Some of the most beautiful and evocative buildings in rural Ireland are stone, narrow steepled Church of Ireland churches. Many are now forlorn, ivy-clad and abandoned.
Some have been deconsecrated and transformed into homes, work spaces, shops or cultural centres. Others struggle on as places of worship for dwindling, elderly populations with rectors driving from service to service on a Sunday, keeping lights on and isolated communities together.
Now that we are looking at the beginning of the end of the pandemic, it is time to assess the likely long-term impact of this experience on the economy. Calling the end of a pandemic is obviously fraught with danger, but at some stage we have to believe in science.
This week, as well as the election in the United States, three major events are crystallising that will profoundly change the economic outlook for 2021.
Anyone who has experienced unemployment or seen it afflict close family or friends knows that it is not just about income, it’s about soul.
Unemployment affects your spirit, sense of worth and can cause feelings of fragility, hurt, sadness and even despair. Such emotional and psychological scars are not easily healed with a weekly government cheque.
Property owners have a duty of care towards their properties. There is such a thing as an appropriate owner and an inappropriate owner. The appropriate owner looks after their property, makes sure it does not fall into disrepair. Such an owner should be encouraged to maintain the property.
If the property is part of our urban heritage, that encouragement should also be accompanied by an equally firm penalty for dereliction to punish the inappropriate owner. The owner of an historic property is a custodian.
My colleague, Fintan O’Toole, deems it “breathtaking” that a group of 11 men, and not a single woman, took the decision to lock down.
Of course he is right. Robust decision-making must be representative. None of the decision makers – all public servants or politicians – works in the sectors that they are closing down.