spacer
The Vacuum Issue 2 spacer Issue 2
The Mosney Road
by Karen Downey
spacer
The Mosney Road has been the Mosney Road since 1950. A straight, half-mile stretch, it connects the main Dublin/Belfast Road with Gormanston Military base, the Sea and Mosney the Camp. It is lined on either side with small cow-filled fields and 27 detached houses. Residential development in townlands Keenogue and Briarleas, whereupon it lies, is strictly controlled. The area adjoins the Dublin conurbation, and is a designated green belt amenity and agricultural resource base. The Mosney Road was perceived initially as a transport corridor to the gate of Butlins Holiday Village and divisive debate surrounding its construction reflected local attitudes towards the holiday camp itself.
spacer
In July 1948 the Minister for Social Welfare, William Nortan opened Butlins Holiday Village at Mosney in the presence of some 1,200 glamorous guests. It proceeded to attract seasonal holidaymakers from urban centers, Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Galway and elsewhere. The Butlins Holiday Camp experience was conceived as a fusion of open-air seafront and private hotel holidays. It was pitched as a high quality all-weather, all-inclusive holiday accommodation aimed at families of moderate means and was characteristic of leisure industry growth following the introduction of Holiday Pay provision.
spacer
Sedulously built in 9 months, the Camp consisted of many rows of chalets, ruthlessly geometric and coloured like an old fashioned modern painting, and a church from which the Last Supper by Bonifazio Veronese was sold through Christies in London in 1983. The Camp included shops selling only the brightly packaged; utilities; a Pet Farm for children and a photolab for evidence. The Amusement Park, Boating Lake, Swimming Pool, Snooker Room, Slot-Machine Arcades, Gaiety Theatre, American Parlour, Ballroom of Romance, Dan Lowry's Bar, the Pig and Whistle, the Wishing Well lounge, Zany Shakers and the 'Krazy Nite' capers were the dominating centers of attraction.
spacer
Initially the Irish holidaymaking experiment was greeted with local hostility. In an article entitled 'Holiday Camp and Morals' in the Catholic Standard, Captain P. Giles TD and a number of ecclesiastics expressed grave concern over the unwholesome influence this 'foreign combine' would have on the minds and morals of the Irish people, asserting that "Holiday camps are an English idea and are alien and undesirable in an Irish Catholic country, outside influences are bad and dangerous". To placate the hierarchy a Catholic church was built adjacent to the gate, with a resident chaplain, and assurances were made that the enterprise was intended for Irish people whose applications for reservations would be given first priority1. Butlins' Irish and Continental Holidays Ltd issued public shares to the value of £1,250,000 and 9 Irish directors out of 10 retained effective control of the Camp.
spacer
The Mosney Road
spacer
spacer
Fractionate discussion accompanied the New Mosney Road proposal through monthly meetings at Meath County Council from late 1947 to March 1948. Driving the motion to accommodate increased traffic volume, via a new road, was the view that Butlins was a vehicle for development. The Electricity Supply Board had been extended to nearby Julianstown to facilitate the supply of a national leisure service to city dwellers and the underprivileged. The Camp would in turn provide substantial employment benefits and an improved local agricultural market economy. Also influential were the charitable initiatives with which Butlins had become associated; sizeable contributions to children's hospitals and orphanages, and projects coordinated by the Dublin Central Mission (a free 2 week holiday for inner-city children) and the Lyons Club for senior citizens. The Opposition - supported by admonishing letters from local area residents, held vehemently that it was the Council's obligation to amend Land Commission roads before facilitating tourists at the ratepayer's expense - were outvoted, and the road was built.
spacer
In 1982 Butlins Holiday Village was purchased for £1m by Drogheda businessman Phelim McCloskey. The 'Butlins' name was relinquished for Mosney Holiday Centre to mutterings of "Butlins is dead, long live Mosney!"2 Thematic projects such as Funtropica were designed to claw back declining visitor numbers from the gadarene furore of cheap foreign package holidays. The 50m, 3 to 9ft swimming pool had its dignified depths drained to a level of ceaseless splashing and was gadrooned in varicoloured plastic. Once again, coach-filled guests in transports of delight filed down the Mosney Road to be relieved of any contraband by two Tonys and their posse of deputies at the Gate. They were then corralled toward a white-brick ticket box where entry was gained through Mazy with her steel-wool framed East London accent and extraordinarily long, cerise fingernails curling obediently over the calculator digits.
spacer
In 1999 pedestrian traffic on the road substantially increased. Siting three Homelands 24hr dance festivals at Mosney ensured the fascinating spectacles of road-long processional entrance and congealed, vapid post-session exit. Alongside its commercial entertainment function, the camp was a venue for annual public events such as the Vintage Classic Car show and the National Community Games.
spacer
In December 2000 a 5yr £15m agreement between Phelim McCloskey and the Department of Justice re-designated Mosney as a Refugee Camp for the containment of up to 500 Nigerian, Romanian and Czech asylum seekers. The decision was made exclusive of public consultation and was regionally decried. A Mosney Area Residents Committee was formed to seek clarification on the terms and conditions of the agreement and to address issues of education and segregation. Concerns regarding necessary infrastructural improvements to the Mosney Road are ongoing, where poor nightlight and drainage provision has left the locals and some 500 foreigners struggling to get along.
spacer
spacer
home | information | issues | artists & writers | columns | reviews
spacer