June 17th, 2020

Just a stone’s throw from McKenna Park, you’ll find the homestead of the Finnegan’s. Looking out from his kitchen window at 8 o’clock in the evening, Peter says that it’s darkening over and the rain probably isn’t that far away. It’s a warm night though and reminds us that summer isn’t too far away. Yvonne was watching some TV, Anna (16), Sarah (12 going on 16 Peter says) and the twins Peter and Grace (10) were pottering about in their rooms upstairs. To get himself settled down for our lockdown chat, Peter has poured himself a glass of Rosé ‘tea’ if you’d believe that and then off we started into the standard questions.

Peter, what was the biggest challenge in the initial phase of lockdown and how have you managed to adjust to this?

“The main thing was having the kids home when it shouldn’t normally be the case. I’ve been classed as a key worker due to keeping the business running so that the food chain can benefit from haulage and palleting, so Yvonne had to step in and run the house on a daily basis. So that was home schooling, lunches and dinners.”

The Finnegan family take time out for a selfie

“For the first few weeks I guess they were all on edge with their new normal and at times you’d have thought a few of them were going to go stir crazy but then we eventually got into the rhythm of it.”

What would you say that you missed the most during lockdown?

“Family and friends for sure. We’re not the pub type these days so socialising with our families and friends is our thing. The closest piece of that came on a Thursday night when we went outside to clap for the NHS. Personally, I’m a huge concertgoer and I’ve got upwards of maybe 15 or 18 events in the pipeline.  Many of these have been postponed; some might get cancelled, who knows. I’ll miss them for sure.”

What are you both looking forward to as we contemplate the easing of lockdown?

“Getting out to a restaurant, coffee shop, say down to the Brig for instance. Concerts for me and for Yvonne and myself, getting to a few family parties and the like. Concerts, did I mention concerts?”

A different kind of lockdown for Peter

“We should have been looking forward to a holiday this year but like a lot of folks, that’s likely gonna be knocked on the head. It could be the year for a stay-cation! I’m also looking forward to seeing my mate Terry.”

What activities have you managed to do that you probably wouldn’t have done without being in lockdown?

“Well firstly, we seen this as an opportunity to hit the big reset button. We’ve enjoyed the new home experience and joked around saying ‘I wonder who’s going to win the tidiest garden competition’. We got a lot of walking in to be honest. We’d go regularly around the diamond and one time we bumped into Paula Young who said that she has never seen so many people out walking. Then there were opportunities to do some extra cooking and to keep the kids from getting bored, we handed out extra chores, like load this and empty that. Just like in the olden days!”

How have the kids adapted to home schooling?

“Home schooling, no they didn’t like it. That’s not a reflection on Yvonne, merely that they’d prefer the classroom situation and getting out at break time with their friends.”

Anna, back right, like a lot of Ballycran year 12s had just a little bit of home schooling but now awaits the outcome of predicted grading

What have the kids said they’ve missed the most during lockdown?

“Obviously their friends, I guess a bit of the normal routine, getting up to the Park and using the new facility.”

The new facility, high on the list for a lot of people as one of the things missed the most

What did they say they are looking forward to the most after lockdown?

“Maybe running the previous question backwards a bit, I’d say getting up to McKenna, seeing their friends but Sarah is the glam lady of the house and has broached the topic of going shopping. I think we might have to manage the expectation for this one.” [then laughs a little]

Sarah is looking forward to the re-opening of the Park

“Their aunt June has a 50th Birthday party coming up and they are looking forward to that for sure. That’ll be out in Portaferry and fingers crossed for a dry night in the garden.”

Finally Peter, did the kids have a favourite part of being in lockdown?

“Yes, definitely, no early rises and no uniforms. Peter got to play his guitar for a large part of the day, there was a fair bit of Tik Tok going on and playing with their gadgets.”

Peter lining out for Ballycran up at Eddie Irvine’s

“The bigger ones enjoyed cycling, a spell of running and Grace cleaned the house from top to bottom, that’s her thing.”

In between spells of lockdown cleaning, Grace enjoys practicing some stick skills

“For Yvonne and myself, we’d heard so much about the ’40 steps’ so it was an opportunity to try that out. That’s out the Tuber road and through a field ending up at Nuns Quarter. Recommended for sure.”

Thanks to the Finnegan family for sharing their lockdown experience with us.