Co Dublin woman Breda Kenny had planned an adventurous trip to Italy with a group of friends to mark her 70th birthday, however Covid-19 restrictions forced the pensioners into 12 weeks of cocooning.
After lockdown laws were eased on Monday, Ms Kenny was reunited with close friend Geraldine Murphy at her Palmerstown home following three months apart.
The pair, who have been friends for more than 30 years, had previously marked Ms Kenny’s birthday with a video call and a glass of wine.
We wanted to hug and I had to pull myself away
“We had planned a big trip on the Orient Express and had bought new clothes and spent months looking forward to it and then everything was suddenly cancelled,” Ms Kenny said.
Ms Murphy, 74, from Santry, said they arranged to spend a few hours together on Monday after the lifting of restrictions meant she could travel within the county.
“We have been very careful and it’s nice to see each other again,” she said.
“Life is beginning to feel normal again but when I met Breda today for the first time I had to hold myself back because everything feels so normal that you can forget it’s not.
“I had to remind myself to distance and be careful. It’s very easy to forget that you have to act differently.
“We wanted to hug and I had to pull myself away.”
Ms Murphy, a member of Active Retirement Ireland, spent most days following live exercise classes on social media with a group of her friends.
Among the numerous struggles of “cocooning” is not being able to meet up with friends for a simple chat, she said.
“It’s all well and good over videos and Zoom but it’s not the same meeting someone in person. That was the biggest thing. The other thing is not being able to get into a shop,” she added.
“I has used Skype and Whatsapp videos before lockdown and then we had a party on one of the apps since so I have made a lot more use of them. They made all the difference.”
Ms Kenny, who has 10 grandchildren, has been busy planting fruit and vegetables in her garden.
“I have become obsessed – I have potatoes, cabbages, carrots and all sorts of things. That kept me busy,” she added.
“I have enjoyed it and will keep it up but I missing going out for dinner and getting to the theatre and I miss the companionship.
“It was great seeing Geraldine as you miss seeing people in person and seeing their facial expressions and having that company.”