Ireland

Cocooning Dublin residents celebrate independence on Fourth of July

People living in Wolfe Tone Close in inner city says Covid-19 pandemic brought them together

 Tina Ward, Tanya Maher and Maura Cudden, enjoy the celebrations at Wolfe Tone Close, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tina Ward, Tanya Maher and Maura Cudden, enjoy the celebrations at Wolfe Tone Close, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

July 4th is a celebration of independence for millions of people in the US. This year, the residents of the Wolfe Tone Close complex in Dublin 1 also celebrated freedom, but the independence they celebrated was their own.

The residents of the north-inner city complex, most of whom are over 70, congregated in the community area with their families for a summer barbecue to toast to the easing of coronavirus restrictions and no longer having to cocoon.

They had pink and blue balloons hung up – similar to what you would see at a baby shower – to celebrate their “rebirth”, while a DJ played music and everyone drank and ate burgers.

Maura Cudden (81) sat at a table with her dog Angel, sipping a glass of red wine. What was she most looking forward to now that she was allowed to mingle with other people? “Getting drunk, of course,” she said with a cheeky laugh, before adding: “I’m only messing, I’m only messing.”

Cudden has lived in her apartment for the past 20 years, but she said having to cocoon had created a community among the residents, who used to only say hello in passing.

“There were phone numbers being put in my letterbox for if I need anything, there was food left on my table, there would be knocks on the door asking if I needed anything because they were going to the shop,” Cudden said. “It was like I adopted a whole new family. It took the edge off cocooning.”

It was not just the community spirit that made the distressing period easier. Her dog did, too.

“I used to take her up when the news was on, I used to listen to it because I wanted to know what was going on. When I’d heard the deaths were very high in the beginning, I used to squeeze her to death because I had nobody else to touch or hold so I used to just squeeze her. She gave me such relief,” she added.

Imelda Dodrill (90) and Margaret Murphy (79) enjoy the celebrations at Wolfe Tone Close, Dublin 1. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Imelda Dodrill (90) and Margaret Murphy (79) enjoy the celebrations at Wolfe Tone Close, Dublin 1. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Imelda Dodrill, who proudly declared that she was the oldest resident in the complex, said she found staying still very difficult.

“The lockdown was very hard on me. I celebrated my 90th birthday in May and my family had organised a surprise party, but that never materialised. I worked from when I was 14 until 70, and I like to keep busy. I’m not the type to sit around and stay in,” Dodrill said.

She was not terribly excited about restaurants or bars reopening because she is “well past that now”. However, being able to bring her dog Charlie out for walks again was the best part of society reopening.

“I brought him out straight away, so I did. I love walking. I walk everywhere, I walk for miles. This, now, being able to move again, is marvellous. It’s like another life.”

Margaret Murphy (79) enjoying celebrations as the Residents Association of Wolfe Tone Close, Dublin, organised a Fourth of July Independence Day celebration for the older residents of the complex. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Margaret Murphy (79) enjoying celebrations as the Residents Association of Wolfe Tone Close, Dublin, organised a Fourth of July Independence Day celebration for the older residents of the complex. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Margaret Murphy (79) said listening to Joe Dolan was the only way she was able to get through the lockdown, and she was glad she could “get back to normal”.

“They told me not to go out so I did what I was told. My daughter lives in west Cork, the other one lives in Carlow and another in Galway. I missed the grandkids,” she said.

Now that she no longer has to stay cooped up in her apartment, she has a long list of things she wants to do.

“I think I might go on a cruise and travel the world. Well, if I can get the money for that,” she added.

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