By Kevin Thorp
Secretary of The Rush Community Council
The Rush Community Council was first conceived in the back lounge of Morton’s Bar, now known as The Strand Bar, Main Street, Rush on a Friday night in November 1974. It was the brainchild of a small dedicated group of people led by Paul Ruigrok, Helen McGee and Michael McGee who came together to try and co-ordinate the efforts of various community groups under one umbrella and to unite them in their endeavours. Since that time the Strand Bar (pictured below) has loomed large in Community Affairs in Rush and due to the generosity of the current owner Joe Sherman many local groups have been provided with somewhere to conduct their affairs. Chief among these is the Loughshinny and Rush Historical Society who regularly hold talks and illustrated lectures using the facilities generously supplied by Mr. Sherman who is also noted for his patronage of other groups, mainly sporting, in Rush. Long may his generosity and foresight continue.
The Strand Bar – Rush Community Council Birthplace
To help advertise their idea and get it up and running the ad hoc group organised a public meeting in that same Lounge where a committee was formed. This committee launched their own newsletter two months later in January 1975 and called it The Rush Community News. It was a simple but effective four page publication printed on thick green paper and was edited by Jack O’Keeffe. The original masthead he designed is shown below.
A number of our first meetings in 1975 were held in the old railway carriage on Six Cross Lane where Jack lived a life of luxury and ease in a “Non – Smoking” compartment turned holiday chalet. Despite enjoying all the comforts of Coras Iompair Eireann minus the clacketty clack of the wheels he shortly afterwards moved off to a new job elsewhere and I believe he is presently living in Carrigaline in County Cork where he is a leading light in the sailing community. The remaining members of the Community Council and its Newsletter sub-committee then set about seeing what could be done to improve the lot of the citizens in Rush.
Maurice Cole’s Barber shop on the Skerries Road in the 1970’s. The rectangular stone on the left was a favourite spot for the old men to sit and think and chat, and sometimes just to sit and think. It was painted patriotically in green, white and orange.
In the first few years we were hampered because we were not officially recognised by the Dublin County Council as a legitimate organisation that they could do business with.
However in 1977 the late Dermot McNamara Snr. (pictured above) the then Chairman of the Rush Community Council made a major breakthrough when the Dublin County Council agreed to his insistence that the Rush Community Council be recognised as the official mouthpiece of the citizens of Rush.
At that time the Community Council had no premises of its own and had to rely on the benevolence of the local clergy who allowed us to use a wooden shed euphemistically called “The Old Library”. See picture below…
This shed had at one time in the early 20th century been used as a dwelling by the Headmistress of the Rush Girls National School. This Girls’ School which was built in 1910 has now metamorphosed into the new Rush Community Centre which stands proudly opposite the intersection of Main Street and Sandy Road.
The former Girls’ National School on Main Street, now the New Rush Community Centre
We’ve come a long way since then thanks to the hard work and dedication of over 200 Rush people who have served as members of all our committees since 1974.
It now costs in the region of €140,000 a year to run the Community Childcare facility, the St Patrick’s Day Celebrations, the Tidy Towns and flower baskets, The Harbour Festival, The Rush Community News, The Christmas Lights and the ongoing upkeep of the Community Centre.
Brendan Dunne, a former member who served in the 1970’s on the Community Council. He was well known for playing smooth romantic leads in the Rush Dramatic Society’s productions well in to his seventies despite a strong Rush accent you could have cut with a rusty saw. – a real Rush Don Juan..
A typical Community Council sub-committee is The Rush Community News sub-committee. Its team is made up of seven members. We are aided in our work by up to twenty regular contributors, mostly from Rush but some are exiles based abroad or in other parts of Ireland and Britain. who supply us with articles and items to be printed in the Community News.
The Rush Community News is published monthly and sold in shops in Rush and in Lusk.
Manfred Nitschke a former Editor of the Community News with his wife Helen at a function in Rush. He passed away at the early age of 50 whilst still Editor – Another crisis we encountered.
Like the Tidy Towns sub-committee which is run by a dedicated team led by Deirdre McMenamin we would be unable to function without the good-will and support of the bulk of the town’s citizens. There are eight sub-committees working under the umbrella of the Rush Community Council today and they all need volunteers. When the Community Council was first formed the town’s population stood at 4,000 and is now approaching 10,000.
Maisie Jones, Mr.& Mrs. Charlie Beashel and George Corr at a Seniors’ function 35 years ago.
A big blow to our confidence came in June 1980 with the untimely death of our Chairman, Dermot McNamara and we later entered somewhat turbulent times in our town with the controversy over whether our parish Church of St. Maur was going to be demolished, refurbished or as one diocesan consultant recommended “That it be semi-demolished and be turned into a romantic ruin”….The controversy lasted five years from 1984 until 1989 and tore apart a lot of the moral and spiritual fabric of our town. The Rush Community Council has for over 25 years been to the fore in restoring the damage done during those sad times.
Seniors’ Christmas Dinner in the CYMS building in 1980 Una Collins and Mollie Devine.
There have been many highlights and successes during the past 41 years that we have been on the road.
One of these was in the early 80’s when about 200 Rush landowners and homeowners got a solicitor’s letter from a firm representing the estate of Lord Palmer who had been not only the owner of the Kenure Demesne and estate but had also been in receipt of leasehold rents for a couple of hundred years in the bad old days of landlordism. The amounts people had had to pay then were in the region of a few pounds a year for small strips of land and houses. The last of the owners Colonel Fenwick-Palmer had died in 1964 The big house and the furniture had been auctioned off and the Land Commission had disposed of small parcels to former estate workers.
Kenure House was left to rot and was eventually demolished one morning by bulldozers from Dublin County Council who needed the land for building a school and a housing estate.
However some members of Rush Community Council managed to stop the bulldozers from demolishing the Portico which now stands as a monument to human folly and greed. Thanks to these people the portico will remain indefinitely as a reminder of former days of glory in Rush.
The years went by until the Palmer Estate was but a memory until one fateful day official looking letters dropped on the mat in people’s hallways. The letters seemed to bring good tidings of great joy. They said that for a nominal sum in the region of ten pounds or so the recipients could purchase their properties and buy the freeholds from the Palmer Estate. All they had to do was register their interest in this generous offer and send the forms back as soon as possible.
Former Chairperson, Liam Butterly on the right with Louis Le Quintrec, Mayor of our Twin Town of Gourin unveiling the plaque commemorating the arrival of French sailors 700 years ago who erected the first chapel of St. Maur at Whitestown.
The majority if not all of the people did just this and soon after a couple of surveyors from the Palmer Estate dropped by to check out each property and formalise the deal. They had measuring tapes and notebooks and stuff that they wrote in and were happy to be given the cups of tea and a hospitable biscuit by the cheerful and trusting country folk of Rush.
Dave Sheehy former Chairperson and chief protagonist versus Eirgrid on behalf of the citizens of Rush.
Imagine the disbelief and consternation a few weeks later when these trusting people received demands from the Palmer Estate for sums ranging from two thousand pounds up to sixteen thousand two hundred and fifty pounds for the freeholds of their properties. The family who had received the demand for £16,250 were devastated but decided to do something about it. I was the Chairman of the Community Council at that time and when they came to see me I arranged to obtain the keys of the Old Girls School which still belonged to the parish and I advertised a meeting there the following Wednesday for all the people who had received demands for money.
When the Wednesday arrived there were not enough seats for all the people and many had to stand around the walls and in the corridors.
The Vice-Chairman of the Community Council and eminent historian Paddy Boyle was elected to chair the group that was formed that evening who called themselves “The Palmer Tenants Association”…Mr. Boyle was the right person at the right time for that particular job. He told me he spent many days and weeks in the National Library and similar institutions studying the law of land ownership and all sorts of obscure stuff that would be over my head. Then he came across information that provided him with the key to the solution of the problem.
Put very simply it was that unless the Palmer Estate lawyers could actually prove that Lord Palmer himself had actually laid the bricks of the houses with his own fair hands that the Estate was powerless to take the money off the tenants. Consequently Paddy designed a form which was given to each of the members of the group in which they offered to buy their leaseholds for ten pounds each. Together he and I distributed these forms and helped the people fill them in and organised for them to be sent by registered post to the Palmer’s solicitors. Each person who did this was subsequently offered their freeholds for 15 pounds plus 15 pounds costs – a total of £30 each.
Willie Price, former Chairman of the Community Council and Editor of the Rush Community News
Former Chairperson, Anne McCrudden is pictured above.
Those were the days of blood sweat and some tears and then there were the great May Bush Festivals of the 70’s and 80’s right up to today when the Events Sub-Committee of the Rush Community Council have surpassed all the previous festivals by organising the Rush Harbour Festivals of the past few years. These are held on the August Bank Holiday weekends and are eagerly looked forward to by everyone in the north county and beyond.
All the Fun of the Fair at the Harbour Festival
Since Dermot’s passing we have had a number of chairpersons and a large number of ordinary members of the Community Council who have served the community well in Rush.
We have had Willie Price, Dermot’s daughter Anne McCrudden, myself, Liam Butterly for a record 16 years of exceptional service (or is it 20 I lost count somewhere along the line and I could write a very thick book on his astute genius for handling people), Dave Sheehy who took on the monster of Eirgrid on our behalf and has the scars to show for it.
Anne Carthy former editor of The Rush Community News
This brings us right up to our present chairperson, Fintan Price, a worthy successor to his father Willie, a multi-tasker with a talent for making people feel that their opinion matters and everyone has a right to their opinion no matter how sensible or obtuse it may seem to others.
In this short summary of the Rush Community Council’s history from its inception in 1974 until 2015 I have tried to record faithfully how it has functioned through the years but like most fallible people I have not included many events or incidents that other citizens of Rush may believe to be of greater importance than those I have mentioned.
If you would like to add items of significance concerning any aspect of our Community Council’s history you are welcome to contact me at kevinthorpireland@gmail,com
Pictured above is Paul Ruigrok one of the small group of people whose foresight led to the founding of the Rush Community Council in November 1974
Board meeting of the Rush Community Playgroup Sub-Committee held in 2008
Pictured above is Jack O’Keeffe who was the first person to be appointed Editor of the Rush Community News back in January 1975 The Rush Community News is the official mouthpiece of the Rush Community Council. It is published monthly and is presently edited by Kevin Thorp and Mary Maxwell. It is the longest running and most successful Community Newsletter in Ireland.
People often enquire about the significance of the Rush Community Council Crest which is pictured below.
Motto – “Festina Lente” (Take your time)
The Irish name of Rush is Ros-Eó. This means “The Peninsula of The Yew Trees”
The crest portrays a yew tree standing on a maroon chevron, representing the peninsula with the sea below in green. The predominant colour is gold or yellow. The top of the shield portrays a Raven perched on a wheat sheaf. The Raven is a reference to the Black Raven flag of the Vikings who first made landfall here in 795AD. The wheat sheaf refers to the agricultural heritage of the Rush peninsula which possesses the most fertile soil in Ireland, (a light sandy loam) coupled with the most frost free days, the sunniest skies after Wexford and the driest climate in Ireland……
Let’s hope that we can achieve as much in the next 41 years as we have in the past 41 years…kt715