Dundalk Town Council will hold its last meeting on 20 May. There are also plans to erect a commemorative plaque in the foyer of the Town Hall and the County Museum is also planning a commeration too.
Nobody really knows what the future council structure will mean for the town, but the contributions made by officials and councillors of Dundalk Town Council and Dundalk Urban Council before it, have been immense and changed the whole face of the town.
For example, around the 1900s the sanitary conditions of many houses in Dundalk was so bad the houses were not fit for living in.
When Dundalk Urban District Council bought the Demesne from Lord Roden for rehousing of people from the town’s slums in the 1920s everything began to change.
The Demesne was bought from Lord Roden for £13,000.
This was a portion of the estate known as Farmer’s Holding and included the steward’s house, “the Laurels”.
The clearing of the slums around Rice’s Lane started in 1932 and by the end of that decade the whole area had been cleared and replaced by the new Christian Brothers primary school.
The people who had been living in overcrowded conditions were quickly rehoused thanks to the urban council on the new Demesne land. Oliver Plunkett Park and McSwiney Street were built at this time.
Large main sewerage schemes were undertaken and the Town and Regional Planning Acts were introduced at this time.
In 1945 the town boundary was extended in 1945 and then in 1947 the urban council nearly lost its home when the Town Hall caught fire and the concert hall was destroyed.
It was soon rebuilt and became the centre of one of the most successful amatuer drama festivals in the country. It was here that Tomas Mac Anna began his career. He later of course became Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre (twice).
It was after this fire that a municipal rate replaced the former town and poor rate under the Local Gaovernment act of 1946. The municipal rate adopted was 25 shillings in the £.
One of the most distinguished chairman of the council at this time was Peadar O Dowda, known affectionally as An Chú.
He was a great Gaelic scholar, and a former teacher at St Mary’s College.
He translated the Bible into Irish and was a foundr member of the Gaelic League in Dundalk.
The Local Election Act of 1919 introduced proportional representation.
Quite an achievement considering that the country was virtually at war.
The history of the town’s local authority goes back to 1864 when the then town commissioners bought the commercial buildings in Crowe Street which is now the Town Hall.
The Town Hall became the commissioners’ home.
They became the urban council but soon that council will be gone.