In the first of a two-part series, Emma Connolly and Brian Moore spoke to local business people about how they are coping in the current crisis, in both their professional and personal lives
Gavin & Michelle Moore, Monks Lane bar and restaurant, Timoleague
INITIALLY we were shell shocked by the thought of closing down the restaurant and horrified by the repercussions for ourselves, the business, staff, suppliers, and community in general. But it is the right thing to do for the moment and you realise pretty quickly that there is no room or use for self-pity and many, many people are in the same or much worse situations.
While there are no positives for the business out of this, maybe when the dust settles there might be lessons and positives for communities and society at large. We will probably have to re-evaluate how we exist to some degree, and examine the pace of life and globalised excess that has become our norm. We all know the constant drive of commerce and consumption is not good for the planet, turns out it’s not good for humans either. Hopefully a more localised, community centred way of life will be born of all this ... but who knows?
Ruth Field, Field’s
Our coffee shop has closed and its staff have been redeployed to the main shop. All our staff are flat to the mat and are putting in a huge effort and immense hours. We’ve also had lots of offers of help from the community, for example, if we need extra drivers. What we have realised, though, is how lucky we are to be in an area so rich in food production. We bake our own bread so we are in full control of that. But eggs, yoghurts, cheese, fish and more are all on our own doorstep. Nationally, the supply chain is holding up, but there are gaps. For example, the only eggs we have at the moment are locally-supplied eggs, and the same for potatoes. And when people were panic buying, it was these local suppliers who ramped it up for us.
Personally, I have four children aged 14, 13, nine and eight and it is difficult. My mum was my back-up childminder. This is also the first time my dad John has been off the floor for so long in his entire life.
I spent Mother’s Day in the shop packing groceries and answering phones, which we don’t normally do on a Sunday, but these are the days we’re in and we have to try to remain positive.
Liz Bryan, Bandon
PRESENTLY, and I speak only of today as we can only take things day by day, I’m lucky enough to still be able to go to work. I work in the accounts department of my brother’s business Sentinel Fire & Security. There are three of us in the office – my mum, who now works from home, and another lady who is now also working from home, due to childcare issues related to this.
My husband and I erred on the side of caution and pulled our boys from school and pre-school two weeks prior to the schools’ closure, as our youngest son has a blood disorder. He was, and is, our priority. My in-laws are the primary careers for them while we work. Our households are one unit which allows this.
But there is no doubt in my mind that Covid-19 will lead to another recession. It may well be the case that some may not even open again as the financial loss will take its toll.
The Bandon Business Association (BBA) are trying to stay as pro-active and positive via social media and although we have taken the decision to cancel the Marvel Marquee in September, we assure you we have plans in the pipeline to uplift the spirits in our community once again in autumn/winter and we will be back with a bang for 2021.
I’ll remind you of our BBA motto ‘Stronger Together’ ... as families making responsible choices, as a business association and as a community ... we will rally around and support each other once again when this has passed over.
Raymond Kelleher, Clonakilty resident & head of marketing, Trigon Hotels
I HAVE been working in the hospitality industry for the past 23 years and the current situation with the coronavirus is the scariest that I have been exposed to during all my years. My industry, that I love and cherish, has been decimated. So many hotels are now temporarily closed as are all pubs, clubs and restaurants, but it’s more far reaching that this – it’s the suppliers to our industry, not just food, beverage, linen, but media outlets too, where advertising revenues have stopped pretty much overnight. Everything is on hold at the moment. There are new adjustments for us all, for me it’s spending a lot of time at home in Clonakilty, becoming a part-time house husband, looking after the kids, but also keeping an eye on our business while working remotely.
Personally, I’m out walking all the time, some jobs I had put on hold for the house will finally get done and I plan to do some voluntary work locally. I always said I have the best of both worlds working in Cork city by day, and living in Clonakilty by night, now Clonakilty is both day and night and for the moment that’s okay by me.
director, Celtic Ross
As each day passed things got quieter for our family-owned Celtic Ross Hotel. Every day was a challenge for the staff dealing with the loss of future business and managing the day-to-day Covid-19 restrictions. They stepped up at every hurdle. The business was not sustainable and for the safety of our staff and their families, we closed from March 17th for the foreseeable future. I do have work commitments, which I can manage. But I am now home every day. The days are long. I am disappointed my son won’t get to perform in Feis Maitiu, he has been practising so much. I am sad my four-year-old didn’t get her big party she had been requesting for months. My two-year-old is delighted with all the attention at home! I am thankful for the support from family, friends, and my Network Ireland colleagues. I miss their physical presence greatly.
I believe in routine. Getting out for fresh air is essential. I do not trawl endlessly through social media. I know I will not get it right on the parenting front. I know everything will be challenging.
Once our employees and my own extended family are okay, I’ll be okay too.
Thomas Coomey and Denis Crowley, Jagged Edge hair salon, Clonakilty
IN our industry, it is impossible to practise social distancing so on March 14th we made the tough decision to close the salon. It was a very emotional day for all 12 of us who work together, but thanks to our messenger group Jagged Edgers, we still get our daily dose of laughs.
We are lucky to have wonderful staff and clientele who have been very loyal to us. The number of messages of support (and frantic messages about grey roots) from the people of Clonakilty has been amazing. From a personal point of view, it is very difficult to stay away from people, particularly our parents and grandmother but we know this is the kindest thing we can do for them. To end on a positive note, we are so lucky to live in a very beautiful part of the world. The legs are literally walked off our 2 dogs on the Timoleague to Courtmacsherry road.
Remember to be kind to each other, be thankful for our front line staff and make sure elderly neighbours are looked after. PS #dontboxcolour
Orla O’Donovan, Fig and Olive café, Clonakilty
THE Fig and Olive café has been closed a week as I write this and I’m now at home full-time with my two young kids and my husband, who always works from home.
Even though it upset me terribly to close, I am fully behind the decision. Being self-employed is an uncertain business at the best of times but Covid-19 takes this uncertainty to a whole new level and really just doing as we are told by the experts is our job for now. Along with some dodgy home schooling for the kids (teachers deserve a huge raise) I’m generally just trying to keep a bit active and just contenting myself at home. My heart goes out to families in cities in Italy where entire families are in lockdown and can’t leave their apartments.
As chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce we are already working on a major voucher campaign to kick off trading in the town with huge incentives to shop locally. Clonakilty Will Prevail!
Eileen O’Shea, Bantry Development & Tourism
BANTRY, like the rest of the country, is coming to terms with this virus and the impact on the community. Many of our family run businesses are closed with the loss of employment and the loss of services. It’s difficult to come to terms with the change in our community in a matter of weeks.
Bantry on the Wild Atlantic Way is the hub of West Cork so we hope as it passes it will make us in the industry stronger and get back to welcoming back our overseas and domestic visitors to our beautiful town. Bantry has great community spirit and we are blessed to have so many voluntary organisations that are helping and supporting us all now.
We all have to help and support each other in any way we can and to take the necessary precautions needed to stop this terrible virus. We are all so grateful to all those people who work on the front line.
TJ Sullivan, farmer and chairman of Carbery
As farmers we are especially busy at this time of year, which is probably a helpful distraction from the constant feed of worrying news we hear daily. Social distancing is much easier for farmers who spend most of the time out in the open air but we must adhere to the HSE guidelines when meeting people, wherever they are, even in the middle of a field.
Life has to go on and this will end. If we all dig deep this hopefully will happen sooner rather than later.
Cows will still have to be milked, animals fed and farm work continues. Milk has to be collected and processed, along with all other essential services carried out by many dedicated frontline workers keeping us safe, warm, healthy and fed. Our kids were really excited and couldn’t wait to tell me when the school closed, but are now missing the company of their friends. It’s a small but necessary part they play at this time, when we all need to help each other more than we ever did by keeping our distance.
Niamh Ni Dhrisceoil, school teacher
I SHOULD be in Gaelcholáiste Choilm in Ballincollig but instead I’m at home on Cape Clear. Ordinarily this would be just another day, save for the fact that I am in the middle of teaching my 5th year Rang Ceimice (chemistry but through Irish) from my sitting room in gCléire and we are knee deep in a global crisis. I’ve just sent a Loom PowerPoint video I created this morning and once they have watched it, the virtual floor will open to questions and debate. We are very much in this together. And the ‘kids’ have been outstanding! I cannot praise them enough. They have rolled up their sleeves and have gotten stuck in just as much as we have. I’m so proud of them. These are worrying times for them, too. Their entire future will be shaped by the long-lasting effects this virus will leave in its wake.On Cléire we, too, are all playing our part. Social distancing is being adhered to. Isolation does not need equate to loneliness, however, and we are checking in on each other daily. Fresh air is important for us all and it is here in abundance. We rely heavily as a community on the tourist trade to sustain us financially through the long winter months. We had hoped that with our participation in the new Discover Ireland ad this year and our new distillery we would have a busier summer than we have had in quite some time. Ach is fearr an sláinte ná na táinte (your health is you wealth). We face many challenges in the coming months, locally, nationally and internationally, but there will be brighter days ahead.
Fr Tom Hayes, parish priest, Enniskeane
AT one level, a parish shivers with uncertainty and fear in the same way as the wider community does. But at a deeper level, for people connected with a faith community, there is an anchor that offers hope at this time.
Almost everything in the parish has been affected. We don’t have regular masses in church, except for funerals, but I continue to offer mass privately and with a deep sense of connection to the people around me who are praying at home.
Both the parish and the diocese at corkandross.org are doing our best to provide guidance and prayerful support to people who are so used to coming together for prayer and all the milestone events of life. Some of my time is going into putting resources online for people.
We’ve also started to reach out to a virtual congregation by webcasting the mass online. It’s not the same, but it keeps us connected.
I miss the regular station masses – the warmth of our congregations who come to mass and the lively sounds of the children from the local school. The efforts and energy of so many people to adjust and care is uplifting. That great spirit remains immune to any virus.
While we are still producing our whiskies and gin for our customers, both at home and abroad, we also have enough raw materials to make hand sanitiser for the next three weeks.
This hand sanitiser is going to be distributed free to local charities and to others who need it at cost. Anyone who needs it can contact the distillery at [email protected]