Anne Gillanders had waited for 16 long weeks to be able to drive from her home in Dublin to Sligo see her mother, Muriel Coulter, for the first time since lockdown.

Muriel is a resident in the Mowlam Nursing Home in Sligo town and Anne and her brother Trevor have been keeping in touch with her as best they can with daily phone calls or WhatsApp video chats.

While it was great to be able to see her online during lockdown, Anne said it was not the same as visiting their mother in person.

The easing of Covid-19 restrictions meant that Anne could finally visit her mother today and from now on, she and her brother will take it in turns to visit Muriel until normal visiting hours resume. 

"It's great to be able to be here, I've been waiting for this day for a long time," she told RTÉ News.

Anne said her natural instinct was to hug her mother after such a long time apart but she understood why she could not do so.

"You're looking great, mummy, it is so lovely to see you," she told an overjoyed Muriel, who replied: "I can't believe it." She had missed her daughter "a lot".

Fiona Cawley, Director of Nursing at Mowlam in Sligo, said that for now, each resident is allowed one 30-minute visit with one relative per week.

The key consideration is the safety of the 55 residents, she said, but they are reviewing the system on a weekly basis. 

Each visitor has their temperature taken on arrival and must wear a mask and stay two metres from their relative.

This meant there were no hugs for Anne and Muriel today, but the delight on their faces just to see each other in person was a treat to behold. 

It was a great comfort to Anne that her mother had been so well looked after in Mowlam and that the nursing home had remained virus-free. She had been anxious about that for the past few months. 

Anne and Muriel’s emotional reunion is one of the first of many for Fiona and the team at Mowlam.

The residents have all been very resilient during the crisis, Fiona said, and it was wonderful to see family members come to visit again.