Covid diaries: Cork woman (79) says faith and fitness keeping her going through current restrictions 

Covid diaries: Cork woman (79) says faith and fitness keeping her going through current restrictions 

Mary Hoare with her race number from a recent race, The Great Pink Run. 

LIFE has changed a lot for 79-year-old Mary Hoare since the start of the Covid pandemic.

A devout Catholic with a keen interest in fitness, music and literature, Mary said she has lost her motivation and joy for life and struggles to do things she normally likes to do.

Originally from Ballinspittle, Mary has been living in The Glen on the northside of the city for the past 40 years where she raised four children with her husband Jim.

“I’m very active in the church,” Mary said, “ I miss it terribly.”

Mary is a eucharistic minister and is also on the Parish assembly at St Brendan’s Church.

“I’ve been doing it for the past 20 years now, I do the readings at Mass sometimes as well.”

The Corkonian said since the pandemic, she misses the social element of her everyday life.

“I miss the people on the committee, you used to be meeting people from Ballyvolane, Blackpool and then The Glen. You don’t see them now, there are no Masses.”

Mary feels the loss of her daily routine but has found some new ways to show her faith.

“The church is shut except for a few hours on Wednesday, just to go in and say a prayer. I watch Mass online now. It is streamed from the Blackpool church. I find it good, at least I am getting Mass.”

When not helping out with the local church, Mary told The Echo, she also likes to run and participates in a number of running events every year.

“I’ve been involved in The Echo Women’s Mini-Marathon for the past 30 years and I do the Cork City Half Marathon every year. I did The Echo Women’s Virtual Mini-Marathon this year and I ran 100 miles in a month for the Mater Hospital.”

Chatting about life since the restrictions have been implemented, Mary said while she is still busy, she finds it harder to motivate herself to do things.

“I feel a bit lazy, I have bad days, same as everyone else, but if I commit to something then I do it.”

At the moment Mary is training for Darkness into Light and, over the weekend she is running the virtual 10km race in the Dublin Marathon series.

“I will be doing a 5km route twice,” Mary said. “Normally I go down The Marina, but it’s too far now. I miss The Marina already.”

Staying positive, Mary said while she can’t make it to The Marina, she does have a local amenity close by.

“I have the Glen Park locally, that is lovely as well.”

Up until the pandemic, Mary was involved in the regular parkrun in the Glen Park

“I used to be there, 9.30am every Saturday. I had 25 runs under my belt and i would have had the 50 parkrun T-shirt by September, but then Covid happened.”

Mary was also part of a local walking club.

“We go to different places, Blarney, Fermoy, Youghal, Crosshaven, we meet other clubs and go for walks.”

One thing that is keeping Mary going throughout the ongoing health crisis is her love of country music.

“I love country music and I watch a lot of concerts online. It keeps me going, happy and upbeat. I like Nathan Carter as well, my favourite track is ‘Rock me Mama.’”

Another great support that Mary has is the Friendly Call service which rings her every day for a little chat and to see how she is getting on.

“I joined the Friendly Call service, nine years ago after my husband Jim died. I was very upset at the time. It was a big hole in my life. It was very tough for me.

“Friendly Call is great, they ring me every day, I find it good. If I need anything they help me out.”

Mary also likes to read and has a keen interest in period books about times long gone.

“I like reading Josephine Cox and that sort of thing.”

Quiz shows on the TV are another thing that keeps Mary going.

“ I love The Chase. Bradley Walsh is brilliant, he is very funny. I used to watch the soaps, but I gave them up, there is too much violence in them now. They used to be about ordinary people but they are not any more.”

Mary said she misses being able to drop round to her friend’s house for tea and being able to have the chats with people.

Another big loss for Mary is her hairdresser.

“I have problems with my wrists and I find it difficult to wash my hair so I get my hair blow-dried every two weeks and coloured every six weeks. I miss my hairdresser terribly. I love her, we are fast friends.

“I know her a very long time, since she started training. We go back a long way, she is very caring. She would have my tea and cake ready for me when I arrive at the salon. I miss those trips a lot.”

Mary said this second lockdown is likely to be more difficult than the first one.

“I did some gardening during the first lockdown, but it’s too cold now. I hate the cold, the winter is so long and dark. It’s going to be hard.”

Mary said that her garden is a mess now and she doesn’t like baking.

“ I don’t do much baking, I’m not very good at it, my mother was a great baker.”

Mary said some days are better than others.

“There are times when I am very down. Every day is the same, there is no end in sight, it is very sad. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. I don’t have the same motivation that I used to have to do things, the joy for life is missing. I can’t visit my friends.”

Mary said she is turning 80 in February.

“I can’t believe it, I don’t feel 80. But there you go.”

The northsider said she has always been religious and it is some comfort to her in these difficult times.

“I pray Covid will go away and I pray for the people who have the illness.”

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