Breaking: Austin Currie has died. “After a long and eventful life, he died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Derrymullen, Co Kildare. He had just celebrated his 82nd birthday.”
On the evening of June 20, 1968, Austin Currie thanked Mrs. McKenna in Kinnard Park, Caledon.”I think today we made history together,” he wrote.Currie-then a Nationalist member of the Northern Ireland Parliament representing East Tyrone in Stormont-squatted in a house in Tyrone village to protest discrimination in housing allocation.
Currie and two companions, Patsy Gildernew and Joe Campbell, broke in from the rear window of No. 9 with the help of playing cards borrowed from Mrs. McKenna.”The three of us held poker together and smashed the window,” he recalled.Their actions in Caledon did make history. This is the beginning of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland, and thousands of protesters will be seen on the streets of Northern Ireland within a few months.
Today, Kinnard Park seems unlikely to be such a beginning. A well-preserved manor house on the main street of Caledon. There are about 20 cobblestone row houses. They were newly built in the 1960s and are in high demand in an area where 269 applicants are waiting for houses.Curry has been in this village for decades. When he walked into Kinnard Park, it was already noon.
“It was about this time 50 years ago,” he said, looking around. Outside Gate 9, he stopped. “I don’t know who is living here now?” he said.He was recognized almost immediately. “Why are you turning the stones?” a woman who came out from the front door to challenge him shouted.She said the people in Caledon “have had enough.” “What happened here, the people who live here now were not there. We have nothing to do with it. My parents also need a house, but they can’t buy it.”