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Penny pinching, protective instincts and community pillars

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

The crowds are back. Traffic’s backing up, pavements are over peopled and Westport is heaving. This time around it’s mainly couples with young families rather than the older generation.
Oh that the lockdown could have been used to fix a few things. Historians, statisticians and sociologists will have field days as they uncurl stories, unfurl trends and unswirl behaviours. Such was its nature that it affected everybody equally; even wish lists were put on the wish list!
Yes, we did many things right as a country, and we made mistakes. In hindsight, there were some serious wrong calls. Hindsight is a great gift in which we all have honorary doctorates. Instead of growling, we’ll take a deep breath, give thanks for what was good and support those who made mistakes, with a little encouragement. There but for the grace of God, and all that. It’s simple yet true.
Visitors who grace our streets are a lifeline for local businesses. That creates a ripple effect that makes its way onto kitchen tables around the town and surrounding areas. No one or no one entity is the centre; we all form part of the whole. That’s what community is all about.
Naturally, there is a danger. It’s part of who we are as human beings. It’s called human nature. Some are tempted to take advantage by raising prices, others by lowering wages. It all comes down to money.
So often we hear the Bible misquoted with ‘Money is the root of all evil’. It actually stems from ‘Love of money is the root of all evil’ (1Tim. 6:10). There’s a big difference! Think of all the good you could do with loads of money rather than just have your arms clasped around filthy lucre. And then there’s the poet who reminds us that ‘Money doesn’t talk, it swears’.    
Masks are making a reluctant appearance, more so of late, but most welcome. In public places like shops, masks are a necessity. Masks are worn not for oneself but for others. If only the younger generation could grasp that reality. The virus is not age aware. It doesn’t discriminate between sexes, ages or sizes.
There are those who campaign against masks, for various reasons, from Big Brother to big bother. The pandemic is real, regardless. Protecting the most vulnerable is vital. If it means wearing a mask and swallowing a little pride (or whatever you’re having yourself), then so be it. Suppose the danger was posed to your own parent or grandparent… Your move!
‘Pandemic’ is rooted in Greek, meaning ‘all the people’. (Epidemic comes close but doesn’t quite reach the mark!) The pandemic has awakened a sense of care in most people. It has stirred a sense of community. We are all in this together.
Postmen and women have been exceptional. These people (like our man Liam Gibbons) not only deliver the post but also act as community liaison people. They are the gel that keeps the community together. When the history books are written these people should be to the forefront in the heroes category, like medical staff. They have done their job above and beyond the call of duty. They will be asked to do so as long as this pandemic continues. They are frontline in action.
Fr Charlie McDonnell in Westport has also been exceptional. (And he’s from Castlebar…don’t go there!) He has led, fed and wed throughout the crisis. Keeping St Mary’s open and accessible was a feat in itself. For Covies coming down Castlebar Street, heading over the Mall or McGreevy’s Bridge, seeing St Mary’s open doors lifts the heart. ‘Gospel greedy’ or a bit of a wanderer, the open doors, in all their raging majesty, speak volumes. Good man Charlie.
Cllr Brendan Mulroy, as Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, also played a blinder. He was calm, reassuring and informative with his postings on social media. He was polite and always available. He wore the cloak of responsibility as easily as his smile. He epitomises what local government should be.  
Credit where it’s due. Thanks to all concerned.