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From Knock to New York...

Leinster Leader 29 May 2008 

From Knock to New York …
arrivals and departures signalled in local notes coverage

The local notes column of the provincial papers is a treasury of nuggets of information which are prized in later years for the insight they give into the events and happenings of significance in local communities.  The local notes column of the Leister Leader of the last day of May, 1958 is just one example of their value as a source.
Under the heading ‘Naas District’ a note announced one of the last passenger train services to leave the mothballed Naas station. The occasion was the annual parochial pilgrimage to Knock scheduled for 22 June when it was expected that large numbers would participate. The train would also take on pilgrims at Sallins, Newbridge and Monasterevan. Tickets were obtainable at the Committee Room in the Town Hall, Naas, on every Friday night from 8pm to 9pm.  The Naas branch railway which had rarely seen a train since 1947 was to close finally in early 1960.
Travel of a maritime kind was mentioned in a note headlined ‘Off to America’ which related ‘Tomorrow via the Cunard liner, Britannic, Mr. Gerald Howard, youngest son of Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Howard, Newbridge Road, Naas, will leave Cobh on his way to New York where he will join his aunt. He later intends to travel to California where his sister, Alice, has resided for some years.’  It was clear from the remainder of the report that while the loss of the talented Naas lad would be California’s gain the young emigrant would feel at home with the possibility of meeting up with some other Naas ex-pats in the US: ‘Gerry, who has spent some time in England, was a well-known boy Soprano. Incidentally in New York he will probably have the opportunity of meeting Naas men Hubie Thompson and Christy Burke who emigrated within the past year.’ And while focussed on the personality the note gives an insight into the emigrant pattern of the day with emigration to England and the States touching many Kildare households.
Also on the move but to a closer destination was a member of the Naas Garda Force. Under the heading ‘Transferred’ we are told that Garda Andy Hallisey had left Naas for Leighlinbridge. During his time in Naas he had played with the senior GAA side and at his last game on the Sunday before his departure the Secretary of Naas GFC, Eddie Marum,  praised Garda Hallissey’s unfailing loyalty to the Naas club.
Another man who was on the receiving end of honours as recorded by the Naas notes of 31 May 1958 was definitely staying put. Under the heading ‘Presentation’ we learn that the case-room (typesetting) staff of the Leader had made a presentation of a smoking set to Mr. Arthur Harvey, President of the Naas Branch of the Typographical Association to mark his 45th year of service with the Leader. Mr. Ger Durney, Works Foreman, congratulated Mr. Harvey on his long service

Away from Naas the tapestry of comings and goings was well documented with the occasional news item highlighting how in the Ireland of the 1950s visitors from America were considered sufficiently exotic to merit recording in the local paper. Under the ‘West Wicklow’ notes column for instance we are told that ‘An interested visitor to Dunlavin recently was Mr. Dick Gilchrist of the United States Air Force who came with his wife and young son to see the birthplace of his father, the late Mr. Richard Gilchrist of Tournant. Mr. Gilchrist is stationed in Germany near the Luxemburgh border. His wife is a native of New York. In their own car, carrying a United States army registration they toured the West Wicklow area and met a number of relatives.’
Whether the touring Gilchrists had time to taken in another Dunlavin attraction is not recorded but certainly they would have been rewarded with the best in West Wicklow’s traditional musicians had they been able to get along to an ‘excellent programme of music and dancing which was presented by Comhaltas in the Imaal Hall.  The note in the West Wicklow column tells us that the ‘Dunlavin and Donard troupe gave an exhibition of ceili dancing and Miss Bridget Murphy, Dunlavin, sang a selection of Irish airs. Breda Kelly and Margaret Molloy danced a hornpipe and Paul Flynn also danced a number of traditional steps.’’ Not alone was the performing talent first-rate but so too was the costume department: ‘Mrs. Patrick Corrigan, received great praise for the way in which the local dance troupe was turned out. She organised a sewing circle in her own home at which the young dancers learned to embroider their costumes for the occasion. Mr. Thomas Walsh and musicians from Donard, Dunlavin, Kiltegan and Dublin provided an excellent and varied programme of traditional music.

Music and dance was also on the local notes agenda just north of the Kildare county boundary according to a report in the ‘South Dublin’ notes of a dance held in St. Finan’s Hall, Newcastle which according to the correspondent ‘ was the first held in Newcastle for a considerable time’.  The event held in aid of the Finglas boy’s club featured a waltz competition with the adjudication being decided by popular vote of the attendance. The winners with 38 votes were a Finglas couple while runners-up just one vote behind were ‘ Mr. P Duggan and Miss Patricia Kenny of Newcastle.’
And on that perhaps romantic note our review of the local notes and news from the districts as reported in the issue of 31 May 1958 draws to a close.
Series No. 69

Liam Kenny examines the local notes section of the Leinster Leader of 1958, in his regular feature, 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' Leinster Leader 29 May 2008.

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