Waterford County Museum, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland. Charity Reg: 17397
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Rita Clancy- Dungarvan's First Librarian

Margaret (Rita) Clancy (1900-1979) was a member of a very old native Dungarvan family.  She was a primary School teacher at Carriglea National School a few miles outside Dungarvan.  Waterford County Council instituted a Public Library service, with headquarters at Lismore with Mr. Fergus Murphy (Father of Dervla Murphy) the first appointed County Librarian.  The next task was to establish the first branch library in the county, the choice was Dungarvan.  They had the books and the Council would provide a room, but they did not have the funds to pay a librarian.  Rita was approached and asked to accept the post of Honorary Librarian, and open the library in the evenings, which she graciously did.  

She opened the first library branch to be established in the county on February 18th 1931.  It was located in the only available room on the top storey of the Dungarvan Town Hall.  Unstintingly she worked long and arduous hours in the service and interest of her fellow-townspeople.  Increased numbers of borrowers and lack of space necessitated a "temporary" move to a premise at the top of Friary Street.  Unfortunately the economic state of the country at the time meant the new Dungarvan Branch Library building was still a long way off. 

In her lifetime Rita Clancy became a legend for her courtesy and helpfulness, even in the most trying circumstances.  The needs of each borrower meticulously attended to and at all times devoid of favour. 

On Monday, 1st March 1976 after 45 years service Rita retired from the library service and may well have looked back with nostalgia and pride on a most exacting task, more than adequately accomplished.  Rita had many outstanding characteristics especially her gentle and unassuming nature and her great Christian charity by word and deed.  She was always patriotic and had been a member of Cumann na mBan.  In 1969 the now retired N.T. began helping in the establishment of St. John's Special School Dungarvan.  A few years later she was asked to return to St. John's to cover for those who were taking courses.  She is remembered for her ability to keep control of her classes, some of which had challenging pupils. 

While crossing the road Rita was hit by a drunk driver and died from her injuries on 8th October 1979. Her funeral was one of the largest and most representative ever seen in Dungarvan. A testimony to her great popularity and the high esteem in which she was held by the people of Dungarvan.

Many thanks to Hillary Keane, for providing this information about Rita Clancy. 

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