Commemorative Plaque at Congress Villas

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve last, a plaque to commemorate the Eucharistic Congress 2012 was unveiled at Congress Villas by the Mayor of Dungarvan, Cllr. Micheál Cosgrove. Along with the Mayor were Very Rev Wm. Canon Ryan, P.P., Dungarvan, Rev Paul Waldron ADM, former C.C., Dungarvan and Diocesan Co-ordinator for the Eucharistic Congress, Very Rev. M. Cooney, OSA, Sisters from the Mercy, Presentation and Bon Sauveur Communities and many residents from Congress Villas which was built in 1932 and named for the Congress. The houses bear the emblem of the 31st Congress held in Dublin in 1932.

The plaque is to commemorate both the success of the 50th Congress last June and the visit of the Congress Bell which was rung first in that location exactly a year ago.

Canon Ryan welcomed the large gathering which he described as a very pleasant occasion, a time to remember the success of the Congress and to mark the eighty years of the housing estate and remember the people who had resided there in that time.

In unveiling the plaque, the Mayor said that on that day last year, New Year’s Eve, the Eucharistic Congress Bell from its origins in the Dominican Convent at Portstewart, Co Derry made its way to Dungarvan and made its first stop at Congress Villas on its journey to the Parish Church of St. Mary.

“Everybody is used to the sound of a bell,” he said, “and across the world bells are rung to call people of all faiths to prayer. We are all familiar with the ring of a bell from our school days. A Bell is really a strong symbol and a wake up call.”

“We are also here to commemorate the previous time the Eucharistic Congress was held in Ireland in June 1932 over 80 years ago,” he continued. “Thankfully, we still have some people alive who have fond memories of the 1932 Congress. The Ireland and indeed Dungarvan of 1932 was a much different place to now and in spite of the absence of communication media we are now familiar with, the 1932 Eucharistic Congress was wider known as an important event in Ireland.”

In 1932, our Independent Nation was still in its infancy, after many years of conflict. This Estate of Houses around us was one of the first Local Authority Construction Schemes in Dungarvan. At the time it was a major step up in the standard of housing accommodation from that which came before. Running Water and a Toilet were standard features of the houses. Prior to this the common practice was to name Housing Estates or Streets in honour of ‘ people who had fought bravely for our Irish Independence or were well known in the locality or perhaps a Saint. For the naming of this estate was a new Departure.

“This Estate as we all know was named Congress Villas in honour of the 1932 Eucharistic Congress which was held in June” 1932. This is a group of 86 Houses, 86 homes, each I’m sure with their own collections of stories, happy and sad and Congress Villas has given Dungarvan some very fine men and women.”

“Finally we will shortly be unveiling and blessing our commemorative Plaque.

As we unveil this plaque, it is also timely that our Pope Benedict XVI has designated the period from Oct 2012 to Nov 2013 as a Special Year of Faith, and everybody is encouraged to examine or re-examine their Faith and what their Faith means to them. Pope Benedict says “The Door of Faith is always open”. So perhaps in the weeks, months and years ahead as we pass this plaque we will remember the significance and the arrival of the Congress Bell as a wakeup call from the normal day to day activities.”

Fr. Paul Waldron then blessed the new plaque and said he hoped that it would serve as a lasting reminder of a very significant series of events in Ireland.