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March 19, 2008


Dublin City Bookfair.
Venue:-             Tara Towers Hotel
Date:-                   Easter Monday,24th March,
From:-           11am –5pm
Admission:-   €2.00.
Dear Booklover,
 Our next bookfair takes place as above. There will be over 30 dealers, many of whom have not exhibited for some years so should have plenty of new/old/rare stock for your delectation.
 Listed below is a small sample from various dealers of some exceptional items, many of which are being exhibited here for the first time.
 Schull Books have:- Harold Leask’s,3 Volume “Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings” 1955,signed by author. A scarce book on Irish Altar Plate by J. J. Buckley, George Clark’s “The Irish Soldier in Europe,1585-1815, Two volume set of “History of Quadrupeds” by Thomas Pennant, pub. 1793 and a reissue of Musgrave’s “Irish Rebellion”. First republication since 1800’s.
 Laracor Books offer  :- An essay upon the State Of Architecture and Antiquities previous to the landing of the Normans in Ireland, by Louisa Beaufort. 15 Litho plates
Report to the Master of the Rolls upon the Carte and Carew papers in the Bodleian and Lambeth Libraries, London 1864 and
Leabhar an Athar Eoghan by Agnes Farrelly, Dublin 1904
 Dublin Bookbrowsers  has a very scarce signed copy of Brendan Behan’s “Borstal Boy”
 Na Linte is offering a fine selection of Beckett as follows:-
 “All That Fall” Signed, limited edition(No 4 of 25) “First Love” Published as a single sheet and again signed by Beckett and “Enough”, again a single sheet signed by Beckett.
Lyonshill Books have a first edition of “Festival at Lughnasa” and “The Huguenots and Ireland” by Caldicott.
 Parking for patrons of the bookfair is free and the hotel has a bar and refreshments are available. Children with adult are welcome and venue is wheelchair friendly. We have an ad in the Irish Times in the Fine Art section on the Saturday preceding the bookfair , so keep an eye out for it.
 Bring along your old books for a free valuation.
 Wishing all a very a happy Easter and hoping to see all our old and young friends at the fair.
Eddie and Kay Murphy, Lyonshill Books,
Barbara and Jack O’Connell, Schull Books
James Vallely, Craobh Rua Books.

March 13, 2008


National Genealogical Records Launch a Major Success
Yesterday, Wednesday 12 March 2008, saw the national launch of the Irish Family History Foundation's online research service. It was launched symbolically at the quays in Dublin, on board the Famine Ship, Jeanie Johnston, in the presence of the Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin and Ambassadors to Ireland from the U.S., Australia and Canada. Members from I.F.H.F. centres from all over the country and from various other affiliated organisations as well as representatives from the Chruches, Government Departments, Local Authorities and Libraries gathered in the bowels of the historic ship to see the service officially launched by Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Seamus Brennan and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, both of whom paid tribute to the enormous amount of work done over a long number of years and praised the great tourism potential of this truly all-Ireland initiative. 
Ministers sm.jpg
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Seamus Brennan and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, launching the service.
M.C.'s for the occasion were Fintan Mullen of the Ulster Historical Association and Senator Labhrás O’Murchú, of the Irish Family History Foundation.
 For those interested in Co. Kildare
PRESS RELEASE 12th March, 2008
Millions of Irish Genealogical Records
Now Online at http://www.irish-roots.ie/
Those wishing to trace their Irish ancestry can now access a central website dedicated to providing a one stop shop for all the available Irish genealogical records on the island of Ireland. The website is the initiative of the Irish Family History Foundation who, with its cross-border network of local centres, is the largest provider of professional family history research services in Ireland.  The website was created by BRS Systems Ltd., Belfast, and contains nearly nine million birth, baptismal, marriage and deaths records from the 1600s to the 1900s.
Minister Seamus Brennan, Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will launch this All Ireland central database of genealogical records on the Jeanie Johnston, a ship which symbolizes the many millions of Irish people and their journey to find a better life. Now their descendants in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and all points in between, wish to trace their roots in Ireland.
JJ ship small.jpg
The Jeanie Johnstown
Each county centre created a local computer database comprised of various church records of baptisms, marriages & deaths; civil records of births, deaths & marriages; Griffith’s Valuation; Tithe Applotment Books; the 1901 & 1911 census records; gravestone inscriptions, and many other sources.  Now that the bulk of the computerization of the sources has been completed by these centres, to further bring together the many millions of records as a searchable database online is a remarkable proposition.  It is now possible to offer the ability to anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world, to access and search for information on their ancestors across all the main Irish genealogical sources and to retire the original sources from general use.
Vast amounts of time, effort and money have been put into developing this resource. All of the centres operate on a strictly not for profit basis with all revenues going towards the continual improvement of the service; without these revenues the further computerization of the remaining sources will not happen. Initially, there was a searchable online site for each centre, and now there is a single search capability across all centres. The following centres have made their databases available online: Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Cork North and East, Down, Dublin North, Dublin South, Fermanagh, Galway East, Galway West, Kildare, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Louth, Limerick, Mayo North, Mayo South, Roscommon, Tipperary North, Tipperary South, Tyrone, and Westmeath. The next centres to go online will be Wicklow, Longford, Sligo and Donegal.
Senator Labhras O’Murchu says, "This database is a national treasure and an invaluable resource for Ireland in the provision of genealogical data to all those of Irish descent. The centres have received assistance from many government bodies, the churches and other organizations on both sides of the border.” Cardinal Sean Brady, along with his colleagues in the Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, has welcomed the latest development and called for the task of completing the database to be supported, as it offers those who wish to trace their family history a real chance of locating their ancestor’s origins. The database offers wonderful opportunities for promoting the island of Ireland; each county has its own website and also participates in the all Ireland central database. Many of the Diaspora do not know the county of origin of their ancestor. With the advent of a central site containing all the records of Ireland it will allow these people to finally locate their ancestor.
Co. Kildare Genealogist and IFHF Secretary with Kildare Co. Librarian, Breda Gleeson at the launch.
“Always remember in your heart these three things; whence you come, who you are and what shall become of you.”
Contact: Karel Kiely 00 353 (0) 87 2325372 e-mail: karel@irish-roots.net or Feargal O’Donnell 00 44 77 53 823989 or Senator Labhrás O’Murchú, c/o Leinster House


Leinster Leader 21 June 1958.

Naas man in U.S. Air Force

Airman Second Class Patrick D. Osborne, son of Mr and Mrs J. W. Osborne, of Craddockstown house, Naas, has recently been assigned duty as a radio maintenance technician with 1230th Airways and Air Communications service squadron, R. A. F. Station Croughton, in the English Midlands. Airman Osborne, who was well-known as an amateur jockey, will share in the responsibility of insuring constant radio communication to all NATO aircraft flying over the North Atlantic. Croughton Airways operated by the men of the 1230th AACS Squadron is the United Kingdom link in the globe-encircling network of the United States Air Force's Strategic Communications System.

Paddy emigrated to the States in December 1956. He enlisted for a four year tour of Air Force duty in January 1957, and after receiving his basic training at Lackland Air Base in Texas he was shipped to Scott Air Base in Illinois for radio maintenance fundementals school. Upon his successful completion of the radio course he was assigned to Ent Air base in Colorado Springs for his apprenticeship. Airman Osborne received his overseas orders almost a year after arriving in the United States.

From the pages of the Leinster Leader of 1958 - Former Naas amateur jockey in US Air Force

[compiled and typed by James Durney]

March 08, 2008


Stunning new book reveals new insights
on the story of ‘St. Brigid’s plains’
One of the most endearing folk-tales in the tradition of St. Brigid at Kildare is the story of how she went looking for land for her monastic foundation to a hostile local chieftain. He replied that he would only give her as much land as her cloak would cover. Brigid proceeded to drape her cloak on the ground. The parsimonious chieftain watched in amazement as Brigid’s cloak expanded many times its own size to cover a vast area of land … and that according to folklore is how we have the grand open space known as the Curragh plain.
Fanciful as the Brigid’s cloak story might be it does emphasise the truly unique accessibility of the  Curragh plain. In a country where a highly possessive landowning culture is part of the national psyche and where there is somebody to claim every square foot of Irish soil,  it is extraordinary to be able to roam, more or less freely, over some 5000 acres of open plain without challenge or obstruction.
If Brigid’s cloak created some kind of a record in the Irish legends for covering space a new book published on the Curragh plain is similarly expansive in terms of its physical dimensions. Opened out the book measures three feet by one, a big publication in terms of its sheer surface area of page. However these fine dimensions form a platform for its stunning content of maps – old and new – of the Curragh as well as reproductions of engravings, landscape paintings, architectural drawings and a multitude of colour photographs of the plain illuminating its surprisingly colourful flora and fauna.
The book is entitled ‘Cuirreach Life – the Curragh of Kildare, Ireland’ and is written by John Feehan of the School of Biology and Environmental Science in UCD who many will remember for his television programmes on the environment and archaeology of Boora bog in west Offaly. The book breaks new ground too in that it is published by UCD in conjunction with the Dept. of Defence -- a Government Department which historically has had a large footprint in Co. Kildare
Two aspects of the Curragh plain have been well published before. The Curragh racecourse and the bloodstock industry have featured prominently in many works on Kildare’s history while the military tenure on the plain has also been documented at length not least by the late Dr. Con Costello in his highly regarded work ‘A Most Delightful Station.’
Yet both facets of Curragh life are given fresh insights in Dr. Feehan’s book with a particular emphasis on quality large scale drawings and paintings. A full page reproduction of a rare painting from 1730 shows a race in full flight across the plain (no guide rails or furlong markers then) with the spectators on horseback joining in the race as it traverses a free-flowing course of four miles or so across the plain.
Again the military heritage of the Curragh is covered  with the help of striking illustrations. A particular strength of the book is its concentration on the architectural evolution of the Camp with detailed drawings, plans and photographs showing the different phases from the tented camps of the early 1800s, to the largely timber encampment of the 1850s, followed by the construction of the red-brick barracks in the late 1800s. A highlight of this section of the book is the reproduction of a set of postcards from the Royal Collection at Buckhingham Palace showing military manoeuvres including mock battles being played out on the plain . The occasion was the visit of Queen Victoria to the Curragh in August 1861 to see how her son, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was faring on an infantry training course. By all accounts the Prince did not take well to the disciplines of military life but the legacy of photographs left in the royal collections, and published here, provide a very earliest photographic glimpse of the newly established Curragh encampment of the 1850s.
However by far the most outstanding feature of the book is the way in which the author John Feehan overturns the age old assumption that the Curragh has always been a pasture plain untouched by plough of any kind. Even old wisdom and folklore referring to the Curragh have perpetuated this mythology – take for example this quote from a Latin poem ‘ Nearby is the Curragh plain, an unbroken sea of acres, That has never been wounded by the hooked plough …’.   Challenging many centuries of received wisdom  Dr. Feehan devotes a chapter showing that the Curragh is covered with ploughed ridges. Aerial photographs and ground-walking show furrow lines in the heart of the Curragh near St. Leger’s bottoms as well as towards its perimeter along Racehorse Hill, south of Donnelly’s Hollow.
Dr. Feehan shows that these extensive plough lands must predate some of the more modern features on the Curragh such as the area enclosed for the original four mile racecourse. This means that their dating must go back several centuries. And yet there is a strange contradiction with the folklore that the plains were never broken by the plough. Many scholars of the Curragh have accepted this tradition without question and yet as this new book shows the surface texture of the plain shows up easily detected evidence of extensive ploughing. The author himself points the way to a whole new way of looking at the Curragh plain following his compelling demonstration of ploughing practice on the plain: ‘ The cultivation ridge systems of the Curragh give rise to a whole suite of questions that only further investigation, both in the field and into the documentary record, can answer. Whatever their age they are of great historical interest, and add another dimension to the uniqueness and and importance of this landscape’.
As a postscript a particular mention must be made of the phenomenol maps of the modern Curragh by Comdt. Pat Healy which add greatly to the appreciation of the plain and its built and natural environment.
Reference: Cuirreach Life – the Curragh of Kildare, Ireland  by John Feehan is published by the Dept. of Defence and the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.

Liam Kenny reviews the new book by John Feehan on the Curragh of Kildare - in his regualr feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' from the Leinster Leader 7 February 2008. Our thanks to Liam.


St. Brigid – Kildare’s very own Saint
shared with a national audience
St. Brigid, whose feast day is 1st February,  is regarded as Kildare’s very own saint but one that Lilywhites share with a much wider range of devotees, Indeed Brigid ranks with Patrick as national patron of Ireland and in virtually every corner of the land there are churches, shrines and holy wells dedicated in her honour.
 Brigid has a remarkable span not just in terms of geography but also in terms of time spanned. The story that has come down through the generations is personified in the form of a woman who, in early Christian times, was the founder of a monastic foundation in Cill Dara, the church of the oak tree. Her powers and spirituality are the stuff of legend – the brát Bride, for example, her expanding cloak which covered the distinctive plain now known as the Curragh is but one example. But even the story of the Christian Brid is a mesmerising blend of folk-tales which may have their roots in the depths of pre-Christian, Celtic and pagan Ireland.
The one constant in all the stories relates to the geography of the story which certainly puts both pre Christian and early Christian elements of the Brigid story in the area we now know as modern mid County Kildare. For example a chronicler of Ireland in the 12th century, Gerard of Wales wrote ‘ At Kildare, in Leinster, celebrated for the glorious Brigid, many miracles have been wrought … the first that occurs is the fire of St. Brigid which is reported never to go out but the nuns and holy women tend and feed it.’ On the face of it this recalls the tradition of the eternal fire being carried out in Kildare to perpetuate the life and work of a Christian era Brigid. However to show that nothing in ancient Irish folk life is that simple there are deeper and older explanations for this ritual of perpetual fire. One of the recent works on the rituals of St. Brigid suggests that even the Gerald of Wales account could be influenced by practices from the ancient Latin classics which describe rituals where virgins took care of a perpetual fire in Rome. A recent discussion by Seán Ó’Duinn OSB quotes another scholar of the era, Professor Kim McCone as writing ‘the twelfth century visiting cleric, Gerald of Wales, describes a fire cult at her main church of Kildare that can hardly be other than a pre-Christian survival’.
On the question of Brigidine geography many places in Ireland claim a share in the Brigid story not least her reputed birthplace of Faughart in north Co. Louth. However Seán Ó’Duinn makes a strong case for the position of Kildare in the Brigid tradition. He points out that a line could be drawn between Cill Dara itself across to Dun Ailinne (near Kilcullen), the great Iron age fort, then north to Nás na Ríogh (home of the Leinster chieftains), and then west to Dun Almhaine (the Hill of Allen). Within this terrain the ancient fair of Carman may have taken place on Cuirreach Life or the Curragh as it is now known. Thus Cill Dara lent itself to a myriad of influences with connections to places which have archaeological and annalistic pedigrees going far back into time.
Whatever about the necessarily conjectural blending of folklore and history in the story of Brigid there can be no doubting the persistence of the folklore and craft associated with devotion to Brigid. The best known tradition is of course the St. Brigid’s Cross, the four-armed design which is most familiar to us being one of just numerous styles woven from straw and twigs in country areas ranging from Kerry to Donegal. The St. Brigid’s Cross has made its way on to prominent graphic representations in the modern era. It forms one of the designs emblazoned on the Kildare County Council coat-of-arms. It featured too until recent years as the logo of the broadcaster RTE, showing that even the symbolism of an early Christian saint, who in turn inherited ancient pagan devotion, could be adapted to the technology of modern times.
  • The beginning of Spring is now marked in Kildare town with a week long recollection of Brigidine traditions and theems under the banner of Féile Bríd. Missing from the programme this year will be the late priest and philosopher John O’Donoghue who died suddenly in early January. This writer recalls a dawn mass which he celebrated at St. Brigid’s well at Tully. It was a morning of hard frost, the thoroughbreds on the adjacent paddock silhouetted against a luminous February sunrise, their breath crystallising in the frozen air, as Fr O’Donoghue evoked in words of poetry and philosophy the spirit of the ancient Brigid devotion bringing light and discovery to a world waking from its winter darkness. May he rest in peace.
Series no: no 52

An article by Liam Kenny from his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' in the Leinster Leader of 31 January 2008 on the Patroness of the Gaels - St. Brigid. Our thanks as always to Liam. 

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