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County Clare 2020: A Day in My Life
Creative Writing Competition for children and teenagers
Highly Commended 13 to 15 category

Clare 2020, A Day in My Life
by Eva Mullen

While waiting here in Shannon airport for my lift home to Corofin, County Clare I’m beyond grateful to be so close to home.

I flew to Peru two weeks ago to pursue my dream of visiting The Lost City of the Incas ‘Machu Picchu’. It had always been a dream of mine to visit the beautiful citadel. History has always been my favourite subject and when I learned about the Incas in class their culture fascinated me. When I saw the ancient ruins in their majestic setting of rugged mountains, its beauty cast a spell on me.

Unfortunately, my lifelong dream went from magic to tragic in an instant. The last twenty four hours have been a whirlwind rollercoaster journey of an adventurous day in my life.

The government of Peru declared a national lockdown because of the rapid spread of the pandemic coronavirus. My trip finished abruptly and I was saddened by the fact that it ended incomplete. I packed my belongings in a hurry because I had a journey by bus to get to the Peruvian capital Lima, where an Irish commissioned flight awaited. I packed an alpaca scarf in a blazing orange colour and a chilli hat as a souvenir and some citrus fruit for the lengthy journey ahead.

The bus journey took a laborious 10 hours. The roads were occupied with soldiers and police officers. They held large guns, which frightened me. We were stopped several times. Officers came aboard and checked documents and paperwork.

Our bus reached a small military airport on the outskirts of Lima the following morning. I stepped off the coach with a sigh of relief. There was a huge crowd of anxious passengers, yet there was a sense of jubilation and trepidation amongst us. We boarded the special commissioned aircraft. As the plane departed my troubles left me and I thought of the green isle of Éire and the fields of Athenry.

As I wait here in the arrivals lounge in Shannon airport after my flight home to my beloved County Clare, I think of the next fortnight in self-isolation before being reunited with my family. Despite thoughts of loneliness, I realise how blessed I am to have made it half way around the globe and to be one last stop from my home in the banner County. The lyrics of the song by Ralph McTell “It’s a long way from Clare to Here” resonates with me as I think about the journey I made from Peru to Shannon in a day of my life I will never forget.

In the words of philosopher Voltaire “History never repeats itself, man always does”, I wonder what lessons we may learn from this time in history. The patriots of 1916 have resurrected in figures on the medical frontline serving their country and protecting and saving the victims from this coronavirus.

I think about the beauty of the rugged mountains of “Machu Picchu” and whether I will ever return. Will this “Lost City of the Incas” become lost again to thousands of visitors like me who may never experience the real beauty of this distant place? Closer to home at the Cliffs of Moher I wonder how soon it will be before tourists return to take in the breath-taking beauty and of the nearby beautiful Burren and I almost want to cry.

A sudden call to conveyor belt “19” alerting all passengers in Shannon airport to collect luggage made me reflect on the call to execution of Joseph Plunkett, who wrote to Grace Gifford in Kilmainham gaol in 1916. Like those patriots I believe there is hope and solidarity after covid “19”.

Robert Emmet’s famous words in Kilmainham are noteworthy “When my country takes her place among the nations of the Earth then and not till then, let my epitaph be written.”

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