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February 27, 2009


Leinster Leader November 20 2008
Tally ho! Hunting brigade begin new season at Johnstown
One of the seasonal items that were published in the local press at this time of year was the hunting notes. These were detailed descriptions of hunt days including a full account of the path through the countryside followed by the hounds. They were also of interest in that they listed out the members of the hunt who participated – thereby giving future generations a glimpse into the elite circles that made up the hunt membership.
The hunting reports appeared consistently in the local papers from the 1880s to the 1950s and were written in a particular style which painted a compelling picture for the reader of the day’s events. A typical report is that which appeared in a Leinster Leader issue of November 1958 describing the inaugural meet of the Kildare Hunt for the season which assembled the Johnstown Inn. It was reported that Sir George Brooke, son of the former Master, the late Sir Francis Brooke of Pickering Forest in Celbridge, was the new master with Major and Mrs. M.W.Beaumont. There was no change in the hunt staff with Jack Hartingan hunting the hounds, E. Dunphy first whip and Joe Lenehan, second whip. The hunt horses were turned out in the best of condition by J. Reilly, Stud Groom.
The attendance at the meeting reads like a veritable who’s who of Kildare society at the time. Among those present were Col. C. Clements, Hunt Honorary Secretary, and Mrs. Clements; Col H. Clements, Miss K. Clements, Lady Brooke, Mr. & Mrs. C.Odlum, Major and Mrs. Mainguy, Miss Wolfe, Lord and Lady Carew, Honorable Diana Carew; Mr. & Mrs. AL Moore, Mrs Sweetman, Mrs. B.J. O’Kelly, Rev. B. Handy and Mrs. Handy; Mr & Mrs. Ian Martin; Capt. and Mrs. F.B. Barton, Mrs. Vigors, Miss Shackleton, Mr. P.Doyle, Mr & Mrs. W.Odlum, the Missess Horsburghs, Miss. C. Freeman, Baron & Baroness de Robeck, Mrs. O’Brien Butler, Mr & Mrs Urquhart, Mr. P Ellis; Col. Hume Dudgeon; Capt. & Mrs. H. de Burgh; Major & Mrs. J. de Burgh; Miss Betty O’Kelly; Mr. and Mrs. Poulter; Col. D. Darley; Mr & Mrs. McEnroe; Miss Whitton, Miss Dixon, Mr. H. Young, Mrs. Maxie Cosgrove, Miss Colgan, Mr & Mrs. C O’Neill, Mr and Mrs W. MacAuley, Miss R. de Burgh, Mr. W. Osborne, Major and Mrs. Harvey; Mr. and Mrs F. Meagher; Mr & Mrs. A Lawlor, Mrs. H. Reeves, Mrs. P. Powell, Mr. P. McCreery and Mr. J. Fletcher.
All the omens were good for this distinguished assembly on horse back to look forward to a promising hunting season. It was reported that after a most successful cubbing season, prospects for the season were very promising. Foxes were plentiful and seventeen and a half couples of young hounds had been introduced magnificently to the pack of the Kildares.
And what of the inaugural hunt of the 1958 season? The itinerary taken by the pack is set out in pacy detail preserving for posterity the names of landowners and localities. The first hunt was at Forenaghts covert where the pack failed to flush any foxes. Finding in Mr. Jones’ wood hounds ran fast across his land and on to Mr. John Doyle’s farm where they marked their fox to ground in an old badger earth.
Furness covert held a brace. Selecting one, hounds pushed him out and ran nicely to Church Wood before turning left-handed by Woolpack Hill, and back through Furness, on to Westown. Bearing left again they hunted beautifully through Forenaghts covert to Tipper West, before coming back through Forenaghts and Westown to Furness Covert where they marked to ground after a very nice hound hunt lasting fifty minutes. A fox found in Arthurstown was marked to ground in covert.
The hunting set was virtually full time at the pursuit during the season with three or four meets a week being the pattern. Indeed just two days after the Johnstown hunt the Kildares were back in the saddle this time at Dunlavin. After partaking of Miss Tynte’s hospitality at Tynte Park, the hounds moved off to draw Glenduff. Finding in this good covert the hounds were soon away and ran fast on a much improved scent across Mr. Kincade’s and Mr. Fay’s land. Crossing the Baltinglass to Dublin road the hounds galloped all the way to the new forestry at Castleruddery. Here the hounds had to be stopped in falling light before entering this spacious woodland ‘ after a capital forty minutes.’
What the unfortunate foxes thought of being pursued across the country is not recorded.                                                                
 Series No. 94

Liam Kenny in his regular Leader feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun' examines the coverage of the activities of the Kildare Hunt in the Leinster Leader of November 1958.


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

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


Leinster Leader 6th November 2008
Harvest season celebrated in church services from the Curragh to Carnalway
In our modern world where we are removed to a great extent from the sources of food production the harvest season does not have the same significance as it had in the days when people had closer ties to the land. The importance of the harvest has long been highlighted in the Church of Ireland liturgy with the holding of the harvest festival prayer services. An issue of the Leinster Leader of November 1958 recalls in atmospheric detail the liturgy at three such festivals in Co. Kildare.
St. Paul’s Garrison Church on the Curragh Camp upheld its traditional beauty in the line of decorative taste and seasonal variety for the opening of the Festival of the Harvest. The Service was conducted in part by the chaplain, the Rev. F.W.R Knowles MA, and the Rev. JGW Beresford, MC, MA. The lessons were read by the Rev. JSG Stronge. BA, and the guest preacher was the Venerable C M Kerr, MA, Archdeacon of Elphin and Ardagh, a personal friend of the Rev. Knowles.
Basing his sermon on the biblical text ‘What is man that thou art mindful of him’ the Archdeacon said thanksgiving is a very essential part of worship.
Mrs. N. Gannon was the organist. The opening Service was followed by an enjoyable tea in the hall at which Rev. Stronge expressed thanks to the efficient ladies’ committee for their hospitality. A vote of thanks was also passed by the Archdeacon for the greatly appreciated address.
In the county town the preparations had been similarly elaborate for the annual harvest festival. One of the largest congregations and the most elaborate scheme of floral and harvest decoration ever remembered were features at the opening Service of Harvest Thanksgiving in St. David’s Church, Naas. The decorative array was extended to the entrance of the edifice and on the end of every pew hung a large sheaf of corn. The lessons were read by Rev. FWR Knowles MA, Chaplain to the Forces and the special preacher, the Rev. E.A. Crawford, Professor of Education in Dublin University. The Service was conducted by the Rev. B.W.N Walsh, MA, assisted by Rev. E.H.Despard, BD. A beautiful anthem was sung by an augmented choir representing almost every parish in the diocese, arrangements for which were ably carried out by the Naas organist, Mrs. A. J Barber. Solo parts were sung by Mrs. P. Metcalfe and Mrs. D. Coe, both from Monasterevin. Other clergy in robes were the Rev. Chancellor B.L.Handy, MA; the Rev. W J Moynan, BA, and the Rector, the Rev. JCW Beresford who pronounced the Blessing. The Service was followed by tea in the Town Hall.
 On the Sunday following a large congregation attended the closing Service, which was conducted by the Rector. The Lessons were ready by General Sir Eric de Burgh and Col. E.P. Lloyd.
One of the most picturesquely situated churches in the county was another venue for a special liturgical service at that harvest time of 1958. The opening of the Festival of Harvest Thanksgiving took place in St. Patrick’s Church, Carnalway on Friday of last week when the lovely little roadside church was beautifully decorated for the praise, glory and honour of God. The Service was conducted by the Rev. J S C Stronge, BA, Rector of Dunlavin and the Rector of Carnalway, Rev. A.K. Palmer, MA, BAI. The Lessons were read by the Rev. Canon JBS McGinley, MA, Rector of Athy and the Rev. J B Evans Gregory, Rector of Stradbally.
In his address the special preacher, the Rev. Canon R.R. Hartford, DD, MRIA, Regius Professor of Divinity at TCD, stressed the lack of gratitude on the part of people living in cities and towns in comparison to those in the country who actually witness the wonderous work of God manifest in the fields season by season. Very often, he said, people not living in the country when they cut open tinned products in the line of fruit and vegetables, merely take them for granted and seldom take even time to realise these as gifts and blessings from God grown from the land which he has made fruitful.
 Mrs. K. Jackson presided at the organ and shared a worthy tribute paid to the choir by Dr. Hartford. The Service was followed by tea in the school. 
Series no. 92.

Liam Kenny, in his regular Leader feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun' reflects on how the importance of the harvest has long been highlighted in the Church of Ireland liturgy with the holding of the harvest festival prayer services. He cites an issue of the Leinster Leader of November 1958 which recalls in atmospheric detail the liturgy at three such festivals in Co. Kildare.

February 21, 2009


Archibald Nevins
Ciaran O'Reilly
Archibald Nevins: Kildare Born merchant and ship-owner
Archibald Nevins was born at Arkill, Carbury in county Kildare in 1782, the second surviving son of Archibald Nevins, and his second wife Grace Penrose; married Jane____ and they had four children. He died 21 October 1812 in St Johns Newfoundland.
He was the fifth of eleven children; four of whom died as infants. He was the son of a substantial Quaker farmer, and his roots in his native county extend back to the early part of the eighteenth century when his great grand father moved from county Antrim to Edenderry, King’s County. In 1800 his father died and his mother took the family to Waterford, where a number of relatives lived. Before his debt his father had sublet a lot of land in King’s County and in Kildare. This rent and from other Nevin lands amounted to thousands and it was used to establish Thomas the eldest brother in Waterford’s extensive overseas trade, in which there uncle William Penrose was prominent since the 1770s.
In Waterford Nevins bought the most desirable property on the quays and set up trading with Newfoundland and was there beside his Penrose cousins who had succeeded their father. In 1803 Archibald himself formed a mercantile partnership with another Quaker George Newsom from Waterford. This was unsuccessful and they dissolved in the same year. In 1804 he moved to Arklow and joined his uncle Thomas Penrose in the flour milling trade. In 1805 assisted by his family he moved to Carlow where he established a tan yard. Between 1806 and August 1808 he moved to St John’s Newfoundland. There he began to ship cod, cod oil, timber and other commodities to Thomas in Waterford who in 1807 was joined in business by their younger brothers Pim and Penrose.
The company employed at least one vessel, called the Peggy exclusively in the passenger and provisions trade between Waterford and St John’s. It was going this route since 1804 and under the Nevin’s family it made at least four trips a year, bringing from Waterford salted pork, butter, bread, flour, porter, soap, candles and other items including salt from Thomas refinery to salt the fish at the other end. They also transported to other merchants in St John’s. They also received commission from other Irish and Canadian merchants for carrying their goods back and forth across the sea. His premises was located in St John’s busy business district and apart from traditional Irish produce he also offered American beef, and butter, rum and molasses from the West Indies, tea, sugar and tobacco from British suppliers, wine , brandy, and gin from continental Europe. They also carried passengers, young men and women, and often whole families who migrated to Canada and were hired in the rapidly increasing fishing industry for the summer months. In April 1807 the Peggy brought 70 adults at £6 per person. Once in Newfoundland Nevins would direct them to their employment, collect their fares in full. In 1808 he bought a 30 year old Newfoundland brig, The Success. Much of his trade was with the Scottish and Irish communities who had established themselves along the Canadian coastline.
By 1811 however owing to his inability to collect debts from people, writs were issued against him to the cost of £2,700. The court proceedings had not finished when he died tragically on the 12 October 1812. While attempting to rescue another man in trouble in the harbour he fell and fractured his skull. The Royal Gazette and Newfoundland Advertiser reported that he had been a kind and affectionate husband and parent. His younger brother Robert went to St Johns and continued the business until 1817 when a fire destroyed the premises. Thomas then focused on the North American passenger trade to the city of Quebec and the continent timber export business.
About Nevins it has been concluded that he ‘was of no importance politically and his commercial career can hardly be considered a success’.
There is no evidence of any other Quaker merchant family from Waterford taking up residence in Newfoundland to cater for the trade in both directions.
[Taken from John Mannion’s entry in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, pp 623-25]


Mario Corrigan, Kildare Library: Below are entries of the Nevins family enrolled in the Ballitore Quaker School - presumably these are some of the family mentioned above - Archibald, his younger brothers Pim and Penrose and their father Archibald.

John Nevins 23 January 1742 (this entry is included under 1741 but at the end of the column after December and therefore most likely relates to 1742).
Archibald Nevins 15 January 1764
Pim Nevins 10 January 1775
Thomas Nevins 31 March 1790
Archibald Nevins 9 May 1793
Pim Nevins 9 May 1793
Penrose Nevins 8 March 1796
Thomas Pim Nevins 23 March 1822



An interesting note from Ciaran O'Reilly, on Archibald Nevins from Ardkill, Carbury, Co. Kildare who became a merchant ship-owner in Canada.


Leinster Leader 30 October 2008

Archbishop opens magnificent Athy school with a golden key
The formidable Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. McQuaid, visited one of the farther reaches of his archdiocese in October 1958 when he travelled to Athy to open the ‘most beautiful, spacious primary school in rural Ireland.’ The magnificent two-storey building, provided by Athy Sisters of Mercy at a cost of over £100,000.
The front page report in the Leader spared nothing in the way of laudatory vocabulary in praising the setting and design of Athy’s new school. Situated on a slightly elevated site in the Convent of Mercy grounds, the school looks out upon a broad expanse of gently rolling countryside north and east of the town. The huge, many-windowed edifice, with its large walled-in concrete playgrounds, in which circular pillars support roomy playsheds, stands amid macadam-carpeted paths and carefully tended lawns.
Nearby was the old primary school, rendered unsuitable by the ravages of time, and by the big increase in the number of pupils and by modern educational needs and requirements. There was great local continuity in the construction of the old and new schools. The late Mr. Daniel Carbery, senior, Athy, had built the old sixty-five years previously; the local firm of Messrs D.J.Carbery Ltd., which he founded and directed for many years, erected the new one. The architects for the new school were the Dublin firm of Messrs. O’Connor & Aylward.
The tremendous commitment of the Sisters of Mercy to Athy was lauded in the article fifty years ago. The new primary school marked a turning point in the illustrious history of Athy Convent of Mercy. It was 106 years since the convent was established in the town. Throughout those years the sisters had worked unsparingly, suffered and sacrificed, to promote the spiritual and educational welfare of the Catholic children of the district. One of the difficulties they had to contend with for many years was to find accommodation for about 800 pupils in a primary school built in 1893 to accommodate 440 children.  Now that they had achieved their long held hope of a new school the whole of Athy joined in celebration.
On the day of the blessing and opening ceremony Athy town presented a picture of gaiety and rejoicing. Over the roadways hung line after line of coloured bunting and from the windows of the houses flew flags and banners.  Archbishop McQuaid was greeted on his arrival at the new school by Rev. Vincent Steen, PP, Athy, and the convent Superioress, Rev. Mother of the Sacred Heart. There was a magnificent spectacle as over 1,000 girls of the convent primary and secondary schools, resplendent in their uniforms, lined the walks to form a guard of honour for his Grace.
A golden key, presented by the architects, was used by the Archbishop to open the school after which he blessed the building. He was attended by Father Steen, and three Athy curates Frs. L. Redmond, J. Cunneen and F. Mitchell.
The article went on to describe the up-to-date design of the new building with modern facilities for the full range of subjects. The school, which took two years to build, had eighteen classrooms; a domestic economy room equipped with a range, electric cooker and gas cooker; a library and reading rooms; administration offices; teaching staff rooms and cloakrooms. There was accommodation in the new building for 800 pupils.
A feature of the school was the beautiful assembly hall, which had a maple floor, permanent stage and dressing rooms, modern stage lighting equipment and curtains. The hall had seating for some 400.
In the afternoon of the opening ceremony there was luncheon for some seventy guests. There was sustained applause when ‘Athy’s beloved Meath-born parish priest, Very Rev. V. Steen’ who presided, heartily congratulated the Sisters of Mercy on their courage in building such a magnificent school.
Another speaker at the luncheon gave a fascinating insight into the shifts of identity which the nuns had to grapple with in their early years of setting up education in Athy. Mr. Fitzgerald, Assistant Secretary of the Dept. of Education, told an interesting story about the old days when the British established National Education Board of the 19th century supervised school provision in Ireland. The Board, he said, had not recognised Nuns as such, and in the Board’s records for 1893 the then Reverend Mother of Athy convent of Mercy was described as Mrs. Margaret Slevin . Whatever about their difficulties with old officialdom the records showed that right from the beginning excellent work was done by the Mercy community, in spite of a gross lack of accommodation. Now they had a school which was a credit to them, to Athy … and to the country.


Liam Kenny in his regular feature, 'Nothing New Under the Sun, in the Leinster Leader of 30 October 2008, looks at the opening of the Sister of Mercy primary school in Athy in October 1958 by Archbishop McQuaid.


Leinster Leader 23 October 2008
Gaels rally in Kilcock to bid farewell to football stars

The departure of two Kildare football stars for the United States brought a great crowd of Gaels to St. Coca’s Hall in Kilcock in October 1958. There was a big attendance representing many clubs in the county when a farewell dinner was given to Kilcock and Kildare footballers, Larry McCormack and Noel Moran, in St. Coca’s Hall, Kilcock.
It was the occasion also of the presentation of medals to the Kilcock team, football champions for the second year in succession and the third time in four years.
Mr. Liam Geraghty, Chairman of the County Board, said that it was a pleasure for him to come to the function along with County Secretary, Mr. T. Clarke and Mr. Tom Lawler of the County Board. It was good to see so many Gaels from various parts of the county gathered together for this auspicious dinner and presentation. He was glad to see the revered Parish Priest, Very Reverend Father O’Meara, the Christian Brothers, and their old friend Mr. Rory O’Donnell present.
On behalf of the County Board he extended congratulations to Kilcock on winning the county championship, doubly rewarding since it was the second championship in succession won by Kilcock. He expressed regret that two such fine footballers and sportsmen as Larry McCormack and Noel Moran should be leaving for America but he wished them the best of luck in their adopted land. What was Kildare’s loss would be America’s gain.
Mr. T.P. Clarke, Kildare County Board Secretary, said it was very sad that these two men should be leaving the county. He recalled the early glories of Kilcock in the Gaelic football annals and he remembered coming to Kilcock in 1916 or 1917 and the only one he knew then was the late Tommy Kelly. Kilcock was only a small corner of county Kildare but they had nothing to learn as regards football, or how it should be played, and it was a remarkable feat that they were able to supply so many players to the county team. In every game the Kilcock men were foremost and today they had brilliant footballers from Kilcock again.
He recalled that against Louth some years ago Noel Moran played a wonderful and dominating game at centrefield. Subsequently Larry McCormack, at Mullingar, even outdid that great performance, Kildare achieving Leinster honours and failing only in the semi-final.
There was praise for Kilcock too from neighbouring Gaels, rivals on the sporting field but friends in promoting the interest of Gaelic games. Mr. Joe Foxe of the Leixlip club stated that Kilock and Leixlip had been great rivals but at the same time were the greatest friends. Kilcock, he remarked, were a great body of sportsmen and played like sportsmen and none were greater than Larry McCormack and Noel Moran, not forgetting that staunch and capable mentor, Addy Higgins. He wished good luck to Kilcock, who had done so much to keep the flag of Kildare flying.
Mr. Jim Mackey, Kildare Round Towers, the defeated finalists, said that the Round Towers admitted that they were beaten by a better team. But winning wasn’t everything and Kildare would continue to play the game in all their engagements.
Mr. John Dunphy, Celbridge, stated that he was delighted to see Kilcock winning just as much as he would like to see his own team winning. Father O’Meara then presented the County Championship medals to the members of the Kilcock team. The medal recipients were P. Gibbons (captain), M. Foley (vice-captain), T. Hanrahan, D. Gleeson, B O’Connell, Noel Moran, T. Golden, P. Maguire, F. Gibbons, P.Flynn, L. McCormack, B. Maguire, P. Daly, A. Byrne, D. Dalton, P. Fitzsimons, Phil Keene, John Quinn, Joe Breen and P. Holmes.
And the GAA festivities finished with a flourish when one of the emigrating pair, Noel Moran, led off an impromptu concert with the well-known item ‘The Boys from the County Armagh.’ Other vocalists were Jack Barnes, Tom Golden, John Dunphy and Danny Gleeson, with Tommy Lube at the piano.  So on that note, the Kilcock men displayed their full range of talents, sporting and choral as they said farewell to two of their local heroes and county footballing stars.

The Leinster Leader report on the departure of two Kildare football stars for the United States in October 1958 is examined here by Liam Kenny in his regular column 'Nothing New Under the Sun.'

February 14, 2009


Leinster Leader 16/10/2008
Hurling has often been seen as the ‘Cinderella’ of Gaelic games in Co. Kildare in contrast with the attention lavished down through the years on the football side of the Gaelic code. However the late autumn of 1958 brought a boost for the hurling activists in the county with the arrival of three items of silverware. As the Leader report noted ‘ Three trophies added to the fine cup presented by Mr. David Dennis, for the under 14 years league, and a set of medals for a minor league by Mr. Tom Dooley, hurley manufacturer of Mountrath made 1958 a memorable year for the hurling board.’
The cup for the senior championship was donated by the Kildaremen’s Association in Dublin. The Chairman of the Association, Mr. Burchill, travelled from Dublin to make the presentation, and addressing the County Board meeting, he said that with other members of the Kildare Association who were present at the County Convention earlier that year, he was delighted with the evident keenness the Hurling Board showed in their efforts to promote hurling in Kildare. On discussing with the Kildare committee in Dublin the results of the Hurling Convention it was decided that the Kildare men in Dublin would take a practical step to promote the game of hurling in the county.
The need for a trophy gave them an excellent opportunity to be associated with the promotion of the game, and, through the generosity of their members who contributed to its purchase, it was a happy occasion for him to be able to present the cup for the senior championship. He hoped that it would prove to be an incentive to the youth of the county to take part in the game, and, maybe some day in the future bring All-Ireland honours in the code to Kildare.
The cup was accepted on behalf of the Hurling Board by the Chairman, Lieut. T. N. Leyne, who thanked the Kildaremen’s Association for the gift of such a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. He called on all football clubs to consider entering a hurling team in the Juvenile or Under 14 competitions of 1959. He said that most of Kildare’s present hurling lineout are better known as footballers, which is sufficient evidence of the value of one game to the other.
A very fine cup for the junior championship was handed over to the Hurling Board by the GAA County Board chairman Mr. Liam Geraghty who had received it from the Officer Commanding Curragh Training Camp, Col. A.T.Lawlor, who in turn had donated it on behalf of the Army personnel in the Curragh Camp.
In the unavoidable absence of the donor, Mr. John Mahon of Claregate Street, the County Board Chairman also presented the Hurling Board with another exceptionally fine cup for the minor championship. The Chairman thanked Mr. Mahon for his gift which would be very much appreciated by the minors in the county and should prove a great incentive to clubs to enter teams in this grade. Mr. Mahon who is an ardent football supporter, had taken a keen interest in hurling during the past few years especially in the minor and juvenile grades.
And even the most knowledgeable GAA supporter in Kildare might have been surprised to learn that a senior All-Ireland Final had taken place in the county. This occasion was recalled when there was a proposal that the County Board should promote a 50th anniversary game of the 1908 All-Ireland final between Tipperary and Dublin which had been played at Athy. It was unanimously agreed that a commemoration would be of immense value to hurling in Kildare and it would be a great honour to a ‘weak’ hurling county such as Kildare to have the All-Ireland champions give an exhibition. It was also a happy co-incidence that Dublin’s 1958 hurlers were almost at the crest of a wave at that time having the most promising team in years so that a fitting commemoration game would be a certainty.

In his regular Leinster Leader feature 'Nothing New Under The Sun', Liam Kenny recounts how Kildare hurling received a welcome boost in the Autumn of 1958, with the arrival of three items of silverware.


Leinster Leader 9/10/2008
Municipal matters in the county town got a prominent airing in a Leader issue of October 1958. The opening shot in a debate on traffic dangers in Naas was fired by council member, Comdt. Guiney, at the meeting of the Urban Council. The Councillor said that nobody was safe crossing the streets as the cars and lorries came racing through the main streets without the slightest slowing down of speed. Conveying an image of a traffic free-for-all in Naas, in the era prior to speed limits, Comdt. Guiney said that anyone would imagine that motorists would slow down to a reasonable rate coming into the town. There should be some consideration at least for children and old people who could only attempt a crossing at the risk of their lives.
Cllr. James Lawler added an even more personal experience to the issue. He said that coming to the meeting on the night he had to jump for it when crossing the street as a motorist blazed his lights on only a hundred yards away.
Cllr. Barney Smyth inquired if there was any possibility of imposing a speed limit. Council Chairman, Cllr. T.G. Dowling, said the council had tried that before but failed. Cllr. G. Muldoon said that the council could put up a notice requesting motorists to cut down their speed to 20 miles per hour going through the town.. The Acting Co. Manager, Mr. Joseph Boland, said that the matter would probably be dealt with under a new Road Traffic Act.
Cllr. Barney Smyth said that three children had been injured recently in road accidents. Cllr. William Daly mentioned that he knew of a man who narrowly escaped with his life whilst crossing the road. Cllr. James Lawlor remarked that the only sign posts the council could effectively put up were ones carrying a penalty. Cllr. Jack Lawler suggested that the erection of bollards would help pedestrians crossing the streets and, in an attempt to be humorous, he remarked that pedestrians could hop from one bollard to another – a comment which drew laughter from his council colleagues.
Cllr. Fitzsimons said employees coming out of factories on the Newbridge Road were being put in grave danger by speeding motorists. In reply to Cllr. Smyth the Co. Manager said that the Chief Superintendent had agreed that there would be special Garda supervision when children were leaving schools at the Fair Green.
An interesting glimpse into housing plans in Naas was revealed as councillors questioned the Co. Manager on the identity of the architect appointed for the proposed housing scheme at the Sheep Fair Field in Naas (between the Kilcullen and Ballymore Eustace roads). The Co. Manager said the name of the firm of architects had been sent to the Dept. of Local Government for sanction and the matter was confidential.
Continuing the discussion as to how sites should be completed, Cllr. Fitzsimons said that they shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the entire site should be developed. They had experience of other housing schemes where they were left with hills and hollows, about which they could do nothing. The Chairman Cllr. T. G. Dowling said that in connection with the housing scheme at Sarto Road had the council been more fortunate they could have included the filling in of the canal harbour and the continuation of a roadway across it. It is interesting to note that for a number of years the UDC had a plan to fill in the canal harbour (treasured in modern times as an amenity).
Cllr. Fitzsimons said that the finest scheme the Council had completed was at St. Conleth’s Place but nevertheless, they had made a very obvious mistake in that people had to pass through the sittingroom to go to the kitchen. He suggested that people should be able to view the actual house that they were going to erect in the new scheme. Cllr. Jack Lawler said that the council houses could not compare with the beautifully laid out houses of the Electricity Supply Board at St. Gabriel’s Place. However, the Council’s Town Clerk, Mr. J.P. Whyte, was quick to point out that these houses had cost £2,200 each to build which was way beyond the council’s range.
At the same meeting Cllr. William Callaghan inquired if the vacant sites at New Row and Mill Lane were for sale following the demolition of the old houses at the locations. The Co. Manager, Mr. Joseph Boland, said that the sites could be offered for sale but a re-orientation of the road at the corner leading to Mill Lane would have to be made. Cllr. Fitzsimons suggested that the council should be in no rush to sell the sites because ‘ if we had done that with the Sheep Fair Field we could have no housing scheme there now.’

In his regular Leader feature 'Nothing New Under The Sun,' Liam Kenny examines the Leinster Leader for October 1958 and finds that traffic management and housing plans for Naas were the issues under discussion at a meeting of the Urban Council. 


Leinster Leader 2/10/2008 
The Church of Ireland community has always had a significant presence in Co. Kildare, the Leader from time to time carried reports of harvest festivals and other liturgical events held under its auspices.
Two such events featured in an issue of the paper in early October 1958. In the first, representatives of nearly every neighbouring parish turned out to meet their beloved Archbishop, the Rev. George Otto Simms, when he visited St. Michael’s Church, Millicent, Clane. The occasion was the Pastoral Dedication Festival and the Church was decorated with a wealth of autumnal floral splendour. That together with the unique magnificence of the interior of the edifice rendered a very impressive background as the procession of sixteen robed clergy, headed by the St. Michael’s Choir boys wended their way up the isle to take their respective places at the East end.
The Service was conducted in part by the Rector, the Rev. Chancellor B.L.Handy MA and the Rev. R.J.J.F McConchy, BD, rector of All Saints, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. The Lessons were read by the Rev. W. Burrows, MA, Rector of Crumlin, and the Rev. W.F. Reid, Rector of Carbury. Miss Frances Moore of Greystones was congratulated on her proficient organ accompaniment.
Dr. Simms in his homily drew inspiration from the landscape between Sallins and Clane. Speaking on the text ‘Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord’ Dr. Simms said it could be any person walking from Sallins who might ascend the hill on which this most beautiful church stands, surrounded by its exquisitely maintained grounds, and gazing across to the wonderful mountains could not, unless he was very dull in mind be anything else but uplifted in spirit. Then as their church, like the beautiful old Mother Church of St. Brigid in Kildare has the Christianity and ever open door, he might enter, pause a while and find rest and holy quietude from the busy world outside.
At the conclusion of the service his Grace pronounced the Blessing and after the Service, Chancellor and Mrs. Handy entertained all to tea in the rectory.
There was coverage too of another Church of Ireland worship – this time at the Garrison Church, Curragh Camp, which was filled to capacity each night for the Parochial Mission, held under the auspices of the Church Army. The guest speakers were Capt. W. Deane Stewart, Capt. R. Boyd, assisted by Brother J. Stewart (Members of the Irish Church Army). During this most memorable week, in addition to eloquent addresses, a series of informative coloured slides was screened, showing much of the work done by the Church Army in the British Isles and Africa. A visit of the Male Voice Choir was greatly appreciated and on the Friday His Grace the Archbishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Simms (already mentioned in connection with Millicent) gave the address. Tea was served on several nights during the mission. The Benediction was pronounced each night by the Rector, the Rev. F.W.R. Knowles, MA, Chaplain to the Forces. The vocalist was Miss D. Cowell (Dublin) and the organists were Mrs. N. Gannon and Mrs. K. Jackson. Clergy in attendance included the Very. Rev. H.B. Eaton, MA, Dean of Kildare; Rev. Precentor R. Watson, MA; Rev. J S Stronge, BA; Rev. JE Gregory BA; Rev. Dr. Emerson and Rev. A. Wilson BD.
Still on a clerical note, but this time in relation to Catholic Church personnel, there is a report of a function in Crookstown Hall to bid bon voyage to Fr. Tony Bell as he prepared to leave for France. Fr. Bell, a native of Ballitore, was ordained last June in Bordeaux and had been home on holiday in south Kildare. He was returning to France as Professor of English and Geography at the junior seminary in Achen in the south of the country.
Very. Rev. M. Gleeson, PP, on behalf of the people of the parish presented him with a wallet of notes as a mark of their appreciation. In a very interesting address Fr. Gleeson spoke of the conditions in France today and of the pressing need for more Catholic priests for the French mission. Others who paid tribute to Fr. Bell were Rev. J. Kelly, CC; Mr. W.G. Doyle, NT, Moone; and Mrs. W. J O’Connor, former principal of Crookstown national schools where Fr. Bell received his earlier education. And, as always, at the culmination of every church function the ladies committee took over and a highly enjoyable social and tea followed in Crookstown Hall.

Liam Kenny, in his regular feature 'Nothing New Under The Sun',  recalls events which took place in the Church of Ireland's Saint Michael's Church in Millicent and the Garrison Church on the Curragh Camp. The ceremonies were reported in the Leinster Leader of October 1958.

February 13, 2009


Leinster Leader 26 September 2008
The days when Kilcock roamed victorious on the playing fields of Kildare are recalled by looking back at the Leinster Leader issues of September 1958. Under a headline ‘Brilliant County Final Victory for Kilcock’ the triumph of the Royal Canalsiders was given comprehensive reportage.
Kilcock, for the second year in succession, established themselves as the kingpins of Kildare football when, at St. Conleth’s Park, Droichead Nua, on Sunday last, they beat a hotly fancied Round Towers side by four points in the final of the county senior championships.
The score at the final whistle, 3-12 to 3-8, suggests a close match, but in this respect the score would be misleading.
 Right from the throw-in the victors, playing much better than in any other engagement this season, dominated the exchanges in almost every sector of the field, with Towers never looking the side expected from their pre-match rating of the warm favourites.
 In fact it was only for ten minutes in the middle of the second moiety (an antiquated word for ‘half’) that Kilcock looked in danger of losing the honours, for during that ‘decade’ Towers made a great effort, scoring 3-2 to salvage the game, only to see the winners draw ahead once more.
 The game was rather tame in the first half and looked as if Kilcock were going to have a runaway victory. Towers’ players seemed to be misplaced but when switches were made the great crowd present saw a rejuvenated Towers’ team which wiped out a lead of eleven points in as many minutes.
 When Towers drew level the air was electrified and the majority present sensed a Towers’ victory. It was either team’s game at this time, and with seven minutes to go all seemed set for a draw. Then Kilcock secured the leading point from a free.
 The decision however was clinched when the Kildare goalman came out to meet a ball, missed it, and to his consternation, saw it sent to the net by an incoming Kilcock forward, to give Kilcock a four points lead.
 Towers did not seem to settle down and the first half was a very disappointing one. Kilcock had things all their own way during this moiety and had a respectable lead at half-time. Indeed so one-sided did the match seem that some spectators left the field at the interval very disappointed.
 They would however have been greatly surprised on hearing how near the Towers were to securing victory. Were it not for the easy goal secured by Kilcock in the waning moments a different story might now be told. Peter Maguire of Kilcock was the star of the match; his catching and general soundness gave Kilcock every chance of success. On the other hand Aldridge of Towers was the best man on his team.
 The Gibbons brothers – Paddy & Freddy, L McCormack, B O’Connell and Willie Maguire were the other outstanding players on the winning side. On the Towers’ team one could mention M. Byrne, E. Treacy-when switched, Connolly in the second half, Joe Finlay and young Lindy as doing more than their share to bring Towers victory. The scorers for Kilcock were W. Maguire who notched up an impressive 2-4; P Daly, 1-1; P. Flynn 0-4; L McCormack 0-2; and Davy Dalton 0-1. Round Towers replied per S. Aldridge, 0-8; E Treacy double goal-scorer with 2-0; and P. Loughlin, 1-0.
 The closing minutes of the game were clearly thrilling. Almost on the stroke of time a melee in from of the Towers’ goal saw the ball dribbling around, and Daly just got his foot to it to send it to the Towers net and made the game safe for Kilcock. There were only three minutes left of play but Towers tried very hard to the last. Towers delayed their revival just a few minutes too long and most of their players who played a sterling game deserve the praise due to them for their great revival when another team would have surrendered and faded out.
Series No. 86.

Liam Kenny, in his regular Leader feature 'Nothing New Under The Sun,' recounts the thrilling events which lead to a  Kilcock victory over Round Towers in the 1958 Senior County Final.


 Leinster Leader 18/09/2008
The month of September 1958 brought a great advance to the educational resources of the Naas hinterland with the opening of the new Christian Brothers Secondary School in the town. The Leinster Leader gave the occasion generous front page treatment: ‘ Monday, September 8th, was a truly great day for the Christian Brothers community in Naas, for it marked the opening of their new secondary school.’ The report revealed that the cost of the new building was £24,000.
 The new school was blessed by Rev. Sean Swayne, CC, and officially opened by Very. Rev. Brother E.F.Clancy, Superior of the Irish Christian Brothers. After the blessing and opening ceremonies Fr. Swayne read a message from his Holiness, Pope Pius XII which said: ‘ On the occasion of the opening of the new Christian Brothers’ Secondary School, Naas, the Holy Father cordially imparts to clergy, Brothers and faithful attending the ceremony his Paternal Apostolic Blessing.’
 The school, described as an imposing two-storey structure, completed an impressive ensemble of new school building in Naas as it occupied a site adjacent to St. Corban’s primary school built just four years previously in 1954. The report is notable for its use of a place name seldom heard nowadays in Naas, noting that the new school was located at ‘Fodspaniach’ or ‘Sod of the Spaniards’ on Corban’s Lane.
 A feature of the external elevation to St. Corban’s Lane was the provision of a statue in a niche which will be floodlit at night. The entrance doors which are approached under a cantilevered concrete canopy, open into a spacious entrance hall and stairwell with separate access doors to the playing fields.
Speaking to the pupils after the Mass, the Superior General of the Christian Brothers said he was very pleased to be present and he congratulated them on the lovely school that was theirs. It already belongs to the secondary school boys by right, he went on, and to the primary school boys by heritage. The school had two patrons according to the Superior General – Our Lady, on whose birthday the school was opened, and Brother Ignatius Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers, after whom the school was named.
 Speaking at a luncheon later in Mrs. Lawlor’s Ballroom, the Superior of the Naas Christian Brothers, Brother M.F. O’Mahony said they were all there as one family. For the past twelve months, the Brothers of the community had their hearts set on opening the new school on that day, the feast of Our Lady’s birth.
 The old school at the Moat which had served generations of Naas CBS pupils since the 1870s was not forgotten. Brother O’Mahony saluted the old school and the boys and the Brothers who worked there. The last year in the old school was a record one for the number of pupils (forty-one) who took the Leaving and Intermediate Certificates. On entering the new school, he added, there was to be seen a plaque ‘Meanscoil Iognaid Ris’. Something told him that the Naas community was the first in Ireland to dedicate a secondary school to the memory of Ignatius Rice.
 An even older generation of education in Naas was recalled by another guest at the luncheon Rev. Brother E.B. O’Neill superior in Naas from 1918 to 1924, who recalled that pupils used to come 15 or 20 miles to their school. He mentioned that present at the function was the Chair of Naas UDC, Mr. T.G. Dowling whose father was a collector for the Christian Brothers when they had existed from day-to-day on the subscriptions of the people of the town. Of all the places in Ireland that he had been in the one that was outstanding in his mind was Kildare whose people he described as ‘big hearted.’
 He recalled that when he was leaving Naas in 1924 one of the subscribers to the school said that even though the Brothers would, from then on, be getting grants from the Irish Government, the people would be happy to continue their subscriptions.
 A distinguished past pupil of the Naas brothers, Very Rev. T.N. Cunningham, PP, Rosenallis, the oldest ex-student of the Naas CBS Secondary School, proposed the toast to the Irish Christian Brothers. He recalled that it was half a century since he had left the Brothers’ school in Naas.
 To add to the devotional nature of the occasion it was reported that during the lunch Rev. Father Swayne had sung ‘Panis Angelicus’ while Mrs. E.Walsh, music teacher in the school sang, ‘Bless This House’.             
 Series no. 85

In his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun', Liam Kenny relates how the Leinster Leader of 1958 gave front page coverage to the opening of the new CBS secondary school in Naas.


Leinster Leader 11/9/2008
September is the month of golden cornfields and acres of ripe oats so it is not surprising that an issue of the Leinster Leader of September 1958 featured an exciting development in the grain processing industry in north Kildare. The article centred on the expansion being undertaken by Messrs. Farrington Bros. at their grain drying plant at Rathcoffey between Clane and Maynooth.
The report introduces the Farrington brothers and their impressive credentials in the science of grain growing. Mr. Tom Farrington, founder of the firm, is described as a well-known Kildare agriculturalist who has farmed extensively near Kilcock; he is a member of the County Kildare Committee of Agriculture and has been actively associated with Macra na Feirme since its establishment. He had travelled abroad getting an insight of the farming methods in the countries which he had visited.
 His brother, John Farrington, who had recently joined the firm was also a member of Macra and resided at Long House, Ballymore Eustace, the family home. He had lived and worked in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the USA. Another brother Michael was at the time working on a farm in southern Germany gaining experience; he is studying in the Albert Agricultural College, Dublin.
 At that time in September 1958 the Farringtons had a large construction scheme approaching completion at the Rathcoffey site. A 30 ton weighbridge had been installed at a cost of over two thousand pounds at the gate to the plant. This weighbridge could handle the biggest trucks on the road at the time and was predicted to be a great asset in speeding up deliveries of grain. The storage accommodation had been increased by 48,000 cubic feet, doubling the previous storage space. The new dryer supplied by Messrs. Semax of Cork trebles the existing capacity of Rathcoffey Grain Stores.
 It is of some interest to agriculturalists that Messrs. Farrington have 200 acres under wheat, the grain being specially imported to be used as seed grain when harvested. The crop which adjoined the Naas-Kilcock road a few miles from Kilcock was considered outstanding especially given the bad weather n the summer of 1958. The Farringtons had drawn on continental expertise to perfect their seed quality. Mr. Hans Knudsen, a graduate of the University of Copenhagen, assisted in the grading of the seed. 
 And the Farringtons were keen to share their knowledge of the latest developments in seed quality. It was reported that Mr. Farrington had generously given an acre to the Kildare County Committee of Agriculture which was known as the ‘museum plot’. In it the various types of grasses were shown in different stages of growth and the plot, situated beside the grocery and licensed premises which Farringtons owned at Rathcoffey, was said to be a great attraction for sightseers from all parts of the country.
 The Farringtons’ investment at Rathcoffey represented a decided modernisation of grain processing operations – the old days of sacks loaded on horse-and-carts were to be replaced by the more efficient methods. In the old days each sack had to be weighed separately—a slow, laborious process indeed with the liability of a proneness to mistakes. Now the lorry is weighed in loaded and weighed in empty, the true weight of the grain being thus ascertained without any great trouble.
 The firm was described as being well equipped to handle seed cleaning and the grading of seed, and the machinery includes a special plant which grades seed by size and weight; the seed was intended to be retailed for the following season’s sowing.
 Messrs. Farrington are confident that with the measures they have taken they can offer to growers a better grade seed at a lower price. Efficiency was the key word at Rathcoffey and although the season of 1958 was described as being ‘ one of the most disastrous on record’ Messrs. Farrington had complete reliance on the future advancement and prosperity of Irish Agriculture. 
 The plant modernised by the Farrington brothers in 1958 continues to be a prominent feature of the landscape in north Kildare and, as with the ESB and Bord na Mona plants of the 1950s on the Bog of Allen, represented the application of new technology to old methods.
 Series No. 84

Liam Kenny in his regular feature 'Nothing New Under The Sun' describes how the Farrington brothers introduced  new developments in the grain processing industry in Kildare in 1958. 


Leinster Leader 5/9/2008
The Ireland of the 1950s is often portrayed as having been an insular kind of place with little enthusiasm for contact with the social and cultural trends of the wider world. However two issues of the Leinster Leader, in early autumn 1958, had a decidedly continental tone about them carrying reports of overseas influences in the locality albeit in quite distinct spheres of activity. One report was headed ‘ Germans help in turf harvesting’ and related the impact of German engineering on turf harvesting operations in the Bog of Allen. Another item, of choral rather than turbary interest, reported on a concert of the renowned Munich Boys’ Choir in the Church of Our Lady & St. David in Naas.
The front page item paints an atmospheric picture of the visit of the choir to the Naas church: ‘ A large congregation watched the procession of boys in their scarlet and black uniforms as, silently and with obvious reverence, they filed into their semi-circular arrangement on the Epistle side of the Sanctuary. After one of the senior boys had announced the first item, there began a feast of choral music which only a highly trained and perfectly balanced choir can give.’
The choir was under the direction of Herr Fritz Rothschuh who was described as a consummate and enthusiastic choir-master and who encouraged a performance of sublime quality from the choir whose members were all under 18 years of age. Curiously, although it was late August of 1958, the choir began its performance with a selection of Christmas hymns before moving through a repertoire related to the liturgical feasts of the year. The Leader reviewer was clearly impressed but suggested that a greater role by the soprano soloist would have added to perfection to an otherwise quality choral evening: ‘ Once or twice we got tantalising phrases of the soprano in solo in all its innocence, in its effortless and silverlike tone.’ One got the impression that the Leader reporter was tempted to take over the conductor’s baton himself and let the soprano give full voice to his talents: ‘ We appreciate that choirs must be kept fused in their parts, and individuality more or less suppressed but, Oh! Herr Rothschuh how we longed to hear the crystalline, thrilling child-voice in Schubert’s or Gounod’s Ave Maria or Franck’s Panis Angelicus.’
Despite the desire to hear the soloist the correspondent reserved particular praise for the full choir and its rendering of the Stabat Mater: ‘ What will live longest, perhaps, in the memory of the audience is Herr Rothschuh’s own arrangement, and the choir’s superb rendering, of Stabat Mater. All the sorrow, all the passion, all the faith and hope of the Liturgy was here expressed.’
Afterwards, in the church grounds, the choir sang some German folksongs surrounded by an enthusiastic and overwhelming throng of grateful listeners.   The report concluded with a tribute to the renowned Parish Priest of Naas, Very Rev. P J Doyle who had long championed choral singing in the continental style in the parish church of Naas: ‘ Very. Rev. Fr. Doyle is to be congratulated on his enterprise in arranging for the visit of this choir of international status to Naas, and music lovers of County Kildare owe him a debt of gratitude for the unique opportunity of hearing this versatile and talented choir.’
Returning to the other story with a germanic connection, the engineering versatility of German engineers in helping harvest Irish bogs was lauded in the columns of the paper. Mr. H. Schnittger, Manager of the Shamrock Turf Company in Edenderry, was described as a German engineer who had contributed much to the development of Irish bogs. Since he came to Ireland first he was a technical advisor to Bord na Mona and had supplied forty-two types of machine which were put in operation at various Irish bogs. Some of the machines were being used by Bord na Mona, some by the Irish sugar company, and others by private bog developers. All the machines were assembled by the Shamrock Company’s staff at Edenderry. And the German engineer’s talents did not stop at turf production as we are told: ‘ Irish farmers may yet be grateful for the inventive genius of this quiet-spoken German, who is perfecting a machine which cuts the grass in a certain way and ejects it on to a trailer.’
Clearly the Ireland of the late 1950s was more open to positive European influences than we might think with Germanic high culture featuring in Naas and Germanic high technology featuring in Edenderry.    Series No. 83

In his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' Liam Kenny reflects on how the Ireland of the late 1950s was more open to positive European influences than we might think with German high culture featuring in Naas and German high technology featuring in Edenderry.

February 12, 2009


 Leinster Leader 28 August 2008

Ballymore Eustace was in the spotlight fifty years ago this month with the news that a major film production from Ardmore Studios was to be filmed in the east Kildare location.  The Leader reported that the film ‘Shake Hands With the Devil’ was to be shot in that most picturesque location. Officials from Ardmore Studios had been busy making the necessary preliminary survey on the ground.
There was great excitement in the town – or should it be called a village? The Leader pondered the question by quoting its parish priest, Monsignor Browne: ‘ Ballymore Eustace was neither large enough to be styled a town or small enough to be reckoned as a village.’ Whatever about the correct terminology it was predicted confidently that the attention of the film studios would ensure that Ballymore Eustace would ‘ soon be seen by millions of persons in all parts of the world.’
The actual shooting of the film was to take place in Ballymore in September 1958 but before this could be done a considerable amount of preparing the ground was necessary. The Post Office and ESB engineers had agreed to the temporary removal of poles carrying overhead wires which would interfere with the picture.  And although Ballymore was famous for its traditional public houses the film makers had their own concept of the frontage of a licensed premises, as the report explained: ‘ And, although there are several licensed premises in the village, none of these is quite what the film people require. They, therefore, intend to erect their own public house where they want it, but the structure will be only a plywood frontage, all the essentials of alcoholic entertainment being left to the imagination.’
Setting the scene in Ballymore the Leader report reverted to the writings of the scholar-priest Monsignor Browne: ‘We learn that although it seems today to slumber in quite contentment Ballymore has known turbulent days down the centuries.’ Situated on the verge of the Pale it was turned  into an embattled fortress to guard against the inroads of the O’Byrnes and the O’Tooles who were once the rightful owners of the territory. The town (or was it a village?) had heard the fierce clash of arms and had witnessed the march and counter-march of opposing armies. History recorded the repeated alarums and excursions on its borders.   Its turbulent history went back many centuries. In 1306 it was burned to the ground by the ‘Irishmen making war on the English and the Irish of Leinster’.  There was an old tradition of cattle rustling in the area, back in 1419: ‘ O’Toole took 400 cows belonging to Ballymore, breaking the peace contrary to his oath.  A ‘smoke tax’ of one half-penny on ever hamlet was levied to keep the place defended against the assaults of the O’Tooles and the O’Byrnes.
In 1203 King John of England commanded the Justiciary of Ireland to grant John Comyn, Archbishop of Dublin, possession ‘ of the Castle of Balimore as well as so much of the Forest of Coillach as he ought to have by the King’s Charter’.  Not a trace of this castle now remains but the adjacent townslands of Bishophill, Bishopland and Bishoplane bear witness that the town and neighbourhood were once the perquisite of the Archbishop of Dublin.  And, whether or not a town or a village, Ballymore Eustace has always been distinguished among Kildare place names by its double-barrelled character. The Leader report elaborated on the origins of this historic addendum to the relatively common Irish placename of Ballymore: ‘ In 1373 Thomas Fitzoliver FitzEustace was appointed Constable of the Castle of Balimore with a salary of ten pounds per annum’.  There were terms and conditions with the appointment as FitzEustace was obliged to ‘ reside there with his family and govern the tenants without extortion and guard and maintain the fortress.’  This then is the origin of the how the distinction Eustace became appended to the Liffeyside village (or is it a town?) which was to be catapulted to international attention by the filming of ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’ in the early autumn of 1958.
Series no. 82

Liam Kenny in his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun' reports on preparations by Ballymore Eustace for starring role in feature film in 1958.


Leinster Leader 21 August 2008

The Kildare county championships were hotting up in August 1958 with the Leader carrying reports of two key championship games under the heading: ‘ Kilock reach final: Round Towers win narrowly.’
Two county senior championships matches were decided when Round Towers beat Athy and Kilcock entered their second successive final by their defeat of a Naas side that never looked like taking the honours after the first half. Naas, fancied to win this match as a result of their good previous form, threw away golden opportunities of points in the first moiety, only to find in the later stages that the Kilcock defence had their forwards well and truly held.
Kilcock were the quicker to settle down and they had four points before Naas could get an opening score. The defence of Kilcock, led by Foley, was giving nothing away and fully ten minutes had gone before Naas could register their first point. Then when Naas settled down they gradually lessened the Kilock lead, until towards the end only a goal divided them. Naas fought frantically to level up but the astute Kilock backs barred the way and were victorious when the final whistle sounded. It was inexperience that lost the match for Naas, according to the Leader GAA correspondent. Indeed had they settled down quickly at the start Kilcock might not have got such a favourable lead on them but such is the luck of any aspiring team. 
However the Leader writer gave every encouragement to the men from the county town’s team notwithstanding their defeat at the hands of the Kilcock side: ‘ It is good to see the metropolis of the county trying to hard to bring back the great name held by the town’s team, some thirty years ago, and the present youthful team has nothing to fear for the future. If they keep together they should yet make a name for themselves.’’  The two Higgins in the backs with Kevin Smith, the culbaire, were the best on the Naas side. Curtis, Hogan and Jackie Bracken were also prominent. L McCormack, Noel Moran, Paddy Gibbons and Foley were outstanding for Kilcock who ran out winners by nine points to six, gaining a place in the county final in the process.
A more high score affair took place in Newbridge with Round Towers pitted against Athy. Round Towers’ supporters were on pins and needles for fully fifty minutes in this senior championship game. Up to then Athy led the Towers a merry dance, and it was doubtful, had the Athy backs not committed foolish petty fouls within range of their goal, if Towers would have survived. 
The game was very fast and from the start Athy, who were fairly accurate, kept the ball moving. Athy were first to score: a splendid long range point was shortly followed by another. Then Towers had a good point per Treacy but Athy kept up the pressure and at half time led by 1-3 to four points. Resuming Athy attacked and from a close-in free the ball entered the Towers net, to give them a commanding lead of five points. Then Athy seemed to tire and Towers began to narrow the lead. Athy, however still fought back but the Towers defence was still on top and the attacks went for nought. A habit of fouling within short range of their goal was now the undoing of Athy, as Finlay for Towers was in deadly form with his frees and soon had the scores level at ten points each. The Athy defence seemed to falter after this and Towers had two points in the closing minutes to give them victory  in what was described as a ‘splendid, clean-fought game.’
For Towers, Treacy, P. Loughlin, Aldridge, Finlay, and Lindy were best. For Athy, Kehoe and Carolan caught the eye. The Athy culbaire, O’Keeffe, kept a good goal, and Round Towers, try as they could could not find the net. Had the defence been as vigilant in the last ten minutes as they had been at the beginning Athy could have won. However Round Towers clocked up the points winning out 0-12 points to 2-4. There was encouragement nonetheless for the losers from the Leader’s ever supportive GAA correspondent: ‘ It is good to see Athy, the home of former stylists of county fame, again in the limelight. Their players are all on the youthful side and with more experience seem destined to have the name of Athy again in the forefront of Kildare football.’
Series No. 81.

Newspaper coverage of the 1958 Kildare County Championships is examined by Liam Kenny in his regular column 'Nothng New Under the Sun in the Leinster Leader dated 21 August 2008


 Leinster Leader 7 Aug 2008

A kaleidoscope of international uniforms will grace the hallowed turf of Punchestown this month as the Irish scout movement marks its 100th birthday by hosting an international jamboree. Scouts from every continent will gather at the Kildare venue to celebrate the centenary of a movement which although born in the days of the Edwardian empire has flourished in the very different perspectives of modern republics such as Ireland. But then the scouting values of service, respect and teamwork are universal and have stood the test of decades.
Perhaps few of the scouts who will camp at Punchestown over the coming weeks will know of the Kildare link to the biography of the man honoured as their founder, the British general Robert Baden-Powell. A classic soldier of the empire Baden-Powell saw service in India, Afghanistan and, famously, in South Africa where his defence of Mafeking during the Boer War became the stuff of legend. It is said that it was during the siege of Mafeking that he had recruited the boys of the town as messengers to penetrate enemy lines and from these ‘scouts’ in the field formed the idea of a boy scout movement which would appeal to peacetime Britain. After his period in South Africa Baden-Powell was appointed inspector general of Cavalry in 1904 and served for a period on the Curragh Camp. Thus it is fitting that over a century later his successors in the modern day scout movement should gather in County Kildare.
He established an inaugural camp in England in 1907 in which the boys were divided into patrols and trained in the skills of observation, field craft, camping and self-sufficiency.  He published a magazine ‘Scouting for Boys’ from early 1908 which became popular with boys throughout Britain and almost spontaneously young lads began to form themselves into scout troops and patrols.
The concept soon extended across the Irish Sea and early in 1908 there were records of early troops in Dublin and Bray. The beginnings and evolution of the scout movement in Ireland have been documented in a fine book ‘Scouting in Ireland’ by noted historian Fr. J. Anthony Gaughan published in time for the centenary. He records that by 1909 over 500 scouts had turned out in Dublin for a St. Patrick’s Day parade which was followed, in true scouting form, by a hike to the Dublin mountains and a campfire at Three Rock Mountain.
Baden-Powell retired from his army career and devoted himself to the burgeoning scout movement in his new role as Chief Scout. His familiarity with Ireland from his army days meant that he took a close interest in the formation of scout units in Ireland and he made a sequence of morale-boosting visits. The scouts turned out in numbers for his visits and were also out in force for the arrival of King George V in July 1911 when it is recorded that scouts from Belfast, Dundalk, Wicklow and Kildare were among the parading units.
The early scout troops had close links with the establishment  circles of the era and were often led by officers from local army barracks. However despite its characteristics of uniform and discipline the movement remained at a remove from the army structure although inevitably scouts became involved on the home front during the first world war helping with telegrams and post.  Equally inevitably the political traumas experienced in Ireland with the separation from Britain led to some uncertainty for the Baden-Powell scouts – as Fr. Gaughan notes: ‘ The political environment in which the scouts had been introduced to Ireland was such that it was natural that leaders and members were almost entirely Protestant, unionist and middle-class.’ Nonetheless the scouts adapted and in the 1920s were reviewed on parade by Catholic figures such as Major General Sir William Hickie and General Sir Bryan Mahon, both members of the new Irish Free State Senate. Baden Powell, the founder of the movement which by now had extended to forty-two countries with an extraordinary two million scouts made his last visits to Ireland in the late 1920s. By then the Ireland which he had known as an army officer twenty years previously had changed greatly.
The Baden-Powell scouts continued as an entity but their number in this country was to be surpassed in time by the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland founded in 1927 which as the twentieth century progressed formed units in towns throughout the Republic. In recent years the Baden Powell scouts, properly known as the Scouting Association of Ireland and the CBSI achieved an historic merger to form a new scouting organisation known as Scouting Ireland.  Whatever about the various strands and nuances in the Irish scouting movement the principles remain much the same as those laid down by Baden Powell and no doubt pondered by him during his service on the Curragh plains in the early 1900s.
My thanks to Ms. Jo Coy of the Naas Scout Unit for suggesting this article.
Series no. 79

Liam Kenny in his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun' comments on the fact that in August 2008 'the Irish scout movement marks its 100th birthday by hosting an international jamboree.'


Leinster Leader 31 July 2008
Making history and historic materials accessible is the praiseworthy mission of Kildare County Library through its local history department headed up by Mario Corrigan. For a number of years now the County Library has been engaged in a very far-sighted project of making its material available on the internet. Various reports, surveys, gazetteers, and newspaper material relating to Co. Kildare are now up on the website available for consultation by all.
While the original collections and print material will always remain the core historic resource of a history library such as the Kildare County Library’s local studies department the transferral of information to the internet liberates the information from the physical location and opening hours of libraries and archives. By putting the material on the web Mario Corrigan and his team have flung open the doors to their holdings of historic materials and now people whether seriously or casually interested in the material in their collections can now browse on the internet and view the material at any time.  The internet approach is also a boon to Kildare ex-pats abroad with the world wide web knowing no boundaries and now people overseas have access to material held in the library collection in Newbridge. Among the materials now set up for on line viewing are: Thom’s Directories of 1849 & 54; Slater’s Director of 1881; index to the Kildare Archaeological Journal; Michael Kavanagh’s Bibliography of books related to Kildare; material on the 1798 rebellion, the Great Famine 1845-7; as well as material on the Gordon Bennett Race of 1903, and Kildare’s last all-Ireland win in 1928.  The website address is: www.kildare.ie/library/localstudies.
 One of the most important resources held in print and subsequently put up on the web by the Local Studies Deparment  is Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of 1834 which is like an early AA book of the Road giving detailed accounts of towns, villages and parishes in Co. Kildare in the 1830s.  It has proven to be an essential starting point for any local historian studying the modern history of any part of Co. Kildare. So important is the Lewis material that the project has turned full circle and the Co. Library in partnership with Kildare Town Heritage Centre has now brought out a printed edition of Lewis Topographical Dictionary. While it is hard to beat the internet for accessibility all readers at the end of the day like to have a compact print volume to refer to and this has been achieved in style by Mario Corrigan and his team of assistant editors including Niamh McCabe and Michael Kavanagh.
The original dictionary was compiled by Samuel Lewis in the years 1834 to 1837. He sent questionnaires to the leading gentlemen of each locality and sought information on matters such as the natural resources, mineral springs, peat bogs and mines, as well as any rivers, canals or roads used for transport. As the Church of Ireland was the established church at the time he gives particular attention to rectories and parishes and the manner in which these were supported by local contribution. There is also reference to the chapels of other religions  and to schools. The entries begin with Allen and end with Yagoestown – an old parish near Ballymore Eustace.
A sample from the printed entry is as follows: Bodenstown or Bowdenstown; a parish in the baron of North Naas, county of Kildare, and province of Leinster, 1.5 miles from Clane; containing with part of the village of Sallins, 458 inhabitants. It is bounded on the east by the River Liffey, over which a very curious stone bridge of five arches, all differently shaped. About three-fourths of the land is pasture and appropriated to the fattening of stock for the Liverpool and Dublin markets, and the remainder is under tillage, producing good crops; there is no waste land or bog, yet the supply of fuel is abundant. The Grand Canal which close to the parish facilitates the conveyance of corn and potatoes to the metropolis from which manure is also obtained in abundance. The gentlemen’s seats are that of Blackhall, that of P. Wolfe Esq., Castlesize of I. Manders; Little Rath of Mr. R. Hall, occupying the site of an ancient intrenchment, and Sallins Lodge, near which stood the old castle of Sallins. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Kildare, with the perpetual curacy of Shelockstown episcopally united forming the union of Bodenstown, in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is impropriate in the Earl of Mayo. There is no church … the Protestant parishioners attend the church in Clane. In the Roman Catholic divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Kill. There is a pay school of about 10 children. The celebrated Theobald Wolfe Tone was a native of this parish, and lies in the same grave with his father in the churchyard.
This level of information is available in the new publication for every village in the county and is, as might be expected, even more extensive for the larger towns. It is to the great credit of editor Mario Corrigan and his team that they have provided guidance for the reader by way of a listing of old and new placenames, some notes and a very detailed index of all the locations mentioned. Certainly this new volume should be in the glove-box of anybody with an interest in the story of Kildare and its settlements, large and small.
The new publication entitled ‘A Topographical Dictionary of County Kildare 1837’ is available in Farrells of Newbridge; Barker and Jones in Naas; and Athy and Kildare town heritage centres.  


Liam Kenny in his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun'  informs us that "Kildare County Library makes historic materials available on the internet for consultation by all".

February 11, 2009


Leinster Leader 17 July 2008
Liam Kenny
Kildare football marked the summer of 1958 with the county team involved in a number of challenge matches. The county team, invariably termed ‘All Whites’ in the Leader reports, had been beaten by Dublin by four points in the final of the Carnew Church Building Fund at Croke Park. However the All Whites enjoyed an easier game in a challenge game against Knockbeg Past Pupils played at St. Brigid’s Park in Kildare.  The match gave the Kildare side the chance to try out some new blood to fill vacancies left by injuries. Introduced to the team were Wright of Castlemitchell, and O’Connell and F. Gibbons of Kildare town. The Leader GAA correspondent was nothing if not enthusiastic about the arrival of the new men ‘ without these three players have proved that the material is in the county in plenty. From the display in the match it was shown that the advent of young blood with determination and virility will infuse into the players that enthusiasm which carried us so well in the league. When we have again the services of D.Flood, P Connolly and P. Gibbons we will indeed have a team and substitutes that can be relied on to bring lustre in the near future to the All-Whites.’

The match against the Knockbeg Past Pupils started very tamely but within five minutes the crowed was electrified when Kildare scored their first goal. However Knockbeg did not take this early reverse lying down. Their defence stiffened and their field kicking became more accuratem and they soon added points which put them to the front. Kildare then got going and from then on goals and points came at regular intervals. The Castlemitchell man, Wright, rallied the team and when all seemed lost he ‘ secured and sent us (all-whites) attacking.’ However there was some pointed advice from the Leader reporter for the player: ‘ Wright should, however stay in his place and not wander too much.’ The half-backs got a good rating while goalie Dockery kept ‘a good goal.’ The Kildare half-back line performed better than when they played Dublin earlier in the year: Carolan, as usual, was reliable; and P. Loughlin surprised the most severe critic by his deft and quick delivery of the ball.’ 
Continuing his rating of the players the Leader reporter noted: ‘ O’Connell should have gained a permanent place on the team. After a shaky start our centrefield of F.Gibbons and C.Kelly improved but Wright went to centrefield to partner Kelly, and Gibbons went to the full forward line.’  A rare event on the GAA pitches was also noted: ‘ O’Malley came back to his former brilliance and scored a goal direct from a ‘fifty’. Hogan played better and both himself and O’Malley took part in some fine movements on their wing. The other forwards added their quota and what the spectators liked about the whole team was their determination to give their best to the final whistle. There was no slacking for the whole hour. O’Malley, Hogan, Aldridge and Kane had goals to their credit and though the Knockbeg men marked very closely our players broke loose from their stranglehold and kept going. One player Lieut K. Daly on the Knockbeg side gave his best display since the injury and was in the picture for an hour. Fleming led almost the attacks of the Knockbeg men. Nonetheless Kildare ran out convincing winners with a score of 6-10 to 2-4.
There was a closer match at club level reported when Maynooth upset a fancied Kilcock side. Kilcock was very unlucky in failing to score from two penalties which were conceded by Maynooth when the latter team’s backs were, in the dramatic words of the Leader correspondent ‘forced to foul to save their citadel’. Nontheless Kilock led by six points at half-time and they were helped by the strong breeze blowing. In the second half Maynooth availed of ever opportunity and the breeze was a factor in their victory. Kilcock was without their star player, P.Gibbons, who is on the  injured list. Best for Maynooth were Edwards, Twomey and Nolan brothers. On the Kilcock side best were McCormack, Moran, F.Gibbons and R O’Connell. The final score in the Leinster Leader cup match was 4-6 to 3-4 in favour of Maynooth.
There would be many more column inches devoted to GAA at county and club level as the summer of 1958 unfolded.

Liam Kenny in his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun' looks at comments by the Leinster Leader GAA correspondent in his reporting of  Kildare challenge matches in the summer of 1958.

February 07, 2009


 Kill History Group
Spring & Summer 2009
Monday 23rd February:  Tracing a local man’s story in the Great War
(John Malone)
Monday 23rd March:  “ The last train from Naas – a Johnstown
 photographer (Liam Kenny)

Monday 27th April: “The 19th century Irish land agent and the Great Famine”
(Ciaran Reilly, IRCHSS student at NUI Maynooth)

Monday 25th May:      Growing up in Kill
                                     (Eddie O’Loughlin)

Monday 29th June:  The Life and Times of Gerard Sweetman (1908-1970)
(Tony O’Donnell)


All meeting take place in the Parish Meeting Room at 8.30 p.m.
(unless otherwise indicated)

Brian McCabe kindly forwarded the Spring Summer series of talks hosted by Kill Local Histroy Group. An excellent programme - be sure to print it off and keep it handy  


Leinster Leader 24 July 2008
The Kildare football championships were in full flight in July 1958 and the Leinster Leader issues of that month carried comprehensive reports of the fixtures. Naas had a ‘sterling win over Ballymore Eustace at Droichead Nua’ gaining a place in the county semi-finals. The Leader reporter enthused over the county town’s quality of play: ‘ Playing constructive, scientific football they completely over-ran the Ballymore defence in the closing quarter of the game and won easily in the end.’
It was not until the second half that the Naas men began to pull away from the Ballymore side: ‘ The first half was quiet, and had the Ballymore forwards availed of their chances they could have been on level terms with their opponents.’ The tempo heightened after the interval: ‘After half time the game livened up and the spectators were treated to some good football.’ However the reporter gave out a slap on the wrist for the Ballymore side’s approach to the game: ‘ Roughness crept in when the referee’s back was turned. Ballymore played great football in the third quarter and some of the players of that team continued to play the ball and not the man they would have done better.’ In the end Naas had the better combination and their forwards were more accurate running up an impressive 5 -6 in contrast to Ballymore’s 1-6. Best for Naas in that July 1958 fixture were: Kelly, Daly, Hogan, Curtis and Poole. On the Ballymore side Burke, Doyle, Mahon, Murphy and Mooney were given mention.
Another prominent fixture covered was that between old rivals Clane and Carbury. The match here was much more competitive. Carbury were set for victory at half-time with a lead of five points and turned over on a confident note. Clane who had not been impressive frittered away the first ten minutes of the second half without making any effort to score. However as the half went on their defence stiffened and their forwards began making forays towards the Carbury goal. In periodic attacks Clane added the points until they had hauled Carbury back to level scores. The report takes up the story: ‘ The fifty-minute was reached when Carbury made the fatal mistake of fouling on the 21 yards mark. Clane made no mistake and sent over the winning point just on the call of time.’ The result was all the more surprising given Clane’s difficulty in even fielding a team. Pa Connolly, the county team star turned out although he was carrying an injury. His brother Tom was also to the fore but ‘ the surprise packet was “Kaiser” Bracken who was a livewire for the hour’. On the Carbury side the former county ‘culbaire’ Tom Malone kept a good goal and Joe Bourke, Kane and Cummins were also prominent. In the end Clane’s last minute point gave them a score of 1-11 to 3-4 for Carbury.
The ladies were busy on the sporting fields too – an item headed ‘Naas Again in Final’ related how the Naas side had reached the final of the County Camogie Championships. The Naas ladies were out to make up for their defeat in the county championship the previous year. The panel from which the team would be selected comprised: Misses A & M O’Shea; L & M Prendergast; M & A Ryan; G & V Lee; M & C Wheeler; A Hartigan; J.Byrne; M.Mulally; R. Dempsey; P.Higgins; S.Butler and D.Wheeler. Their opponents in the county final were to a Caragh side which included: Misses M.Byrne; K.Cahill; M. Stanley; K. Lawlor; A.Dunne; P.Byrne; K.Byrne; E.Garry; C.Campbell (capt.); R.Byrne; B.Garry and B. Malone. Naas and Caragh were seeing a lot of each other on the camogie fields that summer. The Leader reported that Caragh and Naas had played a draw in the second round of the League earlier that week. It was a fairly evenly contested game but had Caragh been more accurate they would have come out winners. However the Naas backs were congratulated on their fine work which led to a draw.
In West Wicklow GAA circles the footballers of Kilbride made short work of Blessington in the Junior A championships. The Leader correspondent was not impressed with the one-sided nature of the game: ‘The winners took an early lead, never lost it and indeed, the greater part of the second half was a mere formality … The game lacked the element of rivalry which arouses interest and helps produce excitement. The referee’s full time whistle must have appeared sweet music to the homesters.’ Apart from Alphonsus Kavanagh at right half-back for Blessington the losers put on what was described as a ‘most disappointing display’. Kilbride were quite the opposite with no weak link. Indeed so one sided was the match that it was ‘just a case of how much the wearers of the blue jersey would romp home’. J Collins gave Kilbride the lead in the first minute; their forwards led in fine fashion by Joe Reilly all contributed to the scoring returns. At half-back J.Clarke, T O’Brien and A. Hanlon held the homesters attackers in a vice-like grip while P.Clarke at full-back capably flanked by P.Doyle and N. Kearns, held their lines intact. 
With reports from all levels of GAA throughout Kildare and adjoining counties the Leader sports pages of July 1958 were compulsory reading for Gaelic followers in the locality.

Liam Kenny in his regular feature, 'Nothing New Under the Sun examines newspaper coverage at the Kildare football championships in July 1958 when Naas had a ‘sterling win over Ballymore Eustace at Droichead Nua’.


Leinster Leader 10 July 2008
The Athy show ‘now ranks in quality with the other top Irish shows, Ballsbridge and Balmoral.’ This was the verdict of an exhibitor at the Kildare County Show in Athy as reported in the Leinster Leader in July 1958. The central place of farming in the economy of the locality in the 1950s is given full expression by the extensive coverage of agricultural shows throughout Leinster.
 As well as providing an outlet for local farmers and horse-breeders to show their achievements the shows also had an educational role featuring demonstrations of best practice for rural dwellers.
 The County Kildare Committee of Agriculture laid out a series of demonstration plots where farmers could view the latest in crop and cereal varieties. The Leader reporter was clearly impressed with the demonstration: ‘ Here in the beautifully kept plot of about an acre, with its neat white and red paling, and artistically arranged flower beds was an exhibition unequalled in quality and size at any other Irish show.’ As well as the mainstream farm products there were also specialised displays dealing with such useful farmyard enterprises as poultry rearing. We are told that ‘in the poultry section one saw ten weeks’ old broilers of the new American breed, specially selected for rapid growth and efficient food conversion. Housewives were delighted to see in the indoor display the manner in which a chicken can be cut into the different portions in which the bird can be bought.’ Hopefully the poultry display was kept well separate from the vermin exhibition which featured a live fox! This section which also featured cages showing pheasants at various stages from hatching-out to fully-grown was intended to educate visitors on vermin destruction and game preservation. Expert advice on this subject was on hand from Mr. Monds, game warden for Mr. E.K.Wright of Kilkea.
The team from the Committee of Agriculture who had prepared the educational display was acclaimed in print. The exhibit was supervised by Mr. P Donnelly, Chief Agricultural Officer and Mr. Dick Parks, Technical Officer while Mr.P.Kavanagh, instructor for South Kildare, was primarily responsible for the whole exhibit with the assistance of Mr. JJ Usher, horticultural instructor, Miss Kay Buckley, poultry instructress, and Mr. Tim McCarthy, county forester.
A big feature of the two-day show was the hunter classes where breeders could show the best in country bloodstock. Among the exhibitors were such famous breeders as Major Beaumont of Harristown Estate near Kilcullen; Mrs. J. Alexander, Milford, Carlow; Comdt. T. Finlay, Chapelizod, Miss Susan Browne, Oldtown House, Carlow; Miss R. Barrett, Ballynoe, Tullow; and Miss Iris Kellett. The winner of the heavyweight hunter class at the show was a grey gelding owned by Brigadier Fowler of Enfield.
At that time horses were still very much part of the working inventory on farms and there was a special show class for best farm horses. The winning entry belonged to Mrs. V. Vanden Bergh of Stonebrook, Ballymore Eustace with the runners-up award going to Mr. Liam Owens, Nicholastown Lodge, Athy.
There was also news of agricultural interest from north Co. Kildare. An item reported how a new livestock mart had been set up in Clane. Remarkably the directors included seven brothers who comprised a family business in the victualling trade known as Messrs. Cruise Bros. The Directors of the new Clane Livestock sales were Thomas Cruise, Tallaght; Michael Cruise, also of Tallaght; Gerard Cruise, Clondalkin; Patrick Cruise, Rathcoole; John Cruise, Blessington; William Cruise, Sallins; Peter Cruise, Straffan. There were also two directors from outside the Cruise family circle – Sean Ashe of Rathmore and Terence Gilleece, auctioneer, Naas.
Over the county boundary at Edenderry there was news of the tenth annual show and field day which attracted a large attendance to the Gaelic park. As well as the usual displays of livestock, bloodstock and crops there was a special section by local traders and craftspeople. A mouth-watering offering that caught the attention of the Leader reporter was a display by an enterprising local bakery which featured bracks, cakes and bread of all kinds made of 100 percent Irish flour. On a similar theme the Edenderry ICA did a ‘roaring trade’ in their heavily-laden stall. Another magnet for feminine visitors was the tent containing beautiful floral exhibits and the handicrafts section. The judges for the cookery competition were Mrs. Lalor of Kilbeggan and Miss Hiney of Naas. On that note redolent of the aroma of freshly baked cakes and confectionery we complete our look at the agricultural news from the Leader of fifty summers past.

Liam Kenny in his regular feature, 'Nothing New Under the Sun,'  looks at the agricultural news from the Leader of fifty summers past which reported that  the Kildare County Show in Athy 'now ranks in quality with the other top Irish shows, Ballsbridge and Balmoral' 


Leinster Leader 14 August 2008
Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines
The skies above Kildare and adjoining counties are criss-crossed by aircraft on various kinds of flight whether it be the big passenger jets on their approach paths to Dublin airport, or the helicopters of the Irish Air Corps transiting to the Curragh, or perhaps a single engined light plane on a flight from Kilrush, Gowran Grange or Weston. Indeed Kildare has at one time or another been a mecca for aviation sports enthusiasts. In the 1970s the colourful balloons of the Dublin Balloon Club operating from Furness brought traffic on the dual carriageway to a halt as astonished motorists stopped to look. For many years the Falcons parachute club carried out their jumps to a landing zone in Punchestown racecourse while nearby Gowran Grange airfield has been a long-serving glider flying venue.
The aviation tradition in the area goes back decades as evidenced by a report in a Leinster Leader issue of August 1958 headed ‘Aerial Display at Weston’. Contrary to popular belief summers were no better then because the two-day airshow at Weston, just on the Dublin side of the county boundary, was somewhat curtailed because of low cloud and high winds. It was reported that despite the weather large crowds turned out to see the Leinster Aero Club’s display on Sunday and Monday, although on the second day some of the events on the programme could not be carried through. There was another omission as well in that ‘for some unknown reason’ the participation of Army air men had been prohibited by the Dept. of Defence.
Low clouds at Weston on the Sunday made the tasks of pilots and parachutists very difficult and were a disadvantage event to spectators. In their aerobatic displays in Chipmunks, Messrs. Donohoe and Magill kept as low as possible, yet disappeared from sight as they turned the tops of loops.
The demonstration of the use of parachutes in dropping supplies for food, medicines and other requirements in emergencies to isolated groups, which was given by members of the Irish Parachute Club was an interesting feature on the Sunday programme. But even that spectacle was trumped by the daring antics of a French aerial stuntman. Monsieur Rene Vincent hung by one foot from a rope ladder suspended from an Auster, as the little plane bumped along at 80 mph. At the end of his trapeze act the plane climbed higher and Monsieur Vincent released himself and parachuted to the ground.
Aerial crop spraying from a Tiger Moth of Crop Culture (Aerial) Ltd., a demonstration of modern executive aircraft and a mock air raid, culminating in a bomber being ‘shot down’ complete with smoke effects, were some of the other attractions on the programme. Gliding feats were given merited applause, especially the display of the Petrel sailplane, flown by Mr. John Byrne of the Dublin Gliding Club.
Indeed the activities of the Gliding Club merited a separate article in the Leader of that week which announced that the Dublin Gliding Club has been making great progress. With its headquarters in Baldonnel its fleet consists of three aircraft, one of which was a dual-control training model and the others being two single seaters. In addition there were two or three other gliders owned privately by members of the club. Many people in various districts of South County Dublin watched out at weekends for the displays of these streamlined aircraft which in the hands of skilled pilots can perform all sorts of manoeuvres including ‘loop the loops’. Indeed getting the glider into the air provided lots of excitement. At Baldonnel the method used was to tow the glider behind a fast tow car. Attached to a long cable linked to the nose of the glider the tow car races down the runway. With the pull on the glider the pilot can guide his craft into a climbing movement until a height of sometimes 1300 feet is reached after which he releases the tow cable. Once the cable is released the pattern and duration of the flight depends on weather conditions and on the skill of the man at the controls. On a few occasions gliders launched from Baldonnel had stayed airborne for several hours.
Thus fifty years ago spectators were thrilling to the activities of daring men in their flying machines over the skies of north Kildare and south Dublin. Series No. 80.

Liam Kenny in his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun' reports on newspaper coverage of aerobatic displays enjoyed by aviation sports enthusiasts at the two day airshow at Weston in August 1958

February 05, 2009


Leinster Leader 10/1/1885
The Revival of Irish Athletics
 The movement for the restoration of our fast disappearing national games is one deserving the active support of everyone calling himself an Irishman, or who wishes to revive and keep alive the past glory of Irish muscle and nerve. All over the world, in the old and new hemispheres, the name of an Irishman is one consonant with dexterity and strength. The young, fiery, hot-blooded Celt, trained on the hurling field to deeds of daring, in Tipperary, or in the wrestling-ring of Kildare, showed the influence of early training in their career, when called upon to show the stuff they were made of on another arena, in the hissing cauldron of shot and shell, amid death and danger, on the blood stained fields of Fredericksburgh and Antietam, where the deadly death-dealing rifle took the place of the hurling-club, and where the ringing Irish cheers which greeted the flushed and excited winners of the village green were changed into piercing shrieks and agonized cries of the wounded soldiers on the battlefield. The fame of the Irish athlete is known the whole world over, and at the present moment in every branch of athletics, from the champion oarsman down to the professor of the “manly art of self defence” Irishmen hold a conspicuous place.
About six years ago, an event occurred which shows how much latient [sic] qualities lie concealed beneath many an [sic] humble coat. An able young fellow from the “short grass” emigrated to America and settled down in California. At this time all the States were filled with the fame, and astonished by the prowess of a Frenchman name Leroy, for his deeds in the wrestling arena. He had met and vanquished the picked men of all nationalities in America. The young Irishman before he left home had the name of being rather smart in the ring. Yielding to the solicitations of some friends who were aware of his abilities, he consented to measure swords with the indomitable Gaul. In the presence of an immense concourse of spectators he actually “swept the floor with him” tossing the Frenchman three times successfully, thus gaining the belt and a large sum of money to boot.
 Accursed English preponderance asserts itself even in our sports. We cannot get up a foot-race, or in fact any species of manly competion [sic] unless we go to London for rules to guide us. Everything must be done according to their standard. How in the world can it be expected that a hundred yards race is of any earthly use in developing muscle? I consider it has the contrary effect, as the severe training and fasting necessary to go through in order to compete in such a farce of a race must have an injurious effect on the constitution, and yet under the enlightened Saxon rules such a race is all the “go”. When the managers of the English meetings saw all the long-jump, weight throwing, and high-jump prizes carried off by Irishmen, they took a very decisive step to put a stop to such a state of affairs: they quietly eliminated such contests from their programmes and thus the Celts might stay at home. It remains with us to show our English neighbours and their pliant tools here in Ireland that we can and will manage our own athletics in Ireland just as well as we expect to manage our political affairs in College Green without their unwelcome aid. One very good sign of the furore this movement is apt to create, and the interest and competion [sic] it will inspire, is the absolute silence with which it is regarded by the Press of the West British faction in Ireland. The Irish Sportsman is dumb on the subject, although it would go into ecstacies [sic] of delight over the presence of a few English crack runners who would come over to Ireland and condescend to win all the la-di-da contests of Landsdowne Road. About a year ago the Field had a very pathetic article on the “Decline of Irish Athletics”. It raised a crow of triumph, of malice and spleen, as bitter and brutal as did its big brother the Times, when it gleefully said that “The Celts are gone, gone with a vengeance”. But thank God if the English “Irish Athletics” are gone, the “Gaelic Athletic Association" is not – Correspondent.

A Leinster Leader correspondent in 1885 reflects on the prowess of Irish athletes abroad and the  movement for the restoration of national games in Ireland (spelling and grammar as in original article).

February 04, 2009


Leinster Leader 9/11/1963
President De Valera delivered an oration at the funeral of an tUas. Domhnall Ua Buachalla, the last Governor General of Ireland, in Laraghybryan Cemetery, Maynooth, on Saturday. He said at the graveside that nobility, kindness and sincerity guided the patriot’s life and actions.
God favoured him with a long life and he spent it in the cause of the people. He prayed that God would give him a place in Heaven among the saints of Ireland, with all the others who fell for their native land.
He was a man, said the President, who gave the love of his heart for Ireland, one of the band of sterling people who helped to found Connradh na Gaeilge, who started the Volunteers, made the Easter Rising possible and who continued his efforts until freedom had been achieved for this part of the country.
An tUas Ua Buachalla was given a State funeral. The attendance included the Taoiseach, Mr. Lemass, members of the Government and judiciary, members of the Dail and Seanad.
After Requiem Mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, celebrated by the Very Rev. C.P. Crean P.P, the funeral set out for Maynooth. Draped in the Tricolour, the coffin was borne from the church to a gun carriage, and troops from Eastern Command and the Air Corps escorted the cortege to Elginton road.
As the funeral reached Phoenix Park a 21-gun salute was fired. At Maynooth, the funeral was met by an Army escort from the Curragh and the Band of Curragh Training Camp which preceded the remains to the cemetery about a mile outside the town. An honour guard was formed by old I.R.A. men as the coffin was borne into the cemetery.
The Guard of Honour was under the command of Commdt. James Dunne, Kill, 1st Batt.,7th Brigade. Members of the group were Messrs. Thomas Mangan, Timothy Tyrrel, John Maguire and Patrick Weafer, all of Maynooth, who fought alongside an tUas Ua Buachalla in 1916, Patrick Healy, Celbridge, John Barnewell, Maynooth and Commdt. T. McHugh, Prosperous, a former member of the North Kildare Batt. 1st Meath Brigade.
At the graveside a volley was fired by troops from the Curragh and the last prayers were recited by the Very Rev. W. O’Riordan, P.P Maynooth.
The chief mourners were Kevin and Seadhna Ua Buachalla (sons): Mrs Brid O’Sullivan, Mrs Sheila O’Neill and Mairin Ní Bhuachalla (daughters): Miss F.A Buckley, Mrs I.M McCarthy, Mr C.P. Buckley and Mrs H. Buckley (relatives)

An article in the Leinster Leader  of November 1963 reports on the funeral of the patriot an tUas. Domhnall Ua Buachalla, the last Governor General of Ireland.

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