Development of community facilities
The Bosco Youth Centre began its life under Fr. Carney (one of the catholic curates) who devoted much of his energies to the Youth of the area. The first site was at the 2nd lock on what is now Davitt Road. Sometime later Fr. Carney acquired, through a friend, a large Georgian house – Prospect House – which stood at the junction of Kildare Road and St Mary’s Road – now ‘The Star’.
During its time in residence there the Bosco won many awards in Athletics, Drama and Choral competitions thus firmly establishing itself as a successful club but it had to move on again and for a period of one year the club was without premises. Eventually a site on Sperrin Rd. was acquired with ‘Nissan Huts’ acquired from Northern Ireland formed the first permanent structure. It now provides excellent sporting facilities and a thriving local Youth Club.
Fr. Laurence Redmond C.C. who ministered in the Parish from 1952 to 1957 and devoted all his energies to the youth of the Parish, is remembered through the Lar Redmond Centre on Keeper Road.
The first group of Sisters of Mercy arrived in the parish on January 3rd 1944 to take charge of the girls and infants National Schools. On the 10th of January 1944 the newly erected schools of the parish – Infants, Girls and Boys – were officially opened by the then Minister for Education. At the time of its opening the school complex was regarded as one of the biggest and the most modern school buildings in Europe.
In 1950 the Sisters organised a Girls Club – the Mother McAuley Girls Club- on the school premises. It catered mainly for the 15 plus age group and provided classes in cookery, art and choral work.
Shortly after his arrival in Drimnagh, Fr. Delaney was approached by some parishioners who sought his support for the building of a Community Centre. The ground on which the hall was to be built was acquired through the good offices of Ald. Peadar Doyle. The Centre, known as Our Lady’s Hall was officially opened 1954.
The hall fell into disrepair in the late 90’s but a major job driven by the local Residents Association, has seen the hall reopened after a major facelift. It is now a thriving centre for community classes and organised events.
Children’s Hospital: A major event of the 1950’s was the opening of Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children situated in Drimnagh. Land was acquired in 1937 by the then Archbishop of Dublin, Most. Rev. Dr. Edward Byrne and work started on the project in 1950. The hospital was solemnly blessed by the Archbishop of Dublin Most. Rev. John Charles McQuaid and opened by the Minister for Health Mr. Tom Higgins T.D. on Nov. 22nd 1956. Strange but true, although the Children’s Hospital is named for Crumlin, it has always been located on its current site in Drimnagh.
Education: The sixties brought great changes in the field of education and the effects of such changes were also felt in Drimnagh. Secondary schooling first came here in 1956 when the Sisters of Mercy established a “Secondary Top’’. The Boys’ National school also offered this facility to some of the boys of their National School. The system lasted for little over a decade. With the coming of ‘Free Education’ in September 1966, the Sisters of Mercy responded by establishing the first Girls’ Secondary School – Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School – which offered girls an opportunity to continue their education. On boys secondary education once again the Sisters of Mercy were to the forefront. They agreed to offer the boys an education up to Leaving Cert. in a Co-Educational setting. Premises were found when the Boys National School vacated its premises on Mourne Road and transferred to Sperrin Road.
Facilities for the Elderly: In order to cater for an ever growing number of senior citizens, the Mother Catherine McAuley Centre catering for senior citizens was opened in 1975. It opened in 1975 and provides pleasant surroundings where older persons can meet together, enjoy a chat, play Bingo, be entertained and have a daily meal. A Meals on Wheels service is also run from the centre. Some of its members first came to Drimnagh to settle down and raise a family in the 1930’s. The Centre is named after the Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy (RSM).
On the 25th of April 1993, the President of Ireland, Mrs. Mary Robinson attended Mass concelebrated by the Archbishop and the priests of the parish to launch the Golden Jubilee ceremonies for the Parish.
Drimnagh Transport: In terms of transport there was none in the early days. Then came the 22 (now the 122) making the roundabout at the church its terminus. The 23 (now the 123) with its terminus at Cooley Road (at the wall of the Valley) and the 50A (since ceased operating) to the top of Mourne Road.
Drimnagh is now a transport hub, located between the Luas on the north side of Drimnagh, and a quality bus corridor on the south side, with a choice of the 18, 122, 123, 151, 27, 56a, 77a and 77x bus routes all stopping at the Children’s hospital.
Organizations catering for the various needs of the community sprouted up in those early years.
Many dedicated people, both then and now, dedicated their time and talents to building a sense of community in the area. They formed the road leagues for soccer, they helped build the Bosco – to mention but a few.
In 1944 the St. Vincent de Paul society set up its first conference to assist those families in needy circumstances. In 1944 also, the first branch of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association was formed and in 1951 the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps came to Drimnagh. In 1954 the “Good Counsel Gaelic Club” was formed which has since produced a host of players going on to County level.
The Drimnagh Residents Association (DRA) was founded in 1936 and is still going strong.
In 1967 The Drimnagh Tenants Association, now the Drimnagh Residents Community Group (DRCG), was also founded, and operates in tandem with the DRA.
The Good Counsel Musical Society was formed in 1959. The society was launched with the production “The Mikado”.
More recently, in the late 2000’s the Sing Act Dance theatre group was started up, with rehearsals for all age groups from tots to late teens, running in the Mourne Road community centre. They have to date run a number of very successful shows, giving the incredible talent within Drimnagh an outlet to show what they can do.
The medical needs of those arrivals in Drimnagh were catered for by men like Dr. Millar, Dr. Deasy and Dr. Hooper, and indeed even when a type of free medical service was, under the terms of the Health Act 1952, offered to those on a means tested basis, these men continued to serve the community from their private surgeries. Today another Hooper, and others, carry on the medical tradition in Drimnagh.