A week ago today, I made the difficult but responsible decision to close our doors in Ballincollig and Glanmire. As many have pointed out to me since, we were one of the very first to make such a decision and I’m very proud of this. Nothing short of an overwhelming outburst of support, well wishes, kindness, advice and encouragement followed next, and this for sure, I will never, ever forget.

We celebrate three wonderful years in business in May but today our doors are locked. It’s seven days later and the future of our business is still completely unknown. It’s likely I could reflect and write again at four weeks later, maybe eight weeks later, maybe longer, and still only have the same to say. I feel it’s the unknown is causing such severe anxiety and fear amongst the public and business owners. Naturally a “glass half full” kind of man, I am remaining positive but a part of me is definitely avoiding acknowledging what’s happened, what’s happening and what’s yet to unfold. It’s a nerve-wrecking head space to find myself in, and a scary thought process. To meet me on the streets or chat here on Instagram or Facebook, I’m in good spirits but I’m also nervous and anxious and unsettled.

All that said, and to allow that same “glass half full” man to have his say, and even the scale a little, I’ve learned a lot about my circle, my community, my county and my country in the past seven days. Most of what I’ve learned has always been right there staring back at me but I was too ignorant, too self-centred and too stupid to see it and acknowledge it. With the utmost respect to you, the reader, I wonder how many of you can relate, even partly, perhaps? The unfoldings of the past week have challenged us both individually and collectively and with little to no warning, our routines, schedules, structures, patterns, plans and events were heavily disrupted and impacted. However, it’s what’s followed the outbreak that’s sparked a great sense of pride, positivity and encouragement within me – our prompt and direct reaction. Here’s what I always knew before but now have a new found sense of perspective, gratification and admiration for, following recent events:

The doctors, nurses, consultants and careworkers of this country are the very strong, sturdy and most reliable back bone of this country. They are extra ordinarily brave, courageous, generous people. They are unique and one of a kind. We need to treasure them and reward them, richly. They wear scrubs and gowns and they Are heroes.

Our shop assistants, chemists, bus-drivers, delivery-drivers, guards and firefighters deserve enormous credit. Front-line workers dealing with the public through long hours and long shifts, all-the-while carrying the same burdens, stresses, fear and anxiety as the rest of us. We undoubtedly take them for granted but they deserve huge acknowledgement and reward.

History has thought us that the Goverment of Ireland are a mixed bunch. Irish Goverment and Irish politics, from my very limited knowledge on the topics, are games of opinion, debate and negotiation. In this instance however, there’s no debate. We have been, and continue to be, represented and served well in light of current circumstances. The Goverment have acted effectively and efficiently and have been honest. Granted I feel it’s the least we deserve but we got it and credit where it’s due.

Our teachers and educators have lead in an exemplary manner. I have seen first hand many offering their expertise and assistance in an online capacity, free of charge. A teacher carries a sincere and genuine, natural, kindness and generosity. Ironically, something you probably can’t teach!

The Irish spirit is alive and well amidst a very serious crisis. We see endless examples every day. Pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants made difficult decisions to close, graciously accepting the consequences, to protect us. Coach’s, comedians and musicians are keeping us active, entertained and keeping us occupied and distracted when we need it most, again free of charge. Local organisers thought outside the box for St. Patrick’s Day and arranged “in-car parades” for children and parents to attend, a first of it’s kind from my knowledge. We have Banks and Landlords freezing and capping rents and mortgage payments and this all needs to be commended.

Above all, we are all in this together, and can only find a resolution and overcome this, together. Play your part. Follow the simple HSE and Government instructions. Communicate and check in, where possible, with family and friends. Do the same with neighbours and even with online friends, who usually, you might only say hello to in passing. Otherwise, be patient. Stay active and keep your mind occupied and entertained. We can and will get through this tough time.

We can and will get through this tough time.

Mind yourselves. Mind each other. ❤️🖤