Is It Safe To Come Out Yet? The easing of Covid restrictions brings its own conflicts.

This last week, I attended two social events for the first time in a very long time. They were both for the Cruthú Arts Festival in Longford. This festival usually takes place in August but because of Covid restrictions it wasn’t on last year. I wrote a piece about this at the time…

Recently Covid restrictions have been eased in Ireland and almost all restrictions are promised to be lifted on October 22nd, although mask wearing will probably still be obligatory in shops etc… so it was decided to go ahead with a down-sized Cruthú Arts Festival in September this year.

The two events I personally attended were, ‘A Night at the Pictures‘ at the cinema in Longford, and ‘Award Winning Author Caitriona Lally & Longford Writers Group Literary Event‘ in The Bottleneck pub.

Attending, A Night at The Pictures at Longford Omniplex cinema.
Photo by Rachel Masterson/Shelley Corcoran

My main reason for attending the event in the cinema was to support two members of Longford Writers Group – Rose Byrne, who wrote the play, ‘Expiry Date’, (that had been turned into a film and was directed by C. C. Braithewaite), and Maggi McKenna who was acting in it alongside Niall Brewster.

I went to the event in The Bottleneck pub (formerly known as John Brown’s) because I was interested to hear author, Catriona Lally and because members of Longford Writers Group were asked to participate, and I was participating. It was my first time indoors in a pub except for pub/restaurants in a long time and I must say I enjoyed the experience.

Author Catriona Lally (Taken from photo for the event)

‘Caitriona Lally’s witty first novel, Eggshells, won the 2018 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Fiction in 2019. Eggshells, described by The Guardian as a ‘daring debut’, was published in the US by Melville House in 2017 and in the UK by Borough Press in 2018. Her highly anticipated second novel, Wunderland, has just been published.’ (Taken from the blurb for the event.)

At the Cruthú event in The Bottleneck, Longford. Catriona Lally speaking. Front row- Maggi Mckenna Middle Row – Martina and Gerard Cooney, Back row – Damien McManus, Rose Moran and myself.
L to R front row – me, Rose Moran, Maggi McKenna… Back row – Rachel Masterson, Catriona Lally, Martina Cooney, Shelley Corcoran. Photo by Shelley Corcoran

How I Felt

I must admit I was torn emotionally as I wanted to be involved and was looking forward to meeting people socially again, albeit with masks and sanitiser; but I was also nervous of catching Covid, even though I have been doubly vaccinated. This is because there are still many cases of people getting Covid, unvaccinated and vaccinated. I know I have less of a chance of being hospitalised but I still don’t want to get it or pass it on to anyone else. It is a dilemma and something each person will have to approach in their own way as the world tries to get back to some kind of normality. I think I will re-emerge into society slowly and carefully but trying to be a bit more adventurous if it feels fairly safe to do so.

Earlier in September, Culture Night had also attempted to re-open doors to events nationwide. (What I wrote about Culture Night last year

The Longford Writers Group had been asked to partake in one of these events. So, a night of poetry, stories and music took place in Coffee House 45 on September 17th. I was unable to participate as my son and family were coming for a long awaited visit from the U.S.A. and I wanted to focus my attention on family. Maggi McKenna hosted this event and I heard back that it was a great night and that everybody enjoyed it. In one way I was sad to miss it but in another way I was a little bit relieved, so Cruthú was a testing ground for me.

Coping Strategies

Shelby Deering, gives some pointers about coping with reemergence anxiety and I have just listed them in bullet fashion below. You can read the article at

  • GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT – First, take time to look back on what you’ve already accomplished.
  • DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP – Express how you feel if you don’t feel safe
  • REMEMBER, IT’S NOT A RACE – Do things at your own pace
  • PRACTICE ACCEPTANCE – Accept your feelings and work through them
  • TAKE NOTE OF HOW YOU FEEL – Differentiate between those that are too much and those that are tolerable

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