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Lockdown Letters 'Healthcare workers are always needed, and that is a significant part of our decision to return home'

Doctors Sinéad Crowley and Niamh Grayson have returned home to Ireland from Australia amid the fight against coronavirus. They explain the reasoning behind their return as part of our 'Lockdown Letters' series.

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31/03/2020. Pictured at St. Helens Bay, Co. Wexford are Dr. Sinead Crowley and Dr. Niamh Grayson who flew in from Perth on Thursday. Picture: Patrick Browne

31/03/2020. Pictured at St. Helens Bay, Co. Wexford are Dr. Sinead Crowley and Dr. Niamh Grayson who flew in from Perth on Thursday. Picture: Patrick Browne

31/03/2020. Pictured at St. Helens Bay, Co. Wexford are Dr. Sinead Crowley and Dr. Niamh Grayson who flew in from Perth on Thursday. Picture: Patrick Browne

We write this from our cosy house in isolation. The last week has been a blur.

Early last week, after much deliberation, we had finally made the decision to return home. The flights were booked, our notice was given, and we had a week to pack up our lives and say goodbye to our friends.

There were so many factors at play. We thought of the already-strained Irish healthcare system trying to cope with this new challenge, we thought of our families and friends who were so far away, and we thought of our colleagues in Perth and the lives we had made and enjoyed so much.

Healthcare workers are always needed, and that is a significant part of our decision to return home.

Going to bed that night was bittersweet. The adventure was over.

At midnight we awoke to news that Emirates were grounding all flights. The flights we had booked were cancelled. Frantically, we searched online for a way home.

A special mention must be made to Leah Hayes, Zoe Lynch, Niamh O’Flaherty and Ciara Ryan, who liaised with the Irish Consulate, the DFA, TD Marc MacSharry and many others to get us home.

Thanks to all of them we were offered the chance to buy tickets for a flight the following day. It was the best chance we had of making it home and we had to take it. But that meant we had just 24 hours to pack our bags, sell our belongings and, hardest of all, say our goodbyes to our colleagues and friends.

As we finally took our seats on our flight to London Heathrow, we drew a breath. In the rush to leave, we didn’t have a moment to consider where we would self-isolate for 14 days in Ireland.

Thankfully, by the time we touched down, we were inundated with offers of help from family, friends and strangers. The generosity of the people of Ireland has been overwhelming.

Our greeting at Dublin airport was not the return home you would imagine. We stood metres from our families as they slid car keys across the airport floor. We were so glad to be close to family again, but there were no hugs or embraces, only tearful smiles.

We are self-isolating within 2km of the beach and are enjoying the sea air before starting work. We have been in contact with HR in a few hospitals and we hope that, by the time we’re out of isolation, all our paperwork will be in order.

The news headlines are worrying, and we know the country has a difficult time ahead. We are proud of Ireland and how everyone is playing their part – from people staying at home, to delivering shopping to the ‘cocooned’, to going to work in the essential services. We are glad that we can now play our part too.

Ní neart go cur le chéile.

We are living history. The challenges posed by Covid 19 are similar the world over but everybody’s experience of this emergency will be different. In this special series, ‘Lockdown Letters' gives our readers at home and across the globe an opportunity to share their stories about how the Coronavirus and the measures to tackle its spread are impacting their lives in these unprecedented times.

Please email your submission (400 words max.) to stories@independent.ie along with a photograph. We will publish as many letters as possible on Independent.ie and a selection in print every week.

Online Editors