It was the best of times…it was the worst of times…but I’ll begin with the best! Last week, as deliveries of food, letters, parcels and newspapers were interrupted (totally understandable due to hazardous conditions) during Sneachta-geddon and Storm Emma, I have to commend this particular family-run publication for managing, (in the face of extreme adversity), to go to print and reach our wonderfully loyal readers. Indeed the knock-on effects of our bitterly cold snap was such that bosses at the highly reputable Irish Examiner took the unusual step not to print. The last-known missed edition, (I’m certain someone will correct me if I’m wrong), was in November 1972 where journos engaged in a 24-hour stoppage in protest at the jailing of reporter Kevin O’Kelly who was found to be in contempt of court. O’Kelly spent two nights in prison for refusing to answer questions about a tape relating to his RTÉ radio interview with a then IRA member. He stood by his principals, and rightly so. Any journalist who compromises their professional integrity would be effectively committing career suicide. But I digress.
Back to Sneachta-geddon and a shout out to all local businesses who prioritised staff safety above profit, taking the humane decision to shut up shop; these include Paul and Fiona Healy, proprietors of this free, community newspaper; they got it printed, wonderful distributors got it out, and at the same time placed emphasis on staff safety! I have to mention hubby’s lovely boss Ken O’Shea who texted all employees regarding closures during the alert. Well done to all.
Of course there were many stories of ordinary everyday folk stepping up to the mark to help each other. To name but a few, my good and generous friend Mike Power invited anyone who needed company and a bit of warmth to drop in for a bowl of soup by the fire; my gorgeous friend Lyn Hagan allowed drivers who got stuck to park their cars safely inside her driveway. Credit also to my fabulous neighbour Julie Kennedy, who, along with catering and medical colleagues at Roscommon Hospital, stayed in a local hotel to ensure they were on hand to provide patients and staff with food, sustenance and critical medical care! Heroes!
I have to mention my darling number one daughter who arrived six weeks prematurely during the great storm of 1982 when my own beloved dad, along with his colleague, the legendary Paddy Reel, got marooned at Dublin Airport as they tried valiantly to get flights airborne and weren’t heard from in three days. I was so concerned, despite being heavily pregnant, I walked the 12 kilometres in the snow to try to find my dad. No transport, no mobile ‘phones, no internet and no info back in 1982! Turns out himself and Paddy slept on pool tables, along with other crew members in the ALSAA sport’s club ‘till they could dig their way out.
Anyhoo, No. 1 child, (now 36), rang me from Dublin to say, “Dad’s car’s stuck in the snow Mam.” Me: “Oh no, what gear was he in?” Daughter: “OMG Mam, what’re ya like, he’s wearin’ his Penny’s padded jacket and the gloves and beanie he bought in New York…what does it matter what gear he’s in?” Me: “I meant was he driving the car in a low gear!!!” Number one falling about laughing: “Ooops, sorry”.
Well done to Shannonside Radio’s regular news bulletins who kept us all updated regarding the unfolding situation…didn’t hear a mention of us on the national stations. And our wonderful council staff who gritted and cleared main roads; you’re all only massive! I must mention our Herculean fire and ambulance service, the Gardaí, the army and the Civil Defence who went above and beyond. Heroes the lot of ya!
Then we had society’s most nauseating, heinous delinquents; the thugs who broke into their community supermarkets in certain parts of Dublin, and of course the loathsome cretins who smashed their way into a jewellers at Golden Island…scumbags, the lot of ya!
Farewell Emma, we will miss you
I cannot, will not, allow this week to go by without paying my respects and admiration to one of the bravest, most resilient women I’ve ever had the pleasure to interview, and whom, since 2015 I kept in touch with via email/text…the talented author, loving wife, devoted mother and self-professed ‘cancer vixen’ Ms. Emma Hannigan. Emma, whom I’d never met face to face, lost her long and inexplicably brave battle with cancer last week; and, always placing others first, emailed that I was ‘so kind and thoughtful to get in touch,’ with her when I’d read she was fighting cancer for the 10th time.
As someone considered ‘at risk,’ with breast cancer on my father’s side of the family and ovarian cancer on my mother’s, I was constantly monitored prior to my own radical hysterectomy and now through BreastCheck, and I fully understood Emma’s decision to undergo major surgery to reduce her risk. However in spite of this amazingly fearless woman’s valour, she was devastatingly diagnosed for the first time back in 2007, setting in motion her 11-year confrontation with a disease she managed to kick in the nuts until it finally got the better of her last Saturday.
Rest in peace you beautiful, fearless angel. My heart is broken for your husband Cian and children Sacha and Kim. An exquisite and vibrant light, one which we will never see the like of again, has been extinguished in this world.