilled the appreciation, but it wasn’t until college that I got into my love of it. Reading and reciting, not writing.

“I started with 14 poems, everything from Seamus Heaney to James Beer, and the response was so incredible that I’ve kept going. Like a nurse off a 14-hour shift who can’t switch off, but listens to the words to get herself to sleep. The messages were amazing, so I’ve continued recording and uploading.

“Brother Richard Hendrick’s poem, Lockdown, is really special.

“Just doing it has given me headspace, I suppose. The words are comforting, but I’m also interested in the voice and what that can do and I’ve always been interested in the power of recitation. You see people painting now and going back to old hobbies, and it’s like that. It’s a form of escapism and you’re painting pictures with your voice.”

PERSONAL

“I knew before all of this that I’d wanted to remove myself from the temptation to buy; from the fast-fashion world and the need to buy the next beauty product or whatever, but what this has taught me is how little I really need. It also showed me how easy it is to change our ways and not be tempted.

“I’ve learnt how to be happy with my lot. That’s not to say I’ll never shop again, but we’re going to need to shop Irish and shop local and support local business. I’ll be going to my favourite restaurant and boutique again, but all this has shown me that less is enough.”

Miriam O’Callaghan

Miriam O'Callaghan

Miriam O'Callaghan

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Miriam O’Callaghan

Miriam O’Callaghan was in lockdown with her husband, Steve Carson, and five of her children. She continued to host Prime Time and her weekend show on RTE Radio One

PRACTICAL

“I found myself cooking so much. I would feed the boys and five seconds later they’d be starving again. When this is all over, hopefully I won’t be cooking as much, but it has been lovely to be here with them more. Normally, I would drop some of them to school and then go to a Prime Time meeting and then spend a lot of time in work, but not being able to do that has made me rethink things. And I have enjoyed being more present.

“I’ve also started making my mother’s brown bread and soda bread. She has always given it to me, so I always thought, ‘Sure I don’t need to learn to make my own’. Then suddenly I couldn’t get the bread from her, and I had the time, so I decided, ‘OK, I need to learn to make this’.

“She was delighted to part with the recipe and I showed her pictures of the bread on the phone. I tried to make her apple pie, too, but that wasn’t as successful. So I’ve been making bread a lot, and my youngest likes fairy cakes, so there have been a lot of those, too.

“I’m channelling Nigella.”

PERSONAL

“What I’ve learnt about myself now, with certainty, is what I always suspected, that I’m really not a worrier. A pandemic has the ability to create worry in everyone, not just in worriers, but it has confirmed to me that I really don’t do worry. I haven’t worried.

“I think it’s how I’m made and I feel blessed. If something bad happens, we’ll face it, but I can’t change it by worrying about it in advance. I’m so conscious all the time that people are sick and suffering and grieving and, touch wood, we haven’t been sick, so that’s important to remember, but I’m not going to solve the pandemic by worrying. I try to keep that strong in the house and I think it’s affected the mood.

“You save up strength for real situations and they will come, but now, we’re here and we’re alive and we have to be grateful for that. The most important thing of the lockdown is to keep everyone in the house happy and that’s been my focus.”

Daniel O’Donnell

Daniel O'Donnell

Daniel O'Donnell

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Daniel O’Donnell

Daniel O’Donnell saw his touring plan upended for 2020 and spent lockdown at home in Donegal with his wife, Majella

PRACTICAL

“A few weeks into the lockdown, I wondered if I should go up to the local hospital to the residents. I rang them up and asked did they want me to come up and sing a few songs. They have a garden there, in the middle, with the rooms looking out on to it, and I set myself up there with a speaker I got from the local undertaker that he uses for funerals. It broke, but the whole thing was a great success, so I got a bigger speaker and went back again, and up to a nursing home in Gweedore.

“I do it for about half an hour. It’s only a few songs, but it’s a bit of a change for the residents, and they know all the songs. I sing a lot of the older songs for them and they sing along.

“It’s great to see people enjoying the music and I love seeing the staff get a kick out of it, because what they want is to see the residents happy.”

PERSONAL

“Having no gigs ahead is not what anyone would choose, but it’s necessary. This is for survival. As it stands, my shows for the latter part of year are not cancelled, but how can they go ahead? You cannot social distance 2,000 people.

“Maybe it’s because of where we live, but I’ve enjoyed the time. I’m not bored. At the time of lockdown, I was supposed to be having a little time off from touring anyway, but it was going to be spent very differently.

“We had a cruise booked for Majella’s 60th, and a Medjugorje pilgrimage, so I would have been away from Ireland, and instead I was at home, but that hasn’t been bad.

“I never say the word retire, but I might do less travelling in the future. I’ve realised that retirement isn’t something to be scared of.

“I love the singing and I hope I’ll always do some, but I’m not doing nearly as much, and the time off, I know now, I can occupy well.”

Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

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Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates continued to present ‘The Hard Shoulder’ on Newstalk and ‘The Tonight Show’ on Virgin Media One. He spent lockdown at home in Dublin with his wife, Deirdre

PRACTICAL

“All my MC and moderating and speaking work came to a standstill in lockdown, but I still went into Newstalk in the day and out to Ballymount for the television on my designated nights.

“Outside of that, what I used to do was go to Leinster rugby, watch Man City and watch 24/7 all the recorded sporting events. Then, suddenly, the pubs were closed, the betting shops were closed and there was no sport. I was quickly ready to jump off a cliff. There were a lot of long walks in every direction and slowly, but for three or four hours. And I lived with my sorrow.

“My wife Deirdre took up bloody Bridge on her iPad and started learning French, but the thing we have started doing together is we save up all The Irish Times Simplex crosswords and do them at the weekend.

“Before lockdown, I’d never seen one episode of Game of Thrones, but I’m up to season four, knee-deep in the fornication. Almost in one night I watched season five of Peaky Blinders. I watched no TV before because I was watching sport, but now, with a copious amount of home-drinking, I could watch a season of Game of Thrones in a weekend.

“This is not a hobby for life, it’s extremis of boredom.”

PERSONAL

“I’ve always known that my boredom threshold is low and this has only emphasised that. I’d be in a home for the insane without work. I’m very fortunate that I have some normality to my life, and all my family are well and my extended family, too.

“I’m not doing anything to improve on the boredom threshold, I’m too old for that.

“All these people say it’s for our own good, but that’s all total bullshit of the highest order and I can’t wait for it to be over.”

Domini Kemp

Domini Kemp

Domini Kemp

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Domini Kemp

Domini Kemp is co-owner, with her sister Peaches, of the Itsa group of restaurants and cafes, all of which completely closed during lockdown. She spent the time at home in Dublin with her husband and two daughters, Lauren (22) and Maeve (10)

PRACTICAL

“I did flirt with doing online yoga every day and I had really good intentions that I’d read a backlog of Christmas books, and do the photo albums, but it all fell by the wayside.

“What I have done is cook loads. I did work my way through some cookbooks, both for myself and for review, and that has been the most dedicated thing I’ve done. There were a few dodgy cakes, but my big obsession became Alison Roman, The New York Times cookery writer, and her book, Nothing Fancy.

“I actually developed an unhealthy obsession with her. She does all these funny Instagram videos and I love her recipes and the photographs are great. Very flavoursome and not too many desserts – a real New Yorker.

“My biggest hit was her roast chicken, cooked really slowly for two to three hours in a low oven. Tomatoes, fennel, cumin and different spices. I was deeply suspicious for ages, but she says it’s foolproof, so I finally did it and, oh my god, it’s fantastic.

“I suppose it’s been a time of maniacal recipe-testing on my part.”

PERSONAL

“I never in my life had this much time off. Never ever. The longest holiday I’ve ever been on is 10 days. It has been so very odd and it hasn’t been pleasant time off. Working is such a big part of your identity and it’s connected to my sense of self-worth. It has unsettled me and has been actually discombobulating.

“Of course I’m conscious that people are dying and I’m just at home, sitting on my ass, but the void in your life left by work is massive. We closed absolutely everything. We looked at the business and how we could pivot, but that might have been good money after bad, so we’ve just spent the time since then looking at what we can do once restrictions ease, and that’s meant sleepless nights and worry.

“What I’ve realised about myself is that I don’t do inactivity well. I felt agitated by my sloth from the start of lockdown and all the way through. People have recommended breathing techniques and meditation apps, but I find it hard to get on top of my agitation.

“I haven’t found a way to take the pressure off yet.”

Fr Brian D’Arcy

Fr Brian D'Arcy

Fr Brian D'Arcy

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Fr Brian D’Arcy

Fr Brian D’Arcy spent lockdown in his home in Tobar Mhuire, Co Down, from where he said Mass and funerals and wrote for the ‘Sunday World’

PRACTICAL

“I haven’t a moment through all of this. I am as busy as I possibly can be and it’s all down to this thing called Zoom. It may have existed before, but I never knew about it.

“I’ve been saying Masses on Zoom and talking to people in ICU wards on Zoom and doing things with families who can’t come home for funerals.

“One Sunday, I had three different funerals on Zoom, with some people in America, some in Australia. They were able to do their prayers of the faithful and their own prayers. It made the Mass a little more real for them. And became a source of comfort.

“We used to talk about a Dr Google, now there’s a Bishop Zoom.

“I’ve discovered that when you can’t have the real thing, you make the best of the next best thing. I have been facilitating through Zoom and the power of love can be conveyed through Zoom.

“Before all this, I would have been sceptical about using technology this way. I would have said that if I can’t go in to a hospital and talk to a person, or see them in the flesh, then it’s only playing at being a priest through a computer.

“I still think that to an extent, but should a person be left with nothing if that’s the case? I say no, I will do what I can, and leave the rest to God.

PERSONAL

“Put it this way, I’m very glad I didn’t join the Cistercians and wasn’t locked up. Through all this, I’ve been locked up with five monks in the one house, and all I can say is we’re doing our best.

“I’ve done prison chaplaincy for many years and sometimes I would have thought that those guys have it easy compared to some people I know, but now I know that the freedom to move is an unbelievably difficult freedom to lose.

“A definition of suffering is to lose control and I would never have thought that before, but here we are; we can’t control the future, we don’t know what it will be, and we are incapable of being in control of nearly anything.

“To the modern person, who has been told we can ‘do anything’, that is very difficult.

“I don’t like the word cocoon, we’re just quarantined up in the North, but I didn’t like that at all, either. Neither are pleasant words, but I knew, as an over-70, it was for me. The worry that I might contract the virus was the lesser worry, but the idea that I might spread it – I would never forgive myself”.

Marissa Carter

Marissa Carter

Marissa Carter

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Marissa Carter

Marissa Carter, founder of Carter Beauty and Cocoa Brown tan, spent lockdown at home in Dublin with her husband Ronan and children, Charlie (eight) and Belle (five)

PRACTICAL

“I haven’t learnt anything new, but I have started teaching my kids how to play the piano. I played for years, and I always loved it, but after I had Charlie, I was just so busy with him and then Belle, and with work, that I stopped.

“I rang my mum and said, ‘You know my old keyboard in your attic? Will you pull it down and put it in your garden and I’ll come and collect it?’ So she did and I put some batteries in it and off we went.

“I love playing, it’s so therapeutic and meditative and I thought that would be good for the children. It’s a really nice, calming thing to do, and Belle has taken to it like a duck to water.

“I just thought how sad it would be if I never took the time to share the piano with my children. I thought how awful it would be if they left home without ever knowing how. And when this is over, I want us to be able to say, ‘Look, we did that together’.

PERSONAL

“Turing off the hustler button has been incredible. I feel so liberated. This is what it feels like to not really care about anything other than the health and safety of the people I love. I’m not pushing myself to do all the things I’d be pushing myself to do this time of year in work; stressing and worrying about travelling and forging ahead and now I’m like, all that matters is that we’re all grand.

“The business is ticking over in online sales and I haven’t had to let anyone go, which is great. We’ll pick up again when we can. I don’t know when that will be and I’ve never been one to go with the flow, but I’m forced into it now and I can do it.

“I’ve been self-employed from the age of 21. I never thought I’d be the type of person who’d sit around in pyjamas all day or put on make-up once a week. I would have said that’s not who I am, but it turns out that it is.”

Sunday Indo Life Magazine


Source: Irish News