THE KHAKI DERBY AND OTHER STORIES

by ehistoryadmin on September 23, 2017

The Khaki Derby and other stories

Liam Kenny

History confers no particular title on the Irish Derby of June 1916. But this column will add a distinction to this war-time instalment of Ireland’s premier thoroughbred race by deeming it to have been the “Khaki Derby”. The Curragh correspondent of the local press declared: “… rarely, if ever, have the military mustered in stronger numbers. Inside and outside the enclosure was dotted with khaki.” How there was such an abundance of soldierly at the meeting is an enigma given that there was a devastating war on in Europe and that the security situation in Ireland, two months after the Rising, remained tense. But it would take more than conflict, global or local, to keep the uniformed followers of the turf confined to barracks.

Much more inconvenient for some punters was the haphazard rail service provided for Derby week. One disgruntled commentator lashed out: “The train arrangements from Sallins to the Curragh races for Naas and Tullow branch were of the most crude description. On Tuesday visitors arrived just in time to see the first race and on the Thursday the train arrived when the horses were on their way to the starting post.” The complaining correspondent offered a solution: “The special trains from Dublin are often sparsely filled. Why not start them ten minutes earlier and stop at Sallins – as in years gone by?”

For those who did make it to the course on time on the Tuesday there was drama on the track. A jockey named Fred Hunter “had his foot badly bruised by coming in contact with the rails in the Ballymany Stakes.” Afterwards he was in much pain and had to relinquish some rides but he rallied for the Derby the following day and steered the three year old “Brendan” into third place behind “King Robert” and the winner “Furore”. The winner had been tipped by the racing correspondent who reasoned that his English form could not be ignored and that he carried a lot of money of “the right sort”.

And now for something completely different. Mid-summer sends the mind wandering thus what follows are miscellaneous notes about things happening around and about.

Firstly, a word for Staplestown’s scribe John Freeman who has just published his fifth book in eight years. His new volume with the intriguing title of “The 51 Acres and Jennifer O’Neill” represents a change in direction for the prolific Mr Freeman who has written four histories to date covering an often neglected part of Kildare – the communities on the fringes of the Bog of Allen embracing the Timahoe, Donadea, and Staplestown districts. “51 acres” brings him into the creative genre of historical fiction, a blend of facts woven into an extra-ordinary story line.

The author has the reader guessing from the get-go. In his opening line he states that “Most of the contents in this book are fictitious” which straight away hooks one into trying to interpret what is fact and what is fiction. The plot is so intricate, and the action moves at such a breathless pace, that within the slim volume there is more adventure and incident than one could find in blockbusters many times its size. The writer’s engaging writing style transfers well into creative prose and marks a move into new literary terrain for this most enthusiastic of north Kildare authors. “51 acres” is on sale in newsagents in Clane, Prosperous, and Naas.

Readers who walk the popular Lakelands amenity area near Naas hospital will have been mystified by a small boat at anchor on the waters of the middle lake. What is this vision in white with what appears to be three hooded figures on board a ghost-like vessel? The installation is a representation – not a replica – of the boat on which Kildare-man Ernest Shackleton  made his extraordinary voyage through the terrifying seas of the Antarctic ocean to seek help for the his men stranded on the freezing continent when their expedition ship had become trapped in the relentless ice floes.  Shackleton’s voyage has been hailed as one of the great narratives of leadership and survival. Across 800 miles of thunderous seas with nothing other than a sextant for navigation and little or no shelter on board Shackleton led his crew to landfall on the barren South Georgia island. In recent years Shackleton’s achievements have been recognised in the county of his birth with the Athy Heritage Centre leading the charge.

To extend awareness of Shackleton’s heritage across the county, researcher Kevin Kenny and graphic artist Craig Blackwell conceived of a recreation of the James Caird, the small boat in which Shackleton made his celebrated rescue voyage. The boat is fitted out with three figures representing the fact that the crew of six kept watch in teams of three. The James Caird representation had its maiden voyage appropriately on the River Barrow within sight of the Heritage Centre which each year hosts the Shackleton Autumn school which attracts a global audience to Athy. From there the boat has been relocated to the lake close to Naas hospital. Its exhibition in the county town is relevant given that members of the well-known Spring family in Naas are connected to the Shackletons. The project has had intellectual and practical support from the Arts, Heritage and Local History Services of Kildare County Council.

Mentioning the aforesaid County Council this column recently lamented the paucity of public transport connections between mid-Kildare and north Kildare or, in practical terms, say between Newbridge and Celbridge, or Naas and Maynooth. It was mentioned that even the cross-country roads linking the north and mid-county were not given the attention that their traffic loads would demand. So it is gratifying to notice earlier this month the professional job of strengthening and resurfacing that was being rolled out on the Kill to Straffan Road.  Contractors working for the Council with a fleet of specialised machinery applied particular attention to stretches of the road between the Blue Door and the turn for Ardclough. This is the sort of good work which goes on without acknowledgement but is key to improving the quality of life for those who need to get from one side of Kildare to the other. And maybe such improvements might make it that little more likely that folk from Kilcullen will take a trip over to Kilcock or denizens of Leixlip might journey south-west to Lullymore –  if for no other reason than to see how the other half lives. Leinster Leader 21 June 2016, Looking Back, Series no: 491.

 

OBITUARY. MR. JOHN O’NEILL, NAAS

by ehistoryadmin on September 23, 2017

Leinster Leader 16 September 1939

OBITUARY

Mr. John O’Neill, Naas

Regret will be expressed at the demise last week of a very old and respected resident of Naas in Mr. John O’Neill.  Notwithstanding his serious illness, deceased was up and about until the last, and only recently retired from business.  The late Mr. O’Neill at one time carried on an extensive coach work and carriage business in New Row, Naas, and subsequently acted as an agent for the Royal Liver Insurance Society.  The funeral which took place to St. Corban’s Cemetery on Sunday, was very largely attended.

 

MEMORABLE DAY FOR CARAGH PARISHIONERS

September 23, 2017

MEMORABLE DAY FOR CARAGH PARISHIONERS

Leinster Leader 7 May 1960 Memorable Day for Caragh Parishioners Sunday was a proud and memorable day for hundreds of Caragh parishioners who saw their beautiful new Church of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph blessed and dedicated by Right Rev. Monsignor J. J. Conway, P.P., V.G., Bagnelstown, deputising for His Lordship Most Rev. Dr. Keogh. Costing £57,000, the church stands on the summit of Caragh hill overlooking most of the parish. On his arrival for the ceremonies Monsignor Conway was […]
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MR. BRYAN ROGERS

September 23, 2017

MR. BRYAN ROGERS

LEINSTER LEADER 25 JULY 1942 MR. BRYAN ROGERS Tidings reached this country last week-end of the death of Mr. Bryan Rogers, younger son of the late Mr. John T. Rogers and Mrs. Rogers, Crotanstown, the Curragh. Mrs. Bryan Rogers was well known and very popular in Irish sporting circles. As an amateur rider he met with a big measure of success and for a period of twelve years he assisted his father in the management of the latter’s famous racing […]
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SEQUAH – SNOW THE TRAVELLING QUACK

September 23, 2017

SEQUAH – SNOW THE TRAVELLING QUACK

LEINSTER LEADER FEBRUARY 12 1916 SEQUAH – SNOW THE TRAVELLING QUACK Athy people will remember the famous Sequah, whose real name was Snow, the travelling quack of the nineties, who has just passed away, penniless, aged 72, in a Johannesburg hospital.  He pretended to be an American Indian, but was really a Cornishman.  He had been a London policeman, and then went to America where he acquired some knowledge of tooth-pulling and massage. His visit to Athy for about a […]
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CULTURE NIGHT 2017 IN BALLITORE

September 19, 2017

CULTURE NIGHT 2017 IN BALLITORE

More Than Ernest’s Sister: The Life of Eleanor Hope Shackleton A talk by Sharon Greene. Time: 7pm in Ballitore Library & Quaker Museum [space is limited so book your place by clicking the link above] One of the Antarctic explorer’s adoring eight sisters, Eleanor shared more than initials with her famous brother.  Training as a paediatric nurse and midwife at the beginning of the 20th century, the story of her long career shows the extent of her humanity, concern for […]
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SOCCER ON THE SHORT GRASS

September 16, 2017

SOCCER ON THE SHORT GRASS

Soccer on the short-grass Liam Kenny This month is nirvana for followers of the “beautiful game”. The elite of Europe’s soccer talent is striding the stadia of France. And where once the Irish Wild Geese fought on foreign battle-fields their modern day counterparts are donning the green shirt on the playing-fields of France. Soccer is probably as near as it comes to being the universal language. The simplicity of its set up – two coats thrown on the ground and […]
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ROUND TOWERS LOOKING BACK

September 16, 2017

ROUND TOWERS LOOKING BACK

Leinster Leader 18 August 1984 ROUND TOWERS LOOKING BACK Vicki Weller Twenty-four years seems like a long time to wait for the replay of a football match, especially when the teams contain largely the same members.  However, those who went along to Carbury on Saturday were hardly there to see what the score would be.  This particular replay, between Carbury and Round Towers, Kildare, was purely for fun, and moreover, the sheer nostalgia of remembering back to 1960 when the […]
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BOMBARDIER HICK, ATHY

September 16, 2017

BOMBARDIER HICK, ATHY

LEINSTER LEADER 12 FEBRUARY 1916 BOMBARDIER HICK, ATHY Bombardier Hick, of the Royal Field Artillery, and eldest son of ex-Sergeant Hicks, R.I.C., was on a visit to his father from France for the past seven days.  He is recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal.  A shell burst amongst a party of soldiers near where young Hicks was passing.  One of the party fell, his thigh being shattered.  The mans’ comrades dispersed quickly, leaving him to bleed to death if not […]
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THE OLD NEWBRIDGE

September 16, 2017

THE OLD NEWBRIDGE

LEINSTER LEADER 4 JANUARY 1930 THE OLD NEWBRIDGE The fact that there is a second new bridge in Co. Kildare, and situated on the Liffey, does not seem to be very generally known. At Newbridge two miles from Leixlip, on the grounds of Colonel Claude Cane, there is a crossing over the Liffey, perhaps the oldest bridge in Ireland, now remaining.  This ancient structure which still remains as strong as when it was built, was erected by John Le Decer, […]
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