A VILLAGE community in Ireland this week came together to organise a surprise 90th birthday party for an elderly neighbour living alone during lockdown.
Frank Flood had originally planned to mark the occasion in the company of his sons and daughters.
However, the current lockdown restrictions meant that his now-adult children, who all live in the UK, were unable to be by his side on his special day.
As a result, Frank had expected to spend the day at home, alone, in the quiet village of Derrygonnelly in Co. Fermanagh – but the rest of the village had other ideas.
Having been contacted by Frank’s daughter Patricia, locals Emlyn Burns and Eadaoin Love began coordinating a very special surprise.
Enlisting the help of those involved in community organisations like the Derrygonnelly Harps GAA, and Derrygonnelly & District Community Partnership along with volunteers from local churches they set about planning a massive street party.
Local cake maker Laura Gallagher was also enlisted to create a series of personalised cupcakes for the party, with organisers careful to ensure festivities adhered to Ireland’s strict social distancing rules.
All that was left was to surprise Frank on his big day with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday featuring everyone from across the village.
The celebrations were led by local parish priest Father Cahill Deery, who provided Frank with a special message from his family who were thinking of him on his birthday.
"It's a difficult time, it's difficult when your family aren't here,” Fr Deery said.
"They would love to be here and they had all sorts of things planned but unfortunately coronavirus has got in the way of all of our plans.
"Even though your family aren't physically present we know they've been in contact through phone.
"We couldn't let this go by without us being here as a community and so for today at least Frank we are your family."
Footage of Frank being surprised on his 90th birthday soon found its way onto social media.
The video was the brainchild of fellow local Michael Skuce, who was eager to ensure Frank’s children knew he was being looked after during these difficult times.
It ends with a message of thanks from the birthday boy himself – and it’s the best thing you’ll watch all day.
I must thank Fr Cahill for all he has done today, it was a very big surprise for me at least,” he says.
"I miss my family very much but they haven't forgotten me, they've all given me a call early this morning."
A wonderful gesture and reminder of what makes Ireland a truly special place during times like these.