At 8 p.m., the front doors opened, the windows were unlocked, and they gathered in the streets and balconies against the backdrop of car horns while Ireland cheered on its healthcare workers.
As far as any profession is concerned, it was a long-term appreciation, but it was different – it was a coronavirus and a first-line altruistic response.
A country in the grip of uncertainty briefly put aside its fears for health and the economy and came out in unison to recognize those who are taking the greatest risks in this global pandemic.
In recent weeks in France, Spain and India, among other countries, people have pushed each other into unprecedented public displays of gratitude and admiration. On Thursday, it was Ireland’s turn and the message was spread by word of mouth and via social networks.
At Dáil, the DTs met on time, forgetting their emergency discussions for the shortest time to cheer enthusiastically.
It is unclear to what extent these Mexican applause has spread. But on social media, blurry videos quickly appeared – some neighbors gathered in the streets, some echoed applause in buildings lit by balcony lights.
“Just a moment to show our appreciation for all the good work going on in our health services. Ladies and gentlemen, we salute you, ”said RTÉ presenter Eileen Dunne in a special report a few minutes after the hour.
The broadcaster’s cameras have been primed – they have captured clips from Lanesboro-Ballyleague on the Shannon River, Sligo Town, Cork Airport, the Dublin Department of Health, Waterford City and Galway.
Elsewhere, in the small cul-de-sac of Meadowfield in Dublin 18, each household was represented in the front gardens, waving and exchanging greetings with neighbors whom they had not seen for some time in the isolation.
Families, couples and single people have traveled to Oxmantown Road in Dublin’s Stoneybatter district. They fidgeted from afar as applause rippled across the street for two full minutes. “A street coming together while staying away,” said a spectator.
In the York Street apartments in Dublin 2, residents clapped and knocked pots and everything they could find. Passers-by stopped and joined.
Not so far away, a small crowd gathered on John Dillon Street. Dozens of others hung from the windows of the Iveagh house apartments on Clanbrassil Street, shouting and applauding.
When the applause finally died out at the Furry Park Court estate in Killester, Dublin 5, others could be heard in the scattered neighboring streets.
In the Culmore area of Derry, someone stood at the door – or leaned out the window – of about half the houses. Applause nearby resounded in the night.
It was a strange unifying act, which finally gave way to the same silence and the same lonely streets. And a lingering appreciation that healthcare workers could be applauded in the weeks to come.