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14 Aug 2022

Old Macra hall was a central part of life in Offaly village

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Clare McEnroe

I was born in 1974 to Josephine and Michael McEnroe the local publicans of the only pub in the village, Grennans being the current proprietors. It was my grandmother, Ellen Corcoran who was left the pub as she was the eldest of four girls and my grandfather, Michael McEnroe married into the pub life. He was originally from Maudbawn, Cotehill, County Cavan and was a travelling salesman for P. & H. Egan.

He would spend many days away travelling while my grandmother looked after the business. They had nine children, Máirín, John, Nancy, Pat, Sheila, Eileen, Peg, Owen and my dad, Michael. My Dad eventually took over the running of the pub as all his siblings had fled the nest except for his sister Eileen who would always encourage her lovely friend to call in on her home from Edenderry where she worked. This lady eventually became my mother, Josephine Culliton who hailed from Rearymore, Rosenallis, Co. Laois.

Growing up in Killeigh, I always remember drinking copious amounts of britvic orange and eating the best 99 cones from Walsh’s shop, bejewelled with an assortment of penny sweets and presented like a work of art. I lived in the pub for nine years and then we moved one hundred yards down the road to the shop which was previously owned by the Coughlan family. I thought all my Christmases and birthdays had come together to be living in a grocery shop full of sweets.

The days seemed sunnier then and the craic was ninety. At that particular time, there appeared to be lots of young people growing up in the village and we all hung out together. I always remember spending hours outdoors whether playing soccer on the green, camogie in the GAA pitch or tennis in the ball alley (more like squash with tennis rackets and a tennis ball). I remember cycling to Gurteen Bridge to see the pinkeens in the Clodiagh River. Playing kerbs outside O’Connell’s house, perilously close to their front sitting room window and on the rare occasion the football accidently flying through the window pane.

I have great memories of nativity plays, discos, céilí dances, karate and gymnastic lessons, badminton and even a circus which all took place in the Macra hall. I vividly recall attending the circus when a lady appeared with a very large snake around her neck. As I stared up at this huge creature, my little mind doing somersaults, imagining the chaos that would ensue if that boa-constrictor took it upon itself to escape down the centre aisle of the hall. So for me, the Macra hall was a hive of activity and where fond memories were created. It was the epi-centre of the village.

My parents passed away when I was very young and I was literally raised by the village. I feel so lucky and grateful to have grown up in Killeigh. I felt like I didn’t just have one family but several and their door was always open to me. The community spirit was wonderful and instilled in me a sense of belonging. Myself and my two sisters, Marie-Louise and Michelle moved from Killeigh to Tullamore when I was about 17 years old. After sitting my Leaving Cert I moved around a bit, overseas and back again. I made fantastic friends and even though we have gone in many different directions over the years it’s still always a pleasure and a joy to meet them and it instantly draws me back to the connection I have with Killeigh village.

I realise now how important it is to have a facility like a community hall, (which I took for granted in my youth) to help connect people with their local community, to give all generations the opportunity to come together and create a healthy and vibrant place to live.

If you would like to learn more about the development of the proposed Killeigh Community Centre and how you may be able to assist please visit our website www.killeighcommunitycentre.com 

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