What was it like to live on Arranmore island during the Covid-19 lockdown? Nora Flanagan shares her experience with us in this island diary......

Enjoying exploring, fishing, swimming and much, more with five energetic boys on an island

Five energetic boys enjoy Arranmore Island during the Covid-19 lockdown

Five energetic boys enjoy Arranmore Island during the Covid-19 lockdown

Marathons, swimming, exploring, rock-pooling, rock-climbing and picnics were the order of the day from the time school closures were announced and I arrived back home in Arranmore on March 15, accompanied by my daughter’s four boys.

Working on the frontline
My daughter is a nurse in LUH and I offered to look after her boys for a couple of weeks so she could continue working. None of us envisaged that she would not see her children for three months. With my younger daughter, her husband and two-year-old son we were a household of three busy adults and five even busier young boys and so the accompanying noise levels I’m sure exceeded the recommended decibels at times. All eight of us self-isolated for two weeks and maintained strict social distancing afterward.

St Patrick's day
We celebrated St Patrick’s Day with face painting, singing and music with banners and flags flying aloft. That day pipers from the Arranmore Pipe Band stepped outside their homes at 12noon and played the Highland Cathedral and the Minstrel Boy and as the uplifting sound echoed over a quiet island we answered the call from five small pairs of twinkling eyes to parade around our house in the rain. As the weeks passed by we settled into our larger family life, remote working, homeschooling, and island exploring. Soon, wet suits were uncovered from their dark hiding places of last summer, and as the March sun was trying to shine five boys thought it a good idea to go swimming every single day. The adults soon realised how easy it was for us all to observe social distancing regulations since our very near, very large beach was completely devoid of people because of the cold, biting north wind and a temperature of 7-8 degrees Celsius! With lots of encouragement from the heavily-wrapped adults on the shore, the boys jumped waves and occasionally dipped their heads in the sea until it was deemed a bit too cold for full submersion.

Crab-hunting

Subsequent days and weeks were packed with outdoor activity and especially tirelessly searching in rock pools for crabs, fish and smug a róns, picnicking on the mountainside, climbing rocks, walking, learning CPR, saving turf, running, playing and of course homework. While the boys desperately missed their mum, we all learned to re-explore all that our enchanted Arranmore island has to offer and really appreciated the precious time we spent together. Ironically, it was a positive part of the whole experience that would have been missed had we not been in lockdown and socially isolating.
Of course, the best day they had was when their mum came home, a day where tears were the tears of joy.
We all take the normal routine of everyday living for granted but we must now adapt to a new normal and we on the island know and appreciate how blessed we are to be surrounded by the sea, the sea that can be a cruel boss and a saviour to us at the same time.

Blessed to live on Arranmore

This is my personal story but everybody I spoke to about how they were coping with lockdown expressed the same feelings, how lucky we are to live in Arranmore, and how lucky we are to have our families home during the lockdown.
People ran marathons, walked, captured beautiful photos of our landscape and unrivaled scenery, and all the while adhering to government guidelines on social distancing. Our local businesses catered for our every need and a group of kind and dedicated community volunteers provided essential services to everyone on the island who needed it, including home deliveries, running errands and checking in on our most vulnerable members of our community.

Safe place for an elderly population

We are very fortunate to have an island council, island representatives, community services and a host of wonderful volunteers on Arranmore who worked tirelessly with both ferry services and local businesses to ensure that everyone adhered to government guidelines and who helped to make the island an especially safe place for our elderly and vulnerable population. We owe them a debt of gratitude and have no doubt they will continue to work on behalf of the whole island population.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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