Corkman

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A (virtual) St Patrick's Day unlike any other

'A Saint Patrick's Day unlike any other' is how An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the National Feastday in his address to the country on Tuesday night and that's how it felt around north and mid Cork during the day.

Parades in the home, festive - if that's the word - Masses being livestreamed on social media, members of a pipe band taking their instruments outside the front door of their homes for a noon recital - these were some of the celebratory activities being enjoyed by those who would normally be participating in parades or packing out pubs.

One publican I called on what should be one of the busiest days of the year was out fishing in Gougane Barra as his premises had been closed following the meeting between the Government and the Vintners Federation of Ireland on Sunday.

Masses were being live streamed from many churches. The doors were closed but webcams relayed the ceremony to waiting congregations. This was the case in Macroom, Fermoy, Kiskeam and other churches.

While the restriction on the public attending religious ceremonies kept the churches empty, the livestreaming did swell the congregations enormously. For instance, in the case of the Gaeltacht village of Cúil Aodha, there were up to 6,500 views of the Facebook Live stream of 10am Mass celebrated by Baile Mhúirne Parish Priest with music by Cór Chúil Aodha directed by Peadar Ó Riada.

Great care was taken during this event to emphasise the social distancing precautions being taken as the small number of choir members participating stood well away from each other and surfaces were cleaned prior and after the ceremony.

The global extent of the congregation was emphasised by the deluge of messages which came in from viewers from as far away as Queenstown, New Zealand where Gerry Kelleher was on holiday or Chicago where Margie Scannell, a native of the village, lives or the Mull of Kintyre where Eleanor O'Riordan is based.

Linda McFadden from Wexford, Pennsylvania, alerted friends and relatives to the broadcast: "This is from the local church in the village where my great grandfather lived before he emigrated to the USA."

In north Cork, the Fermoy International Choir's rendition of the traditional Irish song, Trasna na dTonnta/Across the Waves, reached a worldwide audience. Each member was standing in their own backyard and through the miracle of techology, they managed to combine the voices as each member joined in.

Banna Phíob Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh also performed a musical miracle as their members stood outside their doors to be filmed performing 'Dóchas Linn Naomh Pádraig'.

In the kitchen of her family home near Cill na Martra, Siobhán Ní Mhuimhneacháin sang her father's hymn to the patron saint, Rian Phádraig/the Path of Pádraig with her friend Louise Cronin accompanying her on guitar.

Families were making their own efforts to recreate as safely as possible the parade madness of the day with their own mini parades. The De Faoite family in Cúil Aodha, Robert, Isla, Dylan. Rioghnach and Aisling kitted out in their best greenery and, armed with bodhráns and other music making instruments, they paraded around their family home.

Niamh Ahern, a Cork exile, living in Kenmare, sent a video of her family parading around their family home as well.

Drive-through parades were in a number of places - families in Fermoy were given a Garda escort as they drove through the town with flags unfurled from the car windows and horns tooting while in Kilbrittain there was a 'carade'. In Kanturk, the town's Facebook page replayed some of the highlghts of the colourful parades of past years.

Which brings us right up to An Taoiseach's address to us all at 9pm, a speech which started with the words "this is a St Patrick's Day unlike any other". Indeed.

Corkman