02 Jul 2022

Look back on 80 years of McDermott Terrace history and reflections


Look back on 80 years of McDermott Terrace history and reflections

McDermott's Terrace Manorhamilton

The first estate built by Leitrim County Council in Manorhamilton, McDermott Terrace named after 1916 Proclamation Signatory, Seán MacDiarmada, commenced in 1939 when the erection of 34 houses took place on Boley Hill, on land formerly owned by the Bredin Family.

The construction of these houses was completed in Spring 1942. They were soon occupied afterwards by local people. Most of the original McDermott Terrace residents moved there from The Commons, Church Lane, the Old Bundoran Road, Kilcoosey, Dromahair and from the Glencar area. McDermott Terrace probably was the first social housing estate built in Leitrim.

Among the families that moved in to McDermott Terrace at this time were the Moores, the Keaneys (Alice), the Gaffneys, the Darcys, the McSharrys, the Rooneys (Benny now living on Headford Road in Galway); the Burns, the Murphys, the Farrells, the Dolans, the Beirnes, the Parkes and the Lees, to mention but just a few.

Eighty years ago there were no cars in McDermott Terrace – there was washing on the clothes lines every Monday – there were little gardens at the back of each house in which potatoes, turnips, cabbage and onions were grown. Some of the residents, who had hens would have their own supply of eggs for their own use.
Another feature of life in McDermott Terrace at that time was the 'big' families that included many members who grew up in each house. It was usual at that time for a family, including parents, to number around 6 or seven members, or even more.

A huge plus for all living in McDermott Terrace circa 80 years ago, and indeed for many years afterwards, was its close proximity to the new St. Clare's Boys and Girls National Schools, which were also built just across the road from McDermott Terrace on Boley Hill in 1942. The De La Salle Brothers also came to Manorhamilton in 1942 to run St Clare's Boys National School.

Prior to 1942 a local Committee played a big role in persuading the De La Salle Brothers and Order to come to Manorhamilton. They played a major educational role in the town for the next 32 years. Prominent members of the local community who served on this Committee were Francis Fox, John Dominic Rooney, Hugh Dolan, John McPolin, Gerry Egan, Joe McGoldrick, Owen Murphy, James Lynott and Joe McGoldrick.

Local Head of the De La Salle Order, Brother Ferdinand Lynch also served as the first Principal of the new St Clare's Boys National School. For McDermott Terrace children – in the morning children had not far to go to the new St. Clare's National Schools and they also could go home at dinner time (at that time in the middle of the day) to have their lunches.
The De La Salle Order departed from Manorhamilton in 1974 after providing 32 years of boys primary education in the town. After the boys and girls completed their primary education in St Clare's National Schools, some of them went on to secondary school either in Manorhamilton Vocational School or in St. Joseph's College (1955-1970) when it was established.

However most pupils, after completing their education in St Clare's National Schools in the 1940s and 1950s, went out to work at 14 years of age to get a few pounds to help their families, which is a big change from the current situation. They would have walked to work since few families had cars but some would have cycled to work – those who had bicycles.
Looking at the original 34 McDermott Terrace houses, 7 of them are closed at the moment with no one living in them. The 28 other McDermott Terrace houses have 22 cars outside their doors, 16 of the houses have one person living in them; of the other 12 houses some have 2 people living in them while 1 or 2 houses have 3 people living in them.

In contrast to the 1940s no houses have 'washing' hanging on clotheslines now; no vegetables or hens in gardens, and not many stacks of turf in McDermott Terrace houses sheds either. However one thing that all McDermott Terrace residents are delighted about is that Alfie Moore, who came to live in the Terrace as a 7 year-old 80 years ago, is still living hail and hearty on Boley Hill.

Alfie goes to SuperValu everyday for his shopping. He is the only person that came to live in McDermott Terrace 80 years ago that is still living there. May all the wonderful McDermott Terrace people who have passed on to their eternal rewards since 1942, rest in peace.

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