2021 was a difficult year. There’s no doubt about it. Covid mutations, lockdowns, vaccination debates, and environmental catastrophies dominated the news, while confusion, fear and uncertainty permeated the polluted air around us like noxious gas.
But there were certainly glimmers of happiness, and of hope. Of lockdown babies, long evenings in the sun, and much longed for reunions. Esther Hicks once said: “A happy life is just a string of happy moments.”
So I asked the women of Cork to tell me about their happiest moments of 2021, and here’s what they had to say.
“Hearing my parents got vaccinated at the same time together.
“Hugging a new friend for the first time six weeks after their vaccination. We started dating a few weeks later, so it was a really good hug!
“Attending a burlesque show for the first time in 16 months, and my Queer family rallying around me with food and presents when I was sick.”
Grace Ní Dhonnchú, Ballinhassig
“Friendly Call Cork won the overall Lord Mayor’s Community and Voluntary Award this year, and I was so delighted that our team of volunteers received the acknowledgment that they deserved for giving so much time to Friendly Call.
“Within the last year, we have had 110 volunteers giving their time to Friendly Call, ringing clients five days a week to check in on them and make sure that they are okay.
“Currently, we have 67 volunteers making calls to our 369 clients.
“For many of our clients, that phone call from a Friendly Call volunteer might be the only call they get; it might be the only time the phone rings.
“I was so proud for all our volunteers when we received this award.”
Brenda Barry, Churchfield
“The day my first grandchild Reya was born.
“It’s unreal... the feeling. I just adore everything about her. She is a blessing.
Jackie Carroll, Grange
“Being able to go see my family in England after 18 months of lockdown. Unfortunately, all my three children live there. But it was amazing to spend time with them.
“I travelled last August by boat and spent a month there.
“While I was there, my son Ryan got engaged to Joely, a fab girl. They’ve being school friends since they were seven or eight and are both now 27.”
Eilish Hayes, Skibbereen
“The happiest moment this year for me was finding an apartment to rent in beautiful Cobh.
“After years of sharing with strangers in Dublin, I’d moved to Cork hoping to find a nice, quiet place where I could live and work stress-free.
“That proved to be a very hard task and I have to admit I was pretty desperate when I received a call from an agency to view the apartment in Cobh.
“In the end, I moved here with my partner and we are loving every moment of it!”
Daniela Maras, Cobh
“Favourite moments from 2021? DJ sets in the summer sun in Rebel Reads - a community bookshop set up in the Marina Commercial Park. Good people coming together to make a space for workshops, events, and organising - essential for the well- being and flourishing of our community. My first ever DJ set!
“Dragon of Shandon 2021 was another favourite moment. It was my first time working on the festival. I wasn’t prepared for the energy, enthusiasm and palpable pride felt by me and everyone I talked to. It’s such an important event on Cork’s calendar, and I loved every minute of it!”
Úna Hennessy, Dennehys Cross
“When my daughter Alila smiled for the first time. To be honest, the first part...the first few weeks were really hard.
"I kinda struggled with the adjustment. But then she smiled, and it was my happiest moment.”
Karen Lunnon, Wilton
“My happiest moment was a perfect summer’s day at Barleycove beach in late August. It was Bahamas-like and gorgeous. I moved to Cork from Croatia in the summer of 2020, and by the spring of 2021, I missed Mediterranean beaches terribly. I couldn’t believe my luck when it was warm enough to swim without a wet suit... for days!”
Karmela Matesa, Mahon
“My happiest moment was the birth of my son Ozzy, and after that every single moment with him.”
Martina Ratkovic, Grange
“My favourite time was when we went to France to visit my family in July. In Ireland, we still could not even have a coffee indoors but everything was open in France, and it was then we realised how deprived we had been.
“We totally unleashed ourselves and went out for coffee, lunch and dinner for the first week. We felt the need to do it just because we could and because we had missed it so much.
“It had been a great family moment after months of privations on every front for us adults, our two teenage girls and our 11-year-old son.”
Geraldine Emerson, Kinsale
“Mine was being able to take the kids to soft play centres again. Seeing the joy on their little faces jumping into the ball pit and zooming down the slides.”
Sarah Lanigan, Passage West
“For me, it was being able to get on a flight in October to Tenerife with friends. It was like being 18 again, going on your first holiday to Santa Ponsa!
“But I suppose my absolute favourite moment was having all the family; my dad, my husband Richard’s mam and dad, my kids and grandkids, all in mine for Sunday dinner after being forced to stay away for months due to Covid.
“When you’re deprived of the normal things in life, you realise just how precious these things are, and how easily our freedom can be snatched away from us.”
Michelle St Ledger, Blarney Street
“One of the most positive moments that stands out for me in 2021 was hearing that Cork Traveller Women’s Network won a national heritage award from the Heritage Council of Ireland for our work on Traveller history.
“Celebrating our history is so important as part of having pride in the resilience of our culture and passing this on to the next generation.
“Covid has been tough for everyone, and I know first hand that Travellers have had a particularly tough time, so the Heritage award was, for me, something positive that came out of a hard 18 months.”
Brigid Carmody, Cork City
“My favourite moment was when I had a beautiful dream which saw me laughing heartily with my beloved mum, Kathleen, who had recently passed away.”
Carina McNally, Castletownbere
“My absolute favourite moment was when my sister was given the all-clear from her breast cancer. She is now cancer free and her hair has grown back. Not much gets better than that.”
Sandra Carroll, Douglas