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A Personal Account of Mosney by Neil Hilton Back

During the mid to late 1940's in the post war period Sir Billy Butlin decided to extend his holiday business beyond the shores of the United Kingdom and commissioned the building of the Mosney camp in Ireland. The Mosney camp opened it's doors to the first guests in 1948 and I am pleased to be able to write this account with the assistance of my mother who went on holiday there as a new camper in 1950.

The camp was situated on the North East coast of Ireland between Dublin and Belfast on an area of flat land just South East of Drogheda. Holidaymakers from the UK mainland would normally arrive by ferry into Dublin. The camp was built adjacent to the main railway line between Dublin and Belfast therefore many guests would transfer to the train for the onward journey straight to the Mosney camp. The camp had its own sidings and station located at the perimeter near to the boating lake. A road train and porters would then take guests arriving at the station and their luggage on to the main reception area situated on the other side of the camp near the road entrance. The rail and road entrances were marked by flagpoles and the buildings and roads were lined with the famous Butlins striped illumination lanterns. There was ample parking space for those arriving by car.

Mosney was the least publicised camp although it did feature alongside the other eight camps in the annual Butlins holiday brochures. Perhaps due to its location and additional travel requirements for some the camp was less popular as a destination than other camps. Some people were not even aware of its existence.

The Mosney camp was obviously very popular with generations of Irish families but many visitors from the UK mainland also chose to holiday in this mild and picturesque area of the Emerald Isle. The camp was situated next to sandy beaches and sand dunes. Most of the staff including the Red Coats were locals and the arrival of Butlins provided much needed employment opportunities to the area.

Mosney was a small camp and there was a reduced variety of entertainment and amusements available at this centre due to its lower capacity. Mosney acquired a reputation for being more select and the facilities reflected this quieter image. Nevertheless this compact camp provided most of the usual Butlin entertainment including fancy dress, sports competitions and Red Coat Shows. There was a Cinema, Gaiety Theatre and live plays performed in the Playhouse Theatre. The bars were based on an Irish theme and built in a traditional saloon style including the famous Dan Lowry's Bar. The Ballroom here was extremely popular with guests and old time dancing, sequence dancing and Irish dances were favourites.

Mosney boasted a large indoor swimming pool and an outdoor heated swimming pool with an enclosure. Amusements included a small funfair with carousel, dodgem cars and a big wheel  and there was also a children's park/playground. There was a large boating lake and open air roller skating rink similar to the one to be found at Ayr. The camp had an excellent Games Room and for relaxation there were gardens and large areas of open plan lawns.

The entertainment buildings here were similar to those built at the Pwllheli camp some years earlier and comprised a mixture of single storey and two storey built in the traditional Butlin design with steep corrugated asbestos roofing. The two storey buildings were full of windows and colourfully painted wooden panelling. The single storey buildings were concrete rendered painted in neutral and pastel colours.

Chalets here were a combination of hut style, single storey and two storey built in lines. The chalet blocks were divided by grassed areas just like those at the other camps. Most of the chalets had the same curtains which were either striped or featured yachts.  In the late 1960's capacity was increased with the construction of some more modern chalets built with flat roofs similar to those at Barry Island.

Sir Billy Butlin also built a large church at Mosney to enable guests to continue worship whilst on holiday.  There were also excursions to local landmarks and towns. Guests were encouraged to have a taste of the Irish way of life and its traditions.

When the camp first opened all holidays were all-inclusive and there were two main Dining Halls. There was always two sittings for dining and meal arrangements were waiter service. Holidaymakers were alerted to meal times by announcements from the tannoys of Radio Butlin. Originally all the chalets were catered chalets but some of these were adjusted in the late 1960's to allow for self-catering holidays. The terminology used at the time was self-service accommodation and the new concept allowed for greater flexibility and changes in consumer needs. These changes were a policy of all the camps at that point in time.

The site was sold in the 1980's to a private owner and after several years operating as an independent holiday centre it is now being used to accommodate asylum seekers. During its time as Mosney Holiday Centre some facilities were replaced  and new attractions were added including the subtropical waterworld, Dragon ride and Black Hole. The camps long-term future is not yet known but it is hoped that the site will  reopen as a holiday centre since this is the only camp remaining intact as it was originally constructed. If there was ever going to be a nostalgia camp then Mosney would be it and it is hoped that the owner will continue to preserve the site and its facilities.

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