Kilworth

It was early 1959 and the people of Kilworth people were far from happy. Recently the Moore Park entrance on the road up from Corban’s (Cotter’s) Mill had been closed to the public and, to add insult to injury, it was surmised that soon the entrance by the main gate near the Catholic church would also be barred to them. Further, there was a rumour about that Mitchelstown Co-operative Society was clearly intent on ending the common practice of walking through the Mount Cashell demesne, an exercise that Kilworth people had enjoyed since the departure of the British in 1922.

At the same time, the recently established An Foras Talúntais across the Funcheon had adopted the address ‘Moorepark, Fermoy’. This was new: it had been ‘Moore Park’ for two centuries and the two words constituting the name had highlighted the fact it had been a park. Now the sense of parkland or demesne would be lost and locals saw this as a great pity.

Further, it had been known as Moore Park, Kilworth and not Moore Park, Fermoy. This, and the assuming of Fermoy as the address rather than Kilworth, was seen as a downgrade and all this was happening without the people’s bye or leave. Around the village it was being said that this confirmed what people had been saying for some time, that is, that the feelings and the prospects of people in small places no longer mattered. Now as Ireland emerged from the post war economic downturn, locals were coming to the conclusion that we had to do something for ourselves, for it was clear that nobody else would do it for us. But what was to be done?

This was the background to a meeting that took place in the Girls’ National School on the night of 20th the proceedings with a reference to the growing tendency of An Foras Talúntais to speak of ‘Moore Park, Fermoy’ and not ‘Moore Park, Kilworth’. Whatever designation they chose was none of our business, he asserted. An Foras Talúntais was an independent organisation and if it chose to say ‘Moore Park, Fermoy’, then that was something Kilworth could not meddle with. No matter how loudly we would protest, he added, it was virtually certain that we would not be heeded. To him, this was no more than a distraction from the really important challenge confronting us, and that was to look to our own resources and build a vibrant, resourceful community that set its sights on promoting development in the parish, and with it would come a sense of pride that would spur us on to greater things.

A lively discussion followed, with the late Michael Russell of Daly’s Terrace proposing we establish what he called ‘The Kilworth Progressive Society’ and his near neighbour , Johnny Griffin, seconding. This proposal was countered by Tom Cotter who suggested that a guild of Muintir na Tíre would prove more beneficial. To this Dr O’Flynn lent his  March 1959. The convenor, Dr Seán O’Flynn, took the Chair and opened support, recalling that Canon Hayes had established Muintir in 1937 to promote a spirit of self reliance. Reciting the powerful motto often quoted by the Canon, ‘It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness’, he argued passionately that Kilworth must primarily look to itself to secure its development. He went on to declare that we should look to the Muintir na Tíre way that had as its primary focus the fostering of local co-operative self-help and caring for one’s neighbours. This would see rural people like us coming together and boldly doing things for ourselves. All this would empower us and wean us away from the paralysis of foolishly looking to Government to save rural Ireland. Further, he asserted that if Kilworth were to establish a guild of Muintir na Tíre we could draw on the strength and resources of a national organisation. However, if we chose otherwise and instead established a little local group such as Mick proposed with no affiliation to a powerful national body, Kilworth would fail to command the necessary level of attention and support that we needed.
Contributions in this vein followed but it was clear that Sean O’Flynn had won the day. With good grace Mick Russell withdrew his proposal and it was resolved that Kilworth would have its Muintir na Tíre guild.

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