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Wednesday, 9th August 2017

New play recalls 1940s migration from Mayo to Bellewstown

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Joe Flynn, who travelled with the group on the 12th April 1945, from Castlebar station to the Rudder in Bellewstown.  A proud grandfather, now in his eighties, Joe is very proud of his Mayo heritage but is happy to be settled in Bellewstown surrounded by his family.  He will recite a poem about migration during the concert.

Bellewstown Heritage Group is in the final stages of preparation for its Heritage Week presentation, Out of the West, an exploration of the Land Commission migration of poor tenant farming families from Mayo and Sligo to the townland of Rudder at Bellewstown, Co. Meath in the 1940s. 

On the 12th April 1945 four families assembled on Castlebar train station: two families, Joyces and Corcorans, from Killyvally near Westport and two families, Nolans and Flynns, from Cluaintibrid near Turlough. 

There was excitement and great expectations at the prospects awaiting them in Bellewstown,.  A half-set was danced on the platform to the music of Harry Flynn on the accordion.  But there was also an air of sadness at leaving so many relatives and friends behind.

The concert, featuring a new play by local playwright, Sheila Scanlan, takes place in Bellewstown School on Friday 18th August at 8.00 pm. 

Through poetry reading, songs, drama, music and dance, the theme of leaving the west of Ireland in hopes of a better future will be explored by the heritage group. 

Claire McGing, lecturer in Maynooth University, will discuss how the women from the west coped with the transition.  Soprano JoAnn McComish, well-known local singer Sean Collier and musician Pat Joyce will perform on the night. 

Sheila Scanlan’s new play Out of the West explores the migrants’ sadness at leaving friends and family and how they adapted to a new life in the village of Bellewstown. 

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