independent

Tuesday 16 October 2018

New chapter opens at Oulart’s Bygone Days

Chairman of Enniscorthy Municipal District, Cllr. Willie Kavanagh, Jim Dunne and Jim Mythen (cutting ribbon) and Eileen and John Dempsey at the Re-opening of Bygone Days Storytelling House, Oulart, following renovations
Chairman of Enniscorthy Municipal District, Cllr. Willie Kavanagh, Jim Dunne and Jim Mythen (cutting ribbon) and Eileen and John Dempsey at the Re-opening of Bygone Days Storytelling House, Oulart, following renovations

Pádraig Byrne

In an era where long-held traditions seem to be rapidly decreasing in value among the masses, a dedicated group in Oulart were determined not to let another one become extinct. The Bygone Days Storytelling House was in bad need of repair and looked destined to close down, however, following a number of successful fundraisers, it's back in business and was officially re-opened on a beautiful summer's evening.

For the past 18 years, people from all over the South East have travelled to the quaint cottage in Oulart on the second Monday of each month to enjoy stories, traditional music and even a bit of traditional food such as bacon and cabbage, colcannon and herrings. The cottage hasn't actually been lived in since 1992 and coming up to the 200th anniversary of 1798 in 1998, it was decided to re-thatch the cottage and do it up. After the celebrations passed, locals decided it would be a shame if it wasn't used and the owner Jim Mythen decided to designate it a storytelling house and invite people from far and wide to attend.

Despite the idea's success, in recent years the cottage had fallen into major disrepair and required a major financial outlay to keep it going.

'We were in here on a night in December of 2015 and people were getting drownded,' said Eileen Dempsey, one of those behind the project. 'The water was just pouring in. At that stage we knew we had two choices - either close the place down or re-thatch it.'

Quite a bit of fundraising was required, however, the re-thatching itself costing €22,000. However, Eileen says that people were extremely supportive of their efforts and following quite a few fundraisers, including one major one in Enniscorthy's Riverside Park Hotel, and more than a bit of elbow grease from a dedicated bunch of volunteers, it now looks certain that tall tales will continue to be told around the fire in the old Oulart cottage.

'We had a fantastic response,' she said. 'People are very good. A lot of work went into it. As well as being re-thatch, it had to be re-timbered as well and there was quite a bit of damage to the tops of the walls. Thankfully we got there in the end though.'

The ribbon was officially cut by cottage owner Jim Mythen and Jim Dunne who did the thatching work and the official re-opening was also attended by District Chairman Cllr Willie Kavanagh who said he was delighted to see that all the group's hard work had paid off. The nights of music and storytelling will now resume at the cottage on the second Monday of each month for the foreseeable future.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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