Nineteen-year-old Ellie Walsh from Fourmilehouse regained some semblance of normality yesterday (Wednesday) as she returned to her beloved job at The Comfy Café in Roscommon town.
Ellie, a first year student nurse at Dublin City University, has missed out on quite a lot this year.
“College is not too bad, but we are doing a lot of stuff online so it’s not really the same,” she said, “I’ve been on Zoom since March for school and have only met a few of the other students at DCU so far but at least I got to go in and see the college!”
Ellie and her sixth year classmates at the Convent of Mercy in Roscommon missed out on some major milestones this year, while she also had to cope with the heartache of losing her grandmother, Mona.
“We missed out on the debs but we didn’t really mind because we knew it was important to keep everyone safe. Our graduation ceremony was on Zoom but my grandmother sadly passed away in June. It was hard. There were only 30 of us allowed at the funeral and you can’t really grieve properly,” she said.
Ellie’s parents are Enda and Winnie, and she is the youngest of four in the Walsh family which includes Gemma (28), a nurse in London; Roscommon and Kilbride footballer Henry (24), who works in accounts and finance; and Ruth (22) who is currently in her final year of nursing at UCD.
So what has drawn all three Walsh girls to the nursing vocation?
“Well mam is a chef in Roscommon University Hospital and dad is a farmer but our aunt, Mary Parker, is a community nurse in Strokestown so that might have something to do with it!”
Ellie is back in college – either online or in person – in January before taking up a placement at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin in February.
“Intellectual Disability Nursing is what I want to do and I start a placement on the 8th of February. It’s very worrying with Covid-19 and that’s why I think people should take the vaccine when it becomes available to them. It’s about protecting other people,” she said.
As for her job at The Comfy Café, Ellie is extremely grateful for the support of owners and siblings, Daire and Oonagh Stephens.
“I only started back today (Wednesday) but I’m so happy to be back. Daire and Oonagh are so nice to work for and they’ve been really supportive with school and college.
“My sister Ruth started working here when she was in Transition Year and I sort of took over her job and have been here ever since! It feels like a family here and everyone’s so nice.
“It’s great to see our regular customers again too because you do get to know a lot of people through the work,” she said.
With Christmas around the corner, Ellie is looking forward to spending some time with family.
“Gemma is home from London since last Sunday so she’s isolating at the moment. Hopefully they let her out in time for Christmas!
“It’s completely different this year with Covid-19 and with granny not around but it’ll be nice to be together because this pandemic has taken its toll on everyone.
“It really hasn’t been a normal year. I haven’t been anywhere really since March. I’ve two really good friends, Rhian and Eirin, and the most I see of them is when I go shopping in Dunnes Stores where they work. I think mam has seen more of them recently!”
It may have been a difficult year, but just like nurses across the country, including those in her own family, Ellie has been doing everything in her power to keep the general public as well as loved ones such as her grandmother Mary safe this year.
“She turned 93 on the 3rd of December and she hates everything about Covid, but like the rest of us, she is really looking forward to Christmas and hoping that next year will be better.
“I just hope everyone stays safe this Christmas and we all find a way to enjoy it,” she concluded.