Personal Memories of James E. Gowan.
I am nearly certain the Society was founded in 1947, but the rules and regulations were not drawn up until the following year. Who founded the Society? I and Brian Malone founded what we called the Old Skerries Society. We were co-founders and received encouragement and assistance from Leonard McGloughlin. At the very beginning we had meetings in each others’ homes. We were young. I was 22 years old, and we interviewed older people and collected what information we could get.
Soon we were joined by Christy Fox, who said: “You can’t go on as you are. You must have Rules. Every Club and Society needs them. Why do companies need Articles of Association?” We set about drawing up the Society’s Rules, which were completed in 1948.
Why were we interested in our town’s past? As a schoolboy, I went to an illustrated talk in the Library by a great local character, William Blood-Smyth, Solr. He had a large summer house at the beginning of Harbour Road, and had accumulated at the end of the previouus century a collection of large format black and white slides, which he took himself. The harbour and seafaring folk were well represented. Where are these slides now? . . . Then there was Fr. Scantlebury SJ, who, sponsored by the County Library Committee, gave a lecture on the area, again in the Library. His papers are available and are preserved in the Jesuit House in Leeson Street. Some inspiration also came from the Lawrence Collection of post cards then on sale in every sweet shop in the town. They were the identical views first taken in the 1890’s. Kevin Murray was a Bank Official, who specialised in the Railway. He lectured in the Library and was to go on to become the authority on the history of the Irish Railways with many books and publications to his name.
Going back to our co-founder Brian Malone. . . . Brian taught himself boat design and had many of his creations built and he won prizes. He corresponded with Uffa Fox, then one of the world’s top yacht designers. Brian’s health was not good. He suffered from TB in his teens. He died prematurely in 1963 . . .
Christy Fox, the remaining person associated with the first years of the Society, was a member of the family who ran Fox’s butcher shop at the Monument. When Christy was growing up there was no secondary school for boys between Dublin and Drogheda. Christy was naturally well educated and had wide interests. . . . He wrote a history of Skerries harbour in 1970 when it was being extended. This shows fine scholarship worthy of a professional historian. . . . Without Christy’s organisational work our Society might not have survived.