A CLOUGHDUV family who were forced to cut short their dream ‘gap year’ holiday down under due to the Covid-19 pandemic said they never thought their once-in-a-lifetime trip would end like this.
Diarmuid and Jean Grainger, along with theiar two daughters Éadaoin and Siobhán, had been enjoying a stint in Australia since they arrived there last August.
Diarmuid – a teacher and author – and his wife Jean – a former teacher and now full time author – had been in regular contact with The Southern Star during their time travelling around Australia and kept readers up-to-date on the raging bushfires that ravaged their adopted country earlier this year.
Speaking to The Southern Star from their home in Cloughduv – where all four have been ‘splendidly self-isolating’ since they got home on Sunday March 29th – Diarmuid said they were devastated to call a halt to their dream holiday.
‘We were on a campsite in New South Wales only two weeks ago, near to Jean’s sisters Barbara and Carol, and the terrible bushfires seem such a distant memory away,’ said Diarmuid.
‘However, as things started to escalate regarding the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia we contacted the Irish Embassy in Canberra, who strongly advised us to take a plane specially provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday March 28th.’
Following a hasty farewell to friends and family, the Graingers flew out of Sydney and onto Doha before landing in Dublin. Once home, they were unable to hug and meet their family and friends which was tough for them.
‘Although we had three months left to go in our Antipodean adventure, we were happy that we had seen huge tracts of that vast and welcoming country from the top of Queensland to Tasmania.’
Diarmuid -– who had taken a year off from teaching at Bishop Galvin Central School in Newcestown to enable him to travel – is writing a book on the Whiteboys of Muskerry who were transported to Australia in the 1820s and he had wished to have had more time there to do his research for it.
‘Now that I’m at home I’m looking forward to my neighbours in the Kilmurry and Kilmichael parishescontacting me if they have any family ties to that era.’
As the family of four self-isolate having been re-united with their two dogs, Scrappy and Scoobi, they are depending on the kindness of their family, friends and neighbours to deliver groceries for them.
‘It’s a difficult time, but we’re young, fit and cheerful, and determined to stay safe,’ said an optimistic Diarmuid.