Monday, 22 September 2014

‘SUMMERHILL ….. TIMES PAST, NEW BEGINNINGS’ presented by Clare Roots Society


will be launched in the Old Ground Hotel 
on Thursday the 2nd of October at 8:15pm. 
Come, meet friends and enjoy a good night!

Thursday Night the 2nd October at 8.15 p.m. in the Old Ground Hotel Nuala Kennedy  in association with Clare Roots Society will launch their latest book Summerhill ….. Times Past, New Beginnings. The book will be launched by the Mayor of Ennis Municipal Committee Cllr.Johnny Flynn. A mass for the Community of Summerhill and their friends past and present  will be celebrated in the Cathedral at 7:30pm prior to the launch.  Everybody very welcome.

Ennis is a town of narrow streets and laneways.  The area now known as Summerhill was part of a series of lanes generally known as Fahey's Lane, Corkalley Lane and Vinegar Lane.  The earliest reference to the area dates to the mid 1700s.  Using various sources Nuala has produced a map of the lanes and houses.  The houses are numbered and their occupants from 1855 to 1935 are recorded.  In 1935 the families moved to new homes in Connolly Villas and Hermitage.  Those, who lived or are living in these areas or indeed in other parts, and have an interest in family history, may find their names recorded in the Summerhill Book,. To help the reader the names from the Griffiths Valuation and Cancellation books are also listed in alphabetical order in the index.

Once the old houses were demolished the plan was to build new houses in the area. The process to start the Summerhill Project began in 1933 but the first residents did not move in until 1949.  There were many delays, frustrations and financial constraints along the way including World War Two or as it was known, 'the Emergency'. A number of people recall playing in the area as children. At this time it was just a derelict piece of land and referred to locally as the 'Clearance'.

Many of the first residents to move into Summerhill were employed as radio officers in Ballygireen radio station or worked in Shannon Airport.  Nuala has recorded the names of the residents and their children from 1949 up to 2014. Through the generosity of many families there are photographs dating back to the 1940s so faces can be matched with the names. Also included are the original documents relating to the leasing and purchasing of the houses, guidance for tenants, terms of repayment and many more.

Summerhill was an area of young families in 1949.  Memories abound of the excitement of moving into a new home, street games played safely in what was originally a cul de sac, races run around the town, the night the Pearl Factory went on fire, Corpus Christi, skating down the hill to the echoes of 'Off the Ice' and many, many more.  These same memories stretch back to growing up in the town in the 1920s 30s and 40s and finish with the noughties, covering nearly a century.  This is an important first hand record of life not alone in Summerhill but in the town of Ennis and indeed similar to many towns around the country. 
Summerhill was a place of fun and mischief.  The children took  part in many of the activities offered in Ennis eg Irish dancing, Irish instrumental music, performing with local choirs, school bands and orchestras, school concerts and musicals, and partaking in all types of sport.   A talented young singer from Summerhill had the lead role in the Abbey's Christmas Pantomine two consecutive years  and much to the excitement of the Summerhill residents one of these was featured on national television.  Another young lady won the prestigious Thomas Moore Cup for the best rendering of Moore's Melodies at Feis Ceoil in Dublin.   A young man, after serving with the RAF, went on to become an accomplished artist. Dancers and musicians from Summerhill  won prizes all over the country including all Ireland medals.  Many performed  outstandingly well in the field of sport including hurling, camogie, soccer and golf.  Indeed Summerhill has produced people who have contributed in no small way to their local communities in their chosen professions and through local voluntary work. 

The publication has approx. over 1000 individual names, 380 photographs,  original documents relating to the houses, parking in the area and the army. It also traces the original Minutes of the Urban District Council in relation to the area between 1933 and the 1950s. 

And do you know of a Summerhill in another continent?  Well the answer is to be found on page 130. 

So no matter what your interest, be it genealogy, local history, social history, the challenges and achievements of the building programmes that took place in the 1930s and 40s or just to enjoy a wonderful array of photographs this is the book for you.  It will truly be a trip down memory lane for anyone who grew up in the town of Ennis. 


An Irish doctor, with connections to a family in Summerhill, played a noteworthy part in the closing scenes of the great Napoleon's life on the island of St Helena;   a young soldier's last letter to his mother as he fought on the battlefields of France in 1917 ; a widowed mother travels to Arlington Cemetery and receives the Purple Heart on behalf of her son who lost his life in WW2;  a soldier serving with the United Nations in the Congo – these are just some of the stories which feature in the latest publication of Clare Roots Society….   'Summerhill ….  Times Past, New Beginnings'.  The author, Nuala Kennedy, a retired primary school teacher, grew up in the area and has spent the last two years researching and collecting information for this book. 

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