The true spirit of Cork's communities that came to life when the pandemic hit our shores

The true spirit of Cork's communities that came to life when the pandemic hit our shores

Pictured are just some of the people involved in Cork's community response to the pandemic ensuring the support of those most vulnerable in the community and our healthcare workers.

Fear spread amongst people across Cork when Covid-19 arrived on our shores in the form of the first case of the virus in February, just weeks after the outbreak in central China.

As Covid-19 spread through communities and cases rose rapidly, hospitals quickly came under pressure and it was soon realised that the country did not have sufficient PPE for its healthcare workers.

That’s where the true spirit of communities across Cork was seen, when people stepped up to the plate in providing PPE to frontline workers.

Kinsale Community School students made face shields using a 3D printer and had their shields distributed to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, carers and healthcare workers in the region.

 Fergal McCarthy, Principal Kinsale Community College pictured with students Shane Collins Oisin Coyle with some of the 3D printers used in the schools PPE project where 10,000 visors were made for health care workers. Picture. John Allen.
Fergal McCarthy, Principal Kinsale Community College pictured with students Shane Collins Oisin Coyle with some of the 3D printers used in the schools PPE project where 10,000 visors were made for health care workers. Picture. John Allen.

Garryduff Sports Centre also became a makeshift assembly line for PPE in an initiative led by Benchspace, which saw volunteers rowing in to help combat shortages by also producing face shields using 3D printers.

Crosshaven-based UK Sailmakers Ireland, formerly McWilliam Sailmakers, also used their resources to help make PPE in a bid to fill the gaping hole between demand and supply of the required equipment.

Owners of Phelan’s Pharmacy, Conor and Denise Phelan, donated €10,000 to Mercy University Hospital for protective equipment, iPads and food supplies for patients and psychological support for staff members.

Owners of Phelan’s Pharmacy, Conor and Denise Phelan, donated €10,000 to Mercy University Hospital for protective equipment. Picture: Denis Scannell.
Owners of Phelan’s Pharmacy, Conor and Denise Phelan, donated €10,000 to Mercy University Hospital for protective equipment. Picture: Denis Scannell.

As cases continued to rise into the month of April, it was the elderly and those most vulnerable to the virus that were the sole focus of various community groups across Cork.

Advocate for the elderly of Cork Paddy O’Brien said at the time that the pandemic had led to widespread fear among the elderly community.

A Covid-19 Community Response Forum (CRF) was established in Cork City which aimed to ensure that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone could access vital groceries, medicine and fuel deliveries as well as social care support.

ALONE managed a support line for older people with concerns in relation to Covid-19 who were in need of advice or reassurance during such an uncertain time.

Cramers Court Nursing Home in Belgooly, Kinsale received an alternative Easter treat from Thermo Fisher Scientific, with a special delivery of essential PPE equipment and an assortment of Easter Eggs. Photo credit: Cramers Court Nursing Home.
Cramers Court Nursing Home in Belgooly, Kinsale received an alternative Easter treat from Thermo Fisher Scientific, with a special delivery of essential PPE equipment and an assortment of Easter Eggs. Photo credit: Cramers Court Nursing Home.

Community gardaí across the county helped to ensure the wellbeing of those most vulnerable in the community by checking in on them and delivering their groceries.

Cork City Civil Defence volunteers were also deployed in response to the pandemic and supported the frontline workers in the fight against the virus.

Cork County Council staff helped to deliver over 300 meals a day to residents in East Cork with La Trattoria Restaurant preparing over 300 meals daily which were distributed through a network of local volunteers.

An Post postmen and women across the country took on the role of checking in on those living alone and the elderly, delivering smiles to those in their communities.

Postman Kevin Ruby from Lombardstown, Co Cork has a fun way to deliver the mail with his Teddy on his rounds at Ballyclough, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan.
Postman Kevin Ruby from Lombardstown, Co Cork has a fun way to deliver the mail with his Teddy on his rounds at Ballyclough, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan.

2020 also saw the rise in popularity of video sharing app TikTok with workplaces in Cork jumping on board the new trend.

Cork City Fire Brigade crew took on the viral #BlindingLightsChallenge which saw them dancing to The Weeknd’s single Blinding Lights in a video posted to social media.

Staff at Tesco Superstore in Wilton followed suit putting a much-needed smile on peoples’ faces.

Reflecting on the kindness shown by those in the community who have cared for and ensured the safety of elderly over the last year, Paddy O’Brien said that “neighbours of elderly people in the community have been great throughout the pandemic”.

Reflecting on the kindness shown by those in the community who have cared for and ensured the safety of elderly over the last year, Paddy O’Brien said that “neighbours of elderly people in the community have been great throughout the pandemic”. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.
Reflecting on the kindness shown by those in the community who have cared for and ensured the safety of elderly over the last year, Paddy O’Brien said that “neighbours of elderly people in the community have been great throughout the pandemic”. Picture: Eddie O'Hare.

He acknowledged the work of many groups such as the various Meals on Wheels across Cork, ALONE, and the Cork City Covid-19 Community Response Forum and the Cork County Council Covid-19 Community Support Programme.

He raised concerns, however, about the 13,500 people over the age of 70 in Cork who continue to live alone with no contact throughout the ongoing lockdown and asked people to check in on elderly neighbours by speaking through the window or making a phone call to ask them if they need food or heating which he said is “vital” during the cold weather.

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