Breathing, Brexit and Ballads

It’s Christmas Eve and it doesn’t feel quite like it.

I’ve been practicing breathing exercises I heard a psychologist recommend on the radio the other day as a way of dealing with the uncertainty that the scary rise in Covid cases is giving rise to in the last few days. Breathing slowly and deliberately does help to tone down the anxiety in what seems like a very fragile situation. It looks like we are set for a very heavy lockdown, yet again, as the virus sweeps the country. The ‘break’ to allow Christmas to have some sort of normality associated with it has been pulled back a lot and seems like it is destined to be pulled back further.

My heart goes out to people who are lonely, fearful and miserable tonight and to all the people who are working in hospitals and care homes trying their very best to care for people who are being ravaged by the virus. I know many families who are all split up and also people who have been separated from their elderly relatives for months on end. There are no easy answers, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, Ireland has heaved a sigh of relief today as the United Kingdom and European Union finally, finally agreed a Withdrawal Deal which will offset some of the worst effects of Brexit on our little country here on the edge of Europe. It’s still unclear exactly how it will all pan out but, at least, it looks like we will be spared mega tariffs and huge problems in relation to trading with our nearest neighbour.

And all the while, I have been haunted today by memories of the great balladeer, Liam Clancy, who I was fortunate enough to see in concert a couple of times. He was some character and the song that has been playing under the surface today is The Dutchman as I remember hearing him sing it with immense feeling here in Waterford during one of his final concerts.

It brings me to the love and connection that can exist when dementia enters a relationship. So many of our most vulnerable older people who have been caught up in the Covid situation have dementia and I really feel tonight and every night for couples who find themselves separated after long years spent together.

Christmas Eve is a night when one cannot but think of one’s parents and tonight I remember so many precious Christmases shared with my late mother and father who I was fortunate enough to have until they were 89 and 91 respectively ( and living just around the corner from me.) They are happily in my heart tonight and I think of them not with sadness but with great love and appreciation.


Forest Floor
Forest Floor

Mount Congreve Gardens served up special beauty on its last open days for this season.

Standing deep in the woods, I was treated to this piece of abstract art that has been shimmering around in my mind.

It seems all the more poignant today as I’ve just come back from visiting a life long friend who has dementia. Her short term memory may be impaired but so much of her layered essence remains. Her smile, her voice, her sense of fun, her memories of days we shared and most of all the feel of her hand in mine.

Where does the image take you? 

Stepping Out into A World of Two Halves

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford
Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford

Sunset at Garrarus caught me off guard today as it was all about contrasts, light and shade, closing in and opening out.

It evoked thoughts of Turner’s paintings, but even more thoughts of distance and togetherness.

Nowhere is the issue of distance and togetherness more apparent than in relationships where a person has dementia.

The moodiness of the scene made me think of my late father, who used the word ‘moody’ very much when it came to photographs and paintings. He had some form of dementia in his later years. This made for stormy moments but also moments of intense clarity and oneness.

I think of him with intense love as I listen to the great Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem singing The Dutchman.