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Leinster Leader 19 July 2007
Two phone kiosks and a call office:  Naas - a communications black spot fifty years ago
In this era of all pervasive modern communications with mobile phones, texting, laptop computers and emailing, it is difficult to appreciate that the sum total of public communications facilities in the county town fifty years ago amounted to – one call office and two telephone kiosks And not alone that but, according to the Dept. of Posts & Telegraphs of the time, even such limited facilities were not used enough to justify the provision of an additional kiosk for the town!
This insight into communications patterns (or lack of them) in the Kildare of the 1950s is conveyed in a reply, reported in the Leader of 20 July 1957, from the Dept of P & T to Naas Urban District Council after Mr. William Callaghan had raised the provision of a phone kiosk at the Fair Green end of the town. Mr. Callaghan was not content with the reply, remarking ‘ There was no private telephone in that area, and people could not be expected to travel from that end of town to the Post Office.’
However other members agreed with the parsimonious approach of the Government Department. Comdt. Guiney, a member of the council, remarked: ‘ It is expense of this kind that is responsible for our financial position at the moment’ – an indication of the dire state of Government balances in the lean years of the late-1950s.
It was not the only issue where the spending of public money caused some soul searching among the members of the UDC. The Town Engineer, Mr. Concannon, had carried out a survey of the downstairs assembly room in the Town Hall, which although rebuilt in 1904 was beginning to show the wear and tear from intensive use as an entertainment and meetings venue. He recommended that windows might be tightened at a cost of £5, a new door to the yard provided at a cost of £10, and the hall redecorated generally at a cost of £150. He also advised the purchase of a new vacuum cleaner and the purchase of 88 new tubular steel seats to the add to the existing stock of 72 seats at a cost of £227-15-6. 
This time Mr. Paddy Fitzsimons cautioned against the council losing the run of itself: ‘ This is not a time for spending a lot of money’.   The ever thrifty Comdt. Guiney added: ‘I quite agree.’
It was left to Mr. Callaghan again to make the business case for purchasing the new furniture as the Leader reporter described: ‘ It was pointed out by Mr. Wm. Callaghan that people renting the hall would be willing to pay extra for seating accommodation, as heretofore they had to hire chairs at big expense. It was also stated by Mr. Callaghan that there would be a bigger demand for the Hall by dramatic societies and others.’  
He got support from the Town Clerk Mr. J.P. Whyte who said it would be reasonable if the UDC doubled the July 1957 rental for the town hall of thirty shillings for a night. He added that a loan could be raised with a maximum repayment period of six years. In the end it was agreed that the Dept. of Local Government be asked to sanction a loan for the purchase of the chairs – the fact that a local body should have to get national sanction for such an everyday purchase points to the stifling nature of bureaucracy in the 1950s.
Another matter on the agenda for the town council involved little expense but the wisdom of Solomon to ensure there were no neighbourly falling outs over who had the best geraniums. The Horticultural Instructor, Mr. Peter O’Reilly, put forward a scheme for the best kept gardens among council tenants. The Chairman asked ‘ If two gardens got the same number of marks the prize should go to the best kept house – at least externally.’ And so it was on this horticultural theme that the UDC members brought their July 1957 meeting to a close.
Series No. 24. Compiled from the Leinster Leader files, Local History Dept., Kildare Co. Library. 

Liam Kenny reports on a Naas Urban District Council Meeting from 1957 in his regular feature, 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' in the Leinster Leader of 19 July 2007. Our thanks to Liam.

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