The Upside of Lockdown

How Lockdown Created Ordinary Heroes

‘Not all super heroes wear capes’ was one of the most powerful quotes from the lockdown when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar closed the country on the eve of St Patrick’s Day in 2020 and everyone in the country began to realise the enormous sacrifices our front line workers would have to make in the coming weeks.

‘Weeks’ because at that point it was beyond comprehension that the virus and the rolling lockdowns would still be with the Irish people almost two years later. Slowly the horror of Italy, the empty supermarket shelves, the terror of cocooning and sick people dying without their loved ones would stretch everyone‘s nerves, anxiety and emotions to near breaking point.

But how did people react? What stories will we tell our grandchildren? And how did the ordinary folk learn to cope, to help and to survive the crisis.

The newly published community book, The Upside of Lockdown, is based on people in County Wicklow and tells their stories. There are almost 50 interviews with front line workers, dog groomers, mask makers, motorcycle couriers, shop keepers, furniture makers, journalists, and sunflower farmers.  They all talk about the difficulties of keeping going, the unexpected joys and the ways they find to make it work – either through volunteering, helping others or pivoting.

Listen to the original podcasts on Jillian’s mixcloud

Begun as a podcast with broadcaster Jillian Godsil and producer Marlena Murphy, the Upside to Lockdown captured the true beauty of an Irish population under siege and how they coped. Better than coped, how they thrived. Edited by local artist Michael O’Reilly, designed by Sinead McGuinness, this book is the perfect ‘dip in, dip out’ of little stories that will delight the thrivers of Covid and their grandchildren in years to come.

We thank everyone who took part and thank them for their time and their stories. And we thank our kind sponsors for making this a reality; Wicklow County Council’s, Deirdre Burns, Heritage Officer, Michael Nicholson, Director of Community Cultural and Social Development, also Seán Kelly – our initial sponsor and Ferg Brown for their support and
encouragement. I hope our book sits on shelves across homes in Wicklow and when
your grandchildren say – What was it like during the lockdown
Granny? you can take this book down off the shelf and say – Here, read this.

By Jillian Godsil and Marlena Murphy

To purchase online, please visit HERE for a kindle version and HERE for a paperback

Profits from the book will go to The Bee Sanctuary of Ireland in Wicklow, Purple House and the six Cancer Support Centres in Wicklow.

AND This is the first little volume of stories and already book two is planned when the authors reach out to other Wicklow people and ask them to tell their story. What is your story? Send an email to

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