THERE is a feeling that the country has the Covid-19 tiger by the tail already but Marty Morrissey is calling on everyone to keep their guard up now, to avoid squandering a very good response to the crisis.
“I think we need to be very careful. On my travels in the last couple of days I’ve seen lots of young people gathering at corners. I’d be worried. Whatever chance we have, we really need to be careful coming out of lockdown.
“I think there’s a danger we’ll say ‘ah we’re grand now’ and we’re not. In most countries, there’s been a second wave and the second wave is often worse. So, I would urge people to really abide by the rules,” he told The Clare Champion on Monday.
“It’s easy to forget a lot of people have died from this and a lot of people are sick from it. I think it needs to be re-emphasised, I’d be worried about the next phase, the next five or six weeks are almost more important than the first phase. Having done so well, in comparison to the UK and America, it’d be desperate to mess it up now,” the RTÉ personality added.
He has been back in Quilty with his mother for the most part of the lockdown, although his job still necessitates a certain amount of travel. “As GAA correspondent for RTE I’ve been up and down to Limerick, Cork and Dublin, Dublin primarily, covering events that are happening in the GAA world. I might stay up there for a couple of days to make sure that things are ok there and come back down. Primarily, I’m operating from here.”
Famously, Marty has been hosting a chat show from his own shed and he explained how it has come to be. “What happened was Jacqui Hurley rang me and said she needed me to do something on the news. I said I’m back home in Clare, I can’t get into Galway or Limerick, I can’t get anywhere at this stage. She said would you do it on your phone, I said I’d try it, even though I wouldn’t be very good at it. It was actually crap but at least people could see I did my bit.
“Then when I looked at Twitter about two hours later, people were saying ‘is Marty in the same shed as Claire Byrne’ and the craic started. I thought could I do a programme from here? Could I help the frontline workers by helping to distract people for half an hour?
“I was going to do it on Instagram Live and then it grew legs. I contacted some people on RTÉ just to get permission and they said you should do it on the Player!”
It’s quite unique for a chat show to be beamed out from Quilty and he is very pleased with the reception it has won. “It’s been overwhelmingly positive, it’s a bit of fun.”
Very quickly after the country went into lockdown Marty decided to come back home. “I went out for a walk and I said ‘I’m going to have to go to Clare’. Dublin is so busy and so packed. I empathise and sympathise with all the people who have lost loved ones through this.
“We’ve been lucky in Clare, there haven’t been that many, so I consider myself lucky being where I’m from. In many ways it’s a chance to reset. “I’ve been busy up to now but I expect June and July to be quiet and it’s only dawning on me how much I’m going to miss the championship.”
He was supposed to be in New York a couple of weeks ago for the first round of the Connacht Football Championship but, of course, that was scrapped and now Marty finds himself at a loose end every weekend.
While some might like the break, one senses he really misses the excitement of the championship. “There’s the whole buzz of going to a match, you look forward to it, prepare for it and now that’s gone. It’s the meeting of people, not alone my own crowd here in Clare, but people from Kilkenny to Donegal, but it’s gone.”
The summer of 2020 is set to be a new experience for the popular commentator. “It’s so strange not to be going to Pairc Ui Chaoimh or Croke Park or Clones so I find Sunday’s very long. Do you know what I mean? Sunday’s seem very strange not doing matches, because it’s been my life for years and years.”
On Sunday mornings now, he takes his mother out for a spin as the reception for mass is better on the car radio than it would be at home and a programme of work has been arranged for him to while away the summer. “If it is quiet in June and July there’s plenty of painting to be done at home. I didn’t make up a list but I got a list of things to be done!” Marty laughs.