ASH2020 Chairman’s letter for Ashbourne News March Issue
On March 4, 1820, Frederick Bourne registered a lease on 96 acres owned by the Carter family. Bourne, a leading operator of coaching services, toll-roads and hotels, built a small village to service the needs of his passengers on his mail coach route from Dublin to Drogheda via Kilmoon and Duleek. Frederick, as the Anthem goes, ‘named our Town’ by combining his family name and that of his favourite tree. He also sought a degree of local immortality by naming the principal thoroughfare ‘Frederick Street’.
On March 4, 2020, we mark this day as the 200th anniversary of the Town of Ashbourne. We have designated it ‘Founder’s Day’, a tribute to Frederick, who built extensively in the area and whose family were closely associated with the Town until the end of the 19th century, The association continues, albeit at a distance, with a visit last September by our Founder’s Great-great-granddaughter, Juanita Carroll from Australia. Other branches of the family will make their way to their ancestors’ creation during the Bicentennial year.
Though the population of Ashbourne has waxed and waned since 1820 (in 1964 it was 139; ten years later it was nearing 3,000; today it exceeds 15,000), a surprising number of the original families from the early days still live in or near the Town. This became apparent when Brian King of the Historical Society set about assembling a cohort of citizens to represent the various stages of the development of our Community. Brian had no difficulty identifying a sizeable segment whose connections date back to the nineteenth century. Brian’s researches spanned the period since the 1820’s, and a cadre of citizens have agreed to represent the population as it developed, and to attend at the various functions that have an historical flavour throughout the Bicentennial year. The group will be called ‘The Peoples of Ashbourne’. The only qualification for membership is that you can prove your credentials, that you be of a sociable disposition and that you (in some cases) be prepared to dress up! All residents of Ashbourne are welcome to participate. For purposes of establishing a sartorial standard, the group is divided into four sections, or ‘Waves’ as follows:
- The Founding Families Wave 1820-1900
- The Early Settlers Wave 1901-1970
- The 1970’s Wave 1971-1989
- The ‘Overseas’ Wave 1990-present
The ‘Peoples of Ashbourne’ cavalcade will tour the Town during Founder’s Day and will eventually make it to the Civic Reception (see below) in the evening. Their itinerary will be posted on ASH2020’s Facebook page nearer the date.
In the afternoon of Founder’s Day, Topline Murtagh and the Men’s Shed will display the results of their collaboration over the Winter months when they unveil their Planters (20), which will be located strategically throughout the Town (see story opposite). Their partnership is of long standing and is the exemplar of what can happen when Community and Commerce put their heads together. Well done Men’s Shed! Well done Topline Murtagh! Your generosity and sense of Community down the years is widely appreciated.
The culminating event of the Town’s birthday will be a Civic Reception hosted by Meath County Council at the Library/Civic Centre in the evening. This will be attended by representatives of Community, Commerce, Elected Representatives and MCC Executive. A fitting ‘rí rá agus ruaille buaille’ is anticipated and I have no Aprildoubt that MCC Executive’s generous support of ASH2020 to date will be once more in evidence.
Lest we be suspected of being overly focused on the past in these affairs, I commend to your attention a project undertaken jointly by Ashbourne Community Schools (ACS) and Coláiste De Lacy (CDL) transition year students and organised by the ASH2020 Board. Eight groups of 3-4 students each, together with their Teachers, will carry out research along eight separate lines of enquiry (dominions), seeking to answer the question ‘What will it be like to be a resident of Ashbourne in 2070?’ Each group is assigned a Mentor, a person familiar with their allocated Domain, who will share their expertise and point the students at likely sources of relevant knowledge. The eight domains are: Social Structures (Government), Culture, Education, Environment, Health, Science and Technology, Economics and Sport. The conclusions of the project will be shared with the present-day residents of Ashbourne at a function in mid-May. This project, already in the early stages of formation, will be formally launched on Founder’s Day.
,,,…. and when Founder’s Day has ended, we will take a breather for a day or two and turn our attention to the fifty or so other events that are emerging as the ASH2020 Calendar continues to take shape.
For the latest ASH2020 Event Calendar, go to http://ash2020.com/events/
Chairman – Ash2020 Board