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May 29, 2010


Sunday 6 June
The fifth County Kildare Book Fair will take place on Sunday afternoon, the 6 June in Kildare Town. This will be an opportunity for those interested in history and heritage as well as the general population who are interested in books and reading in general to visit a Rare Books Fair outside of Dublin. It is being organised by the Kildare Collections and Research Services, Kildare County Library and Arts Service in conjunction with Kildare Town Heritage Centre, Kildare County Council, the Kildare Classic Car Association and Lyonshill Books. According to Local Studies Librarian, Mario Corrigan, "there is an enormous interest in Dublin and other areas in this sort of event and after the success of the first four County Kildare Book Fairs 2006 - 2009 we in County Kildare are looking forward to the event. It is an ideal opportunity also for anyone who has not yet visited the Kildare Retail Outlet Village to come to the town and see what is on offer."
The main event is free and open to all and will allow people to browse the books on offer in Kildare Town Heritage Centre. "The idea is to encourage people to come to the town, visit Kildare Cathedral, climb the Round Tower, tour the National Stud and Japanese Gardens and shop at Kildare Village and thoroughly enjoy a day out in Kildare," said Mario Corrigan who has published a Slí na Sláinte and Heritage Trail of Kildare Town. “We are anxious that people enjoy the experience that Kildare, the Heritage Town has to offer. We also offer a free Walking Tour of Kildare Town starting at 1 p.m. on the Market Square.”
Eddie Murphy of Lyonshill Books is delighted to be able to add County Kildare to a growing list of Book Fairs that he and his colleagues have orchestrated. "It is an immensely pleasurable experience, whereby people can browse the stalls and hopefully take in some of the rich heritage of such an historic setting - maybe pause in the local shops or the local cafes and pubs for a coffee and even visit Kildare Village for a unique shopping experience. We do hope this year proves to be as successful as last year when we had a great turn out," said Mr. Murphy.
So why not take an afternoon break on Sunday 6 June and come to Kildare Town to the County's Rare Books Fair - maybe in search of a unique gift or just to amble through the historic streets and enjoy the experience. Why not enjoy the unique shopping experience that is ‘Kildare Village,’ and indeed, Kildare Town Heritage Centre has a host of collectibles and gift ideas to wet your appetite.
The Kildare Classic and Vintage Car Association will be on-hand as Sunday 6 June is the date for their annual Gordon Bennett Commemorative Rally and the cars will be parked on the Market Square during the afternoon – most of the cars arriving around 3 pm. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Japanese Gardens. All in all it is an ideal day out.
Signed copies of Cill Dara Historical Society’s ‘Druim Criaig – The Ridge of Clay,’ which was only published at Christmas, will be available on the day at a reduced price of €10 in Kildare Heritage Centre.
DRUIM CRIAIG front cover 300dpismall.jpg

Please come along to the Market Square Kildare Town on Sunday 6 June for the Rare Books Fair and Vintage and Classic Car Run - Book Fair starts at 12 noon.

May 27, 2010



Volunteer Thomas McEvoy’s activities in Kildare

 James Durney
Thomas Richard McEvoy was born on 21 February 1899. He resided at Seville Place and then East Wall Road, in Dublin. He was employed as a grocer’s assistant in February 1916 when he joined ‘G’ Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade, of the Irish Volunteers. During Easter Week Thomas saw active service in the G.P.O., Royal College of Surgeons and the Four Courts area of Dublin. During the period of the re-organisation Thomas McEvoy became a member of No. 3 Company, 5th Battalion, Dublin Brigade. During his service with the Dublin Brigade he was involved in the following military operations: the carrying of dispatches; drilling and the opposition campaign against conscription; destruction of Stepaside RIC Barracks; armed assault on a military vehicle in Merrion Square; company patrols and armed raids and the capture of arms.
Thomas McEvoy took the anti-treaty side in the civil war and was transferred from the 5th Dublin Battalion to District Headquarters, in which he served as a brigade engineer in Dublin, Louth and Kildare. In Co. Kildare his commanding officer was Tom Harris. He took part in the blowing up of the Liffey Bridge, in Celbridge, in October 1922, and the burning of Liffey junction signal cabin. On 2 November Thomas McEvoy was arrested in The Downings, Prosperous, Co. Kildare, and was imprisoned in Newbridge Internment Camp until Christmas week 1923. He makes a poignant reference to the seven members of the Rathbride Column executed in the Curragh in December 1922 and their intelligence officer, Tom Behan, shot dead in dubious circumstances, saying that: ‘Seven of my comrades were executed. The Brigade I/O was murdered. I was Brigade Engineer.’ This suggests that Thomas McEvoy was involved with the Rathbride Column, commanded by Bryan Moore, which was responsible for the destruction of bridges and the derailing of trains in the Kildare area prior to their capture at Mooresbridge in December, a month after McEvoy’s own arrest.
Thomas McEvoy married Elizabeth Ryan in the Church of St. Laurence O’Toole, Seville Place, Dublin, in 1928. He left the IRA in 1927. Thomas was awarded the 1916 Medal for his activities in Easter Week, and the Service (1917-1921) Medal with bar for his services during the War of Independence. Both of these medals were created in 1941. He also received the 1916 Survivors Medal in 1966. Below are newspaper reports from the Kildare Observer and the Leinster Leader on the destruction of the Liffey Bridge in Celbridge.
Kildare Observer
21 October 1922
Celbridge bridge blown up
The fine bridge spanning the Liffey in the town of Celbridge was destroyed by explosives in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The explosion completely destroyed the centre arch of the bridge, and otherwise shook the fabric. Traffic over it was rendered impossible. The bridge was damaged some time ago, although to a much less serious extent and the necessary repairs had been carried out by the County Council at a cost of over £500. It will take considerably more than that amount to repair the damage on this occasion. The bridge is a highly important one, all the traffic from the Dublin market, etc., from a big area around passing over it. It is stated that about a dozen, said to include some escaped internees from Newbridge Camp, were engaged in the work of destruction, and that people of the town had been told beforehand of what was about to happen, and warned not to be afraid. The explosion shattered windows in houses over the village, and was distinctly heard by troops and Civic Guard near Johnstown who were in charge of a large consignment of bacon, the lorry convoying which had been damaged in a collision earlier in the night.

Leinster Leader
4 November 1922
Co. Council and Cill Droichead damage
At the fortnightly meeting of the Kildare Co. Council Finance committee, Mr. M. Smyth, presided when the members present refused to rebuild the bridge across the Liffey at Cill Droichead, which was blown up some nights since. The County Surveyor brought the matter in due course before the Council. It will be remembered that the bridge was broken some ten months ago, after which it was repaired. At the time a pony, frightened by the lights on the bridge, one night, bolted and dashed into the broken bridge, plunging the car and its occupants, who had a very narrow escape, into the river below.
* * * *
The damage to the bridge at Cill Droichead cuts off the whole of County Dublin from the Hazelhatch side from business in Cill Droichead. The matter was brought before the County Council on Wednesday, 25th inst., and discussed. It is intended for the present to merely put barriers across the bridge which will not be safe for traffic until some extensive repairs are made.

James Durney writes on Dublin man Thomas McEvoy's activities in Kildare during the Civil War.  Our thanks to James.


The changing fortunes of Edenderry
Edenderry, tucked into the corner of Offaly that borders with Kildare, has not always got a good press: ‘a little inconsiderable place on the edge of the Bog of Allen’ was the verdict of travel diarist Philip Luckombe in 1780 while, some years later, the perception of writer John Gough in 1821 was that Edenderry had gone from being a ‘good town to a poor village.’ Such observations from passers-through are recorded by local historian Ciarán J Reilly in his book ‘Edenderry 1820-1920, popular politics and Downshire rule’.
In prosperous times Edenderry presented a more attractive picture. The broad street, the spacious market with the impressive town hall and the branch of the Grand Canal ending in a harbour above street level, all marked Edenderry as a town which had benefited from civic improvement over the years. The powers behind the improvements were, as was often the case, the principal landlords of the locality whose wealth and political influence facilitated conspicuous benefits to the town under their patronage. In the case of Edenderry the big landlords were the Downshires (family name of Hill).
Ciarán Reilly outlines the succession of the landlord owners of Edenderry which began at the time of the plantations of King’s County in the 16th century when Elizabeth I granted the lands to Sir Henry Colley. In a later generation a Colley married a Blundell of Berkshire in England and the Blundells left their mark on the town, a bridge under the canal on the outskirts of Edenderry being known as the Blundell aqueduct to this day. Through later marriages the town of Edenderry passed to the Downshires, an evolution which gives Edenderry a common heritage with another Downshire town, Blessington, and connects both in turn to the family seat at Hillsborough, Co. Down.
Ciarán Reilly records that the third Marquess of Downshire was regarded as an improving landlord and began his tenure by replacing the mud-walled cabins of the main street with slated stone houses. 
Another major boost to Edenderry was the construction of a branch of the Grand Canal from the main line which passed across the bogs to the south of the town. As the author reports: ‘ Without the Grand canal Edenderry would not have prospered as it did, the canal providing a much needed communication network and transportation for goods to Dublin.’ The canal construction in the Edenderry area was a marvel of 18th century engineering built on high embankments to take the waterway across the deep bog lands. But this elevated construction made the canal vulnerable to breaches. In 1833 a massive breach spilled floods of water on to the landscape. According to Murray, agent for the Downshire estate, the cascading canal waters had ‘inundated the entire country, causing considerable damage with one child drowned and several persons having a narrow escape … one poor woman and her five children had to climb on top of their house to avoid being swept away’. A later breach near Edenderry in 1916 was thought to have been triggered by an earthquake under the Irish Sea
No doubt one of the local merchants who made most use of the canal was M.P. O’Brien whose name was to become a byword in retailing throughout mid-Leinster. He set up his store in Edenderry in 1855 and before long had opened branches in Tullow, Allenwood, Clonbullogue, Moyvalley and Kilmeague under the name of the Universal Providing Stores.  However the business was to become better known by the name of its proprietor M.P.O’Brien who became a household name through Offaly and Kildare. The family business was to the forefront of retailing innovation well into the twentieth century  bringing Naas its first supermarket – known as O’Brien’s – which opened in the town’s South Main Street in the mid1960s.
Ciarán Reilly’s book on Edenderry is a model of how to trace the influences of major national movements on the life and times of a small town in Leinster. He devotes much attention to describing the impact of land agitation and the various generations of nationalist activism in the town with chapters including: The Land War and the Edenderry Home Rule club; Literary nationalism and pastimes; Edenderry Town Council and the decline of Home Rule; Edenderry men in the Great War, 1914-18; the independence struggle at Edenderry; and the Civil War and compensation. A selection of old photographs of Edenderry and its people add much interest to the publication.  As well as its informative and well-referenced text, the book includes humorous snippets relating to Edenderry from the files of the local newspapers such as the following from an issue of the Leinster Leader, 4 February 1893: ‘Disgraceful scenes are reported from Edenderry where a wedding took place on a Sunday. The wedding party went about the town shouting and blowing horns. The reporter has never heard of this happening before (Leinster Leader, 4 February 1893).’ Could this be another incidence of the enigmatic custom known as ‘kettling’ when local characters kicked up a racket where the wedding involved a second marriage for the husband in question?
For this and much more enquire in bookshops for: ‘Edenderry 1820-1920’ by Ciarán J. Reilly, and  published by Nonsuch publishing, 73 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.
Series no:172.   

In his regular feature article 'Nothing New Under the Sun' in the Leinster Leader, Liam Kenny reflects on the changing fortunes of Edenderry, as recorded by local historian Ciarán J Reilly in his book ‘Edenderry 1820-1920, popular politics and Downshire rule’...Our thanks to Liam.

May 26, 2010


International Symposium on Roadside Memorials-24th June 2010
Marking death in open places
Humanities Institute of Ireland, University College Dublin.
Organised by Una MacConville, Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath, UK and co-hosted by the Humanities Institute of Ireland and the research cluster—death, burial and the afterlife—in UCD, Dublin.

08.45-09.15 Registration
09.15-09.30 Opening introduction
Una MacConville, Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath, UK
09.30-09.55 The Origins of Marking Death in Open Places: Early medieval wayside crosses
Heather King, Archaeologist, Department of the Environment, Ireland
09.55-10.20 Death markers in the open: some examples from Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Chris Corlett, Archaeologist, Department of the Environment, Ireland
10.20-10.45 A living monument—a topiary roadside memorial in Co. Kildare, Ireland.
 James Eogan, Archaeologist, National Roads Authority.
10.45-11.15     Coffee/tea
11.15-11.40 Contested Invisibility—roadside memorials as the result of conflict in the border region of North West Ireland.
Mhairi Sutherland, Graduate School of Arts and Media, National College of Art, Ireland
11.40-12.05 Commemorating a National Death in Local Japan: using memorials to make claims about identity and history
Michael Wert, Historian, Marquette  University, USA
12.05-12.30 Modern trailside memorials along the Camino de Santiago, Spain.
Pat Holland, Tipperary County Council, Ireland.
12.30-12.55 Crosses and (the Absence of) Religion: Roadside Memorials in the Czech Republic
Olga Nesporova, The Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 
12.55-13.55 Lunch 
14.00-14.25 The material culture of Dutch roadside memorials: what do they tell us?
Mirjam Klaassens and Peter Groote, Department of Cultural Geography, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
14.25-14.50 Deathscapes in British Columbia:  Road Warriors and Teen Angels
John Belshaw, North Island College and Diane Purvey, Thompsons River University, Canada
14.50-15.15 Memorials on the Road: Stickers for the Dead in Southern California
Pamela Roberts, Talina Villao and
Tracy Carlsen, California State University, Long Beach, California, USA
15.15-16.10     Coffee/Tea
16.10-16.35     Remember me: here, there and everywhere
Gerri Excell, University of Reading, UK
16.35-17.00 'Dead end?: The Future of Roadside Memorial Research'
Jennifer Clark, University of Nw England, New South Wales, Australia
All welcome but places are limited so please contact Una MacConville on (00 353) 86 8175530 or at u.macconville@bath.ac.uk to book a place or for further information.
A small fee of 20 euro will be charged to cover tea/coffee and admin costs. Lunch available from a number of cafes/restaurants on the UCD campus.

International Symposium on Roadside Memorials-24th June 2010
Marking death in open places
Humanities Institute of Ireland, University College Dublin.

May 22, 2010


Leinster Leader 1st April 2010
A fragrant reminder of times past …
Kildare’s neighbouring county to the west, Offaly, is one of the richest of Ireland’s counties in terms of its layers of heritage which bear witness to the story of settlement on this island. And layers is used in the literal sense here in that the layers of peat across the great Bog of Allen have preserved archaeological treasures which reveal a great deal about the early people of the midlands.
Offaly is an unpretentious county, flat in its topography and easy on the eye, its peat covered plains stretch west to the meandering waters of the Shannon. On Offaly’s eastern perimeter the heather-scented landscape traverses county boundaries where the Bog of Allen encompasses large tracts of west Kildare, from Rathangan to Carbury. If there is one blind spot in the image of County Kildare portrayed in publications it is the fact that the subtle beauty of the county’s peatlands is sometimes overlooked. The Kildare share of the Bog of Allen is an important part of the county’s mosaic which tends to get submerged under the published emphasis on horses and racecourses. There is no such blind spot in Offaly where even the County Council’s coat of arms includes a sprig of bog heather.  Now the much layered history of Offaly has been brought to book by Thomas Lee whose publication ‘Offaly – through time and townslands’ outlines the story of ‘the Faithful County’ from the earliest times to the modern era. The tools which the author uses to navigate the complexities of Offaly’s story are the townslands and their names. He treats his readers to a systematic exploration of all of Offaly’s townslands and shows how the placenames are treasure troves of meaning and memory.  In an introduction to the book, John Feehan (who himself has published brilliantly on the landscapes of the midlands) describes the placenames as ‘whispers out of a lost human past we thought had left no words for us to hear.’
The name Offaly originates in recollections of an ancient clan, the Uí Failge, who from their fort at Rathangan were lords of a large tract of mid-Leinster. Indeed a faint echo of the Uí Failge presence in what is now Co. Kildare lies in the names of the Kildare baronies of East Offaly and West Offaly. These baronies located in the neighbourhood of Kildangan, Monasterevin and to the west of Kildare town were mapped as detached portions of Offaly until the Ordnance Survey of 1837 tidied up boundary anomalies and included the detached baronies within Kildare.
The book describes how the process of creating a county now known as Offaly began in 1556 when the English Government claimed the districts occupied by the Irish clans of ‘the Connors, Moores, Dempseys and other rebels’ and brought them under the patronage of the then royal couple, Mary and Philip. More territories were added later in the 16th century and from this shiring process emerged the counties of Queens County and Kings County with their respective county towns of Maryborough and Philipstown. Such English labels were to endure for centuries until after Irish independence in 1922 when the counties were renamed Laois and Offaly while Maryborough and Philipstown were gaelicised as Portlaoise and Daingean. 
The greater part of the book is devoted to a description of each of Offaly’s 1,136 townslands with an elaboration of the name, its meaning, and outstanding historic landmarks of the townsland. The townslands are set out in a table form with footnotes adding in some helpful interpretive information. To take for example the townsland of Edenderry: the original Irish is given as Eadan Doire or ‘Front of the wood’. A footnote informs the reader that the old castle in the townsland, Blundell castle, was owned in 1659 by one George Blundell.
It is interesting to note the frequency of Offaly townslands with ‘Esker’ in their names – Derryesker, Eskermore and Eskerbeg being examples which chime with similar names in Co. Kildare such as Rathasker (fort of the esker) outside Naas. In each case the Esker refers to the ridges of gravel laid down during the Ice age which were to become important route ways across the bogs for early midland settlers.
Offaly’s placenames are described in the introduction to Tom Lee’s book as like a ‘lingering fragrance’ from the past, an apt metaphor given the natural fragrance of the peat land heathers which permeate the Bog of Allen landscape at this time of year.
‘Offaly – through time and townslands’ by Thomas Lee is published by Ottait Publishing, Kootenay, Breffni Lane, Sandycove, Co. Dublin.  Series no: 171.


In his regular feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun' in the Leinster Leader 1st April 2010, Liam Kenny looks at the archaeological treasures which reveal a great deal about the early people of the midlands.....Our thanks to Liam

May 21, 2010


Leinster Leader 18th March 2010
John Devoy – memorial plans past and present
A campaign to erect a memorial in Naas to the long-lived Fenian activist John Devoy has published a booklet which is a fine reminder of the activities of the original Devoy memorial committee in 1964. First a word about the subject of this project: John Devoy was born at Greenhills between Kill and Johnstown in 1842. He was to become the marathon man of the Irish republican cause in a life of complicated political manoeuvrings which spanned the Atlantic. Devoy had an involvement to one degree or another with all of the landmarks of Irish nationalism from the 1867 Fenian rising to 1916 Easter rebellion. His persistence, energy and longevity saw him to the forefront of agitation for over fifty years, most of them spent in America in the role of an influential journalist and campaigner in America rallying support from Irish-Americans for the Irish cause.
The recently published booklet ‘ A forgotten hero – John Devoy’  is introduced by Naas man, Seamus Curran, well known in the tonsorial trade in the town, whose aim is to be have a memorial erected to Devoy in a central location in Naas. The current campaign has a good precedent to follow: in the 1960s a committee was formed of Kildare based councillors and retired army officers to commemorate Devoy in a number of ways in advance of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 rising. A booklet published by the committee in 1964 is reproduced in the text of Seamus Curran’s recent publication. The Chair of the 1960s committee was Cllr. Michael Smyth PC; other public representatives involved were Cllrs. Thomas Dunne and Michael St. Leger who were joined by James Dunne and Thomas O’Connell. Army officers involved were Capt. Tadhg MacLoinsigh and Capt. Tadhg O’Cathain while Lt.Col. William Rea and Col. Eamonn Broy (famous as Michael Collins’ agent in Dublin castle) were trustees for the project. The Hon. Secretary to the group was Stephen Rynne of Downings House, Prosperous, a master of the written word, campaigning author and broadcaster in the 1960s. In a forward to the their 1964 booklet,  committee chairman Michael Smyth outlined their plans to mark Devoy’s local origins by erecting what he described as ‘a simple memorial’ at the site of the long disappeared Devoy home near Kill. He was perhaps understating their potential – the monument  which the committee commissioned from sculptor  Christopher Ryan is a fine example, modern and balanced in composition. It has worn its four decades very well and was properly looked after by the motorway builders at the time of the widening of the dual carriageway some years ago, being carefully relocated to a position on the side of the Kill-Johnstown link road. The monument consists of a bright granite wall with a bronze relief image of Devoy and a metal representation of a tree branch, reflecting the slow but tenacious nature of the growth of Irish nationalism. The monument was unveiled in 1966 with some ceremony, an officer guard-of-honour rendering the salute. For some years after the popular hotel at Johnstown was named Osta John Devoy. A more formal recollection of Devoy had been in place since 1956 when the Naas military barracks was named Devoy barracks on the opening of the Army Apprentice School. When the barracks closed in 1998 the torch was handed on to Naas Town Council:  Lt. Col Des Donagh, last Officer Commanding of Devoy barracks, presented a portrait  of  Devoy which had been exhibited in the officer’s mass for many years. The portrait is now displayed in the council chamber in the Town Hall. The naming link is echoed in the name ‘Devoy quarter’, a name given by council planners to the lands once occupied by the barracks and now home to Kildare County Council’s Aras Chill Dara headquarters. There is also a Devoy terrace in Naas and another in the Curragh camp. However Seamus Curran and his committee feel that more needs to be done to recall one of Kildare’s most famous sons and are pressing to have a memorial to him in a prominent location in Naas. Returning to the 1960s committee an original idea of theirs was the creation of a ‘John Devoy scholarship’ to be awarded to a student intending to study modern Irish history at third-level. A revival of such a scholarship plan would have much to recommend it in the modern era. Any student benefiting might be encouraged to undertake a study and evaluation of Devoy’s influential and controversial career at the heart of Irish and Irish-American nationalism for over five decades. No. 169.  

In his regular feature 'Nothing New Under thre Sun' in the Leinster Leader  Liam Kenny reports on a recently published booklet 'A forgotton hero - John Devoy' ....Our thanks to Liam

May 20, 2010


Kildare Gardaí Roll of Honour
James Durney
Four gardaí, with Kildare connections, who lost their lives in the line of duty have been named on the roll of honour in the Gardaí Memorial Garden. The garden was unveiled at Dublin Castle on 16 May 2010. Gárda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy presented a medal to the name of each gárda whose name has been placed in the roll of honour. Three of gardaí were stationed in Kildare, while one was stationed in Dublin.
Detective Gárda Richard Hyland, Maynooth and stationed at Dublin Castle, was shot dead by the IRA on 16 August 1940. Sergeant John Fitzsimons, who was originally from Cavan and was stationed at Monasterevan, died in 1963 as a result of injuries sustained when he was hit by a passing vehicle while investigating a road traffic accident at Monasterevan. Sergeant John Brennan, of Ballymore-Eustace station, died in 1982 as a result of injuries sustained when his vehicle collided with a lorry near Naas. Gárda William Anthony Roche, who was stationed at Newbridge, was killed in 1992 when he was hit by a vehicle while investigating an accident at Morristown Upper, Newbridge.
Richard Hyland was born on 26 October 1903 in Mayo to Peter and Mary Hyland. Peter was from Meath, while Mary was from Co. Kildare. In the 1911 census Peter Hyland was employed as a labourer in a corn mill, probably Kavanagh’s Mill, while the earlier years must have been spent travelling the country looking for work as the two younger children were born in Kildare, while the two oldest were born in Galway and Mayo (Richard). In 1911 the Hyland family were living at 3 Parsons Street, Maynooth. Richard was employed as a shop assistant before joining the Gárda. He was subsequently promoted to detective officer in the Special Branch, based in Dublin Castle. At the time of his death Richard Hyland was married and living at 101 Errigal Road, Dublin.
During the Second World War the IRA, in a desperate bid to raise needy cash, reverted to an old tactic of the 1920s – bank raids. Because of the war period and the revelation of a link between Germany and the IRA, police activity was at an all-time high throughout the country. The Irish government, deeply concerned about the IRA-German contact, began a crackdown on the organisation and during the summer of 1940 the Special Branch chipped away at IRA strength. Key men were picked up one by one. The bank raids had led to gun fights in the streets and the most serious and bloody conflict between the Gárda Síochána and the IRA since the foundation of the state. The period 1940-44 saw more than a dozen gardaí killed or seriously wounded by the IRA and an almost equal number of IRA volunteers either killed in open gunfights with the police or subsequently executed.
On 16 August 1940 the Special Branch raided 98a Rathgar Road in Dublin. The shop had been watched for some time and was thought to be an IRA training centre. In an effort to be first to catch the IRA, Sergeant Denny O’Brien decided to go in before his competitors in the Special Branch could get the credit and reward money from the slush fund, which was distributed periodically among zealous and particularly efficient officers. Inside the building Patrick McGrath, Tommy Harte and Tom Hunt were determined not to give up without a fight. Bursting out of the door firing revolvers and a Tommy gun, they cut down three Special Branch men, killing Sergeant Patrick McKeown and Detective Richard Hyland and wounding Detective Pat Brady. The three IRA volunteers raced down the street away from the stunned detectives who then opened fire and hit Harte. When McGrath went back to help him, both were arrested. Hunt managed to elude police until 22 August when he was arrested in a house on Gloucester Street.
The Military Court sentenced McGrath, Hunt and Harte to death. Despite appeals, and McGrath’s Easter Week record, only Hunt’s sentence was commuted. McGrath and Harte were executed by firing squad in Mountjoy on 6 September 1940. According to the Irish Times, Mrs Kathleen Hyland, widow of Richard was awarded £5,000 in compensation for the loss of her husband.

Four gardaí, with Kildare connections, who lost their lives in the line of duty have been named on the roll of honour.  Our thanks to James Durney.

May 14, 2010


 Leixlip Festival
Leixlip Festival is on again in week one of June 2010. John Colgan will
be doing a 'walk and talk' on the history of places in the town on
Sunday, 6th June, starting out from Leixlip Spa, Royal Canal bank by
Louisa Bridge Station, Maynooth Road, Leixlip, at 10am. (Maynooth
commuter train and no.66 buses serve). The Spa is undergoing restoration
under the oversight of KCC's Spa Committee and new illustrated info
panels are in place. The walk will proceed down 'Chapel Hill' to the Rye
Water and thence to the former mills and distillery on Distillery Lane.
For the hard of hearing, a portable amplifier will be used. Other
Festival events are on shortly afterwards. See  www.leixlipfestival.com
Leixlip Roman Catholic Parish has recently had its parish registers
microfilmed by the National Library of Ireland. The film and a
rejuvenated microfilm reader, both supplied gratis by the Library, will
be demonstrated in Our Lady's Nativity  Parish Centre, Old Hill, Leixlip on Tuesday, 1st June,2010 at 7.30pm . At the same event John Colgan will read /"What's in the Papers on Leixlip, 1700 to 1800"/ Amusing, romantic and macabre incidents that were reported on Leixlip and the neighbourhood have been extracted from the many newspapers of the day.



A note from John Colgan on forthcoming events at the Leixlip Festival  which takes place in week one of June 2010.


James Crosby of MacBride’s Irish Brigade

James Durney
Around 500 Irish and Irish-Americans fought against the British in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1901. Of these 500 volunteers at least one, James Crosby, was from Co. Kildare. MacBride’s Irish Brigade fought well, but had little impact on the fate of the war. Ten thousand kilometres away in Ireland the impact of MacBride’s Brigade was far more influential. It galvanized nationalist Ireland out of its lethargy created by the Parnellite split and set the nationalist movement on the road which would lead to independence. One Boer War veteran, Tom Byrne, would arrive back in Ireland to help organise Co. Kildare for the Easter rising.
James Crosby was born in 1873 to James and Margaret Crosby, of Richardstown, Kildangan. His address in the roster of the 1st Irish Transvaal Brigade – commonly known as Blake’s commando, the Irish corps, or MacBride’s brigade – was Kildangan, Co. Kildare. Nothing is known of James Crosby’s activities in South Africa, but it is known that he survived the campaign. James Crosby, senior, and Margaret Brohal, or Broughall, were married in the parish of Monasterevan, in 1865. The witnesses were Thomas Talbot and Bridget McGarr. James, junior, was born in 1873; his sponsor’s being James Drennan and Brigid Whelan. When James Crosby left for South Africa is unknown. The census of 1901 reveals that the household was then headed by Patrick Crosby (25). His two brothers, John (20) and Joseph (18), like Patrick gave their occupation as agricultural. There was also a sister, Anne, living at the family home.
Most of the 200 or so Irish of the brigade were born in Ireland. The term ‘brigade’ was not a military reality but a romantic illusion to the Irish Brigade of the Wild Geese, or the Irish Brigade of the Union Army of American Civil War fame. The Irish fighting on the highveld were a commando-sized unit – the Boers referred to them as the Irish corps. They earned the respect and affection of the hard-fighting Boers, perhaps more so than any of the half dozen foreign units in the Boer army. (There was another Irish corps formed in 1900 and hundreds of more Irishmen serving individually in the Boer army. There were also hundreds more Irish serving in the British Army, including dozens from Co. Kildare.) The brigade, or commando, was led by Irish-American John Blake and Mayo-born John MacBride, who would later be executed after the 1916 rising, not for his part in the failed Easter rebellion but for leading an Irish Brigade against the British in the Boer War. Perfidious Albion did not forget.
By the time the Second Boer War broke out in 1899 there were around 20,000 Irish in the subcontinent of Africa, of whom only about 6,000 were first generation. Many were young men lured by the prospect of gold, discovered in 1886 in the Transvaal Republic. The first St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated the following year in Johannesburg and developed into a mini riot. There were plenty of work prospects in South Africa – mining, building railways, and policing the towns and velds. Irish politics also began to rear its head in newly-formed branches of the Irish National Foresters and sojourns by nationalist activists like Arthur Griffith and John MacBride
The Irish, like their Boer counterparts, were to fight on horseback and their lack of experience proved to be a source of merriment to the Afrikaaners. As Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom it was particularly important, too, that the Irish brigadiers be granted citizen status and avoid the certainty of being court-martialled and shot for treason. It was as well for their first battle proved to be against their own countrymen. At the battle of Dundee, on 20 October 1899, 4,000 British soldiers, including the 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers and the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers, met the Boer army, which included the Irish Transvaal Brigade. The news of the Boer victory prompted on anonymous balladeer, in the finest traditions of Christy Moore, to compose one of the best of the Irish Boer verses.
 On the mountain side the battle raged, there was no stop or stay;
Mackin captured Private Burke and Ensign Michael Shea,
Fitzgerald got Fitzpatrick, Brannigan found O’Rourke;
Finnigan took a man named Fay – and a couple of lads from Cork.
Suddenly they heard McManus shout, ‘Hands up or I’ll run you through.’
He thought it was a Yorkshire ‘Tyke’ – t’was Corporal Donoghue!
McGarry took O’Leary, O’Brien got McNamee,
That’s how the ‘English fought the Dutch’ at the Battle of Dundee.
After a string of Boer victories the might of Britain became felt. In September 1900 the Transvaal was annexed and the Irish Brigade disbanded, though about twenty-five men stayed on to fight in the guerrilla war. Thirty-one had been killed and thirty-four captured. The peace deal signed in 1902 deemed that ‘Foreigners will not be allowed to return to South Africa,’ and so it was that few members of the former Irish brigade remained there. Most returned to Ireland or America. Whatever happened to James Crosby, of Kildangan, is unknown.

James Durney uncovers a Kildare connection with  MacBride's Irish Brigade in the Boer War.  Our thanks to James.


Kildaremen at the battle of Malplaquet, 11 September 1709

By James Durney
‘The most sanguinary battle of the War of the Spanish Succession was fought at Malplaquet, a place nearly astride the modern Franco-Belgian border. The fate of France hung in the balance, the reputations of Marlborough (1650-1722) and Prince Eugene (1663-1736) were at stake, France was virtually bankrupt and a decisive outcome in favour of the Allies would have led to the occupation of Paris. The Irish regiments in the pay of France played an important role in this battle, as they did in many other major encounters during the War of the Spanish Succession,’ so wrote Eoghan Ó hAnnracháin in ‘The battle of Malplaquet, 11 September 1709,’ in Vol. xxvi of The Irish Sword (Winter 2009).
 The Spanish king, Charles II ruled a vast empire, which included Spain, Latin America (except for Brazil), the Philippines, Belgium, Sardinia, and large rich parts of Italy – Milan, Tuscany, Naples, and Sicily. As Charles was childless and in poor health there were four potential heirs – Philip Duke of Anjou, grandson of France’s Louis XIV; the Emperor Joseph I; the Archduke Charles VI; and Joseph Ferdinand, Prince of Bavaria. On his deathbed Charles II named the Duke of Anjou (who spoke no Spanish) as his successor. Anjou was now Philip V of Spain and through right of succession heir to the throne of France, and while Louis XIV had signed an earlier peace with England and Holland the spectre of a united kingdom of France and Spain was worrying. A major war was inevitable.
 There were four main theatres of war: northern Italy, Germany, the Spanish Netherlands, and Spain. Irish troops, in the armies of France and Spain, the famed Wild Geese, fought in all the major engagements and suffered heavy casualties. Early in 1702 the reputation of the Irish regiments was enhanced by the successful defence of Cremona. A major role in the defence was played by the regiments of Dillon and Burke. (The Austrian army at Cremona also contained Irishmen, who tried to parley with their compatriots on the opposite side.) Three Irish regiments fought at Blenheim: Clare’s, Lee’s, and the guards. Clare’s was singled out for praise by the French for its work in covering the retreat of the French army. At Ramilles Clare’s regiment again distinguished itself, capturing a colour, which was presented to the Irish nuns at Ypres. At Almanza (1707), the major battle in the Spanish sector, Berwick with his Irish regiment defeated an English army under the Huguenot earl of Galway. (The British army had several regular Irish regiments and another twenty were raised during the war.)
After some initial successes by 1709 the French were on the verge of defeat and sought desperately to obtain peace. At Malplaquet 120,000 British and Dutch troops faced a French army of 80,000, which included five Irish regiments of infantry and one of cavalry. Here the Allied momentum was lost against a solid French defence which turned defeat into victory. The Irish fought well, capturing many English standards, and their steadfastness and courage under fire won them much praise. The Irish were brigaded together, and the marquis de Quincy, in his account of the battle, refers to them as the Irish brigade ‘which overthrew everything before it’. The battle was one of the bloodiest and was not surpassed in violence until battles of the Napoleonic war of a century later.
 While no detailed account of the Irish rank and file losses exists a detailed listing of the officer casualties does exist. A total of 850 officers were killed, wounded and captured, of whom 85 were Irish – 23 killed, 60 wounded and 2 captured. Two of the Irish mentioned in the registers of the Invalides were Kildaremen – Garret Fitzgerald and Hugo Lalor. To obtain the status of an invalid one had to have sustained a serious injury, and (usually) had to have twenty years’ service and an honourable discharge from his regiment.
Garret Fitzgerald; 47 years; Castledermot, County Kildare; soldier, Christopher Fitzgerald’s company, Clare [formerly Lee and Rothe] regiment, where he served 21 years, per his certificate dated 12.12.1723. He suffered from a blow of a musket butt to his right arm which he received at Malplaquet and which made him unfit for service. Admitted 23.12.1723.
Hugo Lalor; 45 years; Kildare; soldier, Butler’s company, Dorrington [formerly the King of England’s Guards] regiment, where he served over 20 years per his certificate. He said he had served 4 years previously in Ireland. His left leg was crippled and his right leg was badly injured by gunshot wounds at Malplaquet; unfit for service; admitted 12.6.1711.
After Malplaquet there were no more major battles and in Spain the war took a turn for the worse for the Allies. The conflict ended in 1713 with the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht bringing the War of the Spanish Succession to a close.

An article from local author James Durney on the Kildare connection in the battle of Malplaquet, 11th September 1709. Our thanks to James.

May 12, 2010




This weekend sees the inauguration of a unique event in the Osprey Hotel in Naas - Friday 14th - Saturday 16th May. A truly rare opportunity for book lovers and lovers of literature to experience at first hand what it means to write a book, to meet with favourite authors and enjoy interviews and discussions with some of Ireland's best-known writers.

The festival will be opened on Friday by the Mayor of Co. Kildare, Cllr. Colm Purcell, followed by a performance of Chekov's, The Proposal and the inaugural session with Joseph O'Connor. A full card on Saturday includes such literary greats as Sheila O'Flanagan and Claire Keegan as well as a walking tour of Naas, a second chance to catch The Proposal culminating with a reading and interview with Ireland's premier thriller writer, John Connolly.  A well crafted coffee morning with Brian Keenan, John Minihan and Dermot Bolger finishes the proceedings on Sunday morning. Booking forms are available online

For those with a special interest in history, please come along on Saturday afternnon to War and Conflict: The Kildare Experience. James Durney and Martin Malone with Local Studies Librarian, Mario Corrigan-14.30-16.00-Ballroom, Osprey Hotel

Friday 14th May --

Mayor’s welcome to festival-18.00-18.30-Time: bar and venue
The Proposal” by Anton Chekhov.
Devise and Conquer Theatre Company-19.00-21.00-
Festival opening event with
Joseph O’ Connor--

Saturday 15th May --

Sheila O Flanagan in conversation with
Julie Duane-10.30-11.30-Ballroom, Osprey Hotel

Kildare Author Panel. Readings from John MacKenna, Patricia Groves and Rob Kitchin with Dermot Bolger-12.00-13.30-Ballroom, Osprey Hotel

Laura Cassidy reads from her debut novel and talks to Linda Geraghty about her career as a writer-12.00-13.00-Merlin Suite, Osprey Hotel

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award with Cathy McKenna.
A guide to the contenders in 2010-12.00-13.00-Fulmar Suite, Osprey Hotel

A Walking Tour with Mae Leonard-12.00-13.00-Departing from Naas Library

War and Conflict: The Kildare Experience. James Durney and Martin Malone with Local Studies Librarian, Mario Corrigan-14.30-16.00-Ballroom, Osprey Hotel

The Short Story: readings with Claire Keegan-14.30-15.30-Merlin Suite, Osprey Hotel

Dermot Somers reads from his novel Ar Muir is ar Sliabh-14.30-15.30-Fulmar Suite, Osprey Hotel

Presentation of Cecil Day Lewis Literary Bursary Award by Claire Keegan-16.00-16.30-Merlin Suite, Osprey Hotel

Stories for the Ear:  Neil Donnelly presents a Kildare record, for broadcast, project.-16.00-17.00-Fulmar Suite, Osprey Hotel

Pre-event Reception
“The Proposal” by Anton Chekhov.
Devise and Conquer Theatre Company-18.00-18.30-Ballroom, Osprey Hotel

John Connolly reads and is interviewed by Stuart Neville-19.30-21.00-Ballroom, Osprey Hotel

Sunday 16th May --

Beckett & Beirut, Belfast & Athy:
Dermot Bolger in conversation with Brian Keenan and John Minihan-11.00-12.30-Ballroom, Osprey Hotel

For those with a special interest in history, please come along on Saturday afternnon to War and Conflict: The Kildare Experience. James Durney and Martin Malone with Local Studies Librarian, Mario Corrigan-14.30-16.00-Ballroom, Osprey Hotel .

Book online  www.kildarereadersfestival.ie all events are free.  

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