Derek O'Reilly in a deserted Venice street
Having lived in Venice for almost 20 years, it is a very different city under quarantine now than the one Tullamore man Derek O’Reilly fell in love with two decades ago.
He now lives in the very centre of the Coronavirus pandemic, with Italy currently the hardest hit country in the world.
The native of Marian Place in Tullamore was a footballer of some note in his youth, with most people knowing him as Shaggy, a nickname earned thanks to his flowing locks. His family was a well-known and respected one in the town through their business, O’Reilly’s Bakery.
In his mid-twenties, Derek left Ireland in August 1995 and made his way to Glasgow in Scotland for his sister’s wedding. After that he ventured down to Oxford in England and lived there from 1995 to 1999.
“It was there I met my girlfriend/partner of 25 years and when she finished her studies in Oxford she decided to return home to Venice Italy and asked me to come along. I fell in love with Venetian life and 20 years later I’m still here,” he explained.
An idyllic life followed in the spectacular city of 100 islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea.
No one could have predicted what would follow and up to Monday of this week deaths for civilians had reached 11,591 plus the deaths of 60 doctors in Italy.
The total number of those Infected stood at 75,528, but on a note of hope, 14,620 were cured.
“As we seem to be approaching the virus’s peak, we’ve been losing almost 1,000 people a day. For the last 2 days however, the daily death tolls have decreased, it’s too early to determine whether this is a trend or not. We are just hoping and praying that the fatalities and people infected are on the decline!” Derek said.
The situation in Italy is several weeks ahead of what Ireland is now encountering, and the country has pretty much remained indoors for a fortnight.
READ THE FULL STORY IN THIS WEEK'S TULLAMORE TRIBUNE