There is “huge excitement” in nursing homes across the country as many residents welcome back visitors for the first time since before Christmas.
Since yesterday, residents can welcome two visitors a week indoors.
The new rules apply to nursing homes where 80% of residents and staff are fully vaccinated.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning Newstalk reporter Barry Whyte met with residents and staff at Bethany House Nursing Home in County Westmeath.
Martina O’Dowd told Barry she was visiting her 94-year-old aunt Beryl Gaye for the first time since Christmas.
“She is like a second mother to me,” she said. “Today is such an emotional day.
“I haven’t seen her since before Christmas. Beryl always would have been out to us for Christmas. This was her first Christmas without my husband and I and our adult children who absolutely adore her.
“I am actually feeling very, very emotional to walk in those front doors today. It is surreal; it is almost like, ‘is this really happening?’
“For me today looking at Beryl sitting in the chair with the smile on her face looking so happy, it has been fantastic.”
Beryl said she was ‘delighted’ her niece could get in to see her.
“I nearly got sick with amazement when they told me she was coming in,” she said. “They said, ‘Mar is coming in,’ but I thought they meant to the window.
“They said, ‘no she is coming in here.’ Sure, I nearly fell down in the chair.”
Bit of a chat
Meanwhile, 96-year-old Moss Fagan said he can’t wait to see his daughters in person.
“My daughter Sinéad was here, well she came to the window, and my other daughter came from Galway to the window as well,” he said.
“That is a miserable way though isn’t it?
“It will be great now to get rid of that. Even to get two hours or an hour or whatever it is. Even to get that.
“The fact that they can come in sitting there like you or me now and having a chat; it is a different story altogether and it is great to get a little bit of attention now isn’t it?”
William McCormack said he was visiting his mother Olive McCormack, who had her 100th birthday two weeks ago.
“It is a great achievement,” he said. “My mother had only hard work and trouble all her life so to reach 100 is brilliant.
“As you know, this virus thing is never-ending and you just didn’t know where you were going from one week to the next.
“With the numbers starting to rise again, I wondered would the visit be cancelled. The last time the visits were cancelled it was just overnight. It was the Monday before Christmas day and the visits were cancelled, that was it.
“So, times are very precious and I am booked in again for Saturday afternoon.”
You can listen back to Barry’s full report here:
Main image from left to right: Josephine Doyle, Moss Fagan with Leo the dog, Beryl Gaye and Olive McCormack