Friday, May 13, 2022



Rachel Burroughs and Alannah Willoughby from St Leo’s College preparing the Covid-19 time capsule prior to the tenth annual Catherine McAuley lecture


By Elizabeth Lee

A TIME capsule that was created so that students from St Leo’s College, Carlow could capture some key memories of what it was like to live through a pandemic was sealed last week and won’t be opened for decades.

John McDarby, chief officer at Carlow County Museum, assisted the students in how to curate the time capsule after a transition year class came up with the idea.

Everyone in the school community was invited to submit a written reflection about their experience of the global pandemic.


Usually, a time capsule involves putting a collection of random everyday objects into a box and letting the artefacts do the talking, but with a written or epistolary time capsule, it’s different. The purpose of the St Leo’s College capsule is to provide a written record about the ordinary, the individual, the humdrum and the tiny human details that reflect the experiences of the school community during the global pandemic.

While the capsule was filled with a wide variety of paraphernalia associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, everything from masks and hand sanitiser to directives from the Department of Education, the school’s weekly online newsletters captured what remote teaching and learning looked like for students. These weekly news bulletins reflected how students and teachers alike had to find new ways to collaborate and present their work online. The global pandemic was a time of challenge for everyone, including young people across the world.


The written reflections offered students and staff a chance to describe how lockdowns, quarantine and remote learning affected them personally.

St Leo’s College would like to thank everyone who contributed to this commemorative project, and in particular John McDarby, who is the inspiration for this endeavour; Dermot Mulligan, curator, Carlow County Museum; county librarian John Shortall; county archivist Louise Kennedy; Michael O’Toole, senior executive engineer with the county council’s water services; Paul Mooney and his colleagues in Walshe’s Civil Engineering; the administration staff of St Leo’s College; and  the transition year class 2021-22.

Thanks also to teacher Mairéad Redmond, deputy principals Anna Wafer and Karen Jordan, who offered immense support during the final stages of this project, Bishop Denis Nulty, Michelle Maddock, Fr John Dunphy and Sr Kathleen Kennedy, the senior management team in St Leo’s College and to every student for their insightful written contributions.

The time capsule was blessed by Bishop Denis Nulty following the tenth annual Catherine McAuley lecture in the school gym on Wednesday 4 May.

The capsule, which was sealed by Walshe Civil Engineering just before the ceremony, won’t be opened again for another 20 years!



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