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Eleanor honoured as unsung hero

Wednesday, 22nd July, 2020 4:43pm

Meet Eleanor, Macroom’s musical unsung hero who found a way to ‘visit’ her friend in a local nursing home during the Covid-19 restrictions.

“It’s like I got in there without being actually present,” said Eleanor Lucey as she spoke to the Cork Independent about sending a video performance of herself playing the guitar into her friend Gay in Cahereen Nursing Home in Codrum, Macroom.

She explained: “I’ve been visiting Gay for the past four years and would sit in the day room with the other residents. Every week a local band, The Kellehers, come in and they play for them for about an hour and half. I could see that patients, who were half asleep when you get there, are full of life tapping their feet along with the music when the band are playing. I could see the connection that the music was making with them.

“My two children learned the guitar growing up. They have left the nest now so the guitar was just sitting there and I always had the idea of learning something new and was inspired by the Kelleher band, so about two years ago I asked Colin (Kelleher) if he would give me guitar lessons.”

After she learned to play some chords, Eleanor would visit Gay and perform for her in person. However, when the Covid-19 restrictions came in, it meant that Eleanor couldn’t do that anymore so she put on her thinking cap and found a way to stay in touch and keep Gay’s spirits up by recording her playing some of her favourite songs on the guitar.

“With the help of staff in there, especially Kelly, Gay was able to look at the videos. She loves Imelda May’s ‘I wish I Had Someone to Love Me’ and I’ve also played ‘Grace’ by Jim McCann, ‘The Town I Loved So Well’ by Phil Coulter and then I’d liven it up and perform more upbeat songs too like Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ and Mary Black’s ‘Past the Point of Rescue’. I think the next one I’ll learn is ‘Dreams’ by The Cranberries.”

She added: “I really enjoy doing it and it is such a small thing to do in comparison to what other people on the frontline were doing during the pandemic. It was a way of keeping connected with Gay as I didn’t want her to feel lonely.”

Mace recently ran a community initiative inviting customers and the general public to nominate someone who had gone the extra mile in their local community during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Eleanor’s daughter Maria nominated her for going above and beyond for her friend Gay and Eleanor was then awarded an Unsung Hero Award by Mace.

Maria, when nominating her mother said: “As Eleanor's daughter it has been heart-warming and inspiring to see the effort my mother has gone to as a measure to continue to support her friend in the nursing home.

“Every week Eleanor would diligently practice a new song. At the end of the week, she would get all dressed up in her best attire and make a little recording studio in our living room, going to extreme efforts to make these videos as enjoyable as possible for Gay. I know how this simple act of kindness has made such a difference to her friend Gay.”

As well as receiving a voucher from Mace for her good deed, Eleanor and her fellow Unsung Heroes were treated to a special video call from Mace Ambassador, Ireland and Lions rugby player Johnny Sexton.

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