In the early Sixties the green fields to the north-west of our home in The Meadow became a building site and the new housing estate of Derrybeg grew up.
Although these great estates lay adjacent to each other, they remained distinct entities as they are today. There was little house exchange at any time between the two. In times of great public turmoil however these near neighbours came together over common issues, for example in Civil Rights and Troubles days.
Over three hundred and sixty families were allocated these brand-new homes in the Derrybeg Estate in 1963, electing to be uprooted from many close-knit communities all over the town. Most of them were unknown to each other; some were newly-weds. Due largely to the community-spiritedness of a number of involved individuals and their resolute determination to forge a common community in ‘The Beg’, this soon became one of the liveliest and most involved communities in the town. This was despite the poor planning that left the estate deprived of green space and social and recreational facilities. There were no shops, offices or factories nearby, there was no public transport service to the estate and schools were far away.
At the time I was representative of the O’Neill Avenue/Loughview Park Tenants Association and I was proud and happy to help found the Confederation of Community Groups with such Derrybeg men as John Duffy, Lou Morgan, Barney Larkin, Gene Magenniss, Des McGennity (pictured, some years ago, with wife Brea) and Tony McLaughlin.
… more later ………