HERITAGE group Dúchas na Sionna launched its Shannon social history project last Friday night. The project is set to be completed by the end of the year, while a book is set to follow on from it.
Most of the work will be carried out by Olive Carey and she said her first priority will be to get a base of information about the people who came to live in Shannon as the town began to develop. A questionnaire will be sent to every house in the town and she wants to find out about the experiences of people at the time they arrived.
“We’d like to find out who came to Shannon, when they came, where they came from, why they came to Shannon and, most importantly, what they felt about living in Shannon, what their experience was when they came here and how they integrated, how they found the community spirit and integrated into the community that they found here.
“Shannon has a very different history to most towns in Ireland in that it’s a planned new town. People came here. Very often they didn’t have family ties to the area, they came because the new town was developing here. There were jobs, there were houses. There’s a different type of history to most towns in Ireland.
“What’s exciting about this project is that it can still record Shannon’s history from the people who came here originally. Those people are still here and it can still be written. We hope that by doing this that it will help develop pride in the town and focus the community.”
As a Shannon person herself, she is really looking forward to getting down to work. “I’m absolutely excited about it. Just really looking forward to meeting people, hearing their stories. I grew up in Shannon myself. I was here from the early ’60s so I can relate to an awful lot of people’s stories. I think my story will be like a lot of people’s. A lot of people who came here were returned emigrants. I was a child at the time but my parents were returned emigrants who had gone to England in the 1950s. When they heard about this exciting new place that Shannon was, where there were jobs and houses, that encouraged them to go back and I grew up in Shannon.
“There’s always been a really cosmopolitan mix in Shannon because in the early days a lot of the large companies that set up in the industrial estate would have brought in their key workers and executives would have been brought in from abroad.
“When I went to school I would have been there with Americans, Dutch and South Africans. It would have been very different from most Irish towns at the time. I think there’s a very distinctive, interesting history to be told and I’m very excited to get started on it.”
Once she has some of the initial research done, Olive plans to do one or two interviews a week. She says that later this year her work should be available to the public.
“The report should be finished by the end of the year. Everything that we collect will be available on the Dúchas na Sionna website. That website will be interactive so people can give us their thoughts through that and we’re setting up a Facebook page,” she said.
Sometime next year a book will be published, following on from the research. Olive says that she would love to get any old pictures that people might have.
“There will be a box available in the library where people can return questionnaires or leave in memorabilia or photographs that may be useful. We’ll scan them and return them if people leave us their names and addresses,” she concluded.