‘8-house village builds own hall’
Fr. Edward Dowling became Parish Priest of Camross at the height of the Emergency in Ireland. Resources were scarce and there were no thoughts of any development of a large infrastructural project within the parish. But Fr. Dowling and his Curate, Fr. James Scott, no doubt discussed what could be done to improve the lives of their parishioners if the War in Europe remained on the continent and ended within their tenure in Camross. Once the great uncertainties of life, brought about by the ongoing war, came to an end with Allied victory, the clergy men’s thoughts returned to their idea with added gusto. The immediate post-war years were scarcely better for Ireland than the war years themselves, but green shoots were emerging towards the end of the 1940s and moves began to secure funding for the construction of a parish hall in the centre of Camross village. And the first port of call was the headquarters of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust in Dunfermline, Scotland.
Andrew Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th Century. He sold his steel company to JP Morgan in 1901 for $480 million ($13.6 billion in modern terms) thus making him one of the wealthiest men in history. He led the way in philanthropy and by the time of his death had given away almost all of his fortune to worthy causes. The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust was established to bring about ‘improvement of the well-being of the masses of the people of Great Britain and Ireland’. The Trust, based in Carnegie’s hometown, assisted multiple local building projects all over the United Kingdom and the Irish Free State after the end of the war. It was a logical choice for the first formal application for funding, which was made in April 1949 by Fr. Scott.