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THREAT OF NUCLEAR CONFLICT BRINGS COLD WAR REALITY TO KILDARE

Leinster Leader November 13 2008
 
Threat of nuclear conflict brings Cold War reality to Kildare
by
LIAM KENNY
 
 
 The Ireland of fifty years ago was a relatively peaceful place but the shadows of potential global catastrophe extended even to the quiet towns of Co. Kildare in that era marked by the Cold War tensions between the nuclear powers of the USA and Russia.
 
The Naas notes for example carried a recruiting advertisement for the Civil Defence corps. Volunteers were required for the Civil Defence Corps in Naas but despite a recent recruiting campaign there was still room for many more men and women in the service. Membership of the Corps which would be vitally needed in the event of another war entailed little if any sacrifice and the shortage of volunteers at that point was surprising, according to the notice. Training under the supervision of Mr. Tom Gaffney, was held in the Courthouse each Monday night and those who could were exhorted to join.
 
On a more tranquil note but equally intriguing was an item about the fate of the Grand Canal branch into Naas. With rumours regarding the closing of the canal current in the town and district quite an amount of speculation was caused over the weekend by the appearance of a canal boat at the Caragh Road bridge which is on the branch to Corbally, then abandoned for a number of years. It was learned however that it was merely a repair boat the men on it being engaged in repairing the bridge structure where stones had been removed. Although the correspondent could not have known it at the time, the Naas branch of the canal was to be closed to commercial boats just two years later in 1960.
 
In the North Kildare notes the month of November brought reports of a tribute paid to a great Kildare footballer, Mat Goff. A monument was unveiled to his memory at Confey cemetery on an occasion which involved considerable ceremonial. A parade, headed by the Maynooth Brass and Reed Band marched the mile from Leixlip to Confey cemetery. After the playing of the National Anthem and the blessing of the memorial by Rev. Fr. Begg, CC, Mr. Joe Fox, Chairman of the Leixlip Club introduced Mr. Tom Lawler of the Co. Kildare board of the GAA who unveiled the memorial. Mr. Lawler stated that he was honoured to have been chosen for the task and while he could recall vividly all the great games Matt had played and many other anecdotes about him, he would content himself by saying he rated Matt the best full-back ever to don the white jersey and he hoped that not only would his football ability, which was now legendary, but also his gentlemanly sportsmanship, for which he was famous, would ever remain an inspiration to the youth of Kildare.
The ceremony concluded with the recitation of a decade of the Rosary by Mr. E. Fitzpatrick of Leixlip. Later at a reception in the Springfield Hotel, Mr. Lawler expressed the hope that the recalling of the greatness of Matt Goff, who not only played for Leixlip and the county but for Leinster and Ireland as well would encourage Leixlip in their efforts to revive former glories.
Mr. B ‘Squires’ Gannon, another All-Whites legend, speaking on behalf of Bill Mangan, Albert White and Mr. and Mrs. J. Mahon and the Round Towers Club, congratulated the committee on the erection of this beautiful Celtic Cross as a memorial to his former friend and colleague, Matt Goff. He said he had not seen as fine a monument elsewhere and they might take extra pride in it as it was designed and erected by local craftsman Mr. H. Ardiff and his son Alo.
Mr. Joe Foxe thanked all who had come to do honour to a great Leixlip Gael and he was particularly glad to see present so many old comrades of Matt Goff from all parts of the county.
Mr. George Hynes the prime mover behind the memorial, thanked all who had given subscriptions, and he welcomed particularly those who had come from other counties to honour a son of Leixlip. Mr. Tony McLoughlin said he often wondered what spirit pervaded the men of twenty-five years ago who had tasted All-Ireland glory, and established a tradition for Kildare; now he knew, as that spirit of co-operation and determination was demonstrated that day by the magnificent turn out of the former comrades of Matt Goff.
The location of the memorial, Confey Cemetery, came in for particular praise from those who attended the Matt Goff ceremony. Many expressed admiration at the neat way in which the graveyard was kept and for the continuance by the Leixlip people of that grand old Irish custom of visiting their graveyard on the first Sunday in November and reciting there the rosary for the repose of their dead.
 
Series no. 93

In his regular Leader feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun, Liam Kenny examines the Naas and North Kildare notes in the Leinster Leader of November 1958 and finds that recruiting for the Civil Defence, the fate of the Grand Canal branch into Naas and the unveiling of a memorial to Kildare footballer Matt Goff, were among the issues being reported.


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