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Community loan for An tIonad Cuimhneacháin Eilimircigh / The Emigrants Commemorative Centre

Tá fuaim an Atlantaigh mar chomhluadar againn de shior. Scaittí baineann na tonnta fothram as na carraigreacha agus téann an fharraige cháite go spéir. Ansin, scaittí, éalaíonn an ghealach go réchúiseach as na clabhtaí, glanann an spéir agus síneann an tAtlantach go socair, síochánta siar go Meiriceá. Conamara a thugtar ar an áit seo.

80 cilomeadar siar as cathair na Gaillimhe atá Carna. 1,800 duine a chonaíonn sa gceantar seo i bhfad siar. Tá an oiread eile acu gaibhte thar Atlantach siar no ar an mBád Bán go Sasana. Canúintí de chineál eile atá ar ghlórtha a gclanna siúd; sin iad an Diaspóra. Tádar siúd fite, fuaite inár gcroíthe freisin.

Ba dhorcha í spéir na heacnamaíochta nuair a shocraigh muide anseo go dtógfaí ionad in onóir dóibh uilig (Ionad Cuimhneacháin na nImirceach agus an Diaspóra) i sráidbhaile Charna. Bhí siombalachas ag baint leis an suíomh. Bheadh an doras dúnta buailte ar an Atlantach agus bheadh lorg na farraige cháite greannta ar na fuinneoga.

Ach theastaigh airgead.

Bhí snaidhm curtha ar na sparáin ag Ranna Rialtais. Chuaigh muid go Meiriceá; chuaigh muid i bhfad agus i ngearr sa tóir ar airgead. Le himeacht na haimsire, gheall Roinn na Gaeltachta tacaíocht láidir.

Ach, fós féin, theastaigh airgead.

Faoin tráth sin, chuaigh muid chomh fada le Clann Credo agus chuig Tracey Hannon, an t-ionadaí atá acu san Iarthar. Go cinnte, bhí orainn cruthúnas a thabhairt go mbeadh muid inann iasachtaí a láimhsiú; b’éigean dúinn a dheimhniú go mbeadh muid in achmhainn aisíocaíocht a dhéanamh ar iasachtaí. D’éirigh linn.

Tháinig Marty Walsh, mac le himirceoirí as an gceantar seo, agus Méara Bhoston san am, chugainn leis an mbunchloch a leagan. Tháinig sé aríst i 2018 leis an Ionad a oscailt go hoifigiúil. Lá a bhí ann a bhain tuisle as croíthe na ndaoine. D’imigh imirceoirí na sean-aimsire gan pingin acu; anois bhí duine dá sliocht féin ina Mhéara ar Bhoston.

Tá caisleán beag tógtha againn in ómós dóibh uilig. Chosain sé ós cionn €1m.

Bhí muid ar charraig scaittí cheal airgid agus muid in éadan na farraige cháite. Thug Clann Credo slán muid. Theastaigh idir €50,000 agus €60,000 amanta. Bhí Clann Credo ansin. D’íoc muid an t-airgead ar ais. Ach tá aisíocaíocht eile le déanamh: sin buíochas mór do Clann Credo agus do Tracey Hannon.

Máirtín Ó Catháin
***

Out where the Atlantic pummels the rocks and the raging spray whirls to the sky. Sometimes the days and nights are wild. Then, as from some heaven in the skies a wandering moon crosses the hills out onto the ocean and the azure seas stretch forever west. They call it Connemara.

Carna is 80 kilometres west from Galway city. 1,800 people live in this westerly parish; many more have crossed that wide Atlantic or taken the Bád Bán to England. Their sons and daughters speak with a different accent; they are the diaspora. They are equally cherished in the heartland.

The days were bleak economically in Ireland when we set out to honour them with a permanent milestone in time; we decided to build the Emigrants and Diaspora Centre (Ionad Cuimhneacháin na nImirceach agus an Diaspóra) in the village of Carna. There was a symbolism about the location. The back door would almost touch the Atlantic; the sea spray would whimper against the windows.

But we needed money.

Government Departments had closed their wallets. We went to America. We went far and wide in search of the money we needed. The Department of the Gaeltacht eventually promised strong support.

But we still needed money.

It was then that we approached Clann Credo and their representative in the West, Tracey Hannon. Yes, we had to prove our case. We had to show that the money would be repaid. We proved our case.

Marty Walsh, a son of local emigrants and the Mayor of Boston came to lay the foundation stone. He came again to officially open the Centre in 2018. It was a heady and emotional day for the whole community. The emigrants of old left almost penniless for Boston; now they had one of their own as the First Citizen of that City.

We have built a little citadel to honour all of them. It cost over €1m. Sometimes we were on the financial rocks and flummoxed by a spray of despair. Clann Credo rescued us. Sometimes we needed as much a €50,000 or €60,000. Clann Credo was there. Yes, we repaid the money. But there is a great debt owed – a debt of gratitude to Clann Credo and to Tracey Hannon.

Máirtín Ó Catháin
 


Location: Carna, Chonamara / Connemara

Website: http://www.carnaemigrantscentre.com/