It was a case of the past merging with the present in Bansha on Friday last, when the voice of the late Canon John Hayes could be heard over the PA system as the new lights on the village green were switched on by the late Canons’ nephew and niece, Tom Hayes and Áine McNamara.
Hundreds of people crowded around the village green to witness the historic occasion which turned back the clock to May 1948 and the coming of rural electrification to Bansha.
The reason for this celebration was to mark the completion of the village green development by Bansha Tidy Towns and its Chairperson, Andrew O’Halloran, was on hand to welcome the large crowd and the large number of dignitaries to Bansha.
Andrew explained the background to the project and how they set about seeking funding for the project.
He extended thanks to the South Tipperary Development Company, Cllr.Mary Hanna Hourigan,committee, helpers, the people of the village and members of the business community who had given their support to the project.
The great community support was a theme that was referred to by all the speakers at the event. MC Helen Morrissey said that it was a great evening for Bansha and was delighted to introduce ‘one of their own’ to cut the ribbon on the development.
Former Governor of Mountjoy, John Lonergan was introduced as their special guest and John spoke with great passion about Bansha and his links to the parish.
“Every time I hear Bansha mentioned on radio and television I cock my ear and I say that is my place, my own native place. I am delighted to be part of this celebration this evening and of the remembrance of Canon Hayes and Muintir na Tíre”.
John paid tribute to the volunteerism that is so associated with Bansha and he paid special tribute to Martin Quinn for his many years of dedicated volunteerism on a local and national level.
Martin Quinn said that it was a great honour to be invited to address the people of Bansha in ‘his own backyard’. “As Chairman of South Tipperary Development Company and as a former National President of Muintir na Tíre, it is a great honour for me to be associated with this magnificent project,” he said.
Martin Quinn told the large crowd that when appointed Parish Priest of Bansha in 1946, Canon Hayes showed personal interest in rural electrification and shortly after became a driving force for the project throughout the country.
He saw the scheme as part of the community development process which was at the heart of Muintir na Tíre and he got the support of parish councils throughout the country.
He ensured that Bansha would be first in line for the scheme and on May 14th, 1948, he switched on the lights in Bansha with the words ‘Here goes in the name of God’.
There words are now engraved on a special plaque which was unveiled by Martin Quinn in Bansha on Friday last and will be erected at the spot where the original switch-on took place.
Those same words were also heard at the switch-on ceremony as a recording from the 1948 event was played as the new lights were switched on. Simon Grace led the assembled crowd to Templeneiry Church where artefacts from the period of rural electrification in Bansha were on display and where a video of the ‘Death of the Banshee’, the story of Rural Electrification was shown.
Bernie O’Connell (a native of Bansha) and the ESB archive department had put together a very impressive display in the Church.
Helen Morrissey thanked everyone who was involved in the events of the day and said that it was a memorable day for the village.