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Lockdown Letters 'What was, ten days ago, a vibrant and busy town is now a ghost town with only police'

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.

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Philip Lalor, originally from Co Laois, moved to Spain after spending six months travelling Asia.

Philip Lalor, originally from Co Laois, moved to Spain after spending six months travelling Asia.

Philip Lalor, originally from Co Laois, moved to Spain after spending six months travelling Asia.

Dear home,

My name is Philip and I am from Mountmellick, a little countryside town in Laois.

After travelling for six months in Asia, I came to Spain for a different culture, different language and a new challenge.

It’s not my final destination but, for now, it’s home. Here, I work as a chef. It's something I have never done before but I enjoy it. My last shift was ten days ago.

In the first few hours of lockdown, nobody, including me, knew what it meant or what was going to happen. People were worried. When lockdown was announced, it was a surreal feeling. The normal life we once knew was on temporary hold.

The police imposes fines as well as detainment for people who leave home for no reason. There is also a one-person-per-car policy.

Supermarkets and pharmacies have a ‘ten people in, ten people out’ system in place and pharmacies operate with a ‘one in, one out’ system. Police cars play the same message all day on loudspeaker: “Quedate en Casa.” It means stay at home.

The first few days of lockdown just felt like a few days off work. It was worrying, but you were home and safe and knew that staying at home would help save lives.

TV, reading, home exercise and buying the smallest thing in the supermarket, just to be able to go outside for air, is getting me through it – while wearing a face mask and gloves, of course.

As the days pass and the virus continues to spread and kill, the feeling of temporary lockdown starts to feel permanent. What was, ten days ago, a vibrant and busy town, is now a ghost town with only police. It’s eerie. Never once did I imagine that people you meet normally on the street would be a threat to your health.

Thankfully, something breaks the day. Every evening at 8pm, people all over Spain come to their balconies and cheer and applause for the healthcare workers, police and military. It definitely lifts the spirits.

I know we will all get through this soon, and then appreciate life even more. If I have one message to send home to Ireland, it is to stay at home and don’t risk lives. Stay safe Ireland, I’ll see you soon.

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