21st KILDARE DRAMA FESTIVAL PROGRAMME (1978)

by ehistoryadmin on January 14, 2021

21st KILDARE DRAMA FESTIVAL PROGRAMME (1978)

Since 1958, the annual Kildare Drama Festival has been a key fixture in the cultural calendar of County Kildare and further afield. The drama festival circuit has been the starting point for many future directors, actors and technical people whilst also providing immense entertainment for audiences.

The Local Studies Department of Kildare Library Service has a selection of the programmes for the Kildare Drama Festival in their collections. The 21st Festival Programme for 1978 is now available to view here: Kildare Drama Festival Programme 1978

For a fuller history of the drama movement in Kildare Town for over one hundred years, it is well worth sourcing a copy of Pure Drama: From Behind the Spotlight: A compilation of entertainment in Kildare Town, 1880s-1950s and 50 years of the Kildare Drama Festival, 1958-2008 by Joe Connolly (published in 2010).

A PANDEMIC RELECTION

by ehistoryadmin on January 5, 2021

Liam Kenny reflects on how the Covid19 virus has stricken community life in Kildare and draws inspiration from the virtues of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton

A pandemic reflection …

No‌ ‌Punchestown. ‌ ‌No‌ ‌Bodenstown. ‌ ‌No‌ ‌Kildare‌ ‌Derby‌ ‌Festival. ‌ ‌No‌ ‌Athy‌ ‌County‌ ‌Show. ‌ ‌No‌ ‌Community‌ ‌Games. ‌ ‌No‌ ‌Tidy‌ ‌Towns. ‌ ‌No‌ ‌-‌ ‌or‌ ‌very‌ ‌circumscribed‌ ‌-‌ ‌communion, ‌ ‌confirmation‌ ‌and‌ ‌christening‌ ‌celebrations. ‌ ‌ ‌

The‌ ‌litany‌ ‌of‌ ‌family‌ ‌and‌ ‌communal ‌rituals‌ ‌suppressed‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌dreadful‌ ‌corona‌ ‌virus‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌stark ‌reminder‌ ‌of‌ ‌how‌ ‌the‌ ‌pandemic‌ ‌has‌ ‌shredded ‌the‌ ‌staples‌ ‌of‌ ‌Kildare’s community‌ ‌and‌ ‌social‌ ‌life. ‌ ‌ ‌

From‌ ‌Celbridge‌ ‌to‌ ‌Castledermot‌ ‌and‌ ‌from‌ ‌Rathmore‌ ‌to‌ ‌Rathangan, ‌ ‌the‌ ‌big‌ ‌days‌ ‌that‌ ‌mark‌ ‌the‌ ‌passing‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌year‌ ‌in‌ ‌town‌ ‌and‌ ‌parish‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌blown‌ ‌off‌ ‌the‌ ‌calendar‌ ‌by‌ ‌this‌ ‌menacing‌ ‌intruder. ‌ ‌

At‌ ‌the‌ ‌beginning‌ ‌of‌ ‌2020‌ ‌none‌ ‌could‌ ‌have‌ ‌envisaged‌ ‌that‌ ‌an‌ ‌organism‌ ‌so‌ ‌small‌ ‌that‌ ‌it‌ ‌cannot‌ ‌be‌ ‌seen‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌naked‌ ‌eye,‌ ‌could‌ ‌bring‌ ‌an‌ ‌uncompromising‌ ‌halt‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌progress‌ ‌and‌ ‌gaiety‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌county.‌ ‌Yet‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ ‌what‌ ‌we‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌society‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌faced‌ ‌with‌ ‌and,‌ ‌at‌ ‌time‌ ‌of‌ ‌writing,‌ ‌there‌ ‌is‌ ‌no‌ ‌knowing‌ of ‌how‌ ‌long‌ ‌the virus’s malign‌ ‌influence‌ ‌will‌ ‌persist.‌ ‌

The‌ ‌reckoning‌ ‌from‌ ‌this‌ ‌public‌ ‌health‌ ‌emergency‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌long‌ ‌and‌ ‌hard.‌ ‌In‌ ‌commercial‌ ‌terms‌ ‌it‌ ‌does‌ ‌not‌ ‌take‌ ‌economic‌ ‌genius‌ ‌to‌ ‌survey‌ ‌the‌ ‌closed‌ ‌shops‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌high‌ ‌streets‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌towns‌ ‌and‌ ‌to assess‌ ‌the‌ ‌carnage‌ ‌unfolding‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌myriad‌ ‌of‌ ‌background‌ ‌wholesalers‌ ‌and‌ ‌distributors.‌ ‌

True,‌ ‌it‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌a‌ ‌tale‌ ‌of‌ ‌two‌ ‌economies.‌ ‌Some‌ ‌sectors‌ ‌including‌ ‌construction,‌ ‌‌‌technology‌ ‌and‌ supermarket-retail ‌have‌ ‌done‌ ‌well‌, ‌boosted‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌cash‌ ‌saved‌ ‌by‌ ‌those‌ ‌workers‌ ‌who‌ ‌found‌ ‌themselves‌ ‌freed‌ ‌from‌ ‌commuting‌ ‌costs‌ ‌while‌ ‌working‌ ‌from‌ ‌home.‌ ‌It‌ ‌is‌ ‌indicative‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌pandemic‌ ‌bonus‌ ‌for‌ ‌some‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌only‌ ‌new‌ ‌outlets‌ ‌to‌ ‌open‌ ‌in‌ ‌the county town ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌lockdown‌ ‌tightened ‌were‌ ‌home‌-‌furnishing‌ ‌shops.‌ ‌

However‌, ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌multitude‌ ‌of‌ ‌other‌ ‌business people‌ ‌the‌ ‌year‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌catastrophic.‌ ‌The‌ ‌array‌ ‌of‌ ‌small‌ ‌shops,‌ travel agents, ‌barbers,‌ ‌boutiques,‌ ‌pubs, restaurants‌ ‌and‌ ‌cafes ‌which‌ ‌have‌ ‌had‌ ‌to shutter for‌ ‌months‌ ‌has‌ ‌seen‌ ‌the‌ once-‌thronged‌ ‌pavements‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌towns‌ ‌become‌ ‌like‌ ‌a scene from a ‌dystopian‌ film ‌‌where‌ ‌little‌ ‌moves‌ ‌except‌ ‌the‌ ‌odd‌ ‌urban‌ ‌fox‌ ‌roaming the‌ ‌near-deserted‌ ‌streets.‌

‌Not‌ ‌alone‌ ‌do ‌these‌ ‌businesses‌ ‌and their staffs represent‌ ‌the‌ ‌beating‌ ‌heart‌ ‌of‌ ‌towns‌ ‌and‌ ‌villages‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌also‌ ‌social‌ ‌spaces‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌community‌ ‌where‌ ‌people‌ ‌chat, connect and converse.

Factor‌ ‌in‌ ‌too‌ the‌ ‌suspension of scores‌ ‌of‌ ‌clubs,‌ ‌societies,‌ ‌and‌ ‌committees‌ ‌which‌ ‌make‌ ‌things‌ ‌work‌ ‌in‌ ‌our‌ ‌localities‌ ‌and‌ ‌which‌ ‌provide‌ ‌an‌ ‌essential‌ ‌outlet‌ ‌and‌ ‌diversion‌ ‌for‌ ‌people,‌‌young‌ ‌and‌ ‌old.‌ ‌‌ Take‌, ‌as‌ ‌just‌ ‌one‌ ‌example,‌ ‌the‌ ‌three‌ ‌“B’s”‌ ‌-‌ ‌bingo,‌ ‌bridge,‌ ‌and‌ ‌bowls‌ ‌-‌ ‌which‌ ‌keep‌ ‌thousands‌ ‌entertained‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌long‌ ‌winter‌ ‌nights.‌ ‌All‌ ‌have‌ ‌had‌ ‌to‌ ‌bar ‌their‌ ‌doors‌ ‌leaving‌ ‌their‌ ‌loyal‌ ‌patrons‌ ‌‌with‌ ‌nowhere‌ ‌to‌ ‌go‌ ‌other‌ ‌than‌ ‌to‌ ‌stare‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌four‌ ‌walls‌ ‌of‌ ‌their‌ ‌domestic‌ ‌spaces.‌

‌For‌ ‌homebirds‌ ‌it‌ ‌probably‌ ‌meant‌ ‌little‌ ‌change‌ ‌but‌ ‌for‌ ‌those‌ ‌invested‌ ‌in‌ ‌their‌ ‌communities,‌ ‌the ‌pandemic‌ ‌has‌ ‌brought‌ ‌impacts‌ ‌of‌ ‌isolation‌ ‌and‌ ‌bewilderment.‌ ‌The‌ ‌toll‌ ‌on‌ ‌physical‌ ‌and‌ ‌psychological‌ ‌health‌ ‌is ‌deeply‌ ‌rooted‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌stories‌ ‌of‌ ‌quiet‌ ‌despair‌ ‌will‌ ‌fill‌ ‌many‌ ‌a‌ ‌consulting‌ ‌room‌ ‌for‌ ‌months‌ ‌to‌ ‌come.‌ ‌

In terms of religious practice, the change has been equally transformative. Not even in Ireland’s darkest days of revolution and war were the churches closed. Yet all denominations now see celebrants ministering to empty pews. For Catholics, for whom weekly Mass attendance is a source of spiritual and social connection, all has changed. The transition from real ceremonies to online Mass has helped fill the devotional chasm but the change has been nothing less than a Vatican III in terms of its implications for the concept of church as a worshipping community.

So‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌face‌ ‌of‌ ‌such‌ ‌overwhelming‌ ‌circumstances‌ ‌can‌ ‌any‌ ‌inspiration‌ ‌be‌ ‌found? ‌ ‌Is ‌there an example where the much-quoted‌ ‌value‌ ‌of‌ ‌ “resilience” ‌ ‌is evident‌ ‌and‌ that can be ‌adapted to modern times‌ ‌to help‌ our society tolerate‌ ‌the‌ ‌punishing‌ ‌circumstances‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌pandemic? ‌

‌Perhaps‌ ‌a‌ ‌thread‌ ‌of‌ ‌inspiration‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌drawn‌ ‌from‌ relatively close to home – from ‌the‌ ‌legacy‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Kildare-born‌ ‌polar‌ ‌explorer‌ ‌Sir Ernest‌ ‌Shackleton (1874-1922). ‌ ‌Born‌ ‌into‌ ‌a‌ ‌long-established‌ ‌Quaker‌ ‌family‌ ‌at‌ ‌Kilkea House, ‌between‌ ‌Athy‌ ‌and‌ ‌

Castledermot, ‌‌Shackleton‌ ‌went‌ ‌to‌ ‌England‌ ‌as‌ ‌an‌ ‌adolescent‌ ‌where‌ ‌he‌ ‌joined‌ ‌the‌ harsh ranks of the ‌merchant‌ ‌navy. Soon his aptitude for leadership was noticed by higher authorities and he was offered a place on a prestigious exploration expedition – a voyage to the distant southern oceans to explore and map the Antarctic continent with the ultimate prize of reaching the South Pole, the one frontier yet to be conquered by man.

On arrival in the deep southern latitudes, Shackleton fell under the spell of the frozen continent which, despite the harshness of its environment, he found mesmerising in its elemental ice-bound beauty.

As his Antarctic experience mounted through repeated voyages south he went from being a participant in polar expeditions to being a leader. He never reached the South Pole – although he came close – but he led men exploring and mapping vast tracts of the polar icesheets in a series of daring expeditions which set new records for endurance.

But it was his leadership in the face of adversity which has given him a permanent place in the textbooks on motivation and management. His responsibility was great and immediate. The conditions on the Antarctic ice cap were merciless. A man’s exposed skin would turn raw with frostbite within minutes while his shoulders chafed with the strain of ropes as he man-hauled laden sledges across expanses of corrugated ice. There were no creature comforts on the frozen continent. Everything including food and fuel had to be dragged – mostly by manpower – from one supply depot to another.

Even the most well-planned expedition could be visited by calamity within hours as the polar climate unleashed its raw ferocity.

And so it proved for Shackleton’s 1914 expedition originated by himself on board his ship Endurance. Attempting to navigate a route between the ice floes ever deeper into the continent, the ship became trapped in a frozen channel. For ten months Shackleton and his men could only look on as the relentless ice pack battered and buckled even the strongest ship’s timbers.

Eventually the vessel disintegrated into the ice leaving Shackleton and crew isolated with the nearest help many hundreds of miles away. It was a time when men could easily surrender to dissension and despair. However, Shackleton’s attributes of leadership and resilience came to the fore and, leading by example, he worked to make their emergency camp as comfortable as possible in the face of the ferocious conditions. But more needed to be done, their food would not last forever and some way of getting help needed to be found.

A consummate judge of character Shackleton selected a crisis crew of six from the larger crew of twenty-eight from the Endurance. With this chosen crew he manned a small lifeboat which had been saved from the larger vessel before it went down.

After an anxious farewell to their shipmates this small crew set out into the roiling seas of the Antarctic ocean to try and reach civilisation. The fate of their comrades left behind on a bleak icebound island rested with them. Their little lifeboat was tossed like a toy as mountainous walls of water cascaded on all sides. Keeping the boat on its heading not to mind navigating by the stars across eight hundred miles of ocean took all their strength and skill.

Yet in one of the all-time great feats of marine navigation, Shackleton managed to steer the boat to the tiny island of South Georgia where an incredulous Norwegian whaler was the first other human they had seen in eighteen months. Three attempts to rescue the 22 men who remained back at the site of the shipwreck failed due to the ice conditions. Eventually, after he pleaded with the Chilean authorities identifying himself explicitly as an ‘Irish explorer’, a ship and crew were supplied and a rescue expedition set out to retrieve the crew of the Endurance. Incredibly, none had succumbed to the cold and all eventually found their way to their far-away homes in the northern hemisphere.

Prior to the Endurance expedition, Shackleton had been asked to write an insight into how he managed to maintain his own morale and that of his crews when faced with seemingly overwhelming odds on his polar expeditions. After some reflection he put down in his own words the four characteristics which were his personal resources in the face of adversity:

  • “Optimism: – To be cheerful when one gets out of one’s sleeping-bag into forty degrees below zero, and to feel that, however cold it might be, it might be colder. To realise that the goal that is many hundreds of miles away is in existence, and it only needs endeavour to get there;
  • Patience: – Hardly ever have I seen a day begin well that has not had its difficulties demanding endless patience. A blizzard may spring up and for five days at a stretch our party may have had to lie in their cold sleeping bags. Then is the time to be patient, and the patience is rewarded; the storm ceases and the sun shines. Again, the same thing occurs in daily life. In business there are difficulties requiring patience. At home there are troubles requiring the same quality. Indeed, the quality of patience holds good whether at home or far away.
  • Idealism: – Idealism and imagination allow one to feel that troubles and difficulties are made to be overcome.
  • Courage: courage is never needed more than it is in the polar regions, for there one’s enemy is nature. But also, in the teeming city or in the farm and all the daily walks of life, courage is required to test the difficulties that arise from temptations to taking the rose-leaf path.”

The situation faced by the people of Kildare in this fraught mid-winter with an evil virus casting its shadow over our lives is one in which demoralisation could easily prevail. However, if we were to revisit the hard-earned wisdom of our fellow county-man, Sir Ernest Shackleton, and draw on his faith in the virtues of optimism, patience, idealism and courage, we might well find encouraging foundations on which to ground hopes for a better future.

A podcast ‘What would Shackleton do?’ is available free of charge on most podcast channels including Spotify and iTunes, or from the Shackleton Museum at https://shackletonmuseum.com/audio-visual/. My gratitude to the Athy Shackleton Museum Committee for inspiring this article. 

Published in Leinster Leader Annual 2020

GERMAN BOMBER OVER NEWBRIDGE … 80 YEARS AGO

December 30, 2020

GERMAN BOMBER OVER NEWBRIDGE … 80 YEARS AGO

German bomber over Newbridge – bombs hit Ballymany  … 80 years ago Liam Kenny recalls how Newbridge came within minutes of annihilation as a stray Nazi aircraft unleashed projectiles near the Curragh racecourse … 2 January 1941 It was a New Year’s gift as unwelcome as it was unexpected. In the early hours of 2nd January 1941 as the people of Newbridge slept under the thin security blanket of Irish neutrality a stray Nazi plane droned overhead and unleashed a […]
Read the full article...

Read the full article →

ANNE’S CHRISTMAS PARTY BY TERESA BRAYTON

December 22, 2020

ANNE’S CHRISTMAS PARTY BY TERESA BRAYTON

ANNE’S CHRISTMAS PARTY BY TERESA BRAYTON Staff in the Local Studies, Genealogy & Archives Department of Kildare Library Service recently came across the short story ‘Anne’s Christmas Party’ authored by Kildare poet Teresa Brayton in an original copy of An Phoblacht in December 1934. Anne’s Christmas Dinner Party_final Teresa Brayton was a poet and nationalist, who was born and later lived in Kilbrook, County Kildare. The Old Bog Road is among her most famous works. She released a volume of religious poetry Christmas […]
Read the full article...

Read the full article →

ARMISTICE DAY IN KILDARE 1928

December 17, 2020

ARMISTICE DAY IN KILDARE 1928

The Kildare Observer Saturday, 17 November 1928 ARMISTICE DAY IN KILDARE THE NEWBRIDGE PARADE The parade of ex-servicemen in Newbridge, under Capt. Rowley, was very large. Headed by the Ballyshannon Band, the men marched to the Protestant and Catholic Churches, after which they re-turned to the Legion Hall, where they were addressed by Captain Rowley, who urged the necessity for unity among the men. The Committee received a letter from Colonel Mansfield regretting that owing to illness he was unable […]
Read the full article...

Read the full article →

NORA CONNOLLY IN NAAS TOWN HALL

December 11, 2020

NORA CONNOLLY IN NAAS TOWN HALL

  Leinster Leader 26 April 1919 Concert and Dramatic Entertainment at Naas On Wednesday evening last in the Town Hall, Naas, under the auspices of the “Sean Connolly” Sinn Fein Club, a lecture and concert and dramatic entertainment took place in the presence of a large and highly appreciative audience, the building being crowded to its utmost capacity. The presentation of “The Matchmakers,” a comedy by the late Seumas O’Kelly, was a huge success, evoking hearty laughter and continuous applause […]
Read the full article...

Read the full article →

JOBS AFTER BOGS ARE WORKED OUT (1983)

December 2, 2020

JOBS AFTER BOGS ARE WORKED OUT (1983)

JOBS AFTER BOGS WORKED OUT  Leinster Leader, Saturday 26 April 1983.  CONCERN TO ensure there would be employment for Bord na Mona workers in other forms of industry in their areas when Bord na Mona work on the bogs ceased was expressed at a meeting of Kildare Co. Council. The subject was introduced by Mr. Jimmy O’Loughlin, who urged the Council to make their voices heard to ensure that when Bord na Mona ended operations on the bogs in the […]
Read the full article...

Read the full article →

BLOODY SUNDAY … THE LEINSTER LEADER REPORT, 27 NOVEMBER 1920

November 27, 2020

BLOODY SUNDAY … THE LEINSTER LEADER REPORT, 27 NOVEMBER 1920

The Leinster Leader report … Bloody Sunday 1920 James Durney Less than twelve months after he had partnered with the great Larry Stanley at midfield for Kildare when the Lilywhites won the All-Ireland senior final of 1919, Mick Sammon was dodging bullets at Croke Park. This time he was refereeing a challenge match between Dublin and Tipperary. Earlier that morning, 21 November 1920, the Dublin Brigade, Irish Republican Army (IRA), had shot dead fourteen members of the crown forces, many […]
Read the full article...

Read the full article →

THE KNOCKBOUNCE INCIDENT, 1920

November 23, 2020

THE KNOCKBOUNCE INCIDENT, 1920

The Knockbounce incident, 13 November 1920 James Durney On the night of 13 November 1920, a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) sergeant and six constables were going to the house of a farmer at Knockbounce, near Kilcullen, when they were fired on by a group of armed men. The police returned the fire, wounded two men, and arrested five others. There were no police casualties. This was the official newspaper report. What occurred is totally different and still a matter of […]
Read the full article...

Read the full article →

FRANK BURKE HONOURED

November 16, 2020

FRANK BURKE HONOURED

FRANK BURKE HONOURED The Leinster Leader of 7 April 1984 reported on an event that took place the previous Sunday to honour Carbury G.A.A. players. Among those honoured was the famous G.A.A. player, teacher and republican Frank Burke who had associations with Carbury going back over seventy years. Born in Carbury in 1895, Frank Burke went to school in Derrinturn N.S. and played football in Carbury before he moved to Dublin where he attended Pádraig Pearse’s St Enda’s School, attended UCD […]
Read the full article...

Read the full article →