COVID 19 and all the restrictions it has brought, has seen many Intergenerational projects came to a halt. However, this has not stopped Donegal County Council’s Choir of Ages “Ceol le Chéile” which has always been about bringing young and older people together to build relationships and socially participate in something enjoyable.

Ceol le Chéile’s last day of rehearsal was the 6th of March and since then many members have being self-isolating at home.

To keep the social aspect of the choir going, the Donegal Age Friendly Programme sought out different ways for the choir engagement to continue.

Mairead Cranley, Donegal Age Friendly Programme Co-ordinator says ‘Initially, Veronica McCarron, Choral Conductor prepared recorded lessons and sent them out to choir members and although the members enjoyed getting the lessons, it wasn’t quite the same as they were not able to see each other. It was made possible for the choir members to see each other by rehearsing online via Zoom.’

As many of the older people didn’t have access to a laptop or smart phone it was not an easy task.

Ceol le Chéile on Zoom

Kathleen Bonner, Choir Coordinator, established how many people had the necessary equipment and for those who hadn’t, the Donegal Education Training Board (ETB), through the Age Friendly Alliance, kindly gave choir members a lend off several laptops.

Many members had never turned a computer or laptop on before or had never been on Zoom so some technical guidance was arranged and again through the Age Friendly Alliance, the Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP) were delighted to provide two IT supports, Denis Kelly and Sinead McDaid.

Mairead said ‘A poll was carried out on the choir asking had they ever used zoom before this? 60% of the choir members had not used it. This is yet another challenge they have conquered and again the have embraced it and it’s helping them get through the Covid Pandemic.

‘It has been 4 weeks now since the choir members were introduced to rehearsals virtually and there has been up to 75 rehearsing online at the one time. This huge challenge for the older people with limited technical ability was soon forgotten and the excitement of seeing their friends was overwhelming for them.’

Since then and in 4 weeks the choir has worked hard and created a video singing the Bob Marley classic “Three Little Birds”.

Their video got its national and international premiere on Sunday 31 May, leading the way at 11.00am for the Bealtaine Dusk Virtual Home Chorus which was followed by other choirs performing throughout the day.

Ceol le Chéile ‘Three Little Birds’

Mairead finished by saying ‘A special thank you to Veronica McCarron Choral Director, Kathleen Bonner, Choir Coordinator, Donegal County Council, Catherine Friel in Donegal ETB for providing laptops  and Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP) for providing Denis Kelly and Sinead McDaid for Technical Guidance. Denis Kelly also produced the video. This project wouldn’t have happened without you all. Thank you.’