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Passion of St Flannan’s Terrace people remembered

 

Brian Dinan on St Flannan’s Terrace. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

WHEN Brian Dinan set out to document the history of St Flannan’s Terrace last August, little did he realise what lay ahead. At first he planned to produce a commemorative booklet within a few months. However, the wealth of photographic material and heart rending stories that emerged led Brian to delve even deeper.

This research has resulted in the publication of new book A Terrace of Houses – A Passion of People, which will be launched by the Clare Roots Society next week. The book is based on the history of St Flannan’s Terrace and the people who lived there over the past 100 years. The book will be launched at 8pm on Thursday, May 30 in The Old Ground Hotel and all are welcome.

Included in the book are 240 photos, most never seen by the public. There are reports on housing conditions of the early 20th century, the Urban Council’s role in building the scheme and a verbatim report of the inaugeration ceremony of 1912. All 46 houses are profiled, complete with photographs. The book also celebrates the sporting successes for St Flannan’s Terrace boys, celebrities and their achievements. Other highlights include an exploration of military connections through the  generations and an index of St Flannan’s Terrace surnames.

In creating the book, Brian found that some amazing people came from the cottages. “Some raised families of up to 16 children, others developed into loveable characters that raised the hearts and spirits of their neighbours. Many emigrated in order to survive. More survived to welcome home lost sons and daughters or the descendants of previous generations but all men and women laboured hard in conditions unimaginable in today’s money-concious society. The St Flannan’s Terrace group of people should feel proud in having brought a commendable community into 21st century Ennis,” said Brian.

He found that there was no need to go looking on computers for information, with plenty already stored in life’s great memory bank, the human memory.

Local woman Eileen Dinan, nee Morgan, of 26 St Flannan’s Terrace produced many great memories to kick off the project. Eileen, at 91 years of age, was able to recall all of the family names as well as individual names for all the children of the 46 houses that made up the St Flannan’s Terrace community of the 1930s and 40s.

She recited the complete list from memory in one sitting with the author. The list was perfectly matched by Peggy Pilkingon of number 17, who had also listed all the residents from her own memory.

As might be expected, memories abound in this commemorative book. Yet many of them are of an unexpected kind. For instance, a published account called My Rocky Road by Mary Muriel Hall is a personal diary of one girl’s unfortunate young life on the terrace.

Among the larger-than-life characters remembered in the book is Florrie Moroney, matriarch to the young children on the Clonroad Terrace. In many instances, she bought First Communion shoes and socks for children whose families were struggling to make ends meet during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. She was a fanatical Éire Óg supporter who washed the team jerseys for free.

Brian estimates that as many as 500 people emigrated from the Terrace during the course of its 100-year existence and most never returned. “The loss of such people to the town and the country is hard to estimate. Somehow a core of humanity struggled on and to some extent it could be said that they rose above adversity after adversity until they arrived prosperous and equal to the best in the latter half of the 20th century,” commented the author.

“The St Flannan’s Terrace residents of today have achieved much with their sturdy, attractive cottages. The pleasing presentation of the houses speaks, not only for the enduring quality of the buildings but, more importantly, of the quality of their owners. They also act as a tribute to generations past, to people who could hardly dream of such progress. Indeed, it might be said that St Flannan’s Terrace cottages are now something of a status symbol in Ennis town housing.”

In producing the book, Brian was assisted by the St Flannan’s Terrace Centenary Committee of Caroline Collins, Mary McAllister, Monica Ward, Noel Dinan, Michael Collins, Michael Meere and Michael Fitzgerald.

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