On Clare Island is Padraig O’Malley's crocery and post office and what is also a wonderfully balmy, sunny day – with clear blue sky above and 7km of turquoise sea separating the island from the Mayo mainland.
“It’s not getting to me,” he says of the lockdown. “My routine hasn’t changed, but I have to be careful because I’m getting stuff from the mainland. If I got [the virus] I’d have to close, and that’d affect the island.”
He is speaking by telephone from the shop, the island’s only one. Each day he takes orders over the phone, and delivers them around the island, often to over-70s neighbours living on their own.
The lockdown, which by all accounts is being well observed on the west coast island, as well as the neighbouring island of Inisturk, means the ferry from Roonagh pier near Louisburgh is bringing no one out who doesn’t live there – only food or other necessary supplies.
With the Covid-19 outbreak the islands are easier to defend by simply shutting down access, but full-time residents are also more vulnerable should the virus break through.
“If it got to Clare Island it’d sweep around something phenomenal,” says Alan O’Grady, skipper of the Sea Sprinter, one of two ferries (the other is Clew Bay Queen) his family runs between Clare Island pier and Roonagh.
“That’s the thing about an island: it’s easy to keep something out, but once it gets in you’re in trouble. Big trouble. And an island is almost like a family (where) everybody knows everybody else intimately.”
More on this story reports The Irish Times.