February 10, 2012


Kildare Battalions-1920
Michael Symth
Shortly after the release of the County Kildare Irish Volunteers, who were interned in Frongoch after 1916, the Volunteers in north Kildare were reorganised early in 1917. At a meeting at Prosperous on Ascension Thursday, 1917, a battalion council was formed. It was decided to form it as the North Kildare battalion. The following battalion officers were appointed:-
Commandant-Patrick Colgan-Maynooth company. Vice-Commandant-Thomas Harris Prosperous company. Adjustant-Michael Smyth Athgarvan company. Quartermaster-Art O’Connor Celbridge company.
Officers from the following companies were represented at the meeting:-Maynooth, Celbridge, Leixlip, Kill, Naas, Prosperous, Newbridge, Athgarvan and Carbury.
 Early in 1920 when Peadar McMahon-afterwards Lieutenant General McMahon-came as organiser to Kildare, the I.R.A. in north Kildare was divided into two battalions, 1st Kildare battalion and 2nd Kildare battalion-the latter included some companies in west Wicklow.
Irish Republican Army
Kildare 2nd Battalion
   At a meeting at Naas early in 1920, the 2nd Kildare battalion was formed. The battalion officers appointed were:-
Commandant-Thomas Harris-Prosperous company, Vice-commandant-Michael Smyth-Athgarvan company, Adjutant-Sean Curry-Naas Company. Quartermaster-Patrick Dunne-Kill company. Intelligence-Sean Kavanagh-Naas company. Training Officer-William Jones-Athgarvan company. The following companies and O.C.s. were in 2nd Kildare battalion:-
Athgarvan (A) Matthew Cardiff.
Ballymore (B) Art Doran.
Kill (C) John Traynor.
Naas (D) Thomas Patterson.
Prosperous (F) Thomas Dunne.
Robertstown (G) John Herbert.
Two-mile-house (H) Andrew Byrne.
Allen (I) Michael Fitzgerald.
In July, 1920, a training camp was established at Ladytown, Naas under the charge of Peadar McMahon, organiser, and was attended by officers from all companies in the battalion area. An intensive training course was carried out.
 As a result of an organising campaign carried out in the battalion area by Peadar McMahon and the commandant and vice-commandant, a number of new companies were formed at Allenwood and Eadestown, County Kildare, and Blessington, Valleymount, Donard, Hollywood and Brittas, County Wicklow. It was noted that numbers who had fallen away after the anti-conscription campaign were now rejoining the various companies.
 In August, 1920, Dowdington House, Athgarvan, Two-mile-house-about four miles from Naas-was taken over as Battalion headquarters, and fortnightly meetings of the battalion council were held there. Training sessions held there were under the various Battalion officers. Classes were held on drilling, engineering, rifle and revolver practice, first-aid and signalling. The battalion had a very efficient and experienced training officer in William Jones, who had been a corporal in the Connaught Rangers. He had served in the great war and had been badly wounded in France in 1914. He was invalided home, and was granted a pension and given employment at Curragh Camp. Before being called up on reserve in August 1914, he was appointed drill instructor to the Athgarvan company, and rejoined the company in 1915. As a result of an argument with some fellow workers at Curragh Camp he was dismissed, and prosecuted under the Defence of the Realm Act in October, 1915. He was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment at Lumville court, Curragh, which was afterwards altered to a fine of £5-owing to his military service-but he lost his pension and his employment at Curragh Camp. Dowdington House, battalion headquarters, was not found out by enemy forces until it was raided in May, 1921. There was no one there at the time, as we had received information of the proposed raid, and all arms and ammunition had been removed for sake keeping to the belfry of the adjacent church at Two-mile-house.
   An attempt was made to blow up the Limerick bridge, Naas, one of the principal bridges on the Dublin-Curragh Camp road, by volunteers from E company, Naas, and battalion officers, assisted by the engineering officer of the first Kildare battalion.
 Volunteers from the various companies of the battalion were engaged keeping order during the farm strike of 1920.
 Other battalion officers appointed were medical officer-Doctor Lavin, B. company: signalling-William Merlin, F. company. Members of the battalion were mobilised to assist Carlow brigade in a proposed attack on Castledermot R.I.C. barrack in August, 1920, but the attack was called off.
 During the summer of 1920 a number of R.I.C. barracks in the battalion area were evacuated and those were all burned down to safeguard against their being reoccupied. Adjoining courthouses were also burned. The R.I.C. barrack and courthouse at Lumville-less than a mile from the Curragh Camp-were burned down by members of A company. The only R.I.C. barracks which remained occupied in the battalion area were those at Naas, Newbridge and Hollywood. Sallins R.I.C. barrack was burned down in June, 1920.
    An ambush was carried out by members of the Kill company, under the commandant of the battalion, Commandant Thomas Harris, in the autumn of 1920. The attack was made on the R.I.C. patrol on the Naas road, Kill, near where the present John Devoy memorial stands. Sergeant O’Reilly and Constable Flaherty were killed and the other R.I.C. were taken prisoners and arms and ammunition were captured. There were no I.R.A. casualties, but enemy forces were very active after the ambush and a number of members of the Kill company were arrested. A business house in Naas was burned by enemy forces also.
    During 1920 a supply of revolvers and ammunition was procured from British soldiers in Curragh Camp and Newbridge barrack. Supplies of gelignite and some mills bombs were also procured. A house-to-house raid for rifles and shotguns was carried out in September 1920, and a large number were procured. Those raids were intended to forestall raids by the R.I.C.-of which we got information.
   Volunteers in the various companies were also engaged in the collection for the National Loan in 1920. Richard Cottier was appointed by Michael Collins in charge of the collection in County Kildare.
 Raids were carried out throughout the area for post office bicycles and other enemy property. British and Belfast goods at the various railway stations were destroyed.
 During the local elections in 1920 the members of the battalion were engaged as guards at public meetings, and at polling stations. In County Kildare at the county council elections twenty-nine members were elected, and of those, twenty-eight were Sinn Fein or Labour Republican. Only one Irish Parliamentary Party candidate was elected. At its first meeting it was decided to pledge allegiance to Dail Eireann and to repudiate any claim by the British to legislate in Irish affairs. A number of I.R.A. members were elected including the 2nd battalion commandant, Thomas Harris; vice-commandant, Michael Smyth. Donal Buckley, a veteran of 1916, was elected chairman, and Eamonn O Modhrain, 6th battalion, Carlow brigade, vice-chairman. Every effort was made by the British to compel the council to recognise the British Local Government Board-including the issue of writs-of which I have a copy.
    Resolutions condemning Easter Week were passed by the Kildare county council in 1916; these were deleted from the minutes by the new council.
   A battalion police officer was appointed and Republican courts were set up in the town in the battalion area. Volunteers were engaged in guarding these courts.
   Armed raids on the mails were carried out during 1920 and 1921, especially at Sallins and Newbridge stations. An amount of British correspondence was captured. Those raids were carried out under the supervision of Sean Kavanagh, intelligence officer. Sean Kavanagh made many contacts with friendly members of the R.I.C.. (see The Capuchin Annual 1969, p.354).
   An ambush was arranged for Newbridge railway station on 1 November, 1920, the day Kevin Barry was executed in Mountjoy. During the summer of 1920 the railway men refused to drive any train on which the British military travelled-a part of military attended Newbridge station almost daily and boarded the 10.30 train. In addition to the battalion officers, Harris, Smyth and Kavanagh, Volunteers attended for the ambushes from the Newbridge, Athgarvan and Ballymore companies, but the party of the military did not turn up, as the British forces had decided not to engage in these operations any longer.
     The railwaymen were either members of or strong supporters of the I.R.A. in our area. Sean Kavanagh, intelligence, paid tribute to those men who were engaged in carrying dispatches to and from G.H.Q. and also to the many postal officials who co-operated in connection with the various raids on the mails.
   After one raid for the mails at Sallins station, while Sean Kavanagh, Art Doran and myself were in bed in Art Doran’s house at Ballymore Eustace, where we sorted out the mails, a lorry pulled up outside the house. We jumped up thinking it was an enemy raid, but the lorry moved away. We found out next day that it was only an ordinary private lorry.
   In November, 1920, Commandant T. Harris was arrested and also the commanding officers of C company, D company and J company. The week after “Bloody Sunday” a number of officers and Volunteers were arrested as a result of an intensive campaign of raids on 23 November from a member of the R.I.C., Sergeant McGowan of Newbridge who was friendly towards the I.R.A. Although members were warned not to sleep in their own houses that night some did so, and their houses were surrounded in the early hours of the morning by military and police and they were arrested.
    Two other members of the R.I.C. at Newbridge were also friendly. Another R.I.C. man, Eamonnn Broy, a native of Rathangan-afterwards Colonel Broy-was an important member of Michael Collins’s secret service.
   Towards the end of 1920 the battalion adjutant, Sean Curry, and quartermaster Patrick Dunne, were arrested and also the O.C. of F company.
 As a result of the arrests the battalion council was reformed as follows:-commandant-Michael Smyth; vice-commandant-Art Doran; adjutant and intelligence officer-Sean Kavanagh; quartermaster-James Harris. New company officers were also appointed in place of those arrested. Enemy activities were intensified over the area.
 The following “death sentence” was posted to the battalion commandant:
                                 FINAL WARNING
Whereas, it has come to our knowledge that the Sinn Fein organisation of which you are a prominent official through the so-called I.R.A. or murder gang has been committing outrages in this hitherto God-fearing and law-abiding country, this reign of terror must be stopped. You are, therefore, most earnestly warned that in the event of the continuance of those heartless and cowardly crimes you will be personally held responsible and punished in such a manner that others will be deterred from criminal course.
         By order.
Michael Smyth
Athgarvan, Newbridge
Co. Kildare
An intensive campaign of road blocking by trenching and felling trees, of disrupting communication by cutting telephone wires-especially on all roads leading from the Curragh Camp was carried out on instructions from G.H.Q.
   There were three military barracks in the battalion area-Naas, Newbridge and Curragh Camp-all strongholds of the enemy, Curragh camp being headquarters of the British military in Ireland. There was also four strongly fortified R.I.C. barracks-Naas being the headquarters of the Black-and-Tans and Auxiliaries.
 Unsuccessful attempts were made on Hollywood R.I.C. barrack and also by 6th battalion, Carlow brigade on Kilcullen barrack, in which the 2nd Kildare battalion co-operated by blocking all roads between Kilcullen and Curragh Camp.
At the end of 1920 an active service unit or flying column was formed. The O.C. was Martin O’Neill, O.C. B company, who had had service in the British army. It consisted at first of twelve Volunteers, and operated mostly in County Wicklow-western area.
 Shortly after the formation of the unit a couple of the west Wicklow companies decided to transfer to the south Dublin brigade and this caused a split in the active service unit, as the numbers were almost half from Kildare and half from Wicklow. The Volunteers from the Wicklow demanded half of the rifles and ammunition held by the unit. This was refused as it was claimed that all the rifles were the property of the Kildare companies and were mostly those which were purchased from British soldiers at Curragh camp and Newbridge.
 Gerald Boland, afterwards Minister for Justice, representing the south Dublin brigade, met me at Ballymore Eustace, by appointment, after a company parade there, and alleged that the Kildare Volunteers had fired on the Wicklow men. He said it was bad enough to be fighting the Black-and-Tans without fighting among ourselves. After a discussion we came to a satisfactory settlement and agreed to have co-operation between the two areas, and also we agreed on a boundary between the two areas. Three of the Wicklow companies remained in the 2nd battalion area.
   Raids were carried out on all excise offices in battalion areas and the documents in them destroyed.
 A one-day general strike was ordered by the Labour party in June, 1920, to compel the release of the Republicans who were on hunger strike in Mountjoy and other prisons and the Volunteers were engaged in enforcing obedience to the strike order. The strike resulted in the release of the prisoners.
 At a meeting of the battalion council at the end of 1920 the members were perturbed at the number of arrests taking place in the battalion area-especially of battalion and company officers. It was believed that there were informers and spies in the area. Some persons were mentioned as suspects.
 As a result of a visit by Volunteers to the house of a man suspected of giving information, he was fired on and mortally wounded but first attacked the party with a slane and struck one of the Volunteers on the head. A number of men were arrested in the area after this incident-but none of them were members of the I.R.A.
 While “on the run” in Rathangan area in November 1920, I reorganised a company there, with Joseph Kenny O.C. Owing to a number of arrests in the area the numbers were so small that I amalgamated them with the neighbouring 1st company at Allen and they were very active members of that company and took part in all engagements including the Allen ambush.
 Our intelligence service got important information from a member of the clerical staff in the office of the crown solicitor, Naas, and from Volunteers who were employed at Curragh camp about the numbers of British troops in the area and about troop movements which were an advantage to us in our planning. We also got a supply of .303 ammunition from the workers employed on the military ranges at the Curragh camp.
 An attempt late in 1920 to obtain a supply of arms and ammunitions-including a machine gun failed, owing to the transfer of the soldiers concerned from Newbridge barracks.
 Cumman na mBan and Fianna
      Units of the Fianna Eireann and Cumman na mBan were attached to some of the companies and they did useful work in carrying dispatches, arms and ammunition. They also attended first-aid classes and helped in collecting funds for the I.R.A. and for the purpose of sending food parcels to Volunteers interred or imprisoned and also in helping their families.
 A number of the Fianna were afterwards enrolled in the I.R.A. and were useful members as they had been already well trained. There was a strong company of the Fianna in Newbridge under their officer, Patrick Fulham. They usually marched to Bodenstown and camped there on the night previous to the Wolf Tone anniversary. One of their members, the late James Clancy, was promoted to a battalion intelligence officer after the arrest of Sean Kavanagh.
First Battalion, Kildare
     Activities by the 1st battalion were similar to hose of the 2nd battalion which we have set down. But this battalion was occupied in a special way with getting messages from G.H.Q. to the counties of practically all the midlands and the west, and on this work practically a full-time staff was engaged. Depots for receiving and transmitting the messages were set up at Leixlip, Celbridge, Straffan, Maynooth, Kilcock, Cloncurry, Mainham, Johnstown Bridge. Messages were transmitted safely with the minimum delay. Members of Cumann na mBan were frequently used for carrying messages during the day time and as some of the depots were national schools, the school teachers did their part of this important work.
   Attacks on barracks were planned by the various companies as well as attacks on police foot patrols to disarm them. Guards were put on the Maynooth-Kilcock road, Celbridge-Maynooth road, Celbridge-Leixlip road and Maynooh-Leixlip road. Sunday was the usual day the patrols scouted these roads. After being on guard for three Sundays we learned that the patrols had been stopped.
   Orders came that the records in rural district council offices were to be destroyed and three members of Leixlip company carried this out with success.
 Explosives were manufactured in Celbridge at Cauldwell’s. At Leixlip, mines were constructed in the metal boxes of cartwheels. Large quantities of buck-shot was also made in that area.
 The 1st battalion of north Kildare in 1920 was under the command of:- Frank Powell, O.C., until he was arrested and replaced by C. Mullaney. Alex Mitchell, vice O.C., Donal O Buachalla was quartermaster. In all between two hundred and fifty and three hundred men carried on the actions and kept the British forces on the alert in the locality.
 The Carlow brigade took in some areas of south Kildare and Wicklow. A company, Athy, was attached to the 5th battalion, Carlow brigade. Castledermot, C. company, also belonged to the 5th battalion, Carlow brigade. Kildare, F. company belonged to the 6th battalion, Carlow brigade. Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow, A. company belonged to the 6th battalion, Carlow brigade.
A.                      Company; Athy, under Captain Paddy Hayden, engaged in similar activities as the Volunteers in the other areas. Mail trains on the Waterford-Dublin branch line were raided on three different occasions to capture letters addressed to and from the British authorities. They raided the custom house in Athy and seized and burned all official records. They enforced the Belfast boycotting by burning the abattoir in which prescribed goods were stored. Disruption of enemy communications by cutting telegraph wires, blocking roads with trenches and felled trees proved constant harassment for the British forces.        
   During the summer of 1920 several reports of cattle stealing were received by the 5th battalion. These occurred principally in the Curragh and Ballysax areas. As a result of investigation two men were arrested, Michael Hand and James Mullally (Hand was employed at the British abattoir at Curragh camp) and were kept in the custody of A. company, mostly at the residence of Doctor Kenna, Ballymount, Collinstown.
   As a result of further enquiries William Hanly, a farmer, of Ballysax, Curragh, was arrested. He was kept in custody at the Glen of Imaal, Co. Wicklow, in the area of A. company. Those who arrested Hanly were Laurence O’Toole, captain of A. company, Joseph Deering, first lieutenant, and Volunteer Denis Fay.
   William Hanly was kept in custody at Doyle’s of Knockeendarragh, Donard. Once when he complained of being unwell he was attended by Doctor Keena a strong supporter of the I.R.A. in the area.
 On 17 July, 1920, the trail of the three men took place at a court at Byrne’s barn, Kilgowan, Kilcullen-a midnight court. John Flanagan, O.C., 6th battalion, Michael Smyth, vice-commandant, 2nd Kildare battalion, and Eamonn Moran acted as Republican justices. Seamus O’Connor, solicitor, Dublin, afterwards state solicitor for Dublin, and previously a member of the Irish volunteers executive before 1916, prosecuted. William Hanly was a big farmer and race-horse owner. A large number of witnesses were examined, including some prominent cattle dealers, and gave evidence of their cattle being stolen. All three were found guilty. Hanly was heavily fined and Hand and Mullally were sentenced to be deported. They were deported the following day,
 The owners of the stolen cattle were paid compensation from the fine imposed according to the valuation by Messrs. O’Connor, Mylerstown, Naas, cattle dealers.                  
   Castledermot was one of the earliest centres of Volunteer activity in South Kildare. The Volunteers engaged in harassing the enemy by the same means as the Athy men. They received orders early in 1920 to burn down the local police barrack. When they arrived there they found the sergeant’s wife and family still in occupation. Immediately they made arrangements for the lady’s removal with her family and all the furniture and had her transferred to a neighbour’s house and the furniture brought to a safe place locally. In the burning down of the building and explosion caused by lighted match, one Volunteer would almost certainly have lost his life but for the prompt action of the leader, Paddy Cosgrave, who at great risk entered the burning building and brought him to safety. He was so badly burned that the skin peeled off his face and hands. In the hospital in Athy, where he was concealed and treated with the greatest care by the staff, he fully recovered. I am glad to say that fifty years afterwards Paddy Cosgrave is still hale and hearty.
 The Dunlavin company, who burned down the vacated R.I.C. barracks at Ballytore, Dunlavin, Donard, Stratford-on-Slaney, attacked the occupied Baltinglass barrack and killed one policeman. They burned down the officers’ quarters around the Glen of Imaal British camp and also the mansion of an anti-Irish family known as Saunder’s Grove after the notorious Colonel Saunders of 1798. They court-martialled and executed a troublesome spy. An outbreak of larceny, including a case of cattle stealing, was brought before the Sinn Fein courts, and those concerned convicted and sentenced. The company guarded the courts and some times risked their lives in this duty.
          F. company, Kildare, were also in the 6th battalion, Carlow brigade. Kildare company was established in 1917. In 192(?) the company captain was Denis O’Neill. The company was very active during 192(?) and carried out an intensive course of training, drilling and rifle practice.
          All roads leading to Kildare military barracks were continuously trenched and blocked by fallen trees, and telephone wires were cut.
      A quantity of arms and ammunition was procured from soldiers serving in Kildare barracks and Curragh camp. A house-to-house collection was also carried out for shotguns and other arms.
    In a raid on income tax office all documents were taken and destroyed.
       In the local elections of 1920 Volunteers were on duty at polling booths, and also at public meetings. A Republican court was established in 1920 and members of the company were on duty at the various sessions of the court.
     At Kildare railway station was a junction, one line leading to Waterford, and the other to Cork, and it was an important centre for distribution of communications from G.H.Q. The captain and first lieutenants were employed at the station and were in a good position for carrying out this work. Raids were made on trains for the mails of British forces and to implement the Belfast boycott the railway station at Kildare was raided and the Belfast and British goods destroyed.
    Members of the company were on duty on the occasion of the one-day strike called by the Labour Party in June, 1920, for the release of the prisoners on hunger-strike in Mountjoy jail and also at the church parade ordered for the day of Terence MacSwiney’s funeral.
     A Republican police section was formed to take over the work of civil protection and control in various towns.
      There was a strong branch of Cumann-na-mBan in Kildare. Miss Peg Daly was O.C. They were most useful in carrying dispatches and doing other work including first-aid. They helped in collecting funds for the Volunteers and for the purpose of sending food parcels to those interned or imprisoned and helping to provide for their families.
    The Daly family had long service in the Republican movement, as a sister, Mrs. Beatty, saw service in Easter Week, 1916. Another sister, Lucy Daly, recently deceased, was also a member and was interned in Kilmainham jail with her sister, Peg.
   Kilcullen and Suncroft companies were also attached to the 6th battalion, Carlow brigade. The area covered by these companies bordered the Curragh camp, and the chief activities during 1920 were blocking of all roads leading to the camp, trenching the roads and felling trees. Cutting telephone wires caused further disruption to enemy communications.
 Mullaghmoy bridge and another small bridge on roads between Athy and the Curragh camp were destroyed. A number of men of the Suncroft company were arrested and imprisoned as a result of those activities.
 Members of the Suncroft company were responsible for procuring a supply of rifles, revolvers, and ammunition from British soldiers stationed at the Curragh camp. Members of those companies were also engaged on an attack on Kilcullen R.I.C. barracks after all roads leading to Kilcullen were blocked.
 Drilling and rifle and revolver practice was held on Sundays; ammunition and explosives were also manufactured on that day.  
 They raided British controlled excise offices and destroyed records. During 1920 they helped in collecting for the Dail Eireann loan.
   A man, named Power of Kilboggan, Suncroft was questioned about robberies in the area, but before he could be arrested he sought refuge on Curragh camp, where he gave information concerning the I.R.A. He was kept under the protection of the British military at Curragh camp. When he left camp to return home on one occasion he was arrested, tried, found guilty and executed. There was considerable enemy activity around Suncroft after the execution, but no arrests were made. Some other spies, including a woman, were under observation, but they, too, took refuge in Curragh camp.
     Raids were carried out for British and Belfast goods during the boycott in 1920 and in one raid two Remington typewriters were seized. They were consigned to the divisional commissioner, R.I.C. One was left at Dowling’s house at Carna, Curragh camp, which was afterwards raided, but Mrs. Dowling put her apron over the type writer and the raiding party did not notice it.
    James Collins, intelligence officer, Kilcullen company, called with two men to settle a family quarrel at Knockbounce, Kilcullen, but the R.I.C. got information on the matter and were waiting at the gate of the house and fired on them. Two of the Volunteers, Thomas Hazlett and William Martin, were wounded. Five were arrested and brought to Kilcullen barrack. They were afterwards tried and released.
   Two members of Kilcullen company were arrested during a Republican court-Frank Corrigan and D. Buckley-and were carried around in a lorry all day before they were released.
 Another member of the company, Michael Sammon, a native of Celbridge, and a well-known G.A.A. player, was arrested after reading the Republican Manifesto after Mass, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
   Shop-keepers in the area were warned not to offer British goods for sale. British newspapers were burned.
   Members were on duty on the day of Terence McSwiney’s funeral-keeping order in the church parade and seeing that it was kept as a national holiday.
 A number of our Volunteers-and some girls-were always available for carrying dispatches.
   Doctor Kane, Kilgowan, was friendly to the I.R.A., and was available at all times to treat the injured.
   During the munitions strike, when the railway men refused to drive the trains carrying munitions or enemy forces and were sacked, collections were made for these men, by the Cumann na mBan especially.
   Monasterevin,, also attached to the 6th battalion Carlow brigade, joined in the same activities as the other companies. They insured that the general strike in April was successful in their district. Later when the railway men refused to drive trains carrying munitions or soldiers, they blocked the main Dublin-Cork road and the by-roads around the town. They organised the collecting of funds in the towns around for the patriotic railwaymen.
 One very important contribution of the Monasterevan company was the capture of five mail bags of Dublin Castle and British army correspondence in a raid on the train at the local station. The captured bags were deemed so important that members of the brigade intelligence staff came to collect them. These men, the local Volunteers, piloted safely, not without some anxious moments, along roads patrolled by British cavalry.
 Other activities of G. company included the blowing up of a bridge over the river Barrow, the removal of labour from a culvert on the main Kildare-Monasterevan road, the trenching and severing of connections on local roads and telephone communications and the destruction of the local excise office and of enemy cargo being transported by canal. They worked in guarding the Sinn Fein courts as police when a sentence of the court was not accepted and the offender had to be taken for a cooling off to “an unknown destination.”.
    In one unfortunate mistake nearly all the equipment which was collected with such difficulty was lost and two Volunteers were captured. Captain Hugh McNally, who was sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude and Fintan Brennan who got five years’ penal servitude.
       The Kildare Volunteers succeeded in making the large number of crown forces stationed in the Curragh very much less effective than they should have been by their constant harassment of them, emplementing the orders of the Volunteers’ G.H.Q. and wrecking the enemy lines of communication in every direction.
B.                 company, Kilrush, the final company in our account which was attached to the 6th battalion Carlow brigade, was captained by Sean Flanagan, who was later promoted to battalion commandant. They played their parts with the other companies in acquiring arms, training in their use and in other military duties, in enforcing the Belfast boycott and the orders of the Sinn Fein courts, and looked after the general strike.
   They were successful in hampering troop movement by blowing up Kilboggan bridge which partially at least cut off the Curragh camp from the South; the bridge on the by-road from Suncroft to Tippeenam and the bridge at Tippeenam on the main Dublin-Waterford road were also destroyed. The motor-cars of people hostile to the Volunteers were dismantled. They arrested, court-martialled and shot a spy-a salutary warning to others so inclined.
    The Kilrush men were successful in helping some of the Volunteers interned in the Curragh camp to escape and showed them safe routes to take in motor-cars they had commandeered for them. Later they supplied an accurate record of any of the property they had commandeered.                                          

Michael Smyth's account of his activities during the War of Independence - later a Labour Senator, he was Vice-Commandant of the 2nd battalion I.R.A. during those troubled times. The account is takend from the Capuchin Annual 1970.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 04:06 PM


Leinster Leader
12 August 1950

St. Brigid Statue Project

Subscriptions to the Gibbet Rath memorial Fund (erection of statue of St. Brigid) continue to mount although the organisers feel that collections in some areas are not yet properly under way. Those appointed in all areas are urged to complete their collections as soon as possible.
At the last meeting of the Committee the Chairman, Rev. T. Kennedy, C.C., Rathangan, thanked a representative of the Kildareman’s Association in New York for their generous donation of £20.
To arrange to raise funds to go towards the cost of erecting a statue of St. Brigid at the Gibbet Rath, Curragh, a public meeting is being held in the Courthouse, Athy, next Monday evening at 9 o’clock.

Leinster Leader
12 August 1950

Historic Kildare Building Demolished

 This week demolition of the old White Abbey Hall at Kildare was completed – a traction engine was used to pull down the gable and side walls. The old building had quite an interesting and historic past and old residents can recall attending mass there.

[authors note: St. Brigid's Statue was finally unveiled in 1973 and erected on the Market Square in 1976]

Couple of interesting notes from the Leinster Leader of August 1950

Posted by mariocorrigan at 04:01 PM

March 14, 2008


A fragment of floor tile found by Martin Kinsella at his home near Hospital Street was displayed at the highly successful Memories and Memoribilia night organised as part of the yearly programme of events by Cill Dara Historical Society on Wednesday night last, 12 March 2008.


Medieval Tile Fragment MKinsella Kildare088web.jpg

 Martin searched the area thoroughly but could find no more evidence. Apparently the spot where he found the tile at the bottom of his garden had been used for many years in the past as a sort of refuse disposal area by his father so the tile may indeed have come from elsewhere. The fragment of tile was identified as a very good example of a medieval floor tile by a local archaeologist. There were similar tiles found at Kildare Cathedral. It is hoped to display the tile in Kildare Town Heritage Centre but also to map the actual location and send measurements and photographs to the National Museum.


Medieval Tile Fragment side2 MKinsella Kildare091web.jpg 
Side views of floor tile fragment
Medieval Tile Fragment side3 MKinsella Kildare092web.jpg
Kildare Tile UASweb.jpg
Drawing of floor tile from Kildare Cathedral from the unpublished Urban Archaeological Survey Volume 4 - Bradley, Halpin and King

Medieval floor tile fragment found at Kildare by Martin Kinsella, member of Cill Dara Historical Society

Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:00 AM

January 23, 2008

Some notes from the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society Journal

Of The
JULY, 1903 – 1905.
( 65 )
Fragments of Celtic Slabs in St. Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare. – Visitors to this ancient and historic Celtic ecclesiastical site must be struck with disappointment at the very few monuments belonging to that early period which are now visible; the Round Tower and the high unsculptured granite cross being the only two pre-Norman remains now existing in the cathedral grounds. This may be accounted for by the erection of the Anglo-Norman cathedral in the thirteenth century, when the Celtic crosses, Irish inscribed slabs, and other remains, may have been injured, ignored, or even broken up and used for building material. Even at the present day there are no Anglo-Irish monuments of an earlier date than the seventeenth century, with the exception of the Bishop’s Effigy and the sixteenth century effigy of Sir Maurice FitzGerald, of Lackagh. That Celtic slabs were at one time in existence here is proved by the fact that three small fragments were rescued during the last restoration of the cathedral, and now are deposited in the west end of the cathedral, where they are carefully preserved by orders of the Dean of Kildare.
Rubbings from these three small fragments (two of which belong to one another) are illustrated on the opposite page.


Of The
1906 – 1908
(a note on John Hewetson from Kildare? - being part of the following article - full article can be located in Vol. V of the Journal.)
PATRICK HEWETSON, Doctor in Physic, of Betaghstown, Clane, County of Kildare, the founder of “Hewetson’s School,” Clane, was a descendant of John Hewetson or Hewsonne, of the City of York, born before or in the year 1498, and elected a Freeman of that city as “Johannes Hewson,” in the 30th year of Henry VIII (1537-8); he was living there in the reigns of Mary I and Queen Elizabeth. He married Margaret Lambert, second daughter and co-heir of John Lambert, of Calton and Skipton, County of York, Vice-Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who died 1569 (a descendant of William the Conqueror, through his granddaughter Gundred, daughter of William, Earl Warren and Surrey, and widow of Roger de Bellamont, Earl of Warwick). He had seven sons and one daughter. Of the sons, we need mention but two, Thomas and Christopher.
I.                              Thomas, his eldest son, was of Kildare, and of Baskin, County Dublin, a captain in the army of King Charles I, who by his wife, Eleanor, had issue – (a) John, (b) Thomas, (c) Dominick, and (d) George.
(a)                John of Kildare, colonel in the army, owner of “both abbeys,”[i]  County Kildare, and also possessed of lands at Titchfield, in the County of Southampton. He was born at Settrington, Yorkshire, in 1613, and was High Sheriff of Kildare, 1656. His death took place on the 2nd February in 1658, at the age of 45. According to his wish, he was interred in the “Church of the Abbey of Kildare,” where a monument, erected as memorial of him by Christian, his wife, can still be seen.[ii] County Kildare, and also possessed of lands at Titchfield, in the County of Southampton. He was born at Settrington, Yorkshire, in 1613, and was High Sheriff of Kildare, 1656. His death took place on the 2 February in 1658, at the age of 45. According to his wish, he was interred in the “Church of the Abbey of Kildare,” where a monument, erected as memorial of him by Christian, his wife, can still be seen.
The Grey Abbey at Kildare. – The following is a translation from the Latin of an entry in “The Earl of Kildare’s Red Book” (p. 35b, of the original:-
“In the Chapel of the Bless Virgin Mary of the Church of the Friars Minors of Kildare, lies the Lord Thomas, son of the lord John fitzThomas, Earl of Kildare, Justiciary of Ireland, and Lord of Offaly, who caused this Chapel to be erected. His wife was Johanna de Burgo, who presented many gifts to the Friars of Kildare, which are too numerous to specify . . . . He (the Earl) died at his Castle at Maynooth on the 9th of April in the year of our Lord MCCCXXVIII, and was buried before the Altar of the Blessed Virgin.
“Item. – To his right, his son Richard, who succeeded him in the Earldom, lies in front of the Altar of St. John; he died at Rathangan in the year of our Lord MCCCXXIX, without male issue.”

[i] The ruins of a considerable part of one of the abbeys, viz., the “Grey Abbey,” still remained in 1786.
[ii] The Dean of Kildare has kindly copied the inscription here mentioned, line for line, as it appears on the monument:-
Here: vnderneath : Lyeth : the : body : OF : Iohn : He= wetfon : efq : he : waf : born : att : fettrington : in : Yorkefhire : anD : dyed : the : 2 : day : of : febru : 1658 aGed : 45 : yeares : this : monument : waf : erected : af : a memorial : of : him : by : Chriftian : hif : wif : by : whom : he : had : : iffue : one : fonno [sic] : and : two : daughterf : the : yo= unger : dyed : the : yere : of : her : age : and : if : inter= ed : by : her : f[ather]r.
The last line is cut on the projecting frame of the mural slab, and a chip occurs in the word “father”. The age of the daughter is omitted. The son was Col. Thomas Hewetson, of Grange, Co. Kildare; and the daughters Dorothy and Elinor, the latter being buried in her father’s tomb.


Some notes of interst on Kildare Town and Grey Abbey from the pages of the Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society. My thanks to the Society. 

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:41 PM

November 16, 2007


County Surveyor's plans adopted and sent to Road Sessions and Grand Jury.
Duke of Leinster to get a lithographed plan of Infirmary.
Plans and alterations adopted. One person to act as Apothecary and Steward at ₤40 per annum. Porch in front. Shed for men's garden and one for women's to be built.
Building's insured at ₤1,700; Furniture at ₤200.
John Murphy's proposal for new work accepted, as recommended by Architect, Mr. Butler, [. – sic]
Mr. Yeates (Co. Surveyor) to inspect new works and compare same with Architects plans and specifications.
Communications with Poor Law Commissioners. Surgeon's apartments expressly built for his accomodation. [accommodation – sic; 1824 - sic - possibly should read 1842?]
1845 -
Co. Surveyor to prepare plans for alterations and repairs.
Stephen Mulleady's proposal for new works accepted at ₤179 16s. 4d. Edward Marshall's for re-fitting well ₤75.
Summer Assize Grant ₤300 and Treasury Grant ₤89 1s 10d.
Total Expenditure Jan. 5, 1851, to Jan. 5, 1852-₤636 19s. 9d.
Marquis of Kildare appointed Treasurer. County Surveyor to prepare estimate for next Assize for new works.
Dr. Geoghegan gets 12 months' leave of absence. Dr. Chaplain locum tenens.
County Surveyor to make survey of necessary repairs.
Dr. Geoghegan resigns.
Dr. Chaplain elected Surgeon.
Dr. Chaplain to act as Secretary and Apothecary at ₤40 per annum.
Resolution regarding proposed Lock Hospital. Dr. Chaplain may act as Superintendent Surgeon of Lock. Necessary changes to be carried out.
Surveyor to draw up detailed report of needed repairs and a plan for sewerage.
Dr. Chaplain to write to Hans Hendrick, Esq., for lease for ever of plot in Mr. Clancy's field 20ft. x 16 for sewage tank.
Project to build Surgeon's House. 1st Grand Jury grant too small. Subscription list opened. Subscribers of ₤20 and over to be Governors for life.
Vote of thanks to Turf Club for piece of ground given to Infirmary. Mr. Brazil's plan for alterations adopted.
New buildings, according to plan of Surveyor to be carried out. Contract for Surgeon's House given to Mr. Dunne for ₤1,369 13s. 6½d.
Surgeon's House insured for ₤1,200. Fence wall side and front to be carried out.
New wards to be completed. For altering hot water supply, ₤22 10s. 0d.
Additional alterations to be carried out.
Surgeon to have plan for new Laundry by next Presentment Sessions.
Mr. Irwin to send in specification for work to be done in Surgeon's house.
Let Secretary write Mr. Kennedy for ₤150 granted at last Assize out of dog tax. Make out report for repairs to be presented for at next Assize. Lower ceilings in Surgeon's house renewed.
Mr. Irwin's bill ₤157 10s. 0d., paid. Baths, cistern, water-closets to be put in order.
County Surveyor to make a plan for new Laundry and drying closet.
Plan of Laundry by Messrs. Loftus approved, and County Surveyor to have estimate for buildings and drainage ready for Grand Jury, to be applied for next Assize.
Edward Gibney's tender for alterations in Laundry, at ₤142 0s. 0d, accepted.
County Surveyor to examine Laundry Works; direct Loftus as to defects, and see E. Gibney's contract.
Policy of Insurance for Buildings effected at ₤4,000 with Patriotic.
Board not ready to give new contract for Laundry.
Mr. Waldron to complete existing contract for Laundry, and enter on new contract.
Surgeon's house much out of repair. ₤50 to repair it. Send resolution to Grand Jury.
Mr. Waldron's tender for repairs to Surgeon's house accepted.
Mr. Waldron's plan to be completed by Summer Assize, 1876.
Wards to be floored. Expense not to exceed Grand Jury grant.
Mr. Waldron's tender for flooring accepted at ₤247.
₤222 2s. 0d. on account to Mr. Waldon for work done at Infirmary and Surgeon's house.
₤302 to Mr. Waldron for work done.
Mr. Brett to report on drainage and sewerage of Hospital and Surgeon's House, and suggest improvements.
Sewerage arrangements suggested by Mr. Brett to be carried out. Bath and closet for Surgeon's house, ₤50.
Three members to confer with Solicitor of Grand Jury and have case prepared for Assize regarding refusal of Presentment at County at County at Large Sessions.
Thomas Cooke-Trench, Esq., Rev. Dr. Kavanagh, James E. Medlicott, Esq., to lay before Cesspayers the great loss the County would sustain by closing Infirmary.
Counsel to be briefed regarding Presentment refused.
Above are items regarding Surgeon's House taken from two entries in Account Book. They do not show entire cost as is clear from above dates and references on page 9.
[p. 9. Listed entries from 1869-Nov. 11. To 1880-Sep. 11]
Mr. Medlicott to carry out legal arrangements regarding new plot given by Turf Club.
Lord Lieutenant cannot authorize Governors to hold a sworn inquiry. Local Government Board can hold it.
Mr. Clancy appointed to Secretaryship resigned by Dr. Chaplin.
As associated cesspayers have rejected Presentment (₤600) the Infirmary must be closed when funds are exhausted, "a calamity" to be averted.
Salaries of officials reduced. Dr. Chaplain offers a subscription rate of ₤100 per annum.
Presentment now rejected a third time by County at Large Sessions. Infirmary must be closed. No more patients after next Assize.
[Entry described May but after entry for July - may indicate the month is inaccurate or merely that listing is inaccurate.]
Dr. Chaplain appointed Caretaker.
Auction ordered.
No adequate Presentment. Intern department to be closed with all speed. Officials dismissed. Secretary and Surgeon retained. Salary of latter reduced to ₤94.
At Naas ₤78 for necessary repairs.
Mr. Greene's tender for repairs, &c, accepted at ₤78 as specified by Mr. Glover.
₤20 to be paid for extra work over and above.
What the ratepayer has done to build up this property above merely indicate. [sic]
To verify same see Query Books, Abstracts of Presentments, Treasurer’s Account Book.
It is not implied that the rates were the sole source of income.
Besides the rates there were Subscriptions, Treasury Grants, Paying Patients, Petty Sessions’ Fines, Occasional Gifts.
Following from the Teasurer’s Account Book is a case where rates were substantial1y aided by Private Subscriptions.
Page 51.                                                                                               July 23,1868.
Amount of Subscriptions                                   ...         ...         ...         £791    0      0
County Presentments                                         ...         ...         ...          600    0      0
                                                                                                            £1391   0     0
Amount of Expenditure                                     ... £1550   8   0
Balance due to Maintenance Fund                             159   8   0
                                                                            £1709 16 0
Page 57.                                                                                               May 14th, 1870
To Presentment at Summer Assizes (out of
            dog tax) for repairs of Surgeon’s House ...                                      £150   0    0
Paid out of Maintenance Fund (p. 50)   ...                                                         7 10   0
The average grant from 1858 to 1870 (available Query Books) was £850 for maintenance and support.
Where this grant is increased there is usually some special work being done. See Query Books 1866 for sewers; 1867 for Surgeon’s House; 1870 for repairs of Infirmary. See Abstract Presentments for summer 1869 with a grant of £700.
Is a property less valuable to the public where volunt­ary subscription enhances what obligatory rate provides?
May we confidently look for this mark of public appreci­ation.
Printed at “The Nationalist and Leinster Times” Office.
Infirmary Booklet Title 72dpi.JPG
The Leinster Leader 18/6/1960 carried an article on the Hospital which described the purpose of the booklet in the first paragraph : -
County Hospital Has a Lively History
In May, 1886, Kildare County Infirmary as it was then called, was closed, and it was re-opened in 1903, mainly through the efforts of Rev. John Delaney, who had been C.C. in Kildare since 1898. A booklet of 11 pages which Father Delaney had printed at the time, and circulated to subscribers of 1/- and upwards, is our main source for the history of Kildare County Hospital. Father Delaney’s history is based on the hospital and public records.
Having paraphrased the information from the booklet, the last couple of paragraphs give a little more information on the hospital and Fr. Delaney.
            In 1899, the first Kildare County Council was elected. Fr. John Delaney, C.C., led the first movement for the re-opening of the Hospital. Public meetings were held in Kildare, and all the facts were laid before the County Council, who promised support.
            The Sisters of St. John of God, Kilkenny, were asked to take charge of the nursing. Miss Elizabeth Talbot, who was afterwards Mrs. Connolly of the Hotel, and another lady still living, went to Kilkenny to interview the Sisters. All preparations for the re-opening were supervised by Fr. Delaney, who also equipped the chapel.
            In 1903, the hospital was re-opened. In June of that year, Father Delaney was appointed Parish Priest of Rathvilly. In 1924, he became Monsignor. He died in 1941.
            From its re-opening in 1903, the County Hospital received a small grant from the County Council. In 1933, the Hospital was taken over fully by the County Council.
[Compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan - Reprint of Fr. Delaney's booklet on History of Co. Infirmary which was published as part of the campaign to re-open the Infirmary - closed since 1886/7 it was re-opened in 1903. original Booklet in Kildare Co. Library]

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:41 PM


IN the public interest, and in view of recent events, a brief outline of the origin and history of the above Institution may be now deemed desirable. The facts here set forth have already been laid before the Kildare County Council, and with kind permission, have been taken from the available public records dealing with the Infirmary. The Governor’s Minute book provides what here immediately follows.           
To find an origin for our Infirmary we must go as far back as 1767. On March 31st of that year, it wasresolved, at Naas, that an Infirmary be opened at Kildare, and that the Duke of Leinster be appointed Treasurer. In October, of the same year, effect was given to this resolution. A house or two was taken, in what is described, as the S.E. corner of Nugent’s lane, Kildare—and a temporary Infirmary opened. Tb primitive Institution thus started was soon found, for its purpose, wholly inadequate. The available room was insufficient, the house itself in bad repair. As early as 1772it was agreed upon by the Governors that a proper Infirmary should be built, but as the Duke of Leinster was unable to secure a site for which he could give a suitable lease; and as the funds necessary to meet the proposed outlay were not forthcoming, the matter could not be proceeded with. Fresh meetings of the Governors called forth fresh resolutions, deploring the sad state of the temporary Infirmary—the ruinous condition of the building—the absolute necessity of something being done. The desired action was at length taken. To a lady by lineage noble, by fame historic, the spirit to initiate, the determination to execute, is to be attributed. Lady Louisa Connolly presided at the October Meeting of the Governors in 1773. She reminded those present, that idly resolving was no solution of a manifest grievance—that no reason was now apparent why steps should not be at once taken—and accordingly had a resolution, there and then, passed approving of one of the plans already submitted for a new Infirmary. A meeting specially convened at Merrion street, Dublin, on October 31st, 1775, sanctioned this resolution, accepted the estimate of a Mr. Owens, and gave him the contract for £1,140. Meanwhile a site, adjacent to the temporary Infirmary had been acquired by the Duke of Leinster, and on this plot the new Infirmary was built. The building, as then erected, can have been but a portion of the present. elaborate structure. Within a few years the new Infirmary was ready for occupation, and in 1777 we find the Duke of Leinster directing a Mr. Spencer to have the lease drawn up on terms, which shall be presently referred to. In 1778 a new contract is given to Mr Owens, for sundry works, in connection with the Infirmary, and even at this stage the accommodation must have been limited, as no provision was made for the Surgeon to reside within the Infirmary, and no residence could be secured in town. Of this the Doctor complained in August 1778.
No event of importance now marks the history of the Infirmary ‘till we approach the days of the Irish Rebellion. At this particular period an absence of record characterizes the Governors Minute Book, but the void has been fully supplied by a memorial, copied into the book, at a much later date. This memorial was addressed by the daughters of Surgeon Bolton to the then Lord Lieutenant, Earl Talbot, and the substance of it—as follows—is really an interesting page in the history of our County Infirmary. The memorial deals only with the wrongs inflicted on the Surgeon, by the Military authorities of the day. No mention is made therein of patients, if such there were at the time. It otherwise gives a complete chronicle of the missing order of events. It appears that in 1797 the Cork Militia occupied the town of Kildare, were billeted on the people, but for reasons made known at headquarters an order was issued by the Quartermaster-General residing in Dublin to seize the County Kildare Infirmary and hold it as a Military Barracks. This order was quickly carried into effect by Captain Frayne, commanding the Cork Militia. He came on the Infirmary “by surprise,” captured the Doctor inside, and landed him out on the road with such of his effects as probably were devoid of utility to military manoeuvring men. Dr Bolton did not attempt a re-capture, but wisely and hurriedly retreated to Naas where, as best he could, by keeping open a dispensary for the relief of the poor, he tried to discharge his duties of Infirmary Surgeon till his death in 1818.
The infirmary then was forcibly closed, but the Governors, in the interval, endeavoured, under difficulties, to extend such sick relief as was possible. Meetings were held at Castletown from October 25th, 1796, to December 5th, 1799. On the latter dlate the Duke of Leinster was desired to forward to the Lord Lieutenant a petition, protesting against the seizure of the County Kildare Infirmary, and the injury done to the buildings by the quartering of the troops.
The grants usual in that day must have been meanwhile continued by Grand Jury, for the Governors in their reply to Earl Talbot confirmed the Misses Bolton Memorial. Each detail they verified, and declared that Surgeon Bolton was regularly paid his salary to 1809, when their Treasurer, Mr. La Touche, died. Again, at the Lent Assizes in 1810, the public record shows the Grand Jury Grant of £100 for the County Kildare Infirmary.
As yet the Infirmary at Kildare had not been re-opened. A house had been kept going as an Infirmary at Naas, and even at Maynooth a house, given for this purpose by the Duke of Leinster, was opened in 1817. Here we find that the Kildare Infirmary becomes again available—the military had evacuated it, and the buildings had reverted to the Duke of Leinster. So the Governors assembled at Maynooth on June 18th, 1817, resolved—“That owing to Naas difficulties Kildare is the place for the Infirmary; that the Duke of Leinster’s offer of the former buildings be again accepted, and a meeting for this purpose summoned.’
Very soon after that, a meeting was held at Naas. The Duke of Leinster not only proferred [proffered – sic] the buildings to the Governors on the old terms, but strongly urged the meeting to take them back, and as a special inducement, tendered, in addition, all the monies he had received from the Government as rent, during the military occupation. When the motion was finally put to the meeting there was an equal number of those present, for and against, and as the Chairman could not give a casting vote, no decision was arrived at. But the Duke of Leinster was determined that the Kildare Infirmary should be secured to the people. He lost no time in pressing the matter home, for within a few weeks he completely carried his point at Athy, where the Assizes were then alternately held.
The Kildare Infirmary was to be again re-opened, and the next meeting of the Governors was held on July 1st, 1819, in the town of Kildare, to push on the project. They resolved that the Infirmary should be prepared as speedily as possible, and a committee for this purpose was appointed. Fourteen days later at a subsequent meeting the Infirmary was formally taken over by the Governors on terms as follows—“That buildings used as an Infirmary at Kildare be now accepted at a pepper corn rent and during such time as it shall be used as an Infirmary.” This gives the substance of the original lease as can be seen by a case stated for Governors and given in the minute book.
Seeing the deep interest and the generous spirit with which successive Dukes of Leinster have directed and guarded this Institution for over a century of its history, have not the present promoters reason to confidently hope for a restoration of the lease on [the – sic] above terms when the present Duke of Leinster attains his majority?
As we have seen the Infirmary was again in the hands of the Governors. The Committee was using all expedition fitting up the Infirmary. No more patients were to be taken in at Naas after January 2nd, 1818; as it was then believed Kildare would have been ready by February following. The house at Naas was handed over to Trustees to be held as a fever hospital. On February 26th, 1818, Surgeon Tomlinson was appointed to the Infirmary, and was to reside in the town of Kildare. The actual reception of patients seems not to have been earlier than March of this year. With the Infirmary again working its subsequent history, down to the year 1900, is one unbroken record of additions, improvements, alterations. The original buildings were immensely enlarged, apartments provided for the Surgeon within the house, a new laundry built, fresh grounds acquired. Finally, a magnificent residence is built for the Surgeon at a considerable public cost. The last entry on the last written page is an approval of repairs just carried out in accordance with the Surveyor’s instructions.
From its re-opening in 1817 the harmonious working of the Infirmary is long undisturbed, save by one incident in 1827. A mis-understanding unfortunately arose between the Gover­nors and the Duke of Leinster regarding the rent received by the latter during the term of military occupation. It led to the “case stated.” The Governors were advised that they had no grounds for their claims against the Duke, and thus the matter was allowed to drop. Until we reach the last decade of the Infirmary’s existence we do not again touch on any break in its record of progress. Hlere an expression of sadness and regret begins to mark the closing page.
As this outline is gleaned from the written record of the Governors, it is but natural that it should conclude in the light which controls, and in the spirit which animates, their final resolutions. To act otherwise—to go and seek elsewhere for reasons and motives that might provoke class hatred, and religious feeling, would not only, not promote, but actually impede, the object in view. Such a course would be deservedly and univer­sally condemned. In their effort to avail of the present offer of the Trustees of the Leinster Estate, the promoters of the re-opening of the Kildare Infirmary have all along proclaimed that their desire is, to relieve thus a public distress, to secure thus a public property. How real this distress, those who witness it, and those who experience it can best tell. How valuable the property now at stake, those who know it, or those who may be able to competently estimate it, can best say. It is noble, it is patriotic, it is Christian to work as one for the common good. No appea1 can so touchingly plead for this re-opening as the recorded expression of the Old Governors. With the experience of the past, with the prospect of the future before them, they viewed the threatened closing as a ”calamity.” Shall they not now, with us, welcome the promised re-opening as a true blessing.
Infirmary Booklet Cover 72dpi.JPG
A diary of dates with a century of facts.
How the Infirmary gradually grew by public support.
Headings from resolutions in Governor’s Minute Book.
Details of public expenditure not fully available.
County Books not to be found in public Record Office, Dublin.
Enough to show why the people should value the Leinster offer.
Resolved at Naas that an Infirmary be established at Kildare.
House taken in Nugent's-lane, Kildare, S.E. corner as a Temporary Infirmary. Looking for a lease. 1st Surgeon, F. Noah Gervais.
A New Infirmary absolutely necessary. House in ruins.
Dr. F. Noah Gervais resigns.
Dr. Percy Bagot elected.
Lady Louisa Connolly has a plan adopted of new Infirmary.
Meetings in Merrion-street, Dublin. Contract given to Mr. Owens for ₤1,140.
Mr. Spencer to take out lease for new Infirmary.
New building occupied. New contract given to Mr. Owens.
Surgeon Bagot sells his interest to Dr. Abm. Bolton for ₤400.
Dr. Abm. Bolton elected.
Captain Frayne by Government orders seizes the Infirmary.
Infirmary at Naas.
Duke of Leinster to protest against Government seizing and holding Kildare Infirmary as a Barracks.
Infirmary opened at Maynooth.
Resolved at Maynooth (a)Kildare is place for Infirmary; (b), let Duke of Leinster's offer be accepted; (c)) call a General Meeting. [(b), - sic] [(c)) - sic]
Meeting at Naas; Duke's offer; equal division; no casting vote.
At Athy Duke carries his point, Kildare to be re-opened.
Surgeon Bolton resigns.
At Kildare again. Prepare Infirmary as speedily as possible.
Buildings taken over "at pepper corn rent" while used as Infirmary.
No more patients to be taken at Naas after Jan. 5. Let Surgeon reside at Kildare.
House at Naas (Mrs. Fennell's) to be handed over to Trustees. [Obviously should be 1818 Feb. 18. - sic]
Surgeon Tomlinson appointed to Kildare Infirmary.
Have plans and estimate ready for next Assize.
Additional buildings lately erected well finished. Ask ₤200 at next Assize.
Misses Bolton Memorial sent down by Earl Talbot.
Controversy between Governors and Duke of Leinster regarding rent received.
Case stated by Wm. Saurin.
Father Brenan a Governor at ₤21.
Spouts erected all round house.
Pay rent due to Duke.
Dr. Tomlinson died. New Surgeon must live in town, not in Infirmary.
Dr. Geoghegan elected Surgeon.
Make application at next Special Sessions for improvements and additions.
Dr. Geoghegan to get No. 1 and 2 Rooms to live in.
Mr. Langon to submit plans for alterations.
Plans recommended to Special Sessions and Grand Jury at ₤350.
County Surveyor to submit plans.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:21 PM

October 17, 2007

AN TOSTAL SOUVENIR BOOKLET 1953 - The Programme of Events

5th to 26th APRIL, 1953
Kildare Town Programme
OPENING DAY—Easter Sunday, 5th April:
2.0 p.m. Parade from Dún Mhig Aoidh
(a)        Band and C.Y.M.S.
(b)        Military Colour Party
(c)        O.N.E.
(d)        G.A.A. and N.A.C.A.
Ceremonial hoisting of An Tóstal Flag at Market Square
on arrival of Parade.
Parade to St. Brigid’s Park. Hoisting of National Flag.
Official Opening, followed by:
(1) Two Mile Flat Race—Kildare County Championship
(2) Junior Hurling—Suncroft v. St. Brigid’s, Kildare.
(3) Two Mile County Kildare Relay Race
(4) Senior Football—Kildare v. Suncroft.
(Admission to Field 1/-; Sideline, 1/- extra
9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Dance in C.Y.M.S. Hall. Music by Bobby Rogers and his Band.
Monday 6th April—Easter Monday:
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Adult Ceili Exhibition in Market Squar [Square – sic] (C.Y.M.S. Hall in case of rain). Gallowglass Ceili Band.
Wednesday 8th April:
            8 p.m. Rathangan Y.F.C. presents SIMPLE SOULS in C.Y.M.S. Hall. Admission: 2/6; 1/6; 1/-.
Thursday 9th Apri1
7 p.m. to 10 p.m. I.C.A. and Vocational Class Exhibition in De la Salle School.
7 p.m. Display of Modern Military Equipment in De la Salle School.
8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Adult Ceili Competition in C.Y.M.S. Hall. Lackagh and C.Y.M.S. Kildare Clubs. Admission 1/-.Adjudicator J. O’Toole, Esq. Gallowglass Band.
Friday 10th Apri1:
7-10 p.m. I.C.A. and Vocational Class Exhibition and Display of modern Military Equipment in De la Salle School.
8 p.m. to 12 midnight. Ceili in C.Y.M.S. Hall. Gallowglass Band.
Sunday 12th Apri1
2.30 p.m. Band Parade. Football: Rowanville and Curragh Road v. Assumpta Villas and Campion Cottages (Referees Messrs. J. J. Conlan and J. Grant).
3 p.m. Opening Tournament of Tennis Club.
8 p.m. Card Drive in C.Y.M.S. Hall.
Monday 13th April
8 p.m. Adult Ceili Competition—Kildare v. Rathangan—in C.Y.M.S. Hall. Admission 1/-. Adjudicator J. O’Toole. Esq. Gallowglas [Gallowglass – sic] Band.
Tuesday 14th April
8 p.m. Kildare C.Y.M.S. Dramatic Club presents a humorous comedy.
Wednesday 15th April
8 p.m. to 12 p.m. Tennis Club Fancy Dress Dance. Parade for competitors at 10 p.m. Admission 3/-. Music by Bobby Rogers Band.
Thursday 16th April
8 p.m. Adult Ceili Competition—Droichead Nua v. Rathangan—in C.Y.M.S. Hall. Adjudicator: J O’Toole, Esq. Gallowglass Band. Admission 1/-.
Friday 17th Apri1
9 p.m. to 3 a.m. De la Salle Past Pupils’ Union Dance in C.Y.M.S. Hall. Tickets 5/-. Music by Jimmy Dunny’s Band.
Sunday 19th April
Curragh Golden Ball Golf Competition.
Whist Drive in C.Y.M.S. Hall—8 p.m.
Tuesday 21st April
8 p.m. In De la Salle School. Lecture “WOOL IN THE HOME,” followed by film.
3 p.m. Courthouse: Woodwork Exhibition by Vocational Class.
Wednesday 22nd April
8 p.m. Concert and Ceili Winners’ Display in C.Y.M.S. Hall. Admission: 2/6; 1/6; 1/-.
Friday 24th Apri1
8 p.m. to 12 midnight—Ceili in C.Y.M.S. Hall.
Sunday 26th Apri1
2 p.m. Band Parade to St. Brigid’s Park
Minor Hurling—Suncroft v. Kildare.
Senior Football—Kildare v. Peadar Mackens
Whist Drive in C.Y.M.S. Hall at 8 p.m.
Céi1í and other Exhibitions and Events will be arranged during An Tóstal period.
Facsimile of Book of Kells on display by kind permission of Co. Library Committee.
ad Kellys small web.jpg
ABOVE: - the advert for Kellys which accompanied the above text and BELOW the ad vert for Monumental Cafes which appeared on the opposite page
2nd last page web small.jpg
The last section of text in the An Tostal Souvenir Booklet of 1953 detailed the programme of events in Kildare Town from the 5th to the 26th April of that year.
[compiled and edited Mario Corrigan]

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:14 PM


An Tostal Committee, Kildare, 1953
Very Rev. P. Mac Suibhne, P.P., Kildare
Very Rev. R. E. Eaton, M.A., Dean of Kildare
Very Rev. J. MacGrath, O.Carm., White Abbey
Mr. John J. Conlon, Maddenstown House
Mr. Wm. Gannon, Tully
Hon. Treasurers:
Rev. Wm. Kinsella, C.C., Kildare
Mr. Patrick Power, N.T., Frenchfurze
Hon. Secretaries
Rev. Bro. Cataldus, F.S.C., Kildare
Mr. Joseph Cardiff, Curragh Road
Committee, with the Organisations they repesent:—
Rev. Bro. Declan, F.S.C., Kildare (Schools); Miss May Fleming, Claregate St. (St. Brigid’s Tennis Club); Mrs. C. J. Bergin, Abbey Ville (Kildare I.C.A.); Miss May Lawlor, Watergrange (Rathangan Y.F.C.); Mr. Jas. Mackey, Rowanville (Round Towers Football Club); Mr. Patrick Quinlivan, Railway Cottages (C.Y.M.S. Dramatic Club); Mr. Joseph Cardiff, Curragh Road (St. Brigid’s Hurling Club); Lieut-Col. Looby and Comdt. Rea (the Army); Mr. Jas. Morrissey, Fairgreen (Athletic Club); Mr. William Gannon, Tully (Old I.R.A. and C.Y.M.S. Band); Mr. William Cullagh, Assumpta Villas (National Ex-Service­men); Mr. Patrick Colton, Rowanville (De la Salle Past Pupils’ Union); Mr. Thomas Hackett, Kyle (Kildare Farmers); Mr. Francis Burke, Virginia Lodge (Kildare Traders); Sergeant-Major Egan, Curragh Road (Irish Dancing); Garda Coogan, Bride St. (Garda Siochana).
last page web small.jpg
ABOVE: - last page of publication
BELOW: - inside rear cover
Inside Rear Cover web small.jpg
The rear cover of the An Tostal Souvenir Booklet of 1953
Rear Cover web small.jpg

Posted by mariocorrigan at 08:57 PM


THE dates up to 1864 are taken from the Catholic Registry and are only approximate. The dates from1864 are taken from the Parochial Registers. There seems to have been only one C.C. for the whole parish up to 1840.
1835-43—REV. PATRICK FITZPATRICK, P.P., Mountrath 1844. Died 16th, September, 1857.
1844-55—REV. ANDREW MCMAHON, P.P. Edenderry 1856. Died 18th January, 1865.
1849-50—REV. THOMAS CULLEN. Nephew of Cardinal Cullen. C.C. Suncroft 1847-48, and 1851-68. P.P. Suncroft Feb.-Nov. 1868.
1851-55—REV. BARTHOLEMEW EGAN. C.C. Mountrath 1858 to 1864 or 1865. “Rev. R. Egan, C.C., St. Briget’s [Bridget’s – sic], Kildare, died 22nd May, 1868”—Catholic Registry, p.341. R. should probably read B.
1858-59—REV. EDWARD FOLEY. C.C. Stradbally 1863-65. Died 3rd April, 1865. Born at Mensal Lodge, Leighlinbridge, he was a brother of the late John Foley Augha, the late Mrs. Kinsella, Rathellon, and Mrs. Lalor. Iron Grange, whose grandsons are the esteemed P.P.’s of Daingean and Abbeyleix respectively.
1863—REV. PATRICK NOLAN. Cf Father Patrick Nolan P.P. Ballon, who was born in Killane, Ballon.
1864-May, 1865—REV. THOMAS MAHER. He then went as C.C. to Rathangan.
May to December, 1865—REV. MICHAEL CURRAN.
Dec. 1865—July 1866—REV. THOMAS FENLON. Rev. T. Fenlon, C.C., Kildare and Leighlin died 20th April 1887.
July, 1866-Dec. 1867—REV. JAMES DELANEY. Fr. James E. Delaney, P.P., Rosenallis 1869. Died 27th Dec. 1901. A native of Carlow.
Dec. 1867-Jan. 1882—REV. JOHN KINSELLA. P.P. Edenderry 1882. Died 26th Nov., 1905. Native of Rath­rush, Ballon parish, and nephew of Father John Nolan, P.P. Kildare.
Jan. 1882-Nov. 1883—REV. THOMAS J. KELLY. P.P. Emo. Died 14th August, 1918. A native of Raheenleigh, Myshall.
Nov. 1883-Aug. 1886—REV. SIMON MCWEY. Went as C.C. Rathangan. P.P. Kilcock. A native of Sleaty, uncle of Messrs. James MeWey, Sleaty House, and Thomas, Round Tower House, Kildare.
Aug.. 1886-Aug. 1889—REV. JOHN DELANY. P.P. Rathvilly 1903. Monsignor. Died 17th Nov., 1941. Native of Abbeyleix, brother of Father Joseph Delaney, P.P. Stradbally 1902-22.
Sept. 1889-Jan. 1894—REV. JOHN CULLEN. P.P. Tinry­land 1901. Died 13th December 1913. Born Ballysax, uncle of Mr. Alphonsus Cullen.
Jan. 1894-Sept. 1898—REV. JOHN BREEN. P.P. Abbey­leix 1919. Died 11th Sept, 1949. A native of St. Mullin’s parish.
Sept. 1898-June 1903—REV. JOHN DELANY. Was C.C. 1886-89, as above.
June 1903-Dec. 1908—REV. JOHN GORMAN. P.P. Daingean 1919-24. Mountmellick 1924-40. A native of Killeen, Arles.
Dec. 1908-Oct. 1934—REV. DANIEL WALDRON. P.P. Ballyadams. Died 3rd Aug., 1950.
August 1926-July 1927—REV. MARTIN BRENAN, while the parish was vacant. Now President, Carlow College.
Oct. 1934-March 1943—REV. THOMAS KENNEDY. Went as C.C. to Rathangan.
March 1943—REV. WILLIAM KINSELLA. Father Michael McGrath, Ossory, did temporary duty from Nov. 1946 to Aug. 1947, as did Father John Moran, Ossory, from August to November, 1947.
[1863 Cf cross reference to Father Patrick Nolan P.P. Ballon – is this the same priest or relation]
The Curate lived in what is called the old convent up to 1875. When the Mercy Sisters came in that year, the Curate vacated the house and went to live in the present residence.
1856-May, 1865—REV. CHARLES BANNON. P.P. Kill 1865 to his death in 1877. A native of Portlaoise parish.
May, 1865-Oct. 1871—REV. THOMAS MAHER. P.P. Suncroft November 1872 to his death 31st Oct., 1883. A brother of Fr. Patrick Maher, who succeeded him in Rathangan. Both were cousins of Fr. James Maher, P.P. Killeshin, 1840-74, who was an uncle of Cardinal Cullen. Fr. James Maher was born at Donore, Co. Carlow, and was reared at Kilrush, in Suncroft parish where Mr. E. Doyle is now.
July, 1872-May, 1874—REV. PATRICK MAHER. P.P. Killeshin succeeding his cousin Fr. James Maher, P.P., D.D., who died 2nd April, 1874. Fr. Patrick Maher died 24th July, 1879.
May, 1874-Feb. 1879—REV. THOMAS TYNAN, a native of Carlow. Adm. Arles 1879-81. P.P. Leighlin 1881-90. P.P. Droichead Nua 1890 to his death 7th Sept., 1920. Monsignor.
Feb. 1879-June 1886—REV. EDWARD O’LEARY. P.P. Balyna 1886-90. P.P. Portlarlington 1890. Died 15th Oct. 1924. A native of Clonogan, Clonegal.
Aug. 1886-Jan. 1889—REV. SIMON MCWEY, who had been C.C in Kildare.
 Jan. 1889-Feb. 1896—REV. PATRICK BYRNE. P.P. Ballon 1895. Died Sept., 13th, 1923. A native of Baltin­glass.
Feb. 1896-July 1901—REV. JAMES HUGHES. P.P. Myshall 1901. Died 5th Nov. 1906. A native of Kildreena, Co. Carlow. Uncle of Mr. Joseph Hughes, T.D.
July 1901-June 1903—REV. JOHN GORMAN. Went as C.C. to Kildare.
June 1903-June 1912—REV. PATRICK LOUGHLIN. P.P. Raheen. Died 20th Nov. 1920. A native of Rosenallis.
June 1912-July 1915—REV. FELIX W. INGRES. P.P. Ballyadams May 1920 to his death 13th May 1923.
July 1915-March 1923—REV. MICHAEL RICE. P.P. Kilcock 1923 to his death 15th Dec. 1938. Brother of Fr. Wm. Rice, P.P. Carbury 1929-38; Kilcock, 1938-52. Native of Sherwood, Kildavin.
March 1923-March 1943—REV. MICHAEL DOYLE. P.P. Borris 1943. Died 6th Jan, 1950. A native of Ardoyne, Tullow.
March 1943—REV. THOMAS KENNEDY, C.C. Kildare 1934-43.


Rev. James Murray, P.P. Portarlington 1804 to his death, 18th May 1923, at the age of 80. He is buried in Emo; the Countess of Portarlington erected a memorial to him. He was born probably at Drennanstown, Rathangan.
Rev. Benjamin Joseph Broughall, P.P., died 1850. (Under a separate heading).
Rev. James Broughall. Died 10th Oct. 1873, aged 28, and is buried in front of the High Altar in Rathangan. He was son of Michael Broughall, Rathangan, baker, who lived where Jacob’s are now. Baptised 18th June, 1845, sponsors James Dillon and Anne Keogh.
Rev. Patrick Fitzsimons, Administrator, Tullow, died 15th Jan. 1876, aged 43. Buried in Church of the Most Holy Rosary, Tullow, where there is a small tablet recording that he died “of typhus fever, caught while imparting the consolations of religion to the suffering members of his flock. This tablet, and Our Lady’s Altar, have been erected in affectionate remembrance by his grateful parishioners and grieving friends. R.I.P.” Son of Dr. Fitzsimons, Rathangan.
Rev. John D. Clancy. Ordained 15th May 1857. A native of Kildare, he was C.C. Abbeyleix. Died 14th Aug, 1876, aged 43. Buried in St. Brigid’s Church, where a tablet marks his grave, and records that “he was respected by the people among whom he ministered, and beloved by his fellow-clergy.”
Rev. Joseph Murray, P.P. Tinryland, 1846 to his death 5th May 1880. Born at Bonaghmore. Nephew of Fr. James Murray, P.P., above.
Rev. John Murray, P.P. Arles 1908 to his death, 29th March 1918. Nephew of Fr. Joseph. Born at Bonaghmore.
Rev. Edward Loughlin, a native of Cappinarigid where his sister-in-law Mrs. Joseph Loughlin lives. Ministered in Clonegal, Hacketstown and Borris. R.I.P.
Rev. Thomas Kelly, O.Carm. Born in Mount Prospect Rathangan. First cousin of Fr. John: there were three brothers, Thomas in Drennanstown, Patrick in Mount Prospect (father of Fr. Thomas, O.Carm.) and John in the town, father of Fr. John Kelly, P.P. below. R.I.P.
Rev. John Dunne, P.P. Borris June 1909 to his death, 12th Aug. 1931. Born in Rathangan, where Nurse O’Neill now resides.
Rev. John Kelly, P.P. Suncroft, Jan. 1915. Born in Rathangan. R.I.P.
Rev. Michael Byrne, P.P. Kill 1930-36. Brother of Messrs William and John Byrne, Bodenstown. Born in Blakefield where his nephew Henry Byrne is now. P.P. Caragh 1936. Died 20th Nov. 1936.
Rev. John Duggan. Mill Hill Fathers. Born in Newtown, Rathangan. R.I.P.
Rev. Joseph Boland, Curragh Road. Ordained Carlow Cathedral 29th Nov. 1908. P.P. Rosenallis Nov. 1941 to his death 20th April 1949.
Rev. John Byrne, S.J., Rathfarnham Castle. Nephew of Fr. John Murray. Born at Rathangan.
Rev. James Gardiner, P.P. Ballon July 1947. Born in Rathangan. Ordained 13th May, 1915.
            Rev. William Jones. Born in Kildare. Ordained Carlow College, 7th June, 1942. Pastor St. Leo’s Church, Demopolis, Alabama.
            Rev. Michael A. O’Reilly, O.M.I., D.C.L. Born Kildare. Ordained 30th March 1941. St. Mary’s Scholasticate, Piltown, Co. Kilkenny.
The last chapter of the An Tostal Souvenir Booklet for 1953 listed the curates for Kildare and for Rathangan and also the native priests of Kildare.
[Edited and compiled by Mario Corrigan]

Posted by mariocorrigan at 08:37 PM

July 12, 2007

KILDARE BARRACKS by Mark McLoughlin; Local History Lecture 2005

Kildare Barracks

Wednesday 7th September 2005


Mark McLoughlin

The other important event at the turn of the century was the decision to construct an artillery barracks at Kildare which would remain open for almost 100 years until it closed in 1998.

Royal Artillery
The decision to construct an artillery barracks at Kildare in 1900 was one of the most important events in the development of the town. The site of the barracks was on a farm called Broadhook Farm. It was the site of the Lock Hospital which was built in 1868 on lands leased from the Duke of Leinster and remained open for approximately 20 years. However the road it was built on is still called Hospital Street today.

The 1901 Census records the barracks as the Lock Hospital consisting of four camp hutments with 65 carpenters and joiners, Irish and English involved in the construction of the barracks. Living in the canteen were 26 English plasterers and painters. The foreman was a Thomas Ryan from Kildare and a Thomas McLoughlin from Kildare operated a public house on site.

The Leinster Leader recorded a social night in January 1901:-
“On Saturday night last the Irish foremen and timekeepers employed at the military barracks in course of erection in Kildare, entertained their English friends in the same employment. A number of guests were invited, and when supper was served at twelve o’clock about fifty sat to table. The health of the strangers was proposed and Mr. Oram foreman, responded in suitable terms. Dancing commenced after supper, the music being supplied by the employes [sic]. Songs were also rendered by Mr. Oram, Mr. White, Mrs. O’Brien, Mrs. Studley, Miss Dollard, Miss Farrelly, and Mr. McLoughlin. Proceedings were kept up until the small hours, when the party separated well pleased with their night’s pleasure. Messrs Behan, Hickey, and Murphy, who organised the entertainment, are to be congratulated on the success of their efforts.”

The barracks was occupied some time in 1901 and the first units stationed in the barracks were the 31st and 33rd Brigades, Royal Field Artillery – which consisted of five batteries of artillery.

The opening of the barracks provided a period of prosperity for Kildare because by the time of the census of 1911, the population had increased to 2,639 persons which included the 808 men stationed in the Barracks.

The onset of the First World War of course brought great excitement to the town – Military leave was cancelled and military intelligence took over Kildare Railway Station.  Kildare Barracks was virtually emptied as the men in Kildare (15th Brigade RFA) were part of the Fifth Division which went to France in August 1914.

The Kildare Observer of 22 August 1914 reported

"A couple of large detachments of the Royal Field Artillery left Kildare Barracks early on Sunday and Monday mornings. They on each occasion being played out of the town by the band of the Kildare Volunteers, which rendered such tunes as "Come back to Erin", etc. Though it was 2 o'clock on Sunday morning, never the less a large crowd of Kildare Townspeople assembled to cheer them off and this was repeated on Monday morning at 7 o'clock. Such warm demonstrations must have helped to bring gladness to the hearts of those men who were going forth to defend our nation's right, and also to their wives and relatives from whose presence they have been called for an indefinite period."

They left a great store of uniforms behind them which were used for a new unit being established in the barracks. Many of these men, no doubt were killed in the next few years in France and other battlefields around the world. There were, of course, also locals killed in the war. Harry Greene, a teacher in Kildare National School applied for a commission on 13 May 1915 and was commissioned into the Royal Munster Fusiliers. He was killed on 29th April 1918 by a sniper after leading a company of Royal Irish Rifles in taking over a german machine gun post.

There is a letter published in the North Cheshire Herald at Christmans 1915 written by some men of the 3rd Cheshire Yeomanry who were stationed in Kildare at the time. They wrote “We spent our Christmas at a little village called Kildare, where the houses are just like stables. You talk about being among the pigs, we are amongst them..”.

Following the war of Independence and signing of the treaty, the British made plans to vacate the barracks in April 1922. However on 10th February 1922 Lieutenant John Wogan Browne, a member of a well known family from Naas at the time, went to the Hibernian Bank to collect the regimental pay. At the corner of Infirmary Road a car pulled up and one of the occupants grabbed the bag which contained £135. Wogan-Browne attempted to recover the bag and was shot in the head. The car was driven by a Tom Graham from Kildare who hired the car out to three men who held him at gunpoint. Three men, who were all local, were arrested for the murder but were released a few months later. All passes for traders to the Barracks were cancelled and on the night of the funeral there was some trouble by British soldiers in the town.

A dance was held in the Barracks at the end of March 1922. While the soldiers danced, someone stole the safe from the canteen which was later found opened in the field behind the barracks. The furniture from the Officers’ Mess and Officers’ Married Quarters was sent north while the rest of the equipment was given to the new state. The families of all soldiers left the barracks on 15th April 1922 when it was handed over to the National Army.

Civic Guards
In February 1922 Michael Collins had established a committee to examine a replacement force for the RIC and within a month had decided on the establishment of the Civic Guard. Following the withdrawal of the British army, the barracks was selected as the site for the training of the new Civic Police and 800 men were sent to the new Civic Police headquarters on 25th April 1922. where the new recruits engaged in drill instruction and route marches to Newbridge and Monasterevin. Within a week of arriving the civic police were attacked by anti-treaty forces and soldiers were put on the gate to protect the barracks.  There were simmering tensions in the barracks when the new recruits arrived as they found themselves being instructed by former RIC men. These experienced policemen were appointed over former republicans and tensions came to a head on 15 May 1922 when a former Cork IRA man, Thomas Daly presented an ultimatum to the Commissioner of the Civic Police demanding the expulsion of five named former RIC men. Commissioner Staines ordered a full parade of the barracks and when he ordered the signatories to step forward, a shouting match ensued and the parade was abandoned. The next day, Newbridge Barracks was handed over to the Civic Guard and while the commissioner was there, the mutineers raided the armory and seized rifles, revolvers and ammunition. Meanwhile, Staines had called for soldiers who had just taken over the Curragh from the British to assist the Civic Guard. They arrived in Kildare but were prevented by armed civic guards from entering the barracks and a stand off ensued. The situation was so serious that Michael Collins came to Kildare and agreed to set up an inquiry provided that Staines and other senior Civic police be allowed back to Kildare.

However, when Staines arrived at the gates, he was refused entry and when two former RIC men, Sergeant Patrick McAvinia and Superintendant John Byrne arrived at the gates, the mutineers drew weapons and Byrne was narrowly missed by a shot. The two ex RIC men fled while being chased by a mob and fled to the Railway Arms where they tried to make a phone call. A crowd gathered outside and threatened to burn the place down. They escaped out the back door and hid in the Carmelite house before escaping back to Dublin the next day.

Tensions did not completely finish as on 17th June, days before the start of the Civil War Daly again met a force of anti-treaty men from Dublin who went with him to the barracks, tied up the guards on duty and commandeered the rifles and ammunition from the armoury with some of the Civic Guards joined them and went back to Dublin to the Four Courts.

The overall impact of these events were that the new police force was reconstituted as an unarmed police force which aimed to have closer links to the wider community and much less like a colonial police force in the way the RIC was perceived.

Artillery Corps
In March 1925. the Garda Siochana moved out and the Artillery Corps which was formed in 1923 moved from Dublin to Kildare. On 20th March 1925, the Artillery Corps arrived at Kildare railway station and the two batteries consisting of eight guns in total were each linked and harnessed to six horses and travelled to the barracks with outriders on the lead horses. Artillery requires specialist knowledge and accordingly, the new army gathered together men with previous experience of artillery and horsemanship to create the new unit.  Thus you had men like Sgt Major Downey who had seen active service during the war at Vimy Ridge, Bertie Thompson, formerly of the Royal Canadian Artillery and my own grandfather James McLoughlin of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Kildare initially had one battery consisting of 5 Officers, 18 NCOs and 93 gunners (116 in total).

Like the British army, the Irish army battery included 1 farrier, 2 shoeing smiths, 2 saddlers, 5 signallers, 2 Trumpeters, 3 cooks, 2 clerks, 4 sergeants, 40 gunners and 29 drivers. Each battery had 4 18 pounder guns. The smiths and farriers would have been busy as two batteries of artillery required a regulation 125 horses.
The Artillery Corps was renowned for its strict discipline which was far stricter than other army units – with the highest standard of training, drill and dress.

The Artillery Corps carried out their first shoot in the Glen of Imaal in September 1925 with the men having to haul the guns over Table Top mountain. At the time with the formation of new batteries, each battery was assigned to a particular Battalion of the army. So, the 1st Battery was assigned to the 4th Battalion in Cork and when they held their exercises in Kilworth, the battery had to organize a special train to transport all the horses and equipment. This would take from 4 am to 8 am that evening to get the battery to Cork whereas the 2nd Battery only had to travel to the Glen of Imaal although this would in itself be an endurance as all movement was by horse. During the 1920s and 1930s, the entire artillery corps was based in Kildare so a number of Officers were sent to America and to England for Artillery training which they in turn passed on to others on their return to Kildare.

The replacement of the hutted artillery lines with a proper barracks commenced in 1938 when Sisk were given the contract to construct a new barracks and the artillery corps transferred temporarily to Plunkett Barracks in the Curragh. This was the first purpose built barracks built by the Irish State.  The barracks was named Magee Barracks after Gunner James Magee who bravely handled a six pounder gun at the battle of Ballinamuck in September 1798.

The biggest change for the Artillery Corps in Kildare was the changeover to a mechanized artillery corps. In March 1939, most of the horses were sold at public auction in Dublin and the remainder given to other units in the army.

With the reorganisation the army in the 1990s, the days of Kildare Barracks were finally numbered and it closed in 1998.  Yet again the business community and people of Kildare wanted to know what would become of the barracks. After a number of years as a home for Kosovan refugees and asylum seekers from around the world, the barracks will shortly make way for the needs of an expanding town.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:00 PM

July 06, 2007


Paper delivered By Guy Williams as the 2007 Hayden Lecture, to Cill Dara  Historical Society, Kildare Town’s local History Group, on Wednesday  4th  July 2007.
It has been said that the key to the present is to be found in the past, if we but choose to look.
On the flip side, HEGEL chose to differ. “What experience and history teach is this – that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”
One of our own – GEORGE BERNARD SHAW – developed HEGEL'S theme in his 'Revolutionist's Handbook' and again in 'Heartbreak House'.
In the course of this talk I hope to show that both theories contain degrees of validity.
So, what exactly is the Curragh of Kildare?
Well, it's 4,870 acres of limestone plain, covered by grey-brown PODZOLIC soil, draining to Pollardstown Fen. 'Podzolic' is defined in the Oxford Dictionary simply as “a soil with minerals leached from its surface layers into a lower stratum.” Nothing very special about that, really.
I prefer to concentrate on how the Curragh was created. Particularly the legend of 5th century priestess St BRIGID asking the local king for a patch of land on which to build her monastery, in return for relieving him of his asses' ears that had been the bane of his life.
The king played it cute, telling St Brigid that she could have as much land as her cloak would cover. Brigid quickly gave her response. Summoning three of her acolytes she instructed each of them to grab a corner of her garment and head off northwards, eastwards and westwards.
This they did, until each was brought to a halt, all for different reasons. The first was crossed in her tracks by a hare. The second was confronted by a red-haired woman and the third by a blacksmith brandishing a red hot horseshoe.
Well, Brigid hadn't done badly, had she? 4,870 acres of the finest limestone land, Podzolic to boot.
As to how the Curragh got the name 'the short grass' – over-stocking was held to be the cause.
However, GIRALDUS CAMBRENSIS, writing in the 12th century, saw it rather differently. “There are also here the most delightful plains, which are called the pasturage of St Brigid, into which no one dares to enter a plough and of which it is estimated as a miracle that although the cattle of the whole province may have clipped the grass close to the ground in the evening it will appear the next morning as high as ever, and it has been said of these pastures: 'As much as the herds crop during the long day, so much does the cold dew restore during the short night'.” 
John O'Donovan, in his study of the antiquities of County Kildare, carried out in 1837, found no reference in ancient lore to the Curragh as a plain. Its creation was attributed to St Brigid and the story of her cloak. Content to leave well alone, O'Donovan concluded: “If tradition could be relied on it would prove that it was first formed in a common by the saintess.”
The saintess had long gone down beside St Patrick, appropriately in DOWNPATRICK, when her Dublin successors obtained free grazing rights on the Curragh. These were the Augustinian Canons of St Thomas of Dublin, the first 'outsiders' to enjoy such rights.
The Augustinian Canons of St Thomas weren't allowed much time to enjoy unfettered access to the Curragh. In 1207 the Curragh of Kildare became royal property, initially through the marriage of Aoife, daughter of Dermot, king of Leinster, to Strongbow. Dermot might have summoned Strongbow from Wales to sort out local grievances. But Strongbow acted for the English crown.
This would seem to be the first instance whereby the English crown gained title to the Curragh of Kildare. At all events, in 1299 Edward I of England enacted a Statute forbidding the feeding of swine on the Curragh. Clearly the pigs were damaging a sward described as “forming a more beautiful lawn than the hand of art ever made. Nothing can exceed the extreme softness and elasticity of the turf, which is of a verdure that charms the eye, and is still further set off by the gentle inequality of the surface.”
In the 16th and 17th centuries the Crown issued grants of pasture commonage to landowners adjacent to the Curragh. Grantees included Robert Bathe, John Lye of Rathbride, Patrick Sarsfield, Sir Nicholas White, Robert Nangle, Edward Medlicott and Garrett Weasley. As late as 1866 the solicitor representing the heirs of these grantees claimed to the Curragh Commission he could “give evidence of rents paid under these patents, some to the present day. Some were purchased by the Duke of Leinster, and in that way some were extinguished.”
So, we have the SHEEP FARMERS established on the Curragh, paying their dues to the Crown of England.
However, they were soon to share the amenity. In 1599 the Earl of Essex, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, encamped 27 ensigns of foot and 300 horse, declaring: “A better place for deploying of AN ARMY I never beheld.”
In 1641 James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, billeted his army round the Curragh. Two years later Lord Castlehaven took Tully Castle, encamped on the Curragh, “whence I summoned all the castles thereabouts, and had them yielded.”
In 1687 Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnell, encamped his army at the Curragh. That same year we find the first reference to a CURRAGH RANGER, appointed by the Crown, paid £20 a year, along with his livery. He was charged with protecting the grazing rights and game, as well as preventing encroachments.
Two years later the army of James II – 4,400 strong – trained on the Curragh. And the following year the same army rested up on the Curragh following its defeat at the Battle of the BOYNE.
The time had come for a third party to enter the stage that is the Curragh of Kildare – the RACING MEN.   
While racing may indeed have taken place on the Curragh of Kildare since prehistoric times, it was in 1696 that the first KING'S PLATES – 2 worth £100 each – were run on the Curragh. Two years later travel writer JOHN DUNTON recorded his impressions. “We soon came to the Curragh so much noised here. It is a very large plain covered in most places with heath; it is said to be five and twenty miles round. This is the NEWMARKET of  Ireland, where the horse races are run, and also hunting matches are made, there being a great supply of hares, and more game for hawking, all of which are carefully preserved. . . on this noble plain.”
If the Curragh of Kildare stood comparison with Newmarket in 1698, it is reasonable to assume that it had existed as a major racing centre well before 1696 when those King's Plates were presented.
But the SHEEP FARMERS and the RACING MEN were not to have the Curragh to themselves. In 1709 occurred the first record of ARMY manoeuvres on the Curragh, under Lord Cutts. This development was welcomed by local farmers, who found a ready market for horse fodder, hay and oats. For the time being, anyway, those ARMY summer manoeuvres could be ignored by the RACING MEN. After all, they never lasted for very long and left no permanent mark on the landscape.
The Curragh continued to develop as the racing centre of Ireland, with the great and the good beginning to build their RACING LODGES round the periphery of the Curragh. The earliest known engraving of a horse race on the Curragh dates from 1752.
THE COFFEE HOUSE in Kildare was marked on John Roque's 1757 map, though not completed until 1759. Measuring 40 feet by forty feet, it stood 3 storeys high and was built by subscriptions from the racing fraternity. It was one of Kildare's finer buildings.
Lord Chief Baron EDWARD WILLES visited Kildare in 1760, providing this account. “A very pretty town by means of the gentlemen belonging to the Kildare Hunt. Their number sixty-one, and most of the gentlemen have built for themselves little pretty lodges in the town for the convenience of hunting. I came to the Curragh of Kildare, which is the NEW MARKET of Ireland, and I am afraid as much money betted there as at New Market. 'Tis a plain belonging to the king, of about fifteen miles in circumference. I never saw a finer turf; the sports say the sod exceeds that of New Market.”
Agriculturalist ARTHUR YOUNG added his praise in 1777, describing the Curragh as “a plain sheep walk of above 4,000 English acres, forming a more beautiful lawn than the hand of art ever made.”
At the same time the first reference occurs to a STAND HOUSE on the Curragh. While we know a lot about the COFFEE HOUSE – even if no pictorial record survives – we know nothing of the origins or construction of the original STAND HOUSE.
The MILITARY returned to the Curragh in some force in 1783, when the IRISH VOLUNTEERS raised and held a REVIEW on the Curragh – the Dublin soldiery were transported by the Grand Canal, opened three years earlier. 50,000 spectators were said to have witnessed the Review.
The TURF CLUB was founded in 1790, thereby pre-dating the ENGLISH JOCKEY CLUB. The first Irish Racing Calendar was also published in 1790.
In 1796 six canons were dispatched from Dublin, to assist the High Sheriff in “prostrating the numerous cabins that had been illegally built on the common.”

This might be said to mark the first occasion on which the MILITARY and the SHEEP FARMERS came into direct conflict, for it seems reasonable to assume that the illegal cabins had been put up to house shepherds tending their flocks.
Two years later there was a much more dramatic confrontation – if that's the right word to describe what became known as the 'Gibbet Rath Massacre'.
In 1804 the MILITARY returned once more, this time in vast numbers. Between 13,000 and 16,000 troops were stationed on the Curragh “in light marching order and ready to move at short notice.” Their presence was not so much due to unrest in Ireland as to the Napoleonic Wars. The Battle of Trafalgar took place the following year.
In 1807 the MILITARY changed tack apropos a permanent presence on the Curragh. Water had always been a problem – three Draw wells were sufficient for the indigenous populace, but quite inadequate for thousands of troops and their horses. Instead, the MILITARY opted to build a barracks in what was to become NEWBRIDGE, while still adjacent to the Curragh for exercises. At that time the Curragh of Kildare was under the control of the commissioner of His Majesty's WOODS AND FORESTS AND LAND REVENUES.
Alive to the danger the TURF CLUB used its social influence to get the newly-crowned GEORGE IV to visit the Curragh in the course of his 1821 Royal Visit. Denis Bowes Daly of ATHGARVAN LODGE, many times leading owner, Turf Club Senior Steward and a personal friend of His Majesty, secured the King's consent.
By this time the STAND HOUSE was in a parlous state. It mirrored the economic recession in Ireland in the aftermath of WATERLOO, which brought the Napoleonic Wars to a close.
In his book HORSES, LORDS & RACING MEN – brought out to mark the Turf Club's bi-centenary in 1990 – Fergus D'Arcy commented on the composition of the Committee that was formed to renovate the STAND HOUSE in a hurry. The Duke of Leinster, principal landowner in Kildare, was not a member of the Turf Club. Maurice Prendergast was Senior Steward and Robert Brown Curragh Ranger. In D'Arcy's words: “the composition of the Committee acknowledged the fact that while the Turf Club was the organising body of racing, its actual jurisdiction on the Curragh was one of CUSTOM, not law or right.”
Despite the dreadful weather and the King's unfortunate attack of the 'nimblewherries' the Royal Visit to the Curragh was judged a success. His Majesty presented the Royal Whip, which is still run for to the present day.
ROBERT BROWNE, in his role as Curragh Ranger, had more than the royal visit on his plate. Local landowners – notably the lords Sligo, Cremorne and Rossmore – demanded he take action to protect their rights against “vast numbers of persons, perfect strangers, who have fed and pastured large flocks of sheep and cattle on said Curragh without any right to do so. . . to so great an extent as to render the Curragh almost useless. All three were prominent members of the Turf Club and had horses in training. So they were complaining not just as farmers but as racing men as well.

ROBERT BROWNE got little solace from Dublin Castle, reminded that the Curragh Ranger's duty was to the Crown, not to private persons.
The TURF CLUB decided to take measures into their own hands to protect the racecourses and training grounds by enclosing them. EDWARD RUTHVEN, MP – although a Turf Club member himself – became alarmed at the civil unrest that enclosure could provoke. He persuaded the Kildare Grand Jury to create a new office – CONSERVATOR OF THE CURRAGH. Graydon Medlicott, whose family had been in Kildare since the 16th century, was appointed, his salary to be paid by a tax levied on local landowners. The necessary legislation was based on Acts of 1791 and 1796 safeguarding the rights of commonage on the Curragh.
The Commissioner of WOODS & FORESTS wasn't on for this. He applied successfully to the King's Bench to have the office of Conservator abolished in 1836.
And so it rumbled on. In 1841 Robert Browne, Curragh Ranger, wrote to Charles Gore, one of the Commissioners of WOODS & FORESTS. “There is no document or record in the office of the Turf Club or elsewhere by which it can be ascertained when the Stand House on the Curragh was built. There is no lease or instrument in existence from the Crown to the proprietors of the Stand House.”
In plain language the RACING MEN had got themselves ensconced on Crown lands – and nobody could say how.
Another threat to the Curragh of Kildare appeared in 1843 – the IRON HORSE. Railways actually spread out far faster across Ireland than they were doing in Britain in the 1840s and the Great Southern & Western Railway Company sensed profit in laying a line from Dublin to Tipperary. The most direct – and therefore least expensive – route lay across the Curragh of Kildare. The proposed route would effectively bisect the Curragh plain. In doing so it would also bisect the Royal racecourse.
The RANGER and the TURF CLUB were aghast. This railroad proposal threatened the very existence of the Curragh. Intensive political lobbying ensured that the new menace was rerouted, behind the Stand House, away from the existing racecourses and embanked to obscure the track from view. However, it did result in creating what we know today as the LITTLE CURRAGH, or Curragh Beag.
Negotiating on behalf of the Turf Club, the Marquess of Waterford played an absolute blinder. Indeed, he got the GS&WR to fund the construction of a whole new Stand House, in addition to endowing what is still known as the Railway Stakes. The new Stand House was completed by 1853.
Oh, there were other headaches, as D'Arcy records. “A major problem had developed, with local farmers collecting and drawing huge heaps of manure, causing offensive sights and smells, starving the grass and damaging the surface by skimming. By that stage about 20,000 sheep were grazing the Curragh. One hundred years later less than half that number was said to constitute overgrazing.”
However, the incursion of the railway and the actions of the sheep farmers were nothing to what happened next. . .

The MILITARY returned to the Curragh. And how! The Ranger and the Turf Club found themselves powerless to safeguard the Curragh for racing and training in the face of this threat. What was worse, the authorities – the Crown – totally failed to define the legal jurisdiction of both parties – the MILITARY and the RACING MEN.
The demands of the Crimean War necessitated increasing the strength of the Army. Lieutenant-Colonel H.W. Lugard, Royal Engineers, was ordered to construct a permanent camp to accommodate 10,000 men. Water was sourced at 54 feet. Two thousand were employed in the camp's construction. A postmark – 'The Curragh Camp' – dated August 1855 proved that the new camp had been commissioned.
Curiously, the Army had no plans of former military occupations of the Curragh. Nevertheless, before being transferred to Hong Kong, Lugard had completed the construction of a military town, including hospitals, library, churches, courthouse and recreational facilities on the Curragh's Long Hill. Lugard died in Hong Kong on 30 November 1857, while making the necessary preparations and arrangements as Commanding Engineer for the attack on Canton.
Lord Waterford successfully resisted the claims of the War Office to have the old Stand House put at the disposal of the Royal Engineers. Unfortunately, his premature death in 1859 was to deprive the Turf Club of its most influential protector.
When the Curragh Camp had been completed it was understood that it would be used intensively for drill from April to September and otherwise maintained by a skeleton staff.

However, as Con Costello was to write: “As the strategy of waging war evolved so did the tactics, and the expanse of the plain accommodated the innovations of the tacticians. From the mass movement of man and horse to the employment of mechanism, armoured vehicles and the mass expansion of trench warfare the short grass was constantly fought over, for the next 65 years.”
It was not until 1859 that a Memorandum was drawn up, finalizing legal arrangements to transfer part of the Curragh lands from the Crown to the War Department, whereby the latter confirmed “Her majesty's right to about 4,000 acres in the County of Kildare and subject to such rights of pasturage and common if any as are now legally exercisable thereon.” However, this did not pass into law.
Two years later Queen Victoria conferred royal status on the new Curragh Camp when Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, was posted there. Unfortunately, it didn't work out too well for either the Prince or his Mama. The Prince was deflowered by an actress smuggled in for that purpose, contracting venereal disease that rendered him unfit for marriage. Prince Albert, his father, caught a fatal chill while reprimanding his errant son. Mama never forgave Edward for precipitating her husband's death.
But that was an internal affair, of no particular interest – other than prurient – to the Turf Club. They faced another threat – to the very continuation of racing on the Curragh.

Caretaker Patrick Fahey told the Commissioners of Woods & Forests that “Gun carriages cut the Curragh Turf like a ploughshare.” On the third day of the 1861 September Meeting General sir George Brown “commanded a battery of Armstrong guns to be planted on the course and the cavalry to charge over it and thereby reduced it to the condition of a ploughed field.”

The General's antics held up racing for an hour and the newspaper reporter could scarcely believe this “outrage to the wishes of the leading turf men of our country. We should have thought that the drilling and harassing of the troops for the last month would have entitled them to a holiday during the three days set apart for racing.”

The Office of Woods & Forests remained adamant that compensation was the responsibility of the War Department.
Not content with disrupting racing, General Sir George Brown returned to the offensive in 1862 when he proposed to remove all the gorse from the Curragh. Every other interested party rose up in arms. The trainers were terrified that the remaining roots and stumps would injure their horses. The sheep men claimed the gorse essential for sheltering their sheep. The Kildare Hunt protested at the obliteration of their fox coverts.

Ranger Browne successfully lobbied Whitehall to thwart the General, who proposed to employ military labour in his quest to eliminate all furze from the Curragh. Fortunately, Ranger Browne carried the day.
In 1863 the Turf Club and the War Department went head-to-head. Walsh's Hill gallops had been reduced to a regular swamp. The Flat Rath had been severely damaged by trenching. The Jockey Hall gallops – once the best on the Curragh – had been rendered almost useless due to Ball Firing. Robert Hunter, Keeper of the Match Book for the Turf Club, reported: “From an experience of upwards of forty years I never saw the Curragh in anything like the condition it is now in and the training grounds, Queen's Plate and other Courses are in many places unfit to be worked and raced upon.”
Attack, they say, can be the best means of defence. Cornewall Lewis, Secretary for War, put it up to the Turf Club to inform him as to “what is the nature and rights of the Turf Club on the Curragh.” He did so in the knowledge that the War Department had still not agreed any form of lease with the Office of Woods & Forests.
In 1864 the Office of Woods & Forests offered the Army a lease. The Army declined, seeking instead 'guardianship' of the Curragh.
Ranger Brown inevitably became embroiled in what was now open warfare. He complained to the Office of Woods & Forests that “The Stewards of the Turf Club appear to wish to convert the permissive privileges enjoyed by them into a right and to exercise this right independently of the Crown and its officers which they have no right whatever to assume.
Luckily, the Office of Woods & Forests adopted a conciliatory stance informing the Ranger “The Turf Club must, for the sake of the interests they represent, keep the courses (other than the Royal course) in proper order.”
The controversy got to the House of Commons in 1865. Sir Robert Peel contended that the Curragh was Crown property. Colonel Dunne, MP for Queen's County, disagreed. “The Crown has no rights whatever over the Curragh and the move was an atrocious invasion of public property. Whereas Aldershot had been purchased at great cost, the Curragh has been usurped. It belongs to the Irish people.”
Lord Dunkellin supported the honourable member for Queen's County. He said that it had been known for many years that the Government had faulty title and thus no right to transfer the Curragh to the War department. “The Curragh,” he declared, “is a place of national renown and ought not to be cut up and destroyed. The bargain which the Government in about to make is not only illegal, but would be most obnoxious to the whole country.”
Lord Naas's views earned him a leader in the Leinster Express. Clearly the Military occupation was intended to oust every other interest. The loss of so much grazing was unacceptable. Racing had already suffered. The country could not consent to two such usurpations. Even the office of Curragh Ranger was in danger of being abolished.
The government established the Curragh Commission of Enquiry. It sat in 1866. Major Edmund Mansfield, a member of that commission, later told Lord Walter Fitzgerald, “When the Crimean War broke out in 1854, the military authorities established a camp of instruction on the Curragh without asking the permission of anyone, the idea being that it was only a temporary arrangement.”
On pasturage and commonage, the commission concluded that since St Brigid's time “the dwellers round the Curragh claim and enjoy the rights of pasture which St Brigid and the angels won for them.”
Lord Strathnairn, GOC Curragh Camp, did not miss his opportunity, telling the Commission: “the military and the sheep-owners benefit and accommodate each other, and the poor people of the district (those with rights on the Curragh) believe that the Curragh is their own still, and St Brigid's will is not undone.”
Over the 8 days that the Commission sat no fewer than 23 solicitors and or agents represented the interested parties. The Turf Club's representative scored a badly-needed hit when he successfully showed that through permission given to the Club House in Kildare, the Stewards of the Turf Club could exercise rights over the gallops and courses. He backed up this claim by producing leases to the Marquess of Waterford and the Marquess of Conyngham for the Turf Club and to the Baron de Robeck for the Kildare Hunt.
The upshot was the 'Act to make better provision for the Management and Use of the Curragh of Kildare' in 1868. The Act confirmed the status of the Curragh Ranger – by now the Marquess of Drogheda. He was to care, manage and preserve the plain, appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, not by the Secretary for War.
Moreover, the Curragh was divided into three designated areas – Brown Lands, Blue Lands and Green Lands. The BROWN Lands covered the site of the Curragh Camp (575 acres); the BLUE Lands defined the rifle grounds at 463 acres, while the GREEN Lands formed the residue. The military were henceforth to be confined to the Brown and Blue Lands. However, in times of emergency the Green Lands were to become available to the military for reviews, drills and recreation BY WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE LORD LIEUTENANT.
Lord Strathnairn voiced his displeasure at the racing fraternity having what he described as “a direct line to the highest level of the Irish government.”
He was even more unhappy when the Lord Lieutenant – the Duke of Abercorn – aired his views. “What is required is that a portion of the Curragh should be set apart wholly and entirely for the purpose of racing: that the care of that portion of the Curragh should, without prejudice to the rights of pasture, be given up entirely to the Turf Club.”
Abercorn felt that the Turf Club should have similar control over that portion of the Curragh to that enjoyed by the Jockey Club over Newmarket Heath. “The granting of this boon to the Turf Club would only be a fair equivalent for the very serious interference with their gallops and exercise grounds which has taken place in consequence of the constant presence of a large military force on the Curragh.”
Better still – on 27 May 1869 a text was signed on behalf of the Crown and the Turf Club conferring a lease to the Turf Club giving the right to race and train horses over the Green Lands – the western section of the Curragh, bounded on the south by the Dublin-Limerick road, for a rent of £5 a year, subject to rights of common and rights of way.
The army might have lost that battle, but they hadn't lost the war. In 1871 they commenced a major reconstruction programme throughout the Curragh Camp, whereby the old wooden and mineral felt roofs were replaced by brick and slate.
Thirty years later – in 1901 – the Curragh camp was designated Divisional HQ, as it was to remain until 1922. That same year the Army made one last bid for outright victory. In July the War Office proposed to acquire the whole of the grazing rights on the Curragh, with a view to their extinction, only to be reminded that the Turf Club had statutory rights there. The Army was further advised that, although the Turf Club's rights were revocable by the Crown, such revocation was unlikely “unless racing on the Curragh comes to an end from other causes.” Otherwise, the Turf Club's 99-year lease, concluded with the Crown in 1882, would have to run its course.
Still the Army persisted and it was not until 1905 that they abandoned their attempts, realising that the Turf Club had successfully lobbied Lord Dudley, the Lord Lieutenant.
Ironically, the final military damage on the Curragh was caused by the War of Independence.
Two years later, as a consequence of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the lands of the Curragh passed from the Crown to the Minister for Finance and subsequently to the Minister for Defence, administered by his Department's property management branch under the Curragh of Kildare Acts.
On 16 May 1922 the Curragh Camp was formally handed over to the Irish Free State Army. One witness was the future Sister Veronica Treacy, then aged 10. Many, many years later Sister Veronica recalled a snatch of conversation overheard outside a Newbridge pub as the British marched away. “That's the end of them, thank God. Now we can fight away in peace among ourselves!” 

George Wolfe TD, the last holder of the historic post of Curragh ranger appointed by the British Crown, died in 1941. The post was then held until 1961 by the chairman of the Office of Public Works, by appointment of the Minister for Finance.
In 1961 the Curragh of Kildare Act abolished the office of Curragh Ranger, at the same time reapportioning the Brown, Blue and Green Lands. The Brown Lands shrank to 77 acres, while the Blue Lands expanded to 815 acres and the Green Lands diminished marginally from 3,382 acres to 3,284 acres. In preparation for the staging of the inaugural Irish Hospitals' Sweepstakes Irish Derby in 1962 the Act empowered the enclosure of the entire racecourse area and the extermination of all grazing rights therein.
Con Costello published his 'A Most Delightful Station' in 1996, recording the history of the Curragh Camp from its creation in 1855 until its handover in 1922. He concluded on an optimistic note. “The classification of the entire Curragh of Kildare as a National monument in 1995, and the proposal to designate as a National Heritage Area, must surely herald a more concerned approach to the use of the celebrated sward. With the good will of the sheep-owners, the horse owners and the military, combined with the interest of the County Council, local residents and the public at large, it is to be hoped that the official confirmation of the scientific and archaeological importance of the plain will ensure that what remains of St Brigid's open pastureland will be respected and its uniqueness safeguarded for generations yet to come.”
Con lived just long enough to contribute an important essay to 'Kildare History & Society', published in 2006. In his piece – John O'Donovan's Curragh – Con quoted from the Department for Defence's report of 2005. Acknowledging the 4,870 acres therein, it declared: “taking the cultural and natural facets of the Curragh together, it is very possibly the only landscape of its kind in the world. . . the area of the Curragh Lands has been used by the military for many hundred years. Various eras of military involvement in the area have resulted in damage to the lands vis-a-vis its status as an open plain, but much of this damage, i.e. Trench fortifications, pillboxes, ranges, etc., is now part and parcel of the plains as they exist today. The Board would be concerned with ensuring that no needless or wilful damage would be caused by any military activity in the future.”
And so say all of us.
Thank you all for your patience and courtesy.
Clancy, Padraig – Kildare – History & Society, Geography Publications, 2006
Costello, Con – Kildare – Saints, Soldiers & Horses, Leinster Leader, 1991
Costello, Con – A Most Delightful Station, Collins Press, 1996
Costello, Con – Kildare – History & Society, Geography Publications, 2006
D'Arcy, Fergus  - Horses, Lords and Racing Men, The Turf Club, 1991
The Curragh – A Lifetime of Memories – Curragh Local History Group, 1997
The Curragh Revisited – Curragh Local History Group, 2002

[I posted this on the EHistory website also but as it has a special significance to Kildare Town I felt it should also be on the Grey Abbey site. Great to see yet another packed house at the Cill Dara Historical Society Meeting; a very enjoyable evening]

Posted by mariocorrigan at 02:33 PM

June 12, 2007

COUNTY INFIRMARY - Proposed closure 1959

[Copied from typed copy provided by Stephen Talbot from original notes of meeting in November 1959 in Stephen Talbot's possession]

Proposed closing of Kildare County Infirmary.

Public Meeting in C.Y.M.S. Hall Kildare
At 8 p.m. 3rd November 1959.

Report of Proceedings.

Opening the meeting, the Chairman Colonel Rea said:-

“This meeting, as you know, has been called to discuss the proposal to close the County Infirmary.  It is indicative of the interest to see such a large gathering present, but before opening the meeting I would make one earnest appeal – to approach this whole problem, coolly, calmly and in a reasonable manner.  I know the way feeling is going, but I think it is better for everybody if we are quite cool about the way in which we approach the subject.  Another point I will stress is that the matter is completely above politics.  Do not let us have politics in it.  I am sure that is the wish of everybody I have been speaking to.

There are a lot of people who want to express views on this matter.  At a meeting such as this there is always a distinct probability that we would jump up and say things for which afterwards we would be sorry, so it is for that reason, and reason only, I regretfully announce to the Press that from now on this meeting is in Committee.  At the end of the meeting we will give the Press a statement and any information they require.  I hope they will accept that.

The way I propose to run the meeting is to call on a number of people to express their views, then we will give a period of general discussion and for people who have not been called on to say what they may wish to say.  If, at the end of that discussion there are any points requiring clarification, we will frame questions and put them to our Council members.  Again, it is completely up to them.  We will not embarrass them in any way, but if they are able and willing to answer out questions we will be pleased if they would do so.  If at the end of the question time period the meeting feels like formulating a resolution we will formulate it – then you can from the body of the hall give the action to be take on such resolution.

With that, I think it is best to start straight away to get the views.  It might be just as well to set the course.  The first comment is this and I think it is a fair comment – that the first indication that the general public got of this proposal to close the County Hospital, was in the press.  Following on that I and most people here I think, have been discussing this whole problem and I think the reaction can be summed up briefly by saying that the people of this district have been deeply shocked that such a proposal should go through.  Having said that I will say no more, and will hand over the discussion to the various speakers and to start off I will call on our Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Swayne:

Proposed Closing of Kildare County Infirmary.

Speaker:  Very Rev. Fr. Swayne. P.P.

For a long time past the people of Kildare have been familiar with and concerned about conditions in Kildare Hospital, the correct and official title by the way is St. Brigid’s Hospital.  One does not need to be an Engineer or a Doctor, and one had not to wait for last week’s Leinster Leader to be informed of the defects from which the hospital suffered.  The people of Kildare were perfectly aware of these already.  It was humiliating for them to realise that though the hospital had made considerable progress in recent years, it had not kept pace with the general rate of progress of hospitals throughout the country.  They could not but know that these defects were due to the neglect of the County Council to equip the hospital adequately for the purpose it has served for so many years, namely the Surgical Hospital for Co. Kildare.  All are agreed as to the handicap under which the hospital has worked for these years, but notwithstanding those handicaps, nobody has suggested that the Co. Surgeon and his staff have not carried out their work with the utmost efficiency, or that they did not deserve the tribute which the Co. manager paid them at the Council Meeting last Monday 26th.

Frequently during the past eight years the organisations of the Parish have discussed these defects, and efforts were made to induce those responsible to remedy them.  We readily acknowledge that Kildare Co. Council have a high standard of courtesy towards the public, and of efficiency in all fields under their care.  The people of Kildare were always assured that a general scheme of hospitalisation – that was the magic word – was being prepared, or if it was not being actually prepared, it was at least in contemplation.  This scheme would be very broad; it might even embrace Co. Carlow and of course St. Brigid’s Hospital would fit perfectly into this general scheme; that nothing however could be done at the moment; we would have to wait until the New Manager, or New Minister, or the New Co. Council took up duty.  Soft words such as these had a soothing, in fact a soporific effect on the people of Kildare, but within the past week they had a rude awakening.  They realise that the grandiose scheme that was being contemplated was to leave Kildare Town and Kildare County without a Surgeon and without a Surgical Hospital.

It appears that last April the new Co. Surgeon – Mr. Ward was asked to report on the surgical facilities in Co. Kildare and to recommend thereon.  In his report Mr. Ward referred to the principal defects in St. Brigid’s Hospital, defects which he has since pointed out are to be met with in other surgical hospitals as well, and he expressed his preference for St. Mary’s Hospital Naas as a suitable surgical unit.  The Co. Council’s reaction to this report was to move their Office Staffs into St. Mary’s Hospital last April.  While nobody grudges the Co. Council’s Staff their present comfortable quarters, there is no indication as to when they will vacate them again.  With these facts in mind, Mr. Ward again turns his thought to Kildare and in April last he recommended that at least a Lift should be installed in St. Brigid’s Hospital.  This recommendation Mr. Ward states has been ignored.

With the Council Staff happily housed at St. Mary’s Hospital the Co. Manager too turns his thought to St. Brigid’s Co. Surgical Hospital at Kildare.  At last Monday’s meeting he told the Co. Council of the conditions which he found in St. Brigid’s Hospital and which had been described in Mr. Ward’s report.  It should not have been necessary to tell the Co. Council of conditions in St. Brigid’s it was their plain duty to have ascertained these conditions for themselves and have remedied them long ago.  But they felt humiliated at the recital of these defects which only showed up their own neglect.  They shared in the alarm of the Co. Manager who took care to tell them that the cost per day of a patient in Dublin was 11/1d lower than in Kildare.  This was a bait they easily swallowed.  By 15 votes to 2 they adopted the Co. Manager’s suggestion that they should close Kildare as a Surgical Hospital and send the surgical patients in future to Dublin or Portlaoise.

On reading the Press report, Mr. Ward wrote protesting at the use that had been made of his report.  He justly complains that his letters had been used to represent him as having recommended that Kildare be left without a Surgical Hospital.  It is now clear that Mr. Ward recommended nothing of the sort.  But everybody will agree that in the light of Mr. Ward’s statement, the proceedings of last Monday’s meeting place the Co. Council in a very unfavourable position.  On the other hand he considers that the decision to abandon St. Brigid’s as a Surgical Hospital is ill-advised.  In the short time he has been in Kildare he readily recalls a number of patients who might not have survived if they had to travel further than Kildare for attention.

On Friday last the very day Mr. Ward’s letter appeared, the Co. Kildare Branch of the Irish Medical Association met and passed the following resolution:-
“The Kildare Branch of the Irish Medical Association views with great concern the proposal of Kildare Co. Council to close the Co. Hospital as a Surgical Hospital.”

“They regret that such a serious proposal should be made without reference to the Consultative Committee or the Medical practitioners of the County.”

“There are many grave aspects, such as treatment of acute surgical emergencies and road accidents requiring immediate blood transfusions, which, we feel, cannot be satisfactorily dealt with under the proposed arrangements.  Furthermore, the absence of a surgical consultant within the county is a serious disadvantage to patients and doctors alike.”

“We further feel that such a far reaching decision should not be made so hastily and that the existing arrangements should be continued.”

After the authoritative statements of Mr. Ward and the Co. Kildare I.M.A. there should be no further room for loose thinking or loose talking such as was indulged in at the last meeting of the County Council, Members of which must now regret their premature pronouncements on medical matters.

The picture which the Co. Manager painted of the Co. Surgeon getting suddenly sick while an emergency or unconscious patient was brought to hospital could hardly have impressed anybody.  Less impressive perhaps was the picture drawn by a Councillor of a man who is hanging by a thread between life and death, for whom the implied remedy was to send him an extra twenty or thirty miles to Dublin or Portlaoise: that surely would afford instant relief to the patient, and no doubt also the ratepayer.

More startling still was the statement of the Athy Councillors that 99% of the people of Athy would prefer to go to Dublin.  I have no way of assessing opinion in Athy, but I surely will be permitted to disclose my own experience.  During the past eight years, I have met scores of Athy patients in St. Brigid’s Hospital: they were all delightful people: I never heard one of them complain that he or she was compelled to come to Kildare in preference to Dublin, or that he or she was compelled to remain there.  The County Manager has made this clear.  It seems to me that when he instructed the Co. Surgeon to send to another hospital any patient he felt he was unable to handle, he was only continuing and sanctioning the practice of years past.  Special cases have always been sent to special hospitals in Dublin for special surgical treatment.

The Dublin hospitals are often found to be full to capacity and patients have to wait for beds.  The visiting hours at Dublin hospitals are and have to be more restricted than at Kildare.  It is hard to believe that that the people of Athy do not appreciate being able after their day’s work to visit their friends at Kildare hospital.  May we suggest to the Kildare Councillors that they should consider canvassing Athy opinion on this matter.

The people of Kildare do not accept the Co. Managers statement that a lift cannot be installed at St. Brigid’s Hospital.  For one thing the Manager does not quote any Architects opinion.  It is just as well perhaps.

It is difficult too to understand his statement that in the event of a Fire at the hospital, surgical and bed-ridden patients could not be got out.  What then is the purpose of the two huge concrete structures that were erected at the rear of the hospital within the past four years?  To ordinary eyes they look to be Fire-Escapes.  The Co. Manager proposes that St. Brigid’s should be continued as a Medical Hospital.  Does he wish us to believe that these Fires-Escapes which appear to be triumphs of architecture and engineering are inadequate for surgical patients but quite adequate for medical patients.

Notwithstanding last Monday’s meeting everybody will find it hard to believe, as I for one do not believe, that these are the real sentiments of the County Manager and the County Council.  We do not believe that they ever intended to deprive Kildare County, or Kildare Town for that matter of full surgical facilities.  We endorse the statement of Mr. Ward and the Co. Kildare Irish Medical Association and request:

1) That St. Brigid’s Hospital be retained as a County Surgical Hospital.
2) That St. Brigid’s Hospital be adequately equipped and the defects indicated by Mr. Ward be removed viz.

a) Additional accommodation be provided.
b) A lift be installed
c) The theatre facilities improved
d) Facilities for outdoor clinic be provided.

Rev. Dean Eaton

Rev. Fathers, Mr. Chairman, ladies & Gentlemen,

“Father Swayne is a jump ahead of me.  He has said some of the things I intended to say, but I may have a few other things to put before you.

The County Council, we should remember, is elected by us and yet there are people I regretfully say who regard the continued existence of the County Council as a grave public scandal.  I do not agree with that at all.  They have always been extremely courteous to me, very kind and helpful in every way.  Whenever I had a deputation or wanted work done, they always did it for me.  They always listened patiently to me.  We ought to remember that and I would like that recorded.

It gives me considerable pain then to disagree with the County Council’s decision to close the hospital.  I think the closing of our hospital here would be a disaster.  Furthermore, it would be unlucky.  I am full of superstitions.  I will have nothing to do with pulling down a church as long as there is somebody to worship, and I will have nothing to do with shutting down Kildare Hospital.  I think it does wonderful work.

It is said that the building is old.  There are three National Hospitals in Dublin that are far older and they are most efficiently run to the satisfaction of the public.  As you know, Dr. Cannon and the physicians of this town have done wonderful work in reconstructing this hospital.  We owe Dr. Cannon a great debt of gratitude.  I am not a builder or a surgeon and it seems to me that it would be the simplest thing to cut down the width of the various flights of stairs – they are 6 ft. wide and most stairs are 2 ½ feet wide – and to install a lift.  The theatre, to my uninstructed mind, is adequate and up to date.  The anesthetics are all at the head of the table, the instruments are to hand, there is a very powerful system of lighting – these are important facts to remember.

I have been connected with this hospital for over 25 years and I have been one of the Chaplains for the last seven years.  I have been in every hospital in Dublin save two or three, and I say that this hospital is as good as any of them.  The Staff – Surgeon, Medical Officers of the town, Matron, Sisters, Nursing Staff and everybody from our good friends at the door to the people who cook the food are first-class and I think small enquiry will prove that.  People say that I am prejudiced because I have a gra for the nuns.  I have a gra for them and I propose to go on having it.  I think that they are very wonderful people and that they have been kindness itself.  The patients tell me that they, the patients, are quite warm in their beds, that they are comfortable and that the food is good and there is an atmosphere of cheerfulness throughout.  This is a matter of vital importance to the patient and to everybody concerned.

To take the case of accidents – I should suggest to you and I say it would reference to religion, that before crossing Claregate Street we ought all to say a short prayer, because a fast car coming from the South, while it may not kill us may injure us and we could find ourselves in Mr. Murphys’s parlour spoiling his carpet while we await the coming of the ambulance and we get the best spiritual and bodily aid.  But suppose we do not have our hospital – suppose it is closed – and one of us should have an accident.  Again we find ourselves in Mr. Murphy’s parlour, destroying his carpet, and being left there for hours-waiting for the bus from Cahirciveen or Skibbereen to take us to Belfast.

Mr. Ward’s last words – and I do not say that in the religious sense – as reported in the Leinster Leader, were that he knew of several cases of people who would have died if the ambulance had by-passed Kildare Hospital – that he could not visualise Kildare without a hospital.  So Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you that you ought to fight for your hospital.  May we be able to retain it and I pray that God’s blessing will rest upon its work and everybody in it.”

At this point, the Chairman requested subsequent speakers to try to confine their remarks to about five minutes as he wished to confine the length of the meeting.

Mr. Weir

“Rev Fathers, Rev. Dean, Ladies and Gentleman.

I follow in very difficult footsteps.  We have had two most excellent and pointed speeches which have brought home to us all the importance of the very vital issue at stake.  I will not say very much – I will keep it to five minutes anyhow.

I came here on 21st May 1937.  I arrived to find that there had been a serious accident at the factory on the previous day, as a result of which a man, but for the skill of Dr. Cannon would certainly have lost a finger, perhaps a hand.  From that day to this, I have always received the most courteous help at the hospital from the resident surgeon, no matter who he was, from the matron and nursing staff and from all the medical gentlemen of Kildare town.  I want you to visualise what would happen to us tomorrow if the hospital was closed and a similar set of circumstances arose.  That is only a very minor detail when compared with life. It might be the life of a man or woman that is at stake, and we don’t want any ‘last words’ such as have been referred to by the Dean.  The only thing I can say is this – there was a parable about two brothers.  The Lord told one brother to do a job and he said he would do it and went off and did not do it.  The other brother said that he would not do it and he did it.  I believe here that we here can bring pressure to bear on the County Council, the County Manager and all concerned that the things they said they would do they will not and our hospital will be kept open.”

Introducing the next speaker, Colonel Rea pointed out that Mr. Smith has had associations with Kildare Hospital for many years.  It was Mr. Smith who had provided the data for the short history which had been in circulation.

Mr. Michael Smith.

“Mr. Chairman, Rev. Father, Rev. Dean, Ladies and Gentleman.

I have been associated with this Kildare Hospital for a very long time.  I became a member of the Kildare Infirmary Committee in 1920 and I have been associated with the Hospital ever since, both on the infirmary Committee,  The Board of Health, the County Council and lately as a member of the County Health Committee.  Like the other speakers here, I was very much surprised to learn from the Press that the hospital had been abolished.  There is no doubt at all that if it is closed as a Surgical Hospital there will be no further use for it.

A lot of matters have been spoken of here.  I just wish to say that when I became a member of Kildare Hospital Committee, it was a voluntary hospital – the people of Kildare kept it open.  The one matter we have to remember is that the Kildare Hospital is the property of the people of Kildare.  In the old days they got no grant.  When I became a member of the Committee, they were a voluntary committee.  At that time they had a very excellent Ladies Committee who worked very hard collecting and running entertainments and dances to keep the hospital going.  The only grant at the time was a small one to pay the Surgeon’s salary.  Those of us on the Committee at the time decided that we would look for a further grant and that we got, to pay Dr. Coady who was working for a ‘starvation’ salary at the time.  We met monthly and made rulings.  The late Mr. Charles Bergin was Honorary Secretary and our Parish Priest was Chairman and it was carried on as a voluntary hospital until 1933 when Kildare County Council took it over.  At that time a number of members of Kildare Infirmary Committee objected to it being taken over.  They believed that the time would come when it would be closed.  They had their suspicions that when Kildare County Council took it over it might be closed.

The Hospital is a very old building – 192 years since it was established.  It is a historic building.  During 1798 it was taken over by the North Cork Militia (1) as a Barracks and after all, the very fact of it being placed in Kildare proved even at that time that Kildare was the best place for it.  After the Rebellion, it was transferred to Naas, then it was brought back again to Kildare.  After it being taken over in 1949 we had a big fight to retain the hospital here, but the County Council at that time acted differently to our present Council – they fought for the Kildare Hospital – It was actually due to them that Kildare kept the County Surgical Hospital for this County.

As far as a visiting committee is concerned – we had a visiting committee. In conjunction with the Surgeon, the Matron and architect, made a number of suggestions for the improvement of the hospital during the past ten or twelve years.  A lot of matters were attended to.  Of course there was always the trouble of the operating theatre and the stairs.  It was brought to our notice that the operating theatre was too small – but we had surgeons like Drs. Coady and Cannon who carried out their work effectively and efficiently in it.  I think there is no other hospital which had a lower rate of mortality as far as operations were concerned.  Before Dr. Cannon went away, he called on me and other members of the Health Committee and suggested improvements.  He said that it would be a disaster if Kildare Hospital should be closed.  He had his suspicions that when he went, an attempt would be made to close Kildare Hospital.

We always had a great fight to try and keep Kildare Hospital but still at the same time what I cannot understand is this.  A number of the County Council Members are old members and know all about this fight for Kildare Hospital.  They knew of the complaints made by Drs. Coady and Cannon, and of course the same complaints were made by Mr. Ward. – and after all – they were not complaints – they were recommendations.  Mr. Ward made his recommendations to improve the Hospital.
There is no use in the County Manager making a statement about the stairs. The stairs was always there and yet there was no accident. We believe there can be a lift installed. We had a committee of medical men who made certain recommendations and one recommendation was that there could be a great operating theatre for £2000 – there could be a lesser one for £1500 and there could be a big improvement for £280, but the County Council would not grant that amount, but at the same time they are squandering thousands on jobs about the county. We believe at all times that there should be a grant from the Hospital Trust Fund. Co. Kildare got very little from the Hospital Trust fund though they buy their share of tickets.

What I object to is that members of the County Council take such little pride in their County. They were told to send their patients to Portlaoise, to Baltinglass and to Dublin. This county is as much entitled to a Surgical Hospital as Wicklow and Laois since we have a greater population and the members of the County Council should have fought for a County Hospital. Every other county has a county hospital, Leix, Offay, Meath – all with less population than Kildare therefore I can`t understand why fifteen members of the County Council who should have been interested in maintaining our hospital should vote against Kildare Co. Hospital.  I believe, and I am supported here by the other speakers that the people have the last word. Each one on the County Council is there to represent the people and I must say that both Councillors Dowling and Mc Wey are to be complimented at the fight they put up against the big odds on Monday week last, for the retention of our hospital. They showed that they do represent the people.

Whether the patients come from Athy or North Kildare, one thing in favour of Kildare Hospital is that the people could visit their relations there. People cannot afford to go to Dublin on visits. I believe that if we held a meeting in Athy we would find that 99% of the people of Athy would wish to come to Kildare Hospital. At a meeting in Droichead Nua last night, Monsignor Miller said that he could guarantee that as far as the people of Droichead Nua were concerned, they wished to come to Kildare Hospital. Therefore 100% of the people of Kildare want the Co. Hospital there”.

Mr. Felix Murphy

“Mr. Chairman, Rev. Fathers, Rev. Dean, Ladies and Gentlemen.

First of all I think I have been asked to speak as a native of this town, one born and reared in it. I think I should first of all take the opportunity of thanking our Parish Priest and Dean Eaton for the magnificent speeches they made and the effort they have made to win this cause for us.

Unlike Fr. Swayne, I have no speech prepared but I would say this much – I think I am expressing the view of all the people of the town when I say that this decision of the Council hit us in almost bewildering fashion, so much so, I could say with safety it shook the very foundations of life in our town for a few days until we got over it. Now the purpose of this meeting is very obvious. It is not to consider the merits of the County Council resolution. We are satisfied that the resolution should be rescinded. We do not want to lose our hospital as a surgical unit. I am sure there are very few families if any, that do not owe at one time or another their thanks to the hospital.

As far as I can judge, the meeting of the County Council to decide this issue was held in a very short time. One would think that a motion of this nature would call for very prolonged and serious discussion and consideration. If you read the report in the press you would come to the conclusion that this serious problem was decided almost in a manner of fifteen minutes or half an hour.

To come to business itself .The only valid reason as far as I am concerned and I speak on behalf of all of you, that would appear to exist for the closing down of the hospital, would be the question of the inadequacy; but surely those inadequacies are not so great that they cannot be overcome. A lift should be a very simple thing to install - and as regards an out-patients department and Childrens Ward - the ground is there and should be utilised.

Take the other side of the picture which Senator Smith was talking about. It is highly inconvenient to expect the people of Kildare to bring patients to Dublin or Portlaoise. This in the mind of the Co. Council could be done by ambulance, but you would want a fleet of ambulances fully equipped for this work. The idea of the County Council saying that you can hire a car is not feasible. Motor cars were not made to bring patients to hospital. Ambulances are specially constructed, specially sprung and equipped with a proper bed and they have proper nursing staff, which the patient may need on the way. These cannot be provided in a motor car. The suggestion that you can bring a patient to hospital in a car is a complete failure on the part of the County Council to fulfill its obligation to the public. I do not see personally any alternative in the resolution but I heard Fr. Swayne say that it would be continued as a medical hospital. There is nothing in the resolution about that. The resolution simply says that the hospital be discontinued as a surgical unit. Until we see some resolution from the County Council we cannot accept that.

I do not really think there is much more I can say. It seems extraordinary in these days when we have so many Social Services, Health Act, Social Welfare Department, Social Welfare Acts, Hospital Sweeps for some 30 years, surely it seems a dreadful thing that a county is asked to send their patients to other County Hospitals. You and I, all of us are working daily for the life of this country. I am not going to touch on politics but I think you will agree with me if I finish these words by saying that because if the work we are doing to satisfy legislators, surely we are entitled to a greater return from Local Government administration than the suggestion that we ought to run our county without a Surgical Hospital which has been there for so many years and has served the public with such great loyalty.

The Chairman then declared the meeting open for general discussion for ten or fifteen minutes.

Mr. Stephen Talbot

“I would like to say that it is a good thing that this has happened at the end of the tourist season or we would be the laughing stock of the World. If you drive up O’Connell Street any day you will see a huge poster ‘43 million for the hospitals.’ There are only 26 counties in this part of the country and surely out of the 43 million they can give something for Kildare Hospital and put in a lift. Take up today’s paper, you see the Irish Hospital Trust invested 1 million pounds in a loan; they give £5000 to a big race; they give £5000 to golf - of course all of these things are more important than the saving of life. I wonder what the tourists who buy these sweep tickets would say if they knew that Kildare Hospital must close because they cannot put a lift in or a ward for children or something like that. 

Mr. H. Darling

“I would say a few words on behalf of the old Infirmary. From this meeting I would say that one thing would originate - It might be a deputation to the County Council. But during my thirty years in Kildare there have been many deputations for various things. They have always been received but that is as far as it got. No further. In the old days the infirmary was run by the people. I now say, instead of pandering to the County Council, I would ask them to hand back our Hospital to us and we will run the infirmary on voluntary contributions.”

Mrs. O’Donoghue

“On behalf of the I.C.A. I would like to protest at the closing of the Kildare County Hospital and when I say this it is on behalf of all the families resident in the County.”

Mr. Joseph Whittle

“I would like to say a few words. I am not a Kildare man but about three years ago I was sent there for two days. I was not very sick but I was in severe pain. I was well able to eat. I ate all that I got. I was eventually transferred to a prominent Dublin Hospital. The surgeons were very efficient. I am not saying this for a joke. After being two days in bed I was weaker than when I went in. I am a country lad and I could eat anything I get. But I definitely could not eat anything I got at this Dublin Hospital. At 7 in the morning I got a piece of bread with no crusts on it- that same piece of bread came to me at eleven o ‘clock. That would never happen and did not happen in Kildare Infirmary.”

The Chairman

“We have heard a very fair expression of views. I have now a few queries which arise from the discussion and statements made. We will put them to our Councillors here. I do not want to embarrass them in any way. If they feel they should not answer any question then we should accept that. If they feel that they are able to answer, it might help to clear a number of points, because with an issue like this we are bound to have rumours and wrong slants. I will now put the questions”.

Q 1.   Were the Council fully briefed on all correspondence between the County     Surgeon and the County Manager.

A. Mr. Chairman, Rev. Fathers Ladies and Gentlemen. I do not propose to go into the pros and cons of this very vital question. My views are already known, but regarding the question that the Chairman has asked I will say this. The very first intimation that the Council as a body – I am speaking on behalf of my colleagues – received in connection with the closing of the hospital was at the meeting. Regarding the question if there were any correspondence between the Co. Surgeon and the County Manager the Council were not made aware of them. We at no time knew what was in the air. Certainly on Monday week last was the first time that we had any idea that the County Hospital was to be closed.

Q.2   There is a health Committee in the County. Is there any reason why that Committee was not called or consulted before this issue was put to the Council.

A. I would like to make it quite clear at this stage that I am not speaking to this meeting as Chairman of the County Council. For that reason I will try to make the reply. The Health Committee is formed, not in the general sense drawn by the County Council but as laid down by the Dept. of Local Government, and that advisory committee has met through the years and proved its usefulness but for the last two years that Medical Council or Health Committee has not met because if the fact that you had no permanent Co. Manager and for that reason the advice of the Health Committee was not asked in any matters or vital importance associated with the hospital. But the question in a sense may be rather awkward. In so far as the recommendations or requests associated with the discussion to a certain extent imply that the Council could only decide the issue after a discussion had taken place. It means in words that the Committee were not called on to meet in the last two years. I can only express the feeling of the meeting as expressed by Fr. Swayne by saying we consider it a matter of regret that the Committee was not called on to report on this before it was put to the Council.

Q.3     Chairman does not wish to have question recorded.

Q.4    In putting this proposal to the Council was any consideration given to the families of patients who will have to travel to Dublin to seethem thereby having   to pay their fares and in all probability lose their wages because visiting hours in   Dublin are during normal working hours. Was that point put to the Council.

A. The answer is of course “No”.

Q.5    Was there any reason why a permanent County Surgeon was not appointed      since Dr. Cannon left.

A. In connection with that answer I think some member of the Health Committee will bear me out. The Health Committee in their talks in 1956 - men of qualified experience - placed before the Council, their advice in this matter and asked the Council to demand the appointment of a permanent and full-time surgeon for the county. The Minister for health then stated that he would not agree to the question of a permanent full-time appointment but that he would agree to the appointment of a part–time surgeon. Again the Health Committee were very useful and led the Council to put their heels on the ground and fight further. They would not accept the question of a part-time surgeon and in 1957 the Minister for Health having in view at the time, the possibility of a Regional Hospital for Kildare and Carlow, agreed to appoint a full-time temporary surgeon for at least two years but at no time was it a function of the County Council to make that appointment themselves. It was entirely subject to Ministerial sanction and the Minister would not give sanction.

Q.6    Is there no machinery in local Government for informing the public before major issues like this are discussed, thereby getting the feeling of the public on these matters?

A. In matters of that nature there are very long correspondence and discussions between public bodies and the Minister and it is hard to broadcast in a general way unless through the press who publish the report of Committee and County Council proceedings but I am sure it could be answered in this way - with a little more intimacy existing between Councillors and the people those things could be brought to their notice but presently it is entirely dependent on a slight synopsis that you have read in the papers.

The Chairman said he did feel that major issues such as this should be brought before the public before they are decided on.

Mr. Smith

    “I have been speaking to Mr. Dowling and I believe that the motion was not in order. According to Standing Orders a member must give notice in writing. Any member cannot stand up and propose a resolution, he must give notice in writing and that can be considered at the next meeting. If that had been done the motion would have to go before the Council at the following meeting and members could consult the people and have them decide what they would do. I ruled several similar motions out for that reason.”
The Chairman thanked Mr. Smith and pointed out  that the meeting would not presume to interfere in Co. Council affairs.

Q.7     Could we be told by any of the Councillors what proportion of the rates of this County are collected in Kildare and surrounding districts?.

A. Regarding that question, the total rate contribution by the rate payers of this County is £420,000 per annum. Taking Kildare Town as a center for a radius of 10 miles, the total rate contribution is £142,000 approximately – one-third of the total rate collected.

Q.8   If our Hospital is closed and the medical officers of the County want a surgeon’s opinion, will the patient have to be brought to Dublin just for a surgeon’s opinion or will the surgeon be brought to the County.

A. That I think, hit the nail on the head regarding this whole question. It is my considered opinion that the decision to remove the Co. Surgical Hospital depends entirely on the opinion of our Medical profession. Regarding the question that has been asked, it will happen and we must face the truth that if a doctor in any particular area of this County wants to obtain a Surgeon’s opinion on any case he is faced with, with one of two courses either he will have to send the patient to Dublin or Portlaoise or the Surgeon will have to come from Dublin. Either answer to my mind is ridiculous.

The Chairman

I have given you an opportunity to raise points you had. We have had a full expression of views. We are grateful to the Councillors for their answers.

At this stage, it is up to you to decide what you are going to do. I am not going to give you any guidance, but in Newbridge they did propose a resolution and whether you decide or not is a matter for you. I will read you the Newbridge resolution. It is addressed to :-

Members of Kildare County Council
County Manager Kildare Co. Council
Secretary, Kildare Co. Council
Leinster Leader
Carlow Nationalist.     
                                       Dated 2nd November 1959

               Closing of Surgical Facilities at Kildare Hospital

On November 2nd 1959 at a public meeting representative of Droichead Nua and district the following resolution was passed unanimously:-

1.  That it is considered a vital necessity to the people of Kildare that surgical facilities 
      be retained within the County.

2.  That we consider that the decision of the County Council does not represent the
     views or interests of the people of this district.
3. That in light of information which has become available since the County     Council’s last meeting, and in view of the strong feelings of the public, we request
     that Kildare County Council call a special meeting to rescind their previous
     decision to dispense with surgical facilities within the County.
                                                                  (Signed) Monsignor Miller and J. B. Kearns.

Mr. Talbot 
I submit the following proposal;

1. That this meeting being fully representative of the Town, demands that Kildare Infirmary be retained as a Surgical Hospital until a more suitable Surgical Hospital can be found.

2. That the recommendations and suggestions of the County Surgeon be carried out forthwith.

3. That a permanent County Surgeon be appointed immediately.

4. That a special meeting of the County Council be called to rescind their motion and rescind their decision of 26th October dealing with the closing of the County Infirmary and to take steps for the implementation of paragraphs one, two and three of this resolution.

 Mr. Connolly 
 I have great pleasure in seconding Mr. Talbot’s resolution.

Dean Eaton   
I am wholeheartedly in favour of that resolution but I propose an amendment – that we delete the words “until a more suitable hospital is found.”

The Chairman
We had the original from Mr. Talbot which included the words “until a more suitable hospital be found in the county.’ We have a proposal that these words be deleted. Do I take it that this is the feeling of the meeting that they be deleted. I will now read the amended proposal to you. That the County Infirmary be retained as a Surgical Hospital for the County. Can I take that that is the unanimous decision of the meeting?

No dissenters.

Mr. Talbot

As far as I am concerned I will accept that amendment. I withdraw the original.

The Chairman

Now that a resolution is formed what are we to do with it?
Are we to do the same as Newbridge did? Is that the general idea?

This was agreed to.

This concluded the business of the meeting.

Rev. Father Swayne

“Rev. Fathers, Dean, Ladies and Gentlemen –

I am fully in agreement with those resolutions. I was not able to follow whether they were on the same lines as the Newbridge resolution but I think they are practically the same. I am very glad also that the amendment was passed. I too had in mind a resolution of that kind. I had thought of those words, but afterwards I was advised to leave them out. I am not sure if those resolutions cover all we want. I will depend on the Chairman to inform me.
The resolution is that the County Council meet as soon as possible to rescind their resolution and that the recommendations indicated by Mr. Ward and mentioned by Mr. Talbot, be carried out immediately. That of course means additional accommodation, this Children’s ward, the Installation of a Lift, Improved Theatre facilities, facilities for Outdoor Clinic- that all of these be carried out.

We are not sincere if we complain, if we are not prepared to carry out these improvements. These improvements cannot be carried out without expenditure. That may be what frightened Kildare County Council from facing up to their obligations by not carrying out those improvements, by not equipping the hospital as it should be equipped. We are afraid of expenditure so we send our patients for cheap treatment to Dublin. The County Council have left themselves open to the charge - the charge of false economy on the sick who need every care.

Nevertheless, I have lost faith in Kildare County Council. I am not so clear as to why a County Surgeon is not being appointed permanently. All those words about temporary this and temporary that, I don’t know what they mean. It means we are to lose our Hospital because there was no surgeon. Mr. Ward was to have no successor. So that is the root of the trouble. That is the beginning of the plan - appoint no Co. Surgeon - let Dr. Cannon have no successor and then we can deal with the simple Kildare people. This thing about temporary and part-time temporary, that sort of thing I am tired listening to and I am tired of listening to Kildare people complaining. I have stood between the people of Kildare and tried to keep them back from the throats of the County Council. You know that, each one of you. Those things were brought up again and again. Why isn’t there a visiting Committee as there was in the old days? Why isn’t there this and why isn’t there that. My answer always was ‘There are great things coming!! Wait till the Regional Committee gets going.’ That was a great bait of mine - it was a question of ‘Follow me up to Carlow! While I have not lost faith in Kildare County Council, I am not going to be deceived any longer. Why was there not a meeting called of that Medical Consultative Committee or whatever it is - that Committee of 10 men.
I have learned that they have done great work in the past. But to say that they can’t meet because there was no County Manager - that I can’t understand. I am quite sure they can cover the same ground as the Irish Medical Association of Kildare. Would it be breaking any secret - surely we must have heard that there was a full meeting of the Medical Association of the County in Naas and that every doctor in the County who could be there was present. I am not sure that that information is correct, but I do know that the statement made was the statement we would expect from their noble profession, that they spoke with unanimity and solidarity which does them great credit. I think not only should we call on the County Council, to meet and reverse their decision but we should also pass a resolution calling on the ‘Big Ten’ to meet immediately even though they may have to pass the same resolution - there are four imminent members of the medical profession and six Councillors on it – therefore it has plenty of wisdom and plenty of professional skill.
I propose a resolution that they meet immediately. We must make ourselves be heard.  We don’t want to be deluded again. We must rouse ourselves from the lethargy into which we have been lulled by the County Council, because as I have stated, the difficulties are due to the neglect of the County Council, because they have not visited the County Hospital - they have seen to it that there was no local Visiting Committee-they have seen to it that the Medical Committee has not met for two years. I accuse them therefore of neglect - I will not go back on that. While I accuse them of neglect, I do not accuse them of willful neglect. I hope they will be men enough to go back on their decision .I hope that everything I have said will be implemented and that there will be a resolution passed to call on the ‘Big Ten’ to meet and also to have a local Visiting Committee for the Hospital and although they will be a nuisance, they will be vocal.

The Chairman  in reply suggested that the easiest way to deal with this matter was to leave it to the Chairman of the County Council, The Chairman then asked if he would add an extra paragraph to the resolution demanding that the Health Committee meet immediately and regularly. This was agreed to.

As there were a number of people from Rathangan present, the Chairman then called on Councillor Byrne to address those present.

Mr. Byrne

“Rev Fathers, Rev. Dean, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I would like to first of all thank Fr. Swayne for keeping the people away from our throats. I would like to clear up one thing. At the Council meeting last Monday week
I did not vote for the simple reason that I was in another part of the building when this took place. I did not even turn over the pages of the agenda. Afterwards, after a discussion with our local doctor, I discovered that it was on the second page under the heading ‘Kildare Hospital Report.’ That to me was the same as it is every month - just another report.

I wish to state that I am quiet certain that the people of Rathangan are whole-heartedly with this meeting today. We in Rathangan are isolated and living in a bog area, as you all know we have very powerful machines on the bogs and are likely to have very serious accidents at any time. It would be a dreadful hardship on the people of Rathangan if the Kildare Hospital was closed. This is the view of the people of Rathangan”.

The Chairman

“I want to thank you all for coming here tonight, It does show an excellent public spirit. As always, when you are needed you are there. I would like to thank you for the way you supported the various speakers and for the way the meeting ran. I want to thank the speakers and finally the Councillors who came and answered the various questions, they answered fairly and justly. They now leave this meeting knowing the full feeling of the people of Kildare and district and we hope they will do their utmost to implement this resolution and they can be confident of the full support of this meeting in doing that.

Mr. Weir

I would like to pass a vote of thanks to the Chairman for the excellent way he conducted the meeting.

Fr. Swayne seconded.







(1) I think this may have in fact been the City of Cork Militia – it is a mistake often made because of the infamous cruelty of the North Cork Militia preceding and during the Rebellion of 1798 which made them memorable in popular accounts. However it was the City of Cork Militia under Captain Swayne that was decimated at Prosperous and again this Regiment who defeated the rebels at Rathangan. There is reference to Captain Swayne being at Kildare in 1797.

Thanks as always to Stephen Talbot for his generosity in sharing his knowledge and resources and indeed the Talbot family for preserving the Minutes of the meeting which may otherwise have been lost.

[This article was transcribed by Breid as part of an ongoing Cill Dara Historical Society Project dedicated to the ehnancement of our knowledge of the history and heritage of the town. My thanks to the Society for this and for all their work in the promotion of the history of Kildare Town and the surrounding districts.]

The Minutes of a meeting held in Kildare Town on 3 November 1959 to discuss the proposed closure of St. Brigid's Hospital, Kildare. My thanks to Stephen Talbot who made the Minutes available.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:14 PM

May 15, 2007





The Well was uncovered firstly in June 1973 by the Council's road crew and I just happened to be on hand and took some colour slides. My now late father was also in attendance on that fine summer morning. Work was in progress at the time, refurbishing the market Square and the then Council overseer, who had discovered the Well in the first instance, received an instruction from KCC at St. Mary's to close in the Well immediately for safety reasons. No thought was given to it's historical significance. My father was most disappointed and asked me to try to do something to have it reopened.
  Soon after, I commenced my campaign (which was to go on for 30 years) to have the Well uncovered and refurbished and stepped up the campaign again in the mid-late eighties.
  It wasn't until May 2000 that I finally managed to arrange a meeting with County Architect, Brian Swan and after much discussion and correspondence an effort was made by GMB construction to locate the Well. We only had photographs to guide us and out of the blue, two more photos turned up. The late Marty Flemming had also taken pictures in 1973. However, on 25th Jan 2002, that effort failed as they were looking in the wrong area. No further efforts were made until the Autumn of 2003 when the Well was finally reopened and refurbished. It was excavated to a depth of 13 feet although it is originally some 80 feet in depth. Provision for lighting at the bottom was made and there are lights installed around the circumference at the top. The Cover is galvanised but it is hoped that with the passage of time a more suitable covering will be installed.
  A plaque was made from polished granite was commissioned in 2006 which reads: Ancient Town Well.. This Well, in existence since 1757 was the town water supply until 1886.  It was accidentally uncovered in 1973 and closed again for safety reasons as it was 25 metres in depth.  It was rediscovered in 2003 and refurbished by Kildare County Council.


[additional note on the water supply of Kildare - From articles in the Leinster Leader (1882 and 1901- no mention of well in this later one Church of the Oak pp. 40 and 49) on the pumps and water supply and the dating of the waterworks in the Market Square to 1886 I think it could be argued that the well was closed in 1886 or certainly around 1886 when the water was pumped from Tully.
According to the Historic Towns Atlas the well on the Square was

1763 - draw well
1817 pump
1838 fountain
1847 - pump house
1872 pump
1873 no building
1882 pump
It says the pump was later removed. The Waterworks constructed 1882-6 and extended in 1897; water pumped from St. John's  Well, Tully c. 1 km S.E. of Kildare to a tank in the roof of the market square (nearly sure the date-stone on the Nugent St. side says 1886 which would indicate the operation of the water works).
I would imagine that once the water works was in operation then the pump would have been removed and the well covered but an article from the Leinster Leader 1973 (Church of the Oak pp. 92-3) suggests the well may have been an emergency backup (at the very least) for the town in the early days of the 20th century - Mario Corrigan]

Stephen Talbot has to be commended on his efforts to preserve and record one of the ancient sources of water for the town and it should serve as a reminder to us all to be ever vigilant in terms of protecting and preserving the history and heritage of our local environment in so much as we can.

A note by Stephen Talbot on the discovery and re-discovery of the Ancient Well on the MArket Square of Kildare Town

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:53 AM

January 23, 2007

Construction of Wallpaper Factory - July/August 1936

Leinster Leader 1/8/1936, p. 3.
            The tender of the well-known firm of contractors, Messrs. Sheridan Brothers, Newbridge, for the erection of the factory buildings to house the new wallpaper industry at Kildare has been accepted, at approximately ₤13,000. Work on the site (at Cross Keys, on the fringe of the town of Kildare) commenced on Tuesday and construction will proceed apace, as the main building must be completed within the coming four months. The acceptance of Messrs. Sheridan’s tender gave great satisfaction in the district as the firm will employ wholly local labour.
Leinster Leader 15/8/1936, p. 9.
            Following a slight initial delay work has commenced in earnest on the erection of the new wallpaper factory at Kildare. For the past week the contractors, Messrs. Sheridan, Newbridge, have had gangs of local labourers and carters busily engaged in levelling operations, sinking foundations etc. The site, at Crosskeys, at the western end of the town, is an ideal one and during the past week has been viewed by a great number of persons interested in this very important industry.

Two articles from the Leinster Leader recording the initial stages of construction of the Wallpaper factory.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:36 PM

January 05, 2007

Civil War Memories and Anecdotes

Paddy Sheehan, Newbridge
            The Sheehans were well known for their involvement locally in the pivotal events of the periods of 1916, the War of Independence and the Civil War. They not only kept documentary material relating to the period but because of their involvement and the involvement of other family members and acquaintances they have a fantastic local knowledge that they have willingly and generously shared with all and sundry. Paddy Sheehan was able recently to share some interesting anecdotes regarding Kildare Town in this troubled period which I would like to include here as a means of preserving them for the record.
            When lieutenant Wogan-Browne was killed in Kildare in February 1922 the local I.R.A. took those responsible into their custody. Those who had carried out the deed were themselves I.R.A. men but it seems that they had acted without the sanction of the I.R.A. (This may mean that the intended robbery was not sanctioned or the use of deadly force was not sanctioned). The three men were taken to Moran’s of Ballysax and housed there until a decision was made regarding punishment (official sources said that the men were eventually released without trial). While there, they escaped and left the locality. Apparently those guarding them were much relieved because they knew the men and did not want to be faced with the possibility of delivering them up or shooting them. According to Paddy Sheehan the men made their way out of the County, (possibly to Athlone) and joined the Free State Army, which was at that very moment scouring the countryside for them.
             When the local men were executed on the Curragh in 1922 they were buried there until they were re-interred at Grey Abbey in 1924. At the graveside a volley was fired by the I.R.A. and immediately all hell broke loose. ‘Plain Clothes men’ and soldiers rushed towards the grave and were confronted by friends and relatives of the deceased men, many of them women. The guns were never recovered and no arrests were made. Seemingly, many of the women brought umbrellas that day and the revolvers were hidden quickly in the umbrellas and never found.
            One account of the incident can be found in the Leinster Leader which says that after the burials the crowd went to Suncroft to the burial of Leo Dowling. According to Paddy Sheehan, they were met (although he seems to think it may have happened a day or two after the internments at Grey Abbey) by the local priest who warned them that a machine-gun had been positioned overlooking the graveyard and beseeched them not to fire a volley at the graveside as this would provoke a bloody response.
            Local tradition has it that the bodies were not allowed into the Church in Kildare but were waked in the Court-house. Newspaper reports and other accounts say they were waked in the Town Hall. Paddy Sheehan recounted that this happened also with the body of Thomas Behan in Rathangan. It may indeed have been official policy at the time.
            In 1935 a Republican monument was unveiled on the Market Square in Kildare to the memory of the executed men and a fiery oration was delivered on the occasion by Fr. Michael Flanagan. It seems that as the appointed time for the unveiling was approaching there was no sign of Fr. Flanagan and Paddy Sheehan and his brother got the idea that maybe he had disembarked in Newbridge because his visit was arranged with the help of the Sheehans and the correspondence was done through Newbridge. They hurriedly sped back to Newbridge and found Fr. Flanagan awaiting pick up at the side of the road. It seems he was mightily relieved when they introduced themselves for he had been a little uneasy to see a car hurtling along at high speed, screech to a stop nearby and some tall men in overcoats step down quickly to approach him! He was delivered safely, and in time, to his appointment in Kildare Town.
[these anecdotes are the result of conversations with Paddy Sheehan, in Sheehans Shop and on the phone, in Sep./Oct. 2005 – Mario Corrigan]

Below:- Photograph of Paddy Sheehan in Sheehan's Shoemakers shop in Newbridge - holding a cast-iron RIC sign from the old Constabulary Barracks in Newbridge. On the table is a folder of Sinn Fein Dail Court Reports - copies of these reports are now in Newbridge Library. My thanks to James Durney for the photograph.

P Sheehan.JPG



An article on events relating to 1922 and the Civil War from the Grey Abbey Conservation Project's book, 'Church of the Oak,' in memory of Paddy Sheehan of Newbridge who passed away shortly after it was published. My thanks to Paddy for his generosity and time.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:56 PM

December 12, 2006


The Restoration of St. Brigid’s Cathedral

 A note by

Mario Corrigan

  By the mid-nineteenth century the ruinous condition of St. Brigid’s Cathedral was a matter of grave concern and in 1871 a decision was made to investigate the possibility of restoring the once great edifice to its former glory. The architect George Street who was supervising the restoration of Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin was approached and he submitted a report, dated 31October, 1871 on the condition of the Cathedral. The Report was printed and circulated with illustrations showing the ruins of the Cathedral and a design for the restoration. While subscriptions were slowly gathered and the cost eventually exceeded Street’s initial estimate, work began in 1875 but was abandoned in 1881. The second phase began in 1890 and the Cathedral was re-opened in 1896. As it stands today it is difficult to visualise the physical ruins that existed at that time and the reprinting of Street’s Report makes interesting reading. It also reminds us of what can be achieved and should serve to spur us to action to see the fallen north boundary wall of the Cathedral rebuilt.




HAVING been requested to examine the Cathedral at Kildare, and to report on the present state of the fabric, and on the steps which it might be necessary to take in order to effect a proper Restoration of it, I have lately visited and made a careful inspection of it.
            This ancient Cathedral appears to have been built in the early part of the thirteenth century. It was a simple Cross Church, without aisles, but with – apparently – a Chapel of some kind opening out of the Eastern side of the South Transept. A Tower rose above the intersection of the arms of the cross; whilst a noble Round Tower stood, and still stands, not far from the Western end of the Nave.
            The state of the fabric at present is this:-
            The Choir is the only part still roofed and used for service. It is fitted up for use as a Cathedral Choir, with seats for the parishioners in the centre.
            Its architectural character is of the poorest description; but it is probable, I think, that the side walls (especially the Northern one) are old, though modernized in all their architectural features. The roof is not in good condition, but is concealed from view by an internal flat and plastered ceiling.
            The rest of the Church is in ruins. The South Transept and the Nave have lost their roofs, but almost all their other architectural features still remain, either intact or in such a state as to make their restoration a matter of no difficulty. The Southern Elevation of the South Transept is one of great simplicity and of good character and proportion. Its window is a well-designed triplet, simple externally, but with shafts and mouldings internally. The side walls of the Nave present a very remarkable design. The windows are simple lancets, separated from each other by buttresses. Between these buttresses bold arches are formed, nearly on a face with the front of the buttresses, and with a narrow space between them and the front of the wall. The effect of this arrangement is to throw a very bold shadow over the window, and to produce a most picturesque effect. But the reason for it is not clear. It looks somewhat as if the men who were building had more acquaintance with military than with ecclesiastical architecture, and as though the defence of the Church from hostile attack was a chief motive in this part of the design – a part which, to me at least, is novel. Whatever the history of the design may be, this at any rate is certain, that the effect of it is very striking and picturesque.
            The West End of the Nave is destroyed, and its place occupied by a modern wall. It probably had a window either of five or of three lights, generally similar in detail to the window in the gable of the South Transept.
            The North Transept has been entirely destroyed, some part of it within a few years, when a new Tower was built in the angle between it and the Choir. This Tower is a poor erection, and most awkwardly placed, just behind the ruins of the noble Central Tower. The Central Tower is a mere wreck; one side only – the South – is fairly perfect; the whole of the rest of it has been destroyed. It is a work of fine design and proportion, not very lofty, but, in its complete state, so large as to give a good deal of the dignity of a Cathedral to what might otherwise have looked somewhat too much like a Parish Church.
            There are various other fragments of great architectural and antiquarian interest in this building; among them I may notice some fine encaustic tiles, and several fine monuments, with sculpture on the sides or slabs.
            Having given this general description of the character of the fabric, it remains for me to indicate what would, in my judgement, be the first steps that should be taken towards its repair and restoration. There appears to be only one course that I can properly recommend. I should advise that for the present the Choir should not be disturbed; it can be rendered weather-tight, and safe for use, and would serve for use of the congregation until such time as some portion of the old building could be put into fit state for their use. I should then propose to take in hand the exact and careful restoration of the whole of the ancient portion of the Cathedral. This would involve repairs of Stonework, re-erection of the Roofs, and flooring of the Nave and Transepts, and the removal of the modern Tower, and the restoration of the old one. Ample authority exists for the whole of this work, so that it might really be a work of restoration, in the best sense of the word. It might easily, if necessary, be divided under three or four heads, e.g., (1) the Nave, (2) South Transept, (3) North Transept, (4) Central Tower – and such a division would not in any way affect the safe progress of the works. When so much of the work had been done, I should propose to remove all the Fittings from the Choir, &c., to fit up the Eastern part of the Nave for the purpose of Divine Service. And then, if means existed , or whenever they could be obtained, the removal of the Choir might well follow. But even if it were never done, the restoration of the part which is now in ruins is a work which may be well recommended, not only from a religious, but equally from an historical point of view.
            A few years more, and what now remains of this interesting Church may have become a thing of the past. Each winter’s rain and frost help to disintegrate the fabric of the walls, and that which is possible now may not be possible ere long.
            I estimate the cost of the work I have recommended at the following sums:-
(1.) Nave … … … … … … … … … ₤1, 650
(2.) South Transept   … … … … …     450
(3.) North   do.            … … … … …   1, 400
(4.) Central Tower      … … … … …   1, 500 – Total, ₤5,000
The amount is not large; but the work is of simple description, very free from ornament, and the cost is therefore moderate when one compares it with the size of the building.
                14, CAVENDISH PLACE, LONDON, W.,
                                                October 31, 1871.





The original Report on the condition of Kildare Cathedral by George Street in 1871, prior to its restoration - reprinted from CHURCH OF THE OAK; a contribution to the history of Kildare Town, published by The Grey Abbey Conservation Project.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:00 PM

December 06, 2006

The White Abbey; the first 600 years!

600 Years of the Carmelites in Kildare Town,
White Abbey, 1290 – 1890 A.D.
Mario Corrigan
The original White Abbey or St. Mary’s Priory, was founded according to most sources around 1290 A.D. by William de Vescy, Lord of Kildare. It was founded as a Carmelite Friary and became known as the White Abbey after the colour of the habits of the Carmelite Friars. There is very little documentary evidence relating to Kildare. William Feys a friar from Kildare a was accused in 1310 of breaking into a chest of valuables from ‘a stone house of the friars’ and stealing 15 marks of silver. Kildare was the friary most famously associated with David O’Buge, a native friar, who was Provincial of the Order between 1321 (possibly 1320) and 1324. He probably died sometime before 1327 and was buried at Kildare. A man of great learning he was described as ‘the light, mirror and splendour of the Irish nation.’ Another famous learned Carmelite, Ralph Kelly, who reputedly began his studies at Kildare, became the first Irish Procurator General of the Order. He was also appointed Archbishop of Cashel. He died in 1361. Supposedly some of the valuables from the Silken Thomas castle at Maynooth were deposited in the friary at Kildare before the capture of the castle in 1535.
It was surrendered by the Prior to the Crown during the reformation on 3 April 1539 and at that time consisted of a church and belfry, dormitory, hall, two chambers etc. Most of the buildings were burnt in May 1540 by the O’Connor’s of Offaly and when an extent was made in November of that year all that remained was the church and a messuage that the Friars used as a hall. They recommended that the church could be thrown down, its value being 20 shillings but that the messuage containing a garden and a small close, containing one acre could be retained for use by a farmer, its value being 20 pence. There were 4 acres of arable land and 1 acre of waste land valued at 4 shillings, in the possession of David MacThomas and another messuage rented for 2 shillings and customs – 1 weeding day, 1 reaping day and 1 hen worth 5 pence. The total of the extent was 8 shillings 1 pence. One source says it was granted to William Dickson but elsewhere it is stated that it was granted to David Sutton of Tully in 1543 although initially, at the time of the extent, it may have become the property of Gerald Sutton.
Apparently the Carmelites returned to Kildare around 1710 and a rectangular building is apparent from the early maps of Kildare in 1757 to 1817. However the Friary is shown as a ruin by Austin Cooper, the famous sketcher of Irish Antiquities, in 1790. This building was still in existence in 1847 but later demolished. There is a record of a Carmelite, Fr. William Duane, at Kildare making a will in April 1790 whereby he endowed his brothers and nephews with 1 shilling each and left his remaining goods to two other Carmelites Rev. Augustine Gormican and Rev. John Nilan, his executors. Fr. Farrell, a Carmelite friar, was killed at the Gibbet Rath on 29 May 1798, apparently trying to secure the safety of people gathered on the Curragh Plain. His grave has been kept for generations by the local people and is clearly marked. The Prior, Fr. Healy, was actually hanged near the gate of the White Abbey by the yeomen during the Rebellion but was cut down by his housekeeper and survived.
Fr. Patrick O’Farrell of White Abbey was Provincial of the Order in 1813. In his will of 1817 which showed him to be a man of some means he mentioned the freehold lease of lands at White Abbey he had obtained from Thomas Kelly Esq. Fr. O’Farrell was probably dead by 1818. Michael Hughes may have been the only Carmelite (Prior?) in Kildare in 1819 but because of differences with the Bishop Dr. Doyle it appears he may have been suspended and left the diocese for London shortly after, returning in 1827. However he was reaffirmed in 1823 as Prior at Kildare and apparently James McCormack and Malachy Monahan were friars. With the passing of Catholic Emancipation in 1829 the regular religious had to register and this was done by Fr. Hughes of White Abbey.
During the Tithe War of the 1830’s there appears to have been only one friar at Kildare while in 1840 the Prior was still Fr. Michael Hughes and Fr. Scally was a friar. There is a mention in this year that Fr. Hughes had built a new convent there by this time. While Fr. Hughes retained the deeds at White Abbey he was superseded by 1842 as Prior by Patrick Parr who was 38 years of age. Parr attended the Provincial Chapter of 1843 and was elected Superior of Kildare.  He was again elected as Prior at the Chapter of 1846 where a case of perjury was brought against Michael Hughes for information relating to the ownership of a field near White Abbey but the result was in his favour. John Carr, Licentiate from Louvain who was 15 years professed was elected prior at the Chapter of 1849. Parr was still at Kildare (16 years professed). Kildare had again only two Carmelite priests in 1850. It appears that Parr was back in charge in 1852 but had been transferred to Kinsale by the end of 1855.
            By 1868 at least there appears to have been a school at Kildare maintained by the Friars. (according to the Parochial School Returns of 1824 there was a school (at least 5 others) in existence in the Town from 1817 under the supervision of Denis Murphy the house being given free of rent by the convent of this town and this may refer to the White Abbey although it accommodated both boys and girls and in 1871 the Chapter makes reference to a school for boys). John Elias Bartley Prior of Kildare attended the Provincial Chapter of 1871 (being 17 years professed) as did Fr. John Eliseus Whitley aged 29 years (being professed 10). Bartley was re-elected as prior of Kildare. At this Chapter it seems there is reference to the school in Kildare having 300 boys. In 1872 one of the three priests at Kildare was moved to Dublin owing it seems to a shortage of priests but this was rectified and by June 1874 there were once again three Carmelites at Kildare. In December 1874 Fr. John B. Daly was teaching more than 50 pupils in the school in Kildare which differs considerably from the earlier reference. This school was apparently closed soon after the De La Salle Brothers opened their school in Kildare Town in 1884. John Elias Bartley was elected Provincial of the Order at the 1875 Chapter and Terence Dominic Sheridan was elected prior of Kildare. It was noted in the annual visitation of 1876 that Kildare was completely free of debt. Sheridan was re-elected at the Chapter of 1878 and again it was noted Kildare was free of debt.
Nicholas Albert Staples was elected Prior in 1881. By order of the local Government Board the White Abbey Graveyard was closed in 1882 on sanitary grounds amid much local disgruntlement. In November of that year some prosecutions were secured at the Kildare Petty Sessions against persons who had engaged in ‘illegal’ burials.
 Fr. Staples was re-elected prior at the Provincial Chapter of 1884 and on the 8 December of that year the work on the new Church at White Abbey was begun and the first stone, placed by Robert Cassidy of Monasterevin, was blessed in 1885. The dedication ceremony and official opening was held in 1889. The church was erected with the help of public subscriptions by Fr. Staples, at a cost of £3,500, the architect was William Hague F.R.I.A.I of Dublin and the builder John Harris of Monasterevin. Harris it appears went into liquidation and the work was completed under the supervision of Prior Staples who even went to America to raise funds. The last mass to be held in the old church was held in 1887, in which year Fr. Staples was once again elected prior of Kildare.
According to the Kildare Observer of 30 March 1889 the dedication ceremonies began at 11 o’clock on Monday 25 March and were presided over by Dr. Lynch, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin assisted by his Coadjutor, Rev. Dr. Comerford. At one point the article lists Fr. Staples in attendance later says he was unable to attend, being ‘far away upon the sea.’ Some of the work had yet to be done, such as the extension of the spire, but the beauty of the church was apparent to the large crowds who attended the ceremony. Built in the Gothic style it was cruciform in shape, the total length of the church described as 112 feet, the width of the nave 32 feet and that of the transepts 26 feet; the walls being 27 feet high. The walls were constructed of dark limestone in contrast to the fine grey granite used in the dressings while the internal ceilings were boarded in highly varnished pitch pine. Wicklow granite and local stone from Boston, Rathangan were used in the building of the church which eventually would have a tapering spire rising to 104 ft. The high altar and sanctuary floor etc. were of marble, the altar being a gift of Mr. Cassidy of Monasterevin and the altar rails a gift of Mrs. Kavanagh. The three beautiful windows were donated by Mr. Richard Bolger, Dublin, Mr. M. Lee, J. P., Kildare and Mr. William Staples, Naas – they were manufactured by Messrs William Martin, Son and Co. of St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Above the main door, the Rose Window is of special interest with its representation of the prophet Elijah who is regarded as the spiritual father of the Carmelites.
In celebration of the sixth centenary in 1890 the town was thronged with visitors by rail and road and many gathered at the railway station to greet arriving Carmelites from the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Whitefriars St., Dublin. A huge procession with banners made its way to the church where Fr. Moore an ex-Provincial of the Order preached a sermon on the devotion to Our Lady.
According to the An Tostal Programme of Kildare from 1953, ‘The Cemetery adjoining the Church has four ancient carvings in the wall. The first two are probably from the eleventh century and show the Gryphon, the animal symbolising Mercy. The other two are scenes from the Passion of Our Lord, the Ecce Homo and the Crucifixion. These carvings were once in the Grey Abbey, and were removed here for preservation.’ The Urban Archaeology Survey states however that by the 1970’s at least they had been removed to the internal north transept wall of the church. They are identified by the Survey as being mostly 16th century tomb panels some of which may resemble other fragments within Kildare Cathedral. At least three are said to have come from the Grey Abbey (the Survey probably relies here on the evidence of Rev. Denis Murphy in his article on Kildare in the Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society).
[It must be acknowledged that while various sources were consulted the article relies heavily on the book on The Irish Carmelites by Peter O’Dwyer, published by the Carmelites , Dublin 1988.]

An article from the Grey Abbey Conservation Project's new book CHURCH OF THE OAK, on the White Abbey from 1290-1890.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 01:01 AM

November 27, 2006

Kildare Town Heritage Centre

Mario Corrigan and Mary Stones
The Kildare Town Heritage Centre is an exciting visitor attraction situated in the picturesque town of Kildare. The centre is an ideal point of departure from which to explore the ancient treasures of the town. It is housed in the restored and refurbished nineteenth century Market House, which is situated in the hub of Kildare town. This unique historic building, with its vista of windows, designed to oversee the market place, has been given a new lease of life and is an impressive addition to the heritage assets of the town. The Heritage Centre was formally opened on the 17th September 2001 by the then Minister for Finance and T.D. Mr. Charlie McCreevy.
The building has a long and varied history. According to the Statutes of Henry VI (1458) a market had been held in Kildare ‘from time whereof memory runs not,’ and an official weekly market, to be held on Thursdays, was authorised by Henry VIII in the Charter of Kildare of 1515. A survey of the Earl of Kildare’s estate in the town by Emerson in 1674 mentions a town hall but not a Market House. Since the location of the Town Hall cannot be determined we might suggest it was situated here, centrally in what became the Market Square and the focus of activity in the town. Reference to the ‘Market Place’ can be found in the Registry of Deeds Office in 1726 and 1751 and although the recognisable triangular area of the modern ‘Square’ is unnamed in John Rocque’s Map of Kildare of 1757 it was designated the Market Square’ in Thomas Sherrard’s Map of Kildare of 1798 and subsequent maps.
 Rocque however does identify ‘The Markett house,’ in the centre of what is later known as the Market Square on the site of the modern Heritage Centre. According to Rocque it consisted of three adjoining buildings with a yard in 1757. If we accept Emerson made no mention of a Market House in 1674 because it did not exist then the Market House was built sometime between 1674 and 1757 (however he may not have mentioned it because it was not part of the Earl of Kildare’s estate, or because the town hall and market place fulfilled the same function at that stage. By 1798 (Sherrard) it had developed into a singular rectangular building on the same site with another section to the Cathedral or western side. This projection had disappeared by 1817 but a small northern (facing Nugent Street/Station Road) projection could be noticed on the 1838 Ordnance Survey Map of the town. Interestingly a well was noted by Rocque in 1757 to the east (Dublin side) of the Market House, a pump in 1817 and a fountain in 1838; presumably referring to the same feature, a water source for the town’s inhabitants. A pump was used on the Market Square until the early 20th century but was eventually removed. In 1973 an ancient well was discovered on the Market Square but filled in for safety reasons. It was re-discovered in 2003 and, now restored, has become a permanent feature on the Market Square.
According to Niall Meagher, former Co. Architect, while it may have incorporated an earlier structure, the present building dates from the nineteenth century. In 1838 the Market House was clearly identified as a public building. Valued at £5 in 1844, it was exempt from rates. Not only was the Market Square a centre of economic activity it provided a space/forum for town gatherings and meetings. This was captured by the ‘Illustrated London News’ on the 8 January 1881 in a drawing of a Land League Meeting, with the Market House in the background, showing leases of the Duke of Leinster being burned on the end of a ‘98 pike. Originally it may have been a single storey building but by the mid-nineteenth century at least it had been re-developed with an upper level. By the mid-1880’s a water tank had been placed in the roof of the Market House as a receptacle for water being pumped from St. John’s Well at Tully.
By the mid-twentieth century the Market House had fallen into disrepair and was bought for £300 by Kildare Co. Council. It was carefully reconstructed in the early 1970’s and a bus shelter, public toilets and small museum were incorporated into the new building. The cast-iron water gauge dated 1885 was retained on the outside of the building as was a plaque celebrating the completion of the Kildare Waterworks in 1886. It won an An Taisce Award in 1973 because of the improvement it made to the appearance of the town.
A Heritage project Committee representing the three second-level schools was formed in 1992 to campaign for Heritage Status for the Town of Kildare. The designation of Heritage Town provided an impetus for the reinvigoration of the Market House. The European Development Fund provided £230,000 towards the project with additional funding coming from Kildare County Council (£50,000) and local contributions. Once building began the reconstruction and refurbishment took a little less than 2 years and Kildare Town Heritage Centre was officially unveiled in September 2001.
The Heritage Centre contains a multi-media exhibition centre telling the story of Kildare, past and present, combining attractive fixed panels with a video trail where your host Cogitosus, a 7th century monk will take you on a historic journey from the time when St. Brigid established her church in 480. A.D. This video presentation lasts approximately 12 minutes. The visitor can catch a fascinating glimpse of the past before visiting the many other attractions, which include the Japanese Gardens, the Grand Canal the National Stud and the Curragh racecourse. The Centre is the Tourist Office for local and county-wide tourist information, a place where tourists can book accommodation or purchase a golf passport. It also has a vibrant shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs and jewellery.

An article from the Grey Abbey Conservation Project's new book CHURCH OF THE OAK, on the Heritage Centre - the old Market House.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:55 PM

The Knights Hospitallers at Tully

The Knights Hospitallers and the foundation of

The Black Abbey at Tully

Mario Corrigan

According to Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary the civil parish in 1837 comprised 1600 statute acres (as rated for the county cess) and some 4,800 acres of bog adjoining the Curragh, with some 20 different townships or places paying tithes to the Bishop. In the sixteenth century, as well as the immediate demesne lands of Tully, there were rectories at Tully, Doneany, Rathbride and Calverston, as well as lands in Moortown, Friarstown, Brallistown and other areas even further afield. The extent of these holdings can generally be attributed to the granting of lands at Tully to the Knights Hospitallers, or Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, in the 13th century. The name, however, ‘Tully,’ which has many variations, comes from the Gaelic ‘Tullach’ meaning ‘hill’ or ‘rising ground’ and some historians suggest that this may have been the site of an even older Irish monastery called ‘Tulach Fobhair’ (discounted by Thomas O’Connor in the Ordnance Survey letters). It is the Hospitallers, however, who built the Black Abbey.

The Hospitallers

            The Crusades saw the rise of the Military Orders of the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem. The earliest known reference to the Order of Knights Hospitallers occurs in 1113, when the papal privilege of Pope Paschal II was addressed to – Gerard establisher and commander of the Jerusalem hospice, though it was surely in operation prior to this date. Initially the function of the newly formed brotherhood, a purely peaceful one, was to provide for the pilgrims to the Holy Land. This hospitality earned generous donations of land and money in Europe particularly from grateful pilgrims on their return to their homes. Eventually the Order evolved into those brothers or brethren who fought, mounted Knights, and the lay brethren who cared for the sick and performed religious duties. The Hospitallers wore a black cloak with a white cross to distinguish them from the Templars who wore a white cloak with a red cross. In 1259 the pope approved the adoption of the rectangular Jerusalem Cross to be worn on the Knights battle-dress (over their armour) while at other times, as they carried out their primary duties, the 8 pointed cross, signifying the eight beatitudes, would be worn. The Order grew remarkably in strength and were in possession of at least 7 strongholds including the formidable Crac de Chevaliers. With the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 their position radically changed and finally with the fall of Acre in 1291 they were driven from the Holy Land.

            From here they went to Cyprus but in the early 14th century they concentrated their forces on Rhodes and established their headquarters there in 1310. Here they built of an extensive fleet and helped escort pilgrims by sea to the Holy Land. Indeed, from 1309-1522 they were known as the Knights of Rhodes. The Order was greatly enriched by the suppression of the Templars by papal decree in 1312 (Holinshead dates it to 1308). Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries the Hospitallers continued to defend Rhodes from the Muslim advance, particularly after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and famously triumphed in the sieges of Rhodes in 1460 and 1480. It was a time also of administrative change and the Order was divided into eight langues or tongues. They were forced to withdraw from Rhodes after the siege of 1522. In 1530 Charles V granted them the island of Malta and throughout the 16th and 17th centuries they remained a crusading force taking part in the capture of Tunis in 1535, Great Siege of Malta May – September 1565, the battle of Lepanto in 1571, the attack on Algiers in 1644 and the defence of Oran in 1707. Now known as the Knights of Malta, they were to remain there until 1798 when the island was surrendered to Napoleon.

Hospitallers in England

The Order was established in England around 1144 and the Grand Priory was established at Clerkenwell. The Order spread to establish some 37 precertories with some 120 Knights and various other brothers and sergeants. English Knights of the Order did go to the Crusades and some even took part in the last great siege of Rhodes in 1522. The Order was suppressed in England by Henry VIII in early 1540 and while a few knights were executed as martyrs, others left for Malta. In 1557 the Order was re-established by Queen Mary but afterwards suppressed by Queen Elizabeth. Titular priors continued to be appointed by the Grand Master of the Order.

Hospitallers in Ireland

            The Knights Hospitallers were introduced to Ireland with the Norman invasion. They were first established at Wexford around 1172 and the Grand Priory at Kilmainham was established in Dublin around 1174 by Strongbow, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke. In 1212 Pope Innocent III confirmed some 129 properties acquired by the Order in Ireland. While they spread rapidly in terms of increasing property the membership of the Order was more circumscribed than the monastic and mendicant orders because of its very nature and recruitment base. Postulant knights had to have proofs of nobility, pay a large fee, maintain himself and 2 horses, travel on call and when they died all their property and possessions was to be bequeathed to the Order. There may have only ever been 30-40 or so actual Knights of the Order if we consider that they established in the region of 17-19 preceptories (figures vary).

             In Ireland as elsewhere the brethren had to maintain their primary duty to provide hospitality to pilgrims and travellers, but because of the troublesome nature of the country in the wake of the Norman invasion the preceptories very often acted as military outposts on the borders of the Anglo-Norman territories such as at Killybeggs and Kilteel in Co. Kildare.

            The last Prior of Kilmainham was Sir John Rawson, appointed in 1511. With the advent of the suppression of the monasteries and religious houses Rawson began (1538) to let Hospitaller territories at low rents on long leases with pension obligations (for the brethren). The beneficiaries were invariably members of his own family, political allies and some of the senior Knights of the Order. Rawson negotiated the surrender of Kilmainham and the properties of the Order in 1540. He was eventually raised to the Peerage as Viscount Clontarf, with the lands of the preceptory of Clontarf and a substantial pension. The voluntary nature of the handover was given special significance in the act for the suppression of Kilmainham and other houses in 1542. In reality this was the end of the Order in Ireland although titular priors were appointed right up to the mid 19th century.

Hospitallers in County Kildare

             The Kinights Hospitallers established three preceptories in County Kildare – at Killybegs, near Prosperous; Kilteel or Kilheale, near Rathmore and at Tully, near Kildare. These can be found amongst the 6 or sites identified as eventual sites of preceptories in the properties confirmed by the Pope in 1212. Killybegs and Kilteel particularly were founded on the borders of Anglo-Norman territory and as such were as much military outposts as they were hospices for travellers. Kilteel at least was an important juncture protecting the Pale from the O’Tooles and O’Byrnes of Wicklow. It was founded around 1220 by Maurice FitzGerald, 2nd Baron of Offaly, and was essentially a fortified stronghold which could also fulfil the primary role of the Order by providing hospitality. It was leased to Thomas Alen, brother of the Lord Chancellor, for £17 in 1540. Killybegs was leased to Gerald Sutton and passed into the possession of David and Edward Sutton his executors. The other great Kildare preceptory of the Order County Kildare was that of Tully, near Kildare Town.

Hospitallers at Tully.

            There is no date for the foundation of the Hospitaller Preceptory at Tully and there is some doubt as to who the founder was. After the Norman invasion Kildare Town was part of Strongbow’s (Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke) holdings and after his death in 1176 it passed to William Marshall who married his daughter and heiress Isabella in 1189 (Strongbow’s immediate successor was Gilbert, a minor, who died around 1185). Marshall received a new grant of Leinster in 1208 and died in 1219, so if Tully was one of the 129 properties (property meaning a chapel and some surrounding lands with possibly other buildings) confirmed in 1212 by Pope Innocent III then the initial grant of Tully was given to the Hospitallers either by Strongbow or William Marshall, and pre-dates 1212.

            With the death of the last of the male line of the Marshall family in 1245, the lordship of Leinster was divided amongst 5 heiresses. Kildare (county) was the share of Sybil Marshall, wife of William de Ferrers but by the time of the division of the inheritance Sybil was dead and her share was to be divided amongst her 7 daughters. The castle and manor of Kildare however remained the possession of Margaret, Countess of Lincoln, widow of Walter Marshall as part of her dowry for the next twenty years. Margaret died around 1270 when the liberty of Kildare (and the castle and manor of Kildare Town) came into the possession of Agnes de Vesci (a daughter of Sybil de Ferrers). On her death it passed to her son William de Vescy who came to Ireland in November 1290 as Justiciar (1290-1294). He surrendered it to the Crown in 1297 and had it returned for life but he died that same year and it reverted to the Crown.

            In terms of the preceptory at Tully since we do not know the date of the actual establishment then it is difficult to say with any certainty who is responsible for its foundation. There is almost no reference to Tully from the time of the papal confirmation of 1212 until October 1290, at which time it appears that Geoffry de Siwaldeby was Master of Tully. This pre-dates the arrival of de Vescy and also suggests it was in existence for a time previous to that date.

            There is very little in any of the histories on Kildare Town for the period from 1247-1270 and yet Maurice FitzGerald is accredited, in different sources, with the establishment of Grey Abbey and the Preceptory at Tully. Surely the endowment could only come from the lord of the manor and in the examination of the matter of the dowry of de Vescy’s wife, Isabella, in 1297 the manor of Tholy (Tully) was clearly part of de Vescy property and presumably before that it was held by the Marshall family. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the property was not FitzGerald’s to give.

            What escapes us is the actual date for the foundation of the preceptory. As we have seen a chapel and some land etc. at Tully was confirmed by Pope Innocent III to the Hospitallers in 1212. This was shortly after the arrival of William Marshall in Ireland around 1207 but in fact may even have been granted by Strongbow. The problem remains that the actual preceptory is not mentioned until the 1290’s. Kildare was an important religious and political centre and a strategic outpost against the O’Connor Falighe and the O’Dempseys of Glanmalire. A preceptory of Knights Hospitallers would have been an important part of the defensive mechanism employed within the County. There is a similar dearth of information of the other houses but Kilteel is presumed to have been founded by Maurice FitzGerald around 1220 and it seems likely that Tully is of similar date. Even if the lands were already in the hands of the Hospitallers by the time of his succession to the lordship of Leinster in 1189, surely Marshall would have made maximum use of the Order as a military presence on the edge of the county town considering he was soon to re-develop and fortify the earlier castle of Kildare, established by Strongbow. As a Crsuader to the Holy Land he would have been well acquainted not only with the hospitality of the Order but their usefulness as a military force in a besieged land. This might suggest a date for the establishment of the Preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers at Tully prior to his death in 1219.

An article from the Grey Abbey Conservation Project's new book, CHURCH OF THE OAK, on the foundation of the Black Abbey at Tully.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:30 PM

November 03, 2006




Rory Hopkins
Kildares Townlands - Guide To Irish Land Division
Province –Leinster. In 300 BC, Labhradh Loingseach brought an army of Gauls from France to assist him in recovering the kingdom from his uncle. These foreign soldiers used a kind of broad pointed spear, called laighen [layen]; and from this circumstance the province in which they settled, which had previously borne the name of Galian, was afterwards called Laighen, which is its present Irish name. The termination `ster', which has been added to the names of three of the provinces, is the Scandinavian or Danish stadr, a place. Laighien-ster (the place or province of Laighen) would be pronounced Laynster, which is the very name given in a state paper of 1515, and which naturally settled into the present form, Leinster.
County –Kildare was "shired" by King John Lackland of England in 1210 creating an Anglo-Norman territory to be administered for the crown by the Earls of Kildare.
Barony – East Offaly – The name was derived from Ross Failghe the eldest son of Cathaoir Mor, King of Ireland A.D. 122-125. Ireland was divided into 273 baronies. They were composed of a larger number of townlands than a parish and are said to be an ancient form of administrative unit used for the collection of taxes etc
Civil Parish – East Offaly comprises the parishs Ballymany, Ballysax, Ballyshannon, Concurry, Dunmurry, Grangeclare, Kildare, Kilmeague, Lullymore, Pollardstown, Rathangan, Thomastown & Tully
Towns land - A townland is one of the smallest land divisions in Ireland.  There are over 60,000 of them and they range in size from an acre or two up to many thousands of acres.  The majority are in the hundreds of acres
Kildares Townlands
“The Townland system is considered to be one of the most distinguishing marks of Ireland and the term townland itself, while unknown in the homeland of the English language is recognised in all parts of Ireland”  (O Maolfababhail 1978)
“Townland names like the landscape to which they relate are precious records of the history, legends and mythology of their communities” (Loughrey 1986)
Petty 1683.jpg
Noble and Keenan 1752.jpg
Kildares Townlands – Preamble
Up to 95% of townlands whose names include and a ‘Family name’ followed by
‘Town’ are of Anglo-Norman origin examples of such names are Pollardstown,
Crotanstown, Walshestown, Brownstown and Maddenstown also area’s
with the word Grange which refers to Church land are of Norman
origin. For the purposes of this discussion I will concentrate on the Gaelic
 names. I will also include the earliest owner of the land and one owner/tenant
from Griffiths valuation from 1851 if possible.
Current Townlands Map.jpg
Analysis of Townlands.jpg
Gaelic Towns land    Norman Towns land   English Towns land
Kildares Townlands
The Curragh – Place of horse racing, The word cuirreach means a racecourse. The ancient name of Cuirreach Lifé shows that long ago the original plain reached that river’s banks, but since Anglo-Norman times it has been gradually encroached upon from all sides. The Curragh lay in the ancient territory of Magh Lifé, or Lifé’s plain, so called from Lifé, daughter of Mac Druchta, cup-bearer to Conaire Mór, King of Eire. Hence Abhann Lifé, or the River Lifé, running through Magh Lifé which was situated in the O’Byrne territory of Offelan.
Kildare (Cill Dara) - Church of the Oak
Drumcree (Dromcriadh) - ridge of clay
Tully – The little hill (a rising ground) THE KNIGHTS HOSPITALLERS who lived at Tully were monk soldiers organised to assist pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land and to protect the Places sacred to Christians which were in danger from the Mahommedan Infidels. Their first foundation was a hopsice in Jerusalem.The ensign of the order was a white flag with a black cross. Hence the Abbey was called ‘The Black Abbey.’ Owner 1641 Peter Sarsfield, Landowner/Tenant 1851 : Michael Conway
Botharcoy (Bothar Bui) – The Yellow road
Carna - monument of stones
Kildares Townlands
GreyAbbey -THE GREY ABBEY has its name from the grey habit worn by the Franciscan Friars. Lord William de Vesci built the monastery for the Friars in 1260. Later the lands of Kildare passed to John Fitzthomas and so to the Earls of Kildare. The monastery was suppressed about 1543 and its lands and buildings and valuables confiscated and granted to Daniel Sutton. Some of their property seems to have been overlooked, for in 1589 the remainder was confiscated. Owner 1641 Peter Sarsfield. Landowner 1851 Patrick Lee
Shanacloon – The old meadow (lands belonged to Franciscans 1260) Ballyshannon Naas?
New Town – Typically associated as plantation or post plantation towns (Not mentioned in 1641) Tenant 1851 Philip & Patrick Hopkins 
Silliot (Sillagh) – The place of the Sally’s (willows). Owner Peter Sarsfield. Landowner/Tenant 1851 Thomas Heffernan
Fennor (Fionnabhair) White field. Owner 1641 Maurice Fitzgerald. Landowner/Tenant 1851 John Dunne
 RathmuckThe fort of the pig. Owner 1641 Maurice Fitzgerald. Landowner/Tenant 1851 Martin Kelly
Grange beg - Little Grange 1851 James Behan
Ballygreany – The town of the sandy or gravely place. Owner 1641 Maurice Fitzgerald, Landowner/Tenant 1851 Edward O’Farrell
Kildares Townlands
Oghill – place of Yew wood - Landowner/Tenant 1851 John Hyland
Cross Maurice - 1520AD Battle of Crossmaurice. Maurice FitzGearld killed by the O'Mores of Leix. A cross marked the spot where he was killed.1851 Thomas Fitzgerald
Lackagh A place full of stones or flags. Owner 1641 James Fitzgerald, Landowner/Tenant 1851 Patrick Fitzgerald
Mynah - Little plain
Knocknagalliagh (Cnoc na gCailleach) – The hill of the nuns. 1641 owner John White. Landowner/Tenant 1851 Maurice Dooney
Knockshough – Hawk hill Landowner/Tenant 1851 Thomas Patterson
Grangeclare (Grainseach an chlair) – Grange of the Plain – outlying farm belonging to Hospital of St. John. Owner 1641 Charles Lord Moore, Landowner/Tenant 1851 Timothy Whelan
Loughminane (Loch­minane) - the formation of which is thus accounted for in the Feilire Aenguis in the Leabhar Breac: “Eighteen bishops came to Brigid to Loch Lemnachta, beside Kildare to the north. So Brigid asked her cook whether she had food, and she said she had none. And Brigid was embarrassed, so the angel said the cows should be milked again. And Brigid milked them, and they filled the tubs, and they would have filled all the vessels of Leinster, and the milk came over the vessels, and made a loch thereof. Hence the name Loch Lemnachta, lake of New Milk.” Landowner/Tenant 1851 Mary Cleary
Kildares Townlands
Rathbride – fort of Brigid (common around Ireland associated with places Brigid visited). Owner 1641 John Lye, Landowner 1851
Crockanure (Cnoc-an-iubhair)The hill of the yew tree
Fearann Dearg (not Bearg)–The red ploughed field
Cloghgerret –The stone (or stone castle) of Garret? Owner/Tenant 1851 Hugh Conlan
Collaghknock The land at the back of the hill Landowner/Tenant 1851 Patrick Connolly
Rathangan (Rath Iomghain) – Iomgan Rath
Dunmurry Murray’s Fort, Taxation value 1303 six marks, nine shillings. Owner 1641 Earl Of Kildare, Landowner 1851 Edward Medlicott
Red Hills“from the redness of the earth I suppose. There is a copper mine here said to be very rich, which is working these three years past, not with that spirit however which can only render undertakings of the kind of public importance.” - TOPHAM Bowden 1790
Carrigin Earle – The Earl’s Castle. Owner 1641 Earl of Kildare
Pollardstown- From the french surname for head (Value of 50 shillings in 1303)
Ballymany (Baile Meadhonach) – Middle Town
Kildares Townlands – The ones that got away!
Kilnagornan – The wood of the black smiths?
Loughandys – The lake of the swamp?
Loughlion – The lake of the children?
Duneany – Fort of the swamp ?
Rathwalkin – Fort of Walkin ?
Monasterevin Townlands
Townlands in the Civil Parish of Monasterevin
            The Townland in a Medieval and older territorial division based on a number of plough lands. In later times they formed the basis for rental assessments. The following is a list of townlands, their Irish name and meaning.
Ballyfarsoon: Baile an pearsan. Town of the Parson.
Barraderra: Baire a doire. Top of the oak wood.
Clogheen: Cloicin. A small stone or stone house (possibly St. Evin's bell house or oratory).       
Cloncarlin: Cluain Caireallain. Carolan's Meadow (also called Globe Island).
Clonegath: Cluain na gath. Meadow of the spears (possibly meaning battlefield).
Cowpasture: Possibly a commonage area.
Coolnefearagh: Cuail na Fearagh. The men's corner or grassy corner (a place of assembly).
Fearmore: Fiair Mor. Great Meadow.
Gorteen: Guirtin. A small garden or cultivated field.
Gorteenoona: From the same root as Gorteen.
Grangecoor: An out farm of the Cistercian monastery.
Kill: Cill or Coill. A church or wood.
Kilpatrick: Cill Pádraig. St. Patrick's Church.
Larchhill: A hill with a plantation of larch trees ? Does anyone have an Irish name for the area?   
Lughill: Liamh Coill. Elm Wood
Monasterevin: Manistir Eimhin. The Monastery of Evin.
Monasterevin Bog: The Bog of the Monastery of Evin
Moore Abbey:Originally called The House of Monasterevan.
Oghill: Eochaill. Yew Wood.
Oldgrange: The old grange or out farm of the Cistercian monastery.
Passlands: Possibly the land of the pass, associated with the Pass Bridge.
Skirteen: Scairtin. A little cluster of bushes or a thicket.
Toghereen: The Little Causeway (tracks over bogs dating to the Late Bronze Age are known throughout the area of Monasterevin).    
Meanings of Irish place names.jpg Meanings of Irish place names2.jpg

Notes from the recent excellent lecture on the derivation of townland names delivered by Rory Hopkins to the Cill Dara Historical Society in September.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:12 PM

October 31, 2006


FROM 1704
1704—FATHER JAMES FITZGERALD, aged 63, was regis­tered in 1704 as P.P. Kildare and Dunmurry. Ordained in 1669 at Dublin by Dr. Patrick Plunkett, Bishop of Meath.
            1704—FATHER CONLY GEOGHEGAN, aged 36, residing at Tully. P.P. of Rathangan, Tully, Feighcullen and part of Kilmeage. Ordained in 1689 at Kilkenny by Dr. Phelan, Bishop of Ossory.
1731—A return of 13th Nov., 1731, states: “In the parish of Kildare there is a Mass-house, and the present priest being being [sic] an old infirm man has lately got a coadjutor but there is no private Popish chapel, no Popish school, no reputed nunnery or Friary. I am told that itinerant friars often preach here. In the parish of Tully there is neither mass-house nor private Popish chapel, no Popish school, no reputed nunnery or Friary. The people of this parish hear Mass at Kildare, the priest of Kildare being priest of Tully also.” And again: “The priest of Kildare officiates at the Mass-house of Rathangan which has been built about 30 years.”
1753—Lately died REV. MR. SIMON FITZPATRICK, Parish Priest of Kildare—Pue’s Occurrences, 20th, Oct., 1753, Archiv. Hib. XVI p.84 [. – sic] In the Catholic portion of the graveyard attached to the Protestant Church at Rathangan is a tombstone facing west inscribed: This stone, erected by Rev. Simon Fitzpatrick, in memory of ye deceased bodye of John James and Catherine Fitzpatrick deceased 1711. Father Fitzpatrick is probably buried here with his family. Mr. Michael Dawson, Rathangan, is a kinsman.
1756—“FATHER ROBERT ELLIS, P.P., died 6 May 1756 suddenly—Faulkener’s Dublin Journal,8th, May, 1756. There is a tradition that Father Ellis officiated in Kildare in the time of Bishop Keeffe. A Father Ellis lived in Kill in 1731.
1779—FATHER PHILIP ROUSE, P.P. He is buried in Kildare Cathedral burial-ground, a few yards from the grave of Father Terence Nolan, P.P., beside the old Cross. Father Rouse’s tomb reads:
Here lies the dust of Philip Rouse, whose wealth
Was lent to Church and poor to purchase bliss
His flock with zeal he taught whilst he had health,
In truth    and friendship never was remiss.
Died April 18th, 1778, aged 66
That this date is incorrect is shown as follows:-
A silver-gilt chalice at Kildare is inscribed: Donum Rev Philippi Rouse, Paroeciae Kildare. Ora pro eo 1779. A similar chalice at Rathangan reads: Donum Revdi Philli Rouse, parochiae de Rathangan. Ora pro eo A.D. 1779.
            2 Father Rouse was one of five members of the Kildare Chapter who in a document issued from Kilcock 4th Sept., 1778, postulated for the appointment of Father Fleming, O.P., as Bishop of Meath. The signatories were William Dunn, V.G. of the Bishop of Kildare, canon and P.P. of St. James’ Clane, Richard Reilly, S.T.D., Archdeacon of Kildare and P.P. of the parochial Church of the Assump­tion at Kilcock, Dominic Dempsey, canon of Kildare and P.P. of the parochial Church of St. Michael of Cadans­town (sic), John Kenny, P.P. of the parochial Church of the Holy Trinity of Carberry, and “Philippus Rouse, canonicus Kildariensis, parochialis ecclesiae B.V.M. de Kildare, etc., parochus.”—Arch. Hib. VIII. 211.
3 “Died in Kildare, Rev. Dr. Rouse, Romish clergyman”—Dublin Evening Post,7th, April, 1779. Reference by Fr. J. Brady, Meath. Fr. Rouse was a benefactor of the Irish College, Paris in 1781, that is by his will (Fr. Boyle, p. 225). A brother of Fr. Rouse who took part in the Rising of 1798 eluded his pursuers by hiding in a crop of rye in a field now owned by Wallpapers, Ltd., but then owned by the Rouse family beside the present Pigeon Lane.
            1798—REV. EDMUND BURKE, P.P., KILDARE. A native of Hophall, Portlaoise. Left Ireland in 1787 and after­wards became bishop of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He died 1820, aged 78.
1803—REV. TERENCE NOLAN. The extract from Topham Bowden, who travelled in Ireland in 1790 shows that before that year Fr. Nolan, P.P., through the liberality of the Duke of Leinster had built a very handsome chapel, and had acquired the parochial land from the Duke for himself and his successors forever. Soon after 1790, the old parochial house, now a garage, was built by Mr. Bergin, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Higgins. Mr. Charles C. Bergin has a detailed statement of the account of the building of the house. The Higgins and Kellys were other prominent Kildare families. A Mr. Kelly owned the ground on which the Presentation Convent and St. Brigid’s Church are built. Fr. Anthony Higgins, P.P., Caragh, 1790-1831, whose nephew was his C.C. in 1820, was from Kildare. [c.f. also Fr. Anthony Higgin [Higgins – sic], O.F.M., Prior of Grey Abbey, 1717]. The Higgins family are buried in the centre of Tully graveyard near the Kellys.
A silver gilt chalice in St. Brigid’s Church, inscribed, Rev. P. B., July 30, 1792, belongs to Fr. Nowlan’s period. It is said that Fr. Nowlan and the Protestant Rector were instrumental in saving each other’s life during the 1798 Rising. Fr. Nowlan died about 1803, and lies beneath an uninscribed stone at the foot of the ancient Cross in the Cathedral graveyard.
1819—REV. MICHAEL CORCORAN, a native of Laois, was P.P. Balyna before he came as P.P. to Kildare. He became Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, 12 March, 1815, and went to reside in Tullow. He retained Kildare as his parish until his death in 1819.
          1815-20—FR. MATTHEW FANNING was administrator. He became administrator of his native parish of Raheen, Laois, in 1820. P.P. Raheen, 1820 to his death in 1837.
            1820-64—FR. PATRICK BRENNAN, Adm. Kildare 1820-22. P.P. Kildare 1822 or 1823 till his death, 24 June 1864. A native of Carlow town, he was first bursar of Carlow College. He was Penitentiary of the diocese. He founded and built Presentation Convent, Kildare in 1829. He built St. Brigid’s Hall, now the Infants’ School. He built St. Brigid’s Church in 1833. He is buried in front of the High Altar outside the Sanctuary gate. There is a hand­some mural tablet with sculptured figure by Farrell.
            l864-67—REV. JOHN DUNNE, D.D., former Professor and President of Carlow College. A native of Ballinakill, Laois, he was a grand-nephew of Dr. Dunne, Bishop of Ossory, and son of John Dunne who, with Dr. Doyle, gave evidence before a House of Commons committee in London. He was a fine classical scholar. He built the present parochial house, but did not live in it. He died 25 July, 1867, the third anniversary of his appointment as P.P. There is a mural tablet with a sculptured likeness over his grave in St. Brigid’s Church.
            1867-80—REV. JOHN NOLAN, a native of Myshall, took an active part in building Baltinglass Church. P.P. Killeigh, 1859-67. He founded and built the Mercy Convent, Rathangan in 1877. He built the Convent School wing in Kildare in 1869. He added the conservatory to the Parochial House. In 1871 he erected the mission Cross between the Church entrance gate and the gallery-steps. He died 3 December, 1880 at the residence of his brother Fr. Thomas Nolan, P.P., Abbeyleix. There is a mural tablet over his grave in St. Brigid’s Church.
            l880-86—VERY REV. JAMES B. KAVANAGH, D.D., succeeded. He was Professor in Carlow College, 1850-64 and President, 1864-December 1880. He erected the three marble altars in St. Brigid’s Church to the memory of his predecessors.
            He built the present sacristy and had the Nuns’ side-chapel erected. It was probably he who heated the Church. In 1884 he brought the De La Salle Brothers to Kildare. Through the liberality of William and Francis Lee he built the present Boys’ School, the ground floor as a school and the upper storey as a Town Hall, and also the Brothers’ residence. On the 5th October, 1886 he was killed by a small marble statue which fell from the high altar just as he had said 7.30 Mass. There is a mural tablet over his grave in St. Brigid’s Church. The four stained windows in the Sanctuary as well as the altar-rails were erected to his memory.
            1886-1901—DR. MICHAEL J. MURPHY was appointed P.P. Kildare and V.G. on 25 October, 1886. A native of Co. Kilkenny he was appointed Professor in Carlow College, 1 September, 1871, and Vice-President, December 1880. In Kildare he erected the four stained windows in the Sanctuary, the altar-rails, a new ceiling in the Sanctuary, two confessionals, the Calvary in the grounds (his own gift to the parish in honour of his silver jubilee, 1896), the new clock in the tower (gift of the parish on the same occasion), the Lourdes Grotto, (gift from Miss Broom) the two porches, the Stations of the Cross. He tiled the Sanctuary, carried out the decorative work in plaster in the Sanctuary, as well as the decoration of the Church. He purchased the present Crib in 1894, and had the pulpit designed by Buckley, Youghal and executed by Wespalier. In Rathangan he erected the High Altar, and the Stations of the Cross. On 25 January, 1901 he was appointed P. P. Portlaoise. He died, 24 March, 1941.
            1901-26—VERY REV. PETER CAMPION succeeded. To ensure safety, he had the statues of SS. Patrick, Brigid. Conleth and Lazarian taken down from the Church Tower, [. – sic] In December 1917, the Boys’ School building was almost totally destroyed by fire. Fr. Campion had the property vested as a school and obtained a grant for its restoration. He added the stairs annexe. He had two plots, one in front of St. Brigid’s Church and the other in front of the present C.Y.M.S. Hall, enclosed with an iron railing and planted with evergreen trees. In 1902 the Hospital was re-opened and the Infant Girls’ School wing was built. In these two projects Fr. Campion was ably assisted by Fr. John Delany, C.C., afterwards Monsignor and P.P. Rathvilly. Fr. Delany lived in the house in which Mr. Hector Thompson now lives. When he left, he was replaced by Fr. J. Gorman, C.C. who, came from Rathangan and at Fr. Campion’s request, lived with him at the Parochial House. Fr. Campion died 26 August, 1926 and is buried at Tully. Bishop Foley had died a month earlier and the parish remained vacant during the vacancy of the See.
            1927-’47--VERY REV. JOHN KANE, P.P. came as P.P. in August 1927. He had been P.P. Allen 1920-27. During his pastorate the new ceiling was erected over the nave of St. Brigid’s Church. The De la Salle Secondary School was erected and a new wing added to the Convent School. The old Power station was acquired, and opened as a C.Y.M.S. Hall, and St. Brigid’s Park acquired and opened. Fr. Kane died 13 October, 1947 and is buried in the New Cemetery.
1947-51—VERY REV. JAMES FOYNES, P.P. came as P.P. in November 1947. He had been Professor and Bursar in Carlow College from his ordination in December 1915 to his silver jubilee day, 19 December, 1940, when he went as Administrator to Tullow.
During his pastorate he made a large addition to the de La Salle Brothers’ residence. He repaired the exterior of St. Brigid’s Church, and renovated the interior of the Parochial House. In 1949-50 the spacious new C.Y.M.S. Hall was built and equipped. Fr. Foynes died 12 November, 1951. [, -sic] and is buried in the New Cemetery.
Father Foynes was succeeded as P P. [P.P. – sic], by Very Rev. Peader MacSuibhne, who came on 13th December, 1951.
[Pue’s Occurrences = Magazine; Faulkener’s Dublin Journal = Faulkiner’s Dublin Journal (newspaper); Archiv. Hib. = Archivum Hibernicum (Academic Journal); (sic) under 2 FATHER ROUSE after Cadanstown is actually part of the text and probably indicates that it should read Cadamstown; I’m not sure what the cf – cross reference here to Fr. Higgins of Caragh means; was it a note from one of the authors that was to be checked later or were both men related – this cf note is later used in the chapter on the parish priests but in reverse – again without explanation; interchanges Nolan and Nowlan; interchanges De La Salle, De la Salle and de La Salle – Mario Corrigan]

Chapter 23 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 lists the Parish Priests of the parish of Kildare from 1704 until the arrival of  the Very Rev. Peader MacSuibhne on 13th December, 1951.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:54 PM

October 23, 2006





        THIS remarkable priest was born in Kildare town about the year 1780. He entered Carlow College on the 7th November, 1795, and left on the 7th August1796. He continued his studies at Salamanca, in Spain, and at the Irish College, Rome, and was there ordained to priesthood, probably early in the year 1807.

        Shortly after his ordination, he set out on his journey home. On his arrival in Ireland in 1807, Father Broughall was appointed C.C. at Raheen, Queens County, where he laboured for some ten years. Amongst the fruits of his zeal was the erection of the present Chapel of Ease at Shanahoe. In June 1818 he was promoted P.P. of Graig-na-managh. Soon after his coming to Graig-na-managh, Father Broughall built a modest residence.

        He had scarcely completed his house, when he was afflicted with a long and dangerous illness. When all natural remedies seemed unavailing, with lively faith he made a vow that if restored to health, he would go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and after returning, take the habit of the Carthusians. The great Dr. Doyle, "J.K.L." offered Father Broughall leave of absence for two or three years for the benefit of his health. He began his pilgrimage in the year 1822, travelling entirely on foot except what he was necessarily obliged to pass by sea.

        Father Broughall met many difficulties after setting out as a pilgrim. When he arrived at Paris he was so ill from the fatigues of the long walk that he was confined to bed for five weeks, and was not expected to recover. After some time however he regained sufficient strength and took up once more his pilgrim’s staff and set out on "the Path to Rome," and thence with the blessing of the Supreme Pontiff, for the Holy land. Father Broughall acknowledges the great kindness he received from the Holy Father, Pius VII, who blessed the pilgrim’s habit and clothed him therewith, explained the difficulties and dangers that lay before him, and offered even to dispense him from his vow, "but resigning myself," says Father Broughall, "into the holy hands of Almighty God, through the intercession of the ever Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary, I determined to comply with my vow." And so with wonderful patience, perseverance and trust in God, he overcame all difficulties and accomplished his pious and penitential pilgrimage. In a letter to the bishop of Kildare and Leighlin he states: "I left Rome, possessing no riches except my breviary and pilgrim’s staff. I was obliged to traverse every port in Italy before I could procure a passage to the East. There is such a decay of religion on the Continent that the generality of the captains to whom I applied refused to take me, many of them insulted me; however after long perseverance and many difficulties, Almighty God in His goodness provided me with a ship at Leghorn for the island of Cyprus, where I embarked a second time for Bayrout, a seaport in Syria. From thence I proceeded on foot, to Nazareth, the river Jordan, Mount Thabor, Tiberias, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and to all the sacred places sanctified by the miracles and holy life of Our Redeemer. I arrived in Jerusalem very much fatigued, but on entering Mount Calvary forgot all my difficulties. The many Stations representing the sufferings and Passion of Our Blessed Redeemer, the view of that awful place on which He purchased our redemption, the sight of the Holy Sepulchre, filled me with gratitude for His unparalleled mercy to us, and His extraordinary favour to me in bringing me to the place of my redemption. I celebrated Holy Mass at the different stages of the Passion of our Divine Redeemer. I visited Mount Olivet whence Our Blessed Redeemer ascended into heaven. I also celebrated Mass in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Valley of Josaphat is situated between the Garden of Gethsemane and Mount Calvary. The torrent Cedron passes through the south of the valley. In Bethlehem I remained four months. The Stable in which Our Blessed Redeemer was born is in the same condition as at the sacred birth. There is a sumptuous church erected over the Stable."

        In November, 1827, having accomplished his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he set out on his return journey to Rome and to Ireland. Difficulties, dangers and infirmities confront the way-worn pilgrim.

        In Rome the Holy Father, Pope Leo XII received the Irish Pilgrim Priest with every mark of kindness. While in Rome on his way home to Ireland, Father Broughall was again visited with fever and dysentery which continued two months. "In Cairo I lodged in the Convent. There were six religious, four clergymen, and two lay brothers who were the only missioners in that country, all of whom though in perfect health on my arrival, were in a few days after seized with that fatal distemper. I attended them, administered to them the last Sacraments, each of them dying in my arms. I accordingly undertook to discharge the duty of these venerable, holy, deceased Missioners. During my stay in Grand Cairo there died in the city forty thousand persons. On resuming my journey to Ireland my complaints again returned in Genoa; I was obliged to enter hospital for eight months. I left Genoa something better but had to enter hospital again in Barcelona, where I was confined to bed twelve months with continual fever. I was not expected to recover; I received the Last Sacraments. My recovery astonished the physicians. On my arrival in Madrid I had to enter hospital again, where I was confined to bed for four months." Father Broughall was back again in Ireland in 1838, and during his stay he resided at Carlow College, where the President, Dr. Fitzgerald, invited him to make his permanent abode. The man of God however declined this kind offer. So in 1839 notwithstanding all the harsdhips [hardships – sic] he had previously endured, he bravely set out for Italy, with the purpose of spending the remainder of his life as an humble hermit in that favoured land. After many difficulties and trials Father Broughall arrived at Naples.


        Father Broughall spent the last ten years of his life in the calm seclusion of the cloister; for in 1840 he was admitted into the celebrated Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino where he edified everyone by his great piety, and where his memory is revered as that of a saint. His special devotions were towards Our Lord ever present in the Most Holy Sacrament, and towards the Blessed Virgin, whom he delighted to style "Ever Immaculate." In 1848 the King of Naples and his family visited Monte Cassino. On going to the church to make their devotions the royal visitors found Father Broughall in adoration before the Tabernacle. They came and knelt behind him, and on leaving, each of the royal party reverentially took up and kissed the hem of the habit of the holy religious, who was so absorbed in his devotion as to be wholly unconscious of their presence.

        Father Broughall died on the feast of the Ascension 1850 in the seventy first year of his age. Such was the fame of his piety that the monks and many secular persons thronged round his bed for the eight days that his illness continued. He is buried in Monte Cassino.

        The memory of this remarkable priest seems to have faded almost entirely from Kildare. Towards the end of the eighteenth century a Broughall family lived beside the road in a field still called Broughall’s field, now Mr. Fitzgerald’s, where it adjoins Mrs. Berry’s land. The field between that and the Foundry is called Butler’s field. The Broughall house is shown on the Ordnance Map of 1837. At this time English troops distributed through the country lived by the system of "free quarters" staying in the people’s houses, and taking food without payment. Night after night the skies were ablaze with burning houses and chapels. The Broughall homestead was burned down one Sunday evening. A large crowd of neighbours gathered to sympathise with them, for it had been their home for generations. The Broughall family went to live in Kildare in Bride Street. There were many thatched houses from Messrs. Bolands down towards the present church. The people of Cherryville, Pack Bush and adjoining districts built a house for them in the lane leading from Pack Bush to Rathwalkin. Father Broughall who was born in Kildare town in 1780 may have been of this family.

        Thomas or Lawrence may have been the name of the man whose house was burned. He had a brother Timothy unmarried who lived in a house at Cherryville Cross on Mr. Johnson’s land. He was shot by English soldiers and his house burned as he was seen crossing a field with a pike in his hand one evening after a meeting at Gallows Cross. This three road cross is about half a mile from Cherryville in Kildangan district. It is said a priest was hanged there. This information was given in 1925 by Ellen Boughall [Broughall? - sic] whose father, Thomas Boughall [Broughall? – sic], was a grand-nephew of the Broughall brothers already mentioned. Ellen was about 90 years of age when she died in 1929. Her mother’s name was Carthy: the ruins of the Carthy home are still to be seen on the back road from Pack Bush. This back road was once known as the "sixty-six," because there were sixty-six houses from Pack Bush to Cross Morris. Ellen Broughall lived up the lane from Pack Bush, probably in the house that has been built for the Broughall family who were burned out about 1779. Miss Ellen Broughall had three sisters, Sarah, Maria and Brigid and one brother Timothy, a railway engine driver who distinguished himself by his bravery on the occasion of a railway smash near Roscrea about 1905. Mr. Laurence Broughall of Meitta Road is a nephew of Miss Ellen Broughall.

        The descendants of the Broughall family at Cherryville built a house again on the old holding. It was occupied in 1880 by John Broughall, whom Mr. John Melia remembers to live there. A Broughall family, probably relatives of the Cherryville Broughall family, lived at Mount Rice opposite Christopher Moore’s about 1890. The ruins of the house are still to be seen. There were seven sons. The father was Michael and the mother formerly Miss Maher. They were stricken by a fever from which the parents did not recover. The boys wished to go to America, so their uncle Peter Maher paid their passage to the U.S.A., took over their homestead and burned the house in ease any trace of the fever might have remained. The youngest boy, Laurence, was ordained in the U.S.A.


[Compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan - the images are poor but are taken from the original and were so placed in the original booklet although them seem to have little to do with the actual text.]

Chapter 22 of the An Tostal Souvenir Programme of 1953 is dedicated to the Pilgrim Priest, Fr. Benjamin Broughall. A plaque commemorating Fr. Broughall is mounted at Bride Street, Kildare Town.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:56 AM

September 05, 2006


“The normal units of church administration are dioceses and parishes. This system developed gradually during the first centuries of Christianity according as the number of the faithful increased in each country. The system accord­ing to some authorities was introduced into Ireland at the time of the Norman invasion, though others assign an earlier date. Our diocesan and parish divisions are the most ancient geographical units we have. By parish we do not mean the modern parish but the ancient ecclesiastical division now generally known as “civil parish.” In the Protestant Church administration the older parish names are still used and the ancient boundaries and areas are pretty well recognised. In Catholic administration, however the old parish names have been largely lost and our present Catholic parishes are generally amalgamations of three or four or more ancient parishes. The boundaries of our parishes varied considerably during the Penal Days, but they became more or less fixed at the end of the 18th century” (St. Conleth’s Church, Droichead Nua, Year Book,1953).
               The present Kildare parish is a union of the former parishes of Kildare, Rathangan, Dunmurry, Tully, Clon­curry, Lullymore and Knavenstown, the Abbey land of Kildare and Silliatt Moone, and the parochial district of Ellistown. The Rathangan Protestant Church occupies the site of the old parochial Church. The original Church here was founded by the Anglo-Normans, possibly the Fitz­geralds. A Chapel of the Penal times, built about 1700, was just inside the wall that afterwards enclosed the Harberton demesne, near the high canal bridge. The present Church was built in 1816 by Rev. L. Mooney. But to treat adequately of Rathangan would require a separate booklet. There is an old burial-ground at Cloncurry which is no longer used. In it is the foundation of a building probably a Church. At Cappinarigid is another old graveyard with the ruins of a Church. Lullymore is the site of an old parochial Church. There was a religious community there early in the 18th century. In Dunmurry is an old graveyard and the site of a Parochial Church. In Knavens­town graveyard the east gable of an old Church stands. On April 26,1766, there were in this parish “fifteen families of which only one was Protestant, and the other fourteen were Papist. No priest or friar resided in the parish.” In Ellistown was a Chapel dedicated to St. Michael but the site is forgotten. There was a castle here in 1752. The Kildare Book of Survey shows “Patrick Sarsfield, Irish Papist as the proprietor of 94 profitable acres in Silliatt­-Moone Parish and 298 acres of Abbey land in Kildare.”

Chapter 21 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 deals with the Modern Parish of Kildare - that is the Parish of Kildare as it was in 1953.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 01:34 AM

August 15, 2006




Cambrensis tells us another fact which shows to what degree of perfection the art of illumination was carried in the Schools of Kildare. "Amongst all the wonderful things at Kildare," he says, "nothing appears to me more wonderful than that admirable book written as they say at the time of the Virgin from the dictation of an angel. This Book contains a Harmony of the four Evangelists according to St. Jerome, in which there are nearly as many different figures variously illuminated in colours as there are pages. In one part you may behold the countenance of majesty divinely depicted; in another the mystic emblems of the Evangelists, some represented with six, others with four, others with two wings; here an eagle, there a calf, now the face of a man, again, that of a lion, as well as an almost infinite number of other figures, which if you merely glance at in the usual way, without taking notice of, they will appear to be blots rather than ligatures, and displaying nothing exquisite where, notwithstanding there is nothing but what is exquisite. But if you examine them sharply and try to penetrate their beauty, you will be able to note the delicate beautiful minute interlacings, in colours still fresh and bright so that you would be led to believe that they were indeed the work of an angel rather than of man. The oftener and more carefully I have examined them the more was I struck with new wonder, and each time I saw fresh subjects to call for admiration." Giraldus goes on to tell the story of the writing of the book as it was told in his time and concludes: "In this way was the Book written, the angel showing the pattern, St. Brigid praying and the scribe copying."

This description of the Book of Kildare answers the Book of Kells, and goes far to show that the two Books were of equal artistic value. Petrie and Todd are of opinion that the Book of Kells is the identical book described by Cambrensis, and there is a growing tendency towards that opinion.

[Giraldus Cambrensis]

Chapter 20 of the An Tostal Souvenir Programme of 1953 is dedicated to the 'Book of Kildare' which was said to have rivalled the Book of Kells.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 12:35 PM

July 31, 2006


TULLY was purchased by Colonel W. Hall-Walker, later Lord Wavertree, as a racing stable about 1900. Shortly afterwards, believing it was more suited to the breeding and rearing of thoroughbred horses, he con­verted it into a Stud. He spent some years acquiring a collection of foundation mares which were to become of almost priceless value. The descendants of these first mares have had a profound influence on the modern racehorse. The winners of many English and Irish classics have been bred at Tully.
In 1915 Lord Wavertree decided to give up his interest in the Stud and offered it to the Government as a gift, to form a National Stud. This offer was accepted. The thoroughbreds and all the valuable equipment of house and farm finally became the property of the Govern­ment of the day. Managed first by Sir Henry Greer, the National Stud flourished and in twenty years the yearlings alone brought in £250,000 in revenue. Later the Stud was managed by Mr. Noble Johnson, who was succeeded by Mr. Peter Burrell. The National Stud continued its production of high-class horses until 1943 when the stock was taken to England and the property was taken over by the Irish Government. From 1922 to 1943 the English Govern­ment had paid an agreed sum in lieu of rent to the Irish Government.
On January 1st, 1944, the Irish Government took possession of Tully and until bloodstock could be purchased it was farmed and grazed with cattle.
The Irish National Stud Company was formed and the National Stud Act passed the Dail in August, 1945. The breeding of high-class thoroughbreds was to be the sole business of the National Stud at Tully which was to make available to small Irish breeders sires of the best class at reasonable fees, and so improve the thoroughbred strain in Ireland. Sires were also to stand at centres through the country other than Tully. A limited number of high-class brood mares was to be purchased to maintain an annual supply of stock for future breeding. These thoroughbreds after a racecourse test were to be used as sires or brood mares if of sufficient racing merit.
H.E. the President of Ireland graciously consented to allow this stock to race in his name and colours. The National Stud is not directly under the Department of Agriculture.
The first purchase made by the Directors was the famous Royal Charger. He has been very successful, and his progeny are still winning on the racecourses of Europe and the U.S.A. Other sires purchased are Preceptic, Blackrock and Whitehall. A number of first-class thoroughbred mares have also been purchased.
The most famous sire—Tulyar—has been purchased for £250,000, and promises to fulfil the highest hopes of the founders of the National Stud.
Major C. C. Hall is racing manager to H.E. the President of Ireland and is also the resident manager of Tully Stud.
               CLASSED as being unique in the world the Japanese Gardens are adjoining the National Stud and are its property. Planned and devised by Col. W. Hall-Walker—later Lord Wavertree—they were built by the Japanese Eida and his son Minoru. The Gardens cover an area of about one and a quarter acres; they cost £38,000 and took four years—1906-1910—to complete.
They are planned to symbolise the Life of Man from the Cradle to the Grave. The scheme of the planting of trees and shrubs stress this symbol ; Spring, the start of life, when the cherry trees bloom; Autumn, the end of life, with the maple leaves coming to their full glory. Irish and English yew and box are interspersed for the art of topiary. There are old trees from four to six hundred years old. A fascinating object is the “Village” built of lava from the Japanese sacred mountain, Fusiyama.
Upwards of 20,000 visitors see the Gardens each season.


Chapter 19 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 is dedicated to the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens at Tully.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 12:16 PM

July 16, 2006




        THE two main approaches to the ancient town of Kildare are guarded by two handsome and modern buildings of noble proportions These are the McGee Barracks on the eastern side, while on the western side nobody can fail to notice the modern factory erected in 1936 by Wallpapers Ltd. This striking building set in ideal surroundings is an indication of the important work, in so far as it affects every Irish householder, that is carried on within.

        With the industrial revival in this country, the fact was grasped at a fairly early stage that wallpaper should be produced in Ireland. With this end in view Wallpapers Ltd., was incorporated in June, 1936, and as a result of intense efforts, wallpaper was first printed in Kildare on 1st, January, 1937. Since that date, in spite of serious difficulties, particularly during the emergency period, wallpaper has been turned out consistently, while employment has been given to upwards of one hundred workers drawn from the Kildare area.

        Fashions in wallpaper change frequently, but these changes, which are seasonal, mean that the manufacturers have constantly to alter their colourings and designs, with a view to keeping the homes of the land brightly and cheerfully decorated, and as a result Wallpapers Limited has produced hundreds of designs and colourings in Wall and Ceiling Papers and Borders since the Company was established.

        The manufacture of wallpaper is in the main a paper staining process, the bulk of the colouring being through the blending of chrome colours, which are mixed with fixatives. Simple as the finished product may seem its production is highly technical, calling for the use of a complicated and expensive type of plant, and also for skilful and perfectly trained operatives.

        Irishmen have proved themselves most adaptable to the delicate processes which are necessary to produce good wallpaper, and Irishmen, and Kildare men in particular, may well be proud of the success that has been obtained, as a result of their development of the Wallpaper Industry.



        THE Chilling Factory is one of Kildare’s modern industries. The chilled meat processing is comparatively new to Ireland. In the early summer of 1952 work began in the Kildare factory and about two hundred prime beasts have been processed weekly ever since. Upwards of twenty specially trained men are employed. Many more are employed in maintenance, in haulage, and in the processing of the by-products. There are about thirty such factories in Ireland.

        Kildare and its neighbouring counties are famed for their rich grazing lands. The cattle for the Chilling Factory come off these lands and so the best of prime beef is used. As a result of the chilling industry the cattle trade has improved throughout the Midlands.

The chilled meat is exported to Britain and America. As the industry progresses trade with the U.S.A. will develop much more. Special transport is provided by road and sea. The hygienic handling of the meat ensures that it arrives at its destination in perfect condition. Thus Irish Beef keeps its reputation of being the best in the world, and the Chilling Industry will become a benefit to its enterprising founders. [, - sic] as well as to the town and district of Kildare.

        The Kildare Chilling Factory is completely Irish owned and directed.


[A dresssed meat industry was begun at J. J. Conlans premises at bride Street in 1941 for the preparation of meat for the export market during the war. The new Chilling Factory on the Dublin Road was opened in 1967. - Mario Corrigan]

The final parts of Chapter 18 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 are dedicated to the Wallpaper factory and the Chilling Factory.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:00 PM

June 12, 2006


IN 1936 a small working committee consisting of Rev. T. Kennedy, C.C., Dr. O’Driscoll, Messrs. J. J. Conlon, C. Houlihan and John Fitzpatrick, with the approval of Father Kane, P.P., purchased 8 acres at Crockanure as a recreation and Gaelic Sports field for the parishioners of Kildare. The grounds were purchased on behalf of the Parochial trustees, in whom they were vested, and were blessed and opened by Very Rev. Father Kane, P.P., and named St. Brigid’s Park. The opening match was Kildare v. Laois in Football. Towards the end of 1937, the old Electricity Supply Station was for sale and again with Father Kane’s warm approval, was purchased by the committee as a recreation centre for the men and youths of the town and district. A branch of the C.Y.M.S. was formed, with the following as the first committee: Spiritual Director,Father Kennedy, C.C.; President,Mr. C. J. Bergin; Vice-President,Dr. O’Driscoll; Secretary,Mr. John Fitzpatrick; Treasurer,Mr. C. Houlilian. Messrs. J. J. Conlan, Ml. Corry, Jas. Heffernan, Wm. Gannon, J. McGrath, J. Jones, M. Murphy and Phil Hopkins. One of the first tasks of the new Branch was to convert the old Power House into a suitable meeting hall with recreation room for the accommodation of the new Branch. In 1943 Father Kennedy was appointed C.C. Rathangan, and was replaced by Rev. Wm. Kinsella, C.C. In 1947 the Society was deeply grieved at the death of their beloved pastor, Father Kane, P. P., who had been a kind Father to them. They joined in the warm welcome to his successor, Father Foynes, P.P., and when a suitable opportunity arose, a deputation from the C.Y.M.S. with his permission waited on him and discussed the possibility of erecting a Parochial Hall which would cater for the social, cultural, and recreational needs of the parishioners. Father Foynes promised and gave his wholehearted support. With the cordial approval of the Bishop, the Branch undertook the heavy task of providing a Hall that would be worthy of Kildare. The foundation of the new Hall was blessed by Father Foynes in the summer of 1949. Under the constant and competent leadership of the President, Mr. J. J. Conlan, many willing hands supplied voluntary labour, and soon the new building was roofed. The interior fittings, electric light and heating, decorations, maple floor, all of the best quality, soon followed. The total cost was about £6,500. On Sunday, 2nd, July, 1950, his Lordship blessed and opened the Hall. The present Com­mittee are Spiritual Directors,Rev. P. Mac Suibne, P.P., and Rev. W. Kinsella, C.C.; President,Mr. J. J. Conlan; Vice-Presidenl President – sic],Mr. Joseph Canty; Secretary,Mr. M. Fleming; Treasurer,Mr. P. McCormack; also Mr. James Holohan, Chairman, Diocesan Council; Messrs. Wm. Gannon, Ml. Butler, Jas. Dempsey, J. McCullough, Patk. Hopkins, John Boland, H. D. Swift, Patrick Hennessy. A past Secretary of the Branch is H. D. Swift, and a past Treasurer is Dr. O’Driscoll.
The present membership is 250. The following are the sub committees through which the activities are carried on, with their Chairman or representatives: Hall—John Boland; Rosary-Patk. McCormack and John Boland; Band-Wm. Gannon; Billiards-Joseph Canty and Frank Ryan; Cards—H. D. Swift and Patk. Hennessy; Ath­letics—Jas. Morrissey; Catering—Patk. Morrissey ; Bad­minton—Frank Ryan.
                The present County Hospital is shown on Henry Walker’s map of the Curragh of 1807, and marked “Infirmary, now a Barrack.” It served as an infirmary for many years in the last century and was closed for some time before its re-opening in 1902 under the care of three Sisters of St. John of God, and under a local committee which. included the Parish Priest, Mrs. Parkinson, Mrs. More O’Ferrall. The late Mr. C. Bergin was Hon. Secretary. In 1942 the hospital was taken over by the Board of Health.

Chapter 18 Parts 4 and 5 of the An Tostal Souvenir programme of 1953 are dedicated to the C.Y.M.S. with a brief note on the County Hospital. The latter building is now the Curragh Lodge Hotel.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:53 PM

June 07, 2006


THE Brothers of the Christian Schools, or the De la Salle Brothers, as they are familiarly known in Ireland, were founded by St. John Baptist De la Salle in Rheims, France, in 1680. The Order and their work spread and at the present time the Brothers teach 420,000 pupils in 64 countries throughout the world.
In 1881 the De la Salle Brothers opened their Irish Novitiate in Castletown, Leix. Three years afterwards they were invited to teach in Kildare by the Very Rev. Dr. Kavanagh, P.P. A residence was built for the Brothers by William Lee, Esq. in 1884, and the school was built by his brother, Michael. Here the Brothers laboured successfully till the morning of December 8th, 1917, when the school took fire accidentally and, with the furniture and equipment, was destroyed. The school was temporarily housed in the old Carmelite Church. Reconstruction followed, and after Easter, 1919, both pupils and teachers resumed their work in the present fine building. With its roll-call of 230 pupils, St. Brigid’s Monastery School has become the Alma Mater of many Kildare boys, associating them with the pupils, past and present, of the Brothers’ other 42 schools in Ireland.
             About 1915 the need of a Secondary School for Kildare and its neighbourhood became imperative. A beginning was made in that year under the Superiorship of Rev. Brother Alfred and with the approval of Father Campion, P.P., the new school was placed under the patronage of St. Joseph and became known as St. Joseph’s Academy. The number of pupils so increased that by 1938 the building of a new, larger and more up-to-date building was necessary. On 16th January, 1939, St. Joseph’s Academy moved into its present spacious premises. The new Academy was blessed by Very Rev. Father Kane, P.P., who then cele­brated Mass in it in the presence of the pupils and their teachers.

Chapter 18 Part 3 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 is dedicated to the De La Salle Brothers and St. Joseph's Academy.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:53 PM

May 30, 2006


           PATRICK MAHER of Kilrush in Suncroft Parish with his brothers, Thomas and William, made an offer to Fr.Brennan, P.P., Kildare, to found a Convent of Presenta­tion Sisters in Kildare for the education of poor female children. In July, 1829, Father Brennan arranged with the Bishop, Dr. Doyle, that the foundation should be made. The ground on which the convent and Parish Church stand was for disposal and Father Brennan purchased it from Lewis Kelly for £100, aided by Messrs. Maher, Cullen, and Verdon. Father Brennan had the purchase enclosed with a stone wall. A house, garden and school were provided and furnished with every requisite for the Sisters who were to be sent there by the Bishop.
           He drew up a lease of the land and houses for three Sisters named by him to the Bishop. These were Sister Angela Mooney, Sister Augustine Maher and Sister Clare Dillon. Sister Angela was sister of Father Mooney, P.P., Rosenallis (1847-76), who built Capard Church in 1863. Sister Augustine was sister of Father James Maher, P. P., Carlow Graig and aunt of Cardinal Cullen. Sister Clare was from Portlaoise and was aunt of Cuffe of Cuffes, Salesmen, Dublin. Father Brennan reserved a rent of £18 for himself and his successors on condition that the convent would give back portion of the land as a site for a future Parish Church. Sister Angela Mooney was appointed first super­ioress of Kildare by J.K.L. in the Carlow Convent Chapel in the presence of the community and of Sister Augustine Maher, and Sister Clare Dillon who had been professed that day. On Thursday in Easter Week, 1830, at 5 p.m. they arrived in Kildare. A few days later the Sisters opened their school to a small number of pupils. The cottage which housed these pioneer Sisters was on the edge of the road, where the boundary wall stands. A new convent was built in 1839. It was blessed on 22nd, August of that year, and after Mass had been celebrated in it the Sisters took up residence in it. Owing to the increasing number of pupils, Father Nolan, P.P., had the schools adjoining the Convent built in 1869.
In 1854 Sister Catherine Cullen left Kildare to assist in establishing a Presentation Convent in Mountmellick. In 1874, Mothers John Byrne, Paul Fay, Evangelist Kelly and Stanislaus Dunne left Kildare with Mother Xavier Byrne of Presentation Convent, Mountmellick to make a foundation in the far-away mission of Wagga, New South Wales. Their labours were blessed by God as shown by the numerous Presentation Convents now in Australia.
In 1881 the Sodality of the Children of Mary was estab­lished in Kildare Convent Schools by Dr. Kavanagh, P.P., The Infants’ School wing was added in 1902. The architect was Mr. Francis Bergin, and the builders, Messrs. D. & J. Carbery. The late Bishop Cullen with the unanimous consent of the ten Presentation convents in his diocese had all the convents amalgamated. He blessed and opened a Mother House and Novitiate at Mount St. Anne’s, Portarlington. The Second Mother-General was Mother Angela Mooney of the Kildare Convent, grand niece of the Foundress. In 1937, to provide for the increased number of pupils—over 500 were now on roll—a new wing was added. At present there are 660 on roll.

Chapter 18 Part 2 of the An Tostal Programme for 1953 is dedicated to the Presentation Convent.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 12:33 AM

May 23, 2006


        A LARGE town had grown up around St. Brigid’s foundation. The Annals record that in 708 and 774 the town was burned. As the buildings were for the most part of wood they were easily burned, but were also easily replaced. The monastery of Kildare being so near the sea-board was one of the first places attacked by the Danes. In 836 a Danish fleet of 30 sail arrived in the Liffey. They plundered every church and Abbey in Magh Lifé, not allowing anyone to escape. They destroyed Kildare by fire and sword and carried away the rich shrines of SS. Brigid and Conleth. Again in 843 the town was plundered by the foreigners, and also in 883, 887, 895, 915, 916, 924, 926, 927, 928, 940, 962, 977, 981, 998. Some of the Irish chiefs also plundered Kildare. The town and church were burned in 1050 and 1067. The town was also burned in 1071, 1089. [, - sic] 1099. [, - sic] 1138, 1143 and 1155. Shortly after the Norman invasion, William Marshall, one of the adven­turers who had got possession of this territory, erected a castle for its defence. In 1294 Calbach O’Connor of Offaly took the town and castle by force and destroyed all the rolls of the Earl of Kildare. A Parliament was held here in 1309, and in 1316 the castle and town were granted to John Fitzgerald, who was at that time appointed Earl of Kildare. In the wars during Elizabeth’s reign the town was reduced to a state of ruin. In 1600 the town suffered so severely that the houses were all in ruins, and without a single inhabitant. In 1643 Kildare was made a garrison post under the Earl of Castlehaven, and the town grew in consequence. In 1647 it was taken by Colonel Jones for the Parliamentarians; it fell again into the hands of the Irish but was finally re-taken. by the Lord Lieutenant. By charter of James II the town was governed by a cor­poration which returned two members to Parliament. The borough was disfranchised at the Union and £15,000 awarded as compensation to the Duke of Leinster. The borough grounds extended considerably beyond the town and included about 3,000 acres of the Curragh and 300 acres south of the town, called the Kings Bog or Commons of Kildare.
        According to a return made in 1824 by the Parish Priest, Father Patrick Brennan, there were in that year five schools in the town, four Catholic and one Protestant, as well as a Sunday School. John Cassidy, who had been educated in the neighbourhood, had been teaching in the town since 1810. Attendance, males 25, females 15 Established Church 3, Roman Catholics 37. John Leeson aged 33 had been teaching in various houses since 1816. Attendance, males 21, females 9, Established Church 1, Roman Catholics 29. Denis Murphy had been teaching in this parish 20 years. School 27ft. by l5ft., given free by the convent of this town. Attendance, males 15, females 12, Roman Catholics 27. Mrs. Ravenhill, aged 60, had been teaching in different houses in the parish since 1813. House, mud walled and thatched, about l2ft. square, attendence [attendance – sic], males 25, females, 15, Roman Catholics 40. Daniel McCrone, aged 32, taught in the Protestant School which was open since 1817. Seven Established Church and four Roman Catholics attended. There was a Sunday School held on all Sundays and Holydays in the Parish Chapel. The teachers were Roman Catholics, excellent moral characters, forming a Society in themselves, and teaching under the superintendence [superintendence – sic] of the P.P. and his curate, who at that time was Father Michael Nowlan. Attendance, males 289, females 255, Roman Catholics 544. Attendance last winter (1823-24) 500. Summer 1823, 686. One half can read. The books were the Four Archbishops’ Catechism, Abridgment of Christian Doctrine. Father Brennan points out that a great majority of the children are deprived of the ordinary means of education, and this was not from any indifference in the children or parents towards education, but from lack of means. Father Brennan stated there were upwards of twelve hundred children under his spiritual care: he was speaking of Rathangan as well as Kildare. The National School system was introduced in 1833. In 1837, according to Lewis, p.86, there were in the town three public schools in which about 800 children were taught, and a private school in which there were about 70 children. The parish in that year had a population of 2,541, of whom 1,753 lived in the town, in which there were 346 houses.

[William Marshall is credited with erecting the castle at Kildare but it is likely that a castle was first erected in Kildare Town by Strongbow as a means of safeguarding his interests in the town; The reference to 1294 is confused - there was no Earl of Kildare until 1316 and indeed Fitzgerald apparently engineered a raid on Kildare around the same time that O'Connor did; Lewis – Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, published 1837 – the entry for Kildare can be found in the Archive section of this website; all references in Lewis to County Kildare can be found at - Mario Corrigan]

Chapter 18 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 examines the early history of Kildare Town and the development of education in the town in the early 19th century.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:13 PM

May 14, 2006


IN the 1798 insurrection the United Irishmen of the two baronies of Uibh Failghe in Co. Kildare had risen. General Dundas had withdrawn his regular army and militia from the Kildare men’s area into Kilcullen. Kildare was occupied by the insurgents under Captain Garry of Kildare on the evening of the 24th May. On the 25th May, Captain Padraig O’Beirne of Nurney had led the men of Kildoon, Kildangan, Nurney and Riverstown in an attack on the Monasterevan Yeomen Garrison. Rathangan was taken on 26th May by a force under John Doorly of Lullymore, but on 28th May they were driven out by a combined force of British horse, foot and artillery. The general position in Kildare was one of stalemate. The King’s troops occupied large camps or fortified towns while the United Irishmen held the country. But Dublin had failed to rise and the men of Carlow had suffered a disastrous defeat on 25th May. General Dundas had offered favourable terms, including the raising of free quarters, and an amnesty for all insurgents who would lay down arms. These terms had been accepted by the Kil­cullen men. General Dundas, accompanied only by two dragoons, had gone to Knockaulen and accepted the arms from the insurgents. On the morning of 29th May, General Sir James Duff arrived from Limerick and was marching on Kildare with reinforcements, 250 militia infantry, two six pounder guns and 70 of Lord Roden’s Fencible Cavalry. On his way he had collected about 200 of the South Cork Militia Regiment with their two battalion guns. [, - sic] about 50 of the Fourth Dragoon Guards, and some of the Monas­terevan Yeomanry of both Bagot’s and Hoysted’s corps. One Cooper of Ballymanny acted as intermediary and advised the people of Kildare to proceed to the Rath of the Curragh, saying that he himself would undertake to persuade General Duff to take their surrender there. The Kildare people did so. Duff commanded the rebels, as he called them, to throw their arms in a heap. He then ordered the troops to charge and spare no rebel. The cutting down of the unarmed men was too easily accom­plished. The number of Kildare men who were massacred was 325. In one street alone of Kildare town, 85 widows were counted the following morning—Fr. Hurley, S.J. Lecture in Kildare, Leinster Leader 17/6/1950.
In a plot about 25ft by 40ft. enclosed by a 3ft. wall in Kildangan graveyard there is a slab 1ft. 9in. x 3ft. at each end. On one is inscribed “the burial ground of Stephen Rice, Cherrymills, 1795,” and on the other “the burial place of John Hoysted, Walterstown, 1795.” There is also a flat broken stone inscribed “This monument is in memory of John Hoisted, Esq., Walterstown, who died 28 March 1848.” The plot is called “Hoysted’s barn.” A few yards away adjoining Father Hanigan’s grave in the same grave­yard is a stone inscribed:“here lies the body of Thomas Murphy who departed this life May 29, 1798, aged 49 years. Also the body of Patrick Murphy who departed May 29, 1798, aged 45 years. Erected by their wives Bridget and Madge.” Near the Boland plot is an old tomb­stone inscribed: Erected by James Gilmor in memory of Michael Gilmor who departed this life June 7, 1798, aged 30 years. R.I.P.”
[Two baronies of Uibh Failghe are the two Baronies East and West Offaly or Ophaely; free-quarters – soldiers were billeted on the local populace at the expense of the local populace; Knockaulen read Knockaulin or Dun Alinne ]
The Grey Abbey Conservation Project have recently cleaned up Dunmurry Cemetery. Our thanks to Frank, Paddy and Christy for their brilliant work. There are two graves in Dunmurry which had information added about family members who lost their lives at the Gibbet Rath - Denis Downey of Grey Abbey whose story was retold by Fr. Swayne in his book Kildare in '98 and also Tim and James Hickey. I took these photos on 18 September 2005.
Downey Grave 72dpi.jpg Hickey Grave 72dpi.jpg

Chapter 17 of the An Tostal Programme 1953 is dedicated to the Massacre at the Gibbet Rath in May 1798. I have included two photographs of related gravestones in Dunmurry Graveyard. This graveyard was recently cleaned up by the Grey Abbey Conservation project.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 03:27 PM

May 08, 2006


LORD EDWARD was the son of the Duke of Leinster and was born in 1763. He spent his early years in Kildare and when he was about ten years old the family moved to France. The life of a soldier appealed to him and he joined the English army. He fought against the American insurgents, and he distinguished himself by military skill and a chivalry that made him the hero of the army.
On his return to Ireland he became a member of the corrupt Parliament of College Green. The dishonesty he met in that assembly forced him to champion the cause of the downtrodden people. He refused promotion rather than betray his principles.
In 1792 he visited France and adopting revolutionary ideas he renounced his titles. Because of these tendencies, he was dismissed from the English army. While in France he met and married the beautiful Pamela, daughter of Philip Egalite, Duke of Orleans. He returned to Ireland with his young bride and lived in Leinster Lodge which was given, to him as a wedding present.
Here he was singularly happy and very popular with the ordinary people. He encouraged native games and pastimes and threw himself into the independence move­ment. With his handsome bride he attended the pastimes and gatherings of the people. Crowds lined the streets as he took Pamela to Mass in the little Penal Chapel on Chapel Hill.
But the Government, through its spies, had been watching Lord Edward and the United Irishmen. Goading the people to rebellion they suddenly arrested the leaders. Lord Edward had been in hiding since March 1798 and on the 19th May he was surprised in the house of Thomas Murphy in Thomas Street, Dublin. After a fierce encounter in which two of his assailants were wounded Lord Edward himself was wounded. and overpowered. He was carried to Dublin Castle and thence to Newgate Jail. Here he lingered for some time and on June 3rd, 1798 Lord Edward died. His remains were placed in a vault under the East end of St. Werburgh’s Church.
Monk's Walk 72dpi.JPG
[Because the article specifically relates to Lord Edward I have included Cruickshank's image of the Arrest of Lord Edward FitzGerald from Maxwell's History of the Rebellion]
Arrest Lord Ed illustration 72dpi.JPG

Chapter 16 of the An Tostal programme of 1953 is dedicated to the United Irishman, Lord Edward FitzGerald, who lived for a short time in Kildare Town with his beautiful French wife, Lady Pamela. In 2003 on the 205th anniversary of his death a bust of Lord Edward was unveiled on the Market Square.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:50 PM

May 02, 2006


IN 1790
TOPHAM Bowden, an Englishman who travelled Ireland in 1790 thus writes: “The Curragh of Kildare is unquestionably the most beautiful plain in Europe. The day I crossed it happened to be remarkably fine, which added much to the picturesque appearance of this charming scene. It is about twenty miles in circumference and I do suppose every square perch of it contained a sheep. The verdure and the inequality of the surface, its slopes and eminences mottled with sheep, presented a delightful view.
“While I remained on this heavenly lawn, I had reason to bless my good genius that I had a sound carriage and a safe driver; for though the road was very fine, no less than three carriages broke down in my view; two of these carriages happened to be empty; in the third was a Mr. Nowlan, Parish Priest of Kildare, who had a most fortunate escape. I was happy in accommodating him with a seat in my carriage to Kildare. On the way he informed me he had been visiting an old parishioner of his, then confined for debt in Naas, and that he had given his horse to a gentleman to ride back to Kildare, as he had an opportunity of riding in a post carriage. From such post carriages, good Lord deliver me.
“As Mr. Nowlan received not the least injury, I rejoiced in the accident that introduced him to my acquaintance. He is really a sensible and well-informed man. He pressed me to dine with him; he said he was to have a few friends with him that day; and as I had no acquaintance in the town I readily consented. Among his guests were a Mr. Bergin and his family of that town, a Mr. Kelly and a Mr. Higgins. Mr. Bergin has a good knowledge of the world and his wife is a very genteel woman. In the course of conversation I learned that his Grace of Leinster, to his honour be it recorded, had given a few acres of land adjoin­ing the chapel to the Parish Priest and his successors for ever at a moderate rent; and Mr. Bergin proposed to the company to build on this ground a house for their priest. This, I remarked, would be convincing his Grace that they entertained a proper sense of the obligation he conferred on them. In this opinion they all coincided, and they resolved on erecting the house immediately.
“The town of Kildare stands on a great eminence, about half a mile from the Curragh, and commands a very exten­sive prospect to the East, South and West. Though inconsiderable at present, it contains many relicsof [relics of - sic]ancient magnificence, a circular road with twelve roads leading to it, the ruins of a castle, three monasteries of friars of different orders, a convent of the nuns of St. Clair, a parish church and a very large cathedral, the greatest part of which was destroyed by Cromwell to gratify the fanaticism of his soldiery.
“On the north side of the cathedral stands a round tower’ similar to that at Clondalkin but much higher . . . The door is fourteen feet from the foundation and the summit one hundred and thirty. Near this is a small oratory of St. Brigid . . . The ruins of the citadel or castle of the Earls of Kildare prove it to have been of uncommon extent.
            “Few people …… come …… since it was deserted by the Leinster family, except during the Curragh meetings, and then it swarms with gentlemen, sharpers and beggars. To the north of the town is a range of hills of moderate height and easy ascent, called the Red Hills, from the redness of the earth I suppose. There is a copper mine here said to be very rich, which is working these three years past, not with that spirit however which can only render undertakings of the kind of public importance.”

Chapter 15 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 features a description of a chance meeting bewteen an English traveller, Topham Bowden, and Fr. Nolan, P.P. of Kildare, on the Curragh in 1790.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:43 PM

April 23, 2006



             THE Curragh is a fiat plain containing 4,885 statute acres. It is 6 miles in length and 2 miles in breadth at its broadest points. Its mearin or outer boundary is 15 miles. From the earliest times the Curragh has been a great common, an unenclosed plain. The word cuirreach means a racecourse. The ancient name of Cuirreach Lifé shows that long ago the original plain reached that river’s banks, but since Anglo-Norman times it has been gradually encroached upon from all sides, as the names Pollardstown, Brownstown, Maddenstown, Walshestown and others show. The Curragh lay in the ancient territory of Magh Lifé, or Lifé’s plain, so called from Lifé, daughter of Mac Druchta, cup-bearer to Conaire Mór, King of Eire. Hence Abhann Lifé, or the River Lifé, running through Magh Lifé which was situated in the O’Byrne territory of Offelan.
             In pre-Christian times, aonachs or fairs were held at the burial-place or moat of a king or warrior. The Annals of Erin associate two aonachs, Aonach Colmain and Aonach Lifé, with the Curragh where the royal fair and sports of Leinster were held. Dun Auilin, near Old Kil­cullen, was the residence of the King of Leinster. The aonach honoured the dead, by funeral rites and games. Keening and games at wakes were a survival of this. It was a combined parliament and school at which the people were taught the history of their country and clan. The warlike deeds of their chiefs and the laws under which they were governed were proclaimed.
It was the occasion of friendly contests and competitions in juggling, dancing, music, horse and foot-races, feats of arms, recitation of poetry and stories, athletic sports and games. It was a general market for the exchange and barter of livestock, gold ornaments, weapons of offence and defence, cloths, embroidery and all kinds of home and foreign wares.. The aonach was governed by strict laws, all breaches of the peace, insults to women being severely dealt with. No one could be arrested or his goods seized on his way to or from a fair, or while at the fair. The aonach lasted several days and was presided over by the King in whose district it was held. Attended by his brehons, bards and other officials, he distributed the prizes to successful contestants.
            Every cattle and sheep fair is derived from the aonachs of old; the Fair of the Furze held on 26th July is a survival of the ancient aonachs of Cuirreach Lifé.
            About the year 480 St. Brigid had founded her Cell of the Oak on Drumcree and had appeared like as a bright daybreak over the land. How she acquired the Curragh s [is –sic] told by older generations. The King of Leinster who lived at the time was an tight-fisted man. He had refused to grant any ground to St. Brigid on which she might graze her few cows. This king had a deformity, namely two ears like those of a horse, and he kept these concealed under his long hair. He daily dreaded discovery which would have meant loss of his throne, as a king had to be without per­sonal blemish. He had heard of the wonders St. Brigid was working in Kildare, and he decided to see if she could help him. Going quietly to Kildare he had an interview with St. Brigid. She promised to remove the deformity on con­dition that he would grant her as much land as her mantle would cover. The King willingly agreed to the condition. St. Brigid put him into a deep sleep and when he awoke he found the deformity was gone, and that he had two normal ears. The day came when the plot of ground was to be handed over and a large crowd assembled to see St. Brigid acquire the first grant of land for her cell. St. Brigid explained to the people the nature of the King’s promise; she then called her nuns; taking off her mantle she ordered them to spread it on the ground as far as it would stretch, to the North, East and South. They did so, and to the amazement of the King and his people the mantle spread until it covered the area known as the Curragh. The grateful King gladly conferred on her the whole territory. The Round Tower, that graceful guardian of the holy city of Kildare, built more than two centuries after St. Brigid’s time, looks out across the grassy expanse of the Curragh.
           Along these dim green vistas the white-clad Brigid drove so frequently in her swift chariot that the tradition of her passing is still vivid after fifteen hundred years. In the twelfth century, Giraldus Cambrensis wrote “. . . no plough was suffered to turn a furrow in the Curragh, which was called St. Brigid’s pastures. It was held as a miracle that though all the cattle in the province should graze the herbage from morning till night, the next morning the grass would be as luxuriant as ever.”
           Battles were fought here, but all through the centuries the Curragh remained an extensive commons, and race­course. When the English came, they seized it and kept a jealous eye on its grazing rights, and leased them to local landholders.
            Horse-racing and horse-breeding on the Curragh are of long standing. In 1696 the Government of the day gave two plates of £100 each to be run for annually at the Curragh races. In the Public Record Office we have the names of the winners of Plates run for at the Curragh from 1696 till 1820. The Curragh is famous for its horse racing, and the fame of the Irish race-horse is world wide.
In front of the staudhouse, which has lately been extended at a cost of £250,000, a large area is leased to the Turf Club for use as a Race-course, and here are run each year the Derby, Oaks, Guineas, ‘Zarwich and other import­ant flat races.
In 1854 the Crimean war began and the military authori­ties established a camp of instruction on the Long Hill at the Curragh: later it became a permanent training centre. The present Camp and Water Tower were built at the end of the last century. On 16th, May, 1922, it was handed over to the Irish Government. Since then it has been the main training centre for the Irish army.
The Curragh Act of 1870 secured that the Curragh lands belonged to the State. Grazing rights on a commonage basis were allowed to the tenants of the townlands in the vicinity. The tenants were allowed pasturage for as many sheep as they had acres. The landowners on the Curragh verge usually let their grazing rights to Wicklow sheep-­owners. Only sheep are allowed to graze on the Curragh. And over all is the mantle of St. Brigid—the Brat Brighde— and the bleating of the sheep evoke her sweet memory, and the sense of her blessing and protection over Curreach Lifé.
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Commemorating the vic­tory of Dan Donnelly, the Irish Champion Boxer over George Cooper, the English Champion, in December, 1815, at this spot, now known as Don­nelly’s Hollow.


[Dun Auilin or Dun Ailinne or Knockaulin near Old Kilcullen; ‘Zarwich is the Cesarwitch; image is to poor to reproduce better]

Chapter 14 of the An Tostal programme of 1953 is dedicated to the history of the Curragh of Kildare.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 08:14 PM

April 12, 2006


FOR THE fifty-five years prior to the building fo St. Brigid’s Church in 1833, there were at least four penal chapels built in Kildare. These were:
1. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kildare, 1778. Father Philip Rouse, Canon of Kildare and P.P. of the parochial Church of the B.V.M. of Kildare with four other Canons and P.P.’s of Kildare diocese, in a document issued from Kilcock and dated 4th September, 1778, postulated for the appointment of Father Fleming, O.P., as bishop of Kildare—Arch. Hib. VIII. 211.
2. A very handsome country chapel built before 1770. “To the immortal honour of his Grace of Leinster, he was the first Protestant gentleman who set the noble example in this Kingdom of accommodating the Roman Catholics with a proper place of worship. To him the inhabitants of Kildare are indebted for a very handsome country chapel, but his liberality did not stop here. He made a compli­ment to the priest of that parish and his successors duly appointed by the See of Rome of a few acres of ground contiguous to the chapel at a peppercorn consideration”— Hibernian Journal, 10th Nov. 1794. Reference by Father Brady, Meath. At the time that Topham Bowden, an English traveller, visited Kildare in 1770, the chapel had already been built and the land acquired by the P.P., Father Nowlan. This chapel was destroyed in the 1798 Rising “The P.P. of Kildare received £460 for building a chapel in lieu of the one destroyed in the Rebellion— Freeman’s Journal, 21st, Oct., 1800.
              3. The Chapel of 1807 on the Fair-Green. Walker’s map of 1807 of the Curragh shows a Chapel on the present Fair-Green at the Railway Hotel corner.
4. The Ordnance Survey Map of 1837 shows a cruci­form or T shaped Chapel on Chapel Hill on parochial land at the south side of Mr. D. Behan’s garden. An entrance to it can be seen in the wall near Mr. Michael Rankin’s house.
St. Brigid’s Church was built in 1833 during the pastorate of Father Patrick Brennan. There is a tradition that Dan O’Connell was sponsor for the first bell used in the Church. A bell formerly hung over the gable facing Presentation Convent. The present bell dates from 1851.
Church 72dpi.jpg
[Arch. Hib. Refers to Archivum Hibernia a noted academic journal and in this case it is Volume VIII; peppercorn consideration is a peppercorn rent, a nominal rent; Hibernian Journal a newspaper; The Freeman’s Journal a newspaper first published in 1763; Henry Walker’s Map of 1807 shows the racing lodges of the Curragh and the racecourses – an original is framed and on display in the Reading Room in the History and Family Research Centre of Kildare Co. Library, Dr. Nua – Mario Corrigan]

Chapter 12 of the An Tostal Programme is dedictaed to the original four penal churches which were in Kildare Town prior to the building of the present Parish Church.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:32 PM

April 03, 2006


IN 1220 the Carmelites came to Kildare at the invitation of Lord William de Vesci, and they settled on the lands which lay due South of the Cathedral. The Order remained in possession of this Abbey until December 1543 when by order of King Henry VIII it was suppressed, and with the Franciscan monastery sold to one Daniel Sutton. At the first relaxation of the Penal Laws, the Carmelites returned to their former home and bought some of the lands of the original White Abbey. In the mid-eighteenth century they erected a church and this served them and the people of the district until 1884, when the present church was erected by Fr. Nicholas Staples, O.Carm., Prior, at a cost of £3,500.
The Church is Gothic, built of local stone and Wicklow granite and crowned by a spire 130 feet high. The three altars are built of Irish, Italian and Grecian marbles. The pulpit is of Caen stone. Five stained windows in the Sanctuary are scenes from the lives of Our Lord and Blessed Virgin, and the Scapular Vision. Four saints are also shown, including SS. Patrick and Brigid, and in the aisles are shown the four Evangelists. The Rose window over the East door shows Elias, the Prophet of Carmel with the saints of the order.
Fr. David O Bugey, a native of Kildare and one of the first Carmelites in Kildare, was noted for his learning and was Father-General of the Order in Ireland. Another distinguished member of the community was Fr. Ralph Kelly, a native of Drogheda, who was sent to Pope Clement VI as speaker of the Order. He became Arch­bishop of Cashel. He died in 1361.
The Cemetery adjoining the Church has four ancient carvings in the wall. The first two are probably from the eleventh century and show the Gryphon, the animal symbolising Mercy. The other two are scenes from the Passion of Our Lord, the Ecce Homo and the Crucifixion. These carvings were once in the Grey Abbey, and were removed here for preservation.
Carmelite 26 June 05.jpg
Front Entrance of the Carmelite Church 26 June 2005 - Photo Mario Corrigan
Chapter 12 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 was devoted to the Carmelite Church
- The White Abbey

Posted by mariocorrigan at 07:34 PM

March 26, 2006


THE GREY ABBEY has its name from the grey habit worn by the Franciscan Friars. Lord William de Vesci built the monastery for the Friars in 1260. Later the lands of Kildare passed to John Fitzthomas and so to the Earls of Kildare.
The monastery was supported by alms and a special gratuity from the king. For many years the monks were Normans but gradually Irish aspirants were accepted. The monastery had property around the immediate vicinity and in Shanacloon. The Friars, as in every other monastery, lived a life of work and prayer.
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Being specially under the protection of the Geraldines, the heads of this family had their tomb in the monastery chapel. The Earls of Kildare were buried in this tomb in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin up to the beginning of the 17th century. The monastery then ceased to exist although guardians were appointed by the Franciscans up to the year 1729.
At a Chapter of Friars Minor held in Dublin in 1717, Father Anthony Higgins, S.T.L., was elected Guardian (cf. Father Anthony Higgins, P.P., Caragh, who died 1831). Father Christopher Warren was elected Guardian in 1729.
In the early 17th century, between 1620-1635, Brother Michael O’Clery, one of the Four Masters, spent a month in the Grey Abbey collecting and copying Irish manu­scripts and history.
The monastery was suppressed about 1543 and its lands and buildings and valuables confiscated and granted to Daniel Sutton. Some of their property seems to have been overlooked, for in 1589 the remainder was confiscated.
The buildings gradually fell into disrepair and by the year 1792, although a portion of the walls remained, all the architectural features were lost. Some ancient sculptured stones were taken from there for safety and inserted in the wall of the White Abbey Church where they are still to be seen. The ivy-clad walls show where the Abbey once stood.
[I’m not sure what the cf – cross reference here to Fr. Higgins of Caragh means; was it a note from one of the authors to suggest both men were related – this cf note is later used in the chapter on the parish priests but in reverse – again without explanation – Mario Corrigan]

Chapter 11 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 was dedicated to the history of the Grey Abbey.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 06:32 PM

March 20, 2006


THE TEMPLARS who lived at Tully were monk soldiers organised to assist pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land and to protect the Places sacred to Christians which were in danger from the Mahommedan Infidels. Their first foundation was in the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
The order had four ranks of monks: the armour-clad warrior on horseback with lance and heavy sword; the foot soldier with bow and arrow; the farmer who tilled the land, and the chaplains who ministered to the spiritual wants of the brethren. All members had vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and wore a habit of white with a red cross on the left shoulder. The ensign of the order was a white flag with a black cross. Hence the Abbey was called ‘The Black Abbey.’
The house at Tully which signifies ‘a rising ground’ is dated from 1290 and lasted till its suppression by Henry VIII about the middle of the 16th century. It was an important commandery holding jurisdiction direct from the Pope. It was exempt from taxation and had the right of sanctuary; that is, lawbreakers who found shelter within its precincts could not be molested. It owned upwards of three hundred acres. The order was abolished in 1312 and its property transferred to the Knights of St. John, afterwards called the Knights of Malta. All the property of Tully was confiscated by the crown and the monks dispersed. The tradition for horse-breeding which the monks developed is still preserved close by in the famous National Stud.
About 400 yards north of the Abbey ruins, near Mr. Cashin’s house is St. John’s Well, and was much frequented by Kildare people and other pilgrims up to recent years.
[There is an error here. It was the Knights Hospitallers not the Templars who occupied Tully. The description however of their insignia and their habits is correct - Mario Corrigan]
Tully 13 June 2005 72dpi.JPG
Photo of Tully taken by Mario Corrigan 13 June 2005
Chapter 10 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 is devoted to the Black Abbey at Tully.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:51 PM

March 12, 2006


THE GERALDINES trace their ancestry to the powerful family of Gherardini of Florence. Maurice Fitzgerald came to Ireland with Strongbow. The family carved out large tracts of land for themselves in Munster, and in Leinster where they dispossesed [dispossessed – sic] the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles and drove them to the Wicklow mountains. Maurice built the Castle of Maynooth, and John Fitzthomas enlarged it in 1426. This same John took the Castle of Kildare from Calvagh O’Connor who had conquered it from De Vesci.
The Earls of Kildare strengthened their power by alliances with the Irish chiefs and by intermarriage with other powerful families. In this way they succeeded in holding their castles and became so powerful that an English king could say of the Great Earl “All Ireland cannot rule this man then let this man rule Ireland.” The Geraldines ruled Ireland as Deputies of the English King. But they became completely irish, speaking the Irish language in their homes, and encouraging native customs. Unlike their rivals the Butlers, they allied themselves with the native chiefs. This was chiefly the reason why Silken Thomas and his five brothers were executed by the English on Tyburn. Thereafter the English Kings appointed Englishmen as their deputies.
In the early seventeenth century Kildare Castle became a refuge for those who refused to accept the Protestant religion. When Gerald, the sixteenth Earl died, his cousin George was brought up a Protestant by the Court of Chancery. So the powerful Geraldine family lost their ancient Faith. The members of this famous house had faded from history for two centuries when English power was again challenged by the noble Lord Edward. lie was the last Geraldine to live in Kildare.

[There seems to be an error here. In the previous chapter the authors say Calvagh O’Connor captured the castle in 1294 and that it was re-taken by the Normans in 1307 so it is unlikely that it was the same John Fitzthomas who enlarged Maynooth in 1426. John Fitzthomas who became 1st Earl of Kildare in 1316 died that same year at Rathangan and was buried at Grey Abbey. Another John succeeded his father Gerald in 1410 and became the 6th Earl of Kildare until he died in 1427 - Mario Corrigan. Spelling and grammar are retained as in the original; mistakes indicated by square brackets and sic - [sic]. ]

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Image of Title Page
Chapter 8 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 acknowledges the importance of the Fitzgerald family - the Geraldines, Earls of Kildare, some of whom were buried at Grey Abbey Cemetery.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 04:15 PM

March 06, 2006


THE Castle of Kildare was built by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, about the beginning of the 13th century. The Earl had married Strongbow’s daughter and so claimed the title, Lord of Leinster.
William built his castle on the Church lands of Kildare, without the Bishop’s consent. Later his descendants were obliged to pay a rent of ten marks to the Bishops of Kildare. If this rent was not paid on the day appointed, the Castle Bailiff was excommunicated until the rent was paid.
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In 1294, Calvagh O’Connor captured the Castle and seems to have held it until 1307, when he was defeated and the Castle re-taken by the Normans. The following year Calvagh was treacherously slain by Peter Bermingham.
In 1316, the Castle was granted by Edward II to Thomas Fitzgerald, whom he also created Earl of Kildare, in recognition of his services to the King during the Bruce Invasion, 1315-1318.
Through the piety of Elizabeth, Countess of Kildare, the Castle became a home and refuge for persecuted Catholics in the early 17th century.
About the year 1540 the Castle was burned by O’Connor. In 1643 it was repaired and a garrison established there. In 1647, Col. Jones captured it but shortly afterwards it was retaken by the Irish, who held it until 1649. Subsequently it was the residence of the Fitzgerald family. The last member of the family to reside there was the patriotic and brave Lord Edward. At present one tower of the once famous Castle is all that remains.
[Lord Edward lived in a Lodge in the area known as the People’s Park near the remaining tower; not in the Castle itself. This Lodge disappeared from maps of the town in the early 19th century. It was possibly demolished shortly after the 1798 Rebellion. – Mario Corrigan]

Chapter 8 of the An Tostal Programme tells the story of the Castle of Kildare.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:33 PM

February 27, 2006


THE ancient oak on Drumcree under which St. Brigid built her cell or oratory remained standing to the end of the 10th century, and it was held in such veneration that no profane hand dare touch it with a weapon. At the invitation of bishops, the Saint made many journeys through Ireland founding convents, so that her memory is warmly cherished in all parts of the country. The Irish people called their daughters by her sweet name. The wells at which she drank and prayed became blessed wells. The places she visited were forever after under her special protection, and so all over Ireland we have Toberbrides, Rathbrides, Kilbrides. Pilgrims too, lay and cleric, flocked to Kildare by many roads, and St. Brigid was noted for her hospitality to them all. Besides Kildare town on the Green road, there is a large pond or Loch called Loch­minane, the formation of which is thus accounted for in the Feilire Aenguis in the Leabhar Breac: “Eighteen bishops came to Brigid from Hui-Brinin Cualand and from Telach na n-espoc toLoch Lemnachta, beside Kildare to the north. So Brigid asked her cook Blathnait whether she had food, and she said she had none. And Brigid was embarrassed, so the angel said the cows should be milked again. And Brigid milked them, and they filled the tubs, and they would have filled all the vessels of Leinster, and the milk came over the vessels, and made a loch thereof. Hence the name Loch Lemnachta, lake of New Milk.”
On the roadside at Tully Gardens there is a holy well dedicated to St. Brigid. It is shown on the 1837 Ordnance map, as well as pointed out by tradition. It was walled in by the Board of Works, and was used by the townspeople before the water from St. John’s Well in Tully East was piped to the town in the early eighties of the last century. From time immemorial too, Brallistown, or as it is called locally the Greallachs, in the west of the same townland has been a place of pilgrimage as being associated with St. Brigid.
 Font 72dpi.jpg
         Greallach means miry marshy ground on which cows stand. Tradition states that St. Brigid kept her cow here, prayed here, and made butter beside the stream. Her well is pointed out and her “Shoes,” or as they are also called her “Cows” are objects of veneration. These are two granite stones, 32 inches by 12 inches, hollowed out so that the stream water passes through them. According to the flow of water through each of them at certain times of the year, it is said that one cow is “going dry” or is dry, and the other is “a new-milch cow,” or “in full milk.” Owing to the cleaning of the larger stream and the stream from the well, the position of the Shoes or Cows has varied, from the mouth of the well-stream where they seem to have been sixty-two years ago, to a place between the mound and the whitethorn bush. They seem to have been placed in the latter position over thirty years ago, and to have remained here till the Shrines were renovated by the people of Tully in the autumn of 1952. Pilgrims have always prayed on the Mound beside the stream. At noon on Sunday, St. Brigid’s Day, 1953, the Parish Priest blessed St. Brigid’s roadside well at Tully and then proceeding to the Greallachs, in the presence of several hundred parish­ioners, he blessed St. Brigid’s Well and her “Cows” or “Shoes.” All then joined in the recitation of the Rosary at the seven station-stones, and in a hymn to St. Brigid.

Chapter 7 of the 1953 An Tostal  Programme was dedicated to the Shrines of St. Brigid. There is an interesting explanation of the meaning of the name of the townland of Loughminane and an explanation of the meaning of 'St. Brigid's Shoes.'

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:11 PM

February 14, 2006


From the earliest times the Church aimed at providing suitable education for aspirants to the priesthood, generally in a school under the personal supervision of the bishop. Such a school was established at Armagh by St. Patrick himself, and many others were founded all over Ireland. Angles and Saxons and students from other countries came in large numbers across the sea. [, - sic] to enjoy what was then recognised as the finest education Europe could offer, and were supplied gratuitously with food, books and tuition, a fact to which Venerable Bede bears express testimony. At Kildare a school of renown came into being, begun by St. Brigid herself. St. Conlaeth founded at Kildare a school of metal work and decorative art in which chalices, patens, bells and shrines for his churches and monasteries were made. Illumination of MSS, sculp­ture and architectural ornamentation were carried to great perfection. Notwithstanding the ravages of the Danes our annals record the deaths of many Professors of the School of Kildare. Cosgrach, the Ard-Ollamh, died in 1041. Cobthac, another Professor of Kildare, who died in 1069, was noted for his universal knowledge of ecclesias­tical discipline. Ferdomhnach the blind Professor of Kildare, who died in 1110, was eminently skilled in Holy Scriptures. Thus in spite of Norse and Danish ravages, Kildare, a sacred city set on a hill, flourished as a centre of light and learning until the coming of the Normans.
Inside Front Cover72dpi.jpg
Inside Front Cover of An Tostal Programme 1953
(spellings and grammar retained as in original, indicated by - [sic] - square brackets and sic  )
Chapter 6 of the An Tostal Programme of 1953 explores the history of Kildare Town as an ancient centre of learning.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 08:05 PM

January 30, 2006


The Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society (J.K.A.S.) Vol. I, (Dublin, 1891-1895), pp. 169-176.
THE name Brígíd, brigid [in old Irish in text] in Irish, as we learn from Cormac Mac Cullenan’s ancient Glossary of the Irish tongue, was given to the goddess of poetry in ancient times. Others will have it to mean a fiery dart. So much for the name.
Her manner of life is summed up briefly in the Martyrology of Tallaght,which says, “Brigid was following the manners and the life which holy Mary, mother of Jesus, had.” And the Martyrology of Donegal,after quoting this passage, goes on to say: “It was this Brigid too that did not take her mind or her attention from the Lord for the space of one hour at any time, but was constantly mentioning Him and ever thinking of Him, as is evident in her own Life and in the Life of St. Brendan of Clonfert. She was very hospitable and very charitable to guests and to needy people. She was humble, and attended to the herding of sheep and early rising, as her Life proves, and as Cuimin of Condure states. Thus he says:-
“The blessed Brigid loved
Constant piety, which was not prescribed,
Sheep-herding and early rising,
Hospitality towards men of virtues.”
She spent seventy-four years diligently serving the Lord, per­forming signs and miracles, curing every disease and sickness in general, until she yielded up her spirit.”
Whosoever wishes to know in greater detail the life of this Saint will find it in the great work of Fr. John Colgan. He was of the Franciscan order, the same which had convents at Clane, Kildare, Castledermot, and in several other places of this county, as well as in nearly every other county in Ireland, numbering in all about sixty in the middle of the 16th century. This great man, not being able, for reasons which I need not enter into here, to find at home the education which he needed, went in search of it to Spain. The greater part of his life was passed in the Franciscan College of Louvain, founded in 1609 by the generosity of Philip III., and the Archdukes Albert and Isabella. There from 1626 to 1658, the year of his death, he devoted himself to bringing together and illustrating the Lives of Irish saints. He intended his work to extend over six folio volumes. Unhappily, he lived to complete only two of these—one the Lives of the Irish saints whose feast days occur in the three first months of the year, and another volume, comprising the Lives of three patrons of Ireland, Patrick, Colum­cille, and Brigid. Of the value set on these books at the present day we may judge from the fact that Dr. Reeves’ copy of the first fetched, at a sale held a few weeks since in Dublin, £31; and the other volume was bought a year or two ago from a Dublin bookseller for £18, and by a lawyer too, who, I am sure, knew well what he was about and thought his invest­ment a safe one.
Of that second volume, containing the Lives of the three patrons, the last of the three parts is taken up with the history of St. Brigid, and this is the storehouse in which those who write of her find ample materials. It extends from p. 513 to p. 649. It bears the title: The various Acts of St. Brigid, the Virgin, Abbess of Kildare, founder of the Brigittine Order, and common patron of all Ireland. Now these Acts comprise six different Lives of the saints, all of them ancient, some of them from very remote times.
The first of them is contained in a hymn in very ancient Irish, written by St. Broegan Claen, abbot of Rosturk, in Ossory, on “The Titles and Miracles of the Saint.” Side by side with the Irish hymn Colgan gives a Latin translation. As is the custom in such Irish works of ancient date, it is prefaced by a few lines telling when, where, and why it was written. “The place,” it says, “in which this hymn was composed was Slieve Bloom, or Cluan St. Maedog, and it was composed in the time of Lughaidh, son of Leoghaire, king of Ireland, when Aelider, son of Dunlang, was king of Leinster; and the reason of its being composed was that Ultan of Ardbraccan asked Broegan to describe in verse the acts and virtues of Brigid. It begins thus:—
“ Brigid did not love the pride of life.”
And it goes on:—
          “She was not querulous, not evil-minded;
She did not love fierce wrangling such as women practise,
She was not a venemous [venomous – sic] serpent or untruthful,
Nor did she sell the Son of God for things that fade.
She was not harsh to strangers,
She used to treat the wretched lepers kindly;
She built her dwelling on the plain
Which was frequented by vast crowds after her death.
There are two holy virgins in heaven,
Mary and holy Brigid;
May they protect me by their mighty help.”
And so for 53 stanzas of four lines each. Some think this Life was written so far back as the sixth century. If it was written at the suggestion of St. Ultan, we must take it to be a century later, i. e. eleven or twelve hundred years ago.
The second Life is by Cogitosus. It is in Latin prose. Most probably he was a monk of the monastery of Kildare that was under the rule of St. Brigid in ancient times, for he describes, in great detail, the architecture, ornaments, and arrangements of the church, as if lie had it before his eyes every day. From his omitting all mention of the ravages of the Danes and of some of the Irish chiefs in the early part of the ninth century, it has been correctly inferred that he wrote before 835, the year when the foreigners first plundered Kildare. “Cilldara,” say the Annals of the Four Masters, “was plundered by the foreigners of Inver Dea, i.e. Wicklow, and half the church was burned by them.” Cogitosus says, “Kildare was a sanctuary, or place of refuge, where there could be no danger of the attack of an enemy.” The Life begins thus: “You oblige me, brethren, to make an attempt to set down in writing the virtues and deeds of Brigid of holy and blessed memory, as if I were one of the learned. The burthen you lay on me, lowly and weak as I am, ignorant too of the niceties of language, is to tell in a fitting way of her who is the head of nearly all the churches of Ireland, and the summit towering above all the monasteries of the Scoti; whose power extends over the whole of Ireland, stretching from sea to sea; the abbess who dwells in the plain of the Liffey, whom all the abbesses of the Scoti venerate.” And he ends thus: “I ask pardon from the brethren, and from all who may read this, for, urged on by obedience, not sup­ported by any excellence of learning, I have traversed this vast ocean of the virtues of St. Brigid, one to be dreaded even by the bravest men.” This Life is published in the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum for February 1st.
The third Life is by St. Ultan, of Ardbraccan, in Meath, the same who induced St. Breogan to write the metrical Life already mentioned. The manuscript from which this Life was printed was found by F. Stephen White, S.J., in a monastery at Ratisbon; it was collated with another found in the monas­tery of St. Albert, at Cambray. Though there may be some doubts about the authorship, still that it is very ancient Colgan infers from the fact that most of the manuscripts which contain it were admitted to be five hundred years old, some of them seven hundred, in his time, i.e. in the middle of the seventeenth cen­tury. This would take the composition of it hack to the year 1000.
The 4th Life is by Anmchad, Latinized Animosus: it is in Latin metre. Who this Anmchad was — whether he was Bishop of Kildare and died in 980, or another — we have not sufficient grounds for saying with anything like certainty. The work seems to be that of one well acquainted with Kildare and its surroundings, and is more detailed than the others already mentioned. It begins thus: “Brethren, my mind is disturbed by three things—by love, which forces me to set down in writing the Life of St. Brigid, so that the great virtues which she practised, and the wonders which she wrought, may not be forgotten; next by shame, lest my uncouth and simple language may displease the learned and wise men who may read, or hear read, what I am going to write. But fear disturbs me still more, for I am too weak to undertake this work. I fear the sneers of unjust critics, who will scrutinize this work of mine as they do their food. But as the Lord ordered the poor among the people to offer to Him things mean and worthless in themselves for the building of the tabernacle, should not we too make an offering to build up His Church? And what is it but the congregation of the just?”
The 5th Life is the work of Laurence of Durham, a Benedic­tine monk, who lived about the year 1100. It was taken from a manuscript in the Irish College of Salamanca, the same which the Marquis of Bute lately published in a magnificent quarto volume, edited by the Bollandists.
Lastly, there is the Life by St. Caelan, a monk of Iniscealtra, in the Shannon, near Scariff. It is in Latin hexameters. It was discovered by an Irish Benedictine in the library of the mother-house of the Order, at Monte Cassino. The author lived in the first half of the eighth century. Prefixed to it is a beautiful poem on Ireland by St. Donatus, bishop of Fiesole, of whom Miss Stokes has given an account in her last book, Six Months in the Apennines, who lived a century later.
Besides, there are most valuable appendices:—
I. Offices to be said on the feast—one printed in Venice, in 1522; another in Paris, in 1622; a third in Genoa, not dated; a fourth used by the Canons of St. John of Lateran.
2. Extracts from the Lives of other saints relating to St. Brigid.
3. Accounts of her ancestors, death, her birthday, the number of years she lived, her place of burial.
4. The devotion to the Saint in Ireland and in other countries.
5. The history of the church of Kildare, its bishops, and the ravages by the Danes.
These are the Lives given by Colgan in the Trias. I should weary you if I enumerated to you the others that are now known, not only those written by her own countrymen, as that of Dr. Rothe, bishop of Ossory, On Brigid, the Worker of Miracles, but by French, Italian, German, Flemish, English, and Scottish writers. Even in our time her life has been written by Rev. S. Baring-Gould and by Dr. Forbes, bishop of Brechin. I need hardly say that no subject is oftener met with in our ancient Irish manuscripts than that of St. Brigid’s life. Dr. Whitley Stokes has published an ancient Irish Life of the Saint from the Book of Lismore. Those who wish to know the Saint’s life in detail, and the literature connected with it, will find all they can desire in the Rev. Canon O’Hanlon’s Lives of the Irish Saints, ii. 1.
The pedigree of St. Brigid is given in the Book of Leinster. She was the daughter of Dubtach, son of Demri, son of Bresil, son of Den, son of Conla, son of Art Corb, son of Cairbre, son of Cormac, son of Enghus Mean, son of Eochaidh Finn, son of Feidlimidh Rechtmar, who was ardrigh or chief monarch of Ireland, A.D.111. Her father is said to have been a great and mighty chief, Dux magnus et potens. Dr. Todd gives her genealogy and that of St. Columba, and shows they were descended from a common ancestor, Ugony Mor, supreme monarch of Ireland A.M.4546. Her mother, Brotseach, is said to have been a slave; but it is far more probable that she too was of noble birth, being the daughter of Dallbronach of the Dail Concobair in South Bregia. The Martyrology of Donegal says St. Ultan of Ardbraccan was her brother. Her birthplace was Fochart Muirthemhne, now Fochart, which is three miles north-west of Dundalk; the dun there was possibly the site of her father’s dwelling. There are remains of an old church dedicated to her, and close by is a holy well bearing her name, surmounted by a conical roof. Whether this building is of very remote date I cannot say, not having yet seen it. A stone, too, is pointed out in which it is said she was laid im­mediately after her birth. Such another stone we find at Gartan, the birthplace of St. Columba. The people of Donegal think that by lying on it before they set out for a foreign land, they will be freed from all danger of home-sickness. St. Bernard, in his Life of St. Malachy, makes mention of “the village of Fochart, which they say is the birthplace of Brigid the virgin.” This is close to the spot where Edward Bruce was slain in the year 1318.
Her parents wished to give her in marriage to a chief who sought her as wife. But she desired to devote herself wholly to the service of God and the poor. Other maidens followed her example, and joined her. They went to St. Macaille, bishop of Hy Failge. One of his clerics told him who she was, and why she and her companions had come to him. He placed the veil on her head, in token of her consecration to God in the re­ligions state. So St. Broegan Claen, in his hymn:
Posuit bonis avibus Maccalleus velum
Super caput sanctae Brigidae,
Clarus est in ejus gestis.
It would seem that she founded a religious establishment first near Uisneagh, in Westmeath. After a while she went, with her disciples, to Connaught, and dwelt in Magh Aoi, a district between Elphin and Roscommon, possibly at a place now bearing her name, called Killbride, in the parish of Kil­lacken. The people of Leinster, hearing of the wonders she wrought, besought her to return to her native province, and she determined to establish her monastery among them. She was welcomed by all. Drum Criadh seemed to her a fit place for her purpose; a large oak spread its branches around. “This,” Animosus tells us, “she loved very much, and she blessed it. Its stem and roots remain to this day.” The date of her settling there is not certain; it is presumed to have been 470; others say 480 and 484. This house, small and mean at first, grew to a great size, and soon it became the head of some hundreds of such houses, scattered throughout the country. Owing to her great repute, Kildare was for a while the metro­politan see of Leinster
The precise date of her death is not known. We shall not be much astray if we take that given by Colgan, namely, A.D. 523; nor is it known what her age was at her death. Colgan, who set down her birth as 439, would,, consequently, make her more than fourscore, while others say she died at the age of seventy.
Cogitosus says she was buried at Kildare. Indeed, he describes the shrines in which her remains and those of St. Con­laeth, the first bishop of this See, were preserved. He says they were ornamented with gold and silver, and precious stones; and crosses of gold and silver were suspended close by, one on the right side, the other on the left. He goes on to describe how the church grew in size, its extent, and the different parts and divisions of it; the door by which the priest, “cum regulari schola,” with his school of religious, entered, that by which the men entered, and the third, by which the women were admitted.
I am aware that some have held she was buried at Downpatrick immediately after her death; but that can hardly be, from what I have said above. Except by the fact of her relics being preserved at Kildare, it is impossible to account for “the vast crowds, the numberless multitudes, that came there from all the provinces of Ireland on her feast day, some for the plentiful banquets given them; others who were sick and diseased, coming to get back their health; others with gifts. All these came on the 1st of February, the day she cast off the burthen of the flesh, and followed the Lamb of God to the heavenly dwelling.” So Cogitosus. Later, very possibly to preserve her relics from the devastations of the Danes, from which Kildare seemed to have suffered oftener than any other place, they may have been removed to Down. Colgan thinks the removal may have taken place in the ninth century; and so the words of the distych would be verified—
Hi tres in Duno tumulo tumulantur in uno,
Brigida, Patricius, atque Columba pius.
Others will have it that John De Courcy got some of her relics transported there, in order to increase the importance of Down, which was the capital of his possessions. It would seem that the precise place where the bodies of the three Saints were laid was somehow forgotten. It is said that it was revealed to Bishop Malachy in 1189, and that the remains were transferred with great solemnity into the interior of the church soon after. When the relics of these Saints were destroyed, in the sixteenth century, during the deputyship of Lord Leonard Gray, St. Brigid’s head was saved by some of the clergy, who carried it to Neustadt, in Austria. In 1587 it was presented to the church of the Society of Jesus at Lisbon by the Emperor Rudolph II.
A few words in conclusion on the extent of the veneration shown to this saint. “So famous is the renown of this holy virgin,” says Hector Boetius, “that the Scots, the Picts, the Irish, and those who live near them, the English, put her next after the Virgin Mother of God.” And Alanus Copus: “She is most famous, not only among the Scots, the English, and the Irish, but churches are named after her throughout the whole world.” “Her feast,” F. Stephen White tells us, “was cele­brated in every cathedral church from the Grisons to the German Sea, for nearly a thousand years.” Cogitosus, in a passage given above, speaks of the veneration in which she was held by all the abbesses of the Scoti. The Book of Leinster gives a list of some thirty religious houses of women which were under her obedience in ancient times. Here are some places in the diocese of Dublin which still bear her name. We have Bride’s Church, a parish church, Bride’s street, Bride’s alley, Bride’s hospital; chapels dedicated to St. Brigid at Killo­sery, Swords, Ward, Tully, Tallaght, Kilbride near Rathfarnham. In Kildare—Kildare itself, Rosenallis, Cloncurry, Rathbride, Rathdrum. At Armagh there was a church and convent of women bearing her name, of which Dr. Reeves speaks in his Ancient Churches of Armagh. Wells bearing her name: Bride street, St. Margaret’s, Clondalkin, Swords, Clonskeagh, Rosslare, Ballysadare, Ballintobber, Kilcock, Buttevant, Tuam, Birchfield, near Ennistymon. Hospitals—Kilmainham, Carrickfergus, Dungarvan, Kells, and Galway. In the Ordnance Survey list of Irish townlands there are thirty-six Kilbrides. In Australia, America, wherever the Irish people are—and where are they not?—will be found churches, and schools, and convents bearing her name; no diocese without one at least; in some several, as in the diocese of Boston, four churches. And if we go to the Continent of Europe, we shall find her name wherever Irish missionaries have set foot—at Amiens, St. Omer, Besancon, Tours, Cologne, Fulda, at Fossey, in the diocese of Namur, at Seville, and Lisbon. An interesting fact bearing on what I have just said has been told me by the parish priest of Kildare. Very lately he received a letter from a parish priest in the neighbourhood of Aix-la-Chapelle, requesting of him a relic, however small, of St. Brigid; his parish church was dedicated to her, and on her feast, February 1st, there was a great concourse of the people to it in her honour. Few things are more touching than the casual inscription which one meets with at times on the margin of an old manuscript in St. Gall or Milan, the work of an Irish scribe in a foreign land; his labour is tedious and trying, working out these endless spirals and convolutions of the Opus Hibernicum; or it may be that a feeling of home-sickness has suddenly come on him, a fond longing to see once more “the fair hills of Eire,” and he stops awhile, and instinctively turns his thoughts to her who is the pride and glory of his race, “Margareta Hiberniae,” the pearl of Ireland, and its protectress, and he writes: “St. Brigid, aid me in the laborious task which I have undertaken,” or “St. Brigid, pray for us.”

The Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society is an invaluable source for those interested in the History, Heritage and Archaeology of Co. Kildare.   

JKAS cover vol II 72dpi.jpg

Above the cover of vol ii. 

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 Above the first page of Denis Murphy's article and below the old Irish text for the word Brigid

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Denis Murphy's article on St. Brigid of Kildare from Volume I of the Kildare Archaeological Journal.


Posted by mariocorrigan at 06:32 PM

January 29, 2006


Cambrensis writing in the 12th century refers as follows to this fire: “At Kildare which the glorious Brigid renders noble, many miracles deserve to be recorded, amongst which the fire of St. Brigid comes first: this they call inextinguishable, not that it could not be extinguished, but because the nuns feed it with fuel and tend it so care­fully that it has continued inextinct since the time of the Virgin.
FireHouse 72dpi.jpg
  Notwithstanding the great quantity of wood that has been consumed during so long a time, yet the ashes never accumulate. When in the time of St. Brigid twenty nuns had served the Lord here, she made the twentieth. After her glorious death, nineteen always remained and the number was not increased, and when each had kept the fire in order on her own night, on the twentieth night the last nun put faggots on the fire saying: ‘Brigid help your own fire. For this night has fallen to you.’ The fire being left so is found still burning in the morning, the fuel being consumed as usual. The fire is surrounded by a circular fence of twigs within which a male enters not.” In A.D. 1220, Henry de Loundres, Norman Archbishop of Dublin and Justiciary of Ireland, extinguished the fire which had been kept alight from early times by nuns of St. Brigid. Possibly it had been represented to him that the fire was of pagan origin. The fire, however, had any or all of three purposes (1) to provide for the wants of the poor pilgrims and strangers in accordance with the tradition founded by St. Brigid; (2) it may have been a sacred fire kept always burning before the shrines of the holy founders; (3) St. Brigid’s nuns may have been anticipating the now general rule of keeping a lamp before the Blessed Sacrament. At any rate, the fire was soon re-lighted and continued to burn till the 16th century when the monasteries were suppressed. The ruins of the Fire-house about 20 feet square are to the rere, between the Round Tower and the Nave.





[To celebrate the lighting of the flame as a permanent feature on the Market Square on St. Brigid's Day, Feb. 1st,  this week's chapter from the An Tostal Programme of 1953 (chapter 5) is indeed apt, as it is dedicated to St. Brigid's Fire House - Mario Corrigan]

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:11 PM

January 23, 2006



Round Towers in Ireland had a twofold purpose. They were used as belfries for Churches, and served also as keeps or places of strength in which the sacred vessels, books, relics or other valuables could be placed, and into which the clergy to whom they belonged could retire in case of sudden attack. For this purpose, the doorway was usually a certain height from the ground. There are ninety-eight round towers in Ireland, thirteen of them in perfect condition. The cloichteach of Kildare is 108 feet high. It has a solid base 50 feet in circumference. The doorway is 15 feet from the ground. The internal diameter at the door is 8½ feet. The wall is 5 feet in width. The tower stands near the west end of the nave of the Cathedral and is built of two kinds of stone, 13 feet being of white granite, and the rest of a darker stone. The chief feature is the fine Irish Romanesque doorway, built of a hard silicious sandstone of light colour, with ornaments in very low relief. There are four concentric arches, one recessed beyond the other and resting on round pilasters or semi-columns with flat imposts or capitals. The ornaments on the external arch have long been destroyed and were replaced with crude masonry early in the 18th century. The ornaments on the recessed arches are also much injured but the fourth or innermost is fairly well preserved. The tower was built probably at the close of the eighth or early in the ninth century. Giraldus Cambrensis tells of a beautiful falcon that used to nestle in its summit all alone and was on familiar terms with the monks and citizens, and was known as St. Brigid’s bird. Even in the time of Giraldus the Round Tower was a venerable building. It still points heavenwards as of old, marking out the sacred city of St. Brigid in the great plain of the Liffey.

Round Tower 72dpi.jpg

Chapter 4 of the AnTostal Programme from 1953 describes the Round Tower near St. Brigid's Cathedral. Fittingly next week chapter 5 contains a description of St. Brigid's Fire House, in time for the re-lighting of St. Brigid's flame as a permanent feature on the Market Square, Kildare Town. The lighting of the flame will take place on ST. Brigid's Day, 1st February 2006.

Posted by mariocorrigan at 09:48 PM

January 17, 2006



The Church erected in the time of St. Brigid and St. Conlaeth was probably of wood, like most of the churches of the period. The earliest description of the Cathedral is that of Cogitosus who, early in the ninth century, wrote as follows concerning “the Church in which rest the glorious bodies of Bishop Conlaeth, and the Virgin St. Brigid on the right and left of the decorated altar, placed in monu­ments decorated with various embellishments of gold and silver and precious stones with crowns of gold and silver hung above them.

For owing to the increase in the number of the faithful and their being of both sexes, the Church occupied a wide area and was raised to a towering height and was adorned with painted pictures. It has within three spacious ora­tories separated by plank partitions, under one roof of the greater house, wherein one partition decorated and painted with figures and covered with linen hangings, extended along the breadth of the eastern part of the Church, from one wall of the Church to the other, which partition has at its end two doors. Through the one door on the right the Chief Bishop entered the Sanctuary accompanied by his regular school, and by those who are appointed to the holy ministry of offering Sacred and Divine Sacrifices. Through the other door, on the left part of the aforesaid cross wall, enters the Abbess with her virgins and faithful widows to enjoy the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Moreover another wall separates the floor of the house into two equal parts stretching from the eastward part of the cross wall. The Church has many windows and one ornamental door on the right by which the priests and faithful of the male sex enter the Church, and another door on the left by which the assembly of the virgins and faithful women are wont to enter. Thus in one very great temple, a multitude of people in different order and ranks separated by partitions but of one mind to worship God.”

Cathedral 72dpi.JPG

Thus in St. Brigid’s monastery at Kildare there was an establishment for each sex, the men under the bishop (later the abbot) and the women under the abbess. The rule was the same for both, but each section was probably autonomous, and the Church was used in common for Mass and other religious services. There was a distinct entrance by a side door for each sex, and a high partition running down the body of the Church which screened each off from the other’s view. This arrangement probably goes back to the great virgin founder.

The Church described by Cogitosus was probably of stone, and half of it was destroyed in 835 when the Danes of Wicklow invaded Kildare. They also carried away the costly shrines of St. Brigid and St. Conlaeth. The relics were saved from desecration, and those of St. Brigid were conveyed for safety to Saul. In 1185 in answer to St. Malachy’s prayer the relics of SS. Patrick, Brigid and Colmcille were discovered. Permission to remove the relics to Down was obtained from Pope Urban III, who sent as his Legate, Cardinal Vivian who, with fifteen bishops, together with abbots, deans, provosts and other clergy were present at the translation. The Shrine of the three great Patrons of Eire was desecrated in 1538.

In 868, Kildare Church was rebuilt by Queen Flanna, wife of Aedh Finliath, King of Ireland. In 1050, Kildare with its Daimliag (great stone church) was burned. They were burned again in 1067. In 1132, St. Laurence O’Toole son of Maurice O’Toole who lived in or near Castledermot, was baptised at Kildare. The Church was plundered in 1136. In 1138 and again in 1150, Kildare was burned. In 1223, when Ralph de Bristol became bishop of Kildare, he found his cathedral in ruins. He rebuilt and beautified it at great expense. Dr. Edmund Lane, Bishop from 1482 to 1513, continued the work of restoring and beautifiying the Cathedral, and built a college for the Dean and Chapter. In 1600, Kildare town suffered so severely that all the houses were in ruins, without a single inhabitant. The Cathedral shared in the general wreck. In 1641, the Cathedral again suffered severely, and its steeple was beaten down by cannonade. In 1643, the town was made a garrison post under the Earl of Castlehaven. Bishop Rosse McGeoghegan restored the ancient Cathedral and and [sic] in March 1643 reconscrated [reconsecrated - sic] it for Catholic use. The wars of the 17th century again left the Cathedral in ruins. In 1686, the choir portion was fitted up for Protestant service, the rest of the building remaining in ruins until 1871, when the restoration of the Cathedral was begun under the supervision of Street, the eminent architect. The work was completed in 1896. 

Cathedral 1871 72dpi.JPG


The third chapter of the An Tostal Souvenir Programme from 1953 explored the history of St. Brigid's Cathedral, Kildare.

Spelling and grammar retained - mispellings, mistakes in grammar, punctuation etc. identified by square brackets and sic - [sic]

Posted by mariocorrigan at 12:08 AM

January 09, 2006



 Closely associated with St. Brigid in the foundation at Kildare was St. Conlaeth, first Bishop of the See. Owing to the great and rapid increase of her community and to meet the spiritual wants of the new city that rose around this already famous monastery, St. Brigid asked that a bishop be appointed. Her request was granted and on her recommendation, St. Conlaeth, a holy recluse who lived in the south of the Liffey plain, probably the present Old Connall, was appointed. The date of his appointment is not certain, but it was probably not earlier than 490. St. Conlaeth no doubt had under him a body of clergy for the service of the Church. He was a skilled artificer in gold and silver. The Four Masters call him St. Brigid’s Brazier. An ancient crozier of St. Finnbhar in Connacht, now preserved in the Royal Irish Academy, is said to have been made by him. During his episcopate he made a pilgrimage to Rome. He brought back from Rome precious vestments for the use of his Church in Kildare. Cogitosus, a monk of Kildare, who wrote a life of St. Brigid early in the ninth century, recording St. Brigid’s great charity, refers to these vestments and states that “she gave to the poor even the transmarine and rare vestments of Bishop Conlaeth which he was accustomed to use when offering the Sacred Mysteries at the Altars, on the festivals of Our Lord and the vigils of the Apostles.” After governing his See for about twenty years, St. Conlaeth died on the 3rd. May, 519. Some authors say that he died a violent death having been killed by wolves. In 799 his relics were removed from his grave at Cinel Lugair, probably the present Killeen Cormac, and placed in a shrine of gold and silver.


 [There were no actual chapters but it is the easiest way to differentiate between the sections]

The second chapter of the An Tostal Souvenir Programme from 1953 recounted the life of St. Conleth, the reclusive hermit from Old Connell, who became the 1st Bishop of Kildare.


Scanned Image of Front Cover

Front Cover 72dpi.JPG

Posted by mariocorrigan at 07:12 PM

January 03, 2006


Cill Dara Brigde



Souvenir of An Tostal Festival







Historic Kildare with your ancient Abbeys, Castle, Round Tower, Cathedral: what memories you hold; memories above all of ‘Brigid, The Mary of the Gael,’ from whose humble church beneath the ‘Oak,’ ‘Cilldara,’ you owe your name. Home of St. Brigid, who founded her Convent here, lived here, worked here, prayed here and died here. How blessed we are in Kildare, under Divine Providence, to be privileged to live where she lived; to walk in her very footsteps; to know that the schools founded by her, still flourish under the direction of our devoted Sisters, Brothers and lay-teachers; that all her work is still being carried on as of old, under her sweet invocation, in her own Kildare.




The compilers of this Souvenir booklet are greatly indebted for the free use of matter from the following books of Reference: Comerford’s Collections; County Kildare Archaeological Journals; Brenan’s Schools of Kildare and Leighlin; Curtayne, St. Brigid of Ireland, etc.

Other historical matter was obtained from the following local historians—The Misses Cahill, Mrs. Jordan, Messrs Patrick McCormack, Thomas Daly, James Kelly, Thomas Dunne and others.

They gratefully acknowledge the kindness of Very Rev. R. E. Eaton, M.A., Dean of Kildare, for the use of the blocks of illustrations in the booklet.

The Tostal Committee will be grateful if readers will kindly point out any errors or omissions in description.



ANCIENT Kildare seems to have stood a little to the west of the present town. The place was formerly called Drumcree, (Dromcriadh) or ridge of clay. It received its present name from an ancient high oak beside which St. Brigid made her oratory or cell. St. Brigid established herself at Kildare about the year 470, and to this fact the town owes its origin. St. Brigid is the greatest of the daughters of Ireland. As St. Patrick is the father, so is St. Brigid the mother of the children of Ireland. She is the second of the three Patron Saints of Ireland: as St. Patrick is the Apostle of Ireland and as St. Colmcille is the Apostle of Scotland, so St. Brigid is the founder of female religious communities in Ireland.
The place of her birth is uncertain. Faughart near Dundalk claims her, but there is a strong local tradition that she was born either at Umeras or Shindela between Monasterevan and Rathangan; that she lived at Mullacharue an adjoining district; that St. Mel visited her there, and that she founded a church at Red Hills. “St. Brigid’s Course” from Mullacharue to Red Hills is still pointed out. From Mullagharue, Red Hills and Croghan Hill where she received the veil from St. Maccaille are clearly visible. She was born about 450 of noble Christian parents. She grew up to be a girl of singular grace and beauty. She was trained from childhood in letters, but this did not prevent her from performing ordinary farmyard duties such as the care of cows and the making of butter. Many suitors sought her hand but she turned them all away for her heart had already been given to a higher Spouse. The day came when with seven other maidens she betook herself to Croghan Hill where, prostrating themselves before the holy bishop, Maccaille, each of them received from his hand a white veil and a white dress. She travelled much over Ireland in a two horse-chariot, founding convents and working miracles. Owing to the fame of her holiness the people of her native place sent to invite her to found a convent among them. About 470 she came to Drumcriadh over looking the Liffey plain, and there built Cill Dara, the Cell of the Oak. Soon Kildare was famous as a monastic settlement. Crowds of men and women came from all parts of the country to consult the Saint, to benefit by her miraculous powers, or place themselves permanently under her guidance. By 480 what had first been a mere cell had grown to be a monastery of large proportions. She was noted for her hospitality, and for her charity to needy people. “The holy virgin loved constant piety, which was not prescribed, sheep herding and early rising, hospitality towards men of virtue.”


St. Brigid died about the year 524 at Kildare. She was then about 74 years of age. She received the Last Sacraments from St. Ninnidh, who is known in history as Ninnidh of the Pure Hand. St. Brigid had prophesied that he would assist her at the hour of death, and on this account he always wore a cloth on his right hand. The Brehon laws Prescribed special devotion to St. Brigid. The Kings of Leinster paid tribute to her convent. Through respect for her, the town and suburbs of Kildare were granted the privilege of Sanctuary, that is, an accused person who took refuge there was safe from immediate punishment.
She is the saint of pastoral life. Her visions as given in the Leabhar Breac are of ploughmen and sowers, clear shining streams, oats springing up, furrowed fields, all farm animals, sheep, swine, dogs. All her legends are about farm life, milking cows, making firkins of butter, calling home the sheep in the rain. She was an expert butter and cheese maker; her home-brewed ale was famous. Even when she was Mother-Abbess of thirteen thousand nuns, she spent part of each day at rural occupations. We find her tending sheep on the grassy slopes of Dromcree or on the Curragh plains, or supervising the reapers as they worked from dawn to sunset in the harvest fields about her convent settlement, or busy over her stores of honey, or home-made brews. She loved all animal life. The wild duck came at her call. Once she tamed a wild fox for [a – sic] pet. Yet she fostered learning equally with pastoral occupations. The Book of Lismore states: “Wherefore it came to pass that the comradeship of the world’s sons of reading is with Brigid and the Lord gives them through Brigid’s prayer every perfect good they ask. Everything that Brigid would ask of the Lord was granted to her at once. For this was her desire: to satisfy the poor, to expel every hardship, to spare every miserable man. None was ever more retiring, more modest, more gentle, more humble, more wise, or more harmonious than she. She was abstinent, innocent, prayerful, patient; she was glad in God’s commandments; she was firm, forgiving, loving; she was a consecrated casket for keeping Christ’s Body and His Blood; she was a temple of God. Her heart and her mind were a throne of rest for the Holy Ghost. She was compassionate towards the wretched; she was splendid in miracles and marvels; wherefore her name among created things is Dove among birds, Vine among trees, Sun among stars. She helps everyone who is in straits and danger; she banishes pestilence; she quells the anger and the storm of the sea. She is the prophetess of Christ; she is the Queen of the South; she is the Mary of the Gael.”


February is called in Irish the month of Brigid’s feast. St. Brigid’s Day, 1st. February, is the first day of Spring; the early flowers bloom that day, and the linnet, called the glasan Brighde, begins to sing. The country people rejoice in the gradual lengthening of the day, and although the rigours of winter are not yet entirely past, they feel that their faces are towards the long evenings and the summer’s heat. The Cros Bhrigde, St. Brigid’s Cross, made on the eve of the Feast is affixed to the back of the door in every home. In time of temptation her Irish children say: Brigid and her cloak, Mary and her Son between us and every evil. At night prayer and again at the raking of the fire and in every occupation the name of Brigid is invoked with the sacred names of Jesus and Mary.



[One of the best sources for the history of Kildare Town remains the An Tostal Festival Souvenir Programme published by the An Tostal Committee in 1953. Over the next few months this programme will be republished on this website chapter by chapter. It is intended to re-publish the material as it appeared in 1953. The original spelling and grammar will be retained with obvious mistakes highlighted by the use of square brackets and sic. The town is indebted to the original authors and the An Tostal Committee and this addition to the website is a tribute to their work and research. ]

Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:43 PM

December 08, 2005


World War I war dead in St. Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare
Photos Mark McLoughlin

Details Commonwealth War Graves Commission

WW1Grave Cathedral Ashbie.JPG

GS/4758 Private J. Ashbie  12TH Royal Lancers 9TH August 1915

Initials: J
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment: 12th (Prince of Wales's Royal) Lancers
Date of Death: 09/08/1915
Service No: GS/4758
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Near North boundary.

WW1Grave Cathedral Evans.JPG 


L/4347 Private G. Evans 5TH Lancers 28TH August 1915


Initials: G
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment: 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers
Date of Death: 28/08/1915
Service No: L/4347
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Near North boundary.





WW1Grave Cathedral Hughes.JPG

3110 Private A.E. Hughes Montgomeryshire Yeomanry 6TH September 1915

Initials: A E
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment: Montgomeryshire Yeomanry
Unit Text: 2nd/1st
Date of Death: 06/09/1915
Service No: 3110
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Near North boundary.


WW1Grave Cathedral Walker.JPG

3119 Private G. C. Walker Montgomeryshire Yeomanry 14TH September 1915 Age 21

Initials: G C
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment: Montgomeryshire Yeomanry
Unit Text: 3rd/1st
Age: 21
Date of Death: 14/09/1915
Service No: 3119
Additional information: Son of William and Catherine Walker, of Wrekin House, 15, Wrekin Terrace, St. Michael's St., Shrewsbury.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Near North boundary.


Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:17 PM

October 09, 2005


Identified onthe Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website is the war grave and marker erected

In Memory of
3439, 6th Dragoons (Inniskilling)
who died
on 06 September 1914
Remembered with honour

The grave is near the gap in the wooden fence which is the entrance to the Abbey ruin


Another war grave can be found in Doneany cemetery but the website gives us an extra piece of information, the names of the parents of the individual interred there. The marker was erected

In Memory of

2716504, Middlesex Regiment
who died age 38
on 12 December 1943
Son of John and Bridget Neanor (nee O'Connor), of Duneany.
Remembered with honour

The grave is to the left of the church ruin, past most of the graves which lie directly in front and to the left of the gate


Posted by mariocorrigan at 11:53 PM

August 24, 2005


Slater’s Trade Directory 1846


Is a market town, the seat of a diocese, and formerly a parliamentary borough, in the barony of Ophaly, and parish and county of its name, 32 miles S.W. from Dublin, 13 W. from Naas, 7 S.E. from Rathangan, 6 E.N.E. from Monastereven, and 5 W.S.W. from Newbridge; situated on the mail roads between Dublin, Cork and Limerick. The town derives its name from Kill-dara, or Chille-darraigh, the “Church or cell of the Oak,” from the circumstances of the first Christian church, founded here, having its site amongst trees of that kind. The town, which is the property of the Duke of Leinster, enjoys but little trade, yet, from the numerous remains of its ancient religious edifices, it possesses an aspect of importance, and boasts two admirably conducted hotels, for families and commercial gentlemen-they are called the “Rosmore Arms” and the “Leinster Arms,” and are both posting establishments. James II conferred upon the inhabitants a charter of incorporation; the municipal body consisting of a sovereign, two portrieves, and a certain number of burgesses and freemen, assisted by a recorder, with other officers; for many years these officials have, however, ceased to exercise any judicial functions, indeed the corporation may be said to be virtually extinct, and the government of the town is now vested in the magistrates, who sit in petty session every alternate Thursday in the court-house, a plain structure. Quarter sessions are likewise held in April and October, in the same building.

The cathedral of Kildare has long been in a ruinous condition, and although at various times partially repaired, it appears, at the present day, but a mass of ruins. The original structure dates its existence from a very early period; and it was repaired and adorned by Bishop Ralph, of Bristol, who enjoyed the see of Kildare from 1223 to 1232. The south transept is a ruin; the nave, which stands unroofed, displays some arches, and other architectural features, in the pointed style. The choir retains both walls and roof, and is used as the parish church; it contains the sepulchral vault of the Earls of Kildare and Dukes of Leinster. In the church-yard is the lofty pedestal of an ancient stone cross; and about thirty yards west of the cathedral is the interesting “Pillar-Tower of Kildare,” full one hundred and thirty feet high. Its origin is variously ascribed to the Danes, who, it is supposed, erected it as a watch tower; while others contend that this and similar towers, of which there are many in Ireland, are connected with the services of religion. Besides the cathedral, the other places of worship are the Roman Catholic chapel, a fine spacious edifice; the chapel attached to a Carmelite friary, and one belonging to the Presentation Convent. The principal charitable institution is the county infirmary, erected in 1780, munificently presented to the county by the Duke of Leinster. It will accommodate fifty patients, and in connection with it is a dispensary, the whole under the able management of W. P. Geoghegan, M.D. there are schools under the dean and chapter, and also the national board-the instruction of the female pupils of the latter is undertaken by the nuns of the Presentation Convent, who confer a great amount of benefit on the children of the poor, by their laudable exertions in the path of eduation. Near to the town is the celebrated “Curragh of Kildare,” supposed to be one of the finest commons in Europe, and containing, within its limits, three hare parks. Race meetings are held on the Curragh in April, June, September, and October. In September, 1821, his late Majesty, George IV, who visited these races, contributed to the club a whip of 100 guineas value to be run for annually. The market is held on Thursday; and fairs February 12th, April 5th and 26th, May 12th, June 29th, and September 19th. Population of the town, in 1841, 1,629.

(original spelling and grammar are retained - Mario Corrigan)

Posted by mariocorrigan at 10:28 PM

August 14, 2005


Lewis's Topographical Dictionary 1837


 KILDARE, an incorporated market and post-town, a parish, and the seat of a diocese, in the barony of EAST OPHALY, county of KILDARE, and province of LEINSTER, 9¼ miles (W.S.W.) from Naas, and 25 miles (W.S.W.) from Dublin, on the mail coach road to Limerick; containing 2541 inhabitants, of which number, 1753 are in the town. This place derived its name either from Chille-dara, "the wood of oaks," or from Kill-dara, "the cell or church of the oaks," from the situation of the first Christian church founded here among trees of that kind. The source of its ancient importance appears to have been the foundation of a monastery by St. Bridget, the daughter of a native Irish chieftain, who in the fifth century is said to have received the veil from the hands of St. Patrick. This monastery, which was both for monks and nuns under the same roof, and had only one church, soon caused other habitations to be erected in the neighbourhood, which, on its being subsequently made the seat of an episcopal see, became a town of importance. It is recorded that, in 638, Aed Dubh, or Black Hugh, King of Leinster, resigned his authority, and took the habit of the Augustine order in this monastery, of which he afterwards became abbot and bishop. The town and monastery were consumed by fire in 770, and again about four years after; and in 830 they suffered greatly from the depredation of Ceallach Mac Brann, who slew many of the clergy in their own house. Farannan, abbot of Armagh, attended by a retinue of his clergy, visited the abbey in 835; and during his stay, Fethlemid, at the head of an armed force, seized the church and carried off the clergy prisoners. In the following year, a Danish fleet of thirty ships arrived in the river Liffey, and another also in the Boyne, and, making an irruption into the country, not only plundered every church and abbey within the territories of Magh-Liffe and Magh-Breagh, but also destroyed the town with fire and sword, and carried away the shrines of St. Bridget and St. Conlaeth. From this period till the commencement of the 11th century, the annals of Kildare present only a continued series of Danish rapine and massacre; and scarcely had the ravages of these invaders ceased, when the town was plundered by the people of Hyfaolan. It was either wholly or in part destroyed by fire in 1038, 1040, 1071, 1088, and 1089; and, in 1135, the abbess of the monastery was forcibly taken from her cloister by Dermod Mac Murrough, King of Leinster, who compelled her to marry one of his followers; on which occasion not less than 170 inhabitants of the town and inmates of the abbey were slaughtered. Till the time of the English invasion, the town and monastery were continually exposed to depredation by fire and sword; but shortly after that event, one of the English adventurers who had obtained possession of this territory erected a castle for its defence. In 1220, the sacred fire, which had been maintained here from the time of St. Bridget, was extinguished by Henry de Londres, archbishop of Dublin; it was, however, soon afterwards rekindled, and continued to burn till the Reformation. In 1260, a monastery was founded here by William de Vescy, for Grey friars, which was completed by Gerald Fitzmaurice, Lord Offaly; the same William also founded a convent for Carmelite friars in 1290; and in 1294, Calbhach O'Connor of Offaly took the town and castle by force, and destroyed all the rolls of the Earl of Kildare. A parliament was held here in 1309, or the beginning of the following year; and in 1316, the castle and town were granted to John Fitzgerald, who was at that time created Earl of Kildare; but in the wars during the reign of Elizabeth, the town was reduced to a state of entire ruin and depopulation. In 1641, the castle was garrisoned by the Earl of Castlehaven, but in 1647 it was taken by Col. Jones for the parliament; it fell again into the hands of the Irish, but was finally retaken by the Lord-Lieutenant in 1649. During the disturbances of 1798, 2000 of the insurgents, under a leader named Perkins, having agreed to surrender themselves on the 28th of March, on condition of being allowed to return unmolested to their several homes, and of the liberation of Perkins' brother from the gaol of Naas, Major-Gen. Sir James Duffe advanced at the head of 600 men to the Gibbet-rath on the Curragh, where they had assembled for that purpose; but some imprudent firing taking place on their part, they were charged by the troops, and more than 200 of them were killed.The town, though consisting only of 346 houses, and carrying on but little trade, has an appearance of importance, form its commanding situation on boldly rising ground, and from the numerous remains of its ancient religious edifices. It is badly supplied with water, raised from a very deep well near the market-house, by a forcing pump, into a public cistern. The principal streets are portions of the public roads, and are kept in repair by the county. It is a place of great resort during the races, which are held on the Curragh in the last week of April, the second Monday in June, and the second Monday in October, when the king's plates are contested. A gift of two annual plates of £100 each was obtained through Sir W. Temple, and, in 1821, Geo. IV. attended a meeting at this place. The jockey club have a house in the town, for the use of the members during the races, which are well attended and under good regulations. The Curragh is under the care of a ranger appointed by the Crown, and is distinguished as the "Newmarket" of Ireland, not only as the principal race-meeting, but as a central spot for the breeding and training of the best horses in the country. No manufactures are carried on here, nor any trade except what arises from its public situation and for the supply of the neighbourhood. The market is on Thursday, and fairs are held on Feb. 12th, April 5th and 26th, May 12th, June 29th, and Sept. 19th. The market-house is a neat building. There is a constabulary police station in the town. By charter of James II the town was governed by a corporation consisting of a sovereign (who was a justice of the peace), two portreeves, 20 burgesses, and an indefinite number of freemen, assisted by a recorder, town-clerk, two sergeants-at-mace, and other officers. The corporation returned two members to the Irish parliament till the Union, when the borough was disfranchised, and the £15,000 awarded as compensation was paid to William, Duke of Leinster. The borough court had jurisdiction to the extent of five marks, but no proceedings have issued from it for several years; and since 1828 neither sovereign nor any other officer has been elected, and the corporation is virtually extinct. The quarter sessions for the county are held here in April and October, and petty sessions every alternate Thursday.

 Spelling and Grammar are retained as in the original

A description of Kildare Town taken from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of 1837. All the relevant articles for County Kildare are available at

Posted by mariocorrigan at 03:53 PM