Community takes many forms as was seen at a very special event in Donegal recently

A view of Donegal through the coronavirus crisis by journalist Siobhán McNamara


Community can take many shapes and forms

We think of ‘community’ as being related to the place and people around us. 

But community comes in many shapes and forms, and nowhere was this more evident than at Sandra’s Run, a major fundraising motorcycle event that took place at the weekend.

Sandra’s Run is a fundraiser for Temple Street Children’s Hospital. It is held each year in memory of Killybegs teenager Sandra Boyle who died shortly before her 18th birthday following a three-year battle with leukemia.

The Boyle family’s local community - the wider Killybegs area - was out in force to support the event, with many people helping with the organisation and with bucket collections.

Then there was the biker community. People travel from all over Ireland to take part in this run. They are people of all ages and from all walks of life who in their day to day world might appear to have little in common. But their shared enthusiasm for motorbikes and their joy of the open road creates a bond that dissolves other barriers. I counted around 315 bikes on Saturday, many of which also had pillion passengers, making for an immense show of support from the biker community.

Anyone driving in south Donegal in recent days cannot fail to have noticed the teddy bears and other soft toys on gates and posts throughout the region. These too are part of the support for Sandra’s Run. They represent another community - the sick children treated at Temple Street over the years.

The dictionary defines community as: “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” or “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.”

What is more difficult to define is the importance of community, how being a part of a community can make us feel more secure, happier, supported; how experiences are changed by being shared.

The coronavirus crisis has shown the best of what community means here in Donegal. But easing of restrictions has led to people spending more time with others, going that bit further afield, and perhaps letting our good habits of physical distancing and hand and respiratory hygiene slip away. We need each other to get through this, but what we need most from each other is to remember what has kept us safe so far. Masks, washed hands and physical distancing are still vitally important. We need to all keep doing this together.

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