by Dan KeaneIt was sometime in the fall of the year in the year 1968, I called to Walsh’s shop in Moyvane. Dan Walsh asked if I would be willing to join a committee for to run a carnival in Moyvane. The purpose of the carnival was to raise funds to clear the debt on the sports field and to make further improvements to the fie1d.
Athea Carnival had been running ahead of ours and as I had been involved in the running of the Athea one Moyvane was nothing strange to me, perhaps the success of the one in Athea inspired the Moyvane observers.
The first meeting (in fact all meetings) were held at Jerry Brosnan’s, the room was filled to capacity, there were more willing to do physical work than to take part in the administrative side of the undertaking. The first chairman elected was Denis McElligott, secretary Anne Marie McEnery, treasurer Pat Shine. It was left to Pat Shine to pick his own team for the ticket office, so I was roped in by Pat, also Dan O’Connor, Jack Fitzmaurice, our secretary Anne Marie, Cormac O’Leary and his good wife Ena were also available when needed. Pat was a very capable treasurer but never sold tickets. Connie, his brother was a capital hand in that fie1d.
The organising of all the functions was a formidable task. Bands had to be booked, not a last minute rush, they were always booked on the September prior to the carnival. Marquee had to be engaged and afire proof certificate had to be procured and had to be verified in court to obtain a dance licence. It was either myself or Anne Marie who attended the court for the obtaining of the licence. We never had any trouble in that respect.
I remember being in court one day, the fire officer was very helpful, he expressed his full confidence in this Moyvane Committee. Insurances were always properly effected and the site was always given by the Creamery and owing to the proximity to Co. Limerick, all football tournaments had to have the sanction of the G.A.A. authorities at both sides of the county bounds.
There was always a great supply of willing hands to get everything in order, the erection of the marquee and the fencing around it. Maurice O’Connell was always the man on the sledge to drive the stakes and the marquee had to be wired up to have light and power, doors had to be manned and toilets and cloakrooms provided.
All this work would be of no use if the public at large were not aware of what was taking place, advertising had to be arranged, papers contacted, Kerryman and Limerick Leader, canvassing for ads and for sponsorship.
Amplification was hired out prior to getting our own, and permission obtained from the relevant authorities to use same in public and advertising done after all the masses we could cover on Sunday mornings.
There was another job which was not overlooked, all the signposts at that time said or at least read Newtownsandes, so we made our own signs Moyvane and erected them wherever they were required.
It is not easy to recall all the members of our committee, but from photos I can name most, Connie Shine, Doney Mulvihill, John C. Cunningham, Michael O’Connor, Maurice Cunningham, Garda Flaherty, Dan Keane, Jack Fitzmaurice, Cormac and Ena O’Leary, Denis McElligott, Donal Cunningham, Dan Walsh, Paddy Flaherty, Martin Kennelly, Tim Kennelly, Eamon Sweeney, Anne Marie McEnery, Sean Broderick, Jerry Brosnan, Denis Hanrahan, Paudie Hanrahan, Michael Kennelly, Maurice O’Connell, Jim Groarke (Sergeant), Ned Sheehy, Billy Horan, Mrs Kit Horan, Stevie Stack, John Stack, Tom Broder, Patrick Enright, Patrick Ahem, David Brassil, Leo Finucane, Bernie O’Connor and Mary Culhane.
The first year was over and was a great success, we made a profit of £700 odd. We faced the following year with more courage. Denis McElligott did not seek re-election. I was elected chairman and between Carnival and Community Centre I was in the chair for 25 years, Maurice O’Connell was vice-chairman for all those years.
If I was to record year by year I would have a whole book, but I can say our carnival kept on improving, people came from Limerick city, from Tralee and some from parts of Cork, we eventually had to get a six-pole marquee.
The football tournament attracted great crowds and most remained on for the dance, we also had sports events, churn rolling, waltzing competitions, road racing, cycling and as one of our ads said all kinds of everything, we had hot air balloons and parachute jumping but while our entertainers kept jumping down our profits kept going up. We had a very welcome guest in the person of Mick O’Dwyer to open our second carnival, and similarly in our third we had Tom Prendergast to perform the same task. The G.A.A. club had built dressing-rooms and a stand. The carnival goes on and in fairness we must admit it was Anne Marie who first suggested a community centre.
We got the Parish behind us though some said it would never be built, this only steeled our resolve, we kept on accumulating our assets. We invited the Bishop’s secretary, Fr. Clifford now Archbishop Clifford, we were offered the old school or a site in the wood. The school had to be ruled out through lack of parking space and our engineer advised against the wood as too costly to prepare, so our friend Jerry Brosnan agreed to sell the site.
The site was purchased, signed over, so then our motto was keep right on to the end of the road, we had a draw which was a success and we did make door-to-door collections and I must acknowledge the people were most generous. With the late Jack Fitzmaurice I travelled the whole parish, and never met a refusal, we were on the prowl so often I was told we were being called the terrible twins.
Carnivals had come to the stage that there was a turnover of around £10,000 annually. I think the highest profit in one year was around £4,000. We kept on engaging the best of bands, including The Kerry Blues, Keynotes and Patricia, The Cowboys, The Regal, Bunny Dalton, Maurice Mulcahy, The Monarchs, The Herdsmen, The Western Star, The Tulla Ceili Band, Red Hurley, Brendan Shine, Dickie Rock and many more and would you believe it, admission in 1970 was eight shillings.
We motored on up to 1980, money in bank was invested and consequently growing. Our treasurer Pat Shine was no longer with us, Connie, his brother took over for a time and eventually James Groarke and Jerry Brosnan were joint treasurers. We got a grant of £15,000 but to get same we had to confirm there was sufficient money available to complete the job.
We were £20,000 short, the A.I.B. confirmed they would give a loan of that amount, but luckily we kept up the good work and finally we needed only £10,000, we got the loan, Jerry Brosnan and I gave several trips to Castleisland to Mr. McGillicuddy, our architect, plans were eventually drawn up and we sought a con- tractor.
Eventually we signed a contract with the Ahems of Athea. Tade Ahern promised to have the hall ready for the carnival in May 1981, in February it was only a green field but Tade kept his promise and there was no further need for a marquee.
We kept going, soccer marathons, boxing competitions took place in the hall, but the novelty of the mar- quee was gone. Crowds were not the same, but we kept going as we needed money to pay back our loan. We kept going to the mid eighties, we did not want to run at a loss, we never did lose so we finished our carnival. Our Community Centre is there at a cost of over £100,000. It was officially opened by Dick Spring. At the end our committee was small, Paudie Hanrahan, Connie Shine, Sean Broderick, Jack Fitzmaurice, Denis Hanrahan, James Groarke, Jerry Brosnan, Maurice Connell, Anne Marie McEnery, Billy Horan, Kit Horan, agus me Fein. The Community Centre is still in constant use by young and old, Maurice O’Connell is chairman, Eileen Kennelly secretary, Seamus Roche treasurer. Also in the commit is Jerry Brosnan, Teddy Keane, Eamon Fitzmaurice and Julia Fitzmaurice.
The Community Centre is a monument to long planning, late nights, hard work and generous people, our thanks to all and a final word of thanks to our friend Nodey Brosnan for all the sandwiches and scones.