‘Hey Mum, how are you doing?’
So read the text from my son, 13 hours ahead in New Zealand, He had heard before me that a woman in her fifties had been knocked down and killed by a getaway car not two miles from here.
I reassured him I was fine and went about the day. News came through, – the gang had fled on foot after hitting the woman. They had stopped in a nearby pub and had been jittery. Still no apprehension, no arrest.
The next day dawned. normal enough. then it changed, a status yellow wind warning on the radio – severe gusts of up to 120 km from the west. It howled around the house. Usually the focus of the day’s news, it hardly got a mention. No grave advice about taking ‘unnecessary journeys’, no reports from Kerry of trees down or flooding in Lahinch.
The weather was eclipsed for once by something much more worrying. An invisible virus travelling in droplets had made itself known around the world and landed on our shores. Capable of hindering your breathing in its mildest form and with a small risk of death in the vulnerable it had placed 900 people in intensive care in Italy. Wash your hands , cough into a tissue, learn ‘social distancing’ to reduce the spread were the warnings on all channels, By 11am the Taoiseach had announced the closure of all schools and by 1pm, I found myself in Lidl stocking up. I had let a little fear in. It jolted me and put me at the other side of a fence – the side where the virus was now affecting me. The car park was full and I considered leaving. But something told me to join the shoppers and do this job. Lines of trolleys stretched down the aisles and the atmosphere was heavy and serious. We had all let a little fear creep in.
The day was sunny although the wind blew black clouds around the sky with reckless abandon. I drank in the fresh air as I reclaimed my euro from the trolley and promised myself a walk on the pier once I had unloaded the shopping.
I made it as far as the cannon over looking the breakwater and took a few pictures of the ships anchored off Dublin port, high in the water, having been unburdened of their cargo, when the rain burst out of the sky.
My excuse for a coffee in the Haddington Hotel had materialised. There were four tables set for two people each and the barman thought I had come in with a guy who walked in behind me and the only customer at the bar remarked that we may as well sit together as we looked well matched . I left one table between us and sat down, to save us both embarrassment,
The rain lashed down outside and suddenly, two skinny young men in t- shirts and jeans arrived in the door and sat down right next to me. The way they were so abrupt and invaded my space so completely made me very uneasy. Then one coughed and wiped his hand on his leg. That was it. I got up and moved next to the man who had come in behind me.
The manageress immediately approached the youngsters and told them they would have to leave. She turned to me and asked would I like a replacement coffee. I declined and next thing a garda in a protective vest appeared in the bar and confronted the lads, They had loads of attitude towards him and he just grabbed the wrist of one of them and marched them out. It all happened quickly and they were gone in a flash. The sun came out and we all looked at each other and I was not the only only one who thought did they leave a woman lying dying on the ground, flee the scene and visit some other pub on that night . Someone said there were five gardai outside. Crazy crazy times.