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From A Distance concerts set up to instil confidence in elderly cautious about COVID-19

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*Photograph: John Mangan

From A Distance is a community concert initiative which hopes to reconnect individuals who have experienced a harsh or lonely lockdown and reintroduce them to familiar faces within the community.

These thirty minute bi-weekly concerts will allow people to see some familiar faces From A Distance while also enjoying some musical treats from local talents such as Mike Hanrahan, Monica Morgan Kearney, Joan Hanrahan and friends, and many more to be announced. Choir Director Fiona Walsh tells of the unseen difficulties of lockdown as well as the benevolence and empathy shown by local artists in participating in the month-long communal venture at SS Peter and Paul Cathedral Ennis.

The motivation behind the initiative started with the reopening of society, when Fiona became aware that there were a number of regular churchgoers that didn’t seem to be reengaging with the local community. For some elderly members, a day out would consist of a short drive around the town or popping into their local shop. Social clubs and dances are something that this generation has been missing out on due to their closure, tells Fiona. In another instance Fiona suggested to an elderly member of the community that it would be nice to have a coffee in the garden now that life is somewhat back to normal. Nobody has come, was the solemn reply.

The concerts have been set up to instil confidence in the elderly members of the community that are still remaining cautious due to Covid-19. Of the health and safety measures in place, Fiona remarks, “There will be strict social distancing following all the guidelines within the church. There will be hand cleaning and sanitising on the way in. Mask wearing is welcomed but not compulsory. We will have the civil defence there too to ensure that everything is run in an orderly way.”

All musicians that will be performing at the Cathedral in the month of August are doing so for free tells Fiona, with many of them knowing someone within the community that would benefit from their music. Monica Morgan, Mike Hanrahan, Joan Hanrahan, Edel Vaughan, Therese McInerny and several others will be performing. Capacity at the church will be between one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty. Also on board are Bishop Willie Walsh, who Fiona believes has done an excellent job throughout the lockdown, leading from the front. Medical expertise and advise has been drawn from Dr. Maire Finn, to ensure that everything is run safely and smoothly.

On a final note, Fiona adduces, “There is a lot of isolation in the community at the moment and some of us are getting back into our work and our jobs at the moment. Schools will come back soon. There are people, I really feel, that will get left behind and have been damaged by what has happened. Now that we are heading into the winter, there is little to look forward to, which makes From A Distance such an important community initiative. I hope that other initiative will follow on from this.”

From A Distance will take place at 2pm every Tuesday and Thursday at SS Peter and Paul Cathedral Ennis, free of charge, during the month of August.

An avid reader from a young age, Cian’s love of the archives has been shared by Clare Echo readers who enjoy his Reeling in The Years section. Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton were his favourites writers in his younger years while he was always a fan of studying the opinion columns in The Irish Independent. A past pupil of Lissycasey National School and St Flannan’s College, he is currently completing his final year studies at the University of Limerick in New Media and English. From September, he will be commencing a Masters Degree in Journalism at UL.

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