After an extremely long and difficult year, it is great to get the opportunity to relax and celebrate a little. It has definitely been a year for the books, with an April and November that felt like 12 months in themselves. I think the country will release a collective sigh of relief come December 31. The rollout of a vaccine is certainly wonderful news to end 2020 on.

Hopefully, 2021 will bring some much-needed stability, and dare I say relief from boredom, to allow our lives get back on track. Or perhaps, reflecting on 2020, we might decide that for some of us, the track we were on wasn’t suitable at all.

Many changes thought impossible before COVID-19 have become daily life. Before March I’d never heard of Zoom and now I have become an expert on all things videocall. So too, perhaps, should hard consideration be given in the upper levels of power.

Regional development, which for a long time has depended on commuters to overcrowded cities for work, with the focus on road infrastructure costing millions, seems less logical in a dawning era of remote working.

This year has been a difficult one for Macra na Feirme, as it has been for all volunteer organisations, with repeated lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing resulting in the rescheduling of many events to 2021.

Many changes thought impossible before COVID-19 have become daily life

Our social events and festivals were required to be postponed, but our competitions committee came up with new and innovative offerings to ensure members were as engaged as always.

Where restrictions allowed, we made use of outdoor activities, including our first Poc Foda competition to ensure no contact.

It was quite a sight, seeing counties with no tradition of hurling or camogie take up the sliotar! Our advocacy work and that of our board have continued unbated, although changes from boardrooms to online meetings meant utilising new online tools.

The strength and hard work of our voluntary leaders and staff have really shone through this year at county and club level. They adapted events, created new types of events and ran regular online activities.

From Zoom quizzes to TV clubs to incredible charitable efforts to replace lost revenue by many mental and physical health charities.

Finally, I’d like to say that as we celebrate, in whatever safe way we can, it’s worth sparing a thought for those who cannot enjoy the holiday season in the way they may want. Particularly those young people who cannot visit family or even return home from abroad.

For some, this time of year is difficult and, in a time where we cannot be there physically, even a virtual reach out can mean a lot.

So, from all at Macra I wish you all the best, and hope you enjoy – as I plan to – a bit of cooking, a bit of cleaning up and a lot of eating good Irish food.