A Different World: Sarah Tierney

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CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Sarah Tierney is pictured at the media day in Croke Park ahead of the 2017 All-Ireland final. Pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Thirty-year-old Sarah Tierney from Garrymore tells The Mayo News all about pandemic life as it is playing out in Australia

I’m actually in Sydney three years this week. I qualified as an accountant in 2018 and I wanted to get experience working in industry. I’ve gotten extremely lucky with all the jobs I’ve had here. I’m currently the production accountant for Industrial Light and Magic, which is a visual-effects company that’s working on big blockbuster films.
At the moment [Covid] cases are through the roof and new restrictions were introduced, but things are still pretty normal. If you’re in a pub you can’t be standing, singing or dancing. It’s all seated. They’ve also just said that any events that are deemed ‘high-risk’ will have to be monitored and have Covid plans in place. There hasn’t really been anything cancelled lately. I live right beside a big stadium here, the SCG, which is having the Ashes cricket tournament at the moment.
We had quite a strict lockdown from June to November and the only reason things opened back up is because they put a big push on getting vaccinated. Once the state of New South Wales hit 90 percent vaccination of the population, they opened back up. During that time things were quite strict. All the gyms were closed, and cafés and restaurants were takeaway only.

QR check-in system
They do a QR system where you have to check in to supermarkets, hairdressers or anything that’s open, even a takeaway coffee. It’s a check-in system that will alert you if someone was in the venue that tested positive for Covid so you could just monitor your symptoms. That’s actually worked really well here. There was a time in 2020 during the lockdown that they had to close all the beaches because once the weather was nice people flocked in thousands to the beaches, but that didn’t last that long.
Other than that, the restrictions haven’t been too bad. The borders are a bit of a disaster. All international travel was stopped here for ages. They only opened it up just there before Christmas.
It’s a lot of hassle to go home at the moment because you have to get PCR tests and there’s no guarantee that you will get back into the country once you leave. A lot of Irish here are on Covid visas, which don’t allow you to leave the country. It’s really hard for a lot of Irish here at the moment.

Frustrated
I don’t mind the restrictions too much, as I’m working from home, which kind of suits me. I injured my knee in June last year, so I probably would’ve been working from home a good bit anyway. What is very annoying for us is just not knowing when you can go home again. I haven’t been home in about two years, and there’s just no way around it.
If anything ever happened at home, it’s just a worry that you’re uprooting your life here to go home to Ireland, so that’s been kind of hard. Not knowing when it’s all going to end is really tough. It doesn’t overly affect me, but there’s a lot of people in construction here that have been really affected with restrictions and constant testing.
There’s a lot of controversy here over Novak Djokovic [whose entry into Australia for the Australian Open has sparked a week-long saga over his visa validity]. I’ve been following the case quite closely and I personally think he shouldn’t have been allowed in. Rules are rules. The English and the Irish here are very frustrated because since March 2020 we haven’t been able to leave the country or come back in. We’re technically locked into the country and it is a little bit unfair to see all these celebrities coming and going.

Links with home
One of the things I miss the most about home is definitely the football. It’s great that we have Mayo GAA TV to keep up with all the club games. My brother Mark plays for Garrymore and they got on quite well this year, so I was keeping a close eye on all of them. At the same time, it’s not the same as going to matches at home.
I miss the family and friends, but we’ve a very good lifestyle here so I’m going to enjoy it here for as long as I can.
I’m playing football here for a club called Michael Cusacks which has quite a lot of Cavan and Armagh people. There’d be about seven different ladies clubs here, but there’d be four teams that’d be quite competitive. The standard here is actually very high as you’ve a lot of ex-county girls here.
The standard within our own club is brilliant. There’s a lot of girls that, in my eyes, should be playing for counties back in Ireland.

In conversation with Oisín McGovern

Just briefly. . .

What’s the best thing about living abroad?
The outdoor lifestyle here in Sydney.

Name one thing you’d like to export from there to Mayo?
The sun.

What do you miss most about home?
Apart from family and friends, my dog Molly.

What’s your favourite place to visit in Mayo?
Bertra Beach.

Which three Mayo people would you pick on your Zoom quiz team?
Yvonne Byrne, AKA Crazy (she should be in politics); Andy Moran; Jimmy Sloyan.

What’s your most prized possession at the moment?
My road bike.

Where is your ‘happy place’ in Sydney?
Centennial Park – massive park located near me with a cycle and running track.

What’s the first thing you’ll do when this pandemic ends?
Go home to see my family and friends.
I need to bring my mother to Ashford Castle for afternoon tea.

What do you miss about life pre-Covid?
People’s optimism about the future.

What’s the strangest thing you do to pass the time during lockdown?
Set up my bike on an indoor stand in front of the TV and catch up on GAA games back home.

Sum up Coronavirus in three words?
The new normal.