A Short History of Knockadoon Camp

In the early 1920’s, Fr. S. Glendon O.P., of the Irish Dominican Order, was appointed as the founder and first director of Knockadoon Camp, in the small Gaelteacht community of Knockadoon Head. In the initial years the Camp opened each summer for hundreds of young people, from around Ireland, under the supervision of the students studying in the Dominican House of Formation in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. It became an intricate part of the local community with the residents working on the camp and the local farmers and fishermen supplying the food. Fr. Glendon also began a number of ‘home-based’ businesses in the area.

Such was the way of things until the outbreak of World War II, when despite the Director’s efforts the Camp had to close in 1942. The return of peace in 1945 saw the summer days of the Camp filled once again with the voices of young people when Fr. B. Farrell O.P. became the new Camp Director. During this time Knockadoon Camp also became a focal point in re-establishing local community industries such as weaving.

Life on the Camp continued virtually unchanged over the next three decades until the beginning of the Ecology Courses, developing the understanding of the natural wildlife living on our coasts and in the waters surrounding them.  The summer 1975 brought with it the first year of Colaiste Curum ~ the Irish College. In the same year the Dominican houses in Tallaght began to bring down children for holiday weeks, from what was then a massively expanding area with many young families, and little services for Young people. A couple of years later a new course came to the Camp bringing with it the sound of music. The Folk Liturgy Week offered to members of youth choirs the opportunity of learning and developing their musical and singing talents. In the mid 1990’s the children’s week began taking children referred by organisations such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the different Cork child care agencies, the Tallaght Social Services and the Clondalkin Social Services.

Finally in the late 1990’s the Society of St. Vincent de Paul became involved in organising their own weeks on the Camp as well as basing their Special Projects Programme on the Camp in the out of season period.

From its first to the present day, literally thousands of young people, from around the country have spent time in Knockadoon, a place and spirit which they never forget, no matter what part of the world they now live in. If one were to try and use an example of the spirit of Knockadoon it would have to be the people who return year after year. All of the camp staff and youth leaders give up their time on a voluntary basis so that they can give to others what they themselves have gained from Knockadoon Camp. This could never have been achieved with the co-operation, generosity and patience of the people who live in the area. Without the help of our neighbours, and that of the many volunteers from around Ireland, the Dominicans could never have hoped to keep Knockadoon Camp open. Now nearly, eighty years after Fr. Glendon’s first year, the Camp continues in its attempts to provide a place for people to learn, to grow in their faith and human development, in the setting of a holiday. It has been and we hope always will be a place where people, irrespective of their background or age will find a welcome and a place of peace, security and happiness ~ if only for the short time they are there. Once you have experienced Knockadoon it remains with you wherever you go.