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February 23, 2008


Leinster Leader 30/08/1975
Duke parts with Town Hall
         Big news for Athy this week was the purchase by Kildare Co. Council of the Town Hall for £9,000 from the Duke of Leinster. Although the building is in rundown condition, it is considered a bargain at the price and the Council is anxious to restore it as a community centre.
The imposing Georgian building was described by County Architect Mr. Niall Meagher this week as forming the nucleus of Emily Sq., and he considered its acquisition a great breakthrough for Athy. Ownership by the Council gives encouragement to imaginative re-furbishing for use by the people.
Negotiations to acquire it have been pursued over several years without success, and the decision to preserve it for aesthetic and amenity reasons met with scepticism in some quarters. At this week’s meeting of Kildare Co. Council news of the purchase was welcomed and Dail Deputy Joe Bermingham responded speedily by proposing approval, readily given.
Mr. Meagher comments that the building is a very important one in Athy, forming a nucleus in the heart of the town, and an imposing backdrop to two sides of the square. Its removal would have been a disaster, in his opinion. He told our reporter that he had inspected the building in recent years and found it fundamentally in very good condition, with sound roof timbers, walls, etc.
The building would have been an ideal subject as an entry for Architectural Heritage Year, if renovated, but the Council had understandably been reluctant to spend money on it while not the owners. It would be surveyed, and being so well situated, it would lend itself to varied uses in the public interest. In an old publication the Town Hall is referred to as having been the County Courthouse, built some time after 1740. In the town plan it is described as being a Georgian building whose façade forms a terminal feature, viewed from Stanhope St., and contributes to the formation of Emily Square.
The three-storey building provided Macra na Feirme with its first national H.Q. (one room) and also houses Athy UDC, the fire-brigade, and caretakers accommodation. The Masonic Order had a meeting place on the top story and the former ballroom and supper room were leased for some years to Revlon, lady’s foundation garments manufacturers. The fire brigade now occupies the ground floor section which formerly was known as the butter market.

Leinster Leader of August 1975 reports on sale of Athy Town Hall to Kildare County Council for £9,000. 


[compiled and edited byt Niamh McCabe]



INV banner
a note by
Mario Corrigan
[The real historian of the banner is Stan Hickey who gave a copy of the photo to me and a lightning-fast explanation (today 23 Feb 2008) of how it came to be preserved. During a clean-out of his home Stan came across the banner in his attic where it had obviously been preserved by his parents although he was unsure how it had came into the possession of his father who had always been a ‘Labour Man.’ Determined to find out more he examined old newspaper files to find out that it had actually been stolen from the UDC offices sometime around 1914/15 or shortly after. With the re-publication of Naas Local History Group’s Nas Na Riogh – From Poorhouse Road to the Fairy Flax, in 2001, Stan presented the banner to the UDC who have plans to display it in their offices.]
INV Naas District small.jpg
Photo courtesy of Stan Hickey
The Leinster Leader of 22 August 1914 mentioned a forthcoming meeting of the Volunteers in Naas which would discuss amongst other things the need for the purchase of equipment for the ceremony connected with the forthcoming ‘presentation of colours.’
At this meeting Monday 24 August the issue of the presentation of colours was raised – “the colours to be presented to the corps on behalf of the Naas Branch of Cumann na Bhan. The flag is now completed and has been exhibited at the drapery and millinery establishment of Mrs. O’ Farrell, Main Street, during the week, where it was admired by all who saw it. It is a very beautiful one, and is the work of Mrs. J. Shiel, on whose great artistic sense it reflects the highest credit. Mounted on a handsome pole it bears the ancient arms of Naas, on a green ground of Irish poplin with the letters I.N.V. at the top and Naas and District Corps beneath. The scroll Nas na Riogh, occupies a place across the centre, while shamrocks are effectively worked on either side of the coat of arms, the decorated and gilt lettering, and shamrocks are delicately hand-painted and shaded, while the borders of the flag all round are hemmed with gilt tasselated cord, the whole combining a piece of artistic work which in conception and design make it worthy of the lady who executed it, and of the noble purpose to which it is to be dedicated.”
The date for the presentation of the colours was provisionally fixed for 27 Sept. at a general muster of all the corps in the surrounding districts.
On the 19 Sept. 1914 it was announced that this date had been changed and the presentation was to be postponed until 11 Oct. when Col. Moore, Chief Inspector of the National Volunteers would present the new colours.
The report of the presentation was carried on 17 Oct. 1914.
Companies from the surrounding district took part and over 1,000 men were present at a memorable occasion at the Gaelic Field, Naas which was watched by thousands of onlookers.
The flag was presented by Col. Moore to Capt. Wolfe who received them on behalf of the battalion (4th Battalion of the Kildare Regiment of the Irish National Volunteers). The flag was then carried by Lieut. J. Hughes, accompanied by a guard of honour, back to the their position in the centre of the parade.
After the complete battalion marched past the saluting base and exhibited their skills they marched back to the town where they were dismissed at the Town Hall, the procession nearly a quarter of a mile in length.

Short note on the I.N.V. banner for Naas and District which was presented by Stan Hickey to Naas UDC some years back. Reports from the Leinster Leader of 1914 gave us some unique information on the banner. 


The Kildare Observer 4 February 1922, p.4
Sir Ernest Shackleton, the explorer, who was on his way to the Antartic on board his ship, the Quest, died from angina pectoris on January 5. He had been suffering from influenza.
The news was cabled on Sunday by Reuter’s correspondent at Monte Video, where the body had been brought on board the Norwegian steamer, Professor Grauvel. It will be transferred to another vessel for conveyance to England, whither it will be accompanied by Captain Hussey, the medial man and meteorologist of the expedition.
The Quest, conveying Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions on the expedition, which has thus been so sadly marred, left London in September last year. The vessel had been viewed by thousands of people as she lay in the Thames. She proceeded to Chatham to have some minor defect remedied, and then went on to Plymouth arriving there on September 23 and leaving on her voyage southward the next day.
It will be remembered that two members of the Quest’s complement were boy scouts selected from a great number of youthful aspirants for the honour of accompanying the expedition. One was an Aberdeen youth, and the other hailed from the Orkneys. The former, however, after a rough experience in the Bay of Biscay became ill from sea-sickness, and was landed at Maderia from which he returned home. In December the Quest was at Monte Video preparing for the first part of the itinerary.
Mr. J.Q. Rowett of Frant, Suxxes, who was mainly responsible for financing the expedition, received on Sunday night (says the “Daily Mail”) a cable from Capt. Hussey stating that Commander Frank Wild, Shackle ton’s second in command, proposes in accordance with the wishes of the dead explorer, to carry on South.
The “Daily Mail” also published the last letter sent by Sir Ernest to Mr. Rowlett from Rio de Janeiro on December 18 last. It reads:-
My dear John, -- 110 deg. In the shade; all the work is done and we are going. The next you will hear will be, please God, success. Should anything happen in the ice it will have nothing to do with anything wrong with the ship. The ship is all right. “Never for me the lowered banner; never the lost endeavour.”
Your friend, Ernest.
The news of his death reached Lady Shackleton at Eastbourne where she has resided for a considerable time. Many telegraphic and telephonic messages of sympathy were received on Sunday but she was naturally too distressed to issue any statements to the Press. Lady Shackleton has been prominently identified with the public life of the town, and sympathy with her in her great loss is intense.
Born at Kilkea, Co. Kildare, in 1874, Sir Ernest Shackleton was the eldest son of the late Dr. Henry Shackleton, a member of a well-known Quaker family.
One of the earliest schools in the Co. Kildare was that conducted or organised and financed near the village of Ballytore over a century ago, by the Shackleton family, which had settled in the district. At a time when Catholics were denied all educational rights, many attended this school, including the late Cardinal Cullen. Edmund Burke, the distinguished orator, also received his early education at this school. The oldest mills in Co. Kildare, at Moone and Belan, the former still working, are the property of the Shackletons.
Though only in his forty-eight year, Sir Ernest Shackleton had during his strenuous life contributed much to scientific and geographical knowledge. He was educated at Dulwich College, London.
Before the voyage of the Quest, he had rendered distinguished service on three previous expeditions to the Antartic. His first voyage was in 1901 with Capt. Scott, as third officer, in the Discovery and on that occasion he was within 450 miles of the South Pole. Six years later he commanded the British Antartic expedition, and on his return to England in 1909 was knighted for his service.
The year 1911 found him once more in charge of an expedition, the Antartic being again the goal. Coming home before the termination of the war, he became a director of equipment and transport for the British forces in the North Russia winter campaign of 1919.
After a period of lecturing Sir Ernest, as he himself expressed it, was unable to resist the “call of the wild,” and, again securing the necessary financial aid, started in what has proved his last voyage of exploration with the British Oceanographical and Sub-Antartic Expedition
The Obituary of Sir Ernest Shackleton Antarctic Explorer from the pages of the Kildare Ovserver, 4 February 1922.
 [compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan and Carl Dodd; original spellings retained; date of article re-established by James Durney]


The 1882 Naas Banner.
a note by
Mario Corrigan
Lord Edward Banner Naas.jpg
Photo: Mario Corrigan 28 May 2003
by kind permission of Declan Kirrane Naas UDC
From the Leinster Express and the Kildare Observer newspapers it appears that this banner was commissioned by the Naas Town Commission for the unveiling ceremony in Dublin of the O’Connell Statue on the 15 August 1882. The Chairman, Mr. S. J. Brown and a deputation were invited to attend. Mr. Brown it seems contacted the artist Mr. Watson of Sackville-street, Dublin regarding the banner. The estimate for the work was £15 and the banner to be made of poplin or tabinet with the coat of arms of the town and the motto on one side and a portrait of Lord Edward FitzGerald on the other. The commissioners unanimously accepted the design and the order made to have it ready as soon as possible, a telegram sent to Mr. Watson to this effect. This was reported in the paper of 12 August so it was very close to the time. However nearly every deputation carried a banner and I presume M. Watson would have been in demand and therefore had templates to work from.
A subscription list was opened to cover the cost of the banner, new uniforms for the band etc., the cost of the banner being the immediate priority.
The really interesting thing is that the portrait of Lord Edward was on the reverse side and the coat of arms and motto on the front. It was carried on the day of the unveiling ceremony
On the day the band wore a green uniform with yellow and gold trim and their banner was also green and gold.
Deputations from Naas, Athy, Newbridge, Kildare and Rathangan and from Maynooth were present. All carried banners (with different portraits). Where are they now?
The Leinster Leader of 16 May 1914 carried a report from Monasterevin on the creation of a ‘banner committee’ to restore the great banner of Monasterevin that was carried on that day in 1882 at the unveiling of the monument.
When I examined the banner in the UDC Offices in 2003 it was so delicately poised that I refused to turn it around to take other photographs. I had hoped to bring the banner to Kildare Town for the unveiling of the bust of Lord Edward FitzGerald in June 2003 on Market Square Kildare but once I saw the condition of the banner this of course was not an option.
Of late a similar banner was uncovered in Kildare Town which I believe to have been created for the same occasion following a subsequent examination of the newspaper accounts. While the banner is in very poor condition it appears to have the original poles etc. attached. It is almost certainly by the same craftsman. It is in private possession.

Note on the banner by conservator Cliodhna Devitt which identified the date and made the discovery of the newspaper article possible. This was done at the request of Brigid Loughlin, Co. Heritage Officer.

The 1882 banner.

The painter's inscription is on Face A showing the image of LORD EDWARD FITZGERALD. It is located below the 'g' of 'go brat'. I think it is painted in a gold coloured paint.

The inscription is a follows: HWatson Des.e et pinx.t

Sackville St. DUBLIN





The text on Face A is as follows: GOD SAVE IRELAND


Face B shows the snake of Naas in a shield surmounted by a crown.

The text on Face B is as follows: NAAS OF THE KINGS


 An interesting note on the origin of the Naas Lord Edward FitzGerald Banner.


 Kill History Group

 Spring & Summer 2008




Monday 25th February:  Looking at Parish Registers

(Jim Tancred & Maureen Cassidy)


 Monday 31st March:  “ Kevin’s Album” – a look at some old photographs   (Kevin Lawlor) 

 Monday 28th April:   “A Short Sketch of Kerdiffstown 1939-1967”

(Mae Leonard)


Monday 26th May:   “The Last Two and Sixpence”  - some history in Rathmore  (Joe Sargent)

 Monday 23rd June:      Schools and Schooling 

  (Paddy Walsh)




 All meetings take place in the Parish Meeting Room at 8.30 p.m.

 (unless otherwise indicated)
















A full schedule of talks for Kill Local History Group for the Spring & Summer of 2008 beginning this Monday Night 25 February with - Looking at Parish Registers - Jim Tancred and Maureen Cassidy


Clondalkin Local History Group
a talk entitled
"Leixlip in Pictures"
Monday next, 25th February, at 8pm
Arus Chronan,
Watery Lane,
Clondalkin 'village'
Watery Lane, for one approaching from the Leixlip direction, is gotten to as follows:
Follow the one‑way system after you pass the former paper mills; this requires you to bear left.
You will shortly come to Molloy's Liquor store.
Turn left on to Watery Lane.
Arus Chronan is at the end.


Leinster Leader
The County Kildare Ploughing Championship held on Thursday, 24th inst, by the Tipperkevin and Rathmore Ploughing Committee for the second year in succession was a great success. The venue was a field lent by Mt. M. Murphy at Dowdenstown, Ballymore-Eustace. The layout was ideal. A short furrow and strict rules made a severe test for the ploughmen as every error came under the judges’ eyes.
Counties Dublin and Wicklow sent some of their best men for the open class but Kildare was also well to the fore. In the opinion of the judges and also of experienced onlookers the standard was exceptionally high, even in the novices and beginners classes. The morning was wet and blustery but improved in the afternoon, and large numbers of local people came to view the work. The experienced and energetic committee are to be congratulated on the excellent arrangements. The Naas Harriers, whose cup is a leading trophy in these events, paid a welcome visit to the field in hunting array with their handsome pack. They were entertained to refreshments by the committee.
The Manager of the Wexford Engineering Co., also visited the ploughing to see how the famous Star ploughs were faring.
The Naas Harriers’ Cup (Confined)-P. Brady, Rathmore, Naas.
Open Class-1. W. Murphy, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow; 2. Matthew Meleady, Rahan, Edenderry; 3. Patk. Brady.
County Championship-1. Matthew Meleady; 2. Patrick Brady; 3. James Lynch, Flemingtown, Naas.
Novices-1. John Sandall, Ballymore-Eustace; Peter Mc Evoy, Kilteel and John Mooney, Tipper East, tied for second place.
Beginners-1. Chas. Connor, Wolfstown, Naas; 2. Jerh.Foster, Dowdenstown;3. Patrick Clarke, Ballymore-Eustace.
The special prizes for shortest time in each group were won by Wm. Murphy, P. Brady, Peter Mc Evoy and C. Connor respectively.
Charles Keegan, Ballnagee Enniskerry, was best on the field under 21 years of age.
John Mooney won the county events for under 18 and 21; also the open for under 18. Wm. Murphy had the best middle and P. Brady the best furrow.
With the Star plough the best was J.F. Valentine, Carnalway, and the best with the Pierce plough was Wm. Murphy.
The prize for the best turn out was awarded to Mr. Henry Hill, Rathmore, Naas.
Two free Nominations, presented by T. Lyons, Hartwell, Kill, were won by Mr. Charles Connor (under £75) and Mr. Henry Hill, under £50.
Three men have been selected to represent Co. Kildare at the National Ploughing Championships at Balbriggan on February 7th-Matthew Meleady, Patk. Brady and John Mooney.
The committee was composed of:-
Messrs. John Downes, Newtown Gt., Chairman; Martin Murphy, Dowenstown, Vice-Chairman; Lce. Finn. Slieve Rue, Hon Treasurer; E. Kinsella, Hon. Secretary, J. Brophy, J. Murphy, T. Miley, P. Doran, B. Cassidy, W. Cassidy, M. Harney, P. Cassidy, H. Harney, R. Hill, J. Brady, K. Harney, T. Lyons, P. Burke, J. Doyle and J. Connor.
Mr. J. Crowley, B. Sc. Instructor in Agriculture, placed his valuable advice and experience at the disposal of the committee. Mr. O’Broin, Horticultural Instructor, also rendered assistance.
Excellent luncheons were provided by Miss Balfe, Blessington, and refreshments were supplied by Mr. J. Miley, Blessington.

A note from the pages of the Leinster Leader of 1946 on the Co. Kildare Ploughing Championships held near Ballymore-Eustace.

[compiled, typed and edited by Niamh McCabe]

February 16, 2008


 NICOLA JENNINGS - 20 February 2007
The lands of Killybeggs were once part of the estates of the Dongans of Castletown. In Penders survey of 1659, after the confiscations, Killybeggs was held by Nathaniel Staughton, a Cromwellian adventurer, but subsequently restored to the Dongan family. In 1776 Robert Brooke purchased 88 acres of the Killybeggs estate. Four years later, in 1780, he founded Prosperous village as an industrial village, but the industry – cotton – did not succeed.
Killybegs front small.jpg
 “In 1788 following Robert Brooke’s departure Charles O’Neill granted Killybeggs House and the demesne lands as held by Robert Brooke … to Edward FitzGerald and his heirs of Carrigoran, Co. Clare.”          “The lease was for the lives of Robert Brooke then late of Killybeggs, Mary Ledwich, otherwise O’Neill, eldest daughter of Charles O’Neill, and William FitzGerald, third son of Edward FitzGerald then aged about eight years, and for all lives to be subsequently added at a yearly rent of 159 pounds 7 shillings.”
From then until 1917 Killybegs, as it is now known, belonged to the FitzGerald family of Carrigoran, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare. 
According to Peader Mac Suibhne in ‘Kildare in ‘98’ there was a butler in Killybegs House named Corr from Co. Clare. On the night of the 1798 Rebellion he brought out all the arms in the house and all the table linen for bandages. In the Journal of Kildare Archaeological Society Vol IV the Rev. Canon Sherlock in an article on Clane - says that during the 1798 Rebellion Killybegs House was the residence of Colonel and Mrs. William FitzGerald. They were unmolested by the rebels but searched by the military. A male servant was hidden in a cupboard by a maid who stood in front of the small door. Fifteen years later, in 1813, William’s brother Crofton Vandeleur FitzGerald married, as his second wife, Harriet, daughter of Archibald Hamilton-Rowan of Killyleagh, Co. Down, Secretary of the Society of United Irishmen.                                                                                           
Augustine FitzGerald, William’s half-brother, had been created First Baronet of Carrigoran for outstanding service with the East India Company in 1822. William inherited the title on Augustine’s death in 1834. William himself died in 30th May 1847. The lease of Killybegs was renewed in 1849 to Lady Emilia Cumming FitzGerald, (nee Veale of Trevaylor, Cornwall), William’s widow. Emilia Veale was daughter and co-heiress of William Veale, of Trevaylor, Cornwall, and niece of Sir Alexander Penrose Cumming Gordon, Bart. She died aged 96 in Killybegs in 1881 and is buried in Clane Abbey Church graveyard.
To the memory of a beloved mother, Emilia Cumming, Dowager Lady FitzGerald, died at Killybegs, 16th December 1881, aged 96 years. Her end was peace. Looking for that blessed hope. Titus 2 v 13.
After her death the estate became the property of Sir George Cumming FitzGerald, her fourth and youngest son. He married, as his second wife, his first cousin Ellen Creagh FitzGerald. Her brother, Wilfred, was then made the land agent for Killybegs by George. Wilfred’s wife, Amy (nee Biddulph) wrote an account of the “Big Wind” during her stay there in 1903.
Amy Fitzgerald
“The weather was bad in January. Wind and rain, but I do not remember suffering from the cold. The big old house with its thick walls and the huge fires we always had of turf and wood kept us very comfortable. We had a man, the gardener’s daughter and a coachman to work for us.
One night, I think it was the 6th of January after we had gone to bed, the wind rose and a storm such as I had never heard before or since started. The house which was four hundred years old rocked to its foundations. I tried to wake Wilfred who could sleep through anything, but when I told him the house was shaking all he said was ‘a house that shakes is quite safe’ and turned over and went to sleep. By this time I was too scared for anything and at last he became aware of the fact and sat up. Then he said, “By Jove it is a storm,” and suggested perhaps I would be happier if we went downstairs.
Putting on dressing gowns we went down, but first I went round to our maids room and looked in. She apparently was fast asleep with the bedclothes over her head. So we left her, and proceeded to the smoking room where we usually sat. Luckily the fire was still in and we made it up and then Wilfred suggested we would go down to the kitchen and bring up a kettle to make tea.
To get to the kitchen we had to go down stone stairs with a big window, having put everything on a tray and I with a kettle of water, upstairs again we went and just as we got to the last step into the hall there was an awful crash bang behind us and in came the whole big window. Even Wilfred took things seriously then and rushed me back into the room which was on the quietest side of the house. After making tea he decided I should lie down, so ventured up to our room and returned with blankets and pillows and made up a bed on the sofa for me and one for himself on the floor, and so it wasn’t so bad there I fell asleep. Early in the morning Mary opened the door to pull up the blinds and her shock when she found me there was funny.
“Oh, Lord, Mam, it’s been terrible. There are two or three big trees down.”
            I said, “It was all very well for you sleeping through the storm.”
            “Sleeping, M’am? I spent the night running to your door an then back under the bedclothes and saying my prayers.”
            When Wilfred got dressed he went out to find out how much damage had been done. First, into the yard where an old man called Case slept in a little house. He found him still in bed surrounded by bricks an slates with no roof at all, it had sailed away, but all old Case said was “Ah, Gor, it was awful, looking at the stars and lightening and worst of al I hadn’t a stint of whiskey in the house.” Having seen that Case was alright Wilfred started down the mile long avenue to the lodge where another old man lived, getting down was difficult as trees were everywhere, two hundred and fifty of them we found later, and Wilfred had to climb over them all the way and when he got to the gate there were two huge trees one on each side of the lodge but the lodge wasn’t touched. Old Mullally said he knew he would be alright. He had some Holy Water and was sprinkling it round all night.
When things were finally examined we found we had two tons of slates off the roof and you could see holes right through the chimneystacks. It was a mercy all of us were not killed. Near us in a cottage two little boys were killed in their sleep by a tree falling on their house.
In the grounds of Killybegs there was an ancient cemetery and on a bank on the side eight trees in a row came down all together with their roots in the air. That storm has ever since been known as the Big Wind. It blew down half the trees in the Phoenix Park in Dublin and many of the old houses and killed many people.
It took months before we got everything settled up again, and it took me quite a while to recover and it was a long time before we could ride down the avenue, before all the trees and branches could be got out of the way.”
Amy also collected sayings of James “Clock” Mullally who lived in the lodge. She and Wilfred spent two winters at Killybegs and when they had nothing to do, they used to walk down to the lodge and get James Mullally to tell them stories and then go home as fast as possible and write them down between them trying to remember as much as they could. Here is one:

”…another night sure I went over to see Mr. Malachie Coats you might hear tell of him and Mr Bonning shure he was the finest teacher ever we had round these parts. Sure they were fine gentlemen in those days – and it came on a terrible night and I had about three miles of a road to get home. Says Malachie to me,
 ‘Tom,’ says he. ‘You’ve no need to go home tonight – sure I’ll give you the best room in the house – with that he give me a grand supper and a few bottles of stout – and after smoking my old pipe he takes me up to a grand room with a fire at my head and
 ‘Tom,’ says he. ‘I hope you’ll sleep easy and have a good night.’
‘Never fear,’ says I.
 With that I took off me old britches and rolled meself into bed. But sure I hadn’t been there very long when I heard the most awful buzzing. Glory be to God it was awful and they were there striking matches up and down the wall. The Devil such a fright I ever got and sorra a wink of sleep – till coming towards morning I turned over on my old stomach and was just dozing off when one of them crawled off the wall and saving your presence gave me the terrible smack behind – and when I lit the bit of a candle without the word of a lie – the door was open. Says Malachie to me the next morning
‘Did you have a good night?’
            ‘Malachie,’ says I. ‘ You’ve a fine daughter Louisa and I hear you’ll give her ten thousand pounds in the Royal Bank. But if you were to give me Louisa and the ten golden sovereigns I wouldn’t sleep in that room again tonight.’
           ‘Tom,’ says he. ‘If you stop tonight I can give you a better room.’
But the Devil a fear I made me way home and there’s no doubt Louisa was a fine girl.”
KILLYBEGS1908 small.jpg
Killybegs in 1908
And another:
“Well the Priests are speaking terrible shtrong agin the whisky these times and sure the whisky you get in Prosperous wouldn’t poison the Devil. Well I’ll tell you now how onst I was the means of turning Pat Hamilton agin the drink. Pat and I many years ago the two of us wint to Newbridge for a bit of a spree at a wedding sure wasn’t she a cousin of Pat’s and coming home faith Pat was so drunk sorra a fut further than Thomastown could I get him – and I began to think to meself what at all should I do with Pat - I got a holt of him and dragged him over the ditch and propped him up against a tombstone where no harm could come to him. I went on a bit on the road – when thinks I to meself – Pat has two shillings in his pocket and only a penny have I to get a drink. Back I goes and takes the two shillings out of Pat’s pocket and I put in the penny in its place maining of course to give it back to him the next day but sure the next morning when Pat wakened up he got the awfulest fright – for sure didn’t he think he had risen from the dead and sure he thought it was Jim Foolies ghost that had taken the two shillings to keep him from drinking any more and put a penny in its place and since he never drank a tint from that day to this and of course I did not like to tell him it wasn’t Jim’s ghost took the money for fear he’d start agin.”
Killybegs House was originally a three-story house with a later addition of a bow-fronted extension. It was built of red brick, brick apparently made on Robert Brooke’s own land. A field beside the place where the house once stood was called the Brick Field. George, who already spent much of his time in Cornwall, died in 1908. On his death the baronetcy became extinct. His widow Ellen remarried Richard Donne Lee James and spent the rest of her life in Chyan Hall, Gulval, Penzance, Cornwall. In 1917 Killybegs was purchased by Mr. Patrick Curry. By 1958 the house was roofless and in a ruinous state. The stairway was taken to Dublin, the marble mantelpieces sent to America and Killybegs was finally demolished.
Killybegs in May 1958
Nicola Jennings. 20th February 2007.
Great article on Killybegs by Nicola Jennings granddaughter of Wilfred FitzGerald - with fabulous photographs of a house that has long been demolished.


The Kildare Observer
The Reconstruction of the Curragh Camp Buildings
Half a million of money to be expended on the project
It is calculated that about half a million of money will be spent in the reconstruction of the Curragh Camp. The work, commenced some time ago, is going on rapidly. It consisted of the removing of the old wooden huts, which were erected in 1855 and A and B Squares, for the purpose of building permanent barracks for two regiments of cavalry. The work was divided into six contracts, viz-No. 1 comprised 16 blocks of troop stables with men’s rooms over, and 8 blocks of litter sheds, latrines, &c, and was carried out by Messrs J. and W. Beckett, contractors. No. 2 was for officers’ quarters and mess establishments, C.O.’s and quartermasters’ quarters, &c. No. 3, staff-sergeants’ and married soldiers’ quarters, laundries, &c.Both contracts are being carried out by Mr. P. Sheridan. No. 4 Various accessory buildings, such as recreation rooms, canteens, warrant officers’ quarters, infirmary, stables, forabe stores, &c. Messrs Collin Brothers, contractors. No. 5 Sergeants’ messes, officers’ stables, guard houses, cook and bath houses, band rooms, fencing room, &c. Mr. P. Sheridan, contractor. No. 6. Two covered menages, iron structures, each 300 feet long and 66 feet wide. The iron work was supplied and erected by Messrs Lysaght and Co, and the foundations and other builder’s work was executed by Mr. P. Sheridan as an extra to his other contracts.
The above contract will complete the accommodation required for two cavalry regiments, and it is expected that the whole of the building will be ready for occupation by the end of October next. Mr. Sheridan secured four out of the six foregoing contracts, in addition to which he has just been awarded the contract for married soldiers’ quarters, &c., for R. E. and A. S. C., to be built in D and E Squares. This brings up the sum total of his contracts at the Curragh to about £127,000, besides the triennial contract, which he has held for some years.
The whole of the buildings are of the most approved modern type and will, when completed, compare very favourably with any barracks in the United Kingdom. The officers’ quarters and mess establishment are a fine block of buildings each 210 feet long by 86 feet deep. The main entrance is under the portico, leading to vestibule and large hall, from which the mess and ante-rooms are entered from either side. A corridor runs the entire length of the building on the ground and first floors communicating with the mess establishment and the officers’ quarters which are in the wings right and left, the field officers’ quarters being at the extreme end of the north wing. There is one main staircase and one staircase to each wing for access to officers’ quarters, &c, on the first floor also separate staircase to field officers’ quarters, and for servants at the back of left wing. The mess and ante are very fine rooms, the former being 38 feet by 22 feet, and the latter 28 feet by 22 feet, each being 16 feet high, and having large bay window, in the recess of which is fixed a comfortable settee. The billiard room, which is projected off the corridor at the back, is also a very fine room, 32 feet by 22 feet, well lighted by lantern light. On each side of the room is a raised platform on which is placed comfortable seats about 16 feet long, upholstered in pig skin. At the end of the room are lavatories, water-closets, etc. At the back of the messroom and corridor is the serving room, 26 ft by 12 ft, with benches on two sides to receive dishes, &c, and lift to the kitchen above. Adjoining the serving place is the pantry, 18 ft by 15 ft, with every convenient fitting, such as sinks, cupboards, &c, and at the back of the serving space is the extensive wine celler, plate closet, mess man’s quarter’s passages and stairs to kitchen and servants’ rooms, &c, on the first floor. The kitchen being on the first floor is a great improvement on the old plan of having it at the back of the messroom on the ground floor; it is so well cut off that there is no risk of unpleasant smell from the cooking pervading any of the rooms or corridors, as is generally the case in buildings of this class. Adjoining the kitchen, which is 27 ft by 20 ft, is the scullery, 16 ft by 15 ft, and on the landing leading to the kitchen there is a store room 11 ft by 11 ft, and a larder, 12 ft 6in by 11 ft 6 in, the walls lined with white glazed tiles.
The floors of the portico, lavatories, and water closets are paved with encaustic tiles laid in handsome pattern. The vestibules, halls, passages and corridor on the ground floor are paved De Grillo, Handret and Co’s Italian marble mosaic. The screen and swing doors between the vestibule and hall are glazed with stained glass, lead lights of handsome design, which has a very pretty effect. The whole of the work appears to have been executed with materials of the best description and skilful labour, and Mr. Sheridan is to be congratulated on the satisfactory manner in which he performed his contract; that the work is satisfactory to the military authorities is evidenced by the number of contracts which have been awarded to him.

The removal of wooden huts from the Curragh Camp and building of permanent barracks for two regiments of cavalry - Kildare Observer 23 July 1898

[compiled and edited by Niamh McCabe]


Kildare Observer 6/10/1906
 On Wednesday a melancholy accident occurred at Boston, Ardclough, Co. Kildare.
It appears that a young girl, about ten years old, named Maggie Hogan, heard her younger brother had accidentally fallen into a quarry hole which was within a short distance of their home, and with a heroism which is rarely met with in a youngster of such tender years, she bravely attempted to rescue him, and lost her life, her brother being rescued in time.
 On Thursday Dr Cosgrave, Coroner for North Kildare, held an inquest as to the cause of the death of the girl. A jury, of which, Mr Jones, Postmaster, Straffan, was foreman, was duly empanelled.
 The evidence was to the effect that Mrs Hogan left the house about two o’clock on Wednesday, and about 3.30 some children were heard screaming near the quarry hole, which in places is said to be fathoms in depth. She ran to the verge of the hole, and Patrick Buggle, who was working in the same field, went as fast as a man could go to the scene of what proved to be a fatal accident. On their arrival Mrs Hogan and Buggle found the body of the boy floating on the surface of the water. Not being able to swim Buggle wrenched a bough off a tree, and succeeded in bringing the apparently dead body to the edge of the hole. It subsequently transpired that the boy was not dead, but there was no sign of his sister. Subsequently the hole was dragged, and Michael Buggle succeeded in bringing the dead body of the little girl to the surface.
   At the inquest Sergeant Porter watched the proceedings on the part of the police. Dr O’Grady, substitute for Dr.Morrissey, deposed that death was due to asphyxia, and the jury returned with a verdict accordingly.
 The Coroner highly commended the prompt action of Patrick Buggle.
 Sergeant Porter brought under the notice of the coroner the kindness displayed by Mrs Coonan, who applied restoratives. etc, to the half-drowned boy. In fact, the doctor when summoned said that medical skill could have done no more for the boy.
   The Coroner said that the conduct of Mrs Coonan and Buggle deserved the highest commendation.
   The Jury added a rider recommending that a fence should be put around the quarry hole.

A sad case from the pages of the Leisnter Leader of 1906 that reminds us that history is not just about battles, wars and institutions but about people.

[compiled by Mario Corrigan; edited and typed by Sarah Duane]


Leinster Leader
Kildare County Council’s turf production scheme for the coming year was outlined at the Council’s meeting on Monday by the County Engineer (Mr. T. Kelly).
It was proposed, he said, to operate the turf banks which the Council worked during the emergency. The Council’s annual production of turf during the emergency was around 5,000 tons per year, and in 1947, the final year, they produced 6,500 tons. The Council’s requirements for the institutions and for machinery normally amounted to 3,000 tons a year.
“We are now asked by the Minister to produce this year three times that figure of 3,000 tons, which is equivalent to 9,000 tons,” the County Engineer continued.
“We have therefore made representations to the various owners to acquire the banks the Council operated during the emergency, with the addition of certain other banks.”
“We expect, given suitable weather, to produce this year somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 tons of turf, provided we arrive at a satisfactory agreement with the owners of the banks. It will be necessary to do certain preliminary works on these turf banks and the roads leading to them, and the cost of it will be around £2,000. The Council has already made arrangements for the purchase of the necessary implements for its turf production programme.
A detailed list of the bogs which the County Engineer recommended be leased, together with the estimated cost of road and drainage works on each bog, and the estimated turf yield, was read to the meeting.
Chairman (Mr. G. Sweetman, T.D.)-What total tonnage of turf does all that come to?
County Engineer-About 8,500 is the absolute limit that the County Council could produce, and that is contingent on labour being available. If the slanesmen were not available, it would upset the whole scheme. I am afraid it would be impossible for us to produce 9,000 tons as requested by the Minister.
Chairman-Though to some extent the banks the County Engineer has listed are spread all over the county, it is not altogether so, for there are bogs in several areas that are not on the list.
County Engineer-The bogs listed are those which the Council worked before and on which a considerable sum on development work was spent by the Council.
Mr. Quinn-If the Council go in at Ballyteague they are going to put about 50 good producers out of it.
Mr. T. Harris, T.D.-Hasn’t Mr. Dunne a good portion of bog there that is not being worked?
County Engineer-I understand from the Assistant County Engineer that he came to an agreement with Mr. Dunne about banks there.
Mr. J. Mc Loughlin-I don’t think it would interfere with private producers there.
County Engineer-The letter from the Minister makes special reference to the fact that County Councils should consider leasing again banks which they used during the emergency, and that for that reason it would be possible to carry out the Minister’s programme.
Mr. Harris-I think the Council should choose undeveloped bogs. Everywhere that the bogs are developed you will find somebody in occupation, and it would be very wrong for the Council to deprive those private producers of the developed bogs.
Mr. Andy Moore-Quite so. You could not do it.
Chairman-Certainly not, as long as we are satisfied the bogs are going to be worked. Of course it would be a different story where the bog is not being worked to capacity.
County Engineer-If bogs are vested by the Council, banks would be let again to the tenants.
Mr. W. Miley-There is a great stretch of bog at Loughabour, adjoining Tinnakill, that has never been worked. Some time ago an official came there and told tenants of the district a road would be made into the bog, but nothing was done since. There is 60 perches in the bog I refer to, and the people there tell me it has never been flooded.
County Engineer-I take it that a great deal of preliminary work would have to be done before you could take turf off that bog, and you might not take any turf off it this year at all.
Mr. Moore urged that all banks available for the purpose be let to private producers before March 1st to give those people a chance of taking a second cutting off the bogs in the year if the weather was favourable.
“One thing we should guard against, a thing that happened on my own bog at Milltown,” he continued. “I have 40 acres of bog there, and one part of it yields 21 floors of turf. Bord na Mona took over portion of that bog during the emergency, and left it in such a state, with haphazardly cut drains and gobs of turf here and there, that a private producer could not possibly win turf from it in its present condition. Now that large sums are to be spent on re-development works on bogs, steps should be taken to guard against an occurrence of that nature.”
Mr. T. Carbury-Private producers in Athy area have complained to me that last year the Land Commission were very slow and very late in letting the banks. We should call on the Land Commission to let their banks this year as early as possible.
Mr. Moore-Bord na Mona went to the expense of building a road through my bog, and then only took one year’s cutting off it.
County Engineer-Will you give your bog to the County Council this year?
Mr. Moore-I was afraid of that (laughter).
County Engineer-The bogs we have on the list here have been selected more or less on the basis of the labour pool. We will have to use a number of our roadmen on this work. I understand a special regulation will be made by the Minister whereby there will be no break in the continuity of the roadmen’s service if they are put on bog work.
A lot of men will be available from the Local Authorities (Works) Act schemes if required, but the intention is to carry on all those schemes and carry on the road works as well.
Chairman-I don’t think it could be done. We would not have enough men.
Mr. P.J. Frayne-Will it increase the cost of your turf considerably if you have to move to new bogs, or will it mean a big holdup for development and drainage in a new area? Will it be a serious item if you find manpower scarce, and if you have to leave the developed bogs to, say, half a dozen private cutters and go and develop new bogs?
County Engineers-That is our main difficulty, the preliminary work we have to do on the bogs. The reason for our intention to take over the bogs we worked before is to reduce development to a minimum. Even the bogs we developed before need further development work.
Mr. Harris-Would it be possible to transfer for expenditure on bog development some of the money available for works under the Local Authorities (Works) Act?
County Engineer-At the conference we had in Dublin we were told that it was being considered.
Chairman-That question will want to be decided very quickly.
Mr. Harris-I believe we would be doing better work if the County Engineer concentrated on opening up bogs and getting drains and roads made to facilitate the work of private producers. If the County Engineer concentrates on cutting 9,000 tons in one year…just peg out a few bogs to get that production.
Chairman-It seems to me most the urgent thing of the whole lot is drainage. Most important, too, is to have the roads to get out of the bogs.
Mr. H. Cosgrave-I believe we will get as many bogs as we have men to cut. Is there anything about wages yet?
Chairman-That is one of the things the County Engineer has asked for a decision on, and the Manager’s note is to indicate the Bord na Mona rates of wages.
Mr. Cosgrave-Bord na Mona board and house their workers for £1 a week, which is something the Council could not do. The current rate paid by Bord na Mona is 1/7 an hour, but the Council will not get men to work for that now.
Mr. J. Dowling-The wages laid down in the Kildoon area by private cutters for the coming year is £1 per day.
Mr. Harris-The number of skilled cutters available is not large. Private producers will pay big wages to highly skilled workers, but they would not pay the same high rates to less skilled men whom the County Council may have to employ. If the County Engineer tries to get out 9,000 tons he will have a lot of unskilled workers employed and the quality of the turf will not be good.
Mr. M. Kilmartin-We would be helping ourselves and private producers by making the roads and developing bogs.
Mr. Moore urged that Clongowna road leading into Milltown bog be repaired by the Council, in view of the importance of the bog to Newbridge.
Chairman-We are agreed that we give the County Engineer instructions to go ahead at once with the drainage works he has set out in his report.
Mr. Frayne-Is the County Engineer reserving any banks for the bank clerks? (laughter).
The Council recommended, subject to the Minister’s sanction, the following rates of wages for bog workers: Slanesmen, £5 per week, plus bonus on output; wheelers, £4-14-0.
It was decided to cease cutting on July 1st.
An article from the Leinster Leader of 3 February 1951 on the Turf Production Scheme outlined by Kildare County Council
[compiled by Mario Corrigan; edited and typed by Niamh McCabe]


The Leinster Express, Saturday, December 31, 1859, Page 3(?- no pagination).
Athy Model Schools
(From our Reporter)
The annual examinations of the pupils in these schools took place on Thursday, last week. The attendance was numerous and respectable, amongst which we noted-The Rev. F.S. and Lady Helena Trench, Rev. H. F. Macdonald, Rev. J. Hall; Captain Mudie (Scots Greys), and Miss Mudie; Sub Inspector Lawson and family; Mrs. Sherlock (Ardleigh), and Mrs. Orford; Mr. Sherlock, Mr. and Mrs. Carter (Athy Gaol); Mr. Duncan, Mr. and Mrs. Hannon, Mr. and Miss Clayton, Mrs. Fogarty, Mr. Pennycuick (Quarry Farm); Mrs. Bulwer (Barrowford); Mrs. And Miss Hutchinson, Mr. and the Misses O’Neill (Ballycullane); F. Crosbie, Esq., Miss Braddle, the Misses Butler (Ardmore); Mrs. Beard, Miss Connelly, Miss Cross, Mrs. Peppard, Miss Lawler, Mrs. Dillon, Mrs. And Miss Borroughs, Mr. and Miss Lodge, Mrs. And Miss Plewman, the Misses Molloy, Dr. Irving, Mr. O’Melin, Mr. Lawler (Nag’s Head); Mr. Cooper, Mr. F. Cross, & c.,&c.
The examinations commenced at half-past 11 o’clock, and were conducted in a manner which afforded every facility for correctly ascertaining the proficiency of the pupils; and the answering in every class was excellent, and bore witness to the ability and assiduity of the male and female teachers, and croked the satisfaction of parents, visitors, and those interested in the success of the system. The ordeal of time has now sufficiently developed and made manifest the advantages which National Schools possess over all prior modes of instruction, placing within the reach of the humblest a scientific, commercial and agricultural education on the soundest principles. More infants are “at home” on topics which, in our school days, would be very apt to puzzle the master himself. A revolution in education is a sure harbinger of a corresponding change in the habits and feelings of the society on which it acts; therefore, the perpetuation and extension of these schools is a thing to be desired by all who wish to see in this country intelligence supersede ignorance, prejudice, and credulity, and the moral and social condition of the people improved.
The performance of the pupils in the singing classes was a treat. The introduction of a piano, at which Mr. Drill ably presided, gave the entertainment quite the effect of a concert. The melody of “Beautiful Star,” as well as the “Elfin Chorus,” were rendered in a style that would have done credit to that inimitable band if Choristers, the Christ’s Minstrels. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the head inspector,
Mr. Fleming, addressed the audience as follows:- Ladies and Gentlemen- It now becomes my very pleasing duty to return to you my warmest thanks for the deep interest you have manifested in the annual public examination of the pupils attending the Athy Model Schools. My respected colleague, Mr. Molloy, our exemplary teachers, together with their pupils of all classes, heartily join me in this expression of thanks. It is truly gratifying to witness so large and respectable a meeting on a public occasion of this kind, for, by your presence here today, you encourage the teachers to persevere in those efforts by which they have gained so high a character for their schools. I do believe they have honourably earned this mark of your approbation, by their steadiness, good temper, and professional ability. I am, indeed, comparatively speaking, a stranger here, and, consequently, not in a position to form an adequate opinion of the proficiency of the several classes in all these subjects specified in the school programme, and which is to be regarded as stating the minimum standard of attainments. But I am informed by the District Inspector, Mr. Molloy, a gentleman in whose judgement I place the fullest reliance, that the utmost zeal and intelligence have been uniformly exhibited by the teachers in this institution, from the first day they entered on those duties, which they continue to discharge to his entire satisfaction. It is right to state this publicly, for none but those experienced in the business of school keeping can form any conception of the great labour, mental and physical, entailed on those who honestly devote their best energies to the intellectual development and moral training of a large number of children. Teachers of that stamp are, I submit, fairly entitled to a public acknowledgement of their services whenever the opportunity presents itself. I believe the examination you have just witnessed is calculated to afford encouragement and hope to the promoters of sound education. But, apart from the answering of the pupils, which I trust you regard as satisfactory, you will I am sure easily understand that the very appearance of this spacious apartment, well lighted, thoroughly ventilated and provided with suitable arrangements for class and collective teaching, large maps, drawings of natural objects and every necessary school requisite, is exceedingly striking and cannot fail to leave deep and lasting impressions upon the children’s minds. Parents must, however, recollect that all these advantages will avail of little without an earnest and hearty co-operation on their side. They should as far as practicable enforce punctual and regular attendance at School on the part of their children. Otherwise teachers’ labors will be unproductive of any permanent good and the future prospects of their pupils will of course be seriously injured. In making these remarks I am bound to state that the pupils of this establishment, have been much more regular in their attendance than in most of the ordinary town and rural National Schools. You are doubtless well aware that many excellent and enlightened men entertain different and in some cases conflicting views on the subject of popular education. Nevertheless, all agree on one point-that religion and education should go hand in hand, and that more book learning, as it is styled, unaccompanied by moral training and religious teaching, is an evil to be deprecated by all sections of the community. It is further admitted that religious studies are rather promoted than injured by a well-regulated plan of secular instruction, which tends to improve our mental facilities, to open the understanding, and to enlarge our sympathies. Now the teachers of this institution spare no exertions to carry out these principles to their fullest extent. I believe I am quite safe in appealing to the parents on this very important subject, for they must be aware that their children have received a large amount of religious instruction during their attendance at these schools. In fact their proficiency in religious knowledge has been tested on many occasions, and invariably with the same result, one alike satisfactory to parents, examiners, and teachers. I beg to add, which I do with sincere pleasure, that although Protestants and Roman Catholics here meet in the same classes, and are daily occupied with the same studies, yet in no case has a single word of acrimony or recrimination been heard in reference to the subject of religious differences. On the contrary, their mutual intercourse has ever been characterised by a kind, obliging manner, and by the most respectful courtesy. Here Roman Catholic and Protestant are on a footing that is of the most perfect equality: no privilege open to one class that is not equally available to the other; and in this way all are practically prepared for that first and most essential duty of a citizen of a free country-forbearance and toleration in their dealings, with those who differ from them on political or religious grounds. It is with very deep regret that I have to inform you that in consequence of the death of a beloved child, Mr. Molloy has not been in a position to assist me in preparing lists of those pupils, who by their general good conduct and proficiency in literary acquirements, have proved themselves deserving of premiums and certificates of merit. But I undertake to say, that those lists shall be completed before the termination of the present week. I now beg to conclude those few and hurried remarks, and have only to add that it is open to any gentleman to address this meeting, in reference to the subject matter of our proceedings.
Mr. Duncan proposed that the thanks of the meeting to be given to the Inspectors and Teachers for the manner in which the school has been conducted, and for the superior answering of the pupils, and in doing so prefaced it as followed:- I trust it will not be considered pretentious or obstructive in one so humble as myself, without premeditation or preconcertion, to move at this large and respectable meeting, the resolution which I hold in my hand. Deeply interested, and identified as I am in the well-being of Athy, I cannot but rejoice at what I have seen and heard today. The general management and control-the range and character of the instruction given-the skill and fitness of the teachers-the appearance, attainments, and progress of the scholars-and the order and harmony that prevail in all the departments of this institution, as evidenced in this day’s proceedings, must make it a great boom to this town and district. As I listened, I almost wished myself young again, that I might be a sharer in the advantages possessed by the children now before us. I trust that they will never think the valuable instruction they receive here, is to be laid aside when they retire from this school, but using it as a means to an end, that they will advance in intelligence and worth in their several spheres. My own children have attended here with much satisfaction, and but for domestic arrangements I should feel it a privilege to send them still. The care bestowed, and talents engaged, in teaching these young people, from the infant of 2 years to the young man or woman, must be, of no common kind; and as due to the inspector, Mr. Molloy, in whose recent bereavements, I am sure, the scholars, and this assembly cordially sympathise, the master, and all the teachers, I beg to move the resolution I have already read.
The Rev. Mc Donald said he had great pleasure in seconding a resolution, proposing a vote of thanks to those who had so much zeal and efficiency, devoted their time and energies in producing a result as satisfactory as the excellent answering in the several branches of education, which they had just had the gratification of hearing. Nothing could be more satisfactory than the general answering of the pupils, manifesting an amount of information most creditable to the teachers and the taught, which result could not have been attained without great painstaking on the part of the inspector and teachers, as well as much attention on the part of the pupils. He felt therefore that thanks were most justly due to them. He was happy to be able to agree with Mr. Fleming’s statement that there was no disunion or religious animosity existing in these schools, of which he had the fullest opportunity of judging from his frequent visits to the school. He felt it very important to impress a suggestion, offered by Mr. Fleming, on the minds of all the parents present, that they should not on any trivial grounds keep their children from regular attendance, that the absence of one or two days in the each week, or more occasionally, offered a most serious hindrance to their progress, which might account for some of the pupils not answering as well as might have been expected of them. Mr. Mc Donald expressed his own sentiments, as doubtless he did of all present, when he offered his sincere sympathy to the local Inspector, Mr. Molloy in the trying domestic affliction, which they had just learned he had been visited with. The resolution being put from the chair, was carried with acclamation. Mr. Molloy briefly returned thanks on the part of the teachers and himself. The Rev. F. S. Trench also spoke in most favorable terms of the working of the establishment.
Singing closed the proceedings, where all separated, much pleased with the days proceedings.
The following were selected for premiums-
Henry O’ Neill, Thomas St. John, John Kelly, Felix Kilbride, Robert St. John, James O’ Beirne, William Lodge, Thomas Digan, Samuel Mc Elwaine, Thomas Plewman, Fred. Guest, Alfred Phipps, John Manders. James Williamson, Richard Plewman, P. Heydon, Benjamin Morton, Richard Eaton, James Moore, Thomas Byrne, William Peppard, John Tarleton, S. Rainsford, Edward Murtha, J. Germaine, Henry J. Carter, John Mc Donnell, Patrick Tierney, Henry Mc Elwaine, Peter Lyons, Edward J. Carter, James Mahon, John D. Mc Donald, Edward Dunn, George Burroughs, Thomas Holmes, Robert Norman, Wm. Mahon, Richard Digan, Tom Roberts, W. Delaney, M. Murphy, H. St. John, William Byrne, Charles J. Carter, John Norman, Henry Molloy, Peter F. Reddy, Joseph Leahy, Thomas Heffernan, Robert Baily, Patt Hyland, John Domigan, Michael O’ Beirne, R. Harrington.
Mary Gilmore, Martha Smyth, Mary Lawler, Ellen Toomey, Mary A. Lodge, Mary Heffernan, Bridget Noud, Anna Kane, Mary A. Lawler, Sarah Rainsford, Margaret Darcy, Julia Hughes, Harriet Fleming, Margaret Roberts, Maria Noud, Mary Doyle, Ellen Drill, Margaret Reilly, Kate Reilly, Sarah Barrington, Kate Hogan, Sarah Farrell, Eliza Doyle, Eliza Stynes, Alicia Silke, Anne Furney, Bridget Mulhall, Anna Kilbride, Mary Nolan, Helena Mc Elwaine, Rose Keegan, Anne Murtha, Anne Dunphy, Mary J. Hill, Mary Tierney, Margaret Maher, Mary Farrell, Ellen Farrell.
Anne Manders, Hanna Sherlock, Fanny Molloy, Bridget Fitzgerald, Francis Minchin, Thos. Peppard, William Cobbe, Bridget Egan, Lizzie Freeman, John Knowles, Edward Plewman, W. Connolly, Ann Rainsford, Patt Toomey, J. Morton, J. Ivers, Christopher Redfern, Mary Crampton, Joseph Fitzgerald, Thomas Lodge, John Doyle, Mary Roberts, Patt Knowles, Ellen A. Collins, Mary Doyle, Ellen Lawler, Jacob Heburn, John Connor, Patt Peppard.
A follow up article on Athy Model Schools from the Leisnter Express of 31 December 1859 which lists the sudents at the time.
[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan]


The Leinster Express, Saturday, August 7, 1852, Page 1.
THIS INSTITUTION, comprising a Male, and a Female School, and an Agricultural Departmant, will be opened under the superintendence of competent Teachers, on THURSDAY, the twelfth day of August.
The course of instruction in the Male and Female Schools will embrace all the usual branches of a sound English Education, and in the Agricultural Department the principles and practice of improved Husbandry.
The hours of attendance are to be from 10 till 3 o’clock, except on Saturdays, when the Schools will close at 12 o’clock.
Arrangements will be made in conformity with the General Regulations of the Commissioners, for the Religious Instruction of the pupils.
Parents will have to furnish their Children with the School requisites, and the Lesson Books required for their instruction : these will be obtained from the Resident Teacher, at the reduced prices at which they are supplied to the ordinary National Schools.
Parents who may be anxious for the admission of their Children, are requested to apply at the School on THURSDAY and FRIDAY, the 5th and 6th of AUGUST, between the hours of 11 and 3 o’clock, when they will be informed by the Inspector of the Board, of the several rates of payment, and the general conditions according to which the pupils willbe admitted.
The Leinster Express, Saturday, August 7, 1852, Page 2(?- no pagination).
The Athy District Model School will be opened on Thursday, the 12th inst., by the Right Hon. Alexander Macdonnell, Resident Commissioner of National Education. Applications will be received at the School on Monday, the 9th inst.
The Leinster Express, Saturday, August 28, 1852, Page 3(?- no pagination).
Last week the National Model School of Athy, in the County of Kildare, was formally opened by the Right Hon. Alexander Macdonnell, resident commissioner, and Mr. Kelly, one of the secretaries of the Board. An Agricultural School has been established in Athy, with amodel farm at­tached, under the direction of a most competent master, a native of Ulster, both schools forming one establishment, in connection with the National Board. It appears, however, that the R. C. Children of the district have altogether refrain(e)d from attending the model school, in consequence, it is stated, of the opposition of the clergy to schools of that description. This is the first hos­tile step, in regard to the national system, since the appointment of Dr. Cullen as Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. It appears that the statutes of the Synod of Thurles disapproves of all schools of which the managers are not Roman Ca­tholics. Many of the common schools in connec­tion with the national board are under the management of Roman Catholic patrons, who have the power of appointing or dismissing the teachers. But the Board themselves, consisting of various religious denominations, have the direct control and management of the model schools, in which a superior class of education is given ; and as these schools come within the prohibition of the Synod of Thurles, the Roman Catholic children have not attended the new model school in Athy. Asimilar school was opened very recently in Galway, but no opposition was manifested from any quarter. There are also model schools on an ex­tensive scale in Dublin, Newry, Bailieborough, Clonmel, and other towns, at which Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Presbyterians attend, each receiving separate religious instruction, on stated days, from the pastors of their respective denomi­nations. The National Model and Agricultural School at Athy is upon the estate of the Duke of Leinster, who has given the site without rent, and his grace has in other respects afforded encourage­ment to the institution.
 Leinster Express articles from August 1852 on the opening of Athy Model School.
[compiled and edited by


Leinster Leader 3 January 2008
2008 – a year of curiosities on the calendar and of anniversaries in the annals
Dates on the calendar are the milestones by which the historian charts the passage of the world’s story. So the turn of the old year into a New Year is always a significant time. There is no way we can know what stories of triumph and drama that 2008 will bring but we can at least take a look at the year as it presents itself to us on the calendar.
The most striking thing about 2008 is that it is a Leap Year – ‘Once in Four there will be One Day More’. An extra day is added to the calendar to help iron out irregularities in the earth’s orbit around the sun. Among the folklore surrounding Leap Year Day (29 February) is that it is the only day in four years that a woman can propose marriage to a man, a reverse of the normal direction of cupid’s arrow!
Astronomy also has an impact on the date of Easter which is set by ancient church declaration to fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox. The peculiarities of the earth’s orbit around the sun mean that in 2008 Easter Sunday falls on 23 March, the second earliest it could be. This has created a dilemma for the Irish catholic bishops when they found that the national church feast day of St. Patrick’s Day would fall within Holy Week. Church rules are strict in that no other feast day can be celebrated in Holy Week so the Bishops’ advisors in Maynooth were left with a dilemma. The solution arrived at and approved by the Vatican was that the festival day masses of St. Patrick would be celebrated in churches on Saturday 15th so there would be no conflict with the solemn masses of Holy Week. However it must be stressed that 17th March will still go ahead as a public holiday.
Those of a superstitious inclination will be glad to know that there will be only one Friday 13th in 2008 – the second Friday in June.
The year also marks a medley of anniversaries of local, national and international significance. True blue Lilywhites will ponder ruefully on the fact that it marks the 80th anniversary of Kildare’s last All-Ireland win in 1928 – the fact that this was the first year that the iconic Sam Maguire trophy was presented at least gives the Short grass men bragging rights ever since. By coincidence too this is the tenth anniversary of Kildare’s last appearance in an All-Ireland final – the crescendo of euphoria which saw the county blanketed in white in 1998 is still a vivid memory.
For students of the turf 2008 brings an anniversary or two worth recalling. Irish trained horses won both the Aintree Grand National and the Epsom Derby fifty years ago. Mr. What trained at the T J Taaffe establishment in Rathcoole won the 1958 Aintree National while Hard Ridden trained by Mick Rogers at the Curragh won the 1958 Epsom Derby. This double was not repeated by Irish trainers until 2000 with Papillon and Sindar.
The year 2008 also brings landmark dates for the county’s transport infrastructure. More than two centuries ago the canal channels were being forged across the midlands. The Naas branch of the canal, a picturesque, branch line from the main Grand Canal at Sallins was under construction and reached its mid-way point to the county town 220 years ago. In March 1788 the  Duke of Leinster came to inspect the works in a specially decorated barge; so enthused were the populace of Naas by the spectacle that they grabbed the ropes and man-hauled it to the temporary completion of the channel adjacent to the De Burgh estate north-west of Naas..
A transport landmark of a much more modern era will also be recalled as 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Naas By-pass which at five miles in length was the first stretch of fully-fledged motorway in the Republic of Ireland. The tape was cut by Mr. Dick Spring, then Minister for the Environment.
We will return to some of these events as the Leap year of 2008 adds many more milestones to the long road of history.
Series No: 48

Liam Kenny in his regular column Nothing 'New Under the Sun' from 3 January 2008 in the Leinster Leader highlights some of the important anniversaries coming up in 2008. Our thanks to Liam


With the political unification of England under the Norse King Eadred in the 10th century, the old game was up for the Dublin Vikings. There would be less and less raiding as the Norse built up Dublin to be an economic environment. Apart from an unsuccessful siege by the king of Tara Domhnall Uí Néill for a whole generation Dublin was left alone and enjoyed an unprecedented degree of political stability. When the High King Domhnall died in 980, the Uí Néill nominated Malachy the Great of Meath as king. But he was facing the challenge of Brian Ború, an ambitious Munsterman who was already subduing small uprisings in Leinster and preventing the spread of Norse influence. Olaf Cúarán had been the Viking ruler of Dublin for over forty years, but as an old man he married Gormflaith, the daughter of Murchadha MacFinn, Lord of Naas, a member of the Uí Fháeláin, a powerful dynasty based at Naas. Gormflaith was born in Naas around 940, and according to Njals Saga was “endowed with great beauty”. The union bore a son, Sitric. Gormflaith followed her union with Olaf with marriages to Malachy of Tara and Brian Ború, all three of which marriages are remarked upon in a witty stanza preserved in the genealogies:
Three leaps were made by Gormflaith
Which no other woman will make until Doomsday;
A leap into Dublin, a leap into Tara,
A leap into Cashel, a plain of mounds which surpasses all.
In 980 Olaf was defeated by Malachy II at Tara and the old Viking went to Iona on pilgrimage, where he died. Malachy occupied Dublin but allowed Sitric to remain as its ruler in return for paying considerable tribute. In a strategic move, Malachy married Gormflaith. When Murchadha was killed his son, Mael Mordha, succeeded him as Lord of Naas. With his sister Gormflaith as virtual queen of Dublin Mael Mordha had his eyes on the kingship of Leinster. In 999 Sitric attacked Kildare town and ravaged it. At the same time Mael Mordha became king of Leinster and offered his kingdom and resources to Sitric. Brian Ború and Malachy put aside their differences and united to fight the common foe. Their combined forces took on the Leinster army at Gleann Máma in the Kill-Rathcoole area where Malachy and Brian were victorious. There were heavy casualties on both sides, Brian’s opponents losing 4,000 men.
At the conclusion of this battle Brian’s son Murchadha discovered Mael Mordha high up in a yew tree, hiding from his enemies. Brian spared him, although he was held prisoner until Ború received the required number of hostages from the Leinstermen. When he was released Mael Mordha submitted to Ború and paid the required annual tribute. Brian followed up his victory by plundering Dublin. To negotiate peace, Brian married one of his daughters to Sitric, who submitted to him and he took Gormflaith as his wife. She was estranged from Malachy at the time and under the liberal Brehon Laws Brian was able to marry her. Gormflaith bore him a son, Donnchad, but she “was utterly wicked” and was later divorced by Brian. She began engineering opposition to the High King. Brian Ború did not feel he could be high king of Ireland until he took Dublin and defeated Malachy of Tara. Dublin and North Leinster had remained a stumbling block in Boru’s attempts to unite the whole of Ireland under one king, a High King. Ború’s main rival in Leinster was Malachy who as a member of the southern Ui Néill, always the strongest kings of Ireland, also claimed the kingship. Ború became High King in 1002 but it was high king in name only until both Malachy and Viking Dublin were entirely subdued.
In 1012 and 1013 the Vikings again attacked and pillaged Kildare. Malachy, who had grudgingly accepted Brian’s high kingship rose in revolt. He sought allies in Ulster and Connaught but only found one regional ruler in Ulster who had only recently submitted to Brian. Together they attacked Meath, and Brian led a force from Munster and from southern Connaught into Leinster in defence. A detachment under his son, Murchadh, ravaged the southern half of Leinster for three months. The forces under Murchadh and Brian were reunited on 9 September 1013 outside the walls of Dublin. The city was blockaded, but it was Ború’s army that ran out of supplies first. He was forced to abandon the siege and returned to Munster around Christmas. Malachy needed allies quickly for Borúwas sure to return again with a bigger army. He instructed his cousin Sitric to travel overseas and gain more aid and with Gormflaith’s prompting Sitric began gathering support from Vikings outside Ireland, most notably Earl Sigurd of Orkney and Brodir of the Isle of Man. The conflict Gormflaith engineered now came to a climax at the Battle of Clontarf.
The two armies met at Clontarf on Good Friday, 23 April 1014. Old rivalry resurfaced again when the North Leinster forces sided with Sitric against Ború. The power of the Vikings was finally broken at the Battle of Clontarf. Although victorious Brian was killed by Brodir of Man, who was fleeing the battle. Brodir gathered a few warriors and burst through the thinned pen of shields guarding the seventy-two year old High King and decapitated him. He was instantly captured and subsequently suffered a very long, cruel, and grisly death. The battle saw the Norse and Irish army annihilated. Every one of their leaders, Sigurd, Brodir, Mael Mordha, and Dubhgall, was slain and from an army of 6,600 only 600 survived. The Irish paid dearly for their victory though with the death of Brian Ború, his son Murrough, grandson Turlough, brother Cuduiligh, and nephew Coniang. In addition ten Munster kings and 1,600 other nobles also perished along with 2,400 common warriors so that from an army of 7,000 less than 3,000 survived. However, neither Gormflaith nor Sitric were killed, as they were safe behind the walls of Dublin. She died in 1030, Sitric died in 1036.

James Durney reveals that Gormflaith, wife of Brian Boru was in fact a Naas woman. Our thanks to James


James Durney
On December 7 1941 Japan launched a surprise attack on the American Pacific fleet anchored at Pearl Harbour. Almost simultaneously Japanese bombs fell on Singapore. The following day Britain and the United States declared war on Japan. Thousands of Irishmen were serving with the British and Commonwealth forces in the Far East and among them were several dozen men from the Short Grass county. In January 1942, after conquering Siam, the Japanese invaded Burma. Singapore, an island at the southern end of the Malay Peninsula, was considered a vital part of the British Empire and supposedly impregnable as a fortress. Singapore had adequate defences against attack from the sea but the land front had been neglected as it was thought impossible for an enemy to attack through the thick jungles of Malaya. However, that is exactly what the Japanese did. By the end of the month the British forces in Malaya had withdrawn onto Singapore demolishing the causeway linking the island fortress and the mainland. On 8 February 1942, 23,000 Japanese attacked across the Johor Strait. Within days the garrison was nearly out of food and water as casualties mounted. On 15 February General Arthur Percival surrendered the garrison of 90,000 British, Australian and Indian troops. While the Japanese had called on the Percival to surrender to avoid needless casualties the people of Singapore got no mercy from the new occupiers - thousands were slaughtered by the Japanese. Winston Churchill called the surrender of Singapore, “The worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.” It was no exaggeration. Worse was to befall the captured troops and 12,000 would die building 260 miles of railway through jungle covered mountains from Thailand to Burma. Another 75,000 native labourers also died.
Among the thousands of Allied troops who died on the Death Railway were two men from Newbridge, John Thompson and Patrick Byrne, and one from Naas, Tom Higgins. John Thompson was born in 1918 and left Newbridge in 1936 when the new Liffey bridge was being built. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment and was sent to the Far East with the 1st Battalion, along with Tom Higgins of Naas. Both men were captured at Singapore. John Thompson was reported missing and for several months his family was unaware of his whereabouts. Then word came that he was a prisoner. In the Japanese the western powers found a formidable and cruel foe. The Japanese despised weakness and did not understand how a soldier who could still fight would choose to surrender. So they treated their prisoners as something beyond contempt. Japan was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention which outlined the rules of warfare. Prisoners of war were not to be made work according to the convention but the Japanese put their POWs to work on the death railway and the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai. The Japanese had a work quota to achieve each day and they did not care how this was accomplished. Men were beaten to work harder, or taken from their sick beds from the hospitals in the camps and made work. Men who fell by the wayside, and showed no hope of recovery, were left to die or were bayoneted. Captured escapees were beheaded in full view of the other prisoners. And, if that was not enough, the food was meagre and the conditions in the camps and the tropics unbelievably foul. Allied POWs died in their thousands and it is said that the railway cost the life of a prisoner for every sleeper laid. Conditions in most POW camps were dreadful and prisoners had an appalling time. After a year in captivity John Thompson died from malaria on 29 March 1943, aged 25. Tom Higgins died on 4 June, aged 26. Private Tom Higgins, Dublin Road, Naas, was also serving with the 1st Manchesters when Singapore fell to the Japanese. He was unfortunate as his enlistment term was up when the Japanese attacked and he was awaiting transport home. In total 370 men of the 1st Manchesters died of disease and brutality.
Another Newbridge man, Sergeant Patrick Byrne, died on 26 September 1943, while a prisoner in Burma. He was 38 and from Walshestown, Newbridge. Patrick Byrne had emigrated to Australia, probably in the 1920s, and had married and settled down in Kensington, New South Wales. He joined the Australian Army and was attached to the Personnel Depot when he was captured in Singapore. With thousands of other Allied prisoners Sgt Byrne was put to work on the Burma-Siam railway line. A base camp and Prisoner-of War Administration Headquarters had been established at Thanbyuzayat, Burma, and it was here work ceased on the railway line which had been intended to link Moulmein with Bangkok in Thailand. The administration headquarters and the nearby hospital were situated close to a railway marshalling yard and workshops and these were bombed several times between March and June 1943. Numerous casualties occurred among the prisoners and the camp was then evacuated and the prisoners, including the sick, were marched to camps further along the line where camp hospitals were set up. For some time, however, Thanbyuzayat continued to be used as a reception centre for the groups of prisoners arriving at frequent intervals to reinforce the parties working on the line to the Burma-Thai border. A cemetery was located close by and 3,771 men who died while working on the railway are buried there. Among them is Patrick Byrne. How he died is unknown.
In 1957 the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai opened in Naas and Newbridge. Few in the audience realised that three local men had died in the construction of the railway and bridge depicted in the movie.

James Durney unearths some Co. Kildare connections with the building of the infamous Bridge on the River KWAI. 


In December 2005 (repeated January 2007) RTE broadcast a controversial programme on the former Minister for Foreign Affairs and founding member of Fianna Fail Frank Aiken. Born in Camlough, Co. Armagh, Aiken joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914 and was later commander of the 4th Northern Division, IRA. In the programme he was accused of engineering an ethnic cleansing of Protestants from parts of South Armagh, Newry, and other parts of the north, in particular the killing of seven Protestant civilians in one day in Altnaveigh. The 4th Northern Division operated in an area covering parts of counties Louth, Armagh, Monaghan, and Down and Aiken, as commander, was acting in reprisal for Crown forces murders in the area. In a directive to his men he wrote: “Reprisal must be six to one, so as to prevent the enemy from continuing same.”
At the outbreak of the Civil War the 4th Northern Division was neutral and had taken control of the Dundalk military barracks after the British army vacated on 13 April 1922. On 4 July 1922 Frank Aiken wrote to Richard Mulcahy, the commander of the Free State’s military, stating the 4th Northern Division would stay neutral. On July 15 1922 Aiken met in Dublin with Mulcahy, arguing for peace. The following day Mulcahy’s men came as friends to Dundalk and captured Aiken’s barracks through a breach of faith. Aiken and his officers were imprisoned in Dundalk Jail. However, John McCoy, from Mullaghbane, Co. Armagh, who was vice commandant for the division, escaped capture. On 27 July John McCoy led a small unit that attacked Dundalk Jail. They dynamited the prison wall and in fifteen minutes the well-timed operation resulted in the release of Aiken and dozens of his men. There were no casualties.
On 15 August Aiken returned with 300 men and captured Dundalk barracks. They use two mines to breach the walls of the barracks and temporarily take over the town. Four Free State soldiers were killed and 350 captured, while Aiken lost just one man. About 400 rifles, two eighteen-pounder guns and a huge amount of ammunition and stores were also taken. As a guerrilla operation it was one of the most successful ever in Ireland. More than 200 Republican prisoners, including sixty from County Kildare, were also released and entertained to breakfast at the military barracks. Among the prisoners liberated was Jim Dunne and a dozen members of his flying column captured near Sallins as they tried to blow up the railway bridge. Jim Dunne, from Greenhills, Kill, was a relative of the Fenian John Devoy, and had joined Kill Company, Irish Volunteers, in 1917, when he was fifteen.
“I took charge of sixty men from Kildare,” Jim Dunne recalled. “We were armed with thirty rifles and some explosives, etc. We then entrained with about 150 men from other areas to Dunleer, Co. Louth, and were instructed to blow up the railway bridge. This was carried out by P. Magee; Todd Andrews from Dublin HQ was in charge at Dunleer. He instructed me to cut across country for Kildare as best I could. Mick O’Neill of Celbridge, North Kildare Battalion, 1st Meath Brigade, had charge of another column of twenty men from that area and took another direction home. After travelling two days, mostly without food or sleep, we were surrounded by 500 Free State troops at Skree, Co. Meath. After a fight lasting from 6 p.m. to 10.30 p.m., I managed to break through the enemy ring with twenty men and rifles, and after travelling about five miles we put up at a farmhouse owned by two brothers named Duffy who lived near Fairyhouse racecourse. We had our clothes dried, as it rained all night and we were wet through. They also provided us with hot drinks and food. When we had got through the enemy ring, I had left a rearguard of ten men to hold back enemy troops. Those men were under the command of Patrick Magee, our engineer, an officer of Kill Company. Other men I can remember with him were Peter Mills, Kill, Jim Collins, Kilcullen, Jim O’Keefe, Kilcock. I can’t remember the names of the others. Each man of the rearguard had been provided with 250 rounds of ammunition and was armed with a rifle. When they surrendered at 10.30 p.m. they had only seven rounds of ammunition left and the rifles were jammed and red hot. The Dublin Guards who had been attacking them had lost three men killed and several wounded. The prisoners were lined up by the Dublin Guards to be shot, when the officer in charge of the Guards, Comdt. Stapleton arrived on the scene. He congratulated our men on the fight they had put up and accorded them good treatment. My column, after two days forced march, arrived back in the Kill area, where we had to rest for a week.”
Jim Dunne remained on the run for over a year after the Civil War ended. John McCoy was later captured in an engagement on the Castleblayney road. After the Civil War he moved to Dublin to work with the Military Pensions Board. In the 1940s John McCoy moved to Kill, a few hundred yards from the Dunne homeplace at Greenhills.

James Durney on Frank Aiken, John McCoy and local man Jim Dunne from Greenhills Kill during the Irish Civil War. Our thanks to James



 Leinster Leader 27 December 2007
A New Year’s Eve finale for the fabled Blessington tram
On New Year’s Eve 1932, seventy-five years ago, a much storied transport link carried its last load of passengers among the foothills of West Wicklow. The Blessington tram had been a larger than life presence in the lives of the communities along its route from Terenure to Blessington for the previous forty-four years. Perhaps it was the folklore that grew up around the tram rather than its patchy efficiency as a transport service that promoted a certain nostalgia but there was a full a load of passengers on board the tram for its final run on that New Year’s Eve of 1932.
The story of the Blessington tram had begun more than four decades previously when in 1887 an Act was passed by the Westminster Parliament entitled the Dublin & Blessington Steam Tramway Company Act. The effect of this legislation was to set up a company of the same name to build a 15 mile tramway from a depot at Terenure, on the south side of Dublin, to Blessington. The first directors were William Owen (Blessington), Fletcher Moore (Kilbride), William Domville Handcock (Templeogue), Thomas S. Guinness (Rathfarnham) and John A. Walker of Dublin. In engineering terms the line was an ultimately unsatisfactory combination of a conventional railway line (its tracks were laid wide apart as with a standard railway) and a roadside tram with the line sharing the width of the Blessington road with pedestrian and horse traffic.
Passengers from Dublin joined the tram at the company’s depot at Terenure which was well equipped with company offices and sidings. From there the tram ran along the road out into what was then entirely rural countryside south of Templeogue with stops at Tallaght, Clondalkin Road and Jobstown before beginning a severe climb to Crooksling via the Embankment, a station which took its name from a short off-road bank created for the tram. From a high point at Crooksling where a stop served the City of Dublin sanatorium (now St. Brigid’s Hospital) the tram picked up downhill momentum with views of the Wicklow mountains to the east. After negotiating the the steep hill on the Dublin-Wicklow boundary the stop at the Brittas Inn was no doubt a welcome watering place for man and machine. From Brittas the tram ran along the road with a series of halts including The Lamb, Tinode, and Cross Chapel before the destination of Blessington was reached having criss-crossed the county boundaries of Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow en route. At a speed of about ten miles an hour (and that was on a good day) the fifteen-mile journey to Blessington was timetabled at just under an hour-and-a-half in duration.
The inaugural run of the Blessington tram took place on 1st August 1888 and the early signs looked promising – so positive indeed that soon afterwards a four-mile extension was built from Blessington to Poulaphuca where the spectacular falls (since tamed by the ESB dam) were a tourist attraction. Keen-eyed visitors to Blessington will notice the marker stone engraved with the initials of the Blessington and Poulaphuca tram companies which exists to this day on the east side of the Main Street.
Over the following forty-four years the tram became a part of the scenery of west Wicklow and the subject of many anecdotes – it gained the unenviable repute of being the longest graveyard in Ireland, a title explained by the proximity of the tracks to numerous roadside public houses. On a happier note the tram the tram provided a popular excursion for city trippers on jaunts to the foothills of west Wicklow. So popular indeed that one local wit, making a comparison with an a placename familiar in war time reports of the era, wrote the following lines: ‘ The Battle of Ypres was only a sham/Compared to the rush for the Blessington steam tram!’ 
However continuous breakdowns brought about by the severe climbs on the route, and in the late 1920s, competition from a more reliable bus service inevitably undermined the tramway’s commercial prospects. By December 1932 the end of the line was in sight and the track, engines and carriages were put up sale. On that wet Saturday New Year’s Eve of 1932  the tram departed from the Templeogue depot for Blessington for the last time, its whistle never again to echo through the valley between the hills of east Kildare and the mountains of west Wicklow.
* Reference: The Dublin & Blessington Tramway by Fayle & Newham
** Correcting a gremlin or two in earlier articles … In series no. 28  I mentioned that Samuel Lyons from Kill had fought with a Canadian regiment in the Boer war. In fact Samuel, had fought in World War One while Thomas Lyons had been in the Boer War. My thanks to Ms. Mabel Lyons, Hartwell. Also, in article series no.22 I said that the Luisitania had been torpedoed in 1917 – this should have read 1915.

Liam Kenny recounts the last run of the Blessington Tram in 1932 in his regualr column 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' of 27 December 2007 in the Leinster Leader. Our thanks as always to Liam. 

February 15, 2008


Leinster Leader 20 December 2007
When an equine Santa Claus brought joy to Co. Kildare …
Over the next few nights many pairs of little eyes – and big eyes too – will be looking towards the northern skies anticipating the visit of the great man known as Santa Claus who they know will bring surprise and joy to homes throughout the land on Christmas morning.  More than forty years ago the name of Santa Claus brought celebration to County Kildare too when a horse of that name led the field past the winning post at the 1964 Irish Derby piloted by Willie Burke of Naas.  Earlier that summer the equine Santa Claus had also won the English Derby , this time with Australian jockey Arthur ‘Scobie’ Breasley in the saddle. His trainer on both occasions was the gifted Mick Rogers of the Curragh.
His success in the Derbys on either side of the Irish Sea saw Santa Claus make racing history becoming the first horse in fifty-seven years to win both Derbys in the same year. It was not that Santa Claus was without historic links in any event – his jockeys’ silks bore the distinctive white star emblem of Mr. John Ismay, scion of the family which owned the White Star shipping line, owners of the ill-fated Titanic.
However back in Naas it was a case of local lad made good and for a time Willie Burke, his Irish Derby jockey,  was the toast of his neighbours in St. Corban’s Place on the Dublin road out of the county town.  But then the residents of St. Corban’s were no strangers to connections with the epic historic events of the day. Back in April1938 the Bishop had come from his palace in Carlow to bless the estate on its opening day. On that same date the last British garrison had departed the Spike Island fort in Cork Harbour completing the withdrawal of British forces from the new Irish Free State. The coincidence was noted by the ever present local wits in Naas and passed into the urban folklore of the town. 
Such evocative anecdotes, and many more, are recounted by prolific Naas historian James Durney in his latest book In the Shadow of the Kings which documents the story of social, public and council housing in the county town from 1898 when the local council began to take responsibility for providing housing as a public service. It’s a gripping and a long overdue story telling of how families were progressively transferred from decrepit and damp houses in the back lanes of the county town to new houses built to a high standard on greenfield sites.
The Naas Urban District Council, in parallel with its counterparts in Athy and Newbridge, and Kildare County Council for the rural parts, took on the mammoth task of acquiring sites, coming up with plans and designs, and allocating tenancies. At a time when public funds were at their most scarce the local councils throughout the country delivered hundreds of new homes for the first generation of a new Free State.  It was an achievement on a parallel with rural electrification or the eradication of human TB with Irish governments and councils delivering on a much-needed public service. However a strength of James Durney’s text, as he has demonstrated in his previous books about Kildare people in military and political endeavours, is that he identifies the real pulse of human experience behind the justifiably proud achievements of the public authorities. He points out that while the acquisition of a new house was a great improvement in the lot of a family it did not of itself alleviate the pervasive poverty of the time: Naas in the 1930s/40/s/50s was still a hard place to rear a family.  As with many other estates throughout the country St. Corban’s was to see its sons and daughters take the emigrant boat in large numbers. It was not until the 1960s that Ireland turned a corner and began to educate and employ its people on home turf. And perhaps this change in fortunes was marked by a combination in white starred silk blazing down the last furlong at the Curragh in 1964  – a jockey called Willie Burke from proud St. Corban’s Place and a horse called … Santa Claus.
In the Shadow of the Kings by James Durney, published by Gaul Press, Naas, contact 085-1443998.
Series no. 46

Liam Kenny from his regular feature in the Leinster Leader - Nothing New Under the Sun - for 20 December 2007 - examines the victory of Santa Claus at the Curragh in 1964 and reviews James Durney's book on Naas Social Housing - In the Shadow of Kings. Our thanks to Liam 


Leinster Leader 13 December 2007 
Enigmatic Kildare link to one of the world’s best-loved Christmas hymns
The weeks before Christmas are associated with a seasonal fuss and rush. The increasing grasp of the consumerist build-up to the festive season is a source of  bewilderment as each year brings an ever more ferocious onslaught of consumption. However time can also be made for a more reflective approach to the season symbolised by that lovely word ‘advent’ or the sense of a new arrival. This more measured approach to Christmas finds a stirring echo in the hymns and carols which have been associated with the season through generations.
The origins of the familiar hymns are many and varied, some of relatively modern composition and others with unknown origins going back centuries in the Christian tradition. The remarkable feature of the Christmas carols is that despite great changes in the way we speak and communicate, their lyrics and melodies have remained constant, truly a rock of seasonal stability amidst the manufactured clamour and confusion.  It may come as a surprise to learn that there is at least a hint of an Irish connection to the earliest renderings of one of the best-loved hymns ‘Adeste fidelis’ or ‘ Come all ye faithful’ which is sung in churches of all Christian denominations throughout the world..
The connection has been highlighted by Kilcock historian Jim Rochfort who in researching the story of carols and hymns came across an article in a learned church journal written in the early 1920s which indicated that the earliest script of the ‘Adeste Fidelis’ melody, dating to about 1745, was to be found in the museum of Clongowes Wood, the well-known Jesuit college near Clane in Co. Kildare.
The account which appeared in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record was written by one William Grattan Flood who, as Jim Rochfort points out, was an authority on church music history and wrote extensively on the topic in the early 1900s.
Grattan Flood made a case for an Irish origin to Adeste Fidelis and usee the evidence (available to him at the time of writing his article in the 1920s) of the musical script in Clongowes College as one of the assets to his argument. He wrote that there was at least a ‘floating theory’ that the Adeste was first heard in Dublin, in the Convent Chapel of the Dominican nuns in Channel Row, about the year 1748. Some time previously the nuns had been presented with a beautiful new organ by Dame Mary Bellew and the gift may have been accompanied by a collection of musical scripts.
Whatever about the Adeste’s origins in manuscript the perfection of the printing technique facilitated its circulation to church communities in many parts. The first appearance in print of the Adeste melody, according to Grattan Flood, was in the earliest English volume of Catholic Church music published in London in 1766. Eight years later it was published in the first hymn book for American Catholics. The original was of course in Latin and it was not until 1789 that an English translation was printed – ever since it has become one of the most universal Christmas hymns being sung in churches of all denominations in all continents.
The Irish connection to its origin remains an enigma. Unfortunately the 18th century melody script which Grattan Flood inspected at Clongowes in the 1920s is no longer to be found there and its whereabouts, like the origins of the words and music of the hymn, will most likely always remain a mystery.  But Grattan Flood, as a leading church musicologist of his day made a strong case for an Irish echo to Adeste’s enduring musical cadences. He finishes his article with the declaration: ‘There is an unmistakable Irish flavour about the melody that cannot be considered accidental, and the oldest existing manuscript copy can be traced to Ireland. Anyhow, from 1746 to 1776 the hymn came into general use for the Christmas season, and has so continued ever since.’
  • My thanks to Jim Rochfort of Kilcock, and Brendan Cullen of Clongowes, for their assistance with this seasonal content.
Series No. 45

A Kildare link to one of the most popular hymns - Liam Kenny in his article for 13 December 2007 from his regular feature Nothing New Under the Sun in the Leinster Leadrer. Our thanks to Liam. 


Leinster Leader 6 December 2007
Candlelight and aromas permeate memories of Christmas in south Kildare
Nostalgia permeates the Christmas season in image and word. Movies, songs and books recreate the spirit of Christmas past and perpetuate the timeless traditions and customs of the festive season. On a personal basis we all have our memories of individual Christmas customs – perhaps the angel with the broken wing on the tree, or the neighbour who calls in slightly tipsy at the same time every Christmas morning!
We are indebted to the late Micheál O’Dubhshláine for a compilation of such seasonal memories included in his book Are you Going Home Now? – Memories of Old Kilkea, which recalls his growing up in among the big fields of south Kildare’s tillage landscape between Castledermot and Athy. His memoir gives a warm portrait of the progress of the seasons as viewed from his childhood home within sight of the Duke of Leinster’s ancient residence at Kilkea Castle.
Micheal O’Dubhshlaine grew up in Kilkea, went to teacher training college and moved south to Kerry where he became a national teacher on the Dingle peninsula where he fell under the spell of the Irish language and the rugged charms of the Kerry coastline. However he never forgot the personalities and places which had featured in his upbringing in the contrastingly flat landscape of  south Kildare’s tilled estates. He had completed the manuscript of his researches and recollections of Kilkea and Castledermot before his untimely death in May 2006. His wife Aine, family and friends ensured that his writing would achieve the posterity of print and his volume of recollections was published before the end of last year.
His affectionate recollection of the Christmas season is infused with the aromas, sights and sounds of rural Ireland in the late 1940s. He begins by recalling the first signs of Christmas preparations where his industrious and talented mother was in her element. The aroma of seasonal baking wafts from the written word as he describes how one early winter evening he came in from his favourite pastime of watching the ploughmen at work on Greene’s farm: ‘ The sun was sinking as I walked in the door to be greeted with rich spicy aroma. My mother seemed to be busier than usual with a basin and the packet of flour and several other ingredients gathered round.’ In those pre-electrification days the cake was baked in the kitchen hearth: ‘ The mixture was then transferred into a cake tin … before being placed in the hot three-legged baker over the fire of oak embers.’ The young Micheal marked the significance of this annual ritual: ‘ It was the first time I realised that Christmas was coming.’
Later in the season holly was  to prove a prickly subject in the Delaney household. He recalls how before the twelve days of Christmas were over he found bunches of a holly variegated in green and cream behind the church in Kilkea. Thinking he could stretch out the Christmas décor a little further and stave off the return to school he brought it home but received a parental rebuke that ‘ it was Protestant holly, that Christmas was over and to throw it into the fire.’
Seasonal foliage of a different kind is also recalled strikingly in his memoir. The first Christmas tree he saw was in Maher’s house in Kilkea. An aunt was home from England for Christmas with her Polish husband who brought a touch of eastern European tradition to the domestic decoration. Micheal recalls being invited with his family down to the Maher’s where ‘Yashig’ the Polish uncle was in charge of festivities. He records the spectacle as seen through  a child’s eyes of the tree at a time when candle light was not overtaken by the glare of electricity: ‘And there was the tree, right in the middle of the kitchen … and thirty-three little candles all lighting, representing the years of Our Lord’s life.’ 
This nostalgic descriptive flourish, reminiscent of the great Monaghan poet Patrick Kavanagh who similarly eulogised the simple Christmas traditions of a bygone Ireland, is but one of the many seasonal image left to us in Micheal O’Dubhshlaine’s word pictures of his native south Kildare.
* Are You Going Home Now? – Memories of Old Kilkea by Micheal O’Dubhshlaine, published by Tig Aíne, Báile an Fheirtearaigh, Co. Chiarraí.
Series No. 44


Leinster Leader  25 October 1958

Killed in air crash
Lieut. William Ridgeway Shackleton, the pilot of a meteor jet fighter,
which crashed at Marishanger, near Basingstoke, Hants. was second son of
Mr Richard Shackleton, "Glen Mona," Moone, Co. Kildare. Lieut.
Shackleton's father, who died about three months ago, was a cousin of
Sir Ernest Shackleton, the explorer. His uncle was Colonel Ridgeway,
formerly of Carlow.
Deceased, who was aged about thirty years, was educated at the Royal
School, Armagh, and later joined the British Navy, air pilot arm. He
lived at Farnborough, Kent, and is survived by his wife and one child.

An article in the Leinster Leader of 25 October 1958 reporting the death of Lt. W. R. Shackleton, second son of Richard Shackleton of Moone, Co. Kildare

[Typed and edited by James Durney; Thanks to Cill Dara Historical Society]


JOHN DREDGE - Dept. of Education
Purpose of the Research Study
To develop in students:
A spirit of inquiry about the past
A range of skills for the conduct of the inquiry
Allows students to engage in a measure of self‑directed learning
Choosing a subject
The subject chosen must be clearly defined
should have a narrow focus for depth of investigation
should be based on information that may be readily authenticated
should be of historical significance
Great care needed in the selection of subjects
Choice to be made in consultation with teacher
Student should not undertake substantive work until teacher has approved
outline plan
The specific subject chosen by each student in a class group should be
unique to the individual student
This uniqueness should be reflected in the title of the study.
Learning outcomes
Higher and Ordinary Level Students should:
Show understanding of the role of evidence in the writing of history
Display an awareness of objectivity in their own writing by striving to be
fair‑minded and unbiased
Higher Level Students should:
Recognise the provisional nature of historical knowledge
Show understanding of the broader historical context of research findings
At Ordinary Level: a minimum of TWO sources should be used
At Higher Level: THREE (or more) sources should be used
Sources sould be primary or specialist secondary
At least one source by a historian, where available
Standard school textbooks will not be suitable sources
Extreme caution to be exercised with primary sources
The report
Each student will compile a report
The report will be pre‑submitted
The report will have three components:
An outline plan
An evaluation of sources
An extended essay
The report: outline plan
Student defines the subject
Student justifies the subject
Student identifies 1.the aims; 2 the intended approach
The sources to be consulted
The report: evaluation of sources 
Indicates the relevance of the sources to the subject of the study
Comments on the strengths and weaknesses of each source used
The report: extended essay
Sets down the main findings and conclusions arrived at by the student
Includes a review of the process undertaken, and how useful that process was
in achieving the aims laid down in the outline plan
Most substantial of the three components
Findings should be laid out in a coherent manner with 1. a clear
introduction; 2. a conclusion 3. in between, a line of logical development
The report: mark allocation (20% of the total marks)
Outline plan   15%
Evaluation of sources 25%
Extended essay   60%


Tips for a successful project
Mario Corrigan - Executive Librarian
Local Studies Dept. - Kildare County Library and Arts Services
         ALWAYS check out your idea with your TEACHER
         Make sure your idea is do-able
        There are books on the subject; websites that might help etc.
        There might be some primary resources available
        Think of the timescale – don’t make it too large
        See if there is help available – libraries, local history groups


Meeting of the First County Council 1899
The Minutes for the first meeting are on EHistory in two parts
Article on the First Meeting of Kildare Co. Council on Ehistory by Liam Kenny

         Research and Outline – HUGELY IMPORTANT
        booklet on the first Council published by Kildare County Council in 1999
        Books on the beginning of local Government and Irish history for the period
        Newspaper Reports
        Council Minutes
        Images – Councillors; Gentry; Council Offices
        Explaining your choice of topic and what resources were available
        introducing your topic – what is a county Council and where is it today - why it is of interest – what was there before it
        setting the scene for your essay – the first meeting was held at 11 a.m. in Naas Courthouse on 22 April 1899
        The first Council lasted from 1899 to 1902
         Body of ESSAY
        The elections of April 1899?
        The candidates
        First Meeting
        Who was present?
        Who was elected?
        What was the outcome of the first meeting?
        What (if any) was the reaction in Co. Kildare – in Ireland?
        What kind of work was done by the Council?
        Were there any difficulties during the first meeting?
         Why was it important?
         How did it set the scene for modern Council and compare the type of work to today
         Is there any information on the success of the Councils in Ireland and on the changeover from the previous system?

         WHAT impression did it make on YOU?

          What do YOU THINK?

         ALWAYS – refer to the work you did

         ALWAYS – cite the references – where you got the information - make sure you do this with care

         ALWAYS – make the work personal – I did… I think…

         ALWAYS – imagine you are trying to teach somebody who has no knowledge whatsoever about the topic why the topic is interesting and what it is about

         NEVER – take it for granted that whoever may be reading this knows anything about the topic

         NEVER– take it for granted that it is obvious where you got the information or how you did the work

         NEVER – leave it to the last minute – give yourself time and choose something you are interested in but make sure there are sources and that the topic is manageable

         ALWAYS – check with your teacher

         START – writing as soon as you can – even if it is making some notes – or making a first draft (you don’t have to write it in one go) –

         CONTINUE – to ask questions as you go along – why did that happen? Who was this person? Imagine somebody who knows nothing about the subject reading your essay – would they understand? Would they know what you mean?  


         That you can do research

         How you did the research

         Where you did the research

         What sources you used

         That you learned from the research

         That you can use the research and can put it all together

         That you enjoyed it   

                                                    GOOD LUCK!

[Some helpful hints on how to create a good project.]


Local History Resources
Mario Corrigan - Executive Librarian 
Local Studies Dept.
County Kildare Library and Arts Services
         All branch libraries should have
          a local history file
         Reference books such as encyclopaedias and dictionaries
         History books
         Internet access
         Main branches at – Athy, Naas, Celbridge, Leixlip, Newbridge and Maynooth
         Smaller branches at Castledermot, Ballitore, Clane, Kildare Town, Kilcock, Kilcullen, Monasterevin and Rathangan
         Mobile Library –
         PRIMARY – original documents or resources which were written or compiled around the time of your period of study – books, newspapers, letters, pamphlets, census returns etc.
         SECONDARY – second-hand - usually books or resources written later about the particular incident, person or period which interests you
         Postcards, prints and photographs
         Census and Valuations
         Websites –
 www.kildare.ie/library Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives – Online Resources
         Primary – original or contemporary accounts of a particular event or period e.g. 1798 Rebellion or The Famine
         Secondary – e.g. accounts written about the Rebellion around 1998 during the 200 year anniversary or in 1995 during the 150 year anniversary of the beginning of The Famine
         Periodicals – published periodically
         One of the best resources we have for Co. Kildare is the Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society 1891 – present             – all aspects of the history and archaeology of County Kildare
         NEWSPAPERS in Kildare Local Studies Dept. from 1763 – to present
             most important in terms of County Kildare        during your period
        Leinster Leader – 1881 – present
        Kildare Observer – 1880 – 1935
        Leinster Express – 1831 - 1884
        Nationalist and Leinster Times 1880 – 1959
        To show exactly where a place is that you are talking about
        To look at any items of interest that might be noted or recorded
         William Petty 1683
         Noble and Keenan 1752
         Alexander Taylor 1783
         Original Ordnance Survey 1837
        Images of the landscape or streets and people of a different time
         How the people dress or the type of transport they use
         How the streets of your town looked 100 years ago
Local Studies Dept.; National Library;
e.g. Photographic Archive at www.nli.ie
         Census and Valuations
         1901 and 1911 Census Returns
         Griffith’s Valuation
        www.kildare.ie/library Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives – Online Resources
        www.kildare.ie/library/ehistory LOADS OF PROJECT IDEAS!!
        Possible Projects relating to Co. Kildare from these sites
        Gordon Bennett Motor Race 1903 [Library site]
        All Ireland Football Final 1928 [Library site]
        Co. Kildare in 1837 [Library Site - Lewis]
        Kildare in 1881 – Slater’s Trade Directory [Library site]
        Naas Workhouse - Kildare and The Famine [Library site]
           Naas Workhouse website
                       Report on Athy Workhouse in 1896 on EHistory
                       Celbridge Workhouse website
            Article on First Meeting
        Burning of Palmerstown House in 1923 [EHistory]
        Naas Free Library - Opening in 1905 [EHistory]
Have a good look at all the resources on these sites and remember YOU CAN SEARCH EHISTORY for more information or possible topics
        Clongorey Evictions - book by Mary Ryan
        County Kildare in 1798 - focus on particular battle e.g.
                    Battle of Prosperous 1798 (article in Fugitive Warfare)
            –        Battle of Rathangan 1798 (article in History and Society)
            –        Battle of Ovidstown 1798 (article in Fugitive Warfare)
            –        Battle of Ovidstown 1798 (article on EHISTORY)
                  Fugitive Warfare - North Kildare in 1798 - online
        Kildare and 1916
        Kildare and the War of Independence
         Kildare and the Civil War
FOR 1916-1923 see James Durney's Book - On the One Road)
        RAF and Luftwaffe internees on the Curragh WWII (Curragh Local History Book; Guests of the Nation and also Landed in Ireland)
        Ernest Shackleton - Antartic Explorer (lots of books in library; websites)
        Mary Leadbeater - Annals of Ballitore (Annals in Local Studies Dept.)
                Memoir of Mary Leadbeater on EHistory
        King Edwards visit to Punchestown 1904 (Local Newspapers and Naas Local History Book)
        Dan Donnelly’s defeat of Cooper in 1815 (Book on Donnelly by Patrick Myler)
[An overview of resources you might use for your history project with loads of possible project ideas!]


Local history in County Kildare uses all media ... radio listeners can tune into a regular Local History Spot on Kfmradio at 97.6FM on Fridays about 1045am with Noel Shannon and Liam Kenny. The item is repeated at 0245am the following morning!


For those who missed it, John Colgan's talk, given in Maynooth last December, is being repeated to the Genealogical Society of Ireland on Tuesday, 11th March, 2008, at 8pm in the College of Further Education, Cumberland St, Dun Laoghaire. The subject is Forensic Genealogy: the origins of family names and tracing family lineage (using the Colgans of Dublin and Kildare as an example). Open to all; ample car parking and accessible by DART.

For those who missed it, John Colgan's talk, given in Maynooth last December, is being repeated to the Genealogical Society of Ireland on Tuesday, 11th March, 2008, at 8pm in the College of Further Education, Cumberland St, Dun Laoghaire.

February 14, 2008


Famous General’s Romance Revealed.
He Went To Egypt Broken-hearted
            All through his later life he was reputed to be a woman-hater. He never married. He was brief to the point of rudeness with women he had to meet. But his love for Miss Katie Kelly, farmer’s daughter whom he met when stationed at the Curragh in the late seventies, was never forgotten.
Now I can reveal their story – for the first time.
“My dear little Katie” he called her in his letters to her after they were parted. “I am only happy when I breathe the same air as she does,” he once told a friend.
With her, his sternness vanished. The rather solemn young officer relaxed, became gay, as they rode together down the green lanes that led from her home at Hill of Rathbride, near the great military plain where he was serving.
Now she lives alone, her only companion a single maidservant, in the ivy-covered farmhouse where the great soldier came to visit her, a little old lady of nearly 80.
The garden is overgrown with weeds. The paddock where they jumped the splendid hunters for which Miss Kelly and her brothers were famous needs mowing. Hens and ducks are the only inhabitants of the stables. No laughing visitors come up the lane to Hill of Rathbride now, except perhaps a distant cousin during the Curragh race week.
How They Met.
Miss Kelly had just come home from her Paris education when Kitchener arrived to join the 24th Regiment at the Curragh, then one of the principal camps of the British Army.
Her father, a gentleman farmer who had himself been a student of the Irish College in Paris, had just died. Her mother and her brothers John and Joseph were running the farm.
To Katie the brothers gave the mare Charter, daughter of the famous sire King John.
The foals of Charter were worth 100gns. a time to her. She sold them to the young officers at the nearby camp – among them the man who was to become Lord Kitchener.
That was how they met. They had been introduced by Dr. James Kavanagh, who had formerly been in Cairo, and who gave the young officer his first knowledge of the country in which he was to build up his reputation as soldier and builder of Empire.
Day after day Kitchener rode over to Hill of Rathbride from the camp. He formed a strong friendship for the brothers Kelly. For their sister his feelings soon exceeded mere friendship.
Life was gay for these tow young people.
But there was one shadow in their lives. Miss Kelly’s mother disapproved of young Kitchener paying court to her daughter. Indeed, she did not approve at all of their friendship.
For the Kellys were Catholics – and devout ones. Miss Kelly’s father had originally been intended for the Church himself. The family had a tradition of devoted loyalty to the Church of Rome.
Kitchener was a Protestant.
It was on that rock that the romance was to founder.
Mrs. Kelly’s opposition became an increasing barrier between the lovers.
The soldiers’ love for the pretty Irish country girl became more and more hopeless.
Finally he accepted an opportunity to transfer to Egypt. There, at least, was a chance of forgetting his unhappy romance in work that excited his interest.
He wrote to Katie Kelly to tell her of his decision. In some way or other the letter was withheld from her until after he had departed from the Curragh.
She first heard the news when she rode over one day and met the wife of the Provost-Marshal, Captain Burrows. She was broken-hearted, could not understand how it could have happened that he had gone with apparently, no word of explanation.
It was not until much later that she discovered that he had indeed written to her. She never discovered why the letter was delayed.
Later, too, she heard that as he flung himself on to cushions of the cab that drove him to the station the future general said bitterly that his heart was broken. For he, in his turn, could not understand why she has not replied to his letter.
They Never Met
Kitchener went to Egypt, achieved honour, fame, title.
Katie Kelly stayed in the County Kildare. Her horses brought her local fame. She was able to smile bravely.
They never met again, although after the mystery of Kitchener’s farewell letter had been cleared up they wrote to each other.
And now the British camp at the Curragh has bone; it is a new race of soldiers, the soldiers of Eire, who ride down the lanes past Hill of Rathbride. They wear uniforms that are strange to the old lady who lives there, the sole survivor of her family.
Kitchener is dead. John Kelly has been dead for three years; Joseph for 18 months.
Only Katie Kelly is left – alone with memories.

A hint of romance on the edge of the Curragh is a worthy contribution for Valentine's Day. 


[From an article donated to the library from Colette McCormack; typed and edited by Breid Kelly courtesy of Cill Dara Historical Society]

February 07, 2008


Hermann Geissel's website has many fascinating local history and heritage related photographs etc but also has links to the full text of his book A Road on the Long Ridge - In search of the Ancient Highway on the Esker Riada and for anyone with an interest in the 1798 Rebellion and its effects on Co. Kildare Fugitive Warfare which he edited and published with Seamus Cullen at the time of the bicentenary.

These full text versions available online will be of enormous benefit to students and researchers alike and are well worth a look.

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