In the Foreword to his latest book, Portraits of Mountshannon (East Clare Heritage, Tuamgraney 2012), Ger Madden writes of the changes to Mountshannon since 1993:
The Aistear, the children’s playground, the pre-school building, the floating jetties at the harbour, additional restaurants and shops have been hugely positive and successful. The same cannot be said for housing. Ten years of reasonable prosperity for some, has resulted in new private holiday homes built on the fringes of the village and others planned. They are not associated with the needs of the community. The majority of the owners have not the slightest interest in the history, culture or welfare of the community they have chosen to display their wealth.
Any such owners wishing to develop an interest in the history of Mountshannon could not do better than to start with Ger’s book. It’s A4 landscape, with an aerial colour photo of Mountshannon on the front and a map on the back. Inside, the foreword gives a brief overview of Mountshannon’s history. Then follow 52 pages, each with a black and white photo and each covering a building, a tree or a place of interest in and around Mountshannon. Their locations are shown on the map on the back cover.
But, although architectural information is provided, the book is not about the buildings per se. Each page is a window into Mountshannon’s history and, together, they provide a rich account of the place and its people over the centuries. Part of the interest is in the fact that buildings you might pass by without noticing turn out to have interesting stories attached to them. Nor are they all about the distant past: I was glad to see that Mountshannon’s more recent claim to fame, as the last telephone exchange in the country to be automated, was recognised here (although I suppose that too may seem like the distant past to younger readers).
I highly recommend the book. If you’re in the area, you’ll probably know better than I where to get copies; if you’re not, you might ask East Clare Heritage.
Ger runs boat trips to Holy Island during the summer.