Thursday, June 15, 2017

Update 16th June

St. Joseph’s Hall 60th Anniversary.
St. Joseph’s Hall was opened with a Gala Concert 60 years ago exactly-1957- on the date I am submitting this though the 16th of June then was a Sunday night. The need for a new modern hall had been fully realised for a number of years. The old St. Patrick’s Hall on Chapel Lane had served the community for decades. People will remember it later as the location for Nire and later still Johnny Keville had his metal work business there. We will treat of St. Patrick’s Hall later. By the early fifties it was in poor shape and the community led by the parish priest Canon Casey starting the drive to have a modern hall. The first meeting to do this was held in April 1954. (Since I am only learning about the story of the hall at the moment I will just give a brief outline here and return perhaps with a more detailed article on it in due course).
At the first meeting a formidable committee was formed to advance the project with Canon Casey as Chairperson and Father Tiernan as assistant. Amongst those on the committee were Messrs Callan, Burke and Sheerin, Michael O’Callaghan, T. P. Kennedy, A. Martin, J.P.Dodd, H. J. Feely, P. Leonard, Mrs. Nan McGrady and Agnes Devine Conlon and – I emphasise-a substantial number of other prominent individuals. With Canon Casey as Chairperson, M. Candon was Secretary and Messrs John F. Martin and H. F. Kerrigan as joint treasures.
A man who was to play a significant role in overseeing the project was Mr.Rhatigan Architect from Sligo (ironically, sixty years later, the architectural firm involved with the new Health Centre being built at The Plunkett Home currently, is Rhatigan & Co. Architects Sligo).
The process was dealt what might have been a major blow with the untimely death of Canon Casey after a short illness in February 1955. His successor in Boyle was Rev. Fr. T. Mahon who ensured that the energy and momentum necessary, for what was a huge project for the time, continued.
A site was sought and an ideal one acquired between Ross Lane and Cootehall Street as it is today. The Sligo building firm of Meldrum/Curran & McGowan were appointed after tender to carry out the building with an initial cost of over £15,000. With the usual alterations and add ons the cost would have been around £20,000 plus. Funding engaged the highest priority of the committee and a multiple of sub-committees were formed. The strain of funding showed and prompted Fr. Mahon to suggest that ‘he felt the strain of the obligation very much’.  The fact that it was carried through successfully was in small way due to the clerical chair-people being in place with the power and influence to drive the project. They were assisted by some outstanding contributions from Mr. Rhatigan, the supervising Architect; Mister Kerrigan the Treasurer and secretaries M. Candon, R. Mullarkey and Paddy Leonard with outstanding committee members too numerous to mention fully.

St. Joseph’s Hall opened at a grand (formal dress!) Gala Concert on Sunday June the 16th with special guest performers being ‘The Irish Festival Singers’ acquired by Fr. Tiernan.

To show what a success it proved to be I will give part of the list of events as noted in the Secretary’s Report (Paddy Leonard) for 1960. “These included 46 Dances, 14 Ceilidhs, 4 concerts, 9 Plays, 2 Picture Shows, 1 Fashion Show, 7 Days of Pantomime, Bazaar & Sale of Work, 2 Jumble Sales, 1 Carnival, 1 Feis, 36 Dancing Classes”. It goes on nominating a multitude of meetings.
The record is a well-documented segment of social history and hopefully I’ll return to it. I will say that St. Joseph’s Hall was a really modern hall when built, has stood the test of time and is a fine building very fit for purpose still. It is credit to those who designed it, to the committee that enabled it being put in place and also those who have retained it in good stead ever since.      

The Crescent South (Upper) Side.
St. Joseph's Hall straddles a few place names, Cootehall Street, Ross Lane and leans towards The Crescent. On the Abbey Community School side of the hall, probably until the sixties there were a number of small white houses with little gardens. That area is now council property and some Feelystone street furniture is there one nominating it as ‘Students Corner’.
1.    Up to the late 20s there was a big house with a business family called the O’Connors no connection to the other O’Connor family on the opposite side. The house fell into disrepair and seemingly became part of the hall site.
2.    Margaret Scanlon, a lodging house with two lodgers in 1911 teachers Bridget Herons and Matthew Brennan. Provided food on fair days. It too was probably included in the hall site or apron.
3.    Robert Johnston, Church of Ireland son Georgie and daughter Minnie. Paddy Kennedy N.T. resided there for a short time.
4.    Army officer and Garda Sean Tarpey linked to this house also. Jim Fitzpatrick dentist.
         Doctor Finn
5.    Callan’s Solicitors, a number of generations; Christy Callan, Tom Callan and currently Christopher.
         Miss Waters 
6.    Joseph Gillespie. ‘Clerk of Petty Sessions’ (court) A daughter Margaret who became famous as Margaret Cousins. She was a Suffragette, married to Cousins and became prominent in Indian rights for women. Paddy and Frances McGee. 

With a number of local people such as Joe Mahon, David Gillespie –a connection- and Frank Geelan I was linked into the placing of a plaque to her memory on the border of two house there, since, apparently they had once been one residence in Margaret’s time.
The plaque details read; “Margaret Cousins (nee Gillespie0 Born in this house 1878. Died in India 1954. Irish Suffragette. Wife of Irish Poet Dr. James Cousins. Founder, in 1921, of The Women’s India Association Madras. Co-founder in 1926 of the All India Women’s Conference. First woman magistrate in India (Madras 1923). Plaque unveiled by the President of the A.I.W. C. Smt. Shobhana Ranade 16th Sept. 1994”. 
7.    Pat O’Rourke who had a small drapery at the entrance to what is now the Arcade in Bridge Street. There were two sons Charlie and Gerry. Gerry was a member of the Garda in Dublin, later in Lanesboro. Charlie went to Birmingham. Later it was Joe Mahon's and currently The Open Table.
8.    Peter Phelan. Paddy Mullarkey. Bertie Devine and family. Bertie a son of T.J. Devine who had been a candidate in the famous 1917 By-election which elected Count Plunkett.
9.    J.H. Cox ‘Shamrock House’ in a 1934 advertisement Tea/wine/Spirits/Hardware/Furniture/Coal Merchant. Always featuring native goods (Economic War). Currently Dodd’s Crescent        Bar. Mister cox may have been a Co. Cllr. for a time. Proprietor during the fifties Joe Dodd Bar and Auctioneer. 

10.                       Ml. H. Drury, wine and spirit merchant
               Grehan’s famous as a music house and for the Grehan Sisters folk group. In recent times Barry Lowe and Anthony Gallagher as The Moving Stairs; Barry Lowe. Currently Sean       Carroll/ Whistlers Restaurant.                 
    (Also on the Crescent in 1910 was Edward J. M’Morrow  with offices in Dublin and Ballagaderreen). 

*Cootehall Street was so named as it was, back into the early 1800s’, the main road to Cootehall. Starting at The Crescent went across what is now Marian Road, continued north of the later railway line, coming out and continuing on the present Carrick road near the present Maple Drive. 

London’s Towering Inferno
A number of you will remember a film called ‘Towering Inferno’ with Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. Well we could all watch London’s own towering inferno at Grenfell Tower on Tuesday night Wednesday morning. The speed with which it developed was frightening as was the mass of film clearly showing the devastation in progress. The whole scene was reminiscent of the 9/11 disaster with the Twin Towers in New York. While a certain number have been nominated as dead -17- and 74 hospitalised and I presume a number of people escaped unscathed but with the complex housing around 400 people the death rate could reach devastating numbers. 
The ongoing nightmare legacy of this fire is the fear it will engender in the thousands of people who live and work in high rise environments not just in London but world-wide. London is certainly getting more than its share of heartache.

Death of Jo Cox M.P.
It is just a year ago on June 16th  2016 that the life U.K. M.P. Jo Cox was taken by a very disturbed and ill man -Thomas Mair- in Yorkshire. It was during the Brexit Referendum campaign which had a certain influence on it. Jo was an idealistic, energetic, young M.P. and her murder was a shocking erratic act. Just remembering, a year on.

Leo Varadkar Taoiseach; A Very Different Ireland
Ireland has been seen historically as a very conservative nation but what a revolution has happened in the last twenty years. Old certainties have been shattered and new mores have risen with speed. The LGBT Referendum, the Enda Kenny speech in the Dail critical of the Catholic Church and now the rise of Leo Varadkar to the head of Government as Taoiseach. Only a short time ago Mister Varadkar was reluctant to disclose his private life of being a gay man. Since that has become known it has made little or no impact on his political progress. His appointment being a gay man and being of mixed race was much more eye-opening news abroad than here. India for particular reason was very interested. Anyway he is where he wanted to be and good luck to him. He will need that also.        
National Bike Week
This week has been National Bike Week. These dedicated days or weeks are there to highlight whatever issues obtain around the subject. Not many years ago the use of the bicycle seemed to be in terminal decline. However there has been a major resurgence in its use. Perhaps this is the influence of continental Europe where cycling is a significant mode of transport for a number of decades and has cultural grasp on the mind-set of people. This is particularly the case in Holland but is also widespread in Denmark and other countries.
As young people, decades ago, the bike was our regular mode of transport. We walked to national school but cycled to the C.B.S. in Roscommon which was over five miles away. Of course there were those who cycled more than double that then also. The bicycle was also the regular transport to matches, cinema, Roscommon town generally and even for some to dances and carnivals. Particular locations in towns became regular parking bays for the bicycle and they were rarely interfered with. Locks were a rarity. When Roscommon won their two All-Irelands in ’43 and ’44 there were many people who cycled all the way to Dublin because of transport restrictions because of the war.
Few youngsters cycle to national or secondary schools today. Some schools are promoting a return to the practise. The grant scheme where workers can buy a bicycle has meant an increase in the numbers and this is evident in Dublin particularly. This is supplemented by the availability of bikes for hire. I just clicked into Dublin bikes and a map came up showing the very large number of locations and the number of bikes available.
The issue in this country is safety and respect between bike users and other road users such as motor car or lorries drivers. The infrastructure for bike use is limited and often dangerous. Sometimes it leads to frustration between the differing modes of transport use. The regular complaint is that cyclists cycle two or more abreast and hinder passing cars. Cyclists on the other hand often feel intimidated by car or especially lorry driving. What of course is required is mutual respect and appropriate practise. Of course there will be those who do not adhere to these terms.
I think it is great to see the return of the bike for the many roles it plays as a healthy, environmentally friendly, flexible mode of transport and I hope that the life cycle of the current resurgence is a long term one. 

Plastic Whale
I meant to mention it last week that the World’s Oceans also had ‘a Day’ to highlight concerns there last week. The theme of the day was "OUR OCEANS, OUR FUTURE"
The main conservation focus was on plastic pollution, prevention and cleaning the ocean of marine litter.
I saw on television a few days ago a beached whale having a kind of autopsy. It was just amazing the amount of plastic that was present in the body of the whale. The world’s oceans are heavily polluted especially with plastic. Oceans are seen as so vast that pollution cannot impact on them but this is not so and there is plenty of emerging evidence to show it.

Hard Luck To
St. Joseph’s Boys National School who went down to Creagh at Lanesboro in the Large Schools Gaelic final on Wednesday evening. At half- time there was the curious score of Boyle 2.4 Creagh 5 goals, a five point difference. Creagh pushed their lead out to 9 points but with a big second half come-back came within two points of victory and nearly stole it in the end. Still many of the players will have been part of the winning team of 2016. The final score Creagh 6.5 Boyle 5.6.

Roscommon v Leitrim
We have been waiting a long time to make our debut in this year’s Connacht Championship but do so on Sunday next in Hyde Park v Leitrim. The expectation is of course that Roscommon will progress from this one and on to the Connacht Final v Galway on July 16th. This is in Salthill since Castlebar of the replayed Connacht Final last year was deemed a home game for Roscommon. Anyway we will see how things go on Sunday first.   

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