Covid frontline stories: NI healthcare worker dressed in PPE by day, playing guitar at night
A Portadown healthcare worker has told how she has combined being on the front line during the Covid pandemic with her second career as a singer-songwriter.
In the evening, she picks up her guitar to write songs or perform gigs across Northern Ireland and beyond.
Folk singer Ms O’Neill is set to release her new EP La Lune, made up of songs written during the pandemic, at the Out to Lunch Festival on January 22 at the Sunflower Bar in Belfast.
Feile an Phobail fallout continues: Major motor dealer Agnew Group suspends worker over West Belfast Festival posting
DUP income drops to an 11-year low putting the party behind the Ulster Unionists – and far in the shadow of Sinn Fein
Ben Habib: Is Liz Truss the strong prime minister for which we yearn?
West Belfast Festival: Another key Feile an Phobail funder stresses need to foster ‘good relations’ as it seeks meeting over 2022 Wolfe Tones chant
‘He needs to leave our club NOW!’ Strong reaction Larne FC’s John Herron being pictured in ‘tiocfaidh ar la’ gun top as club suspends him
She said she has always had dual loves of music and science: “I have been singing my whole life, I was always singing in choirs at school and I was classically trained at a young age.
“But I went into a very different career in healthcare, my degree was very science-based and I really missed music.
“Alongside my career in healthcare I started learning guitar and writing my own songs. In 2016 I released my first album and my second in 2018.”
Following this, Ciara took a career break which included a trip to Nashville to work alongside Grammy-winning artists at the world-famous Bluebird Cafe.
More recently, the Covid pandemic has had a devastating impact on local music.
She said: “The pandemic has absolutely decimated the music scene. Arts have suffered so much. For me, not being able to play live for a couple of years has been a huge impact.
“Music, for me, is a stress release and I love performing. Not being able to do that has really impacted me.
“I kept on playing throughout, if even it was just in the house. I am always writing songs.”
The pandemic had an equally significant impact on her work as a medic: “It has been a difficult time for everybody in healthcare.
“At the very start, things were changing on a daily basis and none of us knew what Covid was, none of us knew how it would affect us.
“It was frightening because I didn’t know what to expect or what would happen.
“As time has gone on, we have all just worked together in the hospital. You see the resilience of people coming through this.”
Ms O’Neill said her organisational skills allow her to balance her lives as a healthcare worker and a musician: “I do like the balance. It can be hard working a full day and then playing a gig in the evenings, that is tiring and stressful but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I manage myself so releasing music involves so much work, a huge amount of time.
“Often in my work break I am working on it on my phone and I am always doing music in the evenings.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.