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January 30, 2010


February 1st
Oh dear St. Brigid hear our call,
And guard our native isle,
In olden days you spread the light
Of love o’er the soil,
Your mission full of ardent love,
With pleadings did not fall,
And ever shall thy memory live,
As Mary of the Gael.
How oft you prayed with fervent hope
To save our native land,
The fire of Faith you kindled here,
By a heavenly breeze was fanned,
Thy earthly life our guiding star,
A beacon of light to all
Fond patroness of Erin’s Isle,
You heard the plaintive call.
Tho’ years have flown O Glorious Saint,
Since you trod the Emerald Isle,
The hills and pleasant valleys,
Seem a calling all the while.
Come dwell again O Brigid true.
Amidst the scenes so fair,
Where first thy virtues flourished
From thy Convent at Kildare.
The Irish race O faithful Queen,
Shall ever breathe thy name,
With Patrick’s aid Apostle true,
Our land shall rise to fame.
And when all earthly things shall end,
We pray our trials are o’er,
To meet our Glorious Irish Saint,
Yes meet to part no more.
Patrick McCormack (1941)
Obituary for Paddy McCormackpublished 23 November 1974
Death of talented Kildareman
One of Kildare’s most liked and respected figures, Mr. Paddy McCormack of Gaelic House, Kildare, died on Thursday last. Aged 74, he was native of Lackaghmore and had been associated with the commercial life of Kildare for most of his adult years.
He was an extremely popular figure, keenly interested in parochial affairs; he was also an active supporter of the Gaelic League and the G.A.A., but the greatest loves of his life were archaeology, the study of history and the writing of verse and songs. In the latter regard he was particularly prominent; his poems and songs were published regularly and his songs, generally about his native County Kildare, were sung as far afield as the United States and Canada, and local baritone John Breen invariably included them in his repertoire when on tour.
His booklets about historical events in Kildare, including the Gibbet Rath, Lackagh and Monasterevan memorials, were widely read and particularly his life of St. Brigid and history of other local places of interest. In some of his writings he collaborated with Very Rev. P. Mac Suibhne, retired Parish Priest of Kildare.
He is survived by his wife, Annie; sons, Oliver and Vincent; daughters, Mrs. Theresa Moran, Mrs. Ann Ganguly, Misses Eta and Noeleen McCormack; brothers, Edward and James; sisters, Mrs. Margaret Purcell, Mrs. Kathleen Kelly; sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and other relatives. Internment took place on Saturday at the family burial ground, Lackaghmore.
St Brigid's Well, Tully, Kildare.JPG
Photo: Mario Corrigan - St. Brigid’s Well, May 2003.
Kildare Town’s Local History Group’s next talk on Tues 9th Feb. is ’44 Years a Public Representative,’ by Michael McWey, in Kildare Education Centre (Old Parochial House) at 8 p.m. For further information, contact Joe at 086-1686236.

To commemorate St. Brigid's Day, 1st February, we reproduce a poem by Paddy McCormack of Kildare Town which appeared in the Leinster Leader in 1941.

January 29, 2010


Leinster Leader 26th July 1947

Formal Opening of Factory
A new Athy industry, Bord na Mona Peat Moss factory, at Kilberry, was formally opened on Monday by Mr. Lemass, Minister for Industry and Commerce. There are about 200 men employed in the industry, and the annual output of 150,000 bales of peat moss is intended for the American market to bring in 500,0000 dollars a year. The first 1,000 bales will be ready shortly for dispatch to the States. A sales ground has already been prepared in America for the mull and litter. An almost unlimited demand for it is believed to exist in the States. In pre-war years Germany, Holland and the Scandinavia countries supplied the American needs, and manufactured millions of tons for their own use. Now Eire’s only competitor in the United States will be Canada, and the chances of building up a steady Irish trade are regarded as more than promising.
Three grades will be made in the Kilberry factory from the peat moss obtained from the upper layers of some 3,000 acres of bog prepared for the purpose around Kilberry. Excavation of the moss has been going on for the past year. When in full production the industry will employ about 500 men in the summer and 250 in the winter in the bogs and between 50 and 60 men in the factory. Work will be continued over the whole 24 hours.
The screened coarse litter is primarily used for stables; it has three times the absorptive power of stray. Medium mull can be used as a horticultural fertilizer; and the fine mull for packing purpose, a use for which it is in much demand in the U.S.
Manager of the factory is Mr. Karl Peterson, a Latavian who was first employed by Bord na Mona experts visiting Sweden to examine peat moss manufacture there. He took his B.E. degree at U.C.D. in 1913. On returning to his native country he became peat controller, a position which he held during the two great wars. After the last Russian invasion he escaped from Latavia in a fishing boat with his family, was bombed and machine gunned at sea, but eventually reached Sweden, where he was working as a refugee on peat research when the Irish turf experts met him. He supervised the erection of the Kilberry factory, the plant of which was obtained from Sweden this year.
The capital investment in the factory is ₤58,000.
Mr. Lemass, speaking after the opening of the factory, said that the enterprise exceeded in size anything attempted before. The peat moss industry was not affected by seasonal changes of weather, and would afford all-year-round employment. A steady and growing internal market was anticipated for the product.

The Leinster Leader of 26th July 1947 reports on the formal opening of a a new Athy industry, Bord na Mona Peat Moss factory at Kilberry...Our thanks to Carl Dodd

January 27, 2010


Leinster Leader, January 20th 1917
Young Kildare Soldier’s Career
Seasoned Solider at Sixteen

We are indebted to the “Weekly News” of Dundee, for the following account of Co. Kildare boy’s exploits:-

A seasoned solider at 16!

That is what can be said of Corporal Bartholomew Millerick of Partick, a lad who despite many rebuffs to his patriotism has achieved his ambition-to take an active part in the fight for King and Country. How he came to join the army at the age of under 14 years is a sequel to the Dublin dock strike. It was in the dark days of the strike-early in 1913-that a strapping lad went wandering aimlessly along the deserted banks of the Liffey.The present held for him nothing but misery-the misery that had fallen on thousands in Dublin in those dark days-and the future held no ray of hope. As he strolled along a kindred soul struck up an acquaintance with him. To their young minds the times seemed sadly out of joint, and the opposition of affairs just about as bad as it was possible to be. But was there no way out? Suddenly the chum was seized with an inspiration-why not have a shot at the army? Surely they could get a job and a bite there, at all events. But Bartholomew Millerick only laughed. The army was all right for anyone who was of age, but what good was it to a boy of his age-a mere stripling-born on Ladysmith Day, 23rd April 1900, in Ballymore, County Kildare, Ireland-that time his father was fighting for the Empire away on the distant South African veldt? A recruiting sergeant would only laugh at him for his pains. But his companion thought otherwise - For a boy Bartholomew was a strapping lad of abnormal physique, and as fit as a fiddle, and unless he cared to “blow the gaff” he could pass muster with the best of them. So away went Bartholomew Millerick and joined the Royal Leinsters. He passed with flying colours, and at the age of slightly under 13 years was a soldier of the King. Immediately the mother heard that her boy had joined the army she let the true facts as to his age be known, and claimed him out. After three and a half months service with the Leinsters, Bart came to Scotland, where his parents had now settled down, and entered the shipbuilding yard of D and W Henderson Ltd. But the blood of the soldier was in his veins, and after two and a half months in the yard “Bart” took the shilling for the second time, and giving his age as 19, he joined the Dublin Fusiliers.

A Volunteer for France

He was in the Dublins when war was declared. He was instantly passed for service and was drawn up in the barracks square in Victoria Barracks, Cork for the first draft of the British Expeditionary Forces.As luck would have it, however, there was a sergeant of the Dublins, one who had known “Bart” Millerick and his mother, and knew that the lad was under age. He called him from the ranks, challenged him as to his age, and forced the truth from him. Then he got into communication with Mrs. Millerick, and to make along story short, negotiations were opened up once more to secure the boy soldier’s release.

 In the meantime “Bart” Millerick was again passed for service, and would have gone abroad but for the intervention of his father, who succeeded in getting him kept back. On April 3 1915, his connection with the Dublins came to an end. But he was not done with yet, and in June, 1915, he joined the City of Glasgow R.F.A. Seven months was his term with this regiment, from which he was once again discharged on December 11th 1915. But Bartholomew Millerick was determined to be into it so with all his rebuffs he made one more attempt, and on February 10 1916, he joined the regular Royal Field Artillery, and later proceeded on active service.

Active Service At Last

If that boy soldier had longed for active service, he got it with a vengeance. His first taste of the actualities of warfare was at Sulva Bay, but after a short spell there he was one of those whom it fell to take part in the struggle for the relief of Kut. Corporal Millerick did his bit with the best of them in that heroic relief column. For five months those gallant lads held their post within sight of beleaguered Kut, and twice during that time “Bart” fell victim to the dread “sun fly” fever. It was after the second attack that he and twelve of his heroic comrades got the glad tidings that they were to go home for a short spell to Blighty. On November 27 Corporal Bartholomew Millerick returned to his mother’s home at 37 Anderson Street, for ten day’s leave.

Some added information by Mark McLoughlin
Bartholomew Millerick
A British Army Medal Index Card confirms that Gnr 125896 Bartholomew Millerick served in the Royal Field Artillery during World War 1 and was entitled to the British War and Victory Medal. The Medal Index Card card notes that his alias was J Bell.  He forfeited his World War 1 medals in January 1922 for an unknown reason but they were reissued following his service with the Royal Air Force during World War 2.
His father was almost certainly Patrick Millerick who was born in Newbridge in 1870 and enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers at Naas on 7 January 1888. His sevice records indicate that his parents were Bartholomew and Kate Millerick and that he also had a brother Bartholomew and sister Mary.  He served in India from December 1889 to November 1895 and in South Africa from November 1899 to July 1900.

The Leinster Leader of January 1917 relates the story of a  young Kildare man's attempts to join the army. Our thanks to Roy O'Brien and Mark McLoughlin.

January 23, 2010


Leinster Leader April 6 1957
Bog development was being planned and attempted in Ireland 107 years ago by a company, the Irish Amelioration Society, which obtained a Royal Charter for the conversion of Irish peat fuel into charcoal and for the reclamation of the peat bogs in this country. A contemporary report of an official visit to the first of the Society’s works at Derrymullen is quoted below.
The man in charge was Mr. Rogers, C.E. who, shortly after the granting of the Charter, began operations at Derrymullen, near Robertstown. This we learn from the Illustrated London News of September 28th 1850, in which was published a page of pictures showing the bog, some of those working on it and one of the retorts for burning the turf into charcoal. These were to illustrate an article from the journal’s “Own Correspondent” at Derrymullen. From his contribution we quote now.
“No sooner was the charcoal station erected than it was besieged by the then miserable and half-starved specters who inhabited this dreary waste –
thereby proving that where employment was to be had the peasantry of this country are able and willing to work. For many reasons perhaps no better spot could have been chosen to erect this, the first of the Society’s stations (one of 200 which they are bound according to their Charter to build), from its lying on the brink of the Grand Canal with a great facility for conveying the materials when manufactured to a ready market.”
Thursday, the 19th September 1850, was the day fixed for the opening of the Derrymullen station.
The turf-cutting machine is thus described: “two skanes are used to chop or make a long incision in the bank or bench from which the turf is taken with one forward cut or ‘thrust’ and the other having the side of it so turned up to enable the man cutting with it to take out a perfectly square turf measuring six inches by four, he then throws it to another man who stands on the platform raised over the bank and he flings it to a third who places it on a barrow and takes it away to a distant spot where he again passes it to women and girls who pile the pieces up and place them on what are technically called ‘short clamps.
These ‘clamps’ consist of hurdles at equal distance from each other so as to admit of the air passing through them and thus causing the turf to dry in a much less time than if placed as heretofore on the ground. From this layer of hurdle upon hurdle the turf is removed to the rick where it remains until conveyed into the furnace house.”
There were three furnace houses “each erected of strong plank; in the centre of main building are the furnaces, thirty-six in number arranged in rows, six in each, and are composed of strong sheet-iron of pyramidal form with iron framework and hood to protect the upper portion of the building from the flame and vast amount of heat generated from the fiery mass within the furnaces. Here, again, the turf is still further dried upon a framework arranged over the furnace and across the building when it is thrown up from below by men or women whilst others turn it about so that the heat from below passes through it. By this simple process and despite the weather, the dampest turf that can be sent to the furnace house becomes, in the course of six or eight days, ready for the furnaces; and when discharged from them as peat charcoal it is next conveyed to the other end of the building where the machinery is placed in a lofty tower divided into lofts or storeys, the prepared charcoal being conveyed by a shoot within which travel a set of elevators and it is ultimately sent down another shoot ready for the market.”
What the correspondent’s description failed to make clear was supplied in three sketches by himself and one by a Mr. W.A. Thompson.
Having been shown by the writer through the works we return with him to the entrance outside “where we found a large assembly of well-dressed peasantry as well as a fair number of cars, cabs, coaches and other modes of conveyance which had brought together a crowd of anxious spectators from the surrounding country. Shortly after, arrived two special canal boats, bringing the Chairman, directors and their friends, as well as several ladies, all of whom had left Dublin at eleven o’clock. They were received with a hearty cheer and upon alighting they were shown over the works by the engineer and resident officers of the Society and expressed their wonder and admiration.”
Some hours later the crowd of visitors (excluding, it may be supposed, the well-dressed peasantry) “retired to the building where an excellent dejeuner was prepared for them by the Directors. In addition to the elegant fare, the arrangements of the entire building and the taste displayed in selecting the choicest flowers, lichens, mosses, heath and fern from the company’s bogs were admirable.”
The chair was taken at three o’clock by Lord De Mauley “supported on his right by Archbishop Whately, and on his left by Lord Clancarly, with other distinguished guest to the number of three hundred.”
A good time would seem to have been had by all, between the dispatching of the dejeuner and the drinking of the toasts proposed by “His Lordship, who spoke most cheeringly of the future of the Society as well as of the good work done by the neighboring peasantry”
To add to the enjoyment “during the day the scene was much enlivened by some delightful music from the band of the 40th Regiment, which had come down from Dublin for the purpose.” But the fun and frolic was not yet at an end. “Shortly after six o’clock such of the company as had to return to Dublin betook themselves again to the canal boats when, at their departure a most amusing scene was got up by some of the parties on board who tossed some coin amongst the crowd, for which a violent contest took place.The leaving of the boats was followed by a long and lusty cheer from those on the banks (the well-dressed peasantry again?) who continued to follow them so long as it was possible to keep up with the horses which quickly took them out of sight and many were the prayers offered up for their safe arrival.”
The stormy waters of the Grand Canal caused no disaster to the brave passengers.
While the boats were doing the journey to Dublin, people employed in the turf charcoal works, numbering about 300 “were entertained to a capital dinner prepared for them in an adjoining house and were waited on by the Chairman as well as several directors who remained in town. Later still, after the workers had returned to their homes, filled with gratitude,” Mr. J.W. Rogers, whose residence, Peat House, Robertstown, was brilliantly illuminated, gave a ball and party to such of the directors and managers as remained in town.”
What afterwards befell the Irish Amelioration Society and its Peat Charcoal enterprise is not known to the present writer.
An article in the Leinster Leader of April 1957 reports on how bog development was being planned and attempted in Ireland in 1850 by a company, the Irish Amelioration Society.The Leader article quotes from a contemporary report of an official visit to the first of the Society’s works at Derrymullen.

January 20, 2010


This Saturday, 23 January 2010 the County Kildare Federation of Local History Groups and Kildare Library & Arts Services will present a morning in Naas Library (9.30-12.30 p.m.) which focuses on the Transition Year and Leaving Cert. History Projects.
The three Speakers (2 teachers and 1 Librarian) will examine the requirements students face, in the choice, creation and completion of a project in a very practical and simple way. All three speakers have a range of expertise and experiences to share with students and teachers which will help them face problems they might encounter. Last year in January 2009 some 68 students and 10 or so teachers attended the presentation and all found it extremely useful.
Practical advice on how to meet the challenges faced by students is available on the Schools History Curriculum section of the EHistory section of Kildare Library & Arts Services website at http://www.kildare.ie/library/ehistory anc can befound by searching the site or scrolling down through the categories on the right hand side on the EHistory home page -
The event on Saturday is free and open to all. 


Bridget Loughlin, County heritage Officer passsed on the following interesting information.

Early Medieval Archaeology Project (INSTAR EMAP) has launched its major reports on early medieval Ireland at http://www.emap.ie/

EMAP's 2009 (and 2008) full research reports are now available to
download at emap.ie http://www.emap.ie/

The Early Medieval Archaeology Project (EMAP) is funded by the Heritage
Council's Irish National Strategic Archaeological Research (INSTAR)
programme. The EMAP Project Progress Report 2009 (listing the
project's public lectures, PhD and MA research, publications and other
activities in 2009) is now available to download. Research
reports, bibliographies and database lists are now also available to
download -- creating a major resource for all interested in this
fascinating period in Ireland's past.

Early Medieval Ireland: Archaeological Excavations 1930-2004
http://www.emap.ie/emap_reports.html EMAP Principal
Investigators edited and re-wrote to publication standard the text of a
book, which will be published by the RIA http://www.ria.ie/ in Autumn
2010. This will be the _first academic synthesis_ of early medieval
archaeology in Ireland in 20 years. The original 2008 report -- now
greatly improved for the book - can be downloaded by clicking on the
report title above.

Early Medieval dwellings and settlements in Ireland, AD
400-1100: Vol. 2 A Gazetteer of Site Descriptions version 1
http://www.emap.ie/emap_reports.html In 2009, EMAP completed a
comprehensive first draft of a gazetteer of 228 early medieval
settlements. Each gazetteer entry provides details on site name,
location, director and license, a concise site description, all known
radiocarbon dates and a full bibliography -- a significant new resource
for all scholars interested in past settlement and landscape. This PDF
has a live contents page (click on site names) and is searchable by
county, site name or by hundreds of archaeological feature -- for
example type the word 'house' into the find tool and click return. In
2010, EMAP will progress to write a monograph on early medieval
dwellings and settlements in Ireland, in their European context.

A Bibliography of Early Medieval Archaeology in Ireland:
Version 2 http://www.emap.ie/emap_reports.html This is an update of
EMAP's previous bibliography. It now has 5,000 bibliographical
references, organized thematically from settlement, to economy, to human
osteology. The PDF is searchable -- for example, put 'Ryan, M.' in find
tool and click return for 2 pages of early medieval metalwork references
or 'Lynn, C.' for dozens of papers on early medieval settlements. In
2010, this bibliography will be available as an online searchable database.

A Database of Early Medieval Archaeological Excavations in
Ireland, 1930-2004 http://www.emap.ie/emap_reports.html  This is
EMAP's 2008 database of 2,208 early medieval excavated sites. In 2010,
this will be made available as an online searchable database on the EMAP
web portal.

INSTAR EMAP is an North/South, inter-institutional,
university/professional archaeological sector collaborative research
project, with Principal Investigators in *Dr. Aidan O'Sullivan
http://www.ucd.ie/archaeology/staff/draidanosullivan  (UCD School of
Archaeology http://www.ucd.ie/archaeology/index.html and Dr Finbar
(Queens University Belfast http://www.qub.ac.uk ) and project
partners in CRDS http://crds.ie/, Archer Heritage Planning
http://www.archerheritage.ie/, ACS http://www.acsltd.ie/ and
Margaret Gowen & Co. http://www.mglarc.com/ EMAP aims to carry out
innovative research on early medieval Ireland and provide reports,
publications and online searchable bibliographies and databases to
support all associated research in Ireland and beyond.

We would like to thank all our colleagues in Irish archaeology. In the
preparation of the major EMAP Site Gazetteer of Early Medieval Dwellings
and Settlements we sought permission from all site directors to read
their unpublished reports. Without exception, all site directors and
companies contacted gave permissions and their full and enthusiastic
support to the project -- all this at a time of great difficulty in
professional Irish archaeology. We would like to warmly acknowledge the
professionalism, dedication and commitment of archaeologists in Ireland
to the understanding and public appreciation of Ireland's cultural heritage.

The project's aims, team details, PhD and MA graduate students research
activities; online reports and other resources can be downloaded at the
project's Early Medieval Archaeology Research Portal at  http://www.emap.ie/ For further details about EMAP, please see www.emap.ie  or contact

*Dr. Aidan O'Sullivan*,
UCD School of Archaeology,
College of Arts and Celtic Studies,
University College Dublin,
Belfield, Dublin 4


January 16, 2010


Kildare Observer 1st October 1932
(Continued from last week)
In 1911 the hon. secretary, Mr. P. J. McCann, reported that negotiations for a new links at the Knocks, Naas, as the lease at the Decoy was expiring, had resulted in terms being arrived at, subject to the approval thereof by the meeting.  Mr. McCann then read the proposed new terms to the meeting, and on the motion of Mr. T. R. Gibson, seconded by the late Mr. Hendric Alymer, the terms were accepted, and the president, the late Mr. Mansfield, and the hon. secretary were authorised to sign the lease as trustees for and on behalf of the club.  The question of raising the funds required to construct the new links and to remove and enlarge the club house was then considered, and a number of the members present agreed to guarantee the amount required.  It was decided also that subscriptions which had been fixed when the annual expenditure did not exceed £45, be raised to 30s and that ladies, hitherto free from any impost, be now invited to contribute 10s per annum.  This historic motion which was soon to lead to the emancipation of our lady members was proposed by Mr. P. J. Brophy, and seconded by Mr. T. R. Gibson.
The new links were situated at Old-town, Naas, and were laid out by Mr. Pickeman, founder and hon. secretary of Portmarnock Golf Club.  It was a fine sporting course.  The nine holes measured 2,700 yards and varied from 140 to 450 yards. The bogey was 38 and the scratch score on par of the course was 36.  The services of Holley who had been assistant professional at Portmarnock were secured.  He played a strong game and was a good coach and club maker.  He is at present professional at the Castle Club.  The captain for the year was Mr. A. B. Morrogh.
The club now launched forth in a career of great activity.  Notices of competitions entertainments dramatic, and musical, and dances came so thick and fast that one is compelled to conclude that this was the golden age of the County Kildare Golf Club.  For 1912 the late Dr. W. P. Murphy was elected captain and a new hon. official, a green steward, Col. Wogan Brown, was appointed to superintend the work of the professional and groundsmen.  Mr. P. J. Brophy kindly undertook the management of the farm, so long as the club retained the grazing rights on their own hands.
In 1912 lady members were conceded the rights to have a branch of their own and the late Mrs. Harry Farrell was unanimously elected hon. secretary.  A committee was then elected by ballot, and the meeting then considered what assistance they could give in organising a golf club dance.  This was held subsequently with brilliant success in the Town Hall, and the club whose resources had been severely taxed by their new enterprise, were greatly benefited.  The golf club dance was resuscitated on this occasion, has latterly been allowed to lapse, but there is no reason why it should not be revived once more.
The year was also notable for presentation of a handsome silver challenge cup by the late Mrs. Harry Farrell as a memorial to her husband who died in the year of his captaincy of the club.  The club was also fortunate in being presented by Mr. S. G. Williams, with a prize limited to members whose handicap was 25.  This is the well known Williams’ jug, now limited to players 18 and over, and it is competed for twice each season.  The “Mugs’ Jug,” is the best event of the season; it encourages the shy beginner and kindles hope afresh in the beast of the despairing “goof.”
For 1913 Mr. P. J. Brophy took the helm, Mr. E. J. Doyle being elected to act as farm steward in his place.  Mr. Brophy, to whom the club owes much, was the donor of the Brophy Challenge Cup, and one of the pioneers of the open competition which is now so common and popular.  Prior to the opening of the annual golf club dance the members of the County Kildare Golf Club met in the Urban Council Chamber, Naas, for the purpose of making a presentation to their hon. secretary, Mr. McCann, as a token of esteem and recognition of his valuable services on behalf of the club.  In the absence of the president (Mr. Mansfield), the chair was occupied by Mr. Brophy, and the address read by the late Dr. W. P. Murphy.  The presentations took the form of a solid silver salver bearing a suitable inscription.
This was a most successful year for the club.  More than fifty competitions of various types were held.  Mr. J. Gorry, whose handicap had been gradually diminishing, was now reduced to scratch stand, and when at the September open meeting at Lahinch he broke all previous records for the course with 10 up on Bogey and won the Matheson Challenge Cup.  In July of this year the club lost the services of Holley, who obtained an appointment as professional at Stillorgan Park.  Previous to his departure he had lowered the record of the course to 70, in a match with Mr. H. J. Fleming.  He was  succeeded by M. O’Neill, who came from Killiney Club, and who is at present the professional at Ballybunion Golf Club.  O’Neill had an excellent knowledge in the art of green-keeping, and was (and is) a first-class golfer and an excellent coach.
(To be Continued.)

This is the second of four articles taken from the Kildare Observer of September/October 1932, on the history of the County Kildare Golf Club.  The rest of the articles will appear on our E-History site over the coming weeks.

January 15, 2010


November 2009 issue of
Kilcullen Community Magzine
 Upon Harristown.
From Care, from Noise, from ever'y Bustle free,
Possessing all that with my Soul agree,
Willing with soft Retirement to please
My sprightly Fancy, and my youthful Days,
Whilst others wildly do in Town reside,                            
Consuming Fortune, and advancing Pride ;
While one on Chloe looks with longing Eyes,
And for Perryna's Face another dies,
Where Plays and Stews all kinds of Vice do shew,
The Loss of Fortune, Health, and ever'y Woe,
Which Youth debauch'd too surely undergo.
Then far more happy I account my Lot,
The Town despising, and it's Ways forgot,
Thus far, from all its wicked nauseous Strife,
In Country live a pleasing, harmless Life,
Divert my Thoughts, indulge my waking Muse,
The first I flatter, and the last I chuse,
Some thoughts I mention, and since Muse I name,
I'll sing the Country's well deserving Fame:
Its pleasing Prospects, and its wholesome Game,
How Nature strives to beautify in Dress,
The many Charms that Harristown possess,
By Art designed a noble old Retreat,
For a wise man distinguishably Great,
Old lofty Rooms, and spacious Halls do tell,
How free he seem'd to live and to excel,
In all Things grand, inimitably well.
From different View, you many Scenes may see,
Your mind still fed with sweet Variety,
How various Scenes divert in various Ways,
And Art and Nature labour for to please.
Here lengthen'd Walks of Gravel form'd by Art,
A roving Fancy to the Mind impart,
The ravish'd Sights can scarce the End discry
Which beautifully pleasing charm the Eye
And grass and Gravel interwove are seen
And different Trees depaint a diff'rent green,
One verdant Walk does gradually arise,
And falling gently equally surprise,
And many Trees do there together grow,
And pleasing Shades to Solitude bestow,
The stately Firs do there in Rows ascend,
And Trees with Apples, loaded seem to bend ;
The Laurel blooming, and the moor Eugh,
The prickly Holly edged with Silver Hue,
The loftly Ash, the hardy Oak is there,
The one for building, t'other for the spear.
To close the scene an Iron gate doth shew,
How well the Vulcans by their skills do know,
To give a Beauty by each artful blow.
Beyond the Gate, a christal lake you see,
And walks around with Rows of Trees agree,
The finny Race this large Canal supply,
The red ey'd Tench with Fins of yellow die,
The nimble Trout,the carp bedropt with Gold,
The Silver Eels in circling Mazes roll'd,
Above the Pond, a verdant Hill ascends,
In Fields and grazing Flocks the landscape ends;
The Ground declining lessens then your View,
By walking further you're surprised a-new,
Under a nodding bank the Liffey glides,
And forms meanders with its rapid Tides,
The Earth with Water, Trees with both combine,
To please the Sense, and make a Prospect shine,
Hills peep o'er Hills, and Fields and Fields arise,
And Towns and Groves the distant Scene supplies
Till your Sight's left in Fleecy Clouds and Skies.
So much for Prospects, Game's the other Part,
To have an equal Share in Fancy and in Art.
Here wherring Partridge are in Covies found,
The lonely Woodcock, and the Larks that rise,
And singing sweetly echo all the Skies.
The clam'rous Plover, and the whistling Quail,
The watchful Snipe, and the hoarse creaking Rail.
The Fowler here of Game can never fail.
The fearful Hare in thickest Covert lies,
But when she hears the Dogs, approaching Cries,
They still pursue and scent out ever'y Trace,
Each Trick, each Maze, each artful Double trees,
To show her Fate, alas in vain, she dies.
Of all the Sports that diff'rent Fancies chuse
Hunting most pleases, and delights my Muse
For Health of life, the Relish and the Bliss,
Doth sympathize, and is preserv'd by this;
Hunting was surely by the Gods design'd,
It clears one's spirits, and unbends our mind,
Corrects the ills a slothful Life bestow,
And makes the Blood thro' purer Channels flow,
With this Diversion ,and this Retreat,
Pleased with some Friends, contented with my State,
I'd weave awhile my Thoughts of being great.
An original copy of the volume of poetry may be consulted in the
National Library in Kildare Street in Dublin.

Sean Landers sent us this poem "Upon Harristown" written by Dublin poet John Winstanley published in 1742. This poem celebrates the beauty of Kilcullen in a bygone age.  The poem is included in the November issue of THE BRIDGE, the Kilcullen Community Magazine.Our thanks to Sean

January 14, 2010


Kildare Observer September/October 1932
The County of Kildare has an almost indisputable claim to be considered the cradle of golf in Ireland. Golf is not an English game. Played in ancient times amid the sand dunes of Holland it was transmitted to Scotland where it became the favourite sport of the Scottish kings, hence its appellation “the Royal and ancient game.” Its popularity in England dates back to the time of James 1, son of Mary Queen of Scots, but, while in England until quite recently the game was to a certain extent exclusive and undemocratic, it has always been democratic in Scotland, and may with some justice be termed the national pastime. The presence of highland regiments at the Curragh naturally led to golf playing there many years ago, and there’s little doubt that the Curragh Golf Club is the oldest golf club in Ireland, though it has changed considerably since it started. In a letter to the Editor of the “Irish Field” dated October 3rd, 1908, the late Mr. E.S.Gray states that he had authentic proof of there being a golf course on the Curragh, near Donnelly’s Hollow in 1857, and that he had a golf ball which was used there at that time, presented to him by a member of the Mussellburgh Club, Edinburgh, Mr. David Ritchie.
The next oldest golf club in the county – there are four altogether – is the Co. Kildare, which has now been in existence for 36 years. It was founded in 1896 by the late Mr. G. Mansfield, D.L.: J.S. Shannon, the late Mr. E.J. Gray, and Mr P.J. McCann. Of these Mr. McCann who has been so closely connected with the life of the club, is still an active member. Few clubs indeed there are which with as long a life as that of County Kildare possess a member who has been its guiding spirit since its inception.
Fewer still the clubs which possess members of more that 25 years standing, capable of meeting even professionals on their own terms and beating them. These four gentlemen got together a very small club on Mr. McCormack’s land at Halverstown, which existed only on sufferance and despite the fact that the rent was about £6 a year; it was with great difficulty raised. The course was a short iron one. As a green keeper was impossible, Mr. Shannon, who acted as hon. secretary, used to cut and roll the green himself. In January, 1899, on Mr. Shannon being promoted to a post in Loughrea as manager of the Hibernian Bank, Mr. E. Gray was elected hon. secretary, which position he held until 1902, when Mr McCann took over the reins of office; he was destined to hold them for twenty-six years.
Twelve months later negotiations were entered into for the lands of the Decoy Farm about a mile from Naas, quite near the Osberstown covert which is well known to all followers of the Kildare hounds. The club moved thither, the membership greatly increased, and the rent sevenfold. A club house was provided and the services of a professional, McGlue of Portmarnock, were secured. The land itself was somewhat poorer than the rest of the district and lent itself to the making of a course, a difficult business in Co. Kildare owing to the richness of the soil. The course was laid out by George Coburn. The hazards were all natural and consisted of sand pits, drains, furze and hedges. It was 3170 yards in length, a long course, the bogey being 42. Let not present day players imagine that this was a soft thing. There is a vast difference between a questionably spherical “gutty” and a glistening recessed Dunlop, Bromford or Silver King. During a match, believe it or not, between two inveterate players of this links, Col. Moore and Col. Wogan Browne, a crow flew off with Col. Wogan Browne’s ball. It alighted somewhere near the hole, to the joy of the Colonel, but, alas, it flew off again with the ball still a prisoner. The deluded bird owing presumably to the elliptical shape of the ball concluded it was an egg. Its efforts in digesting it are not recorded.
The original amateur record for the course, 42, held by Capt. J. H. Greer, was lowered to 38 by Mr. J. Gorry, who was captain of the club in 1908. Each of the nine holes had a name, viz, Hill of Allen (375 yards), Liffey (204), Mount Leinster (387), Lodge (283), Boreen (343), The Well (345), Decoy (186), Fox Culvert (358), Saucer (415).
The first tee was faced by two fences, one close and the other offering trouble to a moderate drive. Once over these hazards there was little difficulty. The second was a short hole easily done in bogey. At the third a drive, sliced or pulled found a ditch on one side and a fence on the other; the green was fairly well guarded by a sunken ditch, which must have caught a great number of balls. The fourth was a drive and an approach with no trouble in the way except two deep drains. The fifth was a good hole with a fence close in front of the tee and an ugly ditch running parallel with the line of the hole on the left, but straightness and a good drive made the hole an easy 5. A blind ditch threatened the tee shot for the sixth, and a difficult second was offered as the green lay under the protection of a high fence. The next was the most difficult hole, but a good iron shot landed one clear of all trouble: shortness was badly punished by a quarry. The eight was a flat hole with a fence running parallel and close to the line on the right. The last hole was made interesting by a fence or two, but rendered easy by being bogey 6.
(To be continued)

This is the first of four articles taken from the Kildare Observer of September/October 1932, on the history of the County Kildare Golf Club.The rest of the articles will appear on our e-history site over the coming weeks.

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