There’s no denying things have changed drastically in all walks of life over the past number of weeks, with absolutely everyone affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in some way, shape or form.
Queues of people standing two metres apart outside supermarkets have become a familiar sight; hand sanitiser, masks and disposable gloves have become the necessities of many who are out and about; schools are closed, businesses are shut down and nobody knows when or if things will ever go back to normal.
Lockdown restrictions have the majority of the population staying home to stay safe from the virus but there are many people who cannot stay home because they are required to keep working for the greater good.
Doctors, nurses, health care workers, ambulance drivers, gardaí, and other emergency service workers are the first people to come to mind when you think of essential workers but, when it comes to lockdown essentials, there are so many other people that we simply couldn’t do without.
Shopkeepers, bank staff, taxi drivers, food producers, pharmacy workers and plenty of others are also essential at this time of need.
Community gardaí, local Family Resource Centres, Local Link, the likes of Ballymahon’s Convent Day Care Centre and plenty of other organisations around the county are working hard to ensure the more vulnerable members of our society are looked after with house visits, tips and ideas to keep children learning and entertained, medical supply runs, or just a call out to check on the elderly.
It’s people like these that are the pillars of our society during this unusual time.
Local documentary photographer Michael Croghan highlights social and community issues through his photographs and has been highlighting the incredible work being done around the county by taking pictures of some of Longford’s frontline heroes who are still going about their daily work, while ensuring the rest of the population stays safe.
Featured among his ever-growing collection of photographs is Paul Donnelly, who works for Iarnród Éireann, and has continued his daily work, ensuring passengers are transported safely to and from their destinations.
“The job has changed dramatically,” Paul told the Longford Leader this week.
“It’s an eerie, surreal feeling around. Numbers travelling have dropped; the majority of people are staying at home like they have been asked to do.”
While people are advised to remain in their homes during this period of lockdown, trains are still running, but for essential travel only.
Iarnród Éireann staff like Paul are still working normal shifts and, while certain services have, unfortunately, been cut, there is still a need for trains and other modes of transport.
“This is a huge change for everybody, having your freedom taken away, not being able to go as you like or do as you like but, if it saves lives, it has to be done,” said Paul, before expressing his admiration for health care workers who are putting themselves at risk on a daily basis.
“Big shout out to all the doctors, nurses and carers; well done and stay safe all.”
Michael Croghan is updating his blog with new photographs on a regular basis, adding more essential workers to the mix each time.
So far he has featured a large number of supermarket and shop staff from stores such as Spar, Lidl and Newsround, to name a few.
Staff of Hanlon’s Gala are also featured prominently. The Dublin Street garage has a number of safety precautions in place, including hand sanitiser outside the door, a queuing system, and a staff member ensuring only a certain number of people enter the shop at once.
Meanwhile, gardaí are out in force lately, conducting checkpoints, breaking up large groups and ensuring the safety of the public.
Taxi drivers, restaurant or takeaway owners, pharmacy workers, and plenty more are also appreciated in the worthwhile photo series.
To see more of Longford’s finest workers, visit michaelcroghanphotography .com. Don’t forget to show your appreciation next time you come across one of them in person.