It’s late 2021, and for many of us lucky ones, it’s hard to summon how it felt at the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March 2020, when it felt like all the lights had gone out in Ireland, and indeed the world. We may even have some fond memories of family coming closer together in the enforced captivity, attempts at the creating the perfect sourdough or gnocchi or trying to decipher exactly what to do with a slimy scoby to turn it into a fizzy kombucha.
But there in the background, everyday heroes were there on the front line, putting their lives on the line daily to try to save lives as the virus rampaged like a tsunami throughout the world. This book was originally conceived by writer Andrew William Tinney as a collection of writings put together to raise funds for these unsung heroes of the HSE and the NHS across the island of Ireland, ‘who prepared for the worst while we scrambled over pasta and milk’. We were aware of these workers, of course – people clapped outside their houses at designated times; children’s drawings expressing their thanks bloomed in street-facing windows. But Andrew wanted to provide practical help.
West Cork-based publisher Niamh Cooper, who contributed some fictional diary entries – so vivid I thought they were real – of lockdown hell to the collection, went on to produce a lush, full-colour hardback version of the original book. This is a beautifully produced work, filled with original photos, quotes, and bespoke pieces from writers all over the island of Ireland. There are children’s stories, poems, and dramatic monologues, all linked in some way to the devastating, smothering effects of lockdown and fear engendered by COVID. Short biographies and portraits lead into each piece of work, telling us about the thirteen contributors and making their works seem more personal.
I was particularly struck by Robert McDermott’s contribution, ‘The Next Day’, an account of a day in the life of a paramedic in Covid times that was so visceral and moving, I thought that he was writing about his own job.
This book, endorsed by Jeremy Irons and Louise O’Neill, would make a perfect present –especially for a relative who is living abroad and missing home – a time capsule to look back on in years to come and remember the days when our world ground to a halt.
You can give the gift of a book to a friend, a loved one, or a frontline worker. Just follow the Buy links on www.lightsonthehorizon.com, go to any of the bookshops that stock the charity book (all listed on the website), or go to business partner www.craftersofireland.com where you can also purchase a copy.
(c) Susan McKeever
Give a gift that’s a little bit different — and give something back this Christmas! Charity book ‘Lights on the Horizon’ was created during lockdown, by over 20 writers, photographers and publishing professionals, on the island of Ireland. All proceeds go to frontline workers. It’s a beautiful hardcover coffee table book, and it’s a limited edition. An ideal Christmas gift for a loved one, a friend, a healthcare worker, or someone who’s been there for you these past 18 months. It also is an ideal way to recognise your staff and co-workers. Find out more on www.lightsonthehorizon.com.