Journal Volume 3 2000
They Answered the Call (continued/3)
In 1939 Greystones was a quiet residential town with a population of not more that 1800 people in the Winter and in excess of 2000 in the Summer, as many Dubliners opted to rent houses in the town for that period, with heads of households commuting to and from Dublin by railway. While there had been attempts by various development and civic groups over the years to obtain township status for Greystones so that residents would have a greater say in the development of the town as it was at that time, nothing happened, and it was until 1984 that this long cherished aim became a reality with the establishment of the Greystones Town Commissioners. Greystones was a town which had a large number of organisations and strong community spirit, and as the clouds of war gathered over Europe, residents decided that they would initiate measures to protect themselves and the town from the threat of war damage should it occur as they lacked confidence in Wicklow County Council to protect them. Some residents held the view that Wicklow County Council had no interest in the town and that was one of the principal reasons why residents decided that they would ' go it alone ', irrespective of any plans that Wicklow County Council might have. Wicklow County Council had none and was not unusual in that respect as many local authorities had adopted a ' wait and see ' approach, seeing little point in devoting time and energy and scarce resources to the preparation of plans and schemes which might never be needed.
In March 1939, a number of residents came together and formed a branch of the St. John Ambulance Brigade Society, and began with a short course of 6 lectures in first aid, which were held in afternoons and evenings. Dr. R.S. Mitchell was the tutor for the afternoon classes and Dr. Louis Finnegan tutor for the evening classes. There was an excellent response to these classes, with the average attendance at each class being 86. In May 68 members obtained their first aid certificates following examination . This was considered a great success.
Throughout the summer of 1939 the international situation deteriorated rapidly, but many county councils and scheduled cities and towns in the annex to the A.R.P. Act (1939) simply watched the situation. In Bray, Co. Wicklow, the only scheduled town in Co. Wicklow which had to prepare its own scheme, the councillors and Town Clerk sought out a number of people who indicated that they would be prepared to serve and administer the town's A.R.P. scheme if called upon when the need arose, and there the matter was allowed to rest. Wicklow County Council took no action, like many other county councils, seeing no need to prepare for a scheme that might never be needed or used.
On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, thus precipitating World War 2, and this led to the introduction of the period known in Ireland as the ' Emergency ', under which the Government had wide ranging powers to administer the country for the duration of the period of international hostilities without recourse to the normal legislative process.