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Shannon Town Centre in the 1970s. photograph courtesy of SkyCourt

Shannon social history connects old and new

NEXT Tuesday night will mark  the culmination of more than three years of preparation when the report of the Shannon Social History project will be launched at  Seán Lemass Library.

The title of the report, Shannon-Between Old World and New World, comes from a quote from Brendan O’Regan and it was chosen to reflect two perspectives of Shannon’s story-that of the people steeped in a traditional way of life, whose farms were purchased for the building of Shannon and those who settled in the fledgling town.

The report brings together around 40 interviews that were conducted with long term residents. Written accounts were also donated to the project by people who were among the town’s earliest residents but have since moved away.

Olive Carey co-ordinated the project and speaking about it she said, “Over the last three years it has been a fair amount of work to record the interviews, then transcribe them, then collating them and putting all of the information together.

“I was so grateful to people who were so generous with their stories, talking to me, sharing their memories of the early days and Shannon, even donating some of their photographs and memorabilia to the project. It was a very enjoyable process.”

As someone who lived in Shannon from a young age, she said she found the project very stimulating.

“There were so many interesting things that came out of the project. I came to live in the town myself as a child and viewed the early days of the town from a child’s perspective. To learn what it was like for the adults who came here in the early days was fascinating for me. The people who lived in the area before the town was built, it was great to get an insight into what life was like in the locality before the town. There was a history, you know about the Hastings conservation project and its connection to the War of Independence. A very interesting item that only recently turned up in one of the allotments near there was an old Enfield rifle that was buried at that time. It wasn’t seen again until one of the people there found it recently and donated it to Dúchas na Sionna. Those kind of things were just fascinating.”

Some of the themes explored by the interviewees who lived in the locality before the building of the town include farm life, folklore and customs, going ‘ar cuairt’ to each others houses and the arrival of electricity in the area.
There are accounts of works to prepare for the airport’s development, while some of the interviewees spent their entire working lives at the airport. Among the saddest memories of the interviewees were the accounts of various air disasters in the area.

Further themes of the growth of Shannon include the establishment of places of religious worship, the building of the Town Centre, known then as Croí na Sionna and the beginnings of the sports and cultural organisations of the town.
The launch will take place at 7pm on Tuesday and there will be a presentation and excerpts from some of the recordings. Copies of the report will be available on CD and all are welcome.

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