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From lost loved ones to beloved pets, here’s what the nation shared

Estlin Luna wasn’t born to make the last Census. She was tragically killed before this one. 

In the statistics that make up who and what we are as a nation, she wouldn’t be recorded. Amongst the millions of facts and figures, she didn’t exist.

But Estlin’s mother Amy was anxious that future generations would know about her beautiful little girl. Anxious that she too would be counted.

So in the time capsule section of the form, a new feature this year, she shared Estlin’s story.

“Tonight as we count those in our house and our family, we are thinking so much of our beloved little girl Estlin Luna,” she wrote.

“She was tragically taken from us five years ago, just before her fourth birthday, in a car crash. Estlin was our firstborn child and the love of our lives.” 

She was never counted in a census and so we are so relieved to be able to mention her here. 

“She was beautiful, creative, funny, so smart and clever and confident beyond her years. We were honoured to be her parents and honoured still to grieve her for the rest of our lives. 

“Estlin Luna, we carry you in our hearts, love always, Mommy, Daddy, Mannix and Lucie.” 

The timeless note touched the hearts of thousands who took to social media in an outpouring of support.

Others too used the time capsule slot to share poignant memories of lost loved ones. Others wrote of their hope for the future. Some left notes to their future children, others hoped for a better world for theirs.

We asked some Irish Examiner readers what they put in their time capsule.

Ruth Cotter from Leixlip, Co Kildare shared a poem about her baby boy, Taidhg: “We wrote about our son Taidhg who was born in 2021. He was born with only half a heart. 

Census time capsule from Ruth Cotter, Leixlip, Co Kildare.
Census time capsule from Ruth Cotter, Leixlip, Co Kildare.

“He had hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and underwent open-heart surgery. He lived for five weeks before he passed. He was a magical little boy and I want everyone to know him and how brave he was.” 

Kay Ward of Malin Head, Co Donegal, also used the time capsule to share an unimaginable loss. 

“With a heavy heart I fill out this form for four children when I am a mother of five,” she writes. 

Danai's mum Kay Ward describes her baby boy.
Danai’s mum Kay Ward describes her baby boy.

“Let the records show that my beautiful son Danai Ward existed and filled our lives from the 23rd of September 2017, until the moment he closed his eyes on the morning of the 1st of July 2020. 

“He would have been in playschool this year and we miss him more with every passing day. Thank you for leaving a space on this form, so that we could write his name and remember him this night.” 

Andrew McGinley, whose children Conor, 9, Darragh, 7, and Carla, 3, were killed by their mother Deirdre Morley at their family home in Newcastle, Co Dublin in January 2020, shared a picture of his form featuring just his details on Twitter, noting it was “a very lonely census”. 

He told the Irish Examiner he wrote about his three children but that he won’t be sharing the details of his time capsule.

Parents too were remembered through the form: Kenneth Noonan from Athlone wrote about his late father; Stephanie O’Connor from Cork city also wrote about her dad. 

“I wanted future generations of our family to know how special my Dad was and how the world is a little bit darker without him.” 

Orla Wright in Dublin used the time capsule as an opportunity to share her grandparents’ story. 

“My folks are both unwell and my mum was too sad to write about a future they are losing so I transcribed a poem her dad had written for her mum in 1935, the year before they married. 

“He was a schoolteacher and university graduate, she was fun, loving and a friend to all her grandkids. It will be nearly 200 years old in 2122 and hopefully will keep everyone’s memories alive.” 

Orla Wright's census time capsule about her grandparents (right).
Orla Wright’s census time capsule about her grandparents (right).

Geraldine Kilduff from Mullingar used the space to introduce herself as an “unacknowledged Thalidomider. Aged 63, still waiting for justice.” 

Michelle Conaghan in Sligo pondered whether a cure for cancer would be available in 2122 while Yvonne Brewer Spillane in Cork was curious about many conditions:

“Do Doctors know anything yet about properly supporting and treating people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)? Any cure yet for ME/CFS, Lyme Disease, Long Covid?” 

Fiona Barry Kenneally describes her son Theo’s progress in facilities from CUH to Temple Street and uses her time capsule to campaign for carers: 

I look to the future and hope one day that carers will be valued for the great work they do for their own.

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 was a hot topic too — with the focus on both the sorrow of the pandemic as well as the new experiences lockdown threw into their lives. 

“We are just at the end of the pandemic. I didn’t mind the two years at home — I loved the peace and quiet,” wrote Mary Martin from Drogheda. 

“It was amazing what I learned to do on the computer. I’d have never ‘zoomed’ anyone if not for the virus.”

Seán O’Reilly in Galway said the experience “changed the way people lived, worked and even died”. 

Kilkenny resident Jennifer Butler shares her concern that set dancing could die out due to the pandemic. 

“Set dancing is slow to return, as many older dancers are afraid of Covid. There is a concern set dancing will be lost and forgotten.”

The war in Ukraine was on many minds and it is mentioned often in their time capsules. 

Karl Horgan in Cork said he hoped those reading his time capsule in 2122 “read this in a world where Ukraine is free, where tyranny is extinguished, that you have solved climate change, ended injustice and created unity”. 

Beatrice Karaciovaite in Co Cavan shares a message of support for Ukraine.
Beatrice Karaciovaite in Co Cavan shares a message of support for Ukraine.

Beatrice Karaciovaite in Cavan said her family is from a former Soviet country: 

“We hope that when you read this 100 years on, Ukraine will be celebrating their 100-year anniversary of victory against Russia and the war,” she wrote. 

Census enumerator, Imogen Forrest, said the war in Ukraine is just one of the struggles facing society today. 

“I am acutely aware that as a country we have many hurdles to overcome. The pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the climate emergency have brought out the best in some of us, and the worst in others.” 

Census enumerator, Imogen Forrest, said the war in Ukraine is just one of the struggles facing society today.
Census enumerator, Imogen Forrest, said the war in Ukraine is just one of the struggles facing society today.

The ‘new Irish’ reflected on their adopted home too. Laya Little in Cork says there is warmth and generosity here. 

“I came here because I’m enamoured by the Irish. I hope that in 100 years it hasn’t changed. That there are still rolling hills and chats around pints on any given night. I hope there’s still a warmth and generosity in the people you meet in the shops.” 

Lindita Jaupaj in Dublin says Ireland has been a safe place full of opportunities for her and she is “proud to be an Irish citizen”.

Climate change and nature were also recorded. In Donegal, Denis Doherty told her descendants she has “planted a small orchard for you at my cottage in Carndonagh (in the family since pre-Famine times)”. 

Lawrence in Dublin wrote “yesterday I sowed a wildflower patch” and Kerry man Charles Williams has planted trees around his farm in Killarney. 

“I planted many trees around the farm over the past number of years, I hope many of them are still surviving long after I am gone,” he wrote. 

Census time capsule from Ann Burke in Westport, Co Mayo.
Census time capsule from Ann Burke in Westport, Co Mayo.

Ann Burke in Co Mayo hopes the global ecosystem is healthy in 100 years. “I hope that humanity has managed to pull together to save and rewild this paradise of a planet we call home.” 

Of course, pets are part of modern families and their role is prominent in many time capsules. 

Margaret O'Sullivan in Kerry wrote about her two dogs, Hunter and Roxy.
Margaret O’Sullivan in Kerry wrote about her two dogs, Hunter and Roxy.

Margaret O’Sullivan in Co Kerry shared details of Hunter and Roxy, a springer spaniel and a mixed terrier. 

Describing his family, Ivor O’Sullivan mentioned his newest companion. 

“As I write this note, our new dog Canelo is laying at my feet, with her best friend Messi sitting next to Dolores.” 

Dearbhla Quinn-Hemmings in Dublin documents all the pets in her family, including her parents’ cats. 

“We have just adopted a lurcher (greyhound/lab) named Pepper (eight months old) and have a 13-year-old cat named Sadie who we adopted in May 2021. PS: My parents live at no 16 with two cats — Oscar and Lily.” 

Writings from well-known faces

By Jen Stevens

Louise McSharry, Zara King, and James Patrice
Louise McSharry, Zara King, and James Patrice

The time capsule section of the 2022 census form sent many of us into a spin. 

What could we say to our future relatives that would give them an insight into our lives today? Did it need to be profound? Or funny? Or sweet? Or full of tiny details that are so hard for historians to find? 

We asked some well-known people to share what they wrote in theirs.

James Kavanagh, Co-owner Currabinny and ‘Irish Examiner’ food columnist 

James Kavanagh. Picture: Bríd O'Donovan
James Kavanagh. Picture: Bríd O’Donovan

I feel very lucky and liberated as a gay man in Ireland in 2022. I’d imagine if I read a Census form from an Irish gay man 100 years ago they’d be writing that they feel hunted, hated, isolated, and unwelcome. 

These, unfortunately, are not historical feelings for some people in the LGBTQ+ family. 

There are plenty of loud, ugly, modern bigots spreading the same lies and vibes their biggoted ancestors spread but this time, their target are our trans brothers and sisters. 

I hope whoever is reading this in 100 years reels in disgust and disbelief that there are still gross people in 2022 unnecessarily and exhaustingly throwing hate at a group of marginalised, innocent and gorgeous people. 

As a fairly liberated member of the LGBTQ+ family, it’s not time to pull the ladder up, and it’s always worth remembering that there is no LBG without the T.

Zara King, new correspondent, Virgin Media News 

News correspondent, Zara King.
News correspondent, Zara King.

As I write this in 2022 and you read it in 2122, something we will have in common is that feeling of gratitude. Please know that those small things really are the big things. Lots of love, Z. x 

Louise McSharry, broadcaster and podcaster, Catch Up with Louise McSharry 


                        Broadcaster and podcaster, Louise McSharry's, census entry.
Broadcaster and podcaster, Louise McSharry’s, census entry.

We are very lucky to live happily in a nice house with a peaceful family in a lovely part of Dublin which still has a sense of community. 

Technology is a huge part of our life; we sometimes worry if maybe too much. We are proud of the strides toward equality Ireland has made but we would like more progress, specifically in terms of classism, racism, and especially the abolition of direct provision which we are horrified by. 

We worry about climate change.

We have two cats, Debbie and Dolly, which we adopted when I (Louise) had cancer. I am proud to have become entirely self-employed via my podcast (a relatively new media form).

We teach our children to tell the truth, be kind, and accept people as they are. We would like better weather 😊 ‘Wan the Bohs!’.

Chupi Sweetman, jeweller 

Chupi Sweetman left a note for her future great grandchildren.
Chupi Sweetman left a note for her future great grandchildren.

I quit my job in fast fashion for one in diamonds because I wanted to make pieces of the future, so I loved the question in the census form.

Life is so terribly busy in our nonstop world, it’s wonderful to take time and think about what kind of world we want to leave for our grandchildren.

I thought about what I would have liked to have heard from my great-grandmother; I wrote about hope and love. I painted a story of our family as people, not just statistics. 

I described the hope of emerging from a pandemic and the horror of seeing a war in Ukraine. 

I wrote about the social change I have seen in my life; from marriage equality to the right to choose. 

I wrote about my darling daughter and how I hope that in one hundred years we will have a more equal world for women.

I hope that when her grandchildren read it they will get a tiny taste of who we were, how we loved, and what we cared about.

James Patrice, presenter on ‘The Today Show’ and ‘Dancing with the Star’ 

James Patrice sends a message of love, equality, tolerance, and kindness.
James Patrice sends a message of love, equality, tolerance, and kindness.

Here’s to a world of love, equality, tolerance, and kindness … and here’s to keeping her lit!

(A bit cheesy I know, but I love the idea of a future generation seeing those words and not even having to question their place in society.) 

Carl Mullan, 2fm Breakfast with Doireann, Donncha and Carl 

Carl Mullan's time capsule.
Carl Mullan’s time capsule.

On the night of the 3rd of April 2022, we are also joined in our home by our female, black Labrador, Angie.

She is the best girlie-wirlie in the whole world and she makes us laugh and smile every day. She makes our home complete, and we love her very much.

Angie Mullan — born 21/04/20. PS: She’s farting on the couch as I write this because today she ate a hash brown that she shouldn’t have.

Derval O’Rourke, Olympian and Ireland’s Fittest Family Coach 

Derval O'Rourke advised people to use time wisely with people they care about.
Derval O’Rourke advised people to use time wisely with people they care about.

There are four of us in our house and we like to spend our time on the water or near the water. 

Archie, who is three, likes to kiss people all over their faces and hug you around the neck and Dafne, who is six, has told us that she and Archie are planning on living with us in the house forever. 

Be careful with your time because you don’t have that much and use it wisely with people you care about.