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Tireless: twins Shauna and Rachael Kelly are both on the frontline and were nominated by their ‘biggest fan’, grandmother Ann Kelly, picturedhere  with Shauna. Photo: James Connolly

Tireless: twins Shauna and Rachael Kelly are both on the frontline and were nominated by their ‘biggest fan’, grandmother Ann Kelly, picturedhere with Shauna. Photo: James Connolly

Shauna (left) and Rachael Kelly

Shauna (left) and Rachael Kelly

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Tireless: twins Shauna and Rachael Kelly are both on the frontline and were nominated by their ‘biggest fan’, grandmother Ann Kelly, picturedhere with Shauna. Photo: James Connolly

Sligo twin sisters Shauna and Rachael Kelly (27) have been hailed for their tireless efforts on the frontline during the pandemic.

Junior infants teacher Shauna minded the children of healthcare workers in Sligo General Hospital during the height of the crisis, while Rachael has been working in the Mater Hospital as a social worker.

Today, the women are named as Irish Independent Frontline Stars of the Week.

Originally from Riverstown in Co Sligo, they were nominated by their paternal grandmother Ann Kelly, who is their "biggest fan".

"Rachael worked very long hours in the Mater. As a social worker, she had to speak to people who were dying and whose family couldn't go in to see them.

"That's a very difficult job to do and she worked in a team and she always spoke very highly of them.

"I was delighted to see her, she was home for a week and they were out canoeing. One day she said she slept 12 hours and didn't realise how caught up in it all she was," explained Ann.

Rachael said that returning home to Sligo for a week from working during the pandemic in one of Ireland's busiest hospitals after five months was "the best week" she's ever had.

"I've been abroad on holidays halfway across the world but I haven't spent a better week. It was one of the best weeks of my life," she said.

"The days that I spent putting on PPE, to go into the wards, the nature of it, it's uncomfortable, it's sweaty, I just imagined going home and I reminded myself that it would pass, everything will pass."

Shauna lives in Riverstown and was minding the children of two families whose parents work as healthcare staff in Sligo General Hospital during the pandemic.

"The school closed but I thought it was silly for people like me to be sitting at home doing nothing.

"So I asked around town if anyone needed help with childcare and I looked after two kids in one family and four in another.

"I miss teaching so much and I was dying to go back, so, from a selfish point of view, I was delighted to mind kids. Everything was so weird in the world but when you're with a four- and a five-year-old, everything is just normal," Shauna said.

Ann said that the twins were brilliant at taking care of her while she cocooned.

"Shauna brought in the messages and would leave them on the doorstep every week and Rachael would ring me and keep in touch," she said. "I'm very proud of them and they both really cheered me up, they were a great support to me."

:: For more than 60 years, the Irish Independent has honoured the Sportstar of the Week. This year, our nation has faced a challenge far beyond our sporting fields. To nominate, email your submission (100 words max) with a photo, telling us about your nominee to frontlinestar@independent.ie

Irish Independent