Covid heroes: Plaques and scrolls

By Kathrin Kobus

When Tom Brabazon took office as Dublin Lord Mayor earlier this year, neither he nor anyone else expected that his four-month term would cover the huge challenge of the Covid 19 pandemic.

As the crisis began to unfold Ireland went into lockdown; community spirits awoke and helped us to get through the dark times together.

Activities varied but the common denominator was a devotion to lift community spirit and show selflessness in helping each other, from doing the shopping for neighbours, bake sales, deliveries of food/lunch boxes, and bingo and karaoke entertainment.

The latter [bingo] began in Canon Mooney Gardens before being swiftly picked up by other flat complexes, each with their individual bingo callers, because all these community gatherings were residents-only events. We stayed in our bubbles or pods, defined by place of residence at close quarters.

When the country began to reopen Dublin City Council and the Lord Mayor wanted to honour the helpers of the community. Under #covidheroes the general public were asked to nominate their local heroes: 1,200-plus nominations went in for 215 people or groups.

The Lord Mayor said: “I was privileged to witness the resurrection of community values and see members of the community pulling together and helping each other. There were so many stories of people who helped their communities in many ways during Covid19. It was truly inspirational to read them all and very difficult to choose a top five.”

Glenda Harrington from Friends Helping Friends was one of the five selected. True to the name of the group, she and her friends never stopped their soup run for homeless people throughout.

Also included for a trophy for Dublin 4 was Michael Larkin who, along with family help, put Ringsend bingo, karaoke and dance routines on the map; attracting international radio and tv crews. They both received Dublin Crystal plaques.

The other three recipients were Moira, Aoibhín and friends from Scoil Bhríde who raised €5,655 for the Ranelagh Covid Response Team by holding a cake sale and raffle; Rev Rob Jones who helped vulnerable citizens in Rathmines and spent time with people in Harold’s Cross Hospice whose families couldn’t visit; and Theresa Kelly who organised food deliveries for vulnerable people in Raheny. All nominated persons and groups got the recognition they deserved in the form of a commemorative scroll.

Among the long list was Derek Buckley, who had the novel idea to entertain his neighbours not only from the carpark slot, but from the comfort of his living room with a facebook quiz. Adrienne Dent wrote of her brother: “I am super proud of my local COVID hero – my brother Derek Buckley. Congratulations for the well deserved recognition you received from the Lord Mayor. Thank you again for being so selfless of your time, for putting a smile on our faces, for bringing some normality into our lives and for keeping our spirits up during the pandemic. And a big thank you to all the local COVID heroes who have helped the community.”

Let this acknowledgment go out to all who helped each other to pull together through the difficult weeks and months, without much fanfare.

On leaving office on July 29th, Lord Mayor Brabazon said in a statement: “Today I finish my four-month term as Lord Mayor of Dublin. It was not a standard Mayoral term due to Covid19, but I was privileged to witness the resurrection of community values and see members of the community pulling together and helping each other. On top of this, I saw first-hand how our public services organisations and staff worked to keep services going for the citizens of this great city. It was an honour to hold this office and I thank everyone for the courtesy they showed me as first citizen. Slán agus Beannacht.”

We would also like to acknowledge Lisa Gaskin and all her co-workers for all their hard work delivering meals five days a week around the area to the elderly and people in need during the lockdown.

Well done Lisa, your Lord Mayor’s Award is well deserved. You even got that sister of yours Tracey Gaskin to help out one of the days!

Also, a big shout out to everyone in The Fair Play Café for lunch packages. And last but not least, the residents of Cambridge Court had a collection and raised €280 for the Bridge Cafe in thanks for the sandwiches and other goodies they received.

So, well done to all. We’ll conclude with a line written by Bertolt Brecht in his play Galileo Galilei. “Unhappy the country that is in need of heroes.” It will never be said of Dublin or Ireland.