Myshall & Drumphea Parish, Co. Carlow, Ireland - Local Organisations - Muintir na Tíre

Local Organisations

MYSHALL MUINTIR NA TÍRE: Through The Ages 1948-2007

2008 marked the Diamond Jubilee of Muintir na Tíre in Myshall and there is no doubt that over the past six decades the organisation has made a very real, proud, positive and practical contribution to local development in the Parish of Myshall. Initially Muintir was a rural community movement placing emphasis on self help and utilising the great Irish tradition of 'muintearas' or neighbourliness. Canon Hayes, the charismatic and dynamic founder of the organisation visited Myshall in 1954 to bless the Marian Shrine on the Carlow Road.

Records at National level say that as far back as 1951 representation was being made for road repairs, housing needs, pumps sewerage etc. In the 1950’s members were involved in canvassing for the extension of the Rural Electrification Programme, held fairs, whist drives and made arrangements for various classes to be held in woodwork, butter-making, sewing etc. Scholarships for Summer Schools were offered and in the summer of 1957 a student from the locality attended an agricultural course in Athenry. Mineral exploration and a view to having some kind of local industry were also top of the agenda in the early 50’s. The Marian Shrine project in 1954 was the single most significant project of the 50’s but maintenance work was also carried out on the old graveyard and the ruined St. Finian’s Church - all completed through voluntary labour.
 


Marian Shrine, Carlow Road

 
In 1960 the Guild was instrumental in purchasing the ownership and rights of the Sportsfield (the Ranch) and the members co-operated with the local authority in Civil Defense Courses. The ‘60’s brought a conclusion to the campaign to have the street lit and there is documentary evidence to show the Guild’s entry in the Tidy Towns competition for the first time in 1963 which states the area tied for first place with Silvermines, Co. Tipperary - whether this competition was confined to Muintir Na Tíre or was part of the National Tidy Towns is not clear. All during the 1960’s the Guild was responsible for running the sheep mart and the social calendar in the 1960’s was hectic - lectures, debates, fireside chats, céilithe, dances, film shows, card drives question times and excursions to name but some of the activities.

In 1969 a Guild of Muintir na Tíre was founded in Drumphea. The members there laid paths and cleaned up their cemetery, purchased a chair for the Church sanctuary and joined with Myshall Guild in putting up a memorial over the grave of Rev. Joseph Kehoe former Parish Priest of Myshall.

The 1970’s brought further development to the Mart as a shed was built to house the pens and in conjunction with the G.A.A. Club the Ranch was made ready for games and sports and right through the seventies the Guild sponsored “The Tangent Parish Newsletter” predecessor of the current Myshall Parish Magazine. In the 70’s the guild organised ‘Tops of the Parish’ competitions from which Richie Kavanagh traces his success and sponsored/organised the Old Folks Parties, Ploughing Association Dinner Dances etc.

Lack of youth involvement hampered major activities in the eighties and V.E.C. and FÁS Schemes replaced localised training and development nevertheless the Guild still continued to help out with parish affairs and in 1984 the branch donated £2,600 to the setting up of an automatic bell for the Church of the Holy Cross. It also donated money to numerous presentations e.g. the Golden Jubilee of Frs. Hayden and Roche in 1988. In the 1980’s Muintir launched the Community Crime prevention programme Community Alert.

In the 1990’s Myshall Muintir Na Tíre donated money to the Drumphea Church renovations, provided a wheelchair ramp at the Church door in Myshall, contributed every year to the Annual Sports Day and the Ranch was given as a training ground for Community Games and athletics training. It contributed to the 1798 commemorations and provided lectionaries for the Churches. To celebrate Myshall Muintir’s Golden Jubilee in 1998 the Guild was visited by Mr. J. Quigley President of Muintir Na Tíre who said that he felt sure that down through the years the members were inspired by the philosophy of Canon Hayes which motivated them to work for the common good even at the cost of personal sacrifice. “You here in Myshall have shown the way in the past, and may the future be as productive and innovative in the coming years” continued Mr. Quigley as he congratulated the Guild on their efforts over 50 years.
 


Myshall Muintir na Tíre group in 1954

 
Since the Golden Jubilee the Guild has helped set up Myshall Garden Club, the Blackstairs Vintage Club and it continues to be involved in the Tidy Towns Initiative. In Dec. 2006 the Guild was instrumental in organising a very successful ‘New Residents Welcome and Information Night’ which took place in the Community Centre but undoubtedly the most successful venture of the last ten years was our entry in the Pride of Place competition in 2007 that climaxed with a National victory. To mark this win the Guild held a celebration night in Myshall Community Centre on Dec. 5th last attended by a large crowd including many dignitaries from Dáil Éireann and Carlow Co. Council. Following this we had our first ever float in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade where we were delighted to show off our National win and trophy.

The Guild chose Sunday August 31st to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee. This coincided with Heritage Week and the afternoon began with a historical walk around the village commencing at the Community Centre and stopping at ten places in the village highlighting two or three points of interest at each stop. The influence of Muintir Na Tíre over the years on the village was noted in a particular way at each stop. Archival material relating to the village and environment e.g. Letters of Cornwall written to Dublin Castle from Myshall Lodge in 1798, articles written in 1938 in the local Primary Schools as part of a Folklore collection together with the Village Plan and archival material relating to Muintir Na Tíre itself were on display in the Community Centre.
 


Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Muintir na Tire in 2008 are original members
Jim Nolan and Danny O'Neill with Bríd Coakley, National Muintir President
 

The President of Muintir Na Tíre, Bríd Coakley travelled from Cork for the occasion and she said it was a privilege to be present in an area where a guild had obviously been at the core of activities over the years. She said that we are in a period where it is increasingly difficult to keep members interested as there are so many demands on one’s time and leisure activities and acquiring funds for various activities is always difficult. She was delighted to see the plans that Muintir had submitted to Carlow Co. Council for the future of the village because it meant the Guild not only had a glorious past but a future and she encouraged the members present to continue that work even though it means self sacrifice and huge voluntary contribution. A highlight of the evening for Bríd, was meeting the very first secretary of the Guild Mr. Danny O’ Neill, Hollybrook. The evening concluded with some music in the village.

The year 2009 has been significant as we have gone global with the launch of this website. We are the proud hosts and our hope is that it can encompass all that is good about the whole area and promote Myshall and Drumphea at all times. The committee is always open to new members and ideas.
 

MYSHALL MUINTIR NA TIRE AND PRIDE OF PLACE

Enthusiastic, infectious, ambitious but most of all - willing are the only ways to describe the mood at the Pride of Place meetings which took place in Myshall Community Centre during May and June of 2007 attended most nights by at least 20 people. The date was finally set for the judging– July 3rd and a theme chosen - ‘Pride of Place thro’ the ages’ subdivided into History, Agriculture, Enterprise, Education, Myshall as a welcoming & caring community, Entertainment and it was hoped that this would involve all aspects of our community here in the parish of Myshall from former times to present day and each club and society in the area were asked to prepare an A4 sized information sheet outlining the wonderful aspects of their activities together with a photograph of their proudest moment for a souvenir booklet which would be given to the judges on the day. Each club responded wonderfully and much of what appeared in that booklet is on our website today.

In preparation for the big day clean-ups were organised on Saturday mornings from 10 – 12 noon and during this time community areas were painted, trimmed, hedges clipped etc. and at the same time private residents worked on improving their own premises and so by July 3rd the village had never looked better. And so the day dawned – a little showery but not bad considering the terrible weather we encountered during that summer. The judge’s route started off in a very crowded Community Centre where on entering the building they were greeted with a rapturous spontaneous round of applause. Four members of the community Michael Doyle, Patsy McLean, Gretta Roberts and Tony McCluskey gave a PowerPoint presentation which featured the seven aspects of our chosen theme ‘Myshall Through the Ages’ as outlined above. Then, led by John Nolan the judges viewed displays in the Community Centre where the many non sporting organisations had very impressive stands: Local Businesses, Muintir Na Tíre, Senior Citizens, Parish Magazine, I.C.A., Macra Na Feirme, Ploughing, Apostolic Workers, Chernobyl Children’s Project, 1798 Committee, Millennium Committee, etc. There were displays too from students who had travelled to 3rd world countries, private displays from people involved in local crafts and who could not be touched by the huge voluntary effort that was shown to have gone into the John Maher Cycle for Charity that had taken place last year. A Wall of Fame of people who have served our parish well over the years in various non-sporting roles took up a large section of one of the walls of the Community Centre and the judges really got absorbed in the whole event – they listened with interest to what each group had to offer, tasted Mary Nolan’s home made butter and bread, watched Margaret Doyle spin on her wheel, tried their hand at the Bingo on the Senior Citizens stand and were entertained royally by Jim Nolan and Bridie Phelan.

Moving outside and escorted by Brigid Fox and Charlie Murphy they were delighted to meet and be photographed with our World Ploughing Champions Johnny and Eamon Tracey and their delight at viewing the wonders of the vintage club when one announced he at one time owned a beetle himself. There was a damp moment as they were brought by the Church of the Holy Cross and told about the Byrne Trust Fund, through the recently renovated Tobar Bhríde and on to the Adelaide Memorial Church but sheltered as far as possible by umbrellas they paused to admire St. Finian’s Church ruins the remains of early Christianity in the village and the Children’s playground and tennis court. The Adelaide Memorial Church looked splendid – the floral displays were second to none and the sound of the music and singing resounding through this architectural gem was sure to have had a huge influence on the judges who were pointed out the most artistic and historical features of the Church. From the Church the judges were brought by horse and carriage down Church Road to the Primary School where they were welcomed by Principal Noel McGarvey and his staff and pupils who showed them many exhibitions of educational interest and performed some Irish figure dancing and heard some fabulous singing. From the school the entourage moved onto the 1954 Marian Shrine on the Carlow Road and continued to the newer parts of the village - Mountain View Estate and St. Oliver’s Park where they were told how the residents each year celebrate St. Oliver’s feast day and about the new residents night that was organised to introduce new members to the community.
 


Two very different forms of transport shown to the judges
 

Returning to the village they stopped at the Parish Pump where the Myshall Set Dancers were 'dancing at the crossroads' for most of the day! Taking a walkabout in the by now crowded village they took a few minutes in McEvoy’s to view a Community Art Exhibition which was open to the public. Here it was amazing to see so many wonderful exhibits from local artists working in many media forms. A pikeman escort greeted the judges as they turned the Picket Corner which soon gave way to two Redcoats guarding the Grand Gates and a feast of delicious strawberries and cream in the Millennium Park. Serenaded by Vincent Dunne and George Farrelly they heard Myshall’s song the Croppy Boy as they were shown where Myshall Lodge once stood proudly marked now by the presence of only two monkey puzzle trees. One of the judges was from Tyrone and had a keen interest in the whole story of Robert Cornwall who was himself from Tyrone. Finally, then, the horse and carriage went on its final journey taking them onto the G.A.A. pitch.

Entering the G.A.A. the young boys and girls from the parish greeted them with a black and amber guard of honour and later showed off their hurling and football skills in demonstration games. Inside the club house there was a feast of colour with all walls decked with club banners from most of the 14 sporting clubs. Tommie Murphy was Fear an Tí here and introduced them to those who were manning each stand, pointing out too the very impressive sporting wall of fame which was on view making it clearly visible that Myshall has had heroes not only at local and county level but on the National and World stage. Just like in the Community Centre earlier the judges had a smile and word for all. A welcome cup of tea and scones provided by Margaret Whelan and Mrs. Smithers was taken ‘on foot in the club house before finally as a grand finale and thanks to Stephen Murphy, Milltown Engineering, the judges were taken by helicopter over the village of Myshall to majestic Mount Leinster and over the other half of the parish to view Drumphea and Garryhill before returning to bid one final goodbye. The whole route was meant to take two hours and the staff of the Co. Council were anxious that they would not be delayed at any time but who could stop them from asking questions, having their photographs taken as they had on many occasion e.g. with the Danoli trophies and colours and who could stop the terrific feeling of welcome and solidarity that our community was offering on that day. They left Myshall knowing that it is indeed a place with a proud history, a strong community spirit and a prosperous future and as they left everyone else in the village enjoyed a barbeque and entertainment in the street because Pride of Place was not just for the judges to behold but for the local people to experience.
 


Victorious Myshall Muintir na Tíre group
 

Then there was the long wait…..until the 10th of November to be exact when at a grand banquet in Westport the unthinkable was announced – Myshall were winners of their category not only in the 26 counties of Ireland but encompassing the whole Island – Yes we have proved it - we are a very proud community in a very proud place.

Visit the Muintir na Tíre website for more information.
 

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