Cocooners emerge: ‘After 63 days in, I was so happy to be out’

Readers share where they went on their first trips out of the house in six weeks or more

As the recommendation advising the over-70s and other vulnerable people to “cocoon” at home was adjusted to allow for socially distanced outings on Tuesday, we asked affected readers to tell us what they did first, and how they had been coping with cocooning . Here’s a selection of the stories we received.

Brian O’Connell: ‘We had a fine healthy grandchild two weeks ago in Dublin’

My wife and I emerged this morning from our cocoon in Galway. We are both 73. Our only time outside the garden perimeter prior to today was to put out the bins. We parked off the prom and went for a quick swim in the Crab Pool. We had been all year round daily dippers prior to the virus. It’s a great way to start the day. A good few people were about, although it was before 8am. It was funny, we felt strange and treated others almost as aliens, struggling to keep our distance. Pam was glad to return to the car. We have been very lucky and kept very busy painting - both walls and canvases - and doing online courses (Pam does Duolingo Irish and How to Research Online from Future Learn, I’m doing one on song writing with the same site; the courses are very good and easy to follow). We both garden as well, some heavy donkey work and chainsawing some stored logs; jobs that should have been done long ago. There is great satisfaction in seeing the improvements. We had a fine healthy grandchild two weeks ago in Dublin. All are doing well and we are dying to see baby Ethan. We have Zoom meetings with golfing buddies and BEO our band members. All in all, we are very lucky!

Brian Allen: ‘Our daily exercise routine was laps of the underground carpark’

Freedom, yippee! Allowed out today, my wife and I headed straight for the sea. It was fantastic. As two very fit and healthy 70-year-olds, today was a huge change in our lives. Spring tides waves splashing on shore, the smell of the sea, blues skies, what a difference from our walks during cocooning. Our daily exercise routine was laps of the underground carpark in our apartment block. My wife would have spent many mornings looking out the window wishing for her walk. However, we were happy to do our part and stay in. Thank God for Joe Wicks, Scrabble, Zoom with family and friends, new cooking ideas and all the rubbish cleared out of the apartment. But most of all, we are healthy. Soon we can hug our grandchildren and family again.

Brona Cullen: ‘My dog got as excited as me when I picked up her lead’

I am over 70 with emphysema and have been cocooning. I was delighted to be able to get back to walking my dog today. My son was doing that for me, but she was reluctant to go with him and leave me (I rescued her last year and she is very loyal to me). She got as excited as me when I picked up her lead to go. I wore a mask of course, and found it helped to protect me from the pollen that causes my hayfever too. I walked the streets that looked less used, an avoided parks. The city streets looked beautiful.


Brian Dermody: ‘We have ignored the restrictions from the start’

My wife and I are over 70 and we have both ignored the restrictions from the start. We are fortunate that in five minutes' walk we are in the country. I feel sorry for my 81-year-old cousin in Ranelagh who was afraid to go outside the door in case she was reported. There was never any logic to cocooning. I agree with social distancing, but not with keeping older people indoors.

Colum: ‘I’m in my mid 30s with an auto-immune disease’

I went for my first walk in weeks today. I’m in my mid 30s with an auto-immune disease cocooning with my family. I can work from home, I have company and a back garden, so in in truth I’m lucky. The only problem is being ignored. A lot of cocooning coverage and support has focused on over-70s. I also hate that my wife and child must cocoon. I’m young and healthy, so the fact I’m considered vulnerable is tough.

Pearse Barnett: ‘I am petrified to go out’

You might think that there would be a rush for the door and a gallop down the streets now that we are free. But I am petrified to go out. Nothing has changed, the virus is still there, and I am one of the most vulnerable, over-70 and with underlying conditions. I have no face mask that all the other European citizens seem to be wearing when they got free. If we are two to three weeks behind some of the other countries, and the Government say we are learning from them, then where are the masks? So I am still cocooning. The Government says they are still looking at research, but is it not better to be safe than sorry?

Val Dennison: ‘I have felt angry and discriminated against’

I have mainly stayed at home, principally because I am busy with projects to fulfill. I have, however, felt angry and discriminated against on an ageist basis. Being lectured to by people who have no understanding of the intelligence and experience of people in my age group is insulting. Apparently we are considered vulnerable, as are obese people, people with serious underlying health issues and in fact, the over 50s demograph. Let the Guards stop and ask the weight of a middle aged person of heavy proportions and then send them home, and see Twitter explode in fury. This cocooning idiocy is completely discriminatory, doomed to failure if imposed further. This “boomer” generation has nursed its children and grandchildren through mumps, measles, colds, flu and much else. Give us some credit please, and stop this shameful and insulting nanny/police state’ behaviour. For those who say “go out but don’t expect hospital treatment when you fall ill with the virus”, I say “Will you say the same to an obese younger person?” No? I thought not.

Kelly Fogarty: ‘I missed the sea’

There is no footpath outside my house, so I drove to one and walked to the beach. After 63 days in, I was so happy to be out, with people calling hello across a social distance. I missed the sea.

Patrick Cooney: ‘Not much is going to change for me until there is a vaccine’

Cycled to Blackrock today, really enjoyed it as I have been using an exercise bicycle so far. Not much is going to change for me until there is a vaccine. I have a lovely home and large back garden. I have been sticking rigidly by the rules.

Marie Curran: 'I'm now tucked safely back within the bounds of my home and garden'

On March 9th I tentatively shopped within my locality for essentials. Since that Monday and Friday last, I left my home once to drop vegetables to a neighbours' door. I'm not over 70. I'm a 39-year-old living with ME, an illness that wipes me at the best of times. After a routine GP visit on Friday, I'm now tucked safely back within the bounds of my home and garden, with my next outing set for 2021 when another GP appointment is due. Thankfully my husband does the weekly food shop, so I'm fed, watered and sheltered. I also discovered I can cut my own hair, a secret talent I never knew. For me it's all about risk assessment. Why risk getting sick for something I don't need? To those out and about, I wish them safe travels and hope they're conscious of others at all times as they respect and implement all of the rules.

Terri Jones: ‘I didn’t find it too bad while cocooning’

Our first outing since cocooning (I hate that word) was to go down onto the beach. It was really lovely to get out and about again. The sea was a little bit rough today, but it was good to see and hear the ocean. Most people respected social distancing. You still get the ones who keep barging along and won’t move; it’s as if the line they are walking is exclusively for them. It’s funny how one gets used to a way of life. I have to say I didn’t find it too bad while cocooning. It was a bit annoying to see some over 70s over the last few weeks going on with life as usual. Sometimes you wondered why some were bothering to do what they were asked, and some not. I did say hello and speak to people, but at the required distance. One needs to be able to have little chats. It is wonderful to be out and about again.

Anonymous: ‘There is a menace in the air around us’

It was a very strange emergence from my cocoon. The houses where I knew who lived there, before this lockdown, had different cars outside. Others, whose occupants I knew to speak to and greet, had “Sold” signs. The small area where I live is beautiful to look at, trees, flowers and sunshine this morning, and yet, there is a menace in the air around us. Or is it just me, on my first walk outside for so long? I will go on another walk and see if it feels the same.

Marie O’Neill: ‘I’m off for a decent walk’

Oh it’s not over folks! Remember you are still supposed to stay home, and if you are 70+ and out for exercise, you are supposed to avoid humans... and make it a short walk. I agree we should stay home as much as possible, but the condescension of saying “a short walk” to an active adult is beyond belief. My shopping has arrived, the sun is out, so I’m off for a decent walk.

Anonymous: ‘I started going for walks when there was nobody around’

I stared cocooning two weeks before it became a thing. After a week or two, I started going for walks along the seafront in the evenings when there was almost nobody around. When I did see anyone I walked in the middle of the car-free road to keep social distancing. The fresh air revived me beautifully. I continued my evening walks and nature was everywhere I looked. The sea, seagulls, birds tweeting, dogs barking in gardens, the flowers and blossom trees in the gardens in all their spring glory.

Pauline Walsh: ‘Nature has a way of soothing the soul’

May 5th, 2020, the day I’m free to walk past my gate again, out into the world of other people. During the weeks of cocooning I couldn’t walk in a park or on a beach, but I’m just so glad that it was at this beautiful time of year that this isolation was happening. Nature has a way of soothing the soul. When we began recoiling from Covid-19, everything was still in winter mode, stark and bare, but then, slowly but surely, it began to evolve into spring. Since cocooning, I have had time to linger and watch a different scenario developing before my eyes every day, as our garden slowly transforms from bareness into a verdant blanket of green. Sometimes when I’m up with the lark on these lovely bright mornings, and everything is so peaceful, the joy of nature transcends the awfulness of the time we are going through. I am reminded of Padraic Pearse’s poem when he said, “Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy”, as he recalled the beauty in the everyday things of nature.

The crocuses were the first brave little warriors I noticed making an entry through the hard earth, splashing the garden with yellow and purple. Then the daffodils danced in the still chilly wind. The plum tree at the bottom of the garden took over with thick clusters of pink blossoms, evolving into pale green buds and leaves. Then it was the turn of the cherry tree, with big toss-balls of blossoms. I watched the buds on the sycamore tree outside the kitchen window make a tentative appearance, before swelling and bursting forth almost like they were in a slow-motion video.

Cocked on my high stool at the kitchen window, I watch the birds having their breakfast in the garden. There are three young robins, not quite red-breasted yet, hopping here and there, pecking at the grass. I also notice the magpie family - mother and three half grown-up chicks who compete to grab a morsel from her beak. They’re learning to be independent, but are not quite there yet; I saw one fall into a container of water recently while balancing on the rim for a drink. It scrambled out and shook itself off. A young thrush, a blackbird and a couple of starlings are frequent visitors too, catching the early worms, while a gull which we have befriended pecks at the window for his breakfast. I hope he regurgitates some of it for his missus; she has disappeared off the scene recently and presumably is cocooning on her nest.

“And then my heart hath told me: These will pass, Will pass and change, will die and be no more, And I have gone upon my way. Sorrowful.”

As Padraig Pearse felt the sorrow of having to leave this beauty of the world behind, so too do we feel the universal sadness for all those who are being taken away by this terrible epidemic as we listen to the bare death-toll read out each day. Coronavirus will pass, will die and be no more, and hopefully we will go upon our way with a renewed appreciation of life, freedom and the great human compassion shown by so many in this global horror. This earth's beauty in the changing seasons will never pass away.