By Peg Prendeville

Happy New Year to everybody, although it looks like it is going to be a great challenge. But it is good to start the year 2021 with good news. So congratulations to Davey Noonan, son of Carol and Dave in Clounleharde, who recently got engaged to Kate Dobbrick from Queensland. They both live in Melbourne. We wish them much happiness.

It was such a strange Christmas with no socialising, no wrenboys, and very few attending the Christmas Masses due to fear of contracting the virus. We must all make a genuine effort to social distance so that we can get back to some semblance of normality as soon as possible.

It was more than strange for my family due to Jim being in hospital following his stroke. We hope and pray that he will continue to recover. Thanks to you all for your prayers which are surely aiding him in this journey.

I wrote the following article last November for the Limerick Leader before our lives were turned upside down.


This year of 2020 has been a year like no other that I remember. Our generation has seen unbelievable things, men landing on the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the fall of the Twin Towers, information technology that we could not have dreamt of, but we had no experience of world pandemics. Our parents were born around the time of the Spanish Flu which was rarely mentioned as it seemed a one-off occurrence. But now we are living, and some are dying, in historic times which our grandchildren will read about in their history books in time to come.

But, it is said, when God closes one door he opens another. What I have seen, to my delight, is the growth spurt of creativity in all forms during this COVID time. While it has sadly muted the music industry, for the time being, it has sown seeds in the writing industry; lots of poems and stories have been written this year that would not have taken root but for the slowing down of life due to the National Lockdown. Though it was a horrible and frightening experience for most people it also had the effect of awakening creativity in many.

Words and poems and stories are very much enjoyed in my family of origin. My father, Paddy Faley, wrote many articles and poems throughout his lifetime. His father before him, although he could not read nor write, was a great storyteller, I am told and so, when one of my grandchildren, came to me in the early days of COVID last April, and asked me to write a story with him I responded with delight. Living nearby we did not break any Lockdown rules by exchanging paragraphs each day. He started his story with a paragraph and passed it to me to write my paragraph and so it continued for a few weeks. The story grew and took twists and turns as I tried to get into a nine year old head and continue the theme. This young man is a soccer fanatic, which I am not, so I had to brush up on my knowledge of soccer players to keep pace. It was a lovely experience for both of us. His mother got the final product printed into a little book which will be a reminder of COVID 19 for his children when he grows up.

No sooner was this book finished than he invited his Granda to do another story with him which took on a different tone altogether expanding his imagination and creating a bond with his Granda. Now, like the virus, the creativity was spreading and another female grandchild got into the act and asked me to create a story with her. No sooner was this done than another child took up the challenge. So, although the schools were closed, a different kind of learning was taking place with these children. They were learning the joy of writing, improving their vocabulary, bonding with the older generation and having fun in the midst of Lockdown. By the end of the summer there were four mini books created, bringing to life all kinds of imaginative situations with camping adventures, trips to Camp Nou, “talking” rats and dogs and the finding of long lost uncles. It was a very enjoyable experience for young and old.

Meanwhile, at the northern end of our country, another idea was growing in the head of author Andrew William Tinney. Andrew put out the invitation through FB to anyone who had a story or poem about how the COVID Lockdown affected them. In response to that, he put together a collection of stories and poems. I was glad to be among the writers.   ‘Lights on the Horizon’ is a remarkable collaboration of writers north and south of the Irish border in aid of HSE and NHS Northern Ireland frontline workers. The poetry, prose and photography from all corners of the island of Ireland provide a literary time capsule, capturing a nation’s hopes, fears, actions and inactions, as it battles the biggest pandemic in living memory. ‘Lights on the Horizon’ has been featured in local press, and has received support from author Louise O’Neill and actor Jeremy Irons. While it was first published through Amazon it has taken on a new lease of life with Niamh Cooper from Cork and her friends turning it into a hardback colour book which is on sale now. Check out .   All proceeds are going to Frontline Workers of NHS and HSE.

Meanwhile back in my own family my husband and sons were creating with their hands rather than with words. With spare time, while everybody was out of work, old discarded windows were resurrected and cleaned and used in the building of a glasshouse where tomato plants were sown providing the family with luscious tomatoes.

This was followed by my husband using the time to fulfil a dream of his which was to make a pony’s cart from scratch. Our sons joined him in this ambitious project. Timber was bought, and two wheels taken from an old second hand van. Many days were spent in the shed measuring and muttering, cutting and drilling, sanding, painting and polishing as each took great pleasure in creating something from nothing. The result was a resounding success and now the grandchildren have the joy of going for a ride on the car pulled by Bradley the pony, not realising that this was once the chief mode of transport for their great grandparents. None of this would have been accomplished but for the forced stoppages of work and time while we were all trying to keep the virus at bay.

So it is true that one door opens when another closes. Time on our hands forces us to rethink our situation and use the time to create something new and wonderful. And so the world continues to spin.

I am not forgetting all those who were severely affected by the virus and I sincerely sympathise with the many whose family members have died and those who continue to suffer from Long COVID. But for those of us who were lucky to have avoided the virus and forced to slow down and “smell the roses” it has proved to be a very creative gift.

Peg Prendeville