A Covid diary project reveals the impact of the lockdown on its Co Kildare participants with many discussing feelings of "loneliness, isolation, and despair" but also "a sense of optimism".

The project, aimed at those who are cocooning and older people, saw over 140 moleskin notebooks delivered to homes throughout the county in March. 

Kildare Arts Service encouraged participants to share their reflections, artwork, and stories in the notebooks throughout the lockdown with the intent that the diaries would become part of a permanent archive for Kildare County Council.

Over half of the notebooks have now been returned to Kildare Arts Service for digital scanning and reveal a treasure trove of lockdown memories.

Lucina Russell is the Arts Officer with Kildare County Council

Lucina Russell is the Arts Officer with Kildare County Council. She said the age range of those involved with the project is "impressive with the youngest being six-years-old and the oldest being 91-years-old".

"They've started arriving in, in the last week, or so. Already some of the information, in terms of what happened in March, so much has happened since then. Lots of people referenced hoping that the lockdown would end at Easter.

"A lot of people talked about loneliness, isolation, despair, but there was a sense of optimism and knowing that this was going to pass.

"There's quite a number of references to support agencies and some of the people who availed of the notebooks would have been involved with Naas Care of the Aged and also with services supporting mental health difficulties. They talk very much, in their notebooks, about the services, like the delivery of meals.

"As you can imagine food was a big part of the notebooks. Lots of people, as well, enjoying the time. Lots of references to birds and gardens. Dogs and cats feature quite strongly," she added.

Diaries of the Kildare Covid-19 Notebook Project

A documentary film about the project, funded by Creative Ireland, is currently in production.

The film, directed by Kildare native David C Lynch, features some of the older Covid diarists and will premiere online as part of Culture Night on Friday 18 September.

One of the diarists featured in the documentary is also the oldest contributor to the notebook project.

 Elizabeth Kenny is the oldest contributor to the project

For her diary, 91-year-old Elizabeth Kenny chose to reflect on her life.

"I really did not know. Maybe I am letting myself in for something that I don't understand. I think it was the next day. I got the pen down and I said, 'Here it goes, Lizzy. Start writing.' I can't write that well but I started writing and kept going.

"And do you know why I wanted to do it, because I'll be 92-years-old next April, in case I lose the little bit that's there," she laughed.

Elizabeth has eight children, 21 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. She found the hardest part of lockdown has been missing her friends at the day care centre in Naas.

"I love my life and my family. Even though you love your own but you love a friend to talk to, don't you? You can tell them things, you know."

In a diary about her friends at Naas Care of the Aged, Elizabeth wrote:

"Now this terrible thing has hit us. We hope it will end soon. It is so sad. Please God, we will all be together again. Soon, I hope."

An entry from Elizabeth's Covid diary