Rosemary Warren was supposed to fly to Australia on March 12 to spend a month with her daughter who lives there with her family. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, her daughter phoned her to tell her not to go, that she would face two weeks in quarantine if she went.
Once she got over the disappointment of not being able to spend time with her family, she did what she always does, she got out her paints and brushes and began to make art.
'I would have been doing some painting in Australia as I always take some art materials with me when I travel, but now I am doing lots of painting and coming up with new ideas.'
She has taken advantage of this quiet time of staying at home to try out new things.
One of these was painting a stunning self portrait. 'I had never done one before, she says. Its looser style is quite different from her usual controlled watercolours but her trademark vibrant colours are the same.
Rosemary admits that she has no problem in passing the time during lockdown. 'It doesn't cost me a thought having to isolate.'
'I love my own company. I can get things done, I can focus on what I want to do and it's making me reflect on a lot of things that had been in my head,'
Although she loves the company of other people, happily sharing tips with other artists and singing with the local choir, she also likes solitude.
From her home in the beautiful Cooley peninsula, she can now walk to the shore or up the mou ntains, as both are within her 5km radius.
She finds her walks both refreshing and a source of inspiration. 'The countryside is inspiration in itself and I always come back with loads of ideas, either from something I've seen or something I've remembered.'
With no pressure of having to work towards an upcoming exhibition or new commissions to complete, she has the time to look back at old notebooks, sketches and photographs which she had kept as reference, and is looking at new ways of working.
'I am actually being more productive than usual,' says Rosemary, who has exhibited extensively at home and abroad.
Normally she welcomes a group of local amateur artists to her studio once a week, so she has set up a private Facebook group so that they can keep in touch.
She is well used to working from home, having done it for a number of years when she was teaching at St Patrick's Teaching Training College in Dublin. 'I used to lecture three days a week and would do my other work from home.' This often involved talking with students who were doing their Master's degree and in those pre-Zoom days, she muses that she would sometimes have been in her pyjamas as she dispensed advice.
These days she is happily using Zoom to keep up with her fellow singers in Cor Carlinn. Music is the other big passion in her life, and she has sang with a number of choral groups, including Dundalk's Setanta Choir.
She enjoys the chance to catch up with the other members of Cor Carlinn twice a week. 'We are still singing and are learning new pieces every week.'
As a soprano, she has done solo work with different choirs and has travelled with them to Europe. But she stresses that she loves all kinds of music, blues, folk and traditional.
Rosemary has also recorded a couple of CDs for her own amusement and is currently working on another one with the help of Dundalk organist Trevor Clarke.
'I think there will be some very good art and music coming out of this time,' she says.