Dundalk was a very different place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, this period was one of constant anxiety and frustration for the town council and its health officials. Inadequate sanitation, lack of a proper sewerage system and many unfit overcrowded houses were leading to outbreaks of serious illnesses. New homes would have to be built to meet the demands and needs of the people who required housing.

The Demesne lands, some 130 acres in extent, were acquired by the council in 1914 under “The Housing of the Working Class Act”. Bounded on the north by the Castletown Road, on the west by The Great Northern Railways main line and on the east and south by Dundalk’s principle streets. These lands were to provide for the housing needs of Dundalk for the next 100 years. With the appointment in 1925 in each county of a county medical officer, who could report on the conditions that the people were living under, these reports helped push through legislation in 1931 and expanded on in 1932 that set the clearance of unhealthy areas in motion.

Dundalk Map

Above to the left of the town, Lord Rodens Demesne which was purchased by Dundalk Council.

Survey of Medical Officers of Health March 1934

Survey of Medical Officers

The above report clearly shows the scale of demolition and rebuilding that faced the council at this time, in total 308 houses have been reported unfit for human habitation. The council having already rehoused 39 families under the 1932 Act with 217 houses are still to be dealt with as at October 1935.

Ward No. of Houses
Middle Ward 113 Houses
North Ward 121 Houses
Seatown Ward 73 Houses
South Ward 1 House

Where did they go?

From 1922 to 1941 twenty-one new housing schemes were undertaken to meet demand.

Date Housing Scheme No. of Houses
1922 Thomas Street 27
1933 Market Street 10
1933 Dublin Street 12
1934 Oliver Plunkett Park 46
1934 McSwiney Street 70
1935 Mary Street North 12
1935 O'Hanlon Park 108
1935 St. Gerard's Square 16
1936 Culhane Street 24
1936 Patrick Street 25
1936 St. Nicholas Avenue 116
1937 St. Alphonsus Villas 48
1937 The Laurels 37
1937 St. Joseph's Park 23
1937 Hughes Park 34
1938 Hyde Park 56
1938 St. Clements Park 42
1940 Pearse park 112
1940 St. Malachy's Villas 36
1940 De La Salle Terrace 11
1941 Fr. Murray Park 84

The Building of O'Hanlon Park

Town Clerk Letter

Here we see residents of Casey’s Place and Dublin Street been informed that the first phase of 46 houses in the Demesne is complete and ready for occupation. They are also asked to call to the Town Hall to pick up the keys for their new homes. Note that they are also asked to have a week’s rent (4/3d) with them. The five families that are been moved from Dublin Street (Dardis Yard) are only moving temporarily and later move back when their homes that were demolished as part of the clearance orders are rebuilt. O'Hanlon Park (not yet named) is built in three phases.

Year Phases cost Builder
1933 46 Houses £14,300 P. McKenna & Sons
1935 50 Houses £14,600 P. McKenna & Sons
1937 12 Houses £3,871 P. McKenna & Sons

Who was the street named after; sadly even now that question cannot be confidently answered. Two names are mentioned, Redmond O'Hanlon and Bernard O’Hanlon.

Redmond O'Hanlon Descendant of the great O’'Hanlon Gaelic clan of Orier (12th-17th centuries), present day Armagh. O'Hanlon’s response to the earlier plantation of Ulster and later the Cromwellian confiscations a time of great wrong doings on the Irish people put him in conflict with the authorities of his time. Outlaw to crown, hero to the native people, his first recorded incident took place in 1674. Many stories and songs have been written about him; sadly he was betrayed and killed by a relation Art O’Hanlon near Hilltown Co Down on the 25th April 1681.
Bernard O'Hanlon IRA Volunteer 3rd Battalion C Company Dublin Brigade. From Dundalk he was killed when two lorry loads of auxiliaries accompanied by an armour car attempted to raid the Battalion HQ at 144 Brunswick Street, Dublin (now Pearse Street) on the 14th March 1921. His comrade Volunteer, Leo Fitzgerald, was also killed; two other IRA men, Tom Traynor and Jack Donnelly, were arrested. Tom was executed in Mountjoy Jail and Jack owing to an injury was saved by the truce of June 1921.

What we do know for certain is that the name was given by the residents of the first 46 houses that were built; this is recorded in the minutes of the council.

Naming of New Street

Tenants Signatures

The actual letter sent in and signed by thirty-one residents asking for the houses to be called O’Hanlon Park. Some of those who signed this letter were originally from Casey’s Place. Which one of the O'Hanlon’s is the street most likely named after, if we take into consideration that other streets close by where been after IRA Volunteers, it is most likely that the residents probably wanted it named after Bernard O’Hanlon.

Culhane Street
IRA volunteer, Patsy Culhane
McSwiney Street
IRA Volunteer, Cork Hunger Striker 1921
Mulholland Avenue
IRA Volunteer, Killed Bridge Street, Dundalk

Slum Elimination

20 Houses Casey's Place

In 1920 there had been no Municipal, Rural or County Council Elections for about 6 years and Sinn Féin in preparing for an early election decided to contest all seats; selected candidates and had all election machinery in order when the date for elections was fixed. The Municipal Elections took place in January, 1920. In Dundalk a majority of Sinn Féin candidates were returned on the Urban Council and Peter Hughes, ex-T.D. (brother of the 1916 leader) was elected Chairman. Many of the Municipal bodies elected in 1920 with Republican majorities immediately passed resolutions pledging allegiance to Dáil Éireann. We did not do so immediately after we were elected on the advice of Peter Hughes. The outgoing urban Council had been in negotiation with Lord Roden for the purchase of Dundalk Demesne and the British Local Government Board had promised to put up the money to purchase Lord Roden's interest in the property. If we had immediately "cut the painter" with the Local Government Board some commercial interests in town would have purchased the property and it would have been lost to the people of Dundalk. This property lies in the centre of the town and now has hundreds of houses erected all within a short distance of the Market Square. A few months after the elections the deal with Lord Roden was completed and the Dundalk Urban Council were in a position to follow their inclinations in the matter of recognising Dáil Éireann and did so.

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