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June 26, 2010


The Funeral of Dermot Earley
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Today Dermot Earley, a footballing legend and late Army Chief of Staff was buried in Newbridge Cemetery. For those who were unable to make it to Newbridge we have added some photographs taken from the upper storey at Newbridge Library of the funeral cortege as it crossed the Bridge on its final journey towards the cemetery. For more photos visit Pat Tinsley's site

June 25, 2010


Leinster Leader 15th November 1913
In October 1913 the passenger liner the Volturno, sailing from Rotterdam to Halifax and New York, caught fire in the mid-Atlantic. Her distress call brought ten ships to the scene; 523 people were rescued, but 131 perished. [note J. Durney]
Among the passengers on board the liner Carmania on the recent memorable trip in which the vessel went to the assistance of the burning Volturno in mid-ocean was Mr Wm Clarke, C.P.S., Carbury, who was returning from spending holidays with his brother in the United States, and who witnessed from the deck of the Cunarder the dramatic scenes already fully described in the daily Press. Mr Clarke says he retired to his bunk at midnight when the first efforts to save the Volturno’s passengers had failed, and not wishing to be an eyewitness to the destruction of the vessel and its human freight which was expected at any moment. At five the next morning he was surprised to see the Volturno still over water, and preparations being made for the rescue of the remaining passengers, which was soon after successfully carried out. The sight of the nine big liners surrounding the Volturno Mr Clarke describes as one of extreme grandeur.
The Leinster Leader of November 1913 reports that in October 1913 the passenger liner the Volturno, sailing from Rotterdam to Halifax and New York, caught fire in the mid-Atlantic. Our thanks to James Durney...

June 24, 2010


Kildare Observer, November 29th, 1924

Burning of Mullaboden House
Big Building and Furniture Claims
On Saturday last Judge Doyle continued the hearing of malicious damage claims for Co. Kildare in the Courthouse, Naas.
 Lady Bryan Mahon and General Sir Bryan Mahon claimed large sums for the burning of Mullaboden House, furniture, and other property, on 16th February, 1923.
 Mr. Lardner, K.C; Mr. Kelly, B.L. (instructed by Messrs. Brady and Dawson, solicitors), appeared for the applicants; Mr. R. Brown, S..S, for the State; Mr. R. A. Osborne, solicitor, for the Co. Council, and Mr. P.J. McCann, solicitor, for the Naas Rural Council.
Mr. Lardner said on 16th February, 1923, eight men came in a lorry to Mullaboden House, near Ballymore-Eustace, in this county; three of them were dressed in the uniform of Free State soldiers, and one of them in the uniform of a Civic Guard. Four of them, armed, entered the house and piled the furniture, in the centre of the rooms, saturated the lot with petrol, and set it on fire. It was a magnificent mansion, as the photograph (which he handed up to the Judge) would show. Counsel handed to the Judge ground plans of the building after the fire, and of the proposed new building. Continuing, counsel said they would be entitled to go for the whole reinstatement of the mansion, which would cost about £20,000, but they had come to the conclusion to go for a smaller building, and if that met with his lordship’s approval they would make a reduced claim for about £12,000 odd. He would examine Mr. Sheridan, a well-known man in his profession, would given his estimate of the cost of reconstructing the mansion according to plans he had prepared.
Judge-Is it £12,000 odd you are asking me for with a partial reinstatement condition?
Mr. Lardner-Yes. Our full claim would be £20,000 odd, and a further claim for furniture.
Judge- Give me the figures for the two claims?
Mr. Lardner- For furniture £13,609
Judge- And £12,000 odd odd for the building? Yes, my lord.
Mr. George P. Sheridan, architect, was the first witness examined. He prepared the plans showing both the Mullaboden House as it was before the fire and as it will be in the proposed new building. The witness described the reconstruction as proposed. It was prepared to re-use the whole of the servants’ quarters as they existed before the fire. The reduction in accommodation as compared with the old building would be six bedrooms and two rooms on the ground floor. The new rooms mantelpieces, steel grates etc, in the old and they would be simpler in every respect. The money estimate as based on his plans was made by the quantity surveyors.
Cross-examined by Mr. Brown, S.S.-He did not think it would be cheaper to rebuild on the old walls, as they have been injured. He would not say they would be dangerous, except at the tower. He thought it would be cheaper to reconstruct according to his plans that to build on the old walls as they are at present. The servants’ wing is still intact.
Cecil Vincent Montgomery, associate of the Surveyors’ Institute of London, answering Mr. Lardner, described the marble mantelpieces, steel grates etc., in the old mansion. He saw Mr. Sheridan’s plans which would be a simpler style of buildings than the destroyed mansion. His original estimate for complete reinstatement of the old building was £28, 108 odd. That was June, 1923. Subsequently he reduced that figure, in consequence of reduced prices, by 15 per cent, making his net estimate £13, 931 9s. 10 d. To that figure should be added architects fees, cartage, insurance, etc.., bringing the total up to £17, 123 18s. 1d. and there should be £1,000 added for depreciation of the old walls if left standing for twelve months.
Thos. J. Kavanagh, quantity surveyor.

The Kildare Observer of November 29th 1924 reports the continued hearing by Judge Doyle of malicious damage claims for the burning of Mullaboden House, furniture, and other property, on 16th February, 1923.  Our thanks to Roy O’Brien.







June 19, 2010


 Leinster Leader 29th April 2010

There’s only one Punchestown and only one Harry!
Punchestown is over for another year and the ‘also rans’ and ‘beaten dockets’ have been consigned to the small print of the form books. And so it was just a century ago when the Kildare Observer of April 1910 published its review of ‘Peerless Punchestown’ for that year. The correspondent ‘Turfrite’ began on the social side of the meeting before getting into the action on the course. The weather that year was foul according to his review. He remarked that the fine weather which had prevailed in the week previous to the festival had not lasted and but the rain which swept across the exposed east Kildare course, although memorable in its intensity, did not deter the faithful Punchestown crowd ‘for the country folk turned out in force to see the racing.’ Nor did the weather deter the annual descent of high society for the festival week. The Viceregal party arrived and his Excellency and party were escorted by the Earl of Mayo (Palmerstown House), Colonel St. Leger Moore (Killashee), Mr. Pollock (Master of Fox Hounds) and the Hunt staff (in full hunting costume) and were met at the entrance to the stands by Mr. Percy La Touche (Harristown). And wherever there were celebrities there were photographers even as far back as 1910. Nowadays known as the paparazzi the term used in that era was ‘the camera fiends’. According to the description of the Lord Lieutenant’s arrival at Punchestown the ‘click-clak of the instruments told us that the deadly work was being performed’.
Continuing to the serious business of the meeting the correspondent dwelled on the Hunt Cup noting that a horse named ‘St. Columbas’ was favourite from ‘Red Ocean’ and ‘Glenlair’. In terms of the jockeys the undoubted favourite of the Punchestown crowd was Mr. Harry Beasley who received a great ovation on coming out of the paddock on ‘St. Columbas’ and again was applauded as he jumped the first fence. The pace from the start was good and ‘when steam was turned on in the last circuit’ many thought that the favourite was out of it, as he was occupying a position nearer last than first. Approaching the last fence he was back in fourth but ‘Mr. Beasley had something to say yet, and sitting down on the flat rode a magnificent finish, catching the others hand over hand.’ Beasley clearly rode the race of his life pushing ‘St. Columbas’ to the finishing post, grasping victory by a head. There were scenes of wild enthusiasm as the hero of the day had ‘snatched the race out of the fire’. The crowd thronged around winning horse and rider and it took Beasley some time to reach the weighing-room for the post race formalities. According to the Observer correspondent Beasley had ridden over Punchestown more often than any other jockey – amateur or professional -- and had shown his intimate knowledge of the going conditions of the track by switching to the stand side where he found better ground on the run home. The three jockeys in front of him over the last had kept to the rail side. It was their downfall as the ground was heavier and their mounts all but stopped allowing the wily Beasley to sweep to the front.  Indeed,  well before he got to that point Beasley had shown his horsemanship by managing to stay aboard ‘St. Columbas’ when the favourite made a bad mistake at the up-bank past the stands.  The correspondent gave some insight into how Beasley had won the affection of the Punchestown crowd:
 ‘His years rest lightly on him, and the younger generation will have something to learn from this grand old veteran – the only left of the family of brilliant brothers whom all Kildare sportsmen loved so dearly.’  He concluded his report by quoting the catchphrase of the day: ‘There’s only one Punchestown and only one Harry!’ which is as good a note as any on which to complete our review of Punchestown a century ago.  

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 29th April 2010 reflects on a review of Punchestown a century ago.  Our thanks to Liam.  




June 18, 2010


 Leinster Leader 22nd April 2010

Bottles fly at Punchestown affray
Punchestown has always attracted its share of colourful characters to the environs of Naas. Certainly the pages of the Kildare Observer newspaper of a hundred years ago, in late April 1910, reveal an intriguing insight into the fringe events of the festival week. A number of court cases are reported in which the constabulary charged individuals for assault and for vagrancy. Our first case relates to a charge brought by Sergeant Ryan against a woman named Margaret K. of no fixed residence who was charged with having unlawfully assaulted James Hayden at Punchestown by striking him on the head with a bottle occasioning actual bodily harm.  In evidence James Hayden said he was the son of Loftus Hayden, and assisted him in his business as a publican in Naas. On the Wednesday of Punchestown (then just a two-day meeting) he was assisting his father in his tent at the races serving beverages when the defendant came in and asked one of the girl assistants for drink. The assistant refused to give her the drink as she was under the influence of alcohol. The defendant responded to the refusal by throwing three bottles at the staff. The first one, according to Mr. Hayden’s vivid description, struck a girl who was assisting in the tent; the second struck him in the forehead and the third one fortunately missed any of the personnel and struck the side of the tent. It seems as if Mr. Hayden was concussed because he said he did not know what happened afterwards until he was attended by Dr. O’Donnell Browne who dressed his wound. His father, well known Naas vintner Mr. Loftus Hayden, said he was standing on a barrel where he could see all that happened in his tent. He saw the defendant throwing the bottles. He immediately ran to grapple with her before she could throw any more but she made an attempt to trip him up. Mr. Hayden, Snr. said he then called the attention of a constable near the tent.  Constable McLaughlin of Ballitore said he was passing Mr. Hayden’s tent when he heard the sound of bottles breaking. He said he stood for a minute at the opening of the tent when he heard someone shout that his son had been killed. The constable said he saw Mr. John Hayden lying on his back and bleeding from a wound on the side of his head. There were two people holding him up and he appeared to be in a fainting condition. The constable arrested the defendant who appeared to be excited and under the influence of drink. At the hearing the constable’s observation was not contested by the defendant who said she did not remember what happened being under the influence of drink. Col. Wogan Browne, Justice of the Peace, remanded her in custody to the next sitting of Naas Petty sessions. Another court hearing gives an insight into the story of the many wanderers and vagrants who congregated in and around Naas for the race week. At a sitting of the Petty Sessions Court at the beginning of Punchestown week three men who had taken straw from local barns and made a bedding for themselves in a vacant house were charges with vagrancy. Sergt. Clarke of Naas barracks the court that at five o’clock in the morning he found Patrick D., James D., and Laurence B., all of no fixed residence, in an old house used as a stable and owned by a Mr. Donnelly. He found one of the defendants asleep while the other two emerged out of a bundle of hay. In court Patrick D. asked the Sergeant: ‘Was I asleep?’ to which the policeman replied ‘I don’t charge you with having been asleep, but with sleeping in an occupied house.’ The sergeant told the court that the police had received many complaints from farmers about hay being stolen and fences broken down. He added: ‘It was the people from the town that were blamed for it, and it was men like the accused that took them.’ Patrick D. told the court that he was a tailor by trade and he never had recourse to sleeping in such a place before. He was on his way from Celbridge to Newbridge the previous day where he expected to get work. He could not get lodgings in Naas, and he met a man who told him to go to the unoccupied house at Punchestown. The judge, Lord Mayo, quipped: ‘You got lodgings anyway!’ He took a dim view of the trio’s behaviour and gave them a week in prison with hard labour remarking that ‘they had missed their Punchestown and were silly men.’

In his regular feature article in the Leinster Leader "Nothing New Under the Sun" Liam Kenny comments on intriguing events at Punchestown from the pages of the Kildare Observer of one hundred years ago.  Our thanks to Liam.

June 11, 2010


Leinster Leader 15th April 2010
Flooding the valley … 70 years of Poulaphuca

Seventy years ago this Spring a sluice gate was dropped on the flow of the river Liffey at Poulaphuca (south of Blessington) and the landscape on the Kildare/Wicklow boundary was changed for ever. The sluice gate operation was part of the construction of the Poulaphuca dam and reservoir which harnessed the Liffey.  In the seventy years since the scheme has provided a source of environmentally friendly power and a reliable supply of water for the metropolis of Dublin and adjoining districts.  The name Poulaphuca (translated as ‘cave of the evil one’) echoes superstitions that a hideous supernatural creature lived in the sheer-sided gorge where the Liffey poured through a chasm in the hills east of Ballymore Eustace. However any lingering fear that there was something sinister in the deep gorge was literally blown away when the drills, compressors and excavators of the ESB’s contractors moved on to the site in 1937 to begin work.  This was a massive civil engineering project for its time and was one of the few new projects to bring hope to the nation during the grey years leading to the second world war.
The Leinster Leader’s West Wicklow notes correspondent was among the first to record the beginning of work in an issue of November 1937: ‘The erstwhile lonely, silent conditions at Poulaphuca waterfall have suddenly been displaced with extraordinary hum and activity. Fifty men have already started work on the scheme. Houses, including a new Garda station, are springing up rapidly and before long the entire district included in the scheme will see a little army of workers employed there.’
The Poulaphuca scheme was a joint project between the ESB and Dublin Corporation, the latter providing additional employment in the making of a box culvert for sixteen miles through East Kildare from Poulaphuca to the city reservoirs at Saggart.
The main contract for the massive dam construction work had been awarded to the Francois Cementation company, based in Doncaster, England. The company had patented a method of sealing porous stone against water seepage – an important consideration given that the dam was wedged in a gorge of Wicklow rock. Their contract for the construction of the dams, tunnels, and structures at both the Poulaphuca dam, and its little brother downstream, the Golden falls dam, had a value of £300,000 out a total scheme budget for the dam and reservoir of £750,000 (1937 prices).  A more distant cousin, the Leixlip dam, was built to control the Liffey flow before it reached the city.
Employment on the scheme grew spectacularly at Poulaphuca as the construction tempo accelerated. From the fifty workmen who had moved on site in November 1937 the workforce had grown to 200 by July 1938. Another 120 were employed by Bray based contractor C.S.Downey on the construction of three new bridges facilitating a roads system to link communities cut off by the flooding of the valley.
An Irish Times reporter who visited the site in February 1939 was clearly impressed by the dynamism of the construction operation at Poulaphuca: ‘High up on the rock face, drills were preparing for fresh charges of gelignite and when I was in the neighbourhood I heard several explosions … Near the face of the dam, which is being treated with a special preparation which ensures it is water tight, the tunnel which will carry the water to the power-house is being bored.’ By that time 12,000 tons of concrete had been poured into the dam; the same quantity again would be required to complete it.
The prelude to the scheme had not been without its problems; the dwellers and farmers of the valley had to be compensated and relocated. Some left under protest; others anticipated a new beginning on Land Commission farms in the Mullacash and Donadea areas of Co. Kildare.
Yet by early 1940 all was in readiness to begin flooding. The dam had been completed; and some 5,500 acres of the Liffey valley between Blessington, Lacken and Valleymount had been vacated by man and beast. While it would be another four years before the heavy turbine plant was in place to generate the first current, all was now ready for flooding the valley. The sluice gate was dropped on the river flow at 10am on 3rd March 1940. The mountain waters of the Liffey began to pool behind the dam, extending to an area as large as the Phoenix Park by autumn of that year.  Seventy years later the Poulaphuca lakes appear as if they were part of nature’s gift to West Wicklow. Instead they are the product of inspired planning and hard work by the generation that literally shaped Ireland in the middle decades of the twentieth century.  Series No: 173.

In his regular column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' Liam Kenny  reflects on the Poulaphuca dam and reservoir which harnessed the Liffey 70 years ago.  Our thanks to Liam.

June 10, 2010


Leinster Leader, August 18th 1951

Convalescent Home for Ladies
New Moore Abbey Foundation
Tucked away in the shadows of the great tree of Moore Abbey, which was renowned for the beauty of its gardens, is St. Theresa’s new residential and convalescent home for ladies, which was opened on Wednesday, the Feast of the Assumption.
The home will be run by the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Two of the first number of residents were from Scotland and over 70 inquiries have already been received.
   Once the residence and offices of the estate agent to Moore Abbey, originally owned by Lord Drogheda, Rev. Mother Finbar, head of the Moore Abbey home where the noble work of the Sisters for epileptic female patients is being carried out, saw that the building though fallen into disrepair, could be remodelled to suit her purpose-the establishment of a residence for ladies.
Ideally located and close to Monasterevan Square and bus stop. The building was taken over in 1948, and less than a year ago Mother Finbar, with characteristic thoroughness, laid her plans in the hands of Mr. J. Sweeney contractor, Portarlington.
The building was reconstructed to take advantage of the offices, dairy and servant’s quarters, to enlarge and provide additional apartments, which now illustrates what can be achieved within the framework of a design that is modern, practical and imaginative.
   All of the 16 airy bedrooms, which includes 3 doubles, have a pleasant view and can accommodate from 20 to 25 residents. Furnished and carpeted with excellent good taste, the rooms are decorated in restful shades of green and cream, relieved with prints and plaques. They are equipped with all the necessary requisites, including night and reading lamps, electric lighted, central heated and hot and cold water laid on.
    One of the rooms which has a vault shape ceiling, is a copy of those in Moore Abbey and was untouched. There are 4 well-appointed bathrooms.
     On the ground floor the spacious dining room, the attractive sitting and reading rooms produce a cheerful, peaceful atmosphere, which is part of the residence. The front windows overlook a terrace and well-arranged flower beds, while at the back the laying of rockeries is in progress.
      Reconstruction work on a further wing, which will be used, it is understood, by the staff, is also being carried out at present. The staff will be chiefly drawn from the Moore Abbey Home, as the occasion demands.
    Founded by Canon Pierre Joseph Tristpo (called the St. Vincent de Paul of Belgium) in 1803, they have Novitaties in Belgium and England. Mother Finbar was one of the first four members of the community to set foot in Moore Abbey.


The Leinster Leader of August 1951 reports on the opening of a Convalescent Home for Ladies in Moore Abbey...Our thanks to Roy O'Brien

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