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December 30, 2009


Leinster Leader, Saturday, August 1, 1959
On Sunday, His Grace Most Rev. J.C. McQuaid, D.D., Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, will preside at Solemn High Mass in St. Patrick’s Church, Celbridge. The occasion will mark the Centenary of the beautiful Parish Church – a Gothic building of unusually graceful lines – which was solemnly blessed and dedicated on Trinity Sunday, 1959.
Designed by Architect J.J. McCarthy a nephew of the famous Pugur, it was built by Very Rev. Daniel Byrne, P.P., and adorned with some notable stained glass with a very lovely pulpit and a distinguished baptism font surmounted in very fine carved oak. It is interesting to note, and a sad commentary on the dwindling value of money, that less than £5000 was the total cost of erecting this magnificent cut stone building and furnishing it for divine worship.
Trinity Sunday, 1859, was a big day in the annals of Celbridge. From the Kingdom of Kerry travelled Most Rev. Dr. Moriarity, Lord Bishop of Kerry, who was to deputise for Archbishop (afterwards Cardinal) Cullen, who the records tell us was ill and unable to officiate. His Lordship of Kerry “was assisted by the Right Rev. Dr. McNally, Bishop of Clogher, and the Right Rev. Dr. Whelan, Bishop of Bombay with a large number of priests and an immense concourse of the laity”. So wrote Father Dan Byrne, the builder, under the date 19th June, 1859, and we can sense the pride and the joy that engulfed him as he added “Laus Deo Semper”, “Praise be to God forever”.
A Train for 35/9
We read with not a little interest that the solemn opening of the Church was advertised in the Freeman’s Journal on several occasions in June 1859, and that a special train was run to Hazelhatch to carry the many visitors to Celbridge. The cost of the special train is duly noted by Father Byrne at the almost incredible figure of £1-15-9!
What kind of place was Celbridge of one hundred years ago? Evidently a much more important and prosperous village than it is to-day. Shortly after the beginning of the 1800’s the immense mills at the entrance to the town were built and soon employed more that 600 operatives in a flourishing woollen trade. Thirty years later we read that business in wool had declined and that the number employed had fallen considerably but that further up the river a new cotton mills had opened (Templemills) which had absorbed one hundred employees. We remember too, that the flour mills nearby, were in full production and were said to provide work for close on 700 men. It is therefore not surprising to learn that one hundred years ago, nearly 300 families lived in the village of Celbridge itself, that is in Main Street, Big Lane (now Maynooth Road) and Tay Lane. It was there, to a reasonably prosperous community Father Byrne appealed in May, 1859, to start the collection of funds for the new church. It was a bold venture, less than ten years after the famine, but the people responded with great good will. The district collectors appointed were Mr. Booth for Oldtown; MrLynam for Killadoon; Mr Brady for Simmonstown; Mr Carroll for Newbridge; Mr Dignam for Celbridge; Mr Thomas Broe for Tipperstown; and Mr Harte for Templemills. A weekly house to house collection was instituted and brought in the remarkable figure of nearly £6 a week, no small amount in those days of unbelievably small wages. There are some poignant entries amongst the list of subscriptions: “The Widow Meyler, 1/-, Bridget King, 6d, The Widow Geraghty, 2/6, Mr John Broe and Mr Richard Bean gave several subscriptions of £5 each, while the Archbishop gave £30”.
An interesting entry appears under 31st March, 1857; “John Coughlin (his first prize at school), 1/-“and some months later, “Mary Coughlin (her first prize), 1/- . One would certainly like to know more of this Coughlin family and of the subsequent history of John and Mary.
Stained glass windows were presented to the new church by Mr J.J. McCarthy, the architect, by Father Robert Wheeler the curate, by the Hon. Charles V. Charles (jun), by Fr. Dan Byrne himself, and by Rev. J.J. Lee and Rev. T.P. Fagan, then curates of Blackrock, Co. Dublin.
The Old Church
The Church opened in 1859 replaced what was apparently a penal day’s church, a long low building about 50 feet by 20 feet, which stood broadside-on, in front of the present church in Main St. Under March 21st 1859, we read that Father Byrne “paid labourers for taking down old chapel £8-12-9”, but received fro Mr J, Rourke, Mr T. Malone and Mr Kelly £11-18-6 for old timber and stones”. An old map dated 1839 shows the position of the original church with apparently a small house between it and the present entrance gates. One wonders could this have been the residence of the one of the parish clergy.
That Celbridge Church is in such a fine state of preservation is no small tribute to the twelve parish priests who have ruled the parish since Father Dan Byrne went to his reward. With the active co-operation of the good parishioners, the fabric has been kept in excellent repair, and each succeeding parish priest has done his share to hand on a worthy Tabernacle to the Most High to succeeding generations.
Still strong in the memory of the older parishioners is the memory of that great Churchman, Fr. Edward J. Dunne, who laboured in Celbridge from 1912 to 1922. The magnificent Sacristy which graces the Church was built by him. He also installed the gracious marble altar rails and the fine Mosaic work behind the altar and the very lovely confessionals. To his memory, too, stands the unique Shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, recognised by a special Rescript from Pope St, Pius X and endowed by him with unusual privileges. The storage heating system was installed some years ago by Very Rev. W.J. Byrne, P.P. It may be recalled that one of the organists in Celbridge Church was a Miss Elizabeth O’Reilly a grand-niece of the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Murray, Archbishop of Dublin. Miss O’Reilly afterwards became Mrs John Jacob, Rathcoole.
The present parishioners have generously continued the good work and have rallied, with enthusiasm, to the call of their present Pastor, Fr. John McLaughlin, to mark the Centenary by many renovations to the Church. Thus the past year has seen the addition of a Boy’s Sacristy, built by Messrs J. Geraghty and Co., Celbridge, the installation of a complete new lighting system designed by two parishioners, Messrs John A. Deasy and Tadgh Hassett, and installed by Messrs C.J. Ryder and Co of Dublin; new ventilation by the Dublin Glass and Paint Co., some excellent metal work by Messrs. J & C McGloughlin of Pearse St., Dublin, and finally the complete painting and decoration of the interior and exterior of the Church by Messrs J. Fagan and Sons Ltd., Wood Quay, Dublin.
It is interesting to note that much of the paint used was manufactured in Celbridge by General Paints Ltd., Maynooth Road. The courtesy of another parishioner, Mr. C. Van Loukhuyzen, made available the rather unique electric light fittings. In all nearly £3,000 has been spent on renovating the church for the centenary and Fr. McLaughlin has been fortunate in having the energetic help of his popular and zealous curate, Father Joseph Corbett.
Pastors of Celbridge
Celbridge is no parish of mushroom growth. The baptism and marriage registers go back in unbroken line for nearly two hundred years. To the parish in 1830came Fr. Patrick O’Rourke, who, says a mural tribute in the church, spent “twenty-five years in the parish and to whose munificent bequest the building of the new church owed so much”. Fr. O’Rourke left £1,561-7-0 for the church, nearly one-third of its actual cost.
Following is the list of the parish priests of the past 100 years: 1855, Fr. Dan Byrne; 1873, Fr. J. Donovan; 1889, Fr. Henry J. Murphy; 1893, Fr. Francis J. Maguire; 1908, Fr. Dan Deasy; 1912, Fr. Edward J. Dunne; 1922, Fr. P.J. Rowan; 1924, Fr. Edward McGough; 1931, Fr. Joseph Nowlan; 1933, Fr. Dan Hickey; 1941, Fr. J. Clinton; 1949, Fr. W. Byrne; 1956, Fr. John McLaughlin. Many former curates at Celbridge are expected to return for the Centenary celebrations. Amongst these are Very Rev. John Canon Cotter, P.P. V.F., Castledermot (C.C., 1906-1908); Very Rev. Joseph Furlong, P.P. Kilcullen (C.C. 1906-1908); Very Rev. Martin Gleeson, P.P. Ballytore (C.C. 1927-1930); Very Rev. Jos. Canon Purfield, P.P. V.F., Oldtown (C.C. 1931-1932); together with the following – Rev. John Peirce, Rev. Denis Daly, Rev. T. Barry, Rev. J.S. Barnard, Rev. T.P. Callan, Rev. A. O’Connor who served as curates during the past fifteen years. Another welcome visitor will be Very Rev. W.J. Byrne, P.P. Rathgar, who was parish priest of Celbridge from 1949-1956. The preacher at the High Mass will be one whose name is well known to many generations of Maynooth priests all over the world, He is the former Professor of Scripture and Vice-President of Maynooth, Monsignor P.A. Boylan, M.A., D.D., D. Litt., P.P., V.G., P.A., Parish Priest of Dunlaoghaire and Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Dublin. A distinguished scripture scholar and writer, Monsignor Boylan was honoured by the late Pope Pius X11 with the rate title of Protonotary Apostolic.
Religious Institutions
For some ninety years the Sisters of the Holy Faith have conducted the National Convent Schools at Celbridge and succeeding generations of boys and girls have been prepared for their first Holy Communion by the good Sisters. Their fine work for education over the years has left its mark on the youth of Celbridge. A few years ago the Sisters opened a Secondary Boarding and Day School at St. Wolstan’s which has become an outstanding success. The Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God have a magnificent foundation at St. Raphael’s Celbridge, where they care for handicapped boys with the zeal and self-sacrifice so long associated with their great Order.
If the passing of one hundred years has seen the decline of the great woollen, cotton and flour mills, town is still of industrial importance. Perhaps not everyone knows that the premises of Irish Meat Packers are in the Parish of Celbridge, and give employment to hundreds of the townspeople. Celbridge Spinning Mills (an adjunct of Navan Carpets Ltd.) have taken over the old woollen mills and are rapidly expanding.
General Paints Ltd., on the Maynooth Road, give good employment and produce first-class paint. Nearby are the printing works of Messrs. A.S. Donaldson, employing much local labour and supplying first-class legal printing. Messrs Elzas and Zoneu are manufacturers and large exporters of parchment while the well known firm of Messrs James Geraghty have been the contractors for many schools and public buildings over a wide area of Ireland. As will be seen from a perusal of the advertisements on this page, Celbridge is well equipped with good business houses offering a great variety of goods and services at keen competitive prices.


SEE ALSO Leinster Leader article from 8th August 1959 on Ehistory

The Leinster Leader of August 1st, 1959 reports on Centenary Celebrations of Celbridge Church and outlines the history of the building of the church.  

December 23, 2009


The Kildare Observer November 9th 1929

Foundation Stone Laid
Ceremony at Clongowes Wood College
A Large Attendance

In cold, damp weather, and in the presence of a large assemblage of clergy, professors and students, the Most Rev. Dr. Cullen, Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, on Monday afternoon laid the foundation stone of the auxiliary building at Clongowes Wood College, which will provide extra accommodation and facilities for the students of that well known educational establishment.
The new building, which will surround a quadrangle, will be 300 feet long and 300 feet in width. It is being built of local stone, and the estimated cost is £100,000. The architect s Mr. T.J. Cullen, Dublin. The contractors are Messrs. T. and R. Macken, Dublin, and the clerk of works is Mr. A. Kavanagh.
The new building will provide extra class-room and dormitory accommodation. Each student will have a room containing hot and cold water and the usual bedroom furniture. There will be eighteen class-rooms. The building will be heated and lighted by electricity and ventilated by electric fans. It will be in harmony with the old building, which is a fine specimen of architecture. The Bishop was presented with a silver trowel by the architect, and with an ebony and silver mallet by the contractors.
A procession took place from the college to the new building, where, after the blessing, the new stone was laid by the Bishop of Kildare. The Bishop was assisted by the Very Rev. J.R. Roche, Rector, Clongowes Wood College. The appropriate music was sung by the College choir. After the ceremony Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given in the college chapel by the Bishop, assisted by the Provincial and Rector. The attendance included President Cosgrave (attended by Colonel J. O’Reilly, A.D.C), the Minister for Education, and the Minister for Justice.
The Very Rev. Father J.R. Roche, Rector, who presided at a luncheon held subsequently, expressed their gratitude to the Bishop for coming to perform the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new building. From the beginning of their career in Clongowes they were indebted to his lordship’s illustrious predecessor, Dr. Doyle, the famous “J.K.L.” It was considerably owing to his efforts that the Jesuits were able to purchase that building, and through his advice, to overcome obstacles. On the 21st June, 1874, Dr. Lynch, the Coadjutor Bishop laid the foundation stone of the College, and now they were glad that the new building had the blessing of Dr. Cullen’s presence (Applause)
Having referred to the association of that district with education in the past, the Rector said that, even before the hedge schools, there were cabin schools, and the first mention of a cabin school was in 1654, when such a school was mentioned as being run by the Jesuits in the Bog of Allen. Clongowes was fortunate in the fact that this foundation stone was being laid in the centenary year of Catholic Emancipation. Fifteen years before Catholic Emancipation Clongowes was opened. As greater freedom was experienced by Catholics, Clongowes expanded, and now, in the full manhood of their freedom, Clongowes was still expanding. (Applause) He also thanked the President very sincerely for coming there that day. They appreciated very much his attendance and that of the other Ministers. The great J.K.L., in defending them in the past, said that the Jesuits, if left alone, would render most signal service to the cause of education. He hoped that the new Clongowes would render even greater service to the cause of education than the old Clongowes. (Applause).
The Most Rev. Dr. Cullen thanked the Rector for his kind references to his predecessors and himself. The associations between the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and the Jesuit Order had always been of the most friendly character, and, as far as he could see, they were likely to remain so in the future. (Applause) The event which they celebrated that day was one which marked a very important epoch in the history of the College and the history of the country, because it told them how far they had advanced on the road of religious liberty during the past century. A little over a century ago the Jesuits came to Clongowes, as it were, by stealth, and for a considerable period they had to live by stealth. They certainly received no recognition or approval from the Government of the day. On the contrary, it would be the earnest wish of the Government if it could have expelled the Jesuits from Clongowes. But the Jesuit Order was a hardy perennial. It took root very quickly, and it was very hard to eradicate it. Clongowes had gone on flourishing during the past 100 years. It had sent out different generations of students, who occupied foremost positions, both in Church and State, and not only occupied those positions, but ornamented them. Applause). That day they had laid the foundation of a building which would bring their material establishment up to the latest requirements of science and sanitation.
A hundred years ago they had to live by stealth; today they were honoured by the President of the State and by other distinguished Ministers of State, who had come to rejoice with them, and to congratulate them on the movement which they had started. (Applause).  If Clongowes had done wonderful work during the past century, labouring under difficulties, then, surely, they might expect during the coming century that its achievements would be much wider still. (Applause).

President Cosgrave, who was received with applause, expressed his pleasure at taking part in that ceremony, which, he said, was remarkable evidence of the new spirit that was abroad in the country.  This great and distinguished Order was extending its accommodation for the students of to-day and to-morrow.  It was a great pleasure to them all to know that this extension was taking place under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, whose predecessor a hundred years ago took such an important part in the emancipation, not only of Catholics, but of many other people in the country.   It was a matter for congratulation that the foundation stone should be laid in the centenary year.  This great Order in establishing themselves at Clongowes in times of difficulty had given evidence of their devotion to duty, and of their contribution towards education, towards religious instruction, and the improvement of mankind, to which generation after generation must pay tribute.  The extension now undertaken was a brave effort.  The cost would run into six figures, and it required courage, perseverance, and devotion to duty to embark on such a large undertaking.  It was a tribute to the confidence and faith which they had in the country (Applause).
Professor O’Sullivan, Minister of Education, said that the laying of the foundation stone symbolised a great act of faith on the part of the Jesuit Order. It was an act of faith in the future of Catholic education in this country. The new college would reach the high-water mark of Catholic education in Ireland.  Those among them who, like himself, were connected with the College could only re-echo the words of the Rector, that the future career of the College would be worthy of its past. (Applause).
Mr. J. Fitzgerald-Kenny, Minister for Justice, said that he regarded his old college with feeling of the greatest affection.  On behalf of old Clongowians, he expressed his gratitude to Father Roche, Rector, for the great work he had taken in hands.  He was proud that he was a Jesuit boy; for he recognised the great work that was done for Catholicism and for culture by the Jesuit Order. (Applause).
Mr. T.J. Cullen, architect, said that he wished to acknowledge the great assistance which he had received from Father joy and Father Wrafter in connection with the new building.
The Right Rev. Monsignor McCaffrey, President of Maynooth College, referred to the close associations between the two colleges, and said that they all congratulated Clongowes on the work of extending the College.  It was unnecessary to pay any tribute to the great work that the Jesuits had done for religion and for education in Ireland.  Clongowes had always been looked upon as the leading college in Ireland, and when this new building was completed he could safely say that Clongowes was not likely to have any rival in education in Ireland.  (Applause).
Mr. George Cussen, Senior Metropolitan District Juctice, President of the Clongowes College Union, said that he wished to acknowledge the kindness which the Union had always experienced from the Rector.
Amongst those present were :- The Rev. M. J. Tomkins, S.J.; the Rev. L. Kehoe, S.J.; The Rev. T. Murphy, S.J. ; the Very Rev. Canon Watters, P.P.; the Rev. T. Gahan, the Rev. J. Brennan, S.J.; the Rev. V. Byrne, S.J.; the Rev. L. Potter, S.J.; the Rev. H.V. Gill, S.J.; the Rev. J. Flinn, S.J.; the Rev. J. Keane, S.J.; the Rev. J. B. O’Connell, C.C.; the Rev. J. Wrafter, S.J.; the Rev. J. Joy, S.J.; the Rev. J. Whitaker, S.J.; the Rev. C. Mulcahy, S.J.; the Rev. J. Byrne, S.J.; the Rev. J. Finucane, S.J.; Messrs, Stephen Brown, solicitor; Vincent Kennedy, T.J. Fullerton, solicitor; E. Mulhern, Dr. C. O’Connor, Messrs. T. J. Bradley, J. Macken, J. Crombie, Joseph Brennan (Secretary, Currency Commission).

The Kildare Observer of November 9, 1929 reports on a large attendance at a ceremony at Clongowes Wood when the  the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin laid  the foundation stone of the auxiliary building.

December 18, 2009


The Kildare Observer, Saturday, August 9, 1924         
Mr John Devoy, the veteran Fenian, visited Naas on Sunday last, accompanied by his niece, Miss Devoy, and his three nephews, Messrs Devoy, of Dublin; Mr. Henry Conyngham, of New York, and Mr Garrett Lombard, of Gorey (who is married to a relative of Mr, Devoy’s). He first visited Greenhills, Kill, his native place, and was able to point out to his friends the exact spot where his home stood. It is quite close to Mr. Matthew Timmins’ house at Greenhills, but no vestige of it now remains.
The first of his old friends whom Mr, Devoy visited in Naas was Mrs. Kilmurry, of South Main St., to whom in his early days he was engaged to be married, when she was Miss Elizabeth Kenny, of Tipper. John Devoy was at that time a clerk in the “Cork Office,” Naas, in the employment of Watkins’ brewery, in whose employment were also his father and brothers. His association with the Fenian brotherhood necessitated his departure from Naas and from Ireland, and put an end to the romance f his early days. He, however, remained true to his first love, and never married. Mrs. Kilmurry warmly welcomed her friend of girlhood days, and entertained him and his friends to lunch. Although very deaf and suffering from defective sight, Mr. Devoy displayed remarkable recollection of persons and places in the vicinity of Naas. He informed Miss Curley (Mrs. Kilmurry’s niece) that he had a vivid recollection of his frequent visits to her father’s house at Halverstown, when her father, Mr. Michael Curley, played the fiddle and her uncle, Mr. Bernard Curley, the pipes during their youthful festivities.
“It is 58 years since John left Naas,” remarked Mrs. Kilmurry. “He was for six months under cover, sometimes visiting our house, but seldom staying more than one day at any one house. He was during that time engaged swearing in soldiers in the Fenian organisation, when they arrested and imprisoned him.” Mrs. Kilmurry added that in some way or other, information reached John Devoy in America that she had died, and on Sunday he told her he had mourned her as dead for more than 20 years. “It was like a voice from the grave,” he told her, “when he learned that she still lived.” Having chatted over old times and early recollections, Mr. Devoy took his departure, promising to return and spend a whole day with his former sweetheart before returning to America. 
 The “Freeman’s Journal” published the following interesting rescue narrative:-
The rescue of the Military Fenians from penal servitude in April, 1876, was one of the great sensations of the time. It was the one Fenian enterprise that was entirely successful, and it was accomplished under such adventurous conditions that it sent a glow of pride and admiration through the Irish world, and spread alarm amongst the enemies of the Irish cause.
The voyage of the rescuing ship, the Catalpa, became a popular theme in two hemispheres, and her captain, George S. Anthony, became a hero and a toast wherever Irishmen assembled together. Poets sang the perils and victory of the gallant ship and her dashing captain, and story-tellers spun the yarn of their colossal impudence in the very teeth of England’s might. The rescue had, indeed, an interest and effect far more than personal. It occurred when the national cause was battling desperately against tremendous odds, and its stimulating and bracing influence on the Irish at home in the unhappy motherland and in America could scarcely be exaggerated.
The rescue sprang out of the fertile brain and the restless patriotism of John Devoy. He, almost of necessity, took a keen personal interest in the unfortunate convicts involved, for he had acted under James Stephens as chief organiser for the British Army. He operated for the most part in Dublin, and his business was to make as many Fenians in the regiments of the garrison as he possibly could. A great number of Irishmen at that time wore the red coats, but their hearts were sound Irish hearts, and Devoy’s success was extraordinary. Almost every regiment felt his influence, and Fenianism pervaded some of the crack corps, such as the Dragoon Guards. His success must have been almost an embarrassment to himself and at any rate so widely did he make the organisation ramify that his front became more and more exposed to the treachery of spy and informer. That part of the story need not be elaborated. The Rising was a failure. Amongst the best and bravest of those cast into gaol were the soldiers who were convicted by court-martial. The military Fenians were especially dear to the heart of Ireland. John Devoy, who had organised them, sworn them in, and plotted and planned with them, could not but regard them as his own favourite children, held behind prison bars or chained to labour in the convict gangs of Britain.
Prison Doors Open  
The British Government held these gallant military prisoners in peculiar odium. As ’65 and ’67 receded more and more into history, the prison doors were opened and captive Fenian men once more walked freely abroad. The leaders had been pardoned. But the English rulers kept the military men fast. They had added to their Fenianism the unforgivable offence of having joined the organisation while they still wore the uniform of England’s monarch, and it seemed as if a special vengeance was decreed against them. Even the pleading of some of the foremost Englishmen of the day, men more liberally minded than most, was ignored, and all hope was practically abandoned when John Devoy was inspired to the great adventure. Among the military convicts in Australia was that splendid unconquerable fellow John Boyle O’Reilly, matchless even among the resolute band of the patriots of ’65. He effected his escape in the barque Gazelle and was now in America. There were still six soldier Fenians in the convict chain, tearing their heart out in sheer despair.
John Devoy Invoked
Once or twice a hint of them reached home, and at length on James Wilson, a Newry man, whose real name was McNally, managed to get an appeal through to John Devoy.Wilson had served in many parts of the world, and while in the 5th Dragoons, also O’Reilly’s regiment, had become a Fenian. In 1876 he was not yet forty years of age, and had been in penal servitude for a whole decade. He did not appeal to Devoy in vain. That indomitable man was still in his prime. The Fenian organisation could boast no finer spirit, no more resourceful intellect. He seems to have been capable of uncommon labour and activity; his mind was extraordinarily keen, eager, alert. The rescue of the military Fenians became with him almost an obsession and he dedicated himself to the project wholly from the moment he got Wilson’s appeal. A cheery reply brought a ray of hope to the distant convict’s heart, and Devoy at once conferred with John Kenneally and James McCarthy Fennell, who had been prisoners themselves. He then took the matter to the Clan-na-Gael Convention at Baltimore in 1874. A committee was thereupon appointed to go ahead. It consisted of Devoy himself, John W. Goff, afterwards Recorder of New York, and three others, nut Devoy was the brains carrier and moving spirit of the whole amazing affair. Funds were the first necessity, and it was not easy to get enough for even so splendid and noble and undertaking. Only he himself probably could tell how hard was the toil involved in gathering £5,000. Spurred on by an ex-prisoner, John King, some New Zealand miners subscribed £800 and in Ireland £1,000 was collected. The famous John J. Breslin, who had planned the escape of James Stephens from Richmond Bridewell, was selected to go to Australia and establish communication with the prisoners. Devoy pervaded the operations. He naturally sought the advice of John Boyle O’Reilly, and from whom received the suggestion that a whaling vessel should be sent on the dangerous errand.
Devoy Finds A Captain
O’Reilly, when rescued in the Gazelle, met Henry C. Hathaway, who was third mate, and they became tremendous friends. Hathaway was now captain of the night police force in New Bedford, ant to him O’Reilly sent Devoy. Hathaway, a very daring spirit, entered into Devoy’s plans with zest, and at once pitched on Captain George Anthony, a whaleman of infinite courage, great experience, and imperturbable temper. He had recently married and retired from whaling, but still heard the call of the sea. A meeting was arranged trough Anthony’s father-in-law, John Richardson. It took place at Richardson’s store one night in the dark. Devoy and Hathaway studied each other – in fact, Devoy had prospected the captain for some days already. The captain was of athletic build, with brilliant black eyes. Devoy then was a short man with full black whickers. Devoy addressed the little meeting, unfolded the tale of the attempted revolution, and the gallant fellows pleading for rescue. He then sketched the plans he had matured. His friends would provide a whale ship. Would Anthony take the command? The latter asked for a day to think. Next day he came, he said “Yes.”
Devoy’s eloquence had captured the captain, for he knew the great risks – the proferred pay was as nothing – his young wife had given him a baby daughter but a few months before, his mother lay ill; he had to select a ship and start at once. It was an immense sacrifice the dashing American sailor made. Probably not a man on earth could have induced that sacrifice except the intrepid and invincible John Devoy. Anthony and Richardson now searched out the Catalpa, bought her for £1,100, but when she was ready and all the cost had mounted to about £3,600. She carried 23 of a crew.
When the ship was ready, Devoy, then night editor of the “New York Herald,” went back to New Bedford to give his final orders. They were: “You will cruise until fall, about six months, in the North Atlantic. Then you are to put in at Fayal, ship home any oil which you may have taken, and sail at once for Australia, where we expect you to arrive early in the spring of 1876. You are to go to Bunbury, on the west coast, and there communications will be opened up with you from our Australian agent.”
On Thursday, April 29, 1875, Devoy waved his farewell to the captain as he rowed away to the Catalpa, and from a wharf on the water-front of New Bedford, clad in a dark frieze ulster, watched the good ship till she dropped under the horizon. The voyage of the vessel, the rescue of the six military Fenians, the perils of the return voyage, are matters of history. Into the story Devoy does not return until his amazing enterprise had been successfully accomplished.
Twenty years later he sat on the platform at Philadelphia, and saw the gallant Anthony present to the Clan-na-Gael the flag which flew over the Catalpa on the day when he defied the British, and fulfilled to the letter the hazardous mission on which Devoy had sent him. On that memorable day the duty of accepting the flag most naturally fell to John Devoy. But he was ill, and could not stand the strain of speech. But he had prepared an oration, which began by addressing “Captain Anthony, old friend and comrade,” and that spirited and eloquent address was read to a delighted and enthusiastic assemblage by Mr. Michael J. Ryan. Whenever the heroic tale of the Catalpa is told the imperishable name of John Devoy must be coupled with it.


Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year from all the staff at Kildare Collections and Research Services.  Thank you for your interest and continued support. 

To mark the 500th article being added to Kildare Library and Arts Services on the EHistory portion of the library website, we have chosen an article from the Kildare Observer which reports on John Devoy’s return visit to Naas and Kill in 1924.  Seamus Curran has been campaigning for many a year for a memorial to John Devoy in Naas, and this Christmas a commemorative booklet will be published to help raise awareness and much needed funds.  It will be available from Seamus Curran, ‘Profile Hair Studios’ Naas – 086 8244778. Compiled by James Durney, Mario Corrigan, and Seamus Curran A Forgotten Hero’ – John Devoy is essentially a reprint of a commemorative booklet on John Devoy from 1964.  It also includes a new article on Devoy by Seamus Curran and other material from the local newspapers.

All proceeds from the sale of this publication (€5) will go directly towards the erection of a memorial to John Devoy at Naas.  The booklet would not have been possible without the aid of Tony, Mark and Philip of Naas Printing, Ltd.








The 500th article on Ehistory and indeed the publication of the booklet will add to the material on Devoy already on this site -


The Nationalist and Leinster Leader 6th October 1928




 NAAS - 17/05/1958 Portrait of Fenian Unveiled at Devoy Barracks

17/05/1958 Leinster Leader



  The 500th article on EHistory is a newspaper report from 1924 dealing with John Devoy's return to Naas and Kill in County Kildare.







December 17, 2009


 Three Kildare related pieces from the Freeman's Journal:

1867:  Commission of Oyer and Terminer – Robbery of Jewellery – Mary Healy was indicted that she on the 2/11/1867 did steal a casket of jewellery the property of Major Simburne, 92nd Highlanders, then quartered at the Curragh. Michael Colgan, constabulary constable, said he had found jewellery with several persons who had previously been examined as witnesses to prove that the prisoner had sold articles to them. Mr Donegan of Dame-street proved that he had seen the prisoner in his establishment in November, wishing to dispose of gold etc. Found guilty. [Freeman’s Journal, 5/12/1867]

1868:  Statutory Notice to creditors – in the goods of Daniel Healy, late of Kilcock, shopkeeper, deceased: His will was probated and granted by the Court of  Probate to Rev. Thomas Geoghegan, PP and Edward Colgan, Esq, the executors named in the will. All persons with claims to send them to Rev Thos Geoghegan at Kilcock and Edward Colgan Esq at Clonsast, Co Kildare. [Freeman’s Journal, 24/1/1868]

1868:  Statutory Notice – re Daniel Healy, late of Kilcock, who by his will appointed Rev Thos Geoghegan, PP, Kilcock and Edward Colgan of Clonsast, executors and bequeath to them his house and garden attached and his house property in Kilcock known as Mr Kit Kelly’s upon trust for his wife during her life and thereafter to the RC bishop and PP of Kilcock for the purposes of establishing and maintaing a school for the poor of the parish; and also bequeathing the sum of £1,000 towards the completion of the new Roman Catholic Church of Kilcock and also £300 towards the establishment of the above new schools under the Christian Brothers, and also £300 to the RC Deaf and Dumb Institutions; and £150 to be invested in Government Funds, the interest on which is to be paid to the Kilcock PP for the purposes of the renewal of the family of said deceased on the list of the dead; also £300 to be invested, the interest to be distributed to the poor of Kilcock each Christmas Day; another £200 to the Sisters of Good Help, in Dublin, commonly called the Infirmarian Sisters; £300 to the religious community at George’s Hill Convent, Dublin, the interest therefrom to be applied to the poor in their charge; £50 for masses for himself and £100 towards a memorial window in the Catholic Church of Kilcock. [Freeman’s Journal, 24/1/1868]

Three Kildare related pieces from the Freeman's Journal: Our thanks to John Colgan.
JohnColgan at iol.ie would welcome all contributions, photographs of persons and residences included, on the Colgans of county Kildare and surrounding areas as an aid to his genealogy on Colgans generally.

December 16, 2009


Leinster Leader 06/03/1982
Historic Naas shown in Pub Mural
One of the most unusual murals in the county has been executed in the Paddock Bar in Naas. It is a reproduction of an 1833 map of Naas, in which local prominent buildings have been vividly depicted by the artist, Ms. Fidelma Massey of Digby Bridge, near Prosperous.
Mary English, the owner of the bar, told me that she had been contemplating a suitable mural for the wall with something of local interest dominating. “I went to the Town Clerk, Larry Long, and he produced an old map, dated 1833, which had been discovered there, and we used it as a basis to the mural.”
Fidelma Massey said that she had done pen and ink drawings of the buildings. Some had been done from photographs, like the old water tower. She had been given various books which had given details about the largely historic buildings depicted. She had also checked records in the Town Hall.
Fidelma basically works in pottery, sign writing, and painting. But she also does some sculpture. She found no particular difficulty in executing the Paddock mural, which was done in conventional house paint because of the nature of the walls. Her biggest worry came when innocently she went to sketch the campile over the Army Apprentice School (Devoy Barracks). She did not realise that this is strictly forbidden in a military installation. “I had to move away, but I still got my drawing”.
The resulting mural should be of great interest to the people of the town. It has illustrations of the Courthouse, Town Hall, “RIC” barracks, Presbyterian “meeting hall”, St. David’s church, Church of Our Lady and St. David (formerly St.Corban’s): the almhouses on Dublin road; the Abbey Bridge and graveyard; the old water tower on Fairgreen.
Also included is the Union Workhouse (now Co. Hospital); the old jail (or gaol); the canal basin, and the Moat. It shows where the former railway station stood (the Great Southern and Western Line, closed down in the ‘fifties); and also the site of the former Augustinian Abbey (there in 1484 but demolished in 1835 with the stone being used on Abbey Bridge).
Btxhe? (Text unreadable) map was drawn by Richard Leler. Inscriptions on Ms. Massey’s map state that the Catholic Church was built in 1827; the almshouses were founded in 1590, and reopened in 1802. The water tower has since almost gone with the ground floor being used for the fire station. The inscription regarding the workhouse states that there were once 500 paupers within its walls and the average cost of maintaining each was 3 pence.
“Sleator’s Gazette” in 1759 according to the map, described the following incident in Naas Gaol: “One Cunningham who was lately whipp’d at Kilcock for cutting off a man’s ear; with the rest of the prisoners of the gaol, broke a hole thro’ the wall to escape, but were discovered by the gaoler at about 1 o’clock on Friday morning”.
The Moat shows the site of the former “guardhouse”. Canal boats are shown at Abbey Bridge and at the Basin. “The speed of the boats was between 3 and 4 miles per hour, and only first class passengers were allowed on the upper deck”, the legend states.
Finally, it says that the Town Hall was destroyed by fire in 1900 and was reconstructed in the original style.
The mural is sure to attract curious visitors to Mary English’s comfortable hostelry in Naas. She deserves full marks for her choice of subject to grace that tavern walls.

The Leinster Leader of March 6th 1982 reports on the reproducton of an 1833 map of Naas on the walls of a famous Naas pub.

December 12, 2009


Leinster Leader February 3rd, 1923
At 9.30 on Monday night Palmerstown, the Irish residence of Senator the Earl of Mayo and the Countess of Mayo, was entered by armed men who set the massive building on fire, destroying it and its contents.
Lord and Lady Mayo had finished dinner, and there were in the house with them at the time two male and six female servants. Two young fellows knocked at the front door, which was opened by the butler. They demanded money, and he shut the door speedily without answering them. Some minutes later a knock came to the servants’ entrance, and the hall boy inquiring who was there, was answered, “An orderly officer of the Irish Republican Army”.
He opened the door and three men entered, armed with revolvers. They left, and returned in a few moments with petrol tins. They were met by Lord Mayo, who asked what they wanted. They said they had come to burn the house “as a reprisal for the execution of six men at the Curragh”. They proceeded through the house, and sprinkled the main hall, dining room and drawing room with petrol. They allowed the servants a quarter of an hour to remove their personal belongings. Lord Mayo asked if they would give him time to remove his best pictures and his plate, and they consented. The plate and some valuable pictures were removed, also the contents of the study, kitchen, scullery and housekeeper’s room. In all about half an hour was allowed. Then matches were set to the saturated rooms and in a few moments the place was a roaring mass of flame.
The raiders left, having stated they could not wait and wanted to get back to Dublin. Military from Naas and the military fire brigade from the Curragh arrived on the scene, but nothing could be done to save the fine mansion, which was completely gutted. The offices and servant’s quarters adjoining were saved.
A Stately Edifice
The house is situated on a splendid demesne about two miles from Naas on the Dublin road. It was erected as a memorial house to Richard, 6th Earl of Mayo and Viceroy of India in 1872 after the assassination of that nobleman, father of the present Earl. The house, perhaps the finest edifice of its kind in County Kildare, which boasts of some many splendid residences, was built by Wyatt, the architect, of Liverpool Exchange and Hyde Park Barracks, London. The house is situated on the top of a hill overlooking the surrounding country. It contained family records, all of which were destroyed and relics from Africa, India, America and Sardinia, including many gifts to the 6th Earl when he was Viceroy of India. A tablet over the front entrance bears the inscription: “This house was built in honoured memory of Richard, sixth Earl of Mayo, K.P., G.M.S.I., Viceroy and Governor-General of India, by his friends and countrymen, A.D. 1872.
Today nothing remains of the once magnificent structure but the gaping, blackened walls.
Prior to the Raid
Prior to the raid on the house, armed men called at the farmyard and demanded arms which they alleged were on the premises, but they were told there were none there.
A military patrol from Naas barracks was at Sallins about a mile away, about 11.45 and, seeing the flames, proceeded to the spot, but there was no trace of the incendiaries at this time.
It is believed there were at least 7 men engaged in the attack, five of whom entered the house, One of these accompanied Lady Mayo to release some fowl from a house, and they were challenged by a sentry posted outside. The raiders were courteous. Lady Mayo has gone to stay with some friends in the neighbourhood, but Lord Mayo has decided to occupy a gamekeeper’s cottage on his estate. It is stated that the male residents in the vicinity were warned that they would be shot if they gave any assistance to put out the fire.
Priceless Treasures
The Earl of Mayo is probably one of the greatest living authorities on old English and French furniture. He is president of the Irish Arts and Crafts Society and organised more than one notable exhibition in Dublin when superb collections of Chippendale and Sheraton and Louis XIV and Louis XV furniture were exhibited. His own specimens were of almost priceless description.
The Mayo family have always been identified with the hunting and racing traditions of the “Killing Kildares”, and the present Earl is the historian of the Kildare Hunt. The family have always been prominent in fostering, developing and maintaining the famous Punchestown Races, and at Palmerstown there was a rare collection of racing and hunting prints. It may be assumed that these also have been sent to destruction.
The present Earl was in his earlier days, connected with the British Embassy at Paris and is a recognized authority on French politics and modern French literature.
The family of the Earl of Mayo, which derives its decent from the famous line of MacWilliam-Oughter of Connacht, first settled in Kildare about 1660.


The court case for compensation involving Palmerstown House is also available on EHistory - entitled 'The Burning of Palmerstown House.'

Leinster Leader article on the destruction of Palmerstown House during the Civil War. The court case for compensation involving Palmerstown House is also available on EHistory - entitled 'The Burning of Palmerstown House.'

December 10, 2009


Kildare Observer 30th June 1906
Missing Heir Found In Celbridge Workhouse
Big Estate Left In America
The heir to the White estate, recently advertised for by Mr Dunne, solicitor, of New York, has been found by him after a long search. He has been traced in the person of James Nolan to the Infirmary attached to the Celbridge Workhouse. For several weeks Mr Dunne has been residing in Dublin, endeavouring to find the whereabouts of sundry heirs to properties left by deceased Irishmen in the United States, and during his inquiries he learnt that the heir or heirs to the estate left in America by the late Mr White would be found in the County Wexford.
Having gone there, he eventually learned that the man of whom he was in search – James Nolan – had been in the employment of some milling company in the neighbourhood of Leixlip. The result of the further inquiries, on the Dublin and Kildare borders was that on Wednesday last Mr. Dunne, accompanied by Mr Lawlor, P.L.G., North Dublin Union, drove to the Celbridge Workhouse, and there found the fortunate man, James Nolan, who, being slightly ill, was an inmate of the infirmary. Mr Dunne is satisfied that Nolan is the missing heir, and it is possible that within a very short time he will be in possession of such a fortune as he never even dreamt of. It may be mentioned that Mr Dunne, the solicitor interested, lays claim to being a County Kildare man, his father having been an old and respected resident of Athy.

The Kildare Observer of June 1906 reports on the good fortune of a resident of Celbridge Workhouse.

December 09, 2009


Leinster Leader 25th April 1953
Bare-knuckle boxer, Dan (dubbed Sir) Donnelly, Irish champion of 150 years ago and hero of a storied bout against the Englishman, G. Cooper, near Athgarvan, was once again the central figure in the Hollow to which he gave his name when, on Sunday last, the Kilcullen Tostal Committee rolled back the years to present a pageant of the famous fight which sent Irish cheers thundering across the Curragh plains on a December day in 1815;
On Sunday too, there was lusty cheering for Sir Dan, but it was mixed with the laughter of the thousands of spectators which filled the Hollow and its surroundings to witness the pageant and displays of wrestling, judo, and boxing bouts which followed.
The cheers for “Donnelly” (in reality, J. Berney of Kilcullen) came from his “official” supporters the members of the local Gaelic Football club, suitably attired in a variety of old-fashioned costumes. And right lustily did they cheer, wave shillelaghs (the fellow who carried an alder branch must have never heard of a good old black thorn!) and toss tattered cawbeens to the skies when their champion floored the “Englishman” in the eleventh round.
                                          It was hard luck on army man
                                          Kevin McCourt that his cause
                                          Was so hopeless from the outset
                                          Yet one couldn’t play around
                                          with history – and Cooper had
                                          to lose.
Some racing folk present made bold to mutter “objection” but they subsided quickly before the scowls and threatening “kippeens” (average thickness four inches) wielded by the jubilant supporters of “Sir Dan”
The fight was tough while it lasted with the seconds and supporters giving and taking as much as the principals. As chief aides to the boxers, Tommy Byrne and John Ffrench went whole heartedly into the affray – a little too much so, perhaps, for the the blacksmith caught one wallop that had a little more force than fun in it!
Even “Miss Kelly” (C. Whelan, Kilcullen, behind the disguise) could not be restrained and, faithful to the records of the fight, jumped into the arena to bet her fortune on Donnelly. Perhaps her exuberant father “Captain Kelly” (Gerry Kelly of Kilcullen) used a sight too much force in rescuing the “lady” from the mob; she certainly looked slightly the worse for wear after the incident.
But it was all right good fun which the big crowd fully enjoyed and heartily applauded. One had to appreciate the amount of toil and trouble taken to place the show, simple as it seemed, before the public; its success was gratifying to Jim Byrne, junior, and his band of willing workers, the Kilcullen Boxing Committee and helpers particularly the Commanding Officer and military authorities at the Curragh.
The very large attendance saw first a parade of those participating headed by the Narraghmore Pipers Band; the re-enacting of the Donnelly-Cooper fight; wrestling bouts a judo display and some genuine boxing by representatives of local and Dublin clubs, the boxing tournament being promoted by the Kildare County Board.
Portions of the display were filmed and recording made by Radio Eireann.
Details of the wrestling, judo and boxing bouts will be found on the sports page
Bouts at Donnelly’s Hollow.
One of the bouts at the Donnelly’s Hollow tournament on Sunday last was the Flyweight meeting of Joe Cox (Droichead Nua) and Pte. G. Byrne (Collins). Cox, a points winner, showed fine offensive spirit against a clever opponent and it was the ability of the local boy to carry the fight to Byrne which merited him a popular verdict.
H. Peacocke (Kilcullen) put up a good show against Irish champion W. Duggan; the visitor punches very solidly and came on top in the last round.
                                          There was a great set-to
                                          between J. McKenna (Kilcullen)
                                          and Pte. O’Leary (Army Champ-
                                          ion, Collins) in the light heavy-
                                          weight class – McKenna stood
                                          up to some heavy punishment
                                          but was always able to shake
                                          his opponent in counter-attack.
In the last round a great rally by McKenna resulted in O’Leary wilting and the Kilcullen lad was definitely superior when the bout ended.
                                          Fly – J. Cox (Droichead Nua) bt.
Pte. G. Byrne (Collins).
 Bantam – Pte. Harvey (Collins)
bt. H. Peacocke (Kilcullen).
 Light-Heavyweight – J. Mc Ken-
na (Kilcullen) bt. Pte. O’Leary
 Wrestling bouts results as
 Feather G. Larkin (Apollo) bt.
S. Moore (Hercules) by straight fall.
 Middle – J. Vard (Spartan ) bt.
D. Vekins (Apollo)
 Heavy – G. Martina (Spartan) bt.
D. Kelly (Apollo) on pts.
Judo exhibitions were given by
Members of the Irish Judokwai
A great deal of the organisation work fell on the shoulders of Lieut. C.J. Russell, actively associated with the promoting Kilcullen Boxing Club for many years, was a very busy man for the weeks prior to the big event and the large success achieved was due in no small part to his unsparing efforts.
Note: Accompanying photo too poor to reproduce.

The Leinster Leader of 25th April 1953 reports on how the Kilcullen Tostal Committee rolled back the years to present at Donnelly's Hollow a pageant of the famous fight which sent Irish cheers thundering across the Curragh plains on a December day in 1815

December 05, 2009


Leinster Leader 29th May 1954
The recent retirement of Detective Sergeant Larry Stanley has severed a most important link in the chain of athletic activities in the Garda Siochana.
Larry it might be said was the pioneer of a trail of high jumpers in the 1920’s which brought that athletic event in Ireland back into world class, and his epic with the world champion, Harold Osborne, U.S.A., in that event at the Tailteann Games at Croke Park in 1924 ranks as one of the highlights in Irish athletics in the present century.
In August, 1923, he began his series of 6ft. jumps which brought him in the next two years to sports fields as far apart as Yorkshire, Lancashire and London, in England, and to the four corners of Ireland, from Letterkenny and Derry to Clonakilty, Mayo and Wexford. Larry has the distinction of being the first man to walk on to an Olympic track in the colours of his county when he represented Ireland in the high jump at the Colombes Stadium in Paris in 1924. That year was crowded with successes for the Kildare footballer turned jumper. Having in May won the high jump at the opening ceremony at the famed Wembley Stadium, London, he returned to that city and at Stamford Bridge on June 21 annexed the coveted A.A.A. high jump championship, having in the interim won the Irish title with a facile 6ft.2in: effort Then followed the Tailteann Games, where his greatest height was achieved. This was  6ft. 3⅛in. to be beaten by Osbourne by a single inch. Just to add a touch of variety to his sporting activities he accepted an invitation from O’Toole’s Dublin football champions, to assist their selection against Kerry in the final of the 1923 All-Ireland championship, in which the Metropolitans were successful. Thus he crowned an unique year’s sporting performances, gathering such distinctions as the A.A.A. and Irish titles in the high jump and an All-Ireland football medal – surely an unusual “triple crown.”
Larry also captained Kildare to win the All-Ireland championship in 1919.
Best in Europe
While as an athlete he ranked with the best in Europe, followers of Gaelic games who saw him in action freely admitted that he was one of the best footballers that ever graced the game. Added to his athletic prowess was a technique and skill that made the most difficult features appear most simple of execution. His fielding of high balls must have been seen to be believed, and the manner in which he could extricate himself from the most difficult situations and swing over points from any angle of the field was the marvel of his time. His speciality was the deep angled frees which presented no more difficulty to him than one placed on the 21 yards in front of goal.
In later years he was the inspiration to the young Gardai who essayed the formation of the present Garda team, and his advice was eagerly sought and readily given. He will always hold a very warm spot for the young men entering the Force who have a leaning towards athletics and games, and no better example should be held up to them than the achievements of the Kildare-Dublin footballer and athlete.

The Leinster Leader of 29th May 1954 reports on the retirement of famous Kildare footballer and athlete Detective Sergeant Larry Stanley.

December 04, 2009


Leinster Leader 10th January 1953
Naas Man’s Interesting Job
A County Kildare man who has a most interesting job across Channel is Mr. Jack Doyle, formerly of Oldtown, Naas, who is at present enjoying a well-earned holiday in his native town. Jack is a ship’s painter at Southampton, and when the mighty passenger liners, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth came periodically into port he has a job on hands – he gives these ships a coat of paint. Swinging out of a yardarm at a height of perhaps 300 feet gives these workers an elevated view of life, but it is not so easy for the men who have a time schedule to keep as they labour at the great funnels and masts. The work is done by contract and usually takes a month or sometimes seven weeks for each vessel. Recently a friend of Mr. Doyle, another Naas man Johnny Hynes, foreman painter, with nearly thirty years experience, fell to his death whilst on the job.
The dry dock at Southampton, the largest in the world, occupies 18 acres and can accommodate the largest vessels built. The fishing in the harbour provides the best sport of this type in the country, with abundance of flounders, whiting, mullet, bass and the delicious pouting. Recently in one night’s fishing Mr. Doyle caught 200 whiting. But that is nothing unusual to the Naas man who, besides being a keen angler, is a splendid all-around sportsman.
Well-known cyclist
Before leaving Ireland about sixteen years ago, he was a well-known racing cyclist, and in his career won over 500 prizes in all parts of the country, and he also rode in England, where he collected two cups. With his friend, Jacky Bird, he competed in the Tailteann Games with distinction. The first man who started him on a bicycle was the late Mr. Jack Mitchell, Naas who was also a noted wheelman, and whose father is President of the Naas Athletic Club. Mr. Doyle was also associated with the Naas Club for twelve years, and he was Secretary for a time and a member of the Executive of the County Kildare Board of the N.A.C.A. (P). At that period, as it still is, the race for the Millbrook Cup over the famous Punchestown Course was a big annual attraction, and Jack, whose versatility was amazing, ran in the race and won the Cup and succeeded in finishing third and forth in successive years.
As an amateur boxer he was un-defeated and fought in some notable contests in the Naas Town Hall and in Dublin. Jack has now retired from the more strenuous pastimes, but his continued interest in shooting, fishing and swimming keeps him fit for his difficult job. His many Naas friends wish him every success in his adopted land.

The Leinster Leader of January 1953 gives us an account of a Naas man's  interesting job across Channel

December 03, 2009



Mammoth project almost 70 years in the making goes online

11 November, 2009: Today sees the dawning of a new era, following the launch by the National Library of Ireland of a free on-line research service designed to save researchers having to plough through numerous bulky printed catalogues comprising 17,000 pages of records in order to find out where research materials of Irish interest are located.  

By logging on to 'Sources', the National Library of Ireland's new digital directory of Irish studies (http://sources.nli.ie ), people can now retrieve any one of up to 196,574 records of materials housed in the National Library of Ireland or in universities and research institutions around the world. Subjects covered in the materials range from art, architecture and archaeology through economics and genealogy to history, politics, literature, science and zoology.

As a result of being able to source this information on line, the initial research period is now reduced from at least several days to just a few minutes.

'Sources' will be launched later today (Wednesday 11 November, 2009) by Dr Martin Mansergh, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism at a reception held in the Library.

The 'Sources' digital directory pinpoints exactly what Irish interest material is held where – information which previously could only be accessed by consulting the bulky printed catalogues in either the National Library of Ireland in Dublin or one of a limited number of university libraries or major research institutions holding the complete set of printed records.  With the click of a mouse anyone can now access the Sources database via a PC and can start the process of researching what material exists on a particular topic, and in what library or institution around the world that material is held.  

For the first time, it will be possible to search the manuscript and periodicals records together. As a result, someone doing research on their local area might find information about manuscript maps, estate papers and business records for local shopkeepers, as well as details for articles in local history journals. Once the records are found, the information can be easily emailed or shared to bookmarking and social networking sites such as Delicious and Twitter.  Other features of 'Sources' include an interactive map showing the location of all the archives and libraries around the world where the Irish material listed is stored. Full contact details for each outlet are also provided.

The current process of digitising the original 'Hayes Sources' data represents an investment of several years' work by the National Library of Ireland. Commenting on the launch, Aongus Ó hAonghusa, Director, National Library of Ireland noted:

"For decades, the original Manuscripts Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation, or 'Hayes Sources' as it is more commonly known, proved to be a tried and trusted resource for researchers in any and all fields of study relating to Ireland and its people, at home and abroad.

"Now, it has been given a new life, and a slightly less unwieldy name, in an online arena. The unprecedented opportunity it will provide for current and future generations of researchers worldwide to find Irish source material from their desktops, wherever they may be, would surely have pleased Richard Hayes and his dedicated team who first embarked on this mammoth indexing task almost 70 years ago."

Note for editors
(1)        The launch of the project comes almost 70 years after Dr Richard J Hayes, Director of the National Library of Ireland from 1940 to 1967, initiated a project and led a team of researchers who produced almost 200,000 indexed references to some of the most important manuscripts and journals of Irish interest. The project resulted in two major publications: Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation and Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: Articles in Irish Periodicals. The original hard copy of Manuscript Sources was contained in 11 volumes produced in 1965, with a further three volumes produced in a supplement in 1975. That project created a portal to a vast amount of manuscripts housed in repositories in Ireland and elsewhere. Periodicals Sources was published in nine volumes in 1970 and includes bibliographic references to articles appearing in some 157 publications, the earliest of these commencing in 1785.

(2)       'Sources' is just one strand of the National Library of Ireland's emerging digital library programme. Earlier this year, in a move aimed at transforming access by the public to its collections, it introduced another free online service whereby 20,000 photographs from the Lawrence, Poole and Independent Newspapers collections can be viewed on the Library's website www.nli.ie/digital-photographs.aspx


For further information, please contact Katherine McSharry, Assistant Keeper, Tel: 01-603 0281



A Life of Sir Horace Plunkett - Outstanding Visionary and Pioneer
Maurice Colbert
Sir Horace Plunkettsmall.jpg
This timely publication charts the life of an outstanding Irishman who was, an architect of the country’s economic resurgence in the years leading up to Independence. Horace Plunkett has been compared to outstanding Irishmen such as Daniel O’Connell; Charles Stewart Parnell; Michael Davitt; and more recently, Sean Lemass and Ken Whitaker.
When Plunkett returned to Ireland, having ranched in Wyoming, he was mindful of the enormous impact of the industrial revolution on rural communities, not least in North America and Europe.
To bring about an efficient and market led farming and food sector similar to the United States and capable of competing in world markets was Plunkett’s life mission.
In time Plunkett handpicked some of the finest brains for the challenging work ahead.  By the turn of the century the key elements in Irish agriculture were in place with the setting up of the Cooperatives and the Department of Agriculture; and Plunkett was the architect of both.
Plunkett was to become known as the one man capable of getting things done in Ireland and speedily.  He combined idealism with great vision, and 0steely determination, and resolve.  He was also blessed with a pragmatic streak, and he packed quite a lot into a lifetime.
Plunkett was beset by a variety of major illnesses which frequently incapacitated him.  But his sturdy spirit remained indomitable to the very end.
With his work for his country transcending any political considerations it was ironic that his patriotism was rewarded by the wanton destruction and burning of his new home in South Dublin in the latter days of the civil war.
Plunkett proved a formidable and great leader at a very critical stage in the development of the country’s rural economy.  His life and work have a striking relevance to the Ireland of 2009.
Plunkett’s legacy continues.
Copies of the book can be purchased directly from the author at:

086 821 9584 or email mcolbert@live.ie
Price: €20 (Plus Postage).


Double War tragedy for Leixlip family
James Durney 
Second Lt. Frederick Maurice Wookey was only in France less than three months when his family in Leixlip received the tragic news that he had died of wounds received at St. Eloi on 15 March 1915. He was twenty-seven years of age. He was the son of Frederick and Fanny Wookey, of Weston Lodge, Leixlip. Lt. Wookey was a serving officer with C Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. At the outbreak of war, in August 1914, the 1st Royal Irish had returned from service in India to join the 27th Division, of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), which arrived in France on 23 December 1914. Lt. Wookey and his men spent the winter in the trenches in the St. Eloi sector of the Ypres Salient where there was little respite from German artillery and infantry attacks. On 14 March 1915 a full-scale German attack captured the village of St. Eloi. The Royal Irish were in reserve and were given the task of recapturing St. Eloi and a 30-foot high spoil heap about half an acre in extent known as the ‘Mound of Death.’ The Royal Irish recovered St. Eloi, but their attack on the Mound was brought to a standstill with heavy casualties. When fighting died down, German and Irish dead and wounded were lying in the street of St. Eloi. Among them was Lt. Fred Wookey, who was seriously injured leading his company in the attack. He later died of his wounds and was buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery in Nord, France.
Frederick Wookey was a Justice of the Peace, and his family had lived in Leixlip for generations. A son, John Neil, had died on 4 April 1892, aged 4½ months and now Frederick and his wife Fanny had lost another child to the harsh realities of the world war. Frederick Wookey did not live to see the end of the war that had taken his beloved Fred. He died on 16 July 1918, aged sixty-eight, and was buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Leixlip. His widow, Fanny, sold Weston Lodge and prepared to move to England, where she had relatives. On 10 October 1918 Fanny boarded the R.M.S. Leinster, the Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire)-Holyhead mailboat. During the war a patrol of airships was maintained at Malahide Castle for the purpose of escorting shipping in the Irish Sea. However, the one that was to accompany the Leinster on her journey to Holyhead was damaged in a gale and no anti-submarine patrol went out that day. 
Just four miles (6 km) outside Dublin Bay the Leinster was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine, UB-123. Over 500 people perished in the sinking – the greatest single loss of life in the Irish Sea. The official death toll was 501, though recent research suggests the actual total was probably slightly higher. Her journal shows that she carried 77 crew and 694 passengers on her final voyage. The passengers included 22 postal sorters manning an onboard mail-room and just fewer than 500 military personnel. The latter comprised army, naval, air force and nursing personnel from Ireland, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Among the civilian passengers lost in the sinking were socially prominent people such as Lady Phyllis Hamilton, daughter of the Duke of Abercorn; Robert Jocelyn Alexander, son of Irish composer Cecil Frances Alexander; Thomas Foley who was the brother-in-law of the world-famous Irish tenor John McCormack; Lt. Col. Charles Harold Blackbourne, veteran of the Boer War; Alfred White Curzon King, 15-year-old nephew to Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe; Maud Elizabeth Ward, personal secretary to Douglas Proby; and Fanny Wookey, widow of the late Frederick Wookey, J.P. There were as well as the less socially prominent ordinary people such as Gerald Palmer (15), a boy with a physical disability, from ‘The Cripples Home’ in Bray, Co. Wicklow, and Catherine Gould and five of her six children, whom a Limerick newspaper described as ‘humble decent people’.
Survivors of the disaster were brought to Kingstown Harbour and the nearby St Michael’s Hospital. Patients with influenza, then at its peak in Ireland, occupied most of the beds at St Michael’s, where the bodies and some of the injured were brought. The body of Fanny Wookey was brought to the hospital morgue where it was identified and brought back to Leixlip for burial. Relatives of the passengers besieged the hospital and the Dublin Metropolitan Police had to regulate visiting and erect a cordon to keep the crowds back. On Saturday, October 19, 1918, the Leinster Leader reported,
'Deep regret is expressed at Leixlip and Celbridge at the sad death of Mrs. Wookey, Salmon Leap, Leixlip. She was a passenger on the Leinster and was proceeding to reside in England with some friends having recently disposed of her property at Leixlip. She was widow of the late Mr. Wookey, J.P., whose family were associated with Leixlip for generations.' 
Fanny Wookey was buried with her late husband, Frederick, in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Leixlip, after Service in the 12th Century Protestant Church. Their youngest daughter, Frances Norah, died on 30 September 1939, aged forty-eight, and is also buried in St. Mary’s. A memorial for the R.M.S. Leinster, incorporating one of the anchors, was erected in 1998 through the efforts of the owner of the wreck, Mr. Des Brannigan. This is near the mailboat pier at Dún Laoghaire from where the Leinster sailed. The German submarine, UB-123, which sank the Leinster, was lost in a minefield in the North Sea on her way back to Germany, on or about 19 October 1918. The bodies of the crew, three officers and thirty-three men, were never recovered.

An article from local author James Durney on a prominent Leixlip family devastated by World War I.

December 01, 2009


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Cill Dara Historical Society
Kildare Town’s Local History Group
Druim Criaig
The Ridge of Clay
Wednesday 2nd December 2009
7 p.m.
Cill Dara Historical Society – Kildare Town’s Local History Group - has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 1989 and the monthly meetings are proving something of a focal point in the town. “The ‘cuppa and chat’ beforehand are probably as enticing as the actual content of the talk or presentation and as  well as local subjects, it has expanded its remit to cover national and international topics and ventured into the unknown realms of storytelling and memorabilia,” says President, Mary D’Arcy. “Indeed our ‘Memories and Memorabilia’ night has allowed members and local people, who would not dream of giving a talk, an opportunity to participate and inform, and has become an extremely popular annual event.”
The partnership with Kildare Education Centre and the Society’s access to the wonderful facilities available in the Centre have been paramount in the growth and development of the Society and local history in the town.
A new partnership was forged in 2009 with the Kildare Nationalist when they began a series of weekly articles on Kildare, and the articles have proved so popular that the Society felt they needed to be brought together in a tangible way to preserve them, and also to make them even more widely available. The resulting publication, ‘DRUIM CRIAIG – The Ridge of Clay,’ will be launched on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Kildare Education Centre – All are Welcome.
Contributions from: Stephen Talbot, Mark McLoughlin, Adrian Mullowney, James Durney, Stephen Boland, Joe Connolly, Susan Waters, Mario Corrigan, Rory Hopkins,  Brian Murphy, Fr. Adrian Carbery,
and includes a complete reproduction of the
An Tóstal Souvenir Booklet of 1953.
 The Ideal Christmas Stocking Filler!!

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