Strange things have happened to me during more than 61 years in journalism, but nothing like this. Never before have I felt in fear for my life from the world around me, not even during an Irish Open bomb-scare at Woodbrook in 1975.
From a sporting perspective, the seriousness of the current situation gained chilling resonance on St Patrick's Day. While the GAA's way of celebrating our national feast has changed significantly through the years, I have always clung to boyhood images from the Railway Cup.
That was when heroic figures such as Jimmy Smyth of Clare, Mick Spain of Offaly and Roscommon's Gerry O'Malley among others, were accorded the rare opportunity of displaying their hurling skills at inter-provincial level, on the game's greatest stage. They had the honour of rubbing shoulders with familiar icons like Christy Ring, Norman Allen, John Doyle and the Rackard brothers.
Those images were hurled even further into the distant past, however, through the starkness of Dublin's O'Connell St last Tuesday, stripped of its traditional St Patrick's Day finery. Strange indeed.
Among people of my vintage, these are times for family reflection, which I've been doing with my older sister, Maureen, our appointed archivist. We shared memories last week of the scarlet fever epidemic of 1948, when myself and our 18-month-old brother, Declan, were whisked by ambulance from our home in Rathcoole to Cork St Hospital in the city.
She remembers our mother's tears as she washed Declan's little vests, preparatory to the great separation. As things transpired, we spent three weeks in Cork St, which were not especially unpleasant, as I recall. The numbers of affected families were so great, however, that it was deemed necessary, at a time when phones were few and far between, to report each patient's wellbeing by a sort of code in the national papers, including Dublin's Evening Mail.
Each patient was given a number and their condition at any given time could be found in the newspaper with the designated number beside their general status as "no improvement," "improving" or "convalescing," gleaned from a hospital bulletin. I remember feeling like something of a local hero when I returned home to my family and friends, apparently none the worse for the experience.
Ten years later, I was working for The Irish Press group. Through subsequent decades in journalism, I can recall extended winter sporting breaks due to seriously adverse weather. But we didn't seem to notice it, given that the elements effectively landed us all in the same boat.
I remember one particular weather break becoming so lengthy, however, that a certain Dublin sports freelance felt the need of radical action to ease his financial plight. So, he invented an indoor sports tournament: I daren't divulge the sport for fear of identifying the culprit.
Familiar with the regular participants in this sport, our inventive scribe set out a fictitious knock-out tournament at a specific indoor venue over the course of a week at the height of the freeze-up. Each day's happenings duly received a two-paragraph report in the three national papers - the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and The Irish Press. So it was that badly-needed cash was generated and none of the benefactors seemed any the wiser.
I don't know if the perpetrator was ever officially exposed, but his creativity was certainly common knowledge among Dublin's sporting scribes during the 1970s.
Other sources of problems were national strikes, either in our industry or elsewhere. As a consequence of a national printers' strike in 1965, I found myself accepting a month's protective notice from The Irish Press and headed for London to conquer Fleet St.
That was in June. By November, I was back in Dublin as the Republic of Ireland sports representative of the Daily Mail. In this capacity, I was confronted by an extraordinary challenge during the 1970s which arose because of an Irish telephone strike.
Back then, my copy to Manchester was transmitted in two ways, either by teleprinter from the Mail's Dublin office in Middle Abbey St, or by telephone. The strike meant I had access to neither.
With a rugby piece for publication, I seemed to have no way of getting it to the sports desk in Manchester. Then I hit on an idea. Putting the typed copy in an envelope, I drove to Dublin Airport.
There, I joined the queue of an Aer Lingus flight to Manchester. Picking a young, business-type, I decided he would be my courier. Whereupon I handed him the envelope with a £5 note and asked him to take it to Manchester where he would leave it at the airport information desk. He would then phone the Mail (number supplied), who would have it collected. Remarkably, it worked perfectly and my copy duly appeared in print the following morning.
For a variety of reasons, the current situation is totally different from any of those I have outlined. We're conscious of having ideal playing conditions, no communication problems, largely fit participants, but with no chance to play, for fear of endangering lives.
And we're only beginning to get used to the idea of a world without live televised sport. Nor is there the chance of jumping in the car or on a Dart and heading off to see the real thing.
I'm of an age when I could smugly point to a time when there was no television. Indeed I remember the excitement of going to a press viewing in Dublin's Capitol Theatre of England's victory in the 1966 World Cup, which I had tuned into, live on radio. That World Cup film, incidentally, was creatively titled Goal!, if memory serves.
When I was a lad, a Friday evening's summertime viewing took the form of a trip to Croke Park to see memorable inter-club encounters involving St Vincent's, Tuam Stars, Austin Stacks and Glen Rovers, among others, drawing attendances of around 25,000. But it would be ludicrous to think that sports-viewing was better back then.
I will especially miss Leinster's involvement in the Heineken Cup. In fact at this stage of my life, no sport on TV has given me greater pleasure than professional rugby, especially with Irish teams involved.
Meanwhile, with no live golf, there are going to be endless opportunities to revisit iconic events from Sky's archives, while today's leading practitioners occupy their time through family breaks or practice. Typically, with his activities as Europe's Ryder Cup captain on hold, the irrepressible Pádraig Harrington has found a way of keeping the Harrington brand before the public.
Last Wednesday's offering on Twitter was a practice drill borrowed from leading coach, Pete Cowen, using a tennis/baseball-type ball and a wall, as the actor, Steve McQueen, famously did while in solitary confinement in the movie, The Great Escape. It's a noisy exercise, prompting Harrington to warn: "Be nice to the neighbours and don't do it at night."
One of the objectives of this piece was that through experience acquired over decades in our craft, I might somehow find a parallel, however tenuous, between current happenings and events from the past. In which context, I can find none.
Except perhaps the notion that the courage, patience and mental strength, which in my writing I readily demand of our sporting icons in their hour of need, could become priceless assets during the weeks and months ahead.
Sunday Indo Sport