“It was a dream to have my own home again”

Co-operative Housing Ireland launched its ‘No Place like Home’ campaign last month. As part of the campaign we’ve been inviting Members to share what having a safe and secure home means to them in such uncertain times. One such member is Mary, who lives Castleconnell, Co. Limerick.  

“I think during the first lockdown, most people didn’t know what to expect but we all accepted it as necessary. It was a bit easier then compared to current restrictions in many ways, the weather was better which I found made a huge difference. I like to go for a walk when I can. It’s more difficult this time around to get out and about within the 5km limit as it’s colder, but I try to keep active as I feel it makes a difference.

“I live alone but have three grown-up sons. One lives in Wexford, the other two in the UK. Not being able to see them and my grandchildren has been one of the hardest things for me, but we are all in regular contact. I’m a very tactile person and I feel a lot of people are starved of physical contact, especially those who live alone.

“My son in Wexford has a family of his own and we were all able to see each other about six weeks ago, but before that I hadn’t seen them since February. My two sons in England would usually come to visit me a few times a year and I try to get over to see them. It’s been tough not to see them as regularly. My own mother is 87 and in a nursing home and I haven’t been able to see her in weeks. My dad is no longer with us.

“I’ve been living here since 2017, and one of the greatest things about moving in was being able to have all my family over. When David from CHI handed me over the keys, I felt I had won the lottery but not in the monetary sense. It was a dream to have my own home again. By giving me this home, all my family can sleep under one roof again. I rented a small flat before and I couldn’t have anyone stay over as it was too small. It’s wonderful to be able to host family and everyone can be comfortable.

“My heart and soul have gone into this place. I’ve a real love for sourcing furniture and decorating and I’ve recently taken up canvas painting. I’m working on a piece now as a present for my granddaughter. The dining table here is from my homeplace. I had the seats recovered in new fabric and I must say it looks very well. One of my favourite things is to find hidden gems in our local St Vincent de Paul shop for my new home. It’s a real treasure trove there.

“I think CHI has done wonderful work, especially for those who may have been overlooked or forgotten. There are a lot of older people living in some of the other apartments here. Having a warm, safe secure place to come home to makes a huge difference. CHI doesn’t just give you a home, they make sure you’re okay. If there’s anything I need done here, I pick up the phone and they help in whatever way they can.”