Creativity in the midst of Covid-19
“The Poet and the Actress“ by American artist Emily Andress records the evening when Nora Reliihan (one of Ireland’s iconic actresses of any generation) read one of Paddy’s poems at the Listowel launch of his first book of poetry ‘Mind the View’ in February 2015
‘My Lockdown Lovelies’ is how the multi-talented Welsh superstar Katherine Jenkins addresses her many thousands of Fans (me included) as she continues with her free Saturday night concerts on Facebook every week. She has dedicated her singing career to many wonderful causes, and one gets the sense she approaches life from deeply held spiritual beliefs, values and behaviours. Her creativity seems to be her oasis and her connection with life, her modus operandi. Her weekly performances help many of us to take a break from the worry, stress and anxiety associated with the challenges of today.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t find the last year easy and without my own spiritually based beliefs, family and friends I am sure I would have ended up lost, bewildered and fighting to maintain any semblance of emotional and mental balance.
On the 29th February 2020 (yes, a Leap Year Saturday night at the Movies) I was on my way to a packed-out Listowel Community Centre for a ‘Night at the Oskars’ – a celebratory night raising funds for Listowel Celtic. On the way, the news came over the car radio as the Health Protection Surveillance Centre confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Ireland – a male patient in the east of the country. Unrelenting we drove on. We chatted, sang and danced into the night with friends from the cast and crew of our movie production of John B Keane’s classic ‘The Field’ – basking in our reflected glory as actors for one night only. Oskars were won and lost on the night but sure it was a bit of craic and for a good cause.
Little did I know as I drove some friends home late into the night (I am also the sober dedicated driver on days and nights like this) that the 29th February would be the last of these gatherings in public for some time. Family members and close friends have caught the virus and people whom I knew well have passed away from Covid 19. We still have a good bit to go but there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccinations on the way. I too am looking forward to the new normal (a few days away with my daughter Fiona, who is based in London, is one of my top priorities along with a few hugs from all the seven grandchildren).
In the meantime, as we pull together as best we can to suppress the virus. I get great comfort in reading poetry and writing creatively during these times. It brings me to my spiritual oasis of mental and emotional calm if sometimes short lived.
With the help of my good friend Dave O’Gorman (‘Kerry Dave’ to his network of country music fans) we recorded some poetry and stories earlier in the year. I share these here with you (video below) and hope that you get a sense of the peace and calm along the Shannon Estuary in Tarbert Co. Kerry – my home place.
As you ease your way through some of the recordings, please give some time to consider our own Lockdown Heroes. These are the many thousands of men and women who every day give their expertise freely and fearlessly on the frontline to protect and care for those in our community who catch this virus and end up in their care. The number of healthcare workers who have caught this virus in their workplace is staggering whilst some have paid the ultimate price for such service with their lives. All of us I am sure are moved beyond words and with great emotion as we remember the 5485* people who have died on the island of Ireland and the 306,381* people who were confirmed cases but making a good recovery.
Sadly, these figures will not be the last.
**Figures for Ireland and Northern Ireland combined as published on the 4th February 2021.