Children at St. Mary's National School in Ballygunner, Waterford are delighted to finally be breaking free of Covid-19 bubbles and part-take in community projects again.
For the first time in two years the school, like most across the country, are seeing the fruits of their labour from projects they started this school year following the easing of restrictions.
In this particular school, second class teacher Ms O'Shea decided a project would help bring not only the students, but the community back together.
In September a knitting club was formed between 4th, 5th and 6th class initially, where the students would meet at lunchtime. However, Ms O'Shea had to call in for back-up from other teachers as the popularity of the lunchtime club grew beyond what they'd expected and extended to other classes joining the club too.
Speaking to the children at the school, it appears chatting with friends in the knitting club was just as important as knitting for the cloak:
St. Brigid's Cloak
The story of St. Brigid is one of those that's told from junior infants to 6th class. All children hear the story of our only female saint, where she asks the king in Co. Kildare for some land, to which he denies her. Then she asks the king for as much land as her cloak would cover, which he laughs at but also agrees to, as it's so small.
St Brigid asked four people to clutch a corner each of her cloak and to walk North, West, South and East. The cloak grew and grew, to the kings amazement. St. Brigid went on to build monasteries on the land and provide hope and consolation for those in need.
A Tight-Knit Community
In an effort to bring the community back together again since Covid-19 restrictions have eased, Ms O'Shea reached out to Aperee Nursing Home, which is just across the road from the school.
The residents were thrilled to be involved and included a weekly visit to the school to drop off the bulk squares they had knit that week.
With the nursing home residents, students of the school, teachers, parents and family members all coming together to make the beautiful cloak, the impact the project has had on both the young children and the residents of Aperee has been extremely positive.
Speaking to Beat, Ms O'Shea says it was incredible to watch the students learn and develop their skills physically and socially:
Resident of Aperee Nursing home, Bernie Quinn, said the relationship they have with the school teaches them all. The children learn "that they all have grannies and it makes them realise how important they are and how lucky they are to have them still living."
Bernie told Beat a little bit about her own involvement with Brigid's Cloak:
Beat also spoke to the activities co-ordintor of Aperee Nursing Home, Chris, who was thrilled to be able to organise events with other groups in the community again and says that those activities were truly missed over the pandemic:
Overall, the Ballygunnar community is extremely proud to see the children's contribution of newly-learned skills combined with the learned hands of those in Aperee, among others, be brought together to symbolise personal and communal growth following a very tough pandemic.