HELLO, my name is Michael O’Neill Jnr and I am the Mayor of Clonakilty, the only Mayor from West Cork.
I am writing to you, the people of West Cork as I feel very connected to all of you in West Cork. My mother’s people are from north of Dunmanway, my wife’s family are from Bealad and my father’s family from Skibbereen, Bantry and Cape Clear.
I also meet people from all over West Cork through my family’s business at Fernhill House. It really does pain me to see West Cork go through one of the most challenging periods in its history with the current crisis.
It is bitterly sad to think of the heartache that this Covid-19 virus is causing families and friends of people who are bravely suffering from it. You are in our thoughts and prayers, so I hope that you get some strength from them.
I have met many people from across West Cork during my time as mayor and it really has copperfastened my belief that we are some of the most friendly and social people around. A real sense of craic and community is deeply ingrained in us as a people.
This makes it even harder to think of the isolation and loneliness that this virus has made, sadly, necessary here in West Cork. Families and dear friends kept apart, grandparents not being able to hug or even see their grandchildren and my heart goes out most of all to anyone who has suffered a bereavement during this tragic time of isolation.
I am writing this message to you now as we are passing one month since stringent measures were undertaken by the Irish government to help to ‘flatten the curve’ of this Covid-19 crisis. I understand that a month is a long time to be isolated and to remain vigilant and that we also have the prospect of many more weeks to endure. However, I want to reassure you that you can do this.
West Cork has a long tradition of producing truly amazing people. At the beginning of the last century, Michael Collins helped to gain Ireland its independence with his bravery, vision and leadership. We also had two men with strong West Cork roots help to change the world, JFK and Henry Ford. These West Cork people and many, many more have done amazing things and so can you.
We are at the beginning of a new century and I believe that the people of West Cork can create our own awe-inspiring story for future generations. Our legacy of legends shows that we have the potential to play our role in fighting this crucial fight as well as anyone.
We can step up and help to get Ireland and its people through this, to save lives and to help to take the burden off of our frontline heroes. We have had many heroes to look up to in our past but we can look at them every day now as they are all around us.
What we need to do is to remain vigilant during these vital times in this crisis. As one community, we all have to keep doing the right things to stop the spread and save lives. Maintain social distancing, safeguard against transmission if you do have to go out, listen to the authorities, check in on our more vulnerable people and be a great West Cork person. Now is not the time to let up.
We must also make sure now more than ever to buy West Cork products so that we can protect the local businesses that make up the fabric of our special community. Be inspired by our beautiful West Cork scenery, by the heroes that we have had in the past and the heroes that we have all around us every day now.
West Cork is a wonderful place, let’s show that its people are wonderful too.