A Different World: Catriona Colleran


HOPING TO GET HOME SOON Ballaghaderreen native Catriona Colleran is pictured in her home in Canada.

Catriona Colleran

HERE in Canada, we’ve had a series of lockdowns and they’ve all been different. At the moment bars restaurants, cinemas, casinos, gyms are closed. A lot of non-essential retail is closed as well so you can’t go to malls or clothes shopping.
During the previous lockdowns all non-essential retailers were shut while big block stores like Walmart were allowed to be open and sell non-essential items, which seemed a bit unfair to the smaller retailers. During this lockdown they’ve stopped them selling the non-essential items. You can go to Costco for food but you can’t buy socks!
There are no restrictions on when people can come and go but they really focus on getting people to stay at home. We’ve been through a lockdown where they said to stay at home, but a lot of outdoor activities were open. Canadians in particular are very into outdoor activities. I think that not being able to do them was a big challenge for them.
In the middle of the crazy pandemic we decided to buy a new house. That was even a different experience.
We are now at the time when the hockey play-offs are starting. I’ve always enjoyed it and I’m a big of the Maple Leafs. One of the really exciting parts of the season was getting to the play-offs and being able to go to bars with your friends and being able to support the team. That can’t be done at the moment.
We’re still at the point where everyone that can work from home should work from home, but what I’ve really noticed when I travel to work is that the traffic is immense.
I’m pretty lucky with my work. I know a lot of people have been affected by being out of work during this period of time. Our business is really strong currently. We make products for plumbing so when lockdown happened in Canada a lot of people had taken to home construction projects and stuff like that, and we’ve seen our business grow as a result of that. Professionally it’s probably been the most challenging 18 months you could imagine.
I started working from home during the first lockdown when I was in a different position in my company. All of my employees were people who had to be on site. I found it really challenging that I couldn’t be on site as I like to be on the production floor and get a feel of what’s happening.
I also use my commute time to think and plan out my day. All that was gone. In July, I changed position and became Vice-President of Operations, which was a job that you couldn’t do from home. I was glad to get back to the office and be able to engage with colleagues.
There’s some people I’ve worked with that are in vulnerable categories that have left work 18 months ago and still haven’t returned. It’s sad in so many ways.
I don’t know if we’re getting used to being in lockdown. I live in a village in Ontario that’s half way between Niagara and Toronto and one of things I’d miss the most is being able to go to the local pub. I used to miss the pub so much, now I kind of forget what it’s like.
We’re really blessed with the weather we have here in the summer, so last year outdoor activities were allowed and you could go to the pub and meet with friends.
The other thing I really miss is not being able to travel home to. My friend asked me a few weeks ago: “If money was no object, and you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” I said I’d go home, without a shadow of a doubt.
I really want to visit my friends and my family in Ballaghaderreen, I miss them a lot. Everyone’s health is the most important thing, so going to bars and socialising means nothing in the great scheme of things.
When we get back to some level of normalcy I don’t know if we’ll even know how to greet people anymore. Will you be allowed to hug people? Are we going to get a green light that says it’s okay to hug now?
We would watch what was happening in the United States all the time and with the election. I don’t think I’ve watched as much news in this period of time as I have in my whole life.
I would love to go home to see friends and family, but I want to go to a Mayo match. It’s been too long! I don’t miss the weather or the food, but when I think of home I always think of the Gaelic matches as well as family and friends.
A lot of my friends have had babies since I have been home and I really want to meet them. I also want the opportunity to visit Calgary to meet my niece.

In conversation with Oisín McGovern

Just briefly. . .

Working from home or just at home?

I don’t work from home

What’s the best thing about living abroad?
The Canadian people are really nice

One thing you’d like to export from there to Mayo?

The summer weather

Most thing you miss about home?
Family and friends and of course Mayo matches

Favourite place to visit in Mayo?
I love Westport and MacHale Park, but it has to be my home in Ballaghaderreen!

Which three Mayo people would you pick on your Zoom team quiz team?
I’d have to keep it a family affair so Edel Colleran, Brian Colleran and Tomas Colleran. Sorry Mike and Eamonn

What’s your most prized possession at the moment?
We just bought a new house so I would say that

Where is your ‘happy place’ in Toronto?
I live in Waterdown village so my happy place there is Bo’s, the local neighbourhood bar. In Ontario I love Niagara Falls. I got married there in 2019

First thing you’ll do when this pandemic ends?
Plan a trip home and stop watching the news

What do you miss about life pre-Covid?
Being able to travel

Sum up Coronavirus in three words?
A new perspective