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Leinster Leader 23 August 2007
Songs, stories and scientists feature in Kildare Heritage week 2007
Liam Kenny
The last couple of weeks in August mean a return of the dreaded ‘S’ word meaning ‘School’ for the junior ranks of our population. And for parents too there is all the fuss involved in returning to the autumn routine and once more re-engaging with the seasonal rituals of organising school ferry runs, lunchboxes, books and bags. However for those interested in history and heritage the last week in August has another, more anticipated significance, in that it marks National Heritage Week – a week of open days, presentations, walks and forays exploring the story of localities especially through their monuments and museums.
National Heritage Week is now organised by the Heritage Council which from early in the year has been canvassing interest from public bodies, community groups and local history groups throughout the country. This year County Kildare has a modest nineteen events listed in the national programme with the north county particularly well served. The following is just a selection of activities which catch the eye – all of them guaranteed to open new doors on the story of Kildare and be of huge educational value for young and old.
Starting with the spiritual home of Lilywhites, the Kildare town heritage centre will be open with free admission during the week. The centre, located in the finely restored Market house in Kildare’s lively town square, will feature a multi-media exhibition telling the story of St. Brigid’s monastic city. The centre is also a great resource for the walking trails in the town including the spectacular new boardwalk linking the town and Kildare Shopping Village passing en route the remains of historic Grey Abbey.
A facet of learning in County Kildare which has escaped notice except to specialists is the contribution of Maynooth College to scientific endeavour down the years. The college museum has what is said to be the ‘finest collection of historic science instruments’ in the country. Highlight of its collection is the apparatus used by Nicholas Callan, a Maynooth based scientists of the 19th century who was a world leader in the early science of electricity and magnetism.
A more traditional form of Irish learning will  also be on display in Maynooth during the week – this time in the Community Library which will host an exhibition of memorabilia relating to Teresa Brayton who is described as a ‘ Kildare poet and literary nationalist.’ Such a billing should  prompt a good turnout for a talk on Teresa Brayton’s life being given in Maynooth library on Friday, 31st August at 7.30pm by Olive Morrin. And in an imaginative adornment to the story the library has organised a session of ‘trad music, poetry and song.’ Sounds unmissable!
I am not sure if well-known Leixlip historian John Colgan plans to break into song during his lecture on ‘Leixlip in maps’ which will take place in the Leixlip Community Library on Captain’s Hill on Thursday, 30 August at 7.30pm, but participants can be sure of an informative night from the author of the encyclopaedic history of Leixlip.
Certain to feature during John’s talk is the attractive Leixlip landmark of St. Mary’s Church of Ireland. This ancient building still very much in use and currently undergoing conservation, is listed as being open to the public from 9.30am to 3pm during Heritage Week.
Retracing the M4 back towards Maynooth would prove profitable on the opening Sunday of Heritage Week, 25th August, when the Royal Canal Amenity Group hosts a guided walk with a difference beginning at the harbour at 3.30pm. The walk, just under 3 miles, is scheduled to be punctuated by snippets on history, ecology, canal related songs and readings, and, to get a taste of the real thing, participants will be able to watch a boat negotiating the 14th lock on the Royal Canal.
There are other heritage week events taking place in Kilcock, Kilcullen and the National Stud. And for those who prefer their heritage on the airwaves the Kildare Federation of Local History Groups will be broadcasting a series of heritage talks on Kfm radio.
  • For full details of Heritage Week 2007 see the heritage week booklets in the local libraries or check the website, www.heritageweek.ie
Series no. 29

Liam Kenny's promotion of Heritage Week Events in Co. Kildare in the Leinster Leader 23 August 2007 from his regular feature, 'Nothing New Under the Sun.' Our thanks to Liam 

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