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Leinster Leader 3 July 2008
From Dunlavin to Edenderry … local notes recall summer of ‘58

The first week in July marks the final break-up of the primary schools with associated sports days and prizegivings. This was the pattern just fifty years ago when a variety of end-of-term school functions is recorded in the local notes page of the Leader in the first week of July 1958.
Under the Kildare notes we read that ‘there was a big attendance at last Sunday’s Drill Display, staged by the pupils of the Presentation Convent, Kildare, and the display proved most successful. There were eighteen items on the programme including a most impressive final tableau and visitors expressed their appreciation of the drill and co-ordination displayed by the young gymnasts.’
Across the Curragh there was a similar emphasis on physical education in Droichead Nua where the ‘annual physical culture display at the Convent of the Holy Family also proved an outstanding success and here again parents and visitors expressed delight at the spectacle and co-ordination displayed by the young gymnasts. The instructor was Mr. E. Goddard and Mr. J. Dunny’s band supplied the music.’
Sport of another kind at school level also featured in the Droichead Nua notes that week with an enthusiastic report of the final of the Christian Brothers’ Cup between teams from the Barracks (3-7) and Pairc Mhuire (1-6). Outstanding for the winners were R. Coffey, T. Cox, P. Brennan and K.Brennan while the losers were best served by E McDonnell, P McGann, Sean McCormack and J. McCormack. And giving credit where it was due the report concluded: ‘Full marks to the Christian Brothers who organised the competition.’
Across the county boundary there was jubilation in Edenderry in that summer of ’58 when the town’s national school won the Offaly primary schools’ football championship. The Edenderry boys beat Clara by the big score of 7-9 to 2-4 much to the delight of their large following. There was jubilation in the north Offaly town when the victorious team returned from Tullamore – the local notes correspondent conveyed the sense of euphoria felt by townspeople: ‘ On the team’s return to Edenderry the band led a parade through the town and enthusiastic supporters carried team captain, James Farrell, shoulder high for almost a mile. Their cheers brought householders to their doors and they too joined in the applause. The boys were trained by Edward Moran NT, and showed superb physical fitness during a hard-fought match. Also in the parade were Fr. J.McWey, vice-chairman Offaly Schools GAA and Mr. J. Keane, Principal, Edenderry Boys’ National School.’
There was also excitement on the football field at Maynooth where the North Kildare notes recorded that ‘The seven-a-side football tournament organised by the Maynooth Gaelic club has made excellent progress and some fancied teams such as the home team, Kilcock and Dunboyne, have been seen in action.
Clearly the Maynooth organisers did not have to contend with the heavy summer cloudbursts which threatened sporting activity in other parts of Leinster.   Reporting on the Baltinglass Technical School sports the notes mention a word of thanks to Mr. Godfrey Timmins who placed his field at the disposal of the school when it was discovered that the sports field was flooded ‘after Wednesday’s torrential downpour.’
This was not the only weather-related interruption reported from West Wicklow with the local correspondent recording: ‘The torrential rain of last week caused a lot of damage to roads in West Wicklow. The Tournant road was impassable after Wednesday night’s downpour – channels about 12 inches deep having been scored into the surface.’
In South County Dublin too the weather was playing havoc with the farming plans: ‘Farmers in south county Dublin are seriously worried about the state of the meadows consequent on the heavy rain. Quite a lot of hay cut is lying unsaved and to aggravate the situation fresh growth is making its way up through the flat laying swarts.’
No doubt hoping for better weather were the members of Saggart Pioneer Association who were planning an excursion to Drogheda for later in July. They were to be joined by Pioneer groups from Bohernabreena, Newcastle and Eadestown. An elaborate programme was planned including a tour of the Boyne Valley and the Newgrange Caves. After lunch the party intended to visit the shrine of Blessed Oliver Plunkett in Drogheda and to complete the day ‘a stop will be made at Laytown strand before finally setting out for home.’
Back safely after their pilgrimage were the participants in the Naas parochial pilgrimage to Knock. Over 600 took part including 50 invalids who were looked after most efficiently by the local branch of the Knights of Malta under the charge of Adjutant J. Burke and Mrs. Brennan. Naas station then closed to passenger trains was reopened for the occasion and the pilgrimage train left Naas at 1005am stopping at Sallins, Droichead Nua and Monasterevin for further pilgrims. They reached Claremorris at 2.30pm and then travelled by bus to Knock. The ceremonies were described as ‘most impressive … Rev. L. Newman, CC, Spiritual Director, was in charge of pilgrims.’
So with a rich miscellany of sporting, weather and pilgrimage reports the local notes columns of July 1958 recorded for posterity the life and times of communities in Kildare and adjoining counties.

  Liam Kenny in his regular feature in the Leinster Leader, 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' examines the local notes of the Leader for July of 1958

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