A West Cork musician says music was her saviour when she was stranded on a cruise ship for 10 weeks as the pandemic hit in March. Now she’s back home and, with her family, is fundraising for charity.
Ella Ryan, from Knockaveale near Bandon, is so grateful for the support she got during her cruise ship ordeal earlier this year, that she has joined her two talented sisters in a unique venture to help raise money for Marymount Hospice and Cancer Connect.
Ella, (31), was working on board the Sea Princess cruise ship as an entertainer when Covid-19 hit in March.
The qualified secondary school teacher has travelled the world, playing guitar and singing on cruise ships since 2016.
On St Patrick’s night she performed to an audience of 800 people without realising it would be her last show for quite some time.
Guests on her ship were disembarked on March 18th, but crew remained onboard while the various companies made necessary arrangements to repatriate them home.
Very quickly, cruise line companies were turned away from ports all around the world, which led to Ella being stranded on the ship for 10 long weeks and not getting to touch dry land until May 21st in the Philippines.
‘It was definitely the biggest mental challenge of my life to date,’ said Ella.
‘We were able to use the facilities on the ship but it was a case of the same conversations, with the same people. It was hard to stay motivated all the time and the internet was shocking, which meant even a WhatsApp call with my mum was a struggle,’ she remembers.
She passed her days by going to the gym, playing her precious music, doing yoga, and even colouring!
‘Anything to keep my mind busy, but it was the worst thing I’ve ever been through,’ she said.
She eventually made it home and quarantined in a caravan in her parents’ garden for two weeks.
That’s where she decided to ‘go live’ on Facebook and play some music as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those who had wished her well and sent her messages of support while she was stuck on the ship.
The first two performances were from the caravan and were quite a success for Ella, with people tuning in from all over the world, including Brazil, Scotland and South Africa.
She decided to keep them going and invited her sisters Mary Jo and Angela, also accomplished musicians, to join her.
The three sisters have continued to perform every Thursday evening since from the garden patio or shed, inviting other local musicians to join them.
Just recently, they decided to set up an iDonate page to raise funds through their performances for Marymount Hospice and Cancer Connect.
Ella said: ‘I’ve been volunteering as a driver with Cancer Connect over the last couple of weeks and I think it’s such a wonderful service to be able to provide for people who need it most, that we felt it appropriate to donate to them. And, as we know, the people at Marymount do such wonderful work that we felt strongly about raising funds for them also.’
They smashed their initial target of €1,000 in less than 24 hours, and are now aiming for €2,000.
‘A lot of people have been tuning in to our Thursday Night Lives over the last number of weeks and we’d received so many lovely messages of support that we decided the iDonate page would be a nice way of paying it forward. People are really missing live music at the moment, and we really miss our work.
‘We know that it’ll be quite some time before we’re able to be back gigging again,’ said Ella.
The three sisters are continuing with the Facebook Live shows every Thursday for the rest of August. See the gigs on Ella’s Facebook page ‘Ella Ryan Music’.
To donate search ella-ryan on iDonate.com