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Val Byrne


The Community Time Machine

Age Friendly Ireland, the Creative Ireland Programme and the Department of Rural and Community Development have launched a new initiative to combat isolation and preserve the social history of small communities throughout Ireland.

To mark the UN International Day of the Older Person, Age Friendly Ireland in partnership with the Creative Ireland Programme and the Department of Rural and Community Development have launched The Community Time Machine.

This age-friendly cross-generational community building project will be delivered by Neighbourhood Network and is designed to connect young people with their older neighbours through a series of facilitated interviews, art projects and photography.

Working together, the two generations will create a picture of what their communities looked like in the past and how they have changed. From these engagements an exhibition website will be created to house the conversations had, the pictures from each project and of their participants.

Sheila Cleary & Hannah Gerlitz, Bray, Co. Wicklow

The interviews and pictures will also be added to a community time capsule and sealed for 10 years so that an important archive of social change will be preserved for generations to come.

The project was successfully piloted last year in Wicklow during the height of the pandemic, it became a vehicle to combat isolation and create social cohesion within communities. It is currently being delivered in Meath, Monaghan and Westmeath.

To date the response has been wonderful. Early findings indicate that small Irish communities have proved to be surprisingly resilient in the face of the global health crisis.

“Stories of communities working together to protect and sustain their vulnerable older people have emerged along with an abiding love for home”

This year with additional support from Age Friendly Ireland, the Creative Ireland Programme and the Department of Rural and Community Development, Neighbourhood Network will be able roll out The Community Time Machine to more communities around the country. Some of the areas looking forward to participating are Dún Laoghaire | Rathdown, Cavan, Donegal and Kilkenny.

Pairing Young & Old

In each participating Local Authority area, five communities will be engaged to take part. Over a four-month period, a voluntary community organiser will oversee and facilitate the pairing of five young people with five older people in their community to collaborate on this project, develop community connections and help to build sustainable relationships.

Louise Curran, a Community Organiser in the Wicklow Community Time Machine, spoke of her experience on the project: “It has been a delight to see this project evolve – the connections strengthened between generations with the wonderful stories being told. I am also grateful to the project for giving me another way of offering senior members of a community a means to show their significance in society. My lockdown experience has been deeply enriched by these kind and loving souls.”


Dorothy Hutson, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media said: “The Creative Ireland Programme is proud to support the work of Neighbourhood Network in developing this project that empowers communities, offers support and friendship to our older people and turns residents into citizen researchers with a creative way.”

The Community Time Machine project is an excellent and Covid-safe way to engage with older people. It is particularly timely that it is planned to start in the autumn, as it will bring a sense of joy and foster community connections during the darker months of the year.  Speaking about the project, Catherine McGuigan, Chief Officer of Age Friendly Ireland said: “Age Friendly Ireland are delighted to collaborate with our colleagues in Department of Rural & Community Development, the Creative Ireland Programme and Neighbourhood Network to deliver this wonderful project across a number of participating local authority-led age friendly programme areas with our Older People’s Councils. Such initiatives are enabling us to realise the vision of an Age Friendly Ireland as set out in this Government’s Programme for Government | Our Shared Future”

Mary Lionain & Méabh Ní Dubhlaing, Arklow Co. Wicklow

Welcoming the initiative, Joe O’Brien, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development with special responsibility for Community Development and Charities said: “This project helps to connect generations in a safe environment. We have seen the importance of community engagement over the past 18 months, particularly in tackling social isolation. As we recover and reopen from COVID19, initiatives like The Community Time Machine encourage social inclusion across generations, bringing communities closer together and supporting well-being for all”.

As of Friday 1st October, The Community Time Machine Project has officially launched online, and the Wicklow gallery is available to view here.

For further information contact:

Sylvia McCarthy, Age Friendly Ireland | Meath County Council

M         +353 (0) 83 4422111


Aoife O’Connor, Neighbourhood Network


For more information on the project and how to get involved in your county, click here.

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