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Meet the everyday heroes who lifted our spirits in lockdown

Many council workers kept going and reinvented their roles when the global pandemic hit

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Dublin City Council community officer Brian Mongey leading local residents in socially distanced line dancing in East Wall. Photo: Conor McCabe

Dublin City Council community officer Brian Mongey leading local residents in socially distanced line dancing in East Wall. Photo: Conor McCabe

Don Daly and his Euros team pivoted to aid the community. Photo: Conor McCabe

Don Daly and his Euros team pivoted to aid the community. Photo: Conor McCabe

Wicklow firefighter Jason Keogh

Wicklow firefighter Jason Keogh

Donegal’s Zoom choir

Donegal’s Zoom choir

Madeleine Ebbs reaches out to older people on Cocoontunes. Photo: McCabe Photography

Madeleine Ebbs reaches out to older people on Cocoontunes. Photo: McCabe Photography

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Dublin City Council community officer Brian Mongey leading local residents in socially distanced line dancing in East Wall. Photo: Conor McCabe

They may not have been working in hospitals or nursing homes, but thousands of everyday heroes made a difference to people's quality of life and wellbeing during the long lockdown.

Local authority workers who were at the forefront of innovative work done during the Covid-19 crisis will be hailed this week.

#Yourcouncilday is this Wednesday, and will showcase what is happening on the day throughout the work of councils.

But many workers had to reinvent their roles as the pandemic hit Ireland.

"The current crisis has highlighted the true nature of public service in communities across the country," said Michael Walsh, Chair of the County and City Management Association (CCMA).

"Thousands of public servants adopted new skills and devised innovative ways of delivering services to those who needed them most."

From the Euros to Covid community care

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Don Daly and his Euros team pivoted to aid the community. Photo: Conor McCabe

Don Daly and his Euros team pivoted to aid the community. Photo: Conor McCabe

Don Daly and his Euros team pivoted to aid the community. Photo: Conor McCabe

Don Daly thought he would be maneuvering soccer superstars around the city this summer, but instead he was helping to organise vital deliveries for Dublin's most vulnerable citizens.

As Dublin City Council's Uefa Euro 2020 project manager, he was busy preparing for the biggest sporting event Ireland would have hosted. But his team of five council staff rapidly volunteered to redeploy and help the council's Covid-19 Response Team.

"We have gone from working on a multi-million-euro event to helping to solve the real problems for people of getting food or medicines into the house or bringing them to medical appointments," he said.

Don worked on the northside of the city, liaising with volunteers from GAA clubs and organisations like Order of Malta.

Wicklow firefighter makes 4,000 masks clips for HSE and colleagues

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Wicklow firefighter Jason Keogh

Wicklow firefighter Jason Keogh

Wicklow firefighter Jason Keogh

Jason Keogh, of Carnew Fire Station, produced thousands of 3D-printed simple plastic clips that relieve the pressure on the ears of people wearing protective masks.

"I heard of people in hospitals whose ears were bleeding after a day wearing the surgical masks," said Jason. "The piece I make sits at the back of the neck and the loops of the mask go over it, relieving the pressure on the skin.

"I've made around 4,000 now, and I'm still going. I had to buy another 3D printer because the first one could only make five at a time."

Each piece costs only a few cents to make and Jason has not charged for them. However, friends have made donations to allow him to buy filament, which is the raw material used by 3D printers.

Donegal Zoom choir

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Donegal’s Zoom choir

Donegal’s Zoom choir

Donegal’s Zoom choir

Lockdown restrictions saw many cultural projects grind to a halt - but Ceol le Chéile choir still managed to keep their voices heard. The choir is all about social inclusion, with members of all ages coming together under an initiative led by Donegal County Council.

Choral conductor Veronica McCarron soon had them rehearsing on Zoom.

In just four weeks, the choir rehearsed the Bob Marley classic 'Three little Birds' which they premiered at the Bealtaine Dusk Virtual Home Chorus.

Madeleine brings Cocoontunes to older people on radio

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Madeleine Ebbs reaches out to older people on Cocoontunes. Photo: McCabe Photography

Madeleine Ebbs reaches out to older people on Cocoontunes. Photo: McCabe Photography

Madeleine Ebbs reaches out to older people on Cocoontunes. Photo: McCabe Photography

Dublin City Council's area community development officer Madeleine Ebbs came up with a unique radio show - Cocoontunes - that proved to be a lifeline for older people.

"I lost direct communication with all my groups and when the cocooning was introduced, I could sense the panic they were feeling," she said.

"I know that a lot of older people love the radio, so I came up with the idea for Cocoontunes."

She emailed Near FM presenter Michael Sullivan who agreed to co-produce and co-present the show which turned into a hit for the north east Dublin station.

Council staff volunteer to walk dogs for cocooners

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council staff's idea for a dog walking service came from their own charity initiative, HUG (Hope U Give), which has been helping local causes through donations from their own salaries since 2012.

They created a team of volunteer dog walkers for elderly people cocooning at home - 18 staff stepped up to take part.

"A dog is part of the family so people were worried and stressed that they could not get their dogs out for a walk," said John Murphy, chair of the HUG committee.

With restrictions lifted, elderly locals can now walk their dogs themselves, but HUG has created a database of users, in case it is needed again.

Socially distanced line dancing

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Dublin City Council community officer Brian Mongey leading local residents in socially distanced line dancing in East Wall. Photo: Conor McCabe

Dublin City Council community officer Brian Mongey leading local residents in socially distanced line dancing in East Wall. Photo: Conor McCabe

Dublin City Council community officer Brian Mongey leading local residents in socially distanced line dancing in East Wall. Photo: Conor McCabe

Dublin City Council community officer Brian Mongey organised socially distanced line dancing and music sessions for senior citizens cocooning in the north inner city.

Locals join in singalongs to old favourites, and some even polish off their dancing shoes for a spot of socially distanced line dancing.

"Some of the residents are just listening and enjoying from their living rooms while others, who might be more active, come outside on their balcony or garden and join in with singing and clapping," said Brian.

The events extended beyond music.

There were also outdoor bingo games, an Elvis impersonator and Dublin footballer Michael Darragh MacAuley provided yoga and exercise classes to the older residents.

Irish Independent


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