How is Covid-19 affecting you?

April 9th, 2020 5:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

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In the second part of our two-part series, Emma Connolly and Brian Moore talk to local business people about how they’re coping in the crisis

Martina O’Brien,

Cork Ladies football goalkeeper

Cork goalkeeper Martina O'Brien.


I AM a self-employed physical therapist and work out of a small practice in Ballinascarthy. This takes up half of my week, with sport dominating the other half.

I have shut my doors temporarily and although this will hit the bank account hard, I think the bigger picture is the health and well-being of my patients, their families, and those who live in the community and surrounding communities.

What we do now will help to curtail and hopefully stop the spread of the virus and we can all do our bit. Like every sporting body in the country ladies football has also stepped back and halted all activities. This has probably had more of an impact on me than having to stop working.

When you play county football, camogie, hurling etc it becomes part of you. You are not just someone who plays sport anymore, you have to treat yourself like an athlete.

You watch what you eat, what you drink, how many hours sleep you get, you do your gym sessions, you follow the routine rigidly.

It has so far been a good test of character and an ability to adapt to different circumstances. Instead of hitting the gym it’s hitting the roads for (since Friday – two!) torturous kms and some conditioning runs and home workouts to top it all off.

With all of the complaining, though, I am thankful to be part of a team. The support we have received from management and each other has made this madness all a little bit easier. What this has taught me is to not take anything or anyone for granted. I really didn’t know how good I had it and will appreciate every little piece of my life when it returns to normal.

Cathal O’Donovan,

Skibbereen Bookshop

Cathal O'Donovan at his popular bookshop on Main Street in Skibbereen.


We are doing everything we can to meet the needs and requirements of our customers. As a bookshop, stationery and newspaper supplier we made the decision to close at 5pm on Wednesday March 25th last, in keeping with advice from WHO and HSE.

People are, however, encouraged to find that they can still order by ringing us. In addition to the sale of books, we are finding that there’s a big demand for art and activity supplies.

The bookstore also has an online presence through its e-street store and people can collect their order at the door, or have it posted out to them. We are really looking forward to the day when we can welcome people back into the Main Street shop.

But, for now, like everyone else, we are exercising extreme caution.

But we can use the time to fire up the imagination with a good read such as The Mirror and The Light or American Dirt for adults, Moonrise for teens and Toto for the young reader.

Pre-order David Walliams’ new book Slime due for release in April. Revive your creativity with art and craft materials, or utilise this time out to your advantage to catch up with study or work! We have school texts, revision notes, office and writing supplies.

In these trying times, we as a community will endeavour to overcome this together, and with hope, we say: Ní neart go cur le chéile!

Dr Tara Shine, director, Change by Degrees

Dr Tara Shine


THE request to stay at home and avoid social interaction came quickly – but still it wasn’t a surprise. Working while home schooling the kids is a challenge but we are all in it together. And for the kids the lack of sports and their friends is tough – but Skype and Facetime help.  They are finding new more social reasons to be on screens – like connecting with grandparents to keep in touch.

I also have the welcome distraction of my book coming out on April 16th How to Save Your Planet, One Object at a Time which I hope will be positive for people by helping them ‘control the controllable’ and do everyday things to make life better. For our business, Change by Degrees, it is a real challenge.

Contracts have been cancelled and work has dried up. We will have to be creative and put our skills to good use.  We want to help where we can, when we can. And we want to start thinking about what comes next, how we learn from this crisis to prepare for the ever present climate crisis, and how we start work as soon as we can on shaping a safe, clean and sustainable future for us all.

Mark Jennings and Sadie Pearse

Pilgrim’s Restaurant, Rosscarbery

Our restaurant has been forced to close as have restaurants across the country.

But we have designed a new recipe which allows our business to continue to provide a service. We had been working hard getting the restaurant ready for the new season and were only opened three days when we took the decision to close as the crisis worsened. So, with a polytunnel full of fantastic fresh produce, we are now providing a takeaway meals service. The menu goes up on our website, on FaceBook and Instagram, at 2pm every Thursday, and customers can ring in their orders, pay by card and then come and collect from the door.

Ciara Byrne, MD,

Beacon AI

The new reality of more and more people working from home has increased our customers’ needs to ensure their systems are secure. This is a new departure for us, we are getting calls from existing customers who are now working remotely, for the first time due to the crisis, and we can ensure that their systems are secure.

Joe Keane, head of

operations, Rowa, Bantry

The plant has been completely shut down to visitors. While we are still working, truck drivers who deliver or collect from the company are not allowed to leave their cabs.

We have spilt the plant into four zones which are cleaned down after every shift and staff who are married to frontline workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics etc are able to work from home.

We are also liaising closely with the HSE to ensure that we can supply them with whatever they need during this crisis.

Fredericka le Cain, Loop De Loop healthfood store, Castletownbere

Frederika Le Cain who runs a local health shop Loop the Loop in Castletownbere.


We offer a delivery service twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays which is already extremely popular. People can call in their order on the phone, then pay over the phone or pay when we deliver and we are delighted to be able to do this for our community here on the Beara peninsula.

Sandra Maybury,

Events manager,

PLANtastic Events

  On March 14th, when restrictions on events were announced, I must admit, I panicked.  My clients disappeared immediately.

I spent the first week, without hardly starting the laptop, spending time at home and helping the children with school work.

But now as we step into week three, I’m much more comfortable. I’m working every day from my home office, preparing my business for the future when all of this is over.  I’m happiest when I’m working, it’s a more familiar routine for me.

I am a committee member of Network Ireland West Cork and as a group, we have all been a support to each other in these very challenging times.

The network offers weekly webinars every Friday at 1pm, where women in business, members and non-members can pop on and chat for an hour. There are really interesting speakers, who can relate to the situation we are all in and offer practical solutions and advice.

I don’t really feel I have much spare time.  My husband is a dairy farmer and spring is silly season. So, myself and our three children have all been helping out on the farm and it’s very rewarding. In a time where many parts of the world have stopped, farming still continues, we are seeing new life every day and I’m appreciating our surroundings and how lucky we are to live in rural Ireland and to have this opportunity to spend more time with the family.

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