PICTURES | Longford's essential workers acknowledged in photography project

The essential workers who kept Longford going during Covid-19

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

PICTURES: MICHAEL CROGHAN

As we finally enter phase three of the government’s roadmap to reopening the country, more and more businesses are starting to open their doors. But it’s important to remember the essential workers that kept us going through lockdown.

Local documentary photographer, Michael Croghan has been documenting the hard work of some of Longford’s finest over the past few months, to highlight the hard work that essential workers have been doing to keep the country up and running during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On his blog, michaelcroghanphotography. com, Michael highlights social issues, with one of his main projects over the past three months being the issue of Covid-19 and how society has been dealing with it.

In a blog post entitled ‘Thank You’, he shares dozens of photographs of those working in the food industry, in healthcare, grocery stores, and other essential services.

Kevin Hussey, who owns Kevin’s Dry Cleaners in Longford town, has had to put a number of measures in place to ensure the safety of his customers and staff, but he admits that times have been extremely tough as the coronavirus took hold.

“We have coped as well as we could during the lockdown but, like all other businesses, we took a hit,” he told the Longfod Leader.

“At the moment, our shop is open on reduced hours, from 10am to 5pm, with the current HSE guidelines in place.”

Customers are asked to observe social distancing measures, while all handwashing, and sanitising measures are also in place.

“We hope over the coming weeks, with certain restrictions being lifted, we will see an increase in customers and hopefully get back to some sort of normality,” said Kevin.

The business has also been looking out for older clients who have had to cocoon, or the more vulnerable members of the community who are isolating or in quarantine during the pandemic.

“We are currently offering a collection and delivery service to the more vulnerable people during Covid-19,” Kevin explained.

“For any information, please call us on 0433348670. I would like to thank all our customers and staff for their continued support.”

Local shops feature prominently in Michael’s photo series, with a number of grocery stores from around the town being mentioned.

Stores have had hand sanitisers installed, perspex screens to ensure a barrier is maintained between staff and customers, while contactless payments and social distancing are encouraged.

There is also social distancing in place in all local shops, with stickers to mark out the six feet that should be kept between customers.

Also featured on Michael’s blog is local man, Joe Joyce, from Longford town, for whom the local photographer has a lot of respect.

“Joe Joyce had to go into hospital for an operation, does so, gets Covid and comes out the other side,” Michael explained of his reasons for including the local man in his tribute.

“A local town man, I know him going back years; he’s one of those gentlemen people call salt of the earth. You can’t keep a good man down.”

Also featuring on Michael’s blog is local funeral director, John Kelly of Kelly’s Funeral Directors.

Funerals have gone through drastic changes over the last several months, with few people permitted to attend masses.

Speaking to the Longford Leader, John Kenny said that it was “heartbreaking” not to be able to provide the service his business is used to offering to grieving families.

But lockdown has brought out the best in the local community, with large numbers of people lining the streets or local communities, observing social distancing, while ensuring they can pay their respects to the bereaved.

“We get great strength from people calling to the house and sympathising,” John told the Longford Leader.

People in Ireland are used to grieving in a particular way and to have that taken from them is utterly heartbreaking, he added.

But, as the country slowly starts to open back up, things are starting to look more positive for local businesses.

And, while there have been many casualties, with businesses closing their doors for good due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, the country as a whole it looking towards a more hopeful future.

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