Clerihan didn’t officially exist until 1996.

First published 2005 in the Nationalist, this article gives us an insight to where the village was in 2005. It puts in context a lot of hard work that people have put into Clerihan.

One of the fastest-growing areas in South Tipperary is Clerihan, a village which didn’t even officially exist as recently as 1996 in the national census and which has seen the construction of almost 200 houses since then – with a lot more to come.

Probably the biggest challenge facing the local people, and the relevant authorities, is the management of this expansion to ensure that adequate services and facilities are put in place to cater for all of the new people moving into Clerihan.

Its location in the Clonmel hinterland, just a few miles from the town itself, has been the catalyst for all of this activity in a village which – prior to 1975 and the establishment of Knockeevan Terrace – had just 12 houses to its name.

Indeed, a significant majority of the people who have moved into new housing developments over the last eight years or so are from Clonmel or work in the town. A danger is that Clerihan could become a “dormitory village” – a place where Clonmel-based people sleep which is virtually empty during weekdays.

A village centre development currently being built at the Clonmel side of Clerihan should help alleviate this worry, as commercial and retail aspects are included as well as a residential side.

However, with planning permission in place or currently being sought for up to 250 additional houses in the area, it will be important for Clerihan that development in the village isn’t confined to housing, housing and more housing.

For proof of the growth in population in Clerihan in recent times, look no further than St Michael’s National School where enrolments have almost trebled since 1994 – from 55 pupils back then, to 146 pupils in September of 2004. In addition, some children in the parish attend primary school at Lisronagh NS, Rathkeevin NS and the schools in Clonmel.

As in many areas around the country, this increase in pupil numbers puts pressure on space, with St Michael’s experiencing a jump from being a two-teacher school to a six-teacher establishment.

A new school was built some years ago but the Department of Education, in their wisdom, made it a two-teacher without taking future growth into account.

When it became clear that more space was needed – and the relocation of two of the classes to the local Community Hall was pretty good evidence – the community itself set about the task of expanding the school building.

As Fr Ailbe O’Bric, parish priest and one of the prime movers behind the community council, recalls, they didn’t get a lot of support from the Government. “They offered us prefabs but we didn’t want prefabs because they’re a disaster and also because the school is expanding so much, we would have ended up with two classrooms surrounded by prefabs.”

Instead, fundraising was carried out locally while some generous anonymous donations were also received, and €130,000 of the €300,000 cost of building four new classrooms was paid locally – with some of it still be collected. The Department of Education was eventually persuaded to stump up the rest.

There’s no sign of the increase in activity at the school slowing down, with 16 tots currently at the local Tumbletots playschool and more due to join them in primary school next September.

Of course, life for children is not all about school and efforts are being made to provide more facilities for the younger members of the community. A playground is something which the village badly needs but there are growing sporting amenities in place.

The soccer club is very strong and caters for children from the very young upwards. Currently they train and play in a field beside the parochial house which Fr O’Bric has allowed them to use.

Meanwhile, there is also a strong basketball club based at the community centre and while tennis courts are also there, that sport isn’t as prominent as it used to be in the village.

Unusually for a self-contained parish, Clerihan was without a GAA team of its own for many years and this situation was rectified recently with the establishment of a new club which will start off at underage level and grow as the years go on. Up to now, local children have mainly played with Moyle Rovers and a great deal of loyalty has been built up for that club.

The lack of playing space has been a problem for sports clubs in Clerihan, but hopefully that will be sorted out soon with the provision of a new Community Sportsfield on the Clonmel road. This field was bought for €320,000 and a FS worker is already in place to begin work on getting it ready for play by the local clubs.

“We’ve got great support from the community to buy this field and to pay for the classrooms. That’s a lot of money for a small area like this. There’s some great people involved on the community council who have stuck their necks out for this and it’s people who have no vested interest at all.”

Clerihan Community Council suffers from a widespread problem, however, of having too few people saddled with too much work. And as the issues affecting the village grow with its population, that workload is only going to get bigger.

For this reason, some new faces would be a welcome addition to the Community Council and Fr O’Bric and his colleagues would be delighted to see more people getting involved – whether newcomers to Clerihan or otherwise.

With this in mind, an important meeting is being held on Monday, January 17th, from 8 to 9.30pm in Clerihan Community Hall. This is open to everyone in the community and no commitment to join anything or do anything is expected – just go along and find out more about the future of Clerihan.

Speakers will include Ciaran Lynch, a planner and head of department at the Tipperary Institute, along with an official from the South Tipperary County Development Board.

This meeting will provide an opportunity for residents to help plan for a better place for everyone, meet new people, gain a better understanding of area planning, and to campaign for more facilities and more resources for the community.

The latter is something which is exercising a lot of minds locally at the moment, with little in the way of community amenities being provided recently. The Community Hall, built in 1980, serves its purpose very well and is a busy venue with activities such as Forige for teenagers, karate, basketball, the community lotto, progressive ‘25’ games, Civil Defence, and more.

However, elsewhere there is just one pub in Clerihan and two shops; no doctor or health centre; no post office; and no full-time Garda presence. Securing these services is something, which will be high on the list of priorities for Clerihan Community Council in the coming months and years, to serve the ever-growing population.

“There’s very little in Clerihan at the moment for the people”, explains Fr O’Bric, “and that needs to change. There’s no point in building more and more housing, without anything to do for these people moving in.”

Meanwhile, for anyone who might be confused about whether it’s Clerihan, Ballyclerihan or Ballyclearahan – as the village sometimes gets called – Fr Ailbe O’Bric has definitive news. “Clerihan is the name of the village, and nothing else. Ballyclerihan is a townland, but Clerihan is the village.” Originally comprised of three parishes – Newchapel, Ballyclerihan and Colman – it became one many years ago and is now Clerihan. Simple as that.

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