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March 24, 2009


Kildare Library and Arts Services
Athy Heritage Centre-Museum
to the
Launch of
The Annals of Ballitore
John MacKenna
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
at 8pm
Athy Heritage Centre and Museum
Front cover with border Bright.JPG  
 Front Cover Image– reproduction from original book of illustrations drawn by Mary Leadbeater’s brother (Betsy Shackleton’s father), Abraham around 1768/9 when Mary was ten years old, and lay ill.
This modern edition of ‘The Annals of Ballitore’ by Mary Leadbeater (1758-1826) is a compilation of the original two editions of the ‘Annals’ published in 1862 with the  addition of a description of the village of Ballitore in 1766, from the manuscript, never before published. The little-known recollection of ‘Ballitore & Its Inhabitants Seventy Years Ago,’ by Betsy Shackelton (1783-1843), Mary Leadbeater’s niece, has been included together with the full list of over 1800 pupils enrolled through the 110 years (1726-1836) of the famous school at Ballitore.  
We are introduced, through watchful village eyes, to the great events of the wars with America and France, off-set by the banality and humdrum of everyday existence:- of bone-setters and shoe-maker surgeons; blacksmiths masquerading as dentists; death by small pox, measles, a broken leg, by internal combustion: the farrier-surgeon who did his best work when his hand was steadied by whiskey; the butcher who was unfortunate to the utmost of his ability. It is a world of travelling ministers and emerging middle classes, great houses, nobility and gentry; of poverty, scarcity and hardship. A world made interesting by ‘news’ brought by mail coaches, messengers and all manner of visitors, high and low to the village of Ballitore. It is a world of love and romance, of Faith and hope but also a hard reactive world of crime and punishment: of cruelty, imprisonment and death; of civil strife and the day-by-day unfolding of the Rebellion of 1798; of intrigue, military excesses, rebellion and reaction. Who will forget the image of a country where people were afraid to eat bacon for fear of the swine snuffling the blood of the unburied corpses; where friends, neighbours and acquaintances were lost to the whim of the military, the rebellion and bloody revenge? The sad, agonising last moments of Dr. Johnson, young Richard Yeates and Owen Finn sacrificed to the passions of the moment. But who likewise will forget the harrowing description of the accidental death of Mary Leadbeater’s youngest daughter, Jane?
The accounts are poignant, moving, humorous, charming and sad, sometimes intensely so. For it is a living memory of a village, a mixed community, torn apart by a revolution thrust upon it; a community already existing in hard, difficult times. What remains obvious above all in both writers accounts, is their devotion to their faith and principles, their detestation of violence, and their love of family, friends and neighbours: of their home and last resting place – the picturesque village of Ballitore, Co. Kildare.
Mary Leadbeater, writing around 1824, from her introduction to her Annals -
WHY do we not better remember that truth which we know so well, that we are not sensible of the value of our blessings till we lose them? In sickness the comfort of health is painfully recollected, though apparently in little esteem when possessed. When death has deprived us of our tender parents, affectionate friends, or engaging children, – sensible that we are cut off from every hope of again enjoying their society, how is every endearing circumstance of the past revived, and every omission on our part towards them
roused to anguish! When a state of disturbance pervades a nation, when the horrors of war have been felt or threatened, how do we cast a retrospective view to the days of tranquillity, when we sat as it were under our own vines and fig–trees, and none made us afraid – astonished that any are willing to relinquish the sweets of peace. The situation of outward alarm and the prospect of unsettlement ought to loosen the mind from those terrene things in which it was wont to delight.
It has not had that effect upon me. My heart swells with tender recollections of the past, and though prompt to enjoy the present, feels a regret at the memory of what I have lost, mixed with a pensive satisfaction that I have enjoyed those quiet pleasures. My native village was never so dear to me; and though the vernal time of childhood and the glowing sensations of youth are past, the autumn of life is not destitute of its tranquil enjoyments.
This season of the year I am partial to; I admire the rich and varied prospects of the autumnal season, the employments by which it is enlivened, and the awakened remembrance of the year nearly gone. Thus, in the autumn of  life, I feel my early sensations revived in the children and youth of our family, and I am led to look back, and, with the partiality which I feel to Ballitore, desire to retrace for their amusement and for my own those scenes, indifferent to other eyes, which have passed before mine not unnoticed. My abilities are limited; my sphere is limited also to the “sweet spot of the world” where my days have been spent, and where I desire to end them.


Kildare Library and Arts Services in association with Athy Heritage Centre-Museum would like to cordially invite you to the launch of The Annals of Ballitore, in the National Library on 26 March at 3.40 at the end of a one day seminar by GENLOC on 'Publishing Irish Local History'  and to its launch by John MacKenna in Athy Heritage Centre at 8 pm on Tuesday 31 March.


Library Association of Ireland
Genealogy and Local Studies Group
Local History Publishing in Ireland
Thursday 26th March 2009
National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

The Genealogy and Local Studies (GENLOC) Group in association with the National Library of Ireland presents a daylong seminar on local history publishing in Ireland. The seminar fee is €40. If you wish to reserve a place, please contact Síle Coleman at scoleman@sdublincoco.ie or 01 4620073.
10:00 Tea/Coffee and registration, National Library of Ireland, Kildare
          Street, Dublin 2
10:30 Dr. Marian Lyons, History Department, St. Patrick’s College,
         Overview of Local History Publishing in Ireland
11:15: Willie Nolan, University College Dublin lecturer & Local History
         Academic Local History Publishing
12:00 Kieran Hoare, Galway Archaeological and Historical Society
         Local History Journals: Publication Economics, Methods and
12:45 Break for Lunch
2:00 Case Studies in Local History Publishing
         2:00 Joseph Forde, Loughrea History Project –
         Publishing Local History on a  FÁS Sponsored Programme
         2:20  Kieran Swords, South Dublin County Libraries –
         The Public Library as Local History Publisher – a Strategic View from South  Dublin County
         2:40  Bernadette Marks, Swords Historical Society –
        Swords Local History Publications
3:00 Noeleen Dowling, Journalist & Reviewer
        What makes local history a good read?
3:40 National Launch of The Annals of Ballitore

Upcoming Local History Publishing in Ireland Seminar and national launch of 'The Annals of Ballitore, National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, Thursday 26th March. 


Ballitore, 1829
                                                               MEMORANDUMS, &C.
6th Month, 19th, 1826, Second day of the week. – I called to see my aunt Mary Leadbeater about eleven. “Ah!” Said she, “art thou come to see the afflicted?” I found her very ill: she suffered much pain, and was cold and weak. Several times that day she said to me, “that she believed it was almost over.”
20.th – She continued very unwell, yet was rather better, and more lively during part of the day; and her appetite, which was gone yesterday, returned a little. It may seem out of place to remark, that the boys of Ballitore School had a party in a hay-field on this day. It was affecting to recollect a similar entertainment, which took place two years ago, when my aunt was invited, and when her sweet smiles beamed on all around. I have seldom seen the peculiar charms of her character to greater advantage than on that evening. There was that gentle, unaffected cheerfulness, which so truly participated in the innocent joys of youth. And when some of those youths stood up to express their gratitude and affection for their master and mistress, and their admiration of the talents and benevolence of my aunt – with what pleasure she listened to the first! and with what simplicity, and politeness, and intuitive grace, did she draw near the speakers, that she might more easily hear and receive what they offered to herself! She returned that evening to her family, full of benevolent joy at the improvements which gentle government has effected in the education of youth. We could not but contrast that happy evening with the present, when my dear aunt was languishing in her chair.
21st. – I found my aunt no better. She feared that she was not patient: I told her she was remarkably so. “You think I am,” said she, “but I am longing too much for the end.” When much oppressed, she said to me, “Oh! What shall I do?” I replied, that I believed she would do well, let the disorder end as it might. She said, “she had given up all thoughts of recovering;” adding “If I were fit to die, no matter how soon!” She rested badly during the night, and slept more in the easy chair than in her bed. Early on the morning of the
22d. – I was standing beside her: she told me that she was very ill; and added, “If I could hope to gain admittance into the very humblest place!” After breakfast, her daughter Elizabeth and I sat beside her, and she said that she hoped we would always love one another. She also spoke to us earnestly of the good and happiness of loving those about us, and being kind to them; and to me, by myself, of her hope that Elizabeth and I would always love one another, and that I would often go to the house when she was gone. My uncle returned yesterday, having been absent from home only one night. Although my aunt was considered better the morning he left her, yet he had sad forebodings on her account. She was constantly in his mind, and her image, such as it was when he first saw her – a young girl, rising up in his imagination. Her verses were continually occurring to him, particularly those lines at the end of “Ballitore:”
                                  “Taste purer joys when these are o’er,
                                        And lay my bones in Ballitore.”
His grief on returning, and finding so much cause for his fears, was almost insupportable. He, who always prized her company, and delighted in it; who very reluctantly consented to her leaving him for a single day, was now going to lose her for ever!
23d, Sixth day. – My aunt suffered much in the night; and when I went to see her in the morning, being in great pain, she said, “This will make it easy to us all to part.” She said she had not been thankful enough for the good health she had so long enjoyed. I longed to say that I never knew any enjoy their comforts more gratefully, but could not utter it. On that morning, she spoke to Mary Doyle of the love and harmony in which they had so long lived together. She also said to Mary, “that she would be resigned to die, if she might hope to obtain the lowest place in the Mansions of Rest.” About seven, some means had been used to relieve her without effect, upon which she spoke of afflicted state, adding, “I might say, with William Robinson, ‘I long to be done with every thing in time.’” I remarked, that in her situation, it was a favour to be brought to that. “I think” said she, “that I am favoured: I hope I am not deceived:” I said something to encourage her, and she replied, “In all my illness I never could, of myself, think a good thought.” She added some other expressions, descriptive of the low opinion she had of herself; and remarked, that if she did get better this time, she would only live to be a poor, infirm creature. She then asked me to read something out of the Obituary in the Annual Monitor, “they are,” said she, “so comforting!” I read John Kendall’s Account of his Wife’s Illness and Death. She told Mary Doyle, that she felt more calmness spreading over her mind now than in the fore part of her illness. To most persons who visited her that day, she said, “she was almost gone.”
Her daughter Sarah Barrington arrived about noon. She was glad to see her, and inquired particularly for her husband and children, and even about the servants; expressing pleasure, and smiling at any agreeable information. She calmly inquired of the Doctor how long she might live. He was not able to form a decided opinion, and my aunt wished to wait with patience.
Rebecca Ridgeway paid her an acceptable visit in the afternoon: she spoke of the state of her mind with her accustomed diffidence. Rebecca’s expressions were consoling, and not the less so, for observing my aunt’s humble opinion of herself. She told Elizabeth Barrington, who was going to Edenderry, and called to take leave of her, “that she did not feel much condemnation, and that she felt an increase of calmness and sweetness to overspread her mind,” adding, “that she hoped she was not deceived.” She said to ---------, “that she hoped she would not be disappointed of an entrance, so that she might get within the gates.” She was considered so much better in the evening, that her family were in spirits.
24.th – She rested better than usual, was pretty free from pain, and most of the day was very drowsy – sometimes a little confused. My uncle frequently came to see her, sometimes cheered at seeing her more easy, and at other times distressed to observe the weakness increasing. One time, while he sat beside her, she knew by his imploring eye, that he longed to know how she was, and, although she scarcely ever spoke at that time, she looked sweetly at him and said, with a very feeble voice, “William! Pretty well, pretty well.” She frequently looked round upon her family, saying, “Farewell! Farewell!” Many expressions of love fell from her lips, as long as she was able to speak, such as, “I leave you all in love;”- “I hope you will all live comfortably together when I am gone, to reward you for your kindness to me.”
25th, First day. – The weakness continues to increase every day. The Doctor is surprised in the morning, to find that my aunt has lived through the night; and in the evening, he is equally surprised that she has lived through the day. She sat most of this day in the easy chair, and spoke very little. I thing it was on 7th day, that, being asked for commands to her son-in-law and daughter James and Lydia Fisher, she said, “dear love! Adding, after some time, “Tell them that I hope I am quiet and patient.” Her daughter Elizabeth said, “Oh! Mother, though art.” My aunt replied, “I am endeavouring to be so.” Seeing her children trying to restrain their tears, she desired that they might “give free course to nature.”
26th. – My aunt sat in the easy chair through the night; I saw her sometimes; she looked sweet, and quiet, and was tolerably easy. In the morning she was very restless, and seemed to put forth her last effort of strength; without much help she rose from the chair, and walked to the bed, but remained there only a short time. Considerable uneasiness came on as the day advanced, she moaned incessantly, and we looked for the happy release: though we had not much reason to think that she was sensible of suffering as the close drew near. About three o’clock in the afternoon, she was for the last time laid on the bed, with the assistance of her truly affectionate and dutiful son: she then seemed more at ease, and moved her limbs a little for a few hours.
We expected every hour would be the last. She had ceased to speak, or look, or swallow – the pulse fluttered – the breathing became slower – yet she held out, hour after hour, till about half-past three on the morning on the 27th, when she quietly departed. No struggle was observed, and the last breath was scarcely discerned. We all sat round the lifeless body for about twenty minutes. I felt in degree petrified-----My aunt Sally and I walked into the garden. The air seemed to me to be chill and death-like. Yet all nature was alive; it was the height of summer; the birds singing; and the weather hot. We returned to the house of death.
28th. – All who saw the remains, were struck with the sweet countenance.
29th. – The funeral, which was held at an early hour, was remarkable quiet and solemn. No doubt, my beloved aunt is now tasting “purer joys” than her dear Ballitore had ever afforded her. So we deposited those precious remains, as she had always wished, amongst the graves of her fathers. But the memory of her virtues, her amiable qualities, and her perpetual kindness and love, lives in our minds, and I believe we shall have to say, with Burns,
                            “Time but the impression stronger makes,
                                As streams their channels deeper wear.”
We must continually miss her. We shall miss her on the every-day occasions of common life; and in joy or grief, we shall miss that participation and sympathy, of which, in her life-time, we were always certain. The same virtue of perseverance, which enabled her to continue her diary for fifty-six years, preserved to us her continual, unvarying kindness – and ever new delight, ever fresh, ever green. She was a most precious companion to her family, to her neighbours, and to all her friends. Oh! where shall we meet the like again? There was no alloy in the pleasure of her friendship. I wonder she lived with us so long: but, as we did enjoy the happiness and the privilege of her company and example for so many years, let us try to imitate her. Let us endeavour to follow her, as I am persuaded she followed Christ, in all meekness, and love, and charity, and forbearance; and, finally, in humble hope of everlasting life.
7th Month, 8th. – We talk freely of my aunt. Indeed, I sometimes think that we, lonely survivors, resemble the disciples walking to Emmaus, and conversing by the way. We talk together of all that had happened. We walk, and are sad. Our minds are ever turned to the same object. We are unwearied in speaking of her virtues, and we recount over her sufferings. But I would by no means wish to lower the holy subject alluded to, by comparing it with our domestic afflictions.

John McKenna will launch the Annals of Ballitore, by Mary Leadbeater on behalf of Kildare Library and Arts Service at the Athy Heritage Museum on Tuesday March 31 at 8pm. In conjunction with this event here is an account of the final illness of Mary Leadbeater written by her nephew and friend, Theadore Eugene Suliot.


Ballitore, 1829
As those periods in the history of nations are the happiest which furnish fewest materials to the writer of their annals, so those individuals have enjoyed most felicity on earth, whose lives are most barren of incident, and most uniform in their course. Thus it was with Mary Leadbeater, who died at Ballitore on the 27th of June, in the 68th year of her age. The history of her happy life is only that of her virtues – of her industry, not only in the various paths of literature, which she adorned with her simple and unaspiring productions, but in the less showy, and yet not less useful, nor less difficult duties of domestic and social life, the performance of which leaves behind a monument far more precious, and more lovely in the sight of God, than the more splendid but perishable records of empty fame.
Mary Leadbeater was the daughter of Richard Shackleton, better known to the public by her Memoirs of his Life than any eulogy of ours could make him. She was born at Ballitore in the year 1758, and in 1791 was united to William Leadbeater, with whom she spent thirty five years of happiness, uninterrupted, we believe, save by those casualties which are the lot of the most fortunate in this world, such as the loss of relatives and friends, by death or absence, and the calamities which at one time distracted her native country.
The high character which her father held in society, for his learning and worth, introduced her at a very early age to the notice of his numerous friends, some of whom ranked high in the literary and political world – she easily won their friendship, by her own talents, and the delightful sweetness and humility of her character; and those who at first loved her only for her father’s sake, soon became bound to her by the ties of affection and esteem, which death alone could break. She never lost a friend; and the same Edmund Burke, whose first letter to R. Shackleton was dated from his entrance at College, (and who afterwards kept up with his old school-fellow and friend a regular and most affectionate correspondence,) dictated his last farewell to the daughter, when he was sinking under bodily and mental afflictions, and could no longer guide the pen.
Her first appearance in the character of an Author was in 1808, when a selection from her Juvenile Poems was published by subscription. With the exception of Translation of Maffeus’s Continuation of the Æneid, those Poems were written on domestic occasions, and addressed to the members of her own family, or to some of her most intimate friends – and, although perhaps now forgotten by the public, they are still precious to those who knew the writer, and the circumstances that called into action the susceptible feelings of her heart. They all breathe an innocent enjoyment of the pleasures of domestic affection, and of a retired and rural life – they are the unpretending effusions of a heart alive to the beauties of nature, overflowing with love to those around her, with charity to all men, and with gratitude to the Giver of those simple joys, which have made the happiness of her life.
In 1811, she published the First, and in 1813, the Second Series of Cottage Dialogues, by which she is chiefly known. Their utility has been fully proved, by the warm approbation of all who were interested in the welfare of the Irish peasantry, and by their efforts to circulate them as widely as possible among the class for which they were intended. They were published in a larger form for the English public, enriched with Notes, illustrative of the character, manners, &c. of the Irish peasantry, by the late W.P. Lefanu, and by Maria Edgeworth, who interested herself warmly in the success of the work, and wrote to the Author several letters, expressive of her esteem, and her desire to do every thing in her power to promote her benevolent views.
Mary Leadbeater has written a Third Series of the Cottage Dialogues, but did not publish it, though many who had an opportunity of perusing the work, thought it superior in interest and simple pathos of description to the former, and equally valuable in point of instruction.
The publication of the Cottage Dialogues was shortly after followed by the Landlord’s Friend. Beside these, she wrote Anecdotes for Children, Cottage Biography, Biographical Notices of Irish Friends, Memoirs of her Father, the late Richard Shackleton, a second edition of which appeared lately; and a large collection of Poems, Essays, Characters, and Tales, some of which have found their way to various periodical publications, but the greater part of which will probably never appear before the public eye, but be preserved by her family, as valuable relics of the unceasing industry and the talents of their amiable author. The last work she lived to publish was The Pedlars, consisting of dialogues, written for the Kildare-street Education Society, descriptive of the natural and artificial curiosities of various parts of Ireland, and of what was always her favourite subject, the character of the Irish, their virtues, their failings, their sufferings, and the best mode of improving their condition.
All these works, different as they are in subject and style, bear the stamp of a mind ever disposed to look to the favourable side of things and characters – to receive the good thankfully, and bear the evil with cheerful resignation, and even from it to derive some source of enjoyment, In her writings for the poor and uneducated, she has, with a peculiar felicity of language, surpassed only by the great Irish Novelist, painted to the life the joys and sorrows, the impetuous feelings and prejudices, of that unfortunate, and, in spite of their frequent aberrations from common sense and sobriety, still amiable portion of our countrymen.
Though Mary Leadbeater’s literary labours were such as would absorb the whole time of a person of common industry, she was no less remarkable for her affectionate attentions to her own family, and to all around her –
                                    “In private life her virtues shone,
                                          Domestic pleasures round her met.”
She prized her influence with persons in the higher walks of life, because it enabled her to benefit the poor or afflicted, and especially to assist young persons of merit in their endeavours to obtain and honest independence.Exposed to continual interruptions from friends, who found her always ready to sympathize in their tastes and pursuits, be they ever so different from her own – from visitors, whom her celebrity often brought from a distance to enjoy her conversation – from the poor, who daily came to her for advice or help – she never seemed in a hurry, and with perfect regularity carried on her various occupations; among which, we must not forget a diary begun in her 11th year, and continued till within a week of her death – a journal of her own life, and a history of Ballitore, from the foundation of the school, in 1726, to the present day. These two last works are highly interesting, not only on account of the number and variety of characters, ludicrous or pathetic incidents, and anecdotes of celebrated individuals, whom she met with in her travels, or who visited Ballitore, but also of the faithful and lively picture which they present of her own home, and of the small but cultivated circle of which she was the idol and the ornament. In those volumes she lays open her whole heart, whose every thought seems to have been pure, and dictated by love, and upon whose warmth years seem to have had no other effect than that of adding to it wisdom and experience. She was to the last youthful in her affections – in her open and unsuspicious disposition, always ascribing to others the generous feelings which she herself possessed, and giving them credit for the virtues which they made profession of. She was always ready to hail with enthusiasm any improvement of later times (whether in science of education) in the character and comfort of the poor, to whom principally she devoted the talents with which heaven had gifted her.Mary Leadbeater was for many years instrumental to the enlightened views of a benevolent lady, in reclaiming a numerous body of her tenantry from misery and degradation to comfort and industry, and the inhabitants of the neat cottages of Ballybarney will long bless her name, and revere her memory. But it would far exceed my limits to detail all the good works of this philanthropist, and perhaps the reader may think I have too much indulged the fondness of regret, in expatiating upon the modest worth of one, whose name is not to be blazoned forth among the shining lights of our age. But I conceive it necessary to display to the world unostentatious virtues like her’s, because they are less common and less appreciated, than more conspicuous qualities and more aspiring talents. I conceive it necessary to impress upon the reader this truth, that humility is the foundation of most of our social virtues. But teaching us our continual dependence for daily strength upon the great source of all our gifts – it teaches us our true state among our fellow mortals – it disposes our hearts to do justice to their virtues, as emanating from the same heavenly source, and to sympathize with them for the failings and errors, which may obscure those divine gifts. It teaches us to bear with the evil we may receive from them, and to overcome it with good – to enjoy every blessing, even the least, with that gratitude which more than doubles its value – it enables us to enjoy with innocence even the praise of men, which is deemed corrupting, but which to a mind truly centered in God, only proves a fresh incentive to gratitude and self-abasement – and so it was in an eminent degree with our departed friend. It was delightful to praise her works, because she enjoyed with such child-like simplicity the thought of having done well. It was also delightful to find fault, because she received blame with perfect meekness, and without and effort yielded at once to the judgment of those often younger and less informed than herself. Let it not be inferred from this that she wanted discrimination. Her taste was pure and delicate – she was an excellent judge of the productions of others, but always diffident of her own powers. Her charity, directed and enlightened by her knowledge of the weakness of the human heart, disposed her to make the best of every appearance of good, and to make allowance for the evil – truly, as the bee can extract sweets from every flower, she could discover in every one qualities, which had been overlooked by others, and find for faults excuses, which no one thought of but herself.
Her humility rendered her averse to speaking of her religious experience, but the care which she took to impress the hearts of her children with a feeling of reverent dependence on their heavenly Father, and the many expressions of her own trust in divine aid which her diary contains, show that she was, from her early youth, favoured with a deep feeling of religious fear and love.
About a year ago she began to be afflicted with dropsical symptoms, which, in defiance of medical skill, and the tender cares of her anxious family, gradually increased, till she was confined to her chamber. Yet even there her mind seemed unchanged. She manifested the same anxiety for the welfare of all around her; and she was equally accessible to the many who came to consult her, or to enjoy her company for the last time. She continued her literary occupations to the very last week, preparing a volume of Essays, Tales, and Anecdotes, for the Education Society. Though the disease, towards the close of her life, made rapid progress, her friends flattered themselves, that her life might yet be prolonged for a while, and her sufferings alleviated: but the last week she became rapidly worse. Her sufferings were great, and she feared that her patience would not hold out to the end, and that she could not part with perfect resignation from those blessings, to which her heart clung with increased affection; but she was supported by divine help through the trying close, and her death was indeed that of the just. Her last words, and her last looks, when she could speak no more, were those of love – and the friends, by whom her death shall long be felt as a deep affliction, and an irreparable loss, feel unspeakable consolation in the assurance, that she now enjoys with her dear Redeemer, in whom alone she trusted, that perfection of heavenly love after which her soul had always panted, and with a foretaste of which we believe she was often favored, when in this state of existence.

 On behalf of Kildare Library and Arts Services, John McKenna will launch The Annals of Ballitore, by Mary Leadbeater  at the Athy Heritage Museum on Tueday March 31 at 8pm. In conjunction with this event, here is an extract from 'Recollections' written in 1829 by Theadore Eugene Suliot, a friend to Mary Leadbeater.

March 19, 2009


                                             An Architect Earl

   A newly published life of Edward Stratford, 2nd Earl of Aldborough.

Building developers and speculators have had a bad press in recent times. What we often forget though is that many of the buildings which we most admire from the past were the result of the activities of such speculators.

A newly-published book, An Architect Earl, tells the story of Edward Stratford, 2nd Earl of Aldborough, who was one of the most successful entrepreneurs of late eighteenth-century Ireland. He was born at Belan House near Athy in south county Kildare in 1736, the eldest son of John Stratford and his wife Martha. The family was one of the largest landowners in Ireland and had extensive estates in Kildare, Wicklow, Carlow, Laois, Wexford and Dublin.

Though he was heir to the family property he was a restless young man with a flair for architecture and the ambition to make his mark in both Ireland and Britain. Between 1770 and his death in 1801 he completed three major building projects each of considerable architectural merit.

From 1775, on part of his estate in Wicklow, he built a remarkable and pioneering industrial town, on a hill overlooking the river Slaney, which he called Stratford-on-Slaney. Here he erected factories and bleach-greens with a view to attracting industry, particularly textiles, to the area. He built over four hundred houses for workers, laid out in a series of spacious squares and streets, modelled on the fashionable resort of Bath in England. He built churches, both Catholic and Protestant, rectories, schools and laid on water and other necessary infrastructure at a total cost of over £10,000. At peak there were several thousand workers employed there, mostly in calico printing, in both the cottage and factory systems. All his life he was aware of the need to provide employment for the poor. In 1782 when the watchmakers of Geneva fled to Ireland he tried to attract them to a site on his estate at Baltinglass but they eventually settled on the south coast near Waterford, at a place which is still called New Geneva. He also established several industrial enterprises at Belan.

While building Stratford-on-Slaney he began to develop Stratford Place, off Oxford Street, which when finished was one of the finest small developments of late Georgian London, and is still substantially intact. This consisted of a mansion house, which he intended for himself but never lived in, flanked by two terraces of town-houses. In all he spent over £50,000 and though he was for many years financially embarrassed as a result it eventually proved to be a sound investment for him. Finally in Dublin, from 1792-8, he built Aldborough House, at the eastern end of the North Circular Road, the last great mansion to be erected in the city before the Union.

Throughout his life he continued to improve and embellish the house, extensive gardens and demesne at Belan. The gardens had originally been set out in 1709 but were remodelled many times during the eighteenth century in the latest taste. Bridges were erected over two tributaries of the Barrow which flowed through the demesne – one in the Palladian style, the other in the Chinese style, which was dubbed the ‘Chainy’ bridge locally. Gate-lodges, dove and pigeon houses, hermitages, grottoes, obelisks and a mock classical temple, which can still be seen from the Waterford-Dublin road, were erected. Ponds and lakes were constructed and stocked with exotic fish imported from England and there was an extensive plantation of timber. The house had its own private theatre and an extensive library. Sadly nothing remains today, except the ruins of the stable block, of a house which was once described as the finest in Ireland.

At the time of his death Edward Stratford was among the ten wealthiest men in Ireland. However he was more than just a speculator. He was admired by his contemporaries for his taste in literature, music and the arts and patronised some of the leading painters of the day, such as Thomas Gainsborough. The buildings which he constructed were characterised by elegant design, fine craftsmanship and materials and the most up-to-date interiors and decoration. He was a practical patriot and capitalist of the best kind who constantly sought to improve the lot of those who were not in a position to help themselves.

Though he was himself of a family of nineteen and was twice married he had no children and the great house at Belan and the rest of his property went after his death to his younger brothers.

An Architect Earl is written by Ronald Lightbown, formerly of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and an internationally renowned author. It is published by OLL Editions in association with the Irish Georgian Society and is available in local bookshops.

An Architect Earl002.jpg

Great new publication on the 2nd Earl of Aldborough, Edward Stratford of Belan, Co. Kildare. Available in local bookshops or from Ossory, Laois and Leinster Editions.

March 18, 2009


Leinster Leader January 15 2009
Newbridge - the home of Tintawn – a 1950s industrial success story
While farming was the backbone of the Irish economy for decades the late 1950s saw a surge in the contribution of manufacturing to the country’s economic output. One of the brightest stars in the Kildare manufacturing sector was the firm of Irish Ropes Ltd. in Droichead Nua.
A Leader feature in January 1959 traced the rise of Irish Ropes from very humble beginnings twenty-five years earlier. It opened with the ringing endorsement ‘ Few industrial concerns, in any country, can rival the management achievements of Irish Ropes Ltd. which in the comparatively short space of twenty-five years has climbed steadily upwards to reach the topmost rungs of the fiercely competitive ladder of Irish industry.’
In the quarter-century of its existence, this ever-growing concern which began in a single small building has developed to cover eight acres of ground and in doing so has pushed the sales of its products to serve all five Continents of the world. The record of its progress is one of the brightest chapters of Irish industrial history; an Irish success story which makes heartening reading in what was described as the ‘unsettled, tense world of to-day.’
The great strides made by the town of Droichead Nua over the past twenty-five has been one of the outstanding features of Irish industrial development. Irish Ropes Ltd. had played a major role in the development and the factory was inseparably linked with the onward march of the town.
The now world-renowned concern came into being in July,1933. There were no paens of praise and good wishes to herald the birth of the new industry: the country – and Newbridge in particular – lapsed deep in a coma of recession in the 1930s.
It was with great determination that the late Mr. Rigby-Jones (founder of the firm and father of the present Managing Director) set to work to lay the foundation which he was quietly confident would one day bear a business dealing with the markets of the world. The initial staff consisted of six men, four of whom were still with the firm. The six were the late John Doran, the late James Luker, Pat Geraghty, James Coogan, Joseph Whitely and George Halford.
First home of the new industry was the school of equitation in the old Newbridge military barracks formerly occupied by British troops pre 1922. Here the first employees of Irish Ropes Ltd. did their initial job for the firm – clearing the floor and rubbish which had accumulated there since the departure of the troops. Machinery was then installed and gradually Irish Ropes began in business. The new industry forged slowly ahead and by 1939 prospects for the ‘factory in the barracks’ were considerably brighter.
Then came disaster in the form of the second world war or ‘the Emergency’ as it was known in Ireland. There was acute shortage of raw materials, shipping machinery and in fact the scarcity of almost everything necessary for the progress of industry brought production virtually to a standstill.
The end of the war infused new hope into Irish Ropes . From 1946 to 1948 there was a period of reconstruction and renovation and an increasing search for new products. Back in 1933 six men had begun work at the ‘factory in the barracks’; by 1959 Irish Ropes were employing 550 workers and the factory had expanded to three acres of roofed structures on a total site of eight acres.
In spite of fierce post-war competition Irish Ropes captured markets all over the world and by 1959 more than half of their total production was exported. And that production means many thousands of tons of ropes, twines, and floor coverings coming from scores of machines and other equipment the total investment in which amounted to almost one million pounds. The international range of the Irish Ropes export catalogue was apparent from the big packages of floor coverings and rope with shipping addresses for Finland, Denmark, South Africa, the West Indies, South Africa, West Indies, South America, New York, Chicago, Ottawa, Sydney and many other destinations on every continent.
The big success in the Irish Ropes inventory had been the development of sisal floor covering with the iconic brand name of ‘Tintawn’. The Leader article reports that this durable covering, woven in many attractive designs, has found a ready market in Ireland and abroad – one large section of the Newbridge factory being devoted solely to the making the product and turns out some 20 tons of Tintawn annually.
The industrial strength of Newbridge powered by ‘the Ropes’ and ‘the Cutlery’ was to be the backbone of employment in mid-Kildare for many years to come.
 Series No. 103.  

In his regular feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun,' Liam Kenny  recounts how by 1959, Irish Ropes had  progressed from humble beginnings to becoming one of the leading lights of Irish industry.


Leinster Leader 29 August 1981
Almost the last of the traditional pub-cum grocery shops in Naas has gone into history. Phil Kennedy’s in South Main Street, has succumbed to modern trends.
The writing was on the wall from last November when Mr Kennedy, who in his early nineties was the oldest working publican in the country, died suddenly. The business remains in the Kennedy family, but the premises is being transformed from what it had been for perhaps over 100 years.
However, Mr. Andy Kennedy, licencee of the premises, told this writer that many old facets of the premises will be retained when it is refurbished. The bar is already open for business and the new lounge is to open shortly in what was formely the grocery section of the premises.
In Phil Kennedy’s day the bar was known “the dispensary”. The grocery opened about 9.00 a.m. Many’s the man with “a sore head” nipped through the double doors into the bar for a “cure” at this time before carrying on to work on a Monday morning. Sometimes the company was so enjoyable that some followed Brendan Behan’s dictum: “Hold your hour and have another”. Never was early morning business so brisk than during Punchestown week.
The tradition of the early morning availability of drink is thought to have stemmed from an early morning licence which could be availed of on market days when the market was in the nearby Town Hall yard. Changes of attitude among the local law enforcers brought an end to it some years ago when Kennedy’s had the distinction of being raided “before hours” on two occasions.
Another facet of Kennedy’s was its quizzes, conducted in his own inimitable manner by manager John O’Brien. From being a house quiz, it became more widespread, drawing teams from the town and farther afield. The eccentricity of some of the questions, plus the often ingenious (but totally wrong) answers assured Kennedy’s quiz of a fame of its own.
But it is the grocery that will be sorely missed. One was still served by white-coated curates in courteous manner of an age long gone. As often as not, one dealt by account, “fixing up” at the end of the week. There was always an opportunity for a chat, to exchange news local and national, and of course to hear of the latest bit of local gossip. Kennedy’s was justifiably famous for its bacon which hung in great sides in one corner of the grocery. Happily, in defiance of EEC regulations, one could get loose free-range eggs – and often turkey eggs at that!
Not changed
A curious factor about the shop was that none of the cash registers was converted to decimalisation. One paid for one’s drink or groceries in “new” coinage which was rung up in good old pounds, shilling and pence on the old fashioned registers. One suspected that Mr. Kennedy, who had copperplate handwriting and meticulously wrote up his books nightly until a late hour, still made entries in the former monetary style. For he was on of the old school. In the early 1900s he became apprenticed to the bar trade in Dublin and before coming to Naas was manager of a pub in Dun Laoghaire. He was involved in the War of Independence but seldom if ever spoke about that. He owned his premises in Naas from 1925 when bought it from Doran’s (it was formerly Masterson’s) The décor of the shop was totally traditional. Gone for ever are the wooden sugar and tea bins; the drawers which once held the literal needle to an anchor; the massive and forbidding looking bacon slicing machine, the snug, and much more.
But Mr. Andy Kennedy, a nephew (the family bought the pub when it was put up for public auction) says that many mementos of the past have been rescued and will be preserved. These include the “wag-o-the wall” clock which always caused consternation at closing time – when that time came at 11 p.m. in the winter. When the minute hand reached the hour it suddenly dropped three minutes at the next stroke. The unwary, hoping to get the last drink, suddenly found that in a very short space of time, ten past eleven had been reached. Still one’s own time-piece showed that only a couple of minutes had elapsed.
In vain, did one protest – an unshakeable John O’Brien pointed to the clock. “Time gentlemen, please” rang out in the strident tones, and the “one for the road” (or the Bed) had to be forgotten about. Still the pub never lost a customer over the eccentricities of the clock which, as the hands laboured uphill past the half hour, managed to be remarkably accurate as they reached the hour. Happily the clock has been restored to the bar where I’m told it is performing with its usual callousness towards the wishes of the patrons.
Old Mirrors
Many of the genuine old pub mirrors advertising spirits and cigarettes have been rescued and are being restored to the bar and lounge. Also on display will be the oak carving of intricate shamrockery, harps, and sunbursts which was in the closed off area between the old grocery and bar – jocularly referred to in the past as “the lounge” – although it could scarcely accommodate four people, and had to be abandoned in winter when arctic draughts blew in under the door from the yard.
Mr. Kennedy says that much of the woodwork was in so bad a condition that it could not be renewed but that he has retained as much as was feasible. The counters are topped by the original material for example.
What this writer would like to see restored – if possible- is the mahogany partition which once served in the bar. It had a metal plate inserted for striking matches. Redundant for that use, it served as an attraction for those who had never known the days when matches were carried loose by some so impoverished as not able to afford to buy a box of matches.
Time up!
The glass in the partition perversely served as the most effective call for “time” that the writer has ever encountered. The scraping of a coin clutched by an exasperated John O’Brien or Jim McDonnell on the glass along it surface brought forth a noise so unbearable that only the deaf or the very drunk could endure it. It cleared the pub in “jig time” needless to say.
Ah well, a new generation has to be catered for and, like pints of plain, housed-bottled stout, pot-still whiskey, Kerry Blue cigarettes, and many another thing, the old Kennedy’s belongs to the past.

The death of Phil Kennedy,who was the oldest working publican in the country, results in changes to the business.

March 14, 2009


Leinster Leader 25/2/1895
On Saturday last, on receipt of the news of Mr Jordan’s election for South Meath, a number of Whigs from that portion of the County Meath adjoining Kilcock collected into the town and gave vent to their exultation by cheering for Jordan and booing the Independent candidate. The Parnellites of the town, who it is well known constitute the very large majority of the inhabitants, submitted patiently to the insulting conduct of their opponents for a considerable time, but at length the aggressive attitude of the Whigs became so intolerable that the Nationalists turned out in good force and, the rival parties having met at the Meath bridge, a firm fight ensued which lasted for about half an hour. Several blows were given and received, and a number of the combatants received injuries. Fortunately there happened to be a small extra force of constabulary in town, and these, with the two available local men, were quickly on the scene and succeeded in putting a stop to the disturbance. We understand no arrests have been made. It appears the Whigs were carrying out a barrel of porter from the town for the purpose of carrying out some bacchanalian orgies around a bonfire at Dollanstown, and it is stated that their “last words” as they fled from the town were “we have our member, our priests, and our barrel of porter”.

The Leinster Leader of 1895 reports on some robust political exchanges in Kilcock.


The Celtic Times December 17, 1887
 The "Mets" having a day in the country
Sunday last the Metropolitan boys invaded Monasterevan, for the purpose of popularising the game of hurling, and trying their luck against a splendid football team. People in cities and large towns generally indulge in a long sleep on Sunday mornings, and the Mets are far from being exceptions to this weakness of humanity. Out of the forty-two that had been selected for the hurling and football teams, only twenty-three were able to get out of bed in time for Mass and the half-past nine train, but it must be said that one of these twenty-three missed his breakfast to be in time for his duty and the fun. Those of the Mets who were lucky enough to rise early had a grand day from start to finish. As the train steamed out of Kingsbridge the echo of national airs completely drowned the monotonous noise of the rattling of the carriages, and for an hour and three-quarters a smoking concert continued to the delight of all hearers, “barrin” an occasional “polis” man. Along the whole line down to Monasterevan there was not much to be seen. Two or three fields in Kildare, whose sub-soil had not been turned for many a long day – aye, year – have recently been ploughed; with the exception of these the eye could wander only on the grass plains, closely cut hedges, some big trees, bullocks, sheep and the sky. In the far distance a great smoke might catch the eye, but it would be impossible to satisfy one’s self that it was emanating from a prosperous manufacturing town, and not a mere fog on the Dublin mountains. Midway between two stations a traveller should say to himself, “Well, if there be any people in this eer country they must be in the train”.
Anyhow, about a quarter-past eleven, a railway official was heard calling out: “’On’sterevan, ‘On’sterevan;”and, sure enough, it was, for there on the platform were lined up the members of the Monasterevan Distillery and Brewery Hurling and Football Club, headed by the popular captain, Paddy Molohan, from near Ennistymon. When the Mets saw Paddy they were at home, for Paddy was a very prominent and popular member of their club a short while ago.
From the station to the Committee Rooms
The Monasterevan youths and seniles fell into ranks two deep, having their camans shouldered, and led the way through the streets to the Courthouse, followed by the Metropolitans, keeping step in good style. The visitors had lunch, then were shown through the distillery and brewery, where they spent a pleasant time admiring the inventions in machinery, whereby the products of nature are converted into such luxurious beverages as whiskey, ale, and stout.
The Field  
At about twelve the field was reached – a nice sized field for Gaelic purposes, with an “up hill and a down hollow” in it. For money-taking, or for ‘a gate’, the field is a bad one, being along the roadside, and presenting a full view beyond the pale. Whether it was that the view from without was so good, or from some other cause, the field was a long time with nobody but players, and the road mound was thickly lined. In the course of the play, however, the crowds came nearer, and before the end of the first match a solid mass of orderly, enthusiastic spectators lined the ropes.
The Mets were not sanguine in their hopes of being the victors at football on account of their want of practice at the game, and knowing that the Monasterevan team had already gained a good name on the football field. However, as the day was fine, the field in good order, and the home team good natured to a man, the Mets could take a good beating in the best of humour for the fun of the thing. After an hour’s play it was a surprise to everyone that the visitors had won, and won easily, the Monasterevans only having scored one point. The Mets had two men too many, for Quane, Captain of Helen’s Babies (formerly known as the Rosannas of Tipperary), did three men’s work.
There is nothing but surprise going in this world- except monotonous stupidity, and that’s no longer in Gaelic ranks. Captain Kenny and his boys believed all along that they could win the hurling, hands down. So far from their expectations being realised, they never sustained such pressure from any previous opponents. The ranks of the Mets. were often broken through, and it was only the training of veterans like Tom Molohan, O’Mullane, Hanly, and myself, that won the day.
The Banquet
It is not all law that is in a Courthouse. If it was law that the Mets had on Sunday night they’ll become so fond of legal lore that they’ll all become ‘torneys or Q.C.’s, or maybe Judges. If the players had great appetites they had proportionate varieties of necessaries and luxuries from which to select. For the time being, one would forget that he was sitting in the august presence of a magisterial bench, and fancy that he was in a large hotel in which all the inmates had thrown off that “stand off” air of importance and superiority (?) and had assumed a brotherly and national friendship worthy of our democratic age. “The order of the day” was, eating, drinking and all-round enjoyment, and when the dishes were removed a second smoking concert, salted with some speech-making and declamations, occupied the time until the Metropolitans were due to catch the train for Dublin. But you should hear the singing, and see the short grass growing green again, as we passed by many a style, whereon oft’ sat a Lady Dufferin, Mary, and the inevitable other, side by side. The roaring was loud and dreadful, and like the lions in the lesson book, being heard in the night, it resembled distant thunder. We though of the hollow in the Curragh, wherein Donnelly staved in the Saxon Cooper’s ribs, and afterwards offered to hoop any old barrel for the benefit of the waifs’ “Home” in Townsend Street. We thought of St. Brigid’s Cloak, that flattened out the Curragh of Kildare, and with ill-suppressed choking curses contrasted the condition of Kildare under the shamrock of saints – Patrick, Brigid and Columbkille – with its present condition under a foreign garrison and their rotting wrens. We thought of the Hill of Allen, and of the glorious Fenian era, when Fionn and his followers were called together from every greenán within the four seas of Erinn, by three loud shouts, to go on hunting expeditions “over the hills and far away”, through the glens and valleys of Munster, And, being hurlers, we “thought long” on Diarmuid, and of the days when his “light, airy bound” carried him over every obstacle, and enabled him to plant the soles of his two feet firmly on the other side of the garden wall. We thought of the days when the mighty hurler and chess-player and warrior could run through the enemies of the Fenians, and under them and over them, until they were all scattered or annihilated. We could see them, when hunting or hurling or fighting, sweeping along with the speed of a cloud shadow on a March day, and we almost wished that we had lived when Connor Macnessa fell dead.

The Celtic Times of December 1887 describes a visit by the Metropolitan Gaelic football and hurling teams to Monasterevan.


Leinster Leader January 1 2009
Tales of Christmas past – from Red Hugh O’Donnell to James Fintan Lalor
The last fortnight of the calendar year is often a time of reflection and nostalgia. Aside from the fuss and rush of Christmas, there is time too for recollection and reminiscence as the winter reaches its darkest phase. Newspapers join in that spirit of nostalgia by publishing articles which step aside from the usual torrent of news and current affairs and instead deal with stories from the past.
The Leader in the last week of December joined in the trend by taking a look back at landmark events in the story of Ireland which occurred around the Christmas period. ‘Christmas has many memories of historic Ireland; it was on Christmas eve that Red Hugh O’Donnell ‘the eagle of the north’ escaped from the dungeons of Dublin Castle and it was on Christmas Eve, 1916 that the first prisoners of the Rising came home to restart the movement that continued the War of Independence.’
On a more sombre note it recalled that the Christmas of 1848 was one of the blackest in our history. ‘Black 48’ as it was termed was the worst of the two disastrous years and in that year alone a million and half died of starvation. That year, ten days before Christmas, the situation became desperate in Dublin. The hospitals, such as they were at the time, were overcrowded and the Dublin workhouse was packed to the door with famine and fever victims.
The Lord Mayor and Corporation appealed to the citizens of Dublin and all other cities within ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’ to subscribe generously towards the funds of the Dublin relief committee, set up by the Lord Mayor and supported by the Lord Lieutenant and other members of the community.
But as Christmas came nearer, the extent of the suffering became worse. The cholera was spreading and the Famine showed no signs of abating. Refugees from counties Wicklow. Meath and Dublin were pouring into the city by the thousands. Many of them died on the way. On November 18th according to the ‘Freeman’s Journal’ fifteen bodies were picked up on the road between Celbridge and Dublin. Among the cholera victims on December 4th were three nuns of the Mercy Order, Sisters M. Teresa Moore, Angela Fleming and Elizabeth Wade. The three had been members of Mother Catherine McAuley’s Baggot Street community. Dubliners had termed them the ‘walking nuns’ because they moved outside the cloister to work among the sick poor.
However amidst all the suffering and tragedy there were individual stories which inspired those who still clung to the ideal of an independent Ireland. Six days before Christmas 1848 a man was released from prison in Dublin because of ill-health. His name was James Fintan Lalor and he was later to be described by Padraig Pearse as one of ‘the four evangelists of Irish nationality’. Earlier in the year another of the ‘evangelists’ John Mitchel had been arrested and transported to Australia. In his weekly paper ‘The United Irishman’ he had told the people to hold on to their cattle and sheep and to eat them rather than sell them to pay the ‘absentee landlords’.
His paper went out of existence but Lalor stepped in to found yet another paper with a strong nationalist tone known as the ‘The Irish Felon’ which preached the same independence doctrine as that preached by John Mitchel.
After his release from gaol Lalor had taken lodgings in Capel Street, Dublin. He was very ill that Christmas as a severe attack of asthma kept him in bed. However by mid-January 1849 he was back in action planning another Rising. Many have heard of the Rising of 1848 yet most are unaware that there was a second rising planned in 1849 led by Lalor. It too failed and, his health broken, Lalor died three weeks later.
The Leader’s look back at Christmastide in those troubled years concludes by pointing up the contrast between the various layers of society over the seasonal holiday. ‘ It was a Christmas of contrasts; there was gaiety at Dublin Castle and banquets in the homes of the aristocracy. Yet there was hunger and cholera on the streets of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.’
Times have changed greatly since that Christmas of 1848 when people had little or nothing of the seasonal comforts which we in the modern era are enjoying this Christmas 160 years later.  
 Series No. 99.

 In his regular feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun, Liam Kenny finds The Leader, in the last week of December 1958, taking a look back at landmark events in the story of Ireland which occurred around the Christmas period, one of which was the escape of Red Hugh O’Donnell ‘the eagle of the north’from the dungeons of Dublin Castle.

March 10, 2009


The Irish Times on-line as a New Source
for Genealogy and Local History
         John Colgan
The Irish Times newspaper, from its inception in the mid-19th century to the present day, is now freely available in easily searchable format on the web at www.irishtimes.com in public libraries. Private access is available for a fee from the paper. Any word can be searched in chronological order, or by date, facilitating the tracing of families or events in a convenient fashion. The writer is using it for family-name genealogical purposes, with an eye to other Kildare interests.  To use the site, write ARCHIVES in the search box and Enter. Select Digital Archive by clicking on it. Type the word to be searched for in the search box, and if, required, set the start date. Small windows providing a hint of the content are shown in chronological order. Click on one to read it.
The following is a selection of chronological material, summarised from editorials, letters to the editor, ‘hatches, matches and despatches’, sporting and court cases etc, all based on searches for Colgan and a variant, Colligan, and are mostly of Kildare interest.  The writer’s comments and insertions are in italics.

1872:  Francis Colgan, JP, Co Kildare, attended a meeting in St Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle, to consider raising a fund to commemorate the late Lord, Earl of Mayo (who had been assassinated in India and whose family home was Palmerstown House, near Naas) [The Irish Times, 10/4/1872.]
1875: Francis Colgan was present at the Kildare Hunt Ball, Naas, yesterday [The Irish Times, 20/1/1875.]
1878:  F. Colgan, Esq., had a 7 year old bay mare for sale. He is “well known with Ward, Meath and Kildare hounds” [The Irish Times, 6/8/1878.]
1879:  The Empress of Austria was now hunting with the Kildare pack, which met at Enfield. Included were Mr Colgan of Castlewelland [sic] and party and Mr Colgan of Cappagh and party. “Cappagh gave a fox.. and worked his way into Grange. Hortlands was blank and from Courtown there was not much sport to chronicle” [The Irish Times, 10/3/1879.]
1879:  Sub-Constable Colligan has been transferred from Kildare to Carraroe [The Irish Times, 18/6/1879.]  Promotions and transfers of policemen, including some of the Free State’s civic guards, were recorded weekly, mostly in the Weekly Irish Times, and for every county in Ireland.
1880:  At a meeting of the Irish National Land League, held in Abbey St, Dublin, the case of the eviction of widow Colgan from her farm at the Curragh, Co Kildare was discussed at length as an example of Landlordism at it worst. The holding, known as the Curragh Farm, a mile from Kildare town, was the subject of an eviction at the hands of the Sheriff at the behest of the landlord, The Duke of Leinster. The Colgan family were said (by the PP of Kildare, Fr Nowlan, in a letter to the Duke) to have lived there for 250 years in undisputed possession. On the 29th January last the Duke wrote to Colgan’s widow stating that he had received her letter and having inquired into the case he regretted that he should decline to make a change in the arrangement of the Curragh Farm. On 13th February there followed a letter in the handwriting of Mr Hamilton, son of the [land agent] of the Leinster leases, stating that if the poor widow had given up possession of the farm when it was demanded of her, then she would have been put in as caretaker for 6  months. Fr Nowlan wrote saying the family had undisturbed possession of Curragh farm for 200 years. The rent was £43 10s. In 1810 the Duke gave Peter Colgan a lease of 21 years on the strength of which he built a house and made improvements at the expense of £700. The lease expired 3 years after his death in 1861, when the agent trebled the rent. The rent was raised again in 1870 to enable the widow to meet poor rates. In 1877 46 acres were added and the original rent quadrupled, some 60 percent over the government valuation etc. The house, now valued at £1,000, is in the landlord’s possession and Mrs Colgan is driven to a small cottage on the farm of the Curragh in the possession of her daughter. She has rights to graze sheep on the Curragh and gets “no help from her sons”. She was evicted a couple of weeks previously by the sheriff [The Irish Times, 5/5/1880.]
1881:  The Grand Jury for County Kildare was sworn in before the Sheriff:  among them were Francis Colgan, Esq, Cappagh House; Patrick Sweetman, Longtown House; John Maunsell, Esq, Oakley Park; F Cooke Trench, Millicent; Lieutenant Colonel Richard Wilson Hartley, Beech Park, Clonsilla [The Irish Times, 14/7/1881.]  Given that Grand Jury records for Co Kildare are few and far between, the newspaper provides a useful chronicle of all of their members, appointed each year by the Sheriff; the sheriff is also identified.
1881:  F. Colgan, Jnr, was at a well-attended meeting of landowners of Kildare in Naas to discuss hunting in Kildare [The Irish Times, 3/12/1881.]
1882:  F Colgan, JP, Cappagh, Enfield, subscribed £1 towards the Catholic School for Deaf and Dumb, Cabra [The Irish Times, 26/7/1882.] The paper regularly published columns of names of individuals who subscribed, and how much, to all kinds of causes, including raffles, church fetes etc.
1883:  At the County Kildare Club grounds at Oldtown, Naas, Walter Colgan, club member, competed in the 440 yards handicap race. He appears not to have finished, there being a (0) after his name. This was their annual athletics sports meeting [The Irish Times, 2/8/1883.] Names of competitors in every kind of sport were listed regularly.
1887:  Mullaboden Pony Races & Sports, Co Kildare: Mr J J Colgan’s horse, Countess, whose pedigree was unknown, was ridden by the owner and won the Scurry Race, the prize being £2 [The Irish Times, 22/4/1887.]
1887:  Francis Colgan of Cappagh House, Esq, was sworn in as a member of the Grand Jury for Co Kildare at Naas. A unanimous commendation was made of the 50 year reign of Queen Victoria by the members present [The Irish Times, 7/7/1887.]
1888:  Rev J Colgan, SJ, and Rev J Colgan, PP, attended the funeral of the RC bishop of Kildare and Leighlin [The Irish Times, 9/3/1888.]  Every funeral of note, and every marriage and company/club dance had the list of attendees printed; also those who travelled by ferry – and later by air  - were listed.
1889:  Rev James Colgan, PP, Stradbally, was present at the consecration of Dr Michael Comerford as bishop of Kildare and Leighlin [The Irish Times, 2/1/1889.]
1889:  A son was born to Francis P Colgan, MD, on 26/12/1888 at Bagnalstown, Co Carlow [The Weekly Irish Times, 5/1/1889.]  This was a typical announcement of a birth; the mother is never given a name, at best she is the wife of …
1890:  Grazing lands for letting for one year at Dunfierth [Northwest Co Kildare] were advertised. Apply to Francis Colgan, jnr, Cappagh [The Irish Times, 13/1/1890.]
1890:  At Balls Bridge yesterday Mr Laurence J Colgan, Co Kildare, sold a four year old filly to Lord Cholmandeley for £200 [The Irish Times, 27/8/1890.] Later references will cite his address and more...
1891:  At the meet of the Kildare Hounds at Enfield on Saturday, Mr Colgan of Johnstown House, met with a serious accident, falling on his head, receiving a severe scalp wound and being rendered unconscious for several hours [The Irish Times, 2/3/1891.]
1892: Mr D J Colgan’s chestnut gelding, Palace, 5 years old, is an entry at Newbridge ‘for horses the property of tenant-farmers in the Kildare Hunting District’ [The Irish Times, 7/4/1892.] So we know D J was no swell, but a tenant farmer.
1892:  Laurence J Colgan, St Anne’s, Clane, got 3rd prize in County Kildare Horse Show [The Irish Times, 20/9/1892.]
1892:  Laurence J Colgan’s wife, of St Anne’s, Clane, had twin sons born, 9/10/1892 [The Irish Times, 22/10/1892.] Later we will read of the death of one of the twins at an ‘exclusive’ college…
1893:  Small Ad:  Bedding plants… J Colgan, Leixlip, Gardens, County Kildare [The Irish Times, 2/6/1893.] There were many more small ads of this kind, with different plants, and his name is given as James, and the gardens are in Leixlip Castle Demesne.
1893:  The Kildare Hounds met at Kill village and rode to Furniss Hill Wood and Craddoxtown Cottage. Those who went well throughout the day included Mr Jack Colgan on a wonderful brown mare, and a few other persons. [The Irish Times, 30/11/1893.]
1894:  Dr Colgan played polo at tiny Ground, Carlow for Carlow in a match against Kildare. He also hunted [The Irish Times, 14/9 & 28/12/1894.]
1897:  Details of contributors to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Commemoration Fund, in aid of nurses of same name for aiding Irish sick poor in their own homes were published: Lord Iveagh contributed the largest amount by far, £12,500; the Lord Lieutenant, £500; Frederick Wookey [a Leixlip judge and flock-mill owner, in the mould of William Martin Murphy], JP, £2; and Nathaniel Colgan [Not a Kildare Colgan but a rare Protestant one and a nationalist, who was Vice-President of the Royal Irish Academy and a distinguished naturalist – publisher], £1 [The Irish Times, 3/7/1897.]
1899:  Announcement of the Local Government Elections Results: The counting of votes for the different electoral divisions in Co Kildare took place on Friday last in the Court House, Naas. The results (part of same) were as follows: Maynooth: Lord Frederick Fitzgerald (U) 235, W Rutherford Ronaldson (N) 163; Celbridge: Sir Gerald R Dease (U), unopposed; Timahoe: Francis Colgan, unopposed {No party affiliation for him cited} [The Irish Times, 10/4/1899.]
1899:  CELBRIDGE: There are two District Councils in the Celbridge Union: Celbridge No. 1 (Co Kildare) and Celbridge No. 2 (Co Dublin). Celbridge No. 1 District Council met at 11 o’clock on Saturday last, Mr John Field, CC, Kilcock, presiding. There was a full attendance. Messrs F Colgan, J Hannon and Major Claude Cane were elected ex-officio. Mr John Field was elected chairman, with 13 votes to 5 cast for Sir Gerald Dease, CC. As the appointment of Mr Field created a vacancy on the County Council, Mr Ronaldson was co-opted to the Council. In Celbridge No.2 (Co Dublin), Captain Vesey (U) was elected chairman of the Council. Mr W Bobbett, JP, and Mr E Shiell were proposed for the vice chair. Sheill was elected and he was also co-opted to the County Council in place of Vesey. [The Irish Times, 18/4/1899.]
1899:  At an adjourned meeting of Kildare Co Council which was held in the Court House, Mr Stephen J Brown, solicitor, chairman, presided. Mr F Colgan, JP, was amongst those appointed to the board of Carlow Lunatic Asylum [The Irish Times, 29/5/1899.] Brown is of Brown and McCann, the firm of solicitors for many years in the employ or service of Kildare Co Council.
1901:  COLGAN & QUIRKE:  April 23, at Star of the Sea, Sandymount by Rev John Colgan, OSB, brother of the bridegroom, assisted by Canon O’Hanlon, PP, Sandymount and Rev J Kirwan, PP, Kilcock, and the Rev J Colgan, SJ; Francis Colgan, JP, Cappagh, Co Kildare, son of the late Francis Colgan, JP, to Mary Staveley, 2nd daughter of William P Quirke, Chief Clerk to the Post Office in Ireland, 3 Churchhill Terrace, Ball’s Bridge, Dublin [The Irish Times, 24/4/1901.]  Weddings of the glitterati were covered in great detail, including the attire of the females, but not the males!
1904:  Mr & Mrs Colgan, Cappagh, had ‘open house’ there for Kildare Hounds led by the Master, Colonel de Robeck, with Mr Fennell etc attending [The Irish Times, 26/1/1904.]
1904:  E Colgan & F Colgan played cricket for Carlow Asylum in a match against Co Kildare 2nd team [The Irish Times, 28/7/1904.] Later we get the first names in place of the initials, and the connection between these Carlow Colgans and their Clane relatives.
1905:  EJ Colgan played cricket for Clongowes Wood College versus County Kildare [The Irish Times, 17/5/1905.]
1906:  County Kildare v Clongowes Wood: cricket match was played yesterday. Captain Patrick Hone, Leixlip, played for Kildare, and E Colgan for Clongowes [The Irish Times, 16/5/1906.] Hone is the father of Leland Bardwell, cotemporary author, and relative of Evie Hone, the artist; he established a quality furniture factory at Leixlip.
1906:  Kildare Hounds were at Kilkea Castle and Rathcoffey this week. Dr Colgan and Mr and Mrs Dalgety were among those out [The Irish Times, 6/11/1906.] Long lists of those who rode with the hounds were regularly published; I have noted only two here. Alexander Dalgety and his wife lived at Ryevale House, Leixlip.
1909:  Death Notice: Colgan, April 26, 1909 at Mungret College, Limerick, of appendicitis, Walter Francis, fondly loved twin son of Laurence and Annie Colgan, St Anne’s, Clane, Co Kildare, aged 16 years [The Irish Times, 8/5/1909.]
1911:  The Kildare Hunt met at Hazelhatch, “changed from Cappagh owing to the much regretted death of Mrs Colgan” [The Irish Times, 9/1/1911.]  There is no other mention of Mrs Colgan’s obsequies. She was the wife of Francis; perhaps Kildare papers or the other national dailies carry the details.
1915:  At Patrick O’Connor & Son’s auctioneers, of 49 Queen St, Dublin, was the following lot: sale of farms at Landenstown, Sallins, Co Kildare, of a house with out-offices, for Mrs Colgan – one lot of ~40 acres at Longtown and another of ~4 b acres at Landenstown. Secondly, an auction of furniture, farming and outdoor effects at Landenstown for Mrs Colgan [The Irish Times, 13/3/1915.]
1916:  Statutory Notice from the Irish Land Commission Court, re Land Purchase Acts, concerning the estate of Robert Read, Kathleen Colgan, Spinster, and Mary Colgan, spinster, Co Kildare.  An allocation schedule affecting the proceeds of the sale of part of the lands of Courtown Little, containing 66 acres, situated in the Barony of Ikeathy and Oughterany, Co Kildare, has been sold under the above Acts; any person having claim is required to state his claim etc. [The Irish Times, 20/1/1916.]  There are extensive details of compulsory sales of large estates to sub-tenants or to the Land Commission, and some short references to court proceedings to prevent sales.
1922: Statutory Notice: in the goods of Francis Henry Colgan, late of Cappagh, Esq, JP. By his will dated 2/4/1908, and a codicil dated 29/7/1915, he bequeathed the following charitable legacies: £40 to the RC Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin for masses; £200 to the PP of Kilcock for masses; £15 to the curate of Kilcock for masses; £50 to the Superior of the Jesuits, Upper Gardiner St, for masses; £50 to the Hospice for the Dying, Harold’s Cross; £130 to the PP of Kilcock for the erection of an altar rail or other suitable ornament in Newtown Church. And testator directed that all masses directed by his will should be celebrated in Ireland in churches open to the public. Appointed Alexander Michael Colgan, of 3 Pump Court, Temple, London, Esq, MA, LLR, the Very Rev John Colgan, OSB, of St John’s Priory, South Parade, Bath, and John Hevey Langan, of Mount Hevey, Hill of Down, Co Meath, Esq, executors and he died on 14th day of Novenber 1921 [The Irish Times28/6/1922.] Tells quite a lot about the deponent!
1922: Marriage announcement: marriage between Charles, son of the late Philip Brady, and Mrs Brady, Greenfield, Maynooth, and Letitia (Letty), only daughter of the late Laurence J Colgan and Mrs Colgan, St Anne’s, Clane, Co Kildare, will take place very quietly in September. [The Irish Times, 2/9/1922.]
1923:  In the King’s Bench Division of the courts yesterday, Harry Peard, of Castleknock Park, Castleknock, Co Dublin, took an action against P J Colgan, of Ballinagappa, Clane, Co Kildare, who claimed the sum of £70 due to him for betting transactions in the month of August, 1921. The plaintiff was a bookmaker, and the defendant a farmer. The defendant claimed the protection of the Gaming Act. The judge dismissed the action and awarded Colgan his costs. Mr Kenny, instructed by Messrs Brown and McCann, appeared for Colgan [The Irish Times, 23/1/1923.]
1923:  William Colgan, 87 Lower Leeson St, Dublin and Cappagh House, Enfield, Co Kildare, aged 20, a student, was remanded in the Dublin Police court yesterday on a charge of carelessness and negligence in the management of a motor cycle on Thursday in Upper Leeson St when he knocked down Wm H Shiel, 60, of Elmwood Ave, who sustained a double fracture of the right leg and arm [The Irish Times, 30/6/1923.] The paper chronicles this man’s life, providing a photograph of him. He became a famous racing motorcyclist, being the first to exceed a 100mph on a famous British track.
1926:  The death, which occurred recently [3/4/1926] of the Very Rev James Colgan, PP, Clane, Co Kildare, removes one of the oldest and best known priests in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. He had completed the 62nd anniversary of his ordination, and had ministered for over 30 years in Clane, where he had carried out extensive works. The Most Rev Dr Foley presided at the Requiem Office and High Mass for the deceased in Clane Parish Church [The Irish Times, 9/4/1926.]
1926:  Westmeath Co Council:  Messrs Councillors Colgan and 5 others left the Council chamber in protest at the overturning of a recommendation that had been agreed after being prepared by a sub-committee of the Council, that all officials pay be cut by 10%. In a statement afterwards they said they represented farmers’ interests on the council and asked what ratepayers could expect in the way of economy etc [The Irish Times, 24/4/1926.] No comment!
1926:  Mr Eugene C D Colgan, Co Co, who presided at a meeting of the Farmers’ Union at Castletown, Co Westmeath, declared that in view of the defeat by the County Council to reduce the salaries of county officials by 10%, attempts at retrenchment were useless under existing conditions. He proposed that the Local Government Department be asked to appoint a Commissioner to administer the affairs of Westmeath [The Irish Times, 29/4/1926.] The trade war with Britain was in progress.
1926:  William Colgan “a Co Kildare man” will be competing in the light-weight motor cycle races at the Isle of Man today [The Irish Times, 14/6/1926.] Colgan (Kildare) retired after 4 laps [The Irish Times, 15/6/1926.]  Colgan came 4th in another race, same venue [The Irish Times, 17/6/1926.] A celebratory dinner was held for the Irish competitors including Colgan in Jury’s Hotel [The Irish Times, 28/6/1926.]
1929:  Piece on Mr Billy (William) Colgan, being welcomed back to Ireland, as Cotton motor cycle expert, said to be staying with his brother and sister-in-law a Cappagh, Co Kildare, where the Colgan family have lived for several generations. He is hunting again with the “Killing Kildares” and for the present has abandoned motor cycling, which he started in 1923… He also competed in the Belgian and Italian races and is the winner of 20 cups and numerous medals. He is in his 26th year and is a member of one of the happiest of families who are near neighbours of Maynooth College. When his uncle, the Rev John Colgan, OSB, who is stationed in England, pays a visit to his old home the reverend professors of the college are invited to meet him.. Miss Molly Colgan, his sister, is a keen motorist and is well known to the members of the Killing Kildares, who whom she is very popular [Irishman’s Diary, The Irish Times, 12/3/1929; also in Weekly IT, 16/3/1929.]  Molly later offers a vehicle for sale in a small ad.
1929:  A Dublin and Kilkenny GAA hurling final match was declared void, both teams being at fault. Delegates present for adjudication of the issues by the Leinster Council of the GAA included P Colgan (Kildare) [The Irish Times, 5/8/1929.]
1929:  The inaugural meeting of the Collinstown (Leixlip) Coursing Club which was held yesterday provided a large company of metropolitan and Kildare sportsmen with the best coursing of this or, perhaps, of any season for years back.  The Club were fortunate in having the whole-hearted cooperation of Major Connolly [sic], of Castletown House, and the other landowners, Messrs. Cussen, Mitchell and Kiely. Various competitions were held: Barn Hall Stake, Leixlip Stake, Kilmacredock Stake. Mr P Colgan’s dog, Truthful charger, competed [The Irish Times, 26/11/1929.]  History in the making.
1929:  Recent Irish Wills: Mr Alexander Michael Colgan, late of Cappagh, Enfield, Co Kildare, formerly of Pump Court, Temple, London, barrister-at-law, who died 24/10/1929 at Beaumont Convalescent Home, Co Dublin, left £25,206. Probate was granted to the National Bank, Dublin, the sole executor [The Irish Times, 21/12/1929.]
1930:  Mr Frank Colgan, Cappagh, Co Kildare was reported as contributing a further collection of useful books to the Central Catholic Library [The Irish Times, 21/8/1930.]
1933:  Over 300 persons were guests of Major P A Mulcahy and the officers of the Artillery Corps at their annual dance in Kildare last Friday evening. Lieutenant Colgan attended [The Irish Times, 24/4/1933.]  Patrick Colgan, of Maynooth, one of the Kildare Veterans of the GPO at Easter 1916, was later promoted to Commandant and took an active part in amateur boxing in the army and outside it, according to later reports.
1936:  On the instructions of the executors of the late Miss K Colgan, the sale by auction, at the Hotel, Kilcock, of a superior residential farm at Loughtown, Donadea, containing 171 acres with residence, farm buildings and out offices, all held from the Irish Land commission, subject to a revised land purchase annuity of £50 odd. Lands of excellent quality, suited to mixed farming, laid down in divisions and well fenced, and watered by streams. About 10 acres is in tillage, the remainder in pasture. The residence, approached by a short avenue from the public road, is a 2-storey, slated structure, containing 10 apartments, including bathroom (h & c), wc, etc. Ample etc farm buildings with enclosed ;yards, affording accommodation for 40 head of cattle, horse stables, box stables, garage, implement sheds, piggery, fowl houses, lofting, hay barn, stores and stabling. Well laid out garden, haggard and paddocks; labourer’s cottage. 4 miles from Maynooth or Kilcock, Naas 9 miles, Dublin 20 miles.  A second Lot, fattening lands situated at Courtown, 1 mile from Kilcock, containing 83 acres, and no buildings. Holding comprises some of the finest feeding pastures in Nth Co Kildare. Brown & Mc Cann, solicitors. For auction by Edward A Coonan & Son. [The Irish Times, 29/2/1936.]
1936:  A marriage has been arranged, and will take place quietly in London early in September, between William A Colgan (of London), second son of the late Francis and Mrs Colgan, Cappagh, Enfield, Co Kildare, and Sheila, elder daughter of the late Patrick A E Dowling, Registrar, Royal College of Science, Ireland, and Mrs Dowling, 66 More Hampton Road [The Irish Times, 5/6/1936.]
1937:  John Colgan, Cappagh, Enfield, won 1st prize in the annual ploughing competition (confined to North Kildare) at annual competitions organised by the North Kildare Ploughing Association, held at Crinstown, Maynooth, yesterday [The Irish Times, 16/1/1937.] 
1937:  Mr Michael Colgan and his sister had very narrow escapes from being burned to death on Sunday morning when their thatched dwelling-house at Coolygagan, Rathangan, Co Kildare was completely destroyed by fire [The Irish Times, 7/12/1937.] 
John Colgan has unearthed a veritable treasure trove of genealogical and historical information from the pages of the Irish Times relating to the Colgans and to Co. Kildare. The 'Times' archive is online and is free to access through the public library network. As John Colgan illustrates it is indeed a trawl from 1859 onwards but provides a form of access to material which is otherwise denied to us. As always, our thanks to John who indeed has being trying to send this material to me since December. We are delighted to finally be able to post this amazing piece of research.

March 07, 2009



Fullam Visit Unearths Local Treasures

I was visited in late 2008 by Miss Eilis Fullam who was in search of information on her father, Laurence (Larry) Fullam, who had worked as Assistant Surveyor for Kildare Co. Council in the early part of the last century. Sure enough we found mention in the Leinster Leader of Laurence having worked as a contract employee until he had passed his exams in 1904 and was offered the job under the Co. Surveyor Mr. Edward Glover. Miss Fullam explained that Mr. Glover had in fact bequeathed his instruments to Laurence Fullam and that they were now in the possession of her grand-nephew Garrett and she promised to bring them to the library. This she did on 10 January 2009 and Eilis, with her nephew Ray and his son Garrett Fullam arrived with the treasure trove in tow. It was truly amazing to see the instruments up close; instruments that would have been used on the roads in Co. Kildare probably even during the re-surfacing and improvements carried out under the supervision of Edward Glover at the time of the Gordon Bennett Race in 1903.

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Eilis and Garrett with the theodolite and possibly the original, what looks to be mahogany, stand. The case is likewise part of the collection.

Kildare Collections and Research Services, Reading Room, 10 Jan. 2009.

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 A close-up reveals the maker's name or the providers name: D. Harriss, Wicklow St. Dublin.

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As well as some precision drawing instruments and rulers, tapes and vertical rules, they had 'chains' used for measuring distance.  


We hope to host a talk by Liam Kenny on the 110th Anniversary of the setting up of Kildare County Council in Naas Library around 22nd April 2009 and the Fullam family intimated that they might bring them along for the occasion - a chance to see history up close.

Miss Eilis Fullam brings history to life in Kildare Co. Library.  

March 05, 2009


Leinster Leader December 25 1958
Artistic Cribs and sublime music mark Christmas fifty years ago
The Irish of the late 1950s were a devout society with congregations overflowing in churches on major feast days. The Leinster Leader of the first week in January 1959 conveyed something of this devotional atmosphere with a report on the Christmas services in almost a dozen parishes in mid-Leinster.
The report begins by declaring ‘ With devout congregations thronging the churches, Christmas 1958, was ushered in with the traditional fervour and homage to the Infant born in Bethlehem’.
Midnight mass was celebrated in many churches, the faithful participating joyfully in the ceremonies so closely and reverentially associated with the great festival.
At the Masses on Christmas Day the same spirit of religious fervour was evident in the many parishioners receiving Holy Communion whilst later there was a consistent stream of worshippers to visit the beautiful cribs created by loving hands.
In Naas, for instance, the Feast of the Nativity was celebrated at the Church of Our Lady & St. David by the faithful with a deep devotional reverence for the great festival. Christmas began when in the presence of a capacity congregation Rev. Larry Newman, CC, celebrated solemn sung Mass starting at midnight. An edifying scene at this Mass, as indeed at each Mass during the morning was the very large numbers of parishioners receiving Holy Communion.
In wishing the people a Holy and a Happy Christmas, Father Newman said that the priests knew that there were a lot of emigrants home for the Christmas and to them they extended a special welcome.
Moving across county to Newbridge, it was reported that midnight Mass was celebrated in both St. Conleth’s Parish Church and the Dominican Church, there being capacity congregations in the two churches. One of the outstanding features was the exceptionally large number of communicants. Both churches were artistically decorated. On Christmas morning there were again scenes of deep devotion as parishioners thronged to Masses in the Parish Church and at the Dominican College. There was a steady flow of the faithful to the Cribs in both churches throughout the period of Christmas.
A crib also featured in the Kildare town Christmas scene – this time a large crib erected in the Market Square through the efforts of the local Muintir na Tire branch. It was artistically lighted during the hours of darkness and was visited by the majority of parishioners at least once during Christmas.
In the North Kildare towns of Maynooth, Kilcock, Celbridge and Leixlip the Feast of Christmas was celebrated with all due solemnity and the faithful thronged the churches at all Masses. There was a musical dimension in Maynooth when the St. Mary’s Brass and Reed band paraded the town playing Christmas hymns and carols.
Farther west in Kilcock where a beautiful Christmas tree stood illuminated in the Square, the Christian Brothers boys’ Accordion Band opened the ceremonies and played seasonal airs around the streets to the delight of the townspeople.
At the Curragh Camp the temporary St. Brigid’s Garrison church housed an overflow congregation for midnight mass celebrated by Fr. Boylan, chaplain to the Forces. A feature was the impressive singing of the recently formed male choir.
In Edenderry the Christmas ceremonies were described as being ‘ impressive and extremely devotional’. On Christmas Eve there was a procession of school-children and musicians for the traditional ceremony of bringing the Christ child to the Crib. The St. Mary’s church choir gave one of the most magnificent recitals of music ever heard in the church with their rendering of ‘The Alleluia’ in four part harmony. The choir was augmented by the boys’ choir trained by Mr. Edward Moran.
The parishioners of Daingean must have felt a little nostalgic as they attended Christmas ceremonies at the old St. Philip Neri church. The Leader report remarks ‘ It will probably be the last Christmas in which such ceremonies will be held as the magnificent new church in the town is now rapidly taking shape.’
Clearly the devotional nature of Irish society comes through in the reports of the well-attended and reverential ceremonies held through the Christmas of 1958.
 – series no. 99.

Religious ceremonies to mark Christmas 1958 is the theme of Liam Kenny's regular Leader feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun'. The Leinster Leader of the first week in January 1959 conveyed something of the devotional atmosphere with a report on  Christmas services in almost a dozen parishes in mid-Leinster.


Leinster Leader December 18 2008
Chill of the Cold War permeates Christmas editorial
The season of Christmas brings out the best in people and newspaper columnists are no exception to this seasonal outbreak of good will. The Leinster Leader of the third week of December 1958 ran an editorial reflecting on the state of the world at that time with notable references to the ‘Cold War’, the nuclear stand-off between the superpowers of the Russia and the Eastern Block on one hand, and the United States and the West on the other. The build up of tension between the power blocs had alarmed Ireland which although non-aligned with either group ramped up its Civil Defence precautions in case the country was affected by an exchange of nuclear firepower.
The Leader editorial reflected that ‘Christmas is truly a season of good will, when Christians everywhere rejoice in a communion that has survived wars and persecutions, edicts and pogroms from the time of Herod even to the present day.’
The seasonal editorial continued by pondering on the fact that from the foundation of the Christian faith, its adherents had been subjected to persecution and martyrdom in every generation and in every form devisable by the diabolical minds of tyrants and fanatics. The editorial struck a political note when it continued that ‘Even to-day in countries controlled by the Communist efforts no effort is spared to stifle the faith and to silence its Ministers.’ The Communists have outlawed the celebration of Christmas where possible, it continued, while in countries under their jurisdiction with Christian backgrounds and traditions, more subtle means of subjugation have been resorted to. Children were being deprived of religious training, their minds were poisoned with materialistic propaganda, religion was being held up to ridicule, and clergy imprisoned on one pretext or another, and in place of Christmas, a winter festival, presided over by ‘Father Snow’, a brain-child of the fertile imagination of some Kremlin propagandist had been substituted.
Referring directly to the worries of war which loomed over the late 1950s the editorial left no doubt as to the gloom which was hanging over the world ‘ We are coming to an end of an eventful year, a year in which the stockpiling of weapons and equipment of a potential destructive power too awful to bear description, has gone on apace in spite of pseudo peace overtures and professions of good faith.’
The world is divided into two warring camps – a cold war now – but the fires of class-hatred and covetousness are constantly being refuelled and may flare up at any moment, one spark can cause a holocaust. Even among the United Nations the stumbling block of self-interest is preventing agreement on many issues.
The editorial was published in a provincial newspaper but it took a view that was clearly global in its predictions of Armageddon if the nuclear powers did not pull back from the brink: ‘ It is freely admitted by both East and West that unleashing the hounds of war would cause devastation undreamed of, bringing in its wake the total annihilation of whole countries – European civilisation would certainly perish.’
Yet, it moralised, through human blindness, covetousness and mistrust, agreement to stop the manufacture of these implements of destruction cannot be reached. Treaties to be honoured, must be backed by a moral code, which admits the existence of a Supreme Being, who will punish the transgressor, or who will be offended by the transgression, otherwise, they are worthless and will be broken with impunity, if an advantage can be gained thereby. We are, therefore, left in a dilemma – no agreement or a worthless one. The great powers have failed lamentably to bring peace to the world. And the editorial poses the question ‘ Where then can we turn for guidance?’
The editor sought an answer to that question, and the possibility for global peace, by turning to the Christmas gospel. ‘Almost two thousand years ago an all-powerful army rejoiced, because the Saviour of the world was born in a stable at Bethlehem.’
Without good will there can be no peace, and without God there cannot be good will. When the leaders of the nations turn their eyes towards heaven and follow the star to Bethlehem as the wise men from the East did two thousand years ago, then and only then, can there be harmony and peace in the world.
And while reflecting on such great questions of global peace and war the editor did not forget to return his attention to the home readership by extending the good will of the season: ‘ On the threshold of another Christmas, it gives us pleasure to fulfil the genial and time-honoured custom of wishing our readers and advertisers a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.’ 
Series no 99.

In his regular feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun, Liam Kenny finds that  the Leinster Leader of the third week of December 1958 ran an editorial reflecting on the state of the world at that time with notable references to the ‘Cold War’, the nuclear stand-off between the superpowers of Russia and the Eastern Block on one hand, and the United States and the West on the other.

March 04, 2009


Leinster Leader December 11 2008
New enterprise brings optimistic economic prospects for Maynooth
The late 1950s were a challenging time in Ireland marking the beginnings of a transition from a poor economy to the first glimmers of a better future. Ireland had been going through difficult times every since the Emergency years with emigration rampant as a stagnant economy failed to produce jobs to any extent. However this picture began to change in the late 1950s and a more entrepreneurial spirit began to pervade the country with numbers of local businessmen investing in new ventures. In many situations such new enterprises were giving added value to the agricultural output of the country. Developments such as the new Farrington grain-drying plant in Rathcoffey (described in a previous column) were typical of such new agricultural based ventures. Another such development brought celebration to Maynooth in December 1958 with the opening of what was described as ‘ Messrs. Michael Reilly and Sons Ltd magnificent new garage and engineering works’. And if anybody was in any doubt about the significance of the new engineering business to the locality the Leader report gushes ‘ The entire population of Maynooth …’ was present at the official opening! The business firm was owned by six brothers – John J., Oliver, Frank, Michael, Patrick and William Reilly. Their enterprise certainly made an impact in the locality as, according to the report ‘ Maynooth was en fete for the occasion and the new works were garlanded and beautified for the opening.’
The formal opening was performed by Dr. Juan Greene, then President of the National Farmers’ Association (later known as the Irish Farmers’ Association or IFA). In his opening speech he remarked ‘ this edifice that stands before us is a magnificent structure by any standard and must certainly be a happy sight and a credit to the inhabitants of this district: apart from any influence that it may have in the ramifications of its business throughout the country.’ Dr Greene touched on the rising tide of investment and confidence emerging in Ireland from 1958 when he commented: ‘ More than anything perhaps this latest of the Reilly pioneering ventures is a symbol of belief and confidence in the future of our own country.’
His remarks were echoed by Very Rev Fr. O’Riordan, PP of Maynooth who said that it often struck him that people were inclined to take things too easily and that a lot of people allow themselves to be affected by this lackadaisical spirit. He hoped that more people in the parish would follow the example of the Reilly brothers.
Another guest and speaker Mr. P.T. Donnelly, president of Macra na Feirme, also touched on the spirit of the times when referring to Maynooth’s new engineering business. He said he had noticed of late a new breeze, a new spirit of enthusiasm abroad throughout the country and this new spirit had even permeated as far as Merrion St. (Dept. of Finance) and the Government Departments as evidence by the White Paper issued recently ( a reference, perhaps, to the groundbreaking Programme for Economic Development for which Sean Lemass and Dr. Ken Whittaker were the chief authors).
Adding to the praise for the Reilly initiative was Mr. Con Donoghue of Maynooth, a prominent member of the NFA. He said that as a local he had witnessed the hard work and energy of the Reilly family over a number of years and their rise from a small beginning to the big undertaking that they had now opened that day, which was of such consequence to the people of Maynooth and which had set a headline for the whole country.
The object of all this praise was a new garage, showrooms and workshop built on the most modern lines and staffed by mechanics capable of repairing everything ‘ from a Simca to a combine harvester.’   It was reported that the ‘magnificent new premises stand in an ideal site on the Dublin Road, Maynooth, just outside the town and the building project was entirely under the control of Mr. Oliver Reilly who was ably assisted by Mr. Robert Costelloe.’ The joinery work, including teak windows, was made by Leixlip joiner Mr. Jack Donovan. Floors throughout the building were tiled by CPI of Lucan and the electrical work done by Mr. D.J. O’Leary, also of Lucan. Mr. Pat Hand, foreman mechanic of the engineering works, lent his valuable aid.
And so the last month of the year 1958 brought news of investment and employment to one North Kildare town, part of a trend which would see an improvement in Ireland’s prospects which continued into the following decade.
 – series No. 98.

In his regular Leinster Leader feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun' Liam Kenny finds that a more entrepreneurial spirit began to pervade the country in the late 1950s, with a number of local businessmen investing in new ventures.


Leinster Leader December 4th 2008
Curragh Escape makes dramatic front page news
The first week in December 1958 brought dramatic news for Leinster Leader readers with a front page story headed ‘ 14 internees escape from Curragh Camp’. The internment camp at the Curragh had been reopened to accommodate republican suspects who were said to have been involved in the Border campaign of the mid 1950s – the best-known incident being the failed IRA attack on Brookeborough RIC station on New Year’s Day 1957 in which Sean South of ‘Garryowen’ was killed.
It was somewhat embarrassing for the State that the December breakout was the third escape to have taken place at the Curragh in the same year.
The report relates how shortly before 4pm on the Tuesday (2nd December) over 60 detainees at the Interment Camp attempted to stage a mass break out: 16 of them succeeded in escaping. It was a carefully contrived affair – the internees using home-made smoke bombs to cover their escape. The Army responded with tear gas and shots and it was understood that at least two internees were wounded.
The Leader correspondent had clearly access to good sources in the Curragh as the detail brought forward in his report could only have come from within the secure areas of the camp.  The report relates that the first indication of a breakout came with the exploding of a smoke bomb under one of the sentry boxes. At the time the internees were in the recreation compound and were ostensibly picking teams to play football.. When the smoke appeared they began to shout and made a concentrated rush towards the barbed wire surrounding the compound. A group of about six seized and held the officer in charge of the guard; further smoke bombs were triggered by the internees and soon the interment camp was enveloped in dense smoke.
They say that the first casualty of a war is truth and there was an element of this in the contradictory reports that emerged about the wounding of internees. A Government Information Bureau statement issued to the press later that day stated that two internees had received leg injuries as a result of bursting time-bombs. However the Leader correspondent, again clearly drawing from strong sources within the Camp, reported that an emergency operation had been carried out on an internee at the Curragh Military Hospital and that three other internees had been admitted to the hospital.
The internees who managed to clear the compound ran across the Curragh plains towards the stud-farms between Brownstown and Maddenstown. The Army mobilised all its resources in pursuit – armoured cars, radio cars, jeeps, trucks and motorcycles were deployed. Plain clothes and uniformed Gardai also rushed to the scene. Clamps of gorse on the Curragh were set on fire in an attempt to flush out any internees hiding in the vegetation. Despite all of this effort just two of the escapees were captured on the plain – one a native of Dundalk, the other a prominent republican from Leitrim. Both had sustained cuts and minor injuries in the breakout and the clothing of one was reported to be badly torn.
The Army and Gardai subjected the area bounded by Maddenstown, Brownstown and Suncroft to an intensive search and for a long time believed that they had the escapees pinned down in the tightly cordoned area. However the remaining fourteen escapees had vanished. On the day after the breakout attention shifted towards the Japanese Gardens area at Tully and checkpoints were mounted on bridges and junctions around Kildare town. Two army battalions from Dublin were drafted into the search but the failure to catch more of the escapees strengthened the belief that they had outside help and may have been assisted to make a clean getaway once they got clear of the camp.
This was the third escape of internees from the Curragh in 1958. In May of that year three had got out through a window in the Curragh Military Hospital where they had been patients. Two of them – one from Armagh, the other from Portarlington – were recaptured near Kilcullen; the third man, from Dublin, evaded capture for ten days until he was found at house in Gormanstown, Co. Meath.
The second escape was a more successful operation when two men cut through the wire fence and escaped. They were Rory Brady, Sinn Fein TD for Longford-Westmeath and David O’Connell of Cork. Despite extensive searching, road-blocks, and monitoring of ports by the security forces, they had not been recaptured by the time the third escape reported above had taken place.
Series No. 96

In his regular feature 'Nothing new Under the Sun' Liam Kenny finds that the Leader correspondent had access to good sources in the Curragh Military Camp when reporting on the escape of IRA internees from the Camp in December 1958.


Leinster Leader November 27th 2008
Maternity care featured in debate on future of Kildare hospitals
The policy and practice of health services in Ireland is never far from the news. It is certainly guaranteed to make headlines when there is discussion about the closing or transfer of hospital services with communities being highly sensitive about any changes in their access to hospital services in their locality. There were a number of such hospital issues which converged in a debate from Kildare County Council reported in a November 1958 issue of the Leinster Leader.
The debate centred around the future of St. Mary’s Hospital in Naas which had been built in the late 1930s as a fever hospital. Kildare County Council wanted to transform the building into county offices – its previous headquarters at Naas courthouse having been damaged by fire. However the Minister for Health was playing hardball and was insisting on two conditions before Kildare County Council took possession of St. Mary’s. Firstly the Council would have to refund £25,950 to the Hospitals Trust Fund which had made a grant towards the provision of the building for hospital purposes only. It was the second condition which was to prove a sticking point with councillors and that was the Minister’s insistence that the County Council provide a fifteen bed maternity unit in Naas. This did not go down well with some councillors who wanted the maternity unit to be established in Athy. The Minister had written to the council setting out his case for the unit to be in Naas. There was an acute shortage of accommodation in the Dublin maternity hospitals and the shortage was accentuated by the demand for admission of patients from Kildare and other adjacent counties.
The Minister felt that if an efficient maternity unit providing ante-natal and post-natal facilities was provided in Naas expectant mothers would readily avail of the services there rather than in the Dublin maternity hospitals. Regarding the councillors’ demand for the maternity accommodation to be made available in Athy, the Minister said that the proposed new County Hospital in Carlow would be able to accommodate women residing in South Kildare.
 This did not go down well with the councillors, the council chairman Mr. Michael Cunningham responded: ‘ The maternity ward of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Athy is proving very useful to South Kildare although it is cramped and nearly out of date. Naas would be out of the way entirely for that part of the county.’
Cllr. T. Carbery said he resented the suggestion to transfer patients from South Kildare to Carlow. He felt it would be unfair to compel people from that area to go to Carlow. He favoured building a maternity unit in Athy.
As always, costs came into the equation with the Chairman. Cllr. Cunningham remarking: ‘ We can get our patients kept in a top-class Dublin maternity hospital for twenty-four shillings a day, whereas if we had this unit in Naas it would cost far more to keep them there.’ Cllr. Terry Boylan remarked that on this reckoning he could not see the use of a maternity hospital in Naas at all.
Cllr. Michael McWey was prophetic when he enquired if there was any truth in rumours that the County Hospital was to be transferred from Kildare Town to Naas.
However Chairman Cunningham declared that the people of Kildare Town could be assured that if there was any move made to transfer the hospital it would first come before the Council. He added: ‘ I do not think there is any move whatever being made in that direction. With regard to a maternity hospital in Naas, no matter what unit we had here all the serious cases would still have to go to Dublin for we could not afford to keep an expensive gynaecologist here for them.’
Cllr. Michael St. Leger summed up the position by saying it would be desirable to have a maternity hospital at Naas and another at Athy but since that was not possible the maternity hospital should be provided in Athy and the County Council should keep its proposal to convert the St. Mary’s Hospital at Naas into county offices.
In time-honoured council tradition the councillors decided to appoint a delegation to go the Minister to argue the case for the maternity unit in Athy. It was also decided to ask the three Dail deputies for the county to accompany the delegation.

Liam Kenny finds that there is 'Nothing new Under the Sun' when he examines the Leinster Leader of November 1958 and discovers that the issue under debate in Kildare County Council was the future of St. Mary's Hospital in Naas.

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