A beautiful book has been launched which captures a social history of Donegal during Covid-19 lockdown as viewed through the eyes of the county’s schoolchildren.
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Christmas With Covid was launched in the Donegal Education Centre on Friday by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD. It is a collection of stories by children and teenagers who shared their experiences of Christmas 2020, some in a factual way and others using fiction to convey their stories.
Minister McConalogue spoke of how he himself contracted Covid-19 and spent Christmas 2020 in isolation. He recalled the surreal feeling of hearing hourly news bulletins on the radio reporting that the Minister for Agriculture had tested positive for the virus. Thankfully, Minister McConalogue said, he did not become ill with Covid-19.
Praising the collection of stories and art, the Minister said: “All of you are now published authors and artists, and that is wonderful coming out of the times we have been in.
“It is a very special publication that records your experience and perception of the challenges that you have gone through individually.
“The challenges have been unique to each of you. Some of you will have lost family members. Some of you will have had people who were sick.
“Those are the difficulties that we have had to come through collectively.”
Chairperson of Donegal Education Centre Bernadette Brennan and Director John McGroarty were also full of praise for those who submitted stories and artwork.
Ms Brennan said: “In years to come you can pass that on to your children and grandchildren and say ‘I lived through these times.’”
Mr McGroarty praised the students for their participation in the project.
He said the theme of Christmas was chosen because it was an all-encompassing time of year.
Prizes were awarded in a number of age groups and categories following an anonymous judging process. However, judges and Donegal Education Centre management agreed that all submitted stories merited inclusion in the book. A selection of artwork was also included.
Mr McGroarty thanked students, teachers, parents, the DEC committee and the judges, as well as Minister Charlie McConalogue and Cllr Tom Conaghan for attending the launch.
The book costs €10 is on sale at Donegal Education Centre and a number of outlets locally including the Four Masters Bookshop in Donegal, Alexander’s in Ballybofey and both Bookmark stores in Letterkenny.
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