‘As a community, you couldn’t have gotten any better than Newtown Park’

By Aideen O'Flaherty

EIGHTY years ago, 25 families moved into Newtown Park, a new housing estate in Tallaght where each house had a large back garden and many families, a number of whom were originally from Bohernabreena, grew their own vegetables and immediately forged a strong community.

The residents moved into the area in 1938, where all of the young families grew up together and, eventually, a lot of residents worked with each other in the years to come when Tallaght became a more industrial area, with Newtown Park residents setting off for work in nearby factories including Urney’s Chocolate Factory, Glenabbey and Redbreast.

Newtown Park04

Newtown residents Imelda, Martin, Patsy, Seanie, Andy, Claire, Mena, Lily, Jean and Noel

Noely Ennis (79), who was born in his parents’ house in Newtown Park and has lived there ever since, has fond memories of what the area was like when he was growing up.

“In those days, from Templeogue Bridge up as far as Tallaght Village, there was nothing else but fields and farmers.

“In the summer, we all swam in the Dodder. I was never at the sea in all my life, I didn’t need to go because we had the Dodder.”

Mr Ennis added: “As a community, you couldn’t have gotten any better than Newtown Park at that time, all of the parents clicked together and everyone knew one another.”

Lily Cunningham (89), who was nine-years-old when her family moved into a newly-built house in Newtown Park in 1938, remembers that there was no electricity or running water in the houses at the time, but that there was a strong community and the neighbours helped each other.

Lily Cunningham compressor

Lily Cunningham aged 21 outside her parents' house in Newtown Park in 1950

Recalling one of her memories of growing up in the area, Ms Cunningham said: “When we were younger there was a midwife who would look after the women in Newtown Park.

“When you saw her cycling down on her bike with a blue bag, then you knew that a baby had been born.”

Ms Cunningham added that she also remembers being in the area as a child during World War Two when Dublin was being bombed, and being told by her parents to hide under the stairs.

Since then, Newtown Park has become home to many more families, after the large back gardens were sold and more houses were built in the area, and lifelong resident Mr Ennis can easily see the difference between his time spent growing up in the area and what it is like in the present day.

“In our day, when you’d stand at the top of the road, you’d always see kids playing. Now, when you look down it at night, there’s lights on but there’s nobody on the road anymore.”

Many of the original residents of Newtown Park went to a lively celebration of the 80th anniversary of the housing estate on Saturday night in Thomas Davis GAA Club, where many people who had since moved away from the area got to reconnect with their former neighbours.

Mr Ennis said that the event was “marvellous, people came from everywhere. People that hadn’t been in the area for years were there – it couldn’t have gone any better.”

             

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