‘Cloud has been lifted’, says grandmother reunited with grandchildren

After months of Zoom calls, Dublin grandparents enjoy hugs from their loved ones

Camilla (left) and Brendan O’Brien with their grandchildren Chloe (7) and Jessica (4). Photograph: Tom Honan

Camilla (left) and Brendan O’Brien with their grandchildren Chloe (7) and Jessica (4). Photograph: Tom Honan


Grandmother Camilla O’Brien said it felt like “a cloud had been lifted” as she was able to hug her grandchildren Chloe (7) and Jessica (4) for the first time in over a year on Monday.

Ms O’Brien (72) and her husband Brendan (78) are both fully vaccinated and got to enjoy hugs and kisses from two of their 12 grandchildren at Sandymount Green in south Dublin.

A maximum of three households, or up to six people from individual households, can now meet outdoors, including in private gardens, as a number of Covid-19 restrictions were eased on Monday.

Ms O’Brien said she and her husband, who are from Sandymount, had been using Zoom to interact with their grandchildren or meeting them in the park at a distance.

“Today was the first day we got hugs and kisses, it was different today. I think the kids were thrilled, you could see it in their faces. The way they ran to us and said ‘granny, grandad!’,” Ms O’Brien said.

“They’re so used to hearing ‘you can’t go here or you can’t go there because of the virus’, they know that there is something in the air... they’re very aware of it and the restrictions. Their other grandparents live in the UK unfortunately so they haven’t seen them for a long time.

“Like everybody, we all started with Zoom group meetings and Zoom quizzes but mostly phone calls... some of the older grandkids might stand at the gate and say hi’.

“The Zooms are a bit unreal because the younger kids don’t really understand them so it’s hard really to get a grasp on that.”

Ms O’Brien said all of her grandchildren are located in Dublin except for her 2½-year-old grandson, who is in the UK and whom she hasn’t seen since late 2019.

Out and about

“We’re lucky in that we have the park or the beach or we can go up to walk to UCD [University College Dublin], so we’ve been able to get out and about but it gets very confined after a while. You’re thinking where can I go now that’s somewhere different or who can you see, somebody different to talk to,” she said.

“We’re both fully vaccinated now so it makes you feel a bit more at ease about going to see somebody . You feel a bit more free and definitely more safe going out.”

Ms O’Brien said “it feels like we all have a bit more freedom” with the easing of a number of restrictions and that she was looking forward to her hairdressers’ appointment on Wednesday.

“I’ve no great urge to go into the shops because I couldn’t cope with a surge of people in Penney’s or Arnotts. I can pass on that for the moment... I’ve no great urge to go into Grafton Street or Henry Street right now but when things settle down a little bit I will definitely look forward to that,” Ms O’Brien added.

“I’m more looking forward to getting into the library to get some books or visit a gallery. Also, my own children are in the 40 to 50 age bracket so they should be getting vaccinated soon and that will ease things up again and hopefully allow for some indoor visits in the future.”