LONDON: Muckross man John F O’Mahony, with his wife Michelle and twins Ronan and Aoife. Photo: Ginger Nut With A Camera
By Sean Moriarty
It was a Christmas like no other for so many Killarney families. It was even more difficult for those living abroad and unable to return to Kerry for the festive season but sacrifices had to be made to protect the health of those both at home and abroad.
One London-based Muckross family, John. F O’Mahony and his wife Michelle, who have newborn twins Ronan and Aoife, explained their decision-making process to the Killarney Advertiser.
It is exactly one year since they set foot on Kerry soil and it could be at least another six months – maybe more – before they do so again.
Usually they would make it home to Killarney “at least half a dozen times a year”, but their annual spring break was ended by the first national lockdowns on each side of the Irish Sea.
Although things opened up slightly through the summer months, Michelle was in the late stages of her pregnancy and unable to travel. John did not want to leave her alone for any extended period at this time.
Instead they turned their attention to a possible Christmas trip. The twins were born on October 24 and by Christmas they should have been able for the challenges of a flight or a ferry crossing.
That is until the health situation deteriorated again in both countries.
“The decision was made for us once the number of cases picked up,” John told the Killarney Advertiser.
“At the time things were a lot worse here [in the UK] than there, it was a difficult decision to accept at the time but we had to do the sensible thing. We did not want to be the people who landed into the country and caused a spike in cases.”
John’s father Brendan, who lives in the Muckross area, has yet to meet his two latest grandchildren although technology like Zoom and WhatsApp keeps the two sides of the family in touch.
There was an additional difficulty for John, who is 10 years in London, and his son Aaron Morris.
“It was the first time since I came here that I could not get home in May for Aaron’s birthday, and he is of the age where he could get over to us a few times a year,” added John. “We are not looking for sympathy. This is just an example of the reality for many people in 2020 and 2021. We are staying put in London until it’s safer to travel, being part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.”