In days gone by, Danny Kennedy would have visited his beloved wife Phyllis at her nursing home in Howth, Co. Dublin where she has lived since suffering a stroke six years ago. 

Despite living apart, the couple had a routine that saw him arrive at around midday and remain by her side until 10 p.m. each night. 

However, with visits to Phyllis’s nursing home prohibited because of lockdown, the couple has found themselves separated like never before. 

Still, every day at around 12:30 p.m., Danny makes the trip up to Howth Hill Lodge to see his “movie star” wife at the window, waving and blowing kisses as he does. 

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It was during one such meeting that writer Lara O’Brien and photographer Annraoi Blaney successfully captured their encounter, creating an iconic image and moment in the process. 

O’Brien recently returned to Howth after 25 years in America. 

As the facilitator of Howth Writing Workshop and Retreats, she’s always taken a keen interest in other people’s lives and the stories we tell. 

It’s what inspired her to team up with talented 20-year-old photographer Blaney for The Heart of Howth project. 

"The idea behind the project is to highlight the essential workers in our community during Covid-19,” she told The Irish Post.

“I've always wanted to put a lens and words, background and understanding, to the characters and beautiful places of our small fishing town.  

“The lockdown provided us the opportunity to do that, all within our two-kilometer walking distance.” 

It was while listening to one of these stories that she happened upon Danny and Phyllis. 

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“We interviewed Nicola Taylor, owner of two nursing homes in Howth, and the success the staff has had in keeping them COVID free,” O’Brien explains. 

“As we were leaving, Danny was waiting at the window, and I had to talk to him (from a distance).  

“He let his love story unfold in the gentlest of details, the 71 years married, Phyllis having a stroke six years ago, and his missing her.  

“He lit up when she arrived. And the smile on her face when she saw him was captured in the picture.” 

In these uncertain times, the pictures of Danny and Phyllis’s brief encounter have warmed the heart and offered hope for future days to come. 

And while the Heart of Howth continues to provide stirring images and stories of a resilient Ireland, O’Brien knows the power this particular photo series holds.

“Out of all the stories we have captured now, the love story wins,” she says.

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