Tuesday, June 23, 6:25pm: I bring our canine duo, Buddy and Zippy, off for their evening walk after another day’s work at the home office draws to a close. Two horses trot from one side of a nearby paddock to the roadside fence where I stand for a few minutes in admiration at the steeds, who have almost identical markings on their faces – just like our dogs, coincidentally. No longer being in youth’s first flush, stopping to take in nature has become an increasingly prominent feature of my life. It’s something I’m glad of, all the more so given what life has been like for all of us since mid-March. All the rushing around I became so accustomed to in pre-pandemic times represents a groove I’m in no rush to slip back into.
Wednesday, June 24, 12:24pm: While out on a grocery shop at Ardkeen Stores, I pick up the 60th anniversary issue of ‘World Soccer’ magazine and I’m giddy at the sight of it. I began reading the magazine prior to the 1990 World Cup, just before I turned 11. Opening ‘WS’ introduced me to the by-line of journalist Paddy Agnew, who very much remains ‘our man in Italy’ to this day and leafing through it opened my eyes to the game beyond Britain and Ireland. Be it the political wranglings in Brazilian football, attempting to develop the sport in the United States and the growing imprint of Asian and African soccer, the publication framed much of my footballing education. It might just be time to reacquaint myself to an old journalistic friend.
Thursday, June 25, 2:18pm: The Irish Times reports that “masks are to become mandatory on public transport as the Government moves to increase capacity on bus, train and Luas services as more people return to work…The two-metre social distancing rule for public transport operators will cease to apply and, instead, operators will be allowed to run at 50 per cent capacity”. I sat in Waterford District Court this morning and during my time in the chamber I was the only person wearing a mask. I popped into Centra at Farren Park on the way home where I saw only one other customer wearing a mask. If a clearer message on masks had been made earlier, I reckon more people would be wearing them now. However, I can only be responsible for what I do so it’s probably best to stay focused on just that.
Friday, June 26, 11am: This morning’s Irish Independent reports that farmer John Connolly (81) told Gort District Court “that but for the fact that he was on consecrated ground, he would have been killed instantly when confronted by a man with a slash hook in a Galway graveyard”. Upon reading these particular lines of Mr Connolly’s victim impact statement, Judge Patrick Durcan said: “This is the stuff of John B Keane.” The case against fellow farmer Martin Shaughnessy (68 with no previous convictions), who had pleaded guilty to the assault of Mr Connolly (following a row over burial plots) was struck out by the Judge. He told both men: “One or other of you will have to follow the other into the graveyard and hopefully one of you will be able to walk after the other. And not too long after that, the other will be brought in and there you will rot together – that’s life.”
Saturday, June 27, 7:40pm: I complete a 12-kilometre run in just over 63 minutes, much to my delight. The training schedule I’ve received from two-time Olympian and Irish 800 metre record holder David Matthews has really re-invigorated my running renaissance. Having had something else to focus on apart from work in the midst of all this upheaval has been a genuine blessing. I probably haven’t moved this well since my late 20s.
Sunday, June 28, 8:38am: This may well be the last week of this diary given tomorrow’s nationwide re-opening. Taking a note of some element of each day since March 23 has been the lengthiest undertaking of my 21 years in journalism. I suspect it’s a scrap book-type record I may dip back into when we can speak of Covid-19 exclusively in the past tense. In the meantime, there’ll be plenty of other issues to busy myself with both in print and online. To all who offered a kind word to me regarding this particular slot during this unusual window in time, many thanks.