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Workers’ Villages – National Heritage Week in Cloontuskert

Workers’ Villages – National Heritage Week in Cloontuskert

The Reimagine Cloontuskert team host a community workshop on site of Old School House, exploring potential future of this important community hub in former Bord na Móna village.

Joining over 1,000 groups across Ireland for Heritage Week 2022, the Reimagine Cloontuskert team hosted a community event on Friday 19th August that fully embraced this year’s theme of sustainable heritage, by looking to the past to create a better future. Setting up shop at the site of the Old Cloontuskert School House, the group invited local residents of all ages to come and share their hopes and ideas of how the currently disused site could be transformed.

Reimagine Cloontuskert is one of the groups participating in the Workers’ Villages programme led by the Irish Architecture Foundation. Workers’ Villages is a commemoration of architect Frank Gibney’s legacy and an exploration of what we can learn from the exemplary Bord na Móna villages he designed in the 1950s. Architects Evelyn D’Arcy and David Jameson have been working with the local community for the past year to explore this heritage and seek inspiration for a sustainable future of the village.

Gibney placed great importance on the inclusion of community spaces in his designs, and the Old School House site was originally intended to be shop units to serve the needs of Bord na Móna workers and families living in the estate. The space was instead converted into a national school that saw generations of Cloontuskert children pass through its doors. After the new school opened in 1998, the building fell into disrepair which eventually led to the collapse of one of the original flat roofs in 2012. Cloontuskert Tidy Towns have been spearheading a campaign to restore the old buildings for several years, so that it can once again be used as a much-needed community space for locals.

Some great ideas for what the space might be used for were shared by residents at the Heritage Week event, including a day care centre for the growing number of young families in the area and a shared social space that could be used for birthday parties, bingo nights and much more.

Shauna O’Neill, Chairperson of the Cloontuskert Development and Tidy Towns Association, has been leading the restoration campaign. Her comment on the success of the community workshop: “The choice of the grounds of the former Old School building was very apt; a direct example of the legacy of Frank Gibney’s work that lives on today in our landscape and a cause for community conversation around its future, and the opportunities and challenges that surround this. We are so grateful to be working with all project partners who have given the people of Cloontuskert a special opportunity to have their thoughts and ideas gathered not just for the Old School, but also for our village in general. It was wonderful to see those in attendance sharing their stories of the past and hopes for the future.”

Evelyn D’Arcy, team architect, added: Every time we have visited Cloontuskert we’ve been offered such a warm welcome by the local community and this event was no different. It was lovely to meet old friends and new, and continue the discussions around developing a sustainable future for the village through the regeneration of existing spaces. Celebrating heritage isn’t only about commemorating the past, it’s also about learning from it and weaving those lessons into a more vibrant and inclusive way of living. Gibney’s village has a lot more to teach us.

The Workers’ Villages project is part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Reimagine programme. Reimagine works with communities across Ireland to co-create and co-design solutions to problems or opportunities they’ve identified in their locality. Reimagine is made possible by Creative Ireland’s National Creativity Fund and additional funding through the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. To stay up to date on this project, visit www.reimagineplace.ie.

 

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    Reimagine Cloontuskert – Workers’ Villages event, “Festive Feast and Family Treasure Hunt”

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