Cordelia and Ian along with baby Malachy at home in Bellaghy.
Last year Cordelia McKinley was on the balcony of her flat in Treviso, with Italy reeling from a ferocious first Covid wave. She tells Liam Tunney she has seen a marked difference in how the virus has been tackled within both jurisdictions.
With a 12-week-old son to keep her busy, Cordelia McKinley is grateful for home comforts after living through the opening salvo of the pandemic in northern Italy.
“Being pregnant, and with the situation in Italy, we didn't want to get caught out there on our own with a newborn and not having any help,” she told the County Derry Post.
“I was so jealous, because my siblings had all decided to come back and were having a great time because the weather at home was amazing.
“By the time I got home I was already 18 weeks pregnant. It's the first grandchild, so it's nice to have the excitement of being around family for that.”
The McKinley family.
Cordelia and her husband Ian, who has represented the Italian rugby team on nine occasions, spent two weeks in quarantine after returning home, but that wasn't the most stressful part.
“The most stressful thing for me was sending our dog with a courier from Treviso back to here,” she said.
“She had to go through Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium and France, and then across to England on the ferry, up to Scotland and across to Larne.
“She was with a complete stranger for three days.”
Cordelia's thoughts gave us an insight to what was to follow as British PM Boris Johnson placed the UK into what, on the face of it, should have been similar measures.
“When I came back, I was quite shocked by how blasé people were about it,” she said.
“Italy were very strict, you were absolutely not allowed to go anywhere without a mask. It was non-negotiable. Even out walking, I'd wear a mask. It was really, really strict.
Cordelia on the balcony of her Italian flat last year.
“You were only allowed to be 250m from your house.
“A friend of ours in Italy was walking her dog and police pulled them over and Google-mapped how far they were from their house.
“When we came back here in July, we'd go into a café and wear a mask, but people would look at us like we were weird.
“It made us very paranoid being out and people not wearing them. Obviously a lot of people now do.”
A major positive for Cordelia and Ian throughout the past year has been the birth of their son Malachy, but although the pandemic has given them extra time with him, some things have been difficult.
“My husband's family all live down in Dublin and they haven't met Malachy yet, which is really sad,” she said.
“I'm also really looking forward to being able to go and see people and maybe go away for a bit of a staycation.
“The pandemic has made us re-evaluate what we wanted to do going forward with our lives and our work.
“I think if the pandemic hadn't happened, we'd still be in Italy.
“It's been really wonderful to come home and it's made us apprectiate our family more I think. We appreciate time more. It's brought things back to basics.”
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.