Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The building of the Pairc Bhride Housing estate

During the 1930s as part of the Slum Clearance Programmes initiated by de Valera’s Government Athy U.D.C. increased its housing stock from 30 houses to 269 houses. It represented the greatest decade for house building in the town’s history. The next housing scheme planned by the Council was for 94 houses in O’Rourke’s field on the road to Barrowhouse. It was to be named Pairc Bhride after the patron saint of County Kildare. Officially opened in 1949 the tenants appointed were required to pay rents of up to 18 shillings per week in addition to a charge of 4 shillings per week for rates and water rates. Work on the houses commenced after the Department of Local Government approved in July 1948 the tender of local builders D. & J. Carbery in the sum of £134,166-18-8. The houses were completed by March 1950. The workmen employed by Carberys worked a 48 hour week, 8¾ hours a day for five days and 4¼ hours on Saturdays. The general operatives earned £4-8-10 per week, while carpenters earned £7-1-9. The workmen identified 68 years after the housing scheme was completed included Fran Ellard who drove the company’s lorry, Joe Dillon who had charge of the company’s horse and cart and Maurice Doogue who drove a large dumper. The electrician was Stephen Farrell whom I am told had a radio shop in Duke Street and the cleric of works was Godfrey McDonald of Carlow. All of the railings to the front of the houses were made and assembled by Dom Harte who later worked in the carpet department of Shaws. The youngest person on the site, and he was only there occasionally, was 8-year-old Jerry Carbery who was given the task of blowing a whistle to signal the end of the day’s work. Jerry has compiled the following names of the men who worked on the Pairc Bhride houses which I want to put on record. I would like to hear from anyone who can give me the full names of these men. M. Carbery, M. May, J. O`Connor, J. Ryan, M. Forde, M. Mullery, J. Dobbins, P. Robbins, T. Breen, C. May, J. Carbery, M. Candy, P. Fennelly, T. Knowles, M. Dooley, M. Bradley, J. Finn, J. Murray, J. Murphy, D. Shaughnessy, M. Hanley, T. Sheridan, J. Hanley, S. Dixon, T. Simms, J. Mc Evoy, P. Toomey, K. Reddy, T. Baker, A. Metcalfe, F. Mc Partlin, D. Harte, D. Nolan, J. Dillon, J. Keeffe, N. Lawler, R. Alcock, P. Aldridge, M. Johnson, P. Murphy, P. Roche, J. Sweeney, T. Dunne, J. Lucas, Ed. Pierce, J. Chanders, C. Myles, S. Bolger, P. Ryan, M. Connelly, J. Maher, P. Carbery, P. Casey, E Murray, J. Kavanagh, J. Ryan, D. Carter, J. Doogue, T. Flynn, M. Nolan, M. Prendergast, P. Doyle, J. Sweeney, F. Ellard, T. Maguire, E. Flynn, J. Duffy, T. Lynch, M. Rainsford, A. Lawler, G. Dillon, P. Kiely, , J. O`Sullivan, J. Bolger, J. Maher, J. Dunne. While reading through research notes for information on the Pairc Bhride Housing Scheme I came across the following extract from the minute book of the UDC under the date 6th of February 1950. ‘The town planning consultant submitted a sketch development plan under the Planning Acts complete except for the exact route of the proposed by-pass road. He is to consult with the County Engineer re same’. Who would have ever thought that the outer relief project goes back 67 years. Two entries in the Council minute books revived two very youthful memories of mine. One related to the drowning of young James Bracken who was lost in the River Barrow directly opposite to where the Bracken family lived in Emily Square. I remember the shock of that day as I can remember two years later the sudden death of Councillor Thomas Flood whose passing was noted in the minutes of the Council meeting of the 6th of December 1950 with the entry ‘Francis Flood, 11 Leinster Street co-opted to the Council to fill the vacancy caused by his father’s death’.

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