Wednesday, 10 June 2015

CLARE ROOTS SOCIETY BOOK LAUNCH - St Michael’s Villas A History and Miscellany

 Book launch and photo exhibition

On Thursday evening, the 18th of June, at 7.30 p.m. a special Mass will be held to remember the deceased residents of St Michael's Villas in Ennis. The Mass will be celebrated by St. Michael's native Fr.Tom Ryan. This will be followed by the much anticipated publication and launch of St Michael's Villas A History and Miscellany. At the Temple Gate Hotel. St Michael's Villas native, Cora Mc Nulty was born there in 1957 and has put together a great collection of photographs and stories about her native place.  The book itself developed from a memorable reunion in September 2001 of residents past and present.
The book outlines the origins and development of this modern housing scheme that began when land was purchased in 1950 by Clare County Council. The scheme was designed to develop much needed housing for rural people on what was then the outskirts of Ennis town. It reveals a snapshot of life in 1953 the year the first residents made their homes in the Villas. The families that moved in to this brand new development were delighted by the space, the gardens and the flush toilets at a time when the Irish economy was recovering in the era after the Second World War. What emerges is a story of a strong community that rallied together, forming tight knit friendships helping others out in times of need. Many of the accounts recall a simpler life where people cared for and looked out for one another in their new community. The Mr and Mrs rule was in force and children were respectful to their friend's parents and neighbours.
Not only does this book capture the social history of an emerging Ireland from the 1950's through to today, it demonstrates a time and people who were self-sufficient and created little waste. Contributors describe the games and the picnics in the crags beyond the estate as well as the deep faith that people had. Ice skating was a regular winter past time on the hill. Many of the young residents were involved in the Legion of Mary. In 1956 the grotto at the heart of the community was planned and it was completed in 1960.
The book describes the history of the area through the sporting achievements of individuals in athletics, hurling and football.  Music and dance were part and parcel of the life in St Michael's Villas too. There were many renowned traditional musicians among the early residents and other great talents emerged across all the music genres from traditional, to rock and roll through the years.
The photographic record that accompanies the book and dispersed throughout, aids to record the characters, families and memories for future generations.  In the final pages the registers of electors record the residents house by house, over time. Overall the book demonstrate a vibrant and lively community with many children and grandchildren of the original residents continuing to live there today. St Michael's Villas A History and Miscellany is a very important contribution to the history of Ennis. On the night a photo exhibition will reflect on the life and times of the St Michael's Villas community.
This is the latest publication in association with the Clare Roots Society which aims to publish and record local histories, places and people. To date over twenty books have been published with more to come.

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