The Covid-19 pandemic has been a harrowing time for communities around the country and every individual has experienced these unprecedented times differently - in Roscrea the local Age Friendly group have compiled a collection of those individual stories to record the remarkable story of one town's struggle with the coronavirus.
“With the passing of time, we will look back at our Corona pandemic with mixed emotions - both positive and less so and the 'Roscrea Digest A Corona Legacy' captures the essence of what it is meant to be in lockdown in Roscrea”, Anne Keevey, founder of the Age Friendly group explained to the Tipperary Star this week.
The new book, which was written and printed in Roscrea, sold out in days when it went on sale in shops around the town last week and it provides a window for future generations of Roscrea people to reflect upon how the pandemic and subsequently lockdowns were experienced and weathered by the Roscrea people of today.
“Roscrea Digest is the epitome of this time of our lives and will entertain and educate, not merely for now but for future generations to come. Over 100 people from home and abroad contributed, the Digest is a magazine written by the community for the community”, Anne said.
“The reaction from those who contributed and those who are reading the Digest it is overwhelmingly positive and the demand for copies is very brisk.
“Some are being stockpiled to give to family and friends abroad for Christmas. There are many, many phone calls from people looking for or wishing to add to the information gathered and some people are reading stories over the phone to their family members and friends in Nursing Homes”, Anne said.
Compiling the unique book was no mean feat, particularly in these times of social distancing and took several weeks to complete.
“We put together a goodie bag that we sent out and delivered to people. That included a time-capsule where people would record their Covid thoughts, or Covid experience.
We thought it was a pity really not to do something with that information. So the idea came.
“It was a very small book to start with – it was going to be 50 pages of A5 but in fact, it turned out to be 120 pages of A4”, Anne said.
“Well over 100 people contributed and many people who often thought about writing, but never did, actually sat down and wrote a story. We often say we should have written that down, or ‘my mother spoke about that and I’m sorry I didn’t write it down’, and this was an opportunity really to write down a lot of those thoughts and experiences”, Anne said.
Many local people have reconnected with friends and family as a direct outcome of the publication, Anne said.
“There is no index to the book as it is meant to a voyage of discovery, a surprise on every page. Age Friendly Roscrea is very proud and pleased to have been able to facilitate this publication and are indebted to the many wonderful contributors - both of articles and ideas”, Anne said.
Throughout Covid-19, Age Friendly Roscrea received support from the HSE, Tipperary County Council, North Tipperary Development Company, the Local Community Development Committee and the Public Participation Network.
“Roscrea is so lucky to have a printing works bang in the centre of our town. We would not have so many local, high quality journals and books but for the work and patience of Des, Andrea and Valerie at Walsh's Printers and for the scholarship and keen eye of our local historians and photographers”, Anne said, adding that the probability of a follow-up volume is growing.
“What we often think of as small stories emerge as the real diamonds - so take pen in hand and away you go”, Anne said, inviting anyone to share their highs and lows of living through the pandemic.
Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of the current book or contributing to the next can contact (0505) 22550.
“The magazine is generously sold in local outlets SuperValu, Maloney’s, Tesco, Keanes, News and Views and Gala. The magazine costs a mere €5. No monetary value could reflect the true value and impact”, Anne said.