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First of its kind local authority history reveals untold Clare stories

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*The meeting by Tomás O’Maoldomhnaigh

A first of its kind publication has been launched by Clare County Council chronicling 450 years of local government.

Following Monday’s meeting of the local authority at glór, a special launch celebrated ‘The Story of Clare and its People 1570-2020’. The publication by Dr Matthew Potter and Dr John Treacy provides a detailed account of how the local administrators of County Clare have helped to shape the physical, social, political, cultural and religious life of Clare over the following 450 years.

In 1570, one year after Elizabeth 1st oversaw the shiring of Thomond as a county, County Clare was established at a court of English law held in the sacristy of the Franciscan monastery in Ennis. The book documents hundreds of landmark moments relating to local governance in Clare from the construction of the Ardnacrusha scheme and Shannon Airport to the Council’s management of the health service, the temporary abolition of Clare County Council in 1942, the role of the Urban District Councils and Town Councils through to the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A secret meeting of Clare County Council in a haybarn near Spancihill during the height of the War of Independence features on the front cover of the book in a specially commissioned painting by Tomás O’Maoldomhnaigh.

Speaking on Monday, an excited Cllr Mary Howard (FG) noted that the book showed the impact and importance of local government over the past 450 years. The Mayor of Clare commented, “Throughout these centuries, the various local authorities from the grand jury and boards of guardians to the county council and town councils were central to the life of Clare and Clare people, so much so that this book is also a veritable history of the county itself and indeed an important contribution to the historiography of Early Modern and Modern Ireland. For anyone who is even remotely interested in Clare’s past or Ireland’s story, it is essential reading.”

Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling commended co-authors Dr John Treacy and Dr Matthew Potter for “excellent scholarly work”. He stated, “When county Clare came into existence in 1570, it was a peripheral, impoverished and turbulent area on the western edge of Europe. Four-hundred-and-fifty years later, the Clare of 2020 is a confident, prosperous and vibrant county strategically poised between two of the world’s most powerful economic areas, namely the European Union and the United States of America. Between these two dates, lies the exciting, interesting and often uplifting tale of how the people of Clare and their local government system interacted”.

William Moloney, former County Manager and Chair of the Book Committee, said: “Modern Clare is a dynamic, modern and prosperous place, with a proud record in economic success, sport, the arts, and quality of life. This book demonstrates that these achievements can be credited to two principal factors: the successful partnership between the people of Clare and their local government system and the wonderful sense of local pride that has for long been a feature of the county’s public life”.

A 15-minute documentary video featuring interviews with the book’s authors and key local government figures in Clare is available to view on Clare County Council social media channels (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter).

‘The Story of Clare and its People 1570-2020 – A History of Local Government in Ireland’s Banner County’ is available to buy at O’Mahony’s Bookshop in Ennis and Ennis Bookshop.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, and A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to -

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