The official book launch of the Society’s annual Proceedings was expertly done by the Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor on Saturday 11th January 2020 at Ceoltas, Monkstown, Co. Dublin. The Minister’s fulsome praise of the efforts of the Society to outline, preserve and disseminate the literary, cultural and historical aspects of life in Blackrock, and environs, was warmly received by an enthusiastic audience who were subsequently fortified by excellent food and wine as a buffer against the winter cold. See Photo Gallery from the Launch below.

A review of the 2019 Proceedings was heard on several local Dublin radio stations presented by Jim Scannell when he outlined some of the contents.

‘Blackrock Society – Proceedings 2019’, No.27, Editor Joe Carroll, published by the Blackrock Society, €7.50.

This excellent annual publication which contains a summary of the talks and lectures presented to the Society during 2019, was launched recently in Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Belgrave Square, Monkstown, Co. Dublin. 

A strong feature of this excellent local history publication  is the variety  and diversity of the lectures presented  to the Society during 2019   reflected in the articles based on  them –

# Architect Robin Mandal  in ‘ The Rebuilding  of Dublin  after 1916 – A Vision for Day’ discusses the plans  advanced after the 1916 Rising for the rebuilding of Dublin including  the Abercrombie plan, winner of the ‘Dublin of the Future’ competition in 1914 and published in 1922  which led to the Dublin Civil Survey of 1925 which proposed  a Planning System for Dublin, concluding by reminding the reader  that  the planning of the city needs to be taken away from ministerial directives and taken over by the modern equivalent of the Civic Institute  of Ireland   which was disbanded  in 1937.

# A  very vivid picture of ‘Blackrock  and the First World War’  is provided  by Glasnevin Trust historian  Conor Dodd  in  which recruiting in the area,  information of some of those fought in this conflict, the hospitals in the area where casualties  were treated, events during the Easter 1916 Rising, and the numerous  war memorials located in churches throughout  the area, are central  to this article.

#  By way of contrast  ‘In How Safe is Flying?’, former airline pilot  Ted McCourt  discusses this topic, revealing  that statistically aviation  is the safest form of travel  based on deaths per million miles travelled, and after  recounting some experience from his  long and distinguished  career,  concludes with the observation that it will take some time for  pilotless aircraft  to be accepted by the public.

#  Leo Murphy in ‘Waterford Merchants and their Families on Distant Shores’   based on his book of the same title, provides brief histories of some of the Waterford families who emigrated to Portugal, Spain and France  in the late 1660s  and on some of the enterprises  they became involved in.  

# ‘The Metals’ is  the name of a pathway  that connected Dalkey Hill with Dun Laoghaire and ran alongside  the current railway line between Dalkey  and Dun Laoghaire  for much of the way and used to bring granite blocks from the former to the latter  during the construction of Dun Laoghaire Harbour,  and ‘The Metal – from Dalkey to Dun Laoghaire’, Rob Goodbody  provides an over view  of it based on his book  on this  subject.

#  By way of something completely different, writer  Justine Carberry in ‘Spinning Straw into Gold’ discussed how memories of childhood can be used very successfully for creative writing purposes, that one should follow one’s own style  and that  drawing  from memory  can trigger one’s imagination  and lead to greater creative writing and includes two poems ‘I Remember’ by Wendy Cope and Joe Brainard.

# In ‘Queen Victoria: Her life and Times 1819 -1901’, Frank Woods provides a brief biography of this British monarch, including her four visits to Ireland.

#  The December 1957 Dundrum Railway  accident  in which  driver Andy Larkin was killed, is recalled by James Scannell in ‘The Light That Failed‘ in which he provides  details of this fatal  accident at Dundrum  on the Bray-Harcourt Street, Dublin, railway line  which occurred 12 months before the line was  closed on the grounds that it was unrenumerative. 

#  In the Blackrock Miscellany feature Billy Morrison   recalls ‘Growing  Up on Frascati  Park in the 1940s and 1950s’ while Ronan Wilmot contributes his memories of  ‘Growing Up in Williamstown’ in the  early 1960s.

            All in all,  a really excellent publication and the Blackrock Society is to be complimented by getting  presenters to the  2019 programme to contribute  texts   for publication in it.

(Webmaster’s Note: Unfortunately, Jim missed mentioning 2019’s last and very amusing lecture “Famous People and VIPs I nearly met” by Niall Henry Bracken which nearly saw the roof of the Ceoltas theatre being lifted off by the gales of laughter from the audience.)