In early1966 the residents of Pound Road here in Castleisland were deemed to be living in primitive housing conditions.
The conditions of the houses and the lack of urgency regarding the building of new houses in the area was highlighted by The Kerryman at the time and on the Frank Hall fronted ‘Newsbeat’ programme on RTÉ television.
Seamus McConville and Pádraig Kennelly
The interviewer on this historic clip is the former editor of The Kerryman, Seamus McConville and it is most likely that the filming was done by Kerry’s Eye founder and editor, Pádraig Kennelly as they were a stringer team in those early days of the station.
Kerry County Councillor and Chairman of the Housing Committee Michael ‘Mick’ Long had strong views about the appalling living conditions in Pound Road at the time.
One Room Dwellings
Families lived in one room dwellings, with leaking, thatched roofs, no electric lighting, running water or sanitation.
“The Pound Road site is a disgrace in any civilised community,” said Cllr. Long.
Some of the dwellings in Castleisland had been condemned since the 1930s. Since then two attempts to re-house residents of Castleisland had failed.
At a minimum Cllr. Long considered that a scheme of 35-45 houses was needed for the district.
Lacking Modern Facilities
Pound Road resident Mrs. Chris Moriarty raised six children in a thatched cottage lacking any modern facilities and she described the conditions in which she raised six children.
“It’s very, very bad, the walls are completely rotten in it. The walls no longer keep the thatch in place.
“When weather is bad the roof leaks, soaking the contents of her home,” she said.
A Pound or 15 Shillings
Mrs. Moriarty also said that she would be willing to pay a pound or 15 shillings a week for a suitable house.
Though more associated with radio, retired broadcaster, Peter Browne sent the link below to this nugget of local history which appeared on an episode of ‘Newsbeat’ broadcast on January 17th 1966.
Kevin Coleman’s Memorable Photograph
In his role as reporter with The Kerryman, the late Seamus McConville really took the plight of the Pound Roaders to heart and kept it in the news on a continuous basis,
To go with his reports, his colleague and staff photographer, Kevin Coleman shot a memorable series of photographs of the people both inside and outside their houses also in 1966.
This helped in no small way to speed up the beginning of the new estate building programme a couple of years later.
Divane’s 2009 Calendar
Divane’s Castleisland devoted their 2009 calendar to the characters, their skills and their stories and presented them in forensic detail in a ring-bound and well collected historical document which has, by now, made it into collections and homes around the world.
Years of Waiting
Mrs. Moriarty and her neighbours would have had to wait another couple of years before finally moving into their dream homes with all the modern facilities of the day in what is now St. Stephen’s Park.
While there were local people of the opinion that at least part of the Pound Road of old should have been preserved, its demolition was complete by the early 1970s – but the folklore and the stories remain.
You can see the full interviews with Cllr. Long and Mrs. Moriarty with a click on the link here: https://www.rte.ie/archives/2020/1211/1183825-castleisland-housing-conditions/?s=01
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