Life Under Lockdown – A Living History Project

by Mairéad Duggan

“We are still here for you!” These were the first words posted by our wonderful JCSP Co-ordinator in Microsoft Teams in our online School Library Team. We are still here for you! It seemed like the most important thing to say. We had ventured into the unknown – a journey of remote school librarianship alongside our online teaching. “We are still here for you!” and we felt it intensely as the dark threat of Covid19 loomed over our country. This was our heartfelt message to our students and the first milestone on this journey was posting about our Life in Lockdown Living History Project which we intended to publish with their help.

We are still here for you

Four years ago, in Mount Carmel Secondary School, during the centenary of the 1916 Rising, we published a book, ‘1916-2016 – How We Remember.‘ Many of our staff, students and management participated, becoming published authors for the first time. As every Department was eager to celebrate a momentous occasion in Irish History, we decided to come together as a school to commemorate the 1916 Rising. The whole school got involved and with the help of some funding from Dublin City Council, we published a glossy 1916 themed book entitled How We Remember. With stunning artwork, creative writing, photographs and sketches, the students endeavoured to celebrate an important milestone in Irish history. Four years later, we find ourselves living through another such milestone.

Corona Virus and Toilet Paper by Kamila Domagala

Amidst echoes of the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913, the Great Lockdown of 2020 has seen our teachers and students locked out of their school buildings for the foreseeable future.  With schools closed in extraordinary times and students unlikely (hopefully) to ever see such times again, the JCSP and Librarian teams decided to document the time by initiating a living history project, inviting students and staff to document their experiences through the written word, poetry, diary entries, art, sketches and photographs. Linking in with other engagement activities, challenges, competitions etc. across our JCSP library community, we are collecting, collating, and editing a selection of eclectic responses.

Girl With a Pearl Earring and Mask by Gemma Heron Comiskey

Via the Zoom arena that hosts our current staff meeting, we asked all our teachers to guide and encourage their students to create and submit their work for this publication. We are encouraging teachers, SNAs, school management, caretaking and secretarial teams to contribute some material outlining their experiences. We also hope to encourage some past students to contribute to this shared experience. Parents who are experiencing the lockdown in the local community will also be asked to participate. Our Home Economics Department may help us with our section on Quarantine Cuisine – particularly the ever popular banana bread. As teachers have set assignments and edited some work, our students’ literacy development is evident. Visual literacy is also enhanced as students are encouraged to represent visually what the pandemic represents to them. Most importantly though, the project is working to enhance a sense of connection and wellbeing across the school community.

Heart for Heroes by Dorina Coptu

Implemented at a time where across the board in all schools, there is a problem with a lack of student engagement, this is a project which has begun to capture the students’ imagination primarily because it is not prescriptive and therefore taps into their natural creativity. We hope that encouraging students to share their experiences in the way in which they are most comfortable, will lead to a living history project which will serve as a time capsule for many years to come.

Front Line Heroes by Rabeya Hossain

This project is still in its infancy, and yet the honesty and integrity of the written and visual responses so far has been awe-inspiring. Heroic teachers are encouraging, wheedling and gently pushing some of the more disengaged students. The librarians and the JCSP Co-ordinator are collating and organising all the responses. All students who submit a piece get an individual response outlining our gratitude and appraising the work they have submitted. A lot of critical thinking was displayed in the creation of these submissions and the emotional depth and even comic value of student responses has been inspiring for us. The JCSP and Library Teams offer feedback, along with help and support through individual messaging to participating students. Direct messages to students struggling with the weight of social isolation will be sent encouraging them to participate,

Heart for the Heroes by Adelina Coptu

 We would like to see as many students participate as possible. We are living through History. We are living through extraordinary times that hopefully none of us will see again in our lifetimes. As a school community, we would like to have a record of these strange times to record their historical value for future generations of our students. We would like to encourage creativity and publish our young authors and illustrators for a wider audience. But most importantly, as we embark on this endeavour, we would like our students to know “we are still here for you.”

Covid-19 by Gemma Heron Comiskey

Broadcasting Challenge

Interested in Developing your Broadcasting Skills?

Over the past few months, the School of Jock has worked with 3 JCSP Library Project schools in Tallaght, Dublin. The aim of the project was to establish a Radio Station which would be based in the ‘Press Room’ of St. Aidan’s Community School and which would be available for use by students and staff from all 3 participating schools. The initiative was sponsored by the JCSP Library Project, South Dublin County Council Arts Office, Poetry Ireland and the three school libraries: – St. Aidan’s Community School, Killinarden Community School and Mount Seskin Community College.

Forty students in total were trained in the practical radio production skills and in the basics of good broadcasting, leaving behind well trained and equipped minds to create and conquer the world of broadcasting.

The students have gone on to produce a number of interviews on topics ranging from Author Interviews, Student Voice, Bullying, Working in Teams, Erasmus Projects, Drama, Sport and Climate Change.

Broadcasting Challenge

Would you be interested in developing your broadcasting skills?  If so check out this fantastic challenge: ‘Life in Lockdown’ – record a two/three-minute interview with a friend or relative discussing a positive story of Life in Lockdown.  Further information and broadcasting tips from veteran Radio Broadcaster Eric Moore ‘School of Jock’ here:

Great prizes for the winners: a master class in broadcasting and a digital recorder for the main prize winner!

Email your broadcasts to your JCSP Librarian by www.wetransfer.com or contact your librarian by email for more info.

Closing Date – May 31st


JCSP Libraries 2km Photography Challenge and JCSP Libraries Home Photography Challenge

This May an exciting new photography initiative has just been launched by The JCSP Libraries project. This initiative is designed to promote visual literacy and creative thinking. There are two different versions of this challenge: The JCSP Libraries 2km Photography Challenge and The JCSP Libraries Home Photography Challenge.

The JCSP Libraries 2km Photography Challenge

A photography prompt list has been created for the challenge. Daily prompts invite  students to take photographs of people, places and things all within two kilometres of their homes. The prompts focus on different visual features including texture, pattern, colour and shape. There are two ways for students to get invovled in this challenge. Students can participate by responding to the daily prompts and forwarding their entries to their librarians or by using the app Actionbound, to complete a photo treasure hunt.

The JCSP Libraries Home Photography Challenge

This is a mini version of the challenge for students who are currently quarantined in their own homes. It can be completed without leaving home, and focuses on ten prompts.

Photographer in Residence: CJ Nash

Professional photographer, CJ Nash, who works with Irish Country Magazine and The Irish Farmer’s Journal, will be our Photographer in Residence for this initiative. She will offer tips and tricks over the month of May, which will be shared on Twitter.


Each JCSP Library will offer students a selection of marvellous prizes. Overall winners will be invited to attend a Photography Masterclass in Warrenmount, Dublin. Entries will be shared on Twitter @jcsplibraries and Instagram @jcsplibraries