I have a heavy heart this week. The Chief Medical Officer’s announcement at Thursday evening’s press conference that he was stepping aside to spend time with his terminally ill wife, knocked me for six.
Firstly for selfish reasons. I don’t want him to go. Throughout this whole godawful situation we have found ourselves in for the past five months, Tony Holohan has been the one constant, the one steady and trusting hand guiding us through something we could never have imagined.
And secondly, I just couldn’t fathom how the man had turned up every day to do such a demanding, difficult and stressful job, allaying the nation’s fears and steering us on the right path, while privately he was suffering such awful emotional trauma.
His behaviour displays such selfless generosity and strength of character – and his wife Emer too, who sacrificed spending time with her husband in order to lend him to us, knowing that their time together was finite.
When things were really bad and we didn’t know how we were going to get through this crisis, Tony Holohan was like a beacon of light – always calm, always dignified, giving us the information, plainly and simply, telling us in no uncertain terms how serious this pandemic was but never causing panic. The long and short of it is, we learned to trust him.
I don’t how many times over the last few months I’ve heard the words “Well if Dr Tony says so ...” regarding updated information on contact, travel, face coverings, restrictions. If he said it, it had to be right. Because we all knew Dr. Tony wouldn’t set us wrong.
I’m going to miss him. I really am. To me he was like a comfort blanket – as long as he was there everything was going to be alright. But how can you begrudge a man spending time with his terminally ill wife, time he should’ve been spending with her all along.
There are very few people in this country that nobody speaks badly of, but Tony Holohan is one of them. He epitomises all that is good about Ireland and the medical profession. We were so lucky to have him steering NPHET for the last few months. All you have to do is look at our neighbours across the water and the hames their experts made of lockdown to realise how fortunate we have been.
So I salute you Tony Holohan and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping me and my family and thousands of other families safe during the darkest of times. I send nothing but love and positive thoughts to you and yours and hope you get to spend the time together you so richly deserve.