We’re house-bound and isolated, scared, insecure and in many cases grieving, but survivors all the same. Debbie McGoldrick reached out to members of the Irish American community in New York for their thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they are holding up during these unprecedented times.
Radio Host for more than 50 years; his show can be heard every Saturday morning from 9 a.m.-noon at www.irishradio.com.
I wasted the first week looking for even one cobweb in the house before giving up!
Then, I started calling everyone on my old Rolodex to thin out my Christmas Card list. Those I reached were surprised that I was still alive! Proof that none of them are glued to my radio programs!
Some others I reached vaguely remembered me while asking if I had dialed the wrong number – I said yes! A few more were delighted to get a phone call from anybody other than a robot.
More than one told me they assumed that I should be long gone by now. I wasted more time lying about my age!
If I ever get out of the house, I might hand-deliver the half-dozen cards, assuming all seven of us will be ready to rock by Christmas.
The four-foot-high stack of 78s wax-records were glaring at me, so right sez I! Who knew that such a “treasured” collection would crumble in such a short space of time. Oops!! Nobody painted the wall behind them! Hate that.
The old 45s record collection was scratched, to begin with. It’s now stuck together like glue! The thousands of CDs are destined for the Frisbee department at the Smithsonian!
Oh…and those cassette tapes? Surely, somebody must have a cassette player in the attic that I could borrow? No, I won’t buy or rent…that’s insulting!
Books and more books unread! I put them in front of the unpainted corner vacated by the 78s records. The last book I read cover-to-cover was the religious instruction book The Old Catechism in grammar school. We were compelled to memorize every word. The experience kinda threw me off reading.
Project number two: dispense with the “out of date” grocery packets, cans, and bottles in the cupboard and fridge. Wow! Now I know how old Mother Hubbard screwed up. I put everything back and will ignore the “best if used by” date!
I have several more projects lined up but I am going to take this week off.
Chairperson of the New York GAA.
Currently, we are coping well. It is a stressful time for all of our members and of course the entire community. The fear of the unknown is the biggest issue in terms of when people can go back to work.
We worry for or younger members who do not quite understand the seriousness of this situation. They have never known hardships, and for those that are new to the world of hardship, they may not have the financial means to cope. We in the GAA are sending out the reminders regarding the New York state guidelines and also reiterating that we are available if they need guidance.
We have a very active social media platform, and our games manager Micky Quigg is doing an amazing job with challenges for our children, sharing old photos and doing coaching webinars. So even though it’s remote we are staying as active as possible.
I have gotten involved with an amazing group of people and we are launching a Sláinte 2020 fund. We will have a website up and running by the end of the week with a link for people to apply for some financial assistance.
The New York GAA along with Nollaig Cleary from the New York Ladies and Stephanie Mathers of Gaelic for Girls have made a sizable donation to start the ball rolling. We are very happy to offer our assistance and support and I am extremely proud of our GAA family-inclusive at this time of need to step up and roll up the sleeves to help.
We hope and pray this passes soon. Continue the social distancing, look after each other. Stay strong, and be patient. We will get through this. We hope to be up and running with our championship by June with God’s help.
Irish Consul General in New York.
These are strange times. Like everyone else I imagine, thoughts turn regularly to the well-being of those we know who are ill or who might be vulnerable should they become ill.
We are getting used to new ways of working; video calls open up a world of opportunity and sometimes frustration. The Consulate remains available to provide emergency assistance to citizens, even though we are mostly working from home.
It is important that the Consulate keeps facing outwards to see how we can best work with and support the community. We are trying to get the best understanding of the impact of the crisis.
Apart from illness, the crisis is having a huge financial impact on individuals, families and small businesses. We remain in close contact with the immigration and Irish centers: the Emerald Isle, the Aisling Center and the New York Irish Center in New York and the Diaspora and Commodore Barry centers in Philadelphia. Mental health must also be protected and we are in contact with Solace House.
As ever, in times of crisis, the way in which the Irish community comes together to support each other is stunning. I see it here in New York and in Philadelphia in particular, but I know it is replicated right across the country. The Irish American Meitheal in support of healthcare workers, the fundraising by the Irish associations in Bergen County, New Jersey, and the Rockland GAA Food Drive are just three examples locally. We will see much more in the days and weeks ahead.
We are inspired by the work of so many Irish and Irish Americans, and many more, on the frontlines, risking their health and welfare to help others. Although he might not like to be singled out, I know that many take great pride in the leadership and straight-talking of the Limerick-born Michael Dowling at the helm of Northwell Health.
In the last 10 days or so, as I’ve become aware of more people I know who are infected with COVID-19, it really brings home the scale and immediacy of what we are facing here, and in Ireland and around the world. We need to stand together and play our part.
Last week, the community lost Tarlach Mac Niallais from Belfast, a rights campaigner in Ireland and here, and dear to so many in the community. Our thoughts are with his husband and their families.
Technology has been so important in reducing isolation for people of all ages. My daughter is in contact with her cousins in Ireland and London more than ever. I am seeing the same across the board – there is a focus on family, friends, and community.
The Irish communities in the U.S. will come out of this crisis as strong as they went into it.
Mary Curley Carty
Co-owner, with her husband Joe, of the Keg Room in Manhattan, and the Rambling House in Woodlawn.
These are definitely unprecedented times. We are, I imagine, doing more or less the same things at home as others.
Joe has and continues to do things on our list of projects around the house -- i.e., cleaning out the garage, repairs, etc.
Our son, Peter, has moved back in with us for the last couple of weeks, which is wonderful! He has helped Joe and myself with many of the projects and also watching over us that we don’t go out only for essentials!
I have cleaned all the rooms and I’m cooking three meals a day for us. Never have cooked and cleaned soooo much without one tip! I believe every house after all this will be spotless! I have sent videos to our kids and my sister which we give to each other for ideas. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with each other.
I’m trying to keep up with the Restaurant Association meetings with Zoom, and work issues. It definitely has been difficult for us to be unemployed. We cannot remember when we did not work.
On a personal note, our daughter Colleen is a physician assistant in Presbyterian Downtown in ICU. She, as well as others on the forefront of this pandemic, has worked many hours to help patients. Our hearts are worried.
Lastly, our Stella, a Golden Doodle, is enjoying everyone being home!
We hope and pray for all, especially for those who have lost family and friends.
Attracta Lyndon & Patrick Buckley
Attracta is the former U.S. representative for Dooley Rent a Car and Belleek China’s current rep here; Patrick is a long-time officer in the Kerry Association and organizer of the charity HOPe, which Attracta also serves as president.
We made a “she shack” out of my old office. Patrick installed new floors, we painted and got my daughter's old sectional, and I found enough pictures and decorative pieces from around the house. It was meant to be my place to go when Patrick was watching his GAA! Since there has been no GAA I have not utilized it yet!
Last week we painted the kitchen and we are waiting for some primer to be delivered so we can tackle the cabinets.
We get a few steps in with our Irish music and a few jives too in the kitchen. We both love to read and have been catching up with the many books waiting for us.
We have Zoom time and FaceTime with both families and it is always great to see everyone. We take walks most days around the neighborhood with our masks. We got in a little gardening today preparing for the planting of flowers and vegetables.
Host of The Long Ireland Show on www.wrhu.org, and 88.7 FM, every Saturday between 2-5 p.m.
Before this virus even hit, I remember thinking one day with all the mean and hateful things people do and say to each other, I bet if we could see the face of God we would see Him crying.
I think that is what's happening. He has had enough. It is really up to us now, isn't it, to pray and make amends. Too many people are suffering unnecessarily.
What am I doing? I just spent a half-hour on the phone with my son Mike walking me through how to order food online, and after all that, they can't deliver until after April 26.
Another thing, I spend time calling friends to see how they are making out during this crisis and sharing a few laughs or memories with them.
When I can get the Fire TV stick to work I love to watch old English mysteries. First I have to get Alexa to behave.
Now that I am on the air live for an hour on Saturdays, it takes time to program the show and get it ready for the audio engineer at Hofstra, Andy Gladding. After the hour is over the show goes into automation for the next two hours until, with the help of God, this crisis is over.
It's amazing how many things a person can find to do when they are around the house all day. It’s not like I've painted the apartment or anything, but I can always find something to do, believe me, I only live in three rooms.
Dan and Margaret Sheehan
Dan, a native of Limerick, and his wife Margaret are fixtures in New York’s Irish social scene and the parents of three children.
"We are domiciled in the Adirondacks to hopefully ride out this pandemic scourge. Because of our age we are trying to take all the precautions recommended by the medical community,” Dan says.
“I woke up at one o’clock one morning and was inspired by this world pandemic to write a poem. It took me all of a half-hour. I was back sleeping by two o’clock.
“I’ve titled it ‘COVID-19 Pandemonium.’”
Adirondack mountains set me free
From COVID-19 keep me free
Keep me safe to 93
My wife and I, I ask of thee
I’m scared and saddened by the times
I ask the world what has gone wrong?
I only know I did no wrong.
From out of space a mystery
Came roaring through the sky at me
Calamity knows no bounds
It's chasing me like a pack of hounds
My mind is frozen in a time
It doesn't help to own a dime
No power can free me from this hell
Except my god can only tell
It’s all a mystery to me here
But only time can make it clear
I pray the rain to sweep away
Our constant worries of this day
I see a new day coming through
Please god we all will be anew
And when this happens let us think
We knew that God would not let us sink.
Kathleen Walsh D'Arcy
Co-chair, St. Pat’s for All annual parade in Queens.
With copious tears falling, I try to describe this amazing man, our departed friend Tarlach Mac Niallais, knowing I can’t do him justice.
Here’s my failed attempt. The St. Pat’s for All team is grieving the loss of Tarlach Mac Niallais, our board member, our formation organizer, our biggest cheerleader, our loving friend. We will miss his hard work, his leadership, his spirit, his smile, and his songs.
Every mourner talks about Tarlach’s love. His hugs. Love was his fuel, and he shared it with everybody.
For him, love was activism. As a college student, he started his fight for equality and human rights for all, and he kept fighting until he left us.
He was a brilliant organizer who inspired so many people to join him in his efforts to defend the forgotten people, undocumented immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ youth, developmentally disabled adults, frail elders and every human being who faced bullying or discrimination.
Tarlach dedicated his whole life to social justice, and his smile gave every person he met the courage to follow him.
Rest in power and love, Tarlach. Your spirit will always be with us.
Read more: Coronavirus live updates from Ireland