Happy New Year

Friday 18th December 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, the RDCA would like to express a profound sense of gratitude for all the hard work and community spirit that has characterised Rathlin’s response to the Covid-19 crisis that has so dominated the year, as many of us experienced family separation, pain, and tensions over interpretations and grey areas of constantly evolving guidelines and restrictions.

The island community should also take pride in its characteristic coming together in the face of a challenging time. So many people stepped up to help protect Rathlin and to help keep some semblance of normality. We know that the coming year will have its own challenges, but we can face into it in the knowledge that the community here is well equipped to meet them.

The Committee gave a lot of time and energy trying to navigate a difficult pathway through decisions and responsibilities in the lockdown matters, even as frustrations and communications were demanding.

The ferry staff and crew had to deal with some extraordinary conditions, and with the weight of responsibility in keeping themselves and everyone else safe from the virus, as the contact point with the mainland, working diligently with supermarket delivery drivers and the small businesses in Ballycastle who helped keep the island fed and watered.

The island has been so well served by our nurses, carers and floating support workers who have gone the extra mile to ensure an excellent level of care and attention for those in our community who need it most.

The shop, post office, McCuaig’s bar and Breakwater Studio have all consistently provided a very valuable service, as have the council staff on the island, providing an essential bin service during the complete lockdown, as well as the bin lorry crews who have come over when conditions allowed. The volunteers of the Coastguard and Fire Service have continued their availability and service, and the staff of St Mary’s Primary School helped preserve an atmosphere of normality during the pandemic for the island’s kids.

There have also been many bright spots with the sharing of fantastic photographs and video of the island’s ever stunning landscape and wildlife, and in recent weeks we have had a real community effort producing a diverse and high quality CD, and also a revised reissue of Tommy Cecil’s classic “Harsh Winds of Rathlin”, and Nicky Sebastian’s just published “Rathlin Island Cemetery”.

Meanwhile, there are several exciting strands of activity continuing at a pace despite the ongoing conditions, including major commitments like the East Lighthouse, hydrogen green energy, and the rats, ferrets and geese projects, all with very significant support from Rathlin’s many friends in government departments and agencies and elsewhere. We also hope 2021 will see new funding for musical projects and more oral history helping tell the story of the island community and its lighthouses.

So, all in all we look back on 2020 with mixed feelings and look forward to the New Year in hope and not without confidence, as we wish everyone a happy and healthy 2021.

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