THE ANNUAL gathering to celebrate the launch of the Roscrea People is a favourite on the calendar of so many local people and the event marking the latest edition in the Auburn Lounge last Tuesday night was filled with nostalgia.
Looking back over all the editions since the very first in 1974, the Editor and famed bibliophile George Cunningham, said it struck him that without his wife Carmel's assistance for every successive edition, he believes the remarkable publication may never have happened.
“Carmel is the rock on which the Roscrea People flourishes. Without her there would be no Roscrea People and it takes an awful lot of work,” Mr Cunningham said.
Recalling the booklet's original intention as being a carrier of good news, this year's edition sees the Editor be unrestrained in his criticism of the local authority's neglect of Roscrea.
In his editorial, Mr. Cunningham said he founded the publication as a “good news vehicle” and that it grieves him to have to dwell on so many negatives in the town today – citing the lack of success to date on implementing any major aspects of the town's Enhancement Plan and the lack of infrastructure to guide and support tourists and visitors to the town as major problems.
“These are crucial times as our town is suffering in so many ways, principally from a lack of footfall for traders. All of this with day visitor attractions the envy of most towns in Ireland, but little or no marketing of same,” he writes.
However, good news remains the foundation upon which the Roscrea People has been built and the latest edition is packed with 192 pages and over 600 illustrations and photographs to delight readers both at home and those lucky enough to receive a copy while far from home.
At the launch Mr Cunningham expressed his deep gratitude to P.J. Wright, Roscrea's social photographer, for contributing so many pictures which will become an invaluable record to future generations who will walk the streets of Roscrea and occupy the homes of the future.
Sean Hogan also contributed dozens of beautiful photographs lovingly reproduced inside this year's edition and as always the artful fruit of Brian Redmond's lens adorns the front and back covers – this year's cover shot being a beautiful capture of the Franciscan Friary against a Spring sky.
Mr Cunningham also thanked Andrea Paterson and Valerie Spencer for their painstaking work in laying out the current edition and to the owner of Walsh's Printers, Des Walsh, whose print-house has taken care of the Roscrea People for every edition since the first in '74.
Mr Cunningham also thanked Pamela Aitken for her “huge work” and invited his wife Carmel to address the gathering, in which she called for people to shop local this Christmas and support he businesses in Roscrea which are struggling.
Closing his address, Mr Cunningham said that one striking aspect of compiling this year's booklet were the new constraints brought about by GDPR and data protection, which he described as “common sense gone out the window.”
Some pictures in this year's edition could not be captioned because of data protection laws – a heartbreaking new problem for historians who understand the importance of captioning photographs for future generations.
Andrew Walsh, Chairman of the Roscrea Youth Centre and community activist, who will also receive a Roscrea People of the Year award next month, also gave a short address and congratulated and thanked George and Carmel Cunningham for successively creating such an unrivalled local record for Roscrea.
Fr Tom Corbett also congratulated George and Carmel and described the Roscrea People as “a revelation” - because it reveals what life is like in our times – something Fr Corbett said will be “a joy for the future people of our town to look back on.”