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27/07/2021

The story behind Leitrim's Lockdown Legends

The story behind Leitrim's Lockdown Legends

The four podcasts were produced by journalist Brian Farrell

Leitrim’s Lockdown Legends’, a podcast produced by journalist Brian Farrell in collaboration with Leitrim County Council was launched on Ray D’Arcy’s RTE Radio 1 show  on Wednesday, June 23.

The podcast, which is funded under the Healthy Ireland Community Engagement programme talks to some of Leitrim’s older residents who have been locked down and cocooning since March 2020.

Brian recently talked to leitrimobserver.ie and explained the story behind the four podcasts.

"There is something very humbling about going into the home of a stranger and listening to the story of their lives. This is the wonderful experience I had as I recorded the four “Leitrim’s Lockdown Legends” Podcasts for Suzanne Duffy of Healthy Leitrim.

"We wanted to know how old people in our community managed through the difficult lockdown, what kept them motivated and determined and what were their hopes for the future.

"But, I quickly discovered that to understand how these people, who had opened the door to me, managed the lockdown, I had first to understand who they were.

"Their past was the key to their future. In their own lifetime they had many ups and downs and hard times. It soon became clear that they had no intention of letting this lockdown bring them down.

"My first trip was to Drumkeerin and 87 years old Mary Flynn. Over the years Mary has had many health issues, any one of which would flatten most of us. She has dealt with kidney transplants, open heart surgery and cancer but to see her now which her beautiful long grey hair, sitting in her cosy home and crocheting the day away for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren you would never believe it. And in her own soft tones she told me all.

"A trip to Drumreilly was next. Frances O’Reilly filled me in on her fascinating Enniskillen childhood, her break for the border on Sunday nights to get dancing in Belturbet and how the bus which brought her to that romantic ballroom where she met her husband, Chris, was burnt out three times while it waited to carry herself and her friends back to Enniskilleen.

"Her description of the day her daughter and grandchildren first came into her home after 15 months of lockdown illustrates perfectly how resilient and determined they were even though it was heart breaking to be apart, " Brian stated.

He went on to explain "Every traditional musician in Leitrim knows and loves Patsy Guckian of Hartley.

"His emotional story of coming to grips with ageing in a time of a pandemic is compulsive listening. And his account of what got him and his wife Nancy through it; the loyalty of relations, neighbours and dear friends shows us all how important it is to lend a hand.

"His description of a night in December 2020 when he revisits Cryan’s Teach Ceol after a long absence, is like a scene from a Christmas movie.

"My final visit was to Mai and Willie Joe Farrell nestled nicely in Ballinwing with a view of Sliabh an Iarainn and Sheemore. Mai and Willie Joe are social animals. Between Bingo, cards and football they were out more than Marty Morrissey and then, bang! it all stopped.

"But it didn’t stop them and Willie Joe, in his 80s, found himself out canoeing with his grandchildren while Mai, buried herself in books, baking and boxty."

Brian ended by saying "Making all four podcasts I discovered the lockdown could not make these people give in or give up. They had beaten worse before and they would see this off too."

The podcasts were funded by Leitrim County Council through the Healthy Ireland Fund, supported by the Department of Health & the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth.

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