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29 May 2022

Former Newtownforbes student and renowned journalist charts first 100 days of pandemic in new diary

Carole Coleman

Former Newtownforbes student Carole Colman

Remember the 2k travel limit, essential shopping, and talking to loved-ones through windows?

These oddities were all part of our response to the global pandemic that hit us in March 2020.

Now a personal diary published by RTÉ journalist Carole Coleman recalls the first 100 days of Covid-19 in Ireland, and how it played out in her own Leitrim town and home.

“When the virus first appeared here, I began my diary as a record for the future. I documented developments so that our children and grandchildren could understand this very strange time. We won’t ever forget what happened, but we will forget the small details of how our lives turned upside down. The diary tells that story,” Carole told the Longford Leader.

Carole is a former pupil at the mercy convent in Newtownforbes.

In News from Under a Coat Stand, Carole brings readers along on her reporting and personal journey – as Ireland and much of the world shut down and families stayed apart and took extreme measures to protect one another.

Coleman recorded the initial fear that drove many of us to stockpile food and remain indoors for nearly 12 weeks until restrictions were first lifted in the summer of 2020.

News from Under a Coat Stand details the sad loss of life in Ireland, the US and the UK, but also the tender and sometimes quirky situations experienced by countless Irish families.

Through lockdown Coleman broadcast for RTE from Carrick-on-Shannon.

“I co-presented Sunday’s This Week programme on RTÉ Radio One from my foyer. Sitting beneath the big coat stand laden with wolly coats was the perfect sound buffer.

“From there I talked to medics, business people, grandparents and the bereaved as well as the public health experts and decision makers steering us through it all.”

Carole’s diary will remind readers of the best and the worst of the pandemic. Illustrations sketched by the author’s teenage daughter Irena help tell the story.

“We quickly forget how it was to home school children while working our own jobs from bedrooms and kitchens. Then there was banana bread, Joe Wicks workouts and Zoom bingo. We have left all that behind but the effects of that time are very much with us,” Coleman said.

News from Under a Coat Stand is available at Newsround Longford and Roscommon, Mulvey’s House of Gifts, Carrick-on- Shannon and Just Books, Mullingar.

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