The Commons Ghost Village intergenerational project was developed to gather and save memories of The Commons when it was still a miners village and to enable the children and young people from the area record their village now and find out about its past as a busy centre of the community.
The project was supported by The Tony Ryan Fund for Tipperary Community Grants Programme 2017.
In 1851 The Commons village was recorded as being the most populated village in the area. The school, now The Old School Community Centre was built in 1877 when the Commons Colliery was working and was the local school up until the late 1960’s. The Commons Colliery closed in the late 1880’s but many men from the village continued to work as miners in other areas of the coal field up till the end of mining in the area. The village changed over the decades and this project helped portray the busy Commons Village and what it had to offer in the 1960’s.
At the refurbished Old School Community Centre music and dancing lessons were available for the local children and dults during the term times. Over the few years photographs had been brought to show and share at the various community gatherings. During the summer there was time and space to undertake a new project. There was great interest in the how much the village had changed from 50 years previously. Now there was just the school, child care centre and one pub shop in the village.
Photographs from the 1950’s and 1960’s of people showed the buildings in the background, the village as it had been in the past when it was busy and relatively prosperous with the miners bringing their wages home every week. The photographs from earlier years showed a blacksmiths forge, a drapery and post office, three pub shops, two more general stores, a petrol pump, and even a cinema. Some houses had been demolished or changed. There was also the ball alley where dances were held annually, a field that the circus used to visit, the creamery that brought the local farmers into the village daily to deliver their milk, bread came fresh from the local bakery and the Old School building was still the local National School.
This was an intergenerational project, the children of the 1960’s described the village as they remembered it, and they shared old photographs and memories of the people and buildings in the village. A group of teenagers photographed the village in 2017.
All the information was gathered together and the Commons Ghost Village was constructed out of card, building by building. The 1960’s children continued to steer the project helping to assemble the buildings into a 4.5 meter long model of the village for the community exhibition.
Primary school aged children participated on drawing workshops looking at The Old School building and finding out about the shops and the cinema and the creamery. They then were able to tour the model village, giving them the opportunity to learn about the history of the village.
The exhibition ran over ten days with children’s workshops running the week before and during the week while the model was on exhibition.
The people who had not had input in to the project were the adults born after the 1960’s, they came to the Old School with both the younger and older members of their families. Their children were able to tell them about the cinema, the forge and the variety of shops and show them where everything was in the village. Locals returned to the exhibition repeatedly with their extended families and recalled the past through this 3D model, the photographs, the children’s drawings and conservations about the people and the place that is The Commons.
The exhibition of the model village, the photographs and the children’s drawings told the story of this village that like many others around the country, had changed and lost so much over the decades. Here the closing of the mines brought less money into the village; family cars became commonplace bringing greater mobility so people travelled out to work and shop in the local towns no longer relying on the local stores. The effect of emigration on small rural communities also played a part in the changes to The Commons Village.
The Ghost Village was exhibited again the following year during Heritage Week.
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