BIRTHDAY WITH A DIFFERENCE: Helen McCarthy celebrated her 70th birthday in ‘social distance’ style with her family, friends and neighbours in Countess Grove, Killarney on Sunday. Picture: Eamonn Keogh

By Michelle Crean

Countess Grove resident Helen McCarthy is this week still elated by a birthday surprise organised by her neighbours.

The lockdown meant that she’d have no party or even a family meal to mark turning 70 – however, her neighbours had other ideas and instead surprised her on Sunday with a cake, balloon and even organised their other neighbour, photographer Eamonn Keogh, to take a photo ‘social distance’ style!

“They’re the best neighbours ever,” Helen told the Killarney Advertiser. “It was my COVID-19 birthday.”

She explained that the neighbours were cocooning for the last few months and every day at 12pm meet up for a natter.

“I’ve lived here for 47 years, since 1973. Philip Brady who is on the residents committee organised it and surprised me.”

Helen’s daughter Lisa, who works as a frontline nurse in the UK, had originally planned to come home for the May 3 birthday until the outbreak of the virus.

Instead she organised a Zoom call between family members, including Helen’s brother David and his family in Kilcummin, where Helen is originally from, her brother John and his family in Artigallivan, and her nephew Sean Fleming from Killarney who is now living in Australia. She also celebrated at home with her husband Dermot and sons Blaine, Andrew and Padraig.

“Friends sent cards and gifts. I thought I’d have no birthday over COVID-19 but it turned out to the best birthday ever.”