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August 31, 2010


Kildare Observer
2 May 1896
Death of Daughter of Lord Edward Fitzgerald
Romance of the last century

 Helen, widow of Mr Hugh M’Corquodale, died at Richmond, Surrey, on the 17th inst, at the patriarchial age of 97. This announcement, says a correspondent (Mr Edward Brownell), recalls an interesting romance of the last century. The deceased lady was a daughter of the unfortunate Lord Edward Fitzgerald and his charming wife Pamela. Lord Edward was a prominent member of the Society of United Irishmen. He was a younger son of Lieutenant-General James, the first Duke of Leinster, and the Lady Emelia Lennox, daughter of Charles, second Duke of Richmond and Lennox, and the beautiful Lady Sarah Cadogan, related to our present Viceroy – daughter of Marlborough’s favourite general, William Earl Cadogan, and was born at Carton, the splendid family seat near Maynooth, in 1763. Educated in France he returned to England, and entered the army at the age of 16. After serving with distinction in the American War of Independence he was attracted to Paris by the upheaval which resulted in the French Revolution. There he renounced his title, and married a beautiful woman, around whom much mystery had gathered, but who is now known to have been a daughter of Madame de Genlis by the Duke D’Orleans (Philip Egalite). Subsequently Lord Edward brought his wife to Ireland, where he resided at Friscati, Blackrock, and became a prominent figure in the political conspiracies with which the last century closed. His plot for a French Invasion of Ireland was betrayed by Francis Higgins, or the “Sham Squire,” to the British Government, and his arrest was ordered. The attempt to arrest him he resisted desperately, assisted by his devoted wife, and he received wounds in the struggle, from which he died a fortnight later, and was interred privately in a vault of St Werburgh’s Church. Lady Edward Fitzgerald’s after life, passed upon the Continent, was not happy. Her means were derived from an allowance from her reputed half brother, Louis Phillipe. She died in Paris, 8th November, 1831, aged sixty-five, and was buried in Montmartre, leaving, beside Mrs M’Corquodale, two other daughters, namely – Lucy, who married General Sir Guy Cameron, of Boyle Farm, Thames Ditton, Surrey, and died many years ago, leaving two daughters – Pamela, married to the late Charles Stuart Standford, D D, of Park House, Booterstown, Rector of St Thomas’s Church, Dublin; and Madeline, married to the Hon Percy Scawen Wyndham, M P, son of the first Baron Leconfield (of noble house of Egremont), and father to Capt. George Wyndham, M P, who married Sibell, Countess Grosvenor, daughter of the late Earl Scarborough, sister to the Marchioness of Zetland, and mother to Viscount Belgrave, grandson and heir to the Duke of Westminster, K G.

The Death of Daughter of Lord Edward Fitzgerald from the Kildare Observer 2 May 1896, typed by James Durney

August 27, 2010


A bridge, a town, a people.

There is probably no theme more consistent or more controversial in modern Irish history (and by modern I mean right to the present day) than the process by which people find a house in which to accommodate the essential processes of life – living itself, rearing a family, and finding a refuge from the stresses of life. And yet for all its centrality to the reality of Irish life, the way in which the ordinary people acquired their houses has been greatly understudied. This is a surprising comment on the priorities of historians at national and at local levels. Why is it that housing, especially housing provided by local councils or ‘social housing’ as it is termed in modern times, has not been given more attention by the growing legion of local historians? Perhaps, it is because there is reluctance among local historians to stir sensitivities relating to the issue known as ‘class’ in the texture of Irish society.

This question becomes even sharper when compared with the volumes of attention given to the ‘Big House’ in Irish historical writing. A whole shelf-full of coffee table books has been generated on the architectural creations of the upper classes. And the lifestyles of their elite occupants continue to fascinate modern audiences. Yet the amount of historical investigation of what might be called the ‘little houses’ – the homes of the working classes and of the poor has remained largely untouched in the otherwise voluminous output of modern local historians.

This omission has been rectified in the case of Co. Kildare by James Durney whose latest book on council housing in county Kildare – ‘A bridge, a town, a people – social housing in Newbridge 1900-1996’ follows the same path as his pioneering work on council housing in Naas published three years ago. Both books are vital on many levels. From a national perspective they show government at its best, living up to its duty of care to citizens by providing schemes by which people could rent and purchase a home at a reasonable cost. These initiatives were in turn delivered through the structures of Irish local government – in this case Kildare County Council and Newbridge Town Commission – which took on the long-term burdens of buying land, building the houses, allocating tenancies, and following up with rent collection and maintenance to ensure that the value of the public investment held firm.

James Durney’s recent Newbridge book blends mainstream historical research into official documents such as the Newbridge Town Commission minute books with an extensive range of oral history material based on interviews with twenty two residents of the town. The result is a strong and rich account of not alone the administration and building of the houses but also the human connections of the communities which grew up in the new estates. The nostalgic but realistic tone of the recollections is characterised by Pa Durney of Lakeside Park who in his foreword to the book recalls his growing up in Highfield Estate: ‘ everyone in Highfield seemed to know each other right from the very beginning … Everyone nearly knew what each family was having for breakfast, dinner and tea – something with beans usually.’

The story of council housing in Newbridge began with Rowan Terrace in May 1902 – a scheme of twenty houses. Most of the new tenants were local names such as O’Neill, Dunne, Cleary and Byrne but one intriguing name featuring among the proud new householders was that of Albert Kaskopp, pork butcher, which suggests an exotic eastern European origin. James Durney charts the story of Newbridge from Rowan Terrace  through the later schemes such as Chapel Lane (1932), Old Connell cottages (1937), Ballymany cottages (1936), The Crescent (1938), Piercetown (1939), Pairc Mhuire (1953), St. Dominic’s Park (1962), Highfield (1968), Dara Park (1974), and Lakeside Park (1983). Of course the military heritage of Newebridge was bound to have a major influence and the conversion of the barracks to housing during the 1930s is recorded in detail. Given Ireland’s recent salutary experience with a voracious private housing demand it gives a sense of perspective to learn that in Newbridge between 1910 and 1960 there were 455 council houses built compared with just 151 private houses over the same period.

James Durney is a prolific published historian on many themes in Kildare life – his books documenting the involvement of Kildare men in conflicts at home and overseas have become valued references for local historians. He has now done Kildare another service by bringing to life the story of the county’s fastest growing town through the middle decades of the twentieth century. ‘A bridge, a town, a people’ by James Durney is published by Gaul House. Series no: 182

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 24th June 2010 reflects on James Durney's new book on the history of social housing in Newbridge - A bridge, a town, a people. Our thanks to Liam.  


Processions to Bodenstown remember Wolfe Tone

‘In Bodenstown churchyard there lies a green grave, And wildly around it the winter winds rave, Small shelter is weaned from the cruel walls there, When the storm clouds blow down on the plains of Kildare’ … the opening lines of a ballad eulogising Wolfe Tone, the 1798 patriot, whose remains are believed to lie in the ancient graveyard of Bodenstown, just off the Sallins-Clane road.  The month of June each year sees a series of ‘Bodenstown Sundays’ when followers of the republican cause in its various hues assemble at Sallins to march to the Wolfe Tone memorial at Bodenstown. The numbers at the Bodenstown event have advanced and retreated in line with the strength of the republican sentiment on the island. That said, it is safe to say that over the decades there has hardly been a leading nationalist politician, north or south, who has not marched from Sallins to Bodenstown on the annual republican pilgrimage. At one stage there was just one Bodenstown Sunday when republicans from all four provinces, but particularly from Ulster, converged on Sallins. However the succession of splits in the nationalist movement has resulted in there being now at least three Bodenstown Sundays – two in June and another in September. In modern times they pass off without incident and make little impact on the locality – although Bodenstown is a platform for the leaders of the parties involved to make significant policy statements often picked up by the national press. The significance of Bodenstown in the early years of the Irish Free State is evident from a report in this newspaper from June 1926 which portrays the pomp and ceremony of an official Government occasion at Bodenstown with the full participation of the Army of the new State.  Many of the leading figures of the 1920s Irish Free State attended headed by President W.T. Cosgrave; Mr. Ernest Blythe, Minister for Finance; Professor O’Sullivan, Minister for Education; Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr. J. J. Walsh, Minister for Posts & Telegraphs; Senator Dr. St. John Gogarty; and, interestingly, Mr. George Wolfe, TD, whose ancestors accounted for the ‘Wolfe’ in Wolfe Tone. An exotic distinguished visitor who joined the platform party was Herr Summerlott, Director of the Bank of Germany in Stuggart, who was on holiday in Ireland. The VIPs reviewed one of the largest military parades seen in the Free State with some 1,400 troops from the Curragh including personnel from the Infantry and Army Transport Corps. Flying overhead Bodenstown was a squadron of Bristol Fighters from the Air Corps at Baldonnel.   In the march past the Military Police were noted for their smartness but no doubt the most spectacular contribution came from the Air Corps pilots who it was reported ‘ flew in line not far above the heads of the spectators, and on reaching the front of the stand each pilot shot his plane forward. This manoeuvre, carried out with admirable precision, called forth applause.’ At the Tone memorial, ceremonial honours were rendered by a firing party of sixteen rifles while the ‘last post’ was sounded by six Army buglers. Mr. Peter Hughes, Minister for Defence, placed a floral cross from the Free State National Army; Mr. Batt O’Connor, TD, laid a wreath for the Cumann na nGaedheal organisation and Mr. George Lyons placed another for the old Dublin Brigade IRA.   However the divisions in the republican movement were evident on the day. In the afternoon after the Government parade had departed another procession converged on Bodenstown. This second instalment was organised by the Wolfe Tone Commemoration Committee headed by the Eamonn Ceannt Piper’s Band. Clearly representing more radical elements of nationalist opinion the procession featured the banners of Fianna Eireann, the Irish Republican Soldiers’ Federation, the Women’s Prisoners Defence League and the International Class War Prisoners’ Aid. Some memorable names in the pantheon of Irish republicanism were represented in the procession which included Mr. A. O’Connor, President, Sinn Fein; Mr. Austin Stack, TD; Madame Constance Markievicz, TD; Mrs. Pearse, TD (mothers of Padraig and Willie Pearse executed in 1916); Dr. Kathleen Lynn, TD; and Miss Ffrench Mullen. That there were separate processions on the day is not surprising given the division in Irish politics over the signing of the Treaty in 1921 and the resulting civil war. However it is equally noticeable that the speeches on either occasion as reported at length in this paper seemed to studiously avoid any militancy or strident criticism of the other side – perhaps suggesting that the nationalists of 1920s Ireland were weary of war and preferred to honour Wolfe Tone’s memory in a spirit of conciliation rather than confrontation. Series no: 181.



Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 17th June 2010 reflects on the many processions to Bodenstown to remember Wolfe Tone. Our thanks to Liam.  


Fifty years of the church on the hill marked by new publication

The fiftieth anniversary of a church would be a significant event in the life of any community but when that anniversary occurs within a parish which cherishes and records its history like none other then the anniversary will be all the more special. And that is certainly the case with the parish of Caragh in the heart of county Kildare which last month celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its church of Our Lady & St. Joseph, distinctive located on a hillside about the village.

Some weeks ago this column looked back to the building of the church and its opening in 1960, a recollection helped greatly by the fine souvenir booklet published at the time to record what was an unusual enough occasion in the Ireland of the late 1950s, the construction of a new parish church.

Future historians of Caragh now have another resource to draw on, a fine souvenir booklet published to record the church’s refurbishment of 2010 which has the added bonus of bringing the story of the parish up to date. The book is introduced by its editor Fr. Jackie O’Connell who links the 1960 and 2010 publications by reproducing some of the former’s text in the new publication. Articles brought forward from the 1960s booklet include one on ‘Caragh Church’ which traces the early Christian foundations in the locality through annals and archaeological studies which identify Downings, Killibegs and Brideschurch (this last name indicating a connection with St. Bridgid) as being among the earliest places of Christian worship. Surveying the fabric of the parish in more modern times the article emphasises the continuity of families through several generations: names with longevity in the parish include Malones, Kellys, Dunnes, Rourkes, Guilfoyles, Swords, Reddys, Ennises, Cookes and Walshes. A survey of names in the modern era would be interesting and no doubt highlight the distinctive influx of the many new families into the area as Caragh, along with many other commuter-belt parishes in Kildare, acquired its share of new estates and bungalows.

A perusal of the contents of the book indicates much of great interest written by local historians expert in their themes. An affectionate portrait of Caragh’s legendary Parish Priest, Fr. Jeremiah Bennett is painted by Kathleen O’Neill and Mary Morrin who recall the strategies mobilised by the energetic pastor to collect funds to build the new church in Caragh which cost £57,000, a considerable sum to collect in the Ireland of the late 1950s when people knew a thing or two about recession. Caragh needed not only a new church but also two new school buildings at Caragh and Prosperous. Carnivals and marquee dances were among his fund-raising initiatives – the marquee dances became famous throughout mid-Kildare and fulfilled a social need too, as the authors relate ‘Many of today’s grannies and granddads met their life partners at these events.’

Other contributors include Sean Byrne who refers to another distinctive Caragh feature – the old one-lane bridge across the Liffey which is considered to be among the oldest on the Liffey still in use and may date from the period between 1450 and 1550. Ger McCarthy draws on his years of study of the Eustace family who at one time were the most influential Catholic family in Kildare. His describes how the Eustaces at Yeomanstown gave shelter to the Dominican friars from Naas who had to abandon their 14th century abbey in Naas with the suppression of the monasteries in 1540. When the penal laws were relaxed in the 1750s the friars resumed teaching and preaching but did not return to Naas; instead they moved to Newbridge and established a humble foundation which was in time to evolve into the present day priory and college.  Mary Ryan tells the story of another legendary priest of the Caragh area – Fr Austin Kinsella and his support to evicted tenants during the Clongorey evictions 1888-92. An article by school principal Danny Challoner shows that an appreciation of their local history is to the fore of the young generation’s education in Caragh. Wonderful school initiatives such as a time capsule for its new building currently being built, and the preservation of classroom books and materials inherited from the old school (vacated 1962) show that the future of local history in Caragh is in safe hands.

The foregoing is just a sample of the riches, textual and photographic in the Caragh church 50th anniversary book. With its publication, and the publication within months of each other last year of two comprehensive histories of the parish,  The Great Book of Caragh and The Real History of Caragh, the parish can claim to be among the best recorded in Co. Kildare if not in the whole of Ireland. Series no: 180

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 10th June 2010 reflects on the new publication on Caragh Church. Our thanks to Liam.  


Flotilla recalls last Guinness cargo on the Grand Canal

Readers who live near the Grand Canal may have noticed in recent days a small flotilla of converted cargo boats navigating their way in a westerly direction. The lead boat in the small fleet on impressive broad-beamed barges carried the number 51M and its voyage from Dublin to the Shannon was a re-enactment of an historic journey fifty years ago when it became the last boat to carry a commercial cargo on Ireland’s canal system. The commemorative event has been organised by the Heritage Boats Association of Ireland who had been given the use of 51M by Waterways Ireland, official custodians of the canal. Fortunately 51M was not scrapped in the 1960s when its commercial life ended and was retained as a maintenance boat. Launched in Dublin in 1928 it was then the king of the canal, built of steel and driven by a Bolinder engine -  the ‘M’ in its registration stands for ‘motor boat’.

Move forward thirty-two years to when it cast off from James’s Street Harbour on 27 May 1960 marking the end of a way of life on the canal which had existed since the construction of the waterway in the early 1800s. For some 160 years freight barges had plied the canal bringing cargoes to and from Dublin, Limerick, Waterford and canal-side villages across the midlands from Sallins to Shannon Harbour. The spine of the waterways system is the Grand Canal which crosses mid-Kildare in a south-west direction from Hazelhatch to west of Ticknevin. The canal is an integral part of the county’s scenery in modern times and a prized feature of villages such as Sallins and Robertstown.

There were also branch lines off the main channel: the most important being the Barrow line which branched south at Lowtown and headed  through Rathangan and Monasterevin before joining the river Barrow at Athy from where boats continued their journey to Carlow and the tidal reaches of Waterford harbour. Other branch canals had been constructed to Edenderry, to the Blackwood reservoir near Robertstown, as well as to Naas and the forgotten Corbally harbour. For many generations such places on the waterways map echoed to the busy sounds of horse and drays pulling up to load and unload from barges: the boats themselves drawn along the canal by horses plodding purposefully along the towpath. The advent of the diesel engine in the early 1900s saw the towing horse largely replaced by engine power.

There was a crew of four men who lived on the boats on voyages which could take up to four days from Dublin to Limerick. The crew comprised of the Master or skipper, the Engineman, Deck man and Greaser – the latter being generally a young lad who had to cook and do the domestic jobs. Although a seemingly idyllic job the boatmen worked hard in all weathers, sometimes sailing through the night.

 The canal cargo business was always under pressure from the railways but tonnages of bulk goods where speed was not important remained high – barrels of porter (empty and full), turf and coal, sand and gravel, and grain and flour being the main loads. In 1912 for example more than 308,000 tons of freight were ferried on the canals. However competition from the motor lorry in the 1920s/30s meant that tonnages fell severely. The canals got a brief respite during the Emergency years (1939-45) when they were pressed into service to transport turf from the Bog of Allen to Dublin city where it was stored in massive clamps at the Phoenix Park.

As part of a rationalisation in the post war decades the Government bought out the shareholders of the Grand Canal Company and amalgamated its operations with Coras Iompar Eireann (CIE), a newly formed semi-state entity with a mandate to take over all transport services in Ireland. CIE had enough on its hands trying to keep the railway system viable and it was clear that the days of canal freight were numbered. In November 1959 CIE announced that the Grand Canal would close to cargo boats from the 31st December of that year.

 However that was not quite the end of the story. Guinness asked for a stay of a few months so as to complete alternative arrangements for road deliveries.  The definitive final voyage from Dublin began on the afternoon of 27 May 1960 when 51M cast off at James’ Street Harbour bound for the Guinness depot in Limerick. With the distinctive ‘putt-putt’ of its Bolinder engine echoing over the deserted jetties, it cruised out to the main channel of the Grand Canal to begin the final official voyage.

It is a happy coincidence that 51M escaped the wrecker’s torch and was kept in service though a succession of canal authorities as maintenance boat for the canals. Thus within the past week it was this same boat which tied up at Sallins and at Roberstown as it voyaged through the heart of Kildare to commemorate the end of a canal era on that May day, fifty years ago.  Series no: 179.

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 3rd June 2010 recalls the last Guinness cargo on the Grand Canal. Our thanks to Liam.  

August 25, 2010


Heritage Week 2010 in County Kildare
Saturday 21 August to Sunday 29 August 2010

Heritage Week is part of a European initiative to encourage people to take an interest in their local Heritage. The aim of Heritage Week is to foster a greater understanding and awareness of our own local heritage.

Week Long Events

Kildare Town Heritage Centre, Kildare Town
Exhibition telling the story of Kildare past and present
Sat 21 August – Sat 28 August

Tours of St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, Maynooth
Date and Times: 21 & 22 August 11.30-15.30
                           23-27 August 14.30-1700
                           28 & 29 August 11.30-15.30

Athy Heritage Centre/Museum.
Children’ Heritage Hunt
Date and times: 21 August 11.30-15.30
  22 August 11.30-15.30
                          23 August 14.00-17.00
                          24 August 14.00-17.00
                          25 August 14.00-17.00
                          26 August 14.00-17.00
                          27 August 14.00-17.00
                          28 August 11.30-15.30
                          29 August 11.30-15.30

Walking Tour of Leixlip Quiz
All entries to be returned by 3 September

Exhibition of Bead Work
The Town Hall, Emily Square, Athy
Date and times: 21 & 22 August 11.30-15.30
                          23 & 27 August 10.30-17.00
                          28 & 29 August 11.30-15.30

Children’s Tour of Castletown House
Date and times: 21 & 22 August 12.00-13.00
                          24-28 August 12.00-13.00
                          29 August 12.00-13.00

Guided Tour of Maynooth Castle
Date and times: 21-29 August 10.00-17.00

Straffan Butterfly Farm
Date and times: 21-29 August 10.00-17.30

Saturday 21st August

Walking Tour of Grand Canal area Naas, with Paddy Behan. 15.00-16.30
Guided Tour of Kildrought House, with Sean Darcy. 11.00-12.00
Guided Tour of Castleteon House Parklands, with Sean Darcy 14.00-15.00
A Fighting and Feasting Frenzy, Maynooth Castle. 11.00-13.30
Royal Canal Walk from Maynooth Harbour to 14th Lock, with Matthew Kennedy. 14.30-16.30
Children’s Coat of Arms Workshop, Maynooth Castle. 11.30-13.00
Guided Tours in Period Costume, Castletown House. 10.00-16.45

Sunday 22nd August

Children’s Workshops, Castletown House. 11.00-12.00
Kildare Historic Town Guided Walking Tour, with Mario Corrigan. 13.00-14.30
A Fighting and Feasting Frenzy, Maynooth Castle. 11.00-13.30
Lodge Bog Boardwalk Renovation Day 2010, Bog of Allen Nature Centre, Lullymore. 11.00-16.00

Creative Design, with Sean Darcy, Killadoon House. 11.00-12.00
Guided Tours in Period Costume, Castletown House. 10.00-16.45
Remembering Eoghan O’Growney’s ‘Simple Lessons in Irish,’ St. Mary’s Church, Maynooth. 15.30-16.30
Free Afternoon Music Recital in Castletown House. 14.00-16.00

Monday 23rd August

Walking Tour through Kilcullen based on the 1911 Census. 20.00-21.30
1798 Rebellion: Talk, slide show and exhibition, with Mario Corrigan. Athy Heritage Centre/Museum. 19.30-20.30
Walk at Ballynafagh Lake, led by Sean Ward, Tir Na Mona. 20.00

Tuesday 24th August

The Churches of Naas, talk by Ger McCarthy. Naas Community Library. 20.00
Wildlife/Nature Trail of Castletown Parklands with Castletown Gardners. 14.00-15.00
Who Do You Think You Are? A talk on researching you family history in Co. Kildare by Mario Corrigan. Clane Community Library. 19.00-20.00

Wednesday 25th August

Guided Tour of Naas Town with Paddy Behan. Meet at Town Hall.15.00-16.30
Music For All. Musical variety at the Mill, Celbridge. 20.00-22.00

Thursday 26th August

Who Do You Think You Are? A talk on researching you family history in Co. Kildare with Mario Corrigan & Karel Kiely. Kildare Community Library. 19.00-20.00
The Forgotten Heritage of Co. Kildare. Talk and slide show presentation by Ger McCarthy. Leixlip Community Library. 19.30-21.00
Evening Tours of Castletown House. 17.30-19.00
Bat Walk and Talk along the Grand Canal with Tina Aughney, from Bat Conservation Ireland. Naas Community Library. 20.00

Saturday 28th August

Grandparents Weekend at the Steam Museum & Lodge Park Walled Garden, Straffan. 14.00-18.00
Walking Tour through Kilcullen based on the 1911 Census. Meet at Kilcullen Heritage Centre. 15.00-16.30
Who Do You Think You Are? A talk on researching you family history in Co. Kildare with Mario Corrigan & Karel Kiely. Naas Community Library. 15.00-16.30
Walking Tour of Lakes area, Naas, with Paddy Behan. Meet at old swimming pool site.15.00-16.30
Guided Tours of Castletown House. 10.00-16.45
Rathcoffey Historical Trail by tour bus. Meet at Rathcoffey GAA ground.12.00-14.30
A Fighting and Feasting Frenzy, Maynooth Castle. 11.00-13.30
Calling all Fitzgeralds. A ‘walk and talk’ in Maynooth to remember the contribution by the Fitzgeralds to Ireland’s history. Meet at St. Mary’s Church.14.30-16.30
Guided Tours in Period Costume, Castletown House. 10.00-16.45
Aspects of Castletown. Short lectures by leading historians and authors on different aspects of Castletown House/Estate. 14.00-15.30
Sow and Grow: Children’s Workshop. The Orchard Garden Centre, Dublin Road, Celbridge. 11.00-12.00
Celbridge Historical Walking Tour, with Tony Doohan. Meet at Castletown Gates. 14.00-15.00
Newbridge Town Heritage and Arts Trail. A walk around Newbridge’s new heritage trail, with James Durney. Meet at Newbridge Community Library. 14.00-15.30

Sunday 29th August

Guided Tours in Period Costume, Castletown House. 10.00-16.45
Kildare Historic Town Guided Walking Tour, with Mario Corrigan. Meet at Kildare Heritage Centre. 13.00-14.30
Tour of St. Brigid’s Cathedral and visit to Round Tower, with Heather King and Conleth Manning, followed by organ recital. 15.00-16.30
‘Carton and the Fitzgeralds’ Conference, Carton House Hotel. Presentations arranged by the Centre for the Study of Historic Houses and Estates. 9.00-20.00
Open Day at Batty Langley Lodge, Castletown. Self-guided tour of restored self catering property at Castletown. 10.00-16.00
Open Day at Gate House at Castletown, Celbridge. Self-guided tour of restored self catering property at Castletown. 10.00-16.00
Open Day at Round House at Castletown, Celbridge. Self-guided tour of restored self catering property at Castletown. 10.00-16.00
Guided tour of Killadoon House, Celbridge, with Sean Darcy. 14.00-15.00
Walk through The Abbey. Guided tour of The Abbey, Celbridge, with Sean Darcy. 14.00-15.00
Children’s Art Workshops in Castletown House. 11.00-12.00
Grandparents Weekend at the Steam Museum & Lodge Park Walled Garden, Straffan. 14.00-18.00
Free Afternoon Music Recital in Castletown House. 14.00-16.00


Heritage Week 2010 in County Kildare. Saturday 21 August to Sunday 29 August 2010

Heritage Week is part of a European initiative to encourage people to take an interest in their local Heritage. Posted by James Durney.

August 17, 2010


Leinster Leader, September 30th 1905

Athy Cyclist In Australia

The Sydney “Morning Herald of August 14th says:-
With an enterprise that is praiseworthy the Pioneer Motor Cycle Club held another contest for motor cycles on Saturday last. The distance was five miles, the start taking place from the fifth milestone beyond Sherwood Park to within two miles of Parramatta. The course was about the best that could be selected for proving the endurance of a motor, the entire distance being made up of a series of ups and downs of the severest description. Indeed, though 12 entries had been received for the race, only five put in an appearance, viz: A.J. Bergin, of Ireland, 3 ½ h.p. Brown: W.S. Knowles, 3 h.p., Buchet ser: E. Daniels. 2 ¾ h.p. Sarolea 10s: A.J. Powell, 2 ¾ h.p. Minivera, 15c: G. Wood, 1 ¾ h.p.. Wood 1m 55s. The race started at 4.40 p.m., Wood getting away at a great rate. Powell left his mark 1m 40s later, and getting away to a brilliant start commenced to cover the ground at a terrific bat. Daniels was soon after Powell, only 10s intervening between their times off leaving the mark. The last riders to get away were the scratch me, Bergin and Knowles. Bergin had the higher powered machine. Knowles’s mount having been penalised 50s for winning the club’s last bost away, cut out the pace at a great rate, and was fully a quarter of a mile ahead of his fellow-marksman in the first mile. The latter, however, soon began to creep up once his motor got going. The race eventually resulted in a popular win for the Irish champion who beat Knowles by 100 yards. Powell was a good third, and Daniels fourth, close up. Wood romped into fifth position in fine style. The respective times of the winners were:- A.J. Bergin, actual riding time 7m 55s; W.S. Knowles, actual riding time, actual riding time 7m 59s: A.J. Powell riding time, 8m 30s. F. Daniels, riding time, 8m 35s, G. Wood, 9m 10s.
The Mr. Bergin referred to above is an Athy man, and before leaving the country he won many valuable prizes on the track.

A report from the Leinster Leader of September 30 1905 on an Athy man's exploits in a Sydney newspaper article, re-typed by Roy O'Brien


Leinster Leader February 17th 1973

Captain C. de Burgh

The death has taken place at his home in Seaforde, Downpatrick, Co. Down of Capt. Charles de Burgh, whose family came from Naas.
Capt. de Burgh, who was 87, was one of the pioneers of the British submarine service. He joined the British Navy in 1902. Six years later he was among the first 200 officers selected to launch the new submarine service. Later he commanded one of the early K-class submarines and was survivor of the “K-class battle” in the North Sea when four of the tiny submarines were rammed by battleships.
His vessel was almost cut in half during the battle but he managed to reach port. During the Great War, he had a submarine command and in 1917 was awarded the D.S.O. He also served in the last war.
He is survived by two daughters, Miss Lydia de Burgh, the artist and Coralie, wife of Sir Robert Kinahan, former Lord Mayor of Belfast. Capt. de Burgh was a brother of General Sir Eric de Burgh who died last week.

An Obituary for Captain C. de Burgh, formerly of Naas, from the Leinster Leader of February 17 1973, re-typed by Roy O'Brien.


National Heritage Week
Clane Community Library
Who Do You Think You Are?

A talk on researching family history in County Kildare by Mario Corrigan and Karel Kiely.

Date: Tuesday 24 August
Time: 19.00 - 20.00
Admission: Free
Contact: Jacqueline McCabe
Address: Clane Community Library
Email: clanelib@kildarecoco.ie
Telephone: 045 892716

Note: National Heritage Week Kildare Event Guide advertisies the day as Thursday 26 August, but be reminded the date for the talk is Tuesday 24 August.

National Heritage Week. Clane Community Library.
Who Do You Think You Are?

August 13, 2010


Leinster Leader 27th May 2010
The men who kept the home fires burning
A visit to Killinthomas Wood on the road from Rathangan to Edenderry to view the May bluebells brought this column close to another reminder of a part of Kildare’s history. Navigating deep into the wood where nature’s artist has been busy painting hues of vivid blue against the ivy-green tones of the foliage it is possible to make out the outlines of a series of low buildings. A few paces closer and these enigmatic silhouettes reveal themselves to be the  remains of a turf-camp from the Emergency years, or as known to the rest of the world, the Second World War, 1939-45. The buildings have worn their age as well as might be expected and the structures of dormitory billets, dining halls and a water tower are still to be seen.  Killinthomas turf camp, also known as Ballydermot, was one of numerous such camps set up through the Bog of Allen to add muscle to the national effort for self-sufficiency during the times of scarcity. Sleepy midlands townslands became household names as the Turf Development Board (forerunner of Bord na Mona) mobilised turf cutting on an industrial scale. Locations such as Allenwood, Timahoe, and Derrinturn, not to mention Ballydermot and Mucklon on the Kildare/Offaly boundary, were invoked in many a fireside chat. And well they might because it was hand-won peat from the Bog of Allen which provided the fuel for the hearths of Ireland when the coal boats ceased to ply the Irish Sea.
Pausing to look at the old turf camp buildings it was almost possible to hear the sounds of the dining halls and billets echoing to the chatter of hundreds of young men from all parts of the island. The accents of Mayo and Galway would have been prominent among the conversations, so too those of Munster, with many Gaeltacht speakers among them. Sometimes forgotten among all the provincial colour was the large number of Dublin men who found themselves in, what was for them, the strangely rural setting of the midland turf camps. Their sentiments might have been characterised in the line attributed to Brendan Behan, himself a veteran of the Army’s Construction Corps which was engaged on similar turf cutting operations ‘They told me that Naas was a terrible place, and that Newbridge was twice as bad, But in all the places I have ever seen, By jazus, Kinnegad!’
An elaborate structure was set up in the turf camps to provide the basics, material and social, to sustain the men’s morale through their tough day time work on the exposed bogs.  With between 300 and 500 men accommodated in each camp there was a need for a structured outlet for energies. Sport was encouraged and a number of moribund parish clubs benefited from the influx of men with well honed hurling skills. Writing in this paper some years ago, reporter Paul O’Meara remarked that the turf camp men ‘worked hard and played harder’. He recalled that a hurling team known as Killinthomas, drawn from the camp, was made up of players from hurling strongholds such as Limerick, and captured Kildare hurling championship titles for four years in a row from 1946.  Apart from the sporting fields, the men from the turf camps were to become a hugely important influence in the life of communities along the Kildare/Offaly boundary. Many married locally and introduced the particular talents and characteristics of their native locations into the population of the peat land villages. Places like Rathangan, Clonbullogue, and Timahoe were rejuvenated by the new arrivals who formed the bedrock of invaluable local enterprises such as credit unions and parish councils. The spirit of a self-sufficient Ireland was epitomised in the new village of Coill Dubh which was built as a direct and permanent successor to the turf camps. Coill Dubh is a rare Irish example of a new town – its layout and design fostering a sense of community cohesion and a commitment to good town planning well ahead of its time.
The turf camps might now be just an echo lost in the heather-scented breezes which permeate the bog lands of west Kildare but their legacy is not entirely forgotten. Just last  month this newspaper reported that the sale of the Killinthomas lands and buildings stimulated much interest in nearby Rathangan where many of the residents are sons and daughters of the men who came from Connacht and Munster when the camps were in their heyday. And just last July, Conor McHugh reported in these pages on a reunion of some of the men now in their seventies and eighties who had worked in the turf camps near Coill Dubh. As he rightly pointed out,  they had been participants in ‘an interesting and influential episode in Kildare’s history.’  Series no: 179.

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 27th May 2010 reflects on the men who kept the homes fires burning during the Emergency.  Our thanks to Liam.  


Leinster Leader 20th May 2010
The church on the hill … a fifty-year celebration

‘A bit white perhaps, and new looking, but the storms of winter will soften its colour …’ – such was the comment by a contributor to the souvenir book marking the opening of the new church in Caragh in May 1960. Whatever about the softening effect of the past fifty winters the Church of Our Lady & St. Joseph is looking bright again following a refurbishment and repainting in time for the fiftieth anniversary of its opening this month. Its hilltop location makes it one of the most conspicuous churches in this part of Ireland. Indeed the name Caragh is interpreted as referring to a ridge of high ground, in this case the fertile hill standing between the boglands of west Kildare and the grasslands of the Liffey catchment to the east.
The writer of the introductory observation was Mr. Joseph Partridge, principal of Clongory National School (closed 1972) at the time. He was one of several talented contributors to the substantial souvenir book of 1960: others included Very Rev. Peadar MacSuibhne, PP, Kildare town and historian of 1798, Stephen Rynne, countryman and broadcaster from Prosperous, and his wife Alice Curtayne, writer and biographer of Francis Ledwidge.  There was also much content supplied from local knowledge, inspired no doubt by the larger-than-life parish priest of Caragh at the time Very. Rev. Jeremiah Bennett (parish priest 1954-87) who mobilised  support from Caragh and beyond for the building of the landmark new church. 
The celebrations later this month will naturally focus on the place that the church has played in the life of Caragh parishoners. However its construction in 1960 can also be seen in a wider context in Co. Kildare when looked  through social and architectural perspectives. It was the third in a trio of churches of similar construction technique and design built in west Co. Kildare within a few years: the first, the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Allenwood was built in 1954 followed by the Church of the Assumption and St. Patrick in Rathangan in 1958. In the same year the foundation stone for the Church of Our Lady and St. Joseph was laid in Caragh and construction carried on over the next two years. Joseph Partridge gives an eloquent account of how it materialised on the hilltop site: ‘ We’ve seen it rising course on course, the ground around it churned by lorries and the spidery scaffolding standing gaunt and stark against the setting sun of summer and then winter. You can see it from whatever road you take into Caragh, for it stands on the highest hill.’
Andrew Cross of Rathangan, and Charles Powell, were the builder and architect for all three, and there is notable uniformity in their use of the relatively modern techniques of concrete construction in contrast to stone and mortar which had been the materials used in church building of an earlier era. The marble interior of Caragh church was the work of Christopher O’Neill, sculptor from Carrickmines while the Harry Clarke Stained Glass studios fashioned the large windows with imagery of the church’s patrons – Our Lady and St. Joseph, the Sacred Heart, and the diocesan saints, Brigid and Conleth.
As part of the current refurbishment the lettering of the foundation stone has been repainted and its Latin wording, prominent at the entrance gable of the church, is a striking souvenir of the pre-Vatican II era of the church when Latin was the language of liturgy. The wording signifies that the stone was blessed by ‘Thomas Keogh, Ep. Darensis et Leighlinensis’ – the Latin title for the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.
While other parts of Co. Kildare, indeed of Ireland as a whole, were still in something of an economic torpor following the punishing years of the 1940/50s, the west Kildare districts were benefiting from a localised boom based largely on the influx of new people brought in by the big semi-state companies on the Bog of Allen.  The increasing tempo of the ESB and Bord na Mona operations on the bog, and the an earlier influx brought by the division of old estates into Land Commission holdings, meant that there was a growing population to be served, thence the three churches in Allenwood, Rathangan and Caragh, built within a few years of each other. 
Their construction was no doubt helped by those who had emigrated from the locality during the hard years of previous decades; the foreword of the souvenir booklet recognises this expatriate dimension with its declaration ‘ It is hoped that this booklet will find its way to every Caragh emigrant in Great Britain, USA and Australia.’ It was not the first connection between a Caragh church and the United States: one of the small stained glass windows transferred from the old church to the new bears the inscription: ‘ Pray for the soul of Bridget Kelly, Lakeville, Connecticut, America, 1886.’
A charming footnote in the May 1960 book relates that the lace albs to be used at the dedicatory High Mass, and for the veil of the tabernacle, were the gifts of the parish priest’s nieces who had donated their wedding frocks to the church. They had been married in the old church in October 1958 and June 1959. It was said that ‘this was a very old custom in Caragh in the last century.’ Series no: 178. 

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 20th May 2010 reflects on the fifty-year anniversary of Caragh church.  Our thanks to Liam.  


Leinster Leader 13 May 2010
A royal visitor to ‘Naas of the kings’.

The county town’s name Nás na Ríogh is sometimes translated as ‘Naas of the kings’, the kings in this case referring to the chieftains of ancient fable who ruled north Leinster from their fortress at the moat in the town centre. However Naas featured on the itinerary of royalty of a much more recent era. A royal visitor to the county town in the early years of the last century was recalled in an edition of the Kildare Observer newspaper of May 1910 when it reported on the local sympathy at the news of the death of Edward VII, king of England since 1901.
Edward’s connection with Kildare dated from 1861 when his mother, Victoria,  despatched him from the comforts of Buckingham Palace to the more spartan accommodation of the Curragh camp. It was said that her motivations were two-fold: to remove her pleasure-seeking son from the temptations of London and to ensure that he learned the rudiments of behaviour as a young officer, a standard career path for a male member of the royal family. She was not entirely successful in the precautionary relocation of her son. Apparently his education on the Curragh was broad, being light on military discipline but fulsome in introducing him to other manly pursuits. 
His mother’s grim grip on the throne (she was to rule Britain and its expanding Empire for over six decades) meant that on his return to London, Edward (or ‘Bertie’ as he was known to society hostesses) had little to do in the way of royal duties and instead found himself with the time and the means to immerse himself in the pleasures of life: horse racing, theatres and music halls, yachting, and game shooting, were among his priorities together with the accompanying  parties, balls and social whirls. It was his interest in racing – as an owner and as a betting-man – which brought him to Punchestown on a number of occasions. Firstly in 1868 when his attendance in his capacity as Prince of Wales gave the first royal seal of approval to the east Kildare track and boosted its popularity among the fashionable circles of Dublin Castle society.  When eventually he was crowned King following the death of Victoria in January 1901  (who had ruled for a long sixty-three years) he made sure that his royal responsibilities would not get in the way of the high-octane lifestyle which he had enjoyed during his extended apprenticeship as Prince of Wales. Thus in 1904 he became the first and only King of England to visit Punchestown.
The royal cavalcade was to sail across the Irish sea to Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) and then onwards by rail from Dublin to Naas station where the king would alight from the royal train and continue to Punchestown by horse-drawn carriage. News of Edward’s visit had triggered a frenzy of preparation among the elites and merchants of Naas. Spectacular photographs exist of the main street of the county town swathed in bunting, banners and arches bearing royal and loyalist symbols and colours. Part of the protocol for his welcome in Naas, as he passed through on the way to Punchestown, was for local dignitaries to present him with an address of welcome on behalf of the Urban District Council.
The text of the address and Edward’s reply were reprinted in the Kildare Observer of May 1910 as part of the paper’s coverage of the local reaction to the news of his death and the associated recollections of his connections with Co. Kildare. The address of welcome had been signed by William Staples, Chairman of Naas Urban District Council (whose licensed premises and grocery was located in the building now occupied by the ‘Kalu’ boutique in South Main Street). The statement titled ‘the humble address of the Urban District Council of Naas’, began with an obsequious flourish ‘To their Most Gracious Majesties, King Edward VII, King of Great Britain and Ireland, and all the Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, and Queen Alexandra.’
The readers of Kildare of May 1910 were reminded of this latest instalment in the royal history of the county town ‘Naas of the kings’ through the Kildare Observer’s May 1910 coverage, just a hundred years ago now, of the passing of Edward, pleasure loving prince and, at the time of his visit to Naas, monarch of the greatest Empire the world had known. Series no: 177.

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 13th May 2010 reflects on a royal visitor to Naas a century ago.  Our thanks to Liam.  

August 11, 2010


Kill History Group Autumn & Winter Schedule 2010

kill History Group Autumn & Winter 2010

Monday 27th September:“Who do you think you are?”
- a look at the 1901 and 1911 Census
(Mario Corrigan)

Monday 25th October: De Valera & Cosgrave - some Kildare connections 

(Seamus Cullen)

Monday 22th November: From Turnpike to Euroroute - the continuity of the Naas Road
           (Liam Kenny)

Monday 24th January 2011:  Annual General Meeting


All meetings take place in the Parish Meeting Room at 8.30 p.m.
(unless otherwise indicated)


August 10, 2010


Blue Caps, Old Toughs, and Kildaremen
James Durney

The origins of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers go back to 1639 when they were formed in India as the Madras Europeans to protect the British settlement known as Fort St. George, now the city of Madras. The East India Company were then in the process of developing trade and colonising India. By 1843 the unit had expanded to two battalions and they were known as the 1st Madras Fusiliers and the 1st Bombay Fusiliers until 1862, when it was decided that a local European force should no longer exist in India and the officers and men transferred to the British Army. The two battalions became regiments of the line – 102nd Royal Madras Fusiliers and 103rd Royal Bombay Fusiliers – Queen Victoria, conferring on the regiments the name ‘Royal.’ In 1881, when the Territorial system was established, they became respectively the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, with the depot at Naas, Co. Kildare, thus beginning a long tradition of Kildaremen serving with the Dubs.
Both battalions of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers served throughout the South African, or Boer, war. In 1905 a memorial arch was erected in Dublin by commercial and business interests of the city at the top of Grafton Street and St. Stephen’s Green to commemorate the men of the Dublin Fusiliers who fell in the war. It is known as ‘The Fusiliers Arch.’ The arch carries the names of several Kildaremen.
On August 4 1914 when Britain declared war on Germany the 1st Battalion, known as ‘The Blue Caps,’ were serving in India, while the 2nd Battalion, ‘The Old Toughs,’ were based at Gravesend, England. The 1st Battalion arrived back in England in November 1914 and in January 1915 joined the 29th Division for service in the Mediterranean. On 25th April 1915 they landed at ‘V’ Beach, Cape Helles, on the Gallipoli peninsula, suffering massive casualties. After the evacuation of Gallipoli the battalion left for France and transferred to the 16th Irish Division. They ended the war back with the 29th Division. The 2nd Battalion left England for Mons in August 1914 as part of the 4th Division and were soon blooded at Le Cateau where they suffered their first casualties. As part of the 4th Division and the 16th Irish Division they distinguished themselves in all the battles of the Western Front, in which they won many decorations including two Victoria Crosses.
Due to the high intake of recruits and the huge casualty numbers the Royal Dublin Fusiliers raised a further four reserve battalions and five service battalions. The 6th and 7th (Service) Battalions were formed at Naas in August 1914 as part of K1-Kitchener’s New Armies. They then moved to the Curragh to become part of the 10th Irish Division, which saw action at Gallipoli, Salonika, Egypt, Palestine and France. In those first few months of the war many Co. Kildare recruits to the British army signed on at Naas barracks, and were destined for their ‘local’ regiment – the Dublin Fusiliers.
A total of 1,393 officers and men died serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, in the 1914-18 conflict. The men who died serving with the 1st Battalion came from various cities and towns in Ireland, Britain, and further a field. Dublin city and county contributed the largest number – 550 – while County Kildare came next with 67. The highest contributors outside Ireland were England, 254, and Scotland, 70.
 The 2nd Battalion lost 1,352 officers and men, killed, or died of illness and wounds, from August 1914 to November 1918. Dublin county and city, were again the highest contributor with 561, while County Kildare was again the next highest contributor in the country with 55. Outside of Ireland the highest contributions came from England, 230, and Scotland, 82.
 Patrick Hogarty, a member of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association, wrote two histories of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers – A brief history of ‘The Blue Caps.’ The 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers 1914-1922. From Madras to Gallipoli and The Western Front and other stories (Dublin, 2005); ‘The Old Toughs,’ from Milton to Mons and the Western Front 1911-1918. A brief history of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers 2nd Battalion (Dublin, 2001) – which are an invaluable record for anyone studying the record of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in WWI. Both books have a complete list of those who died serving with the 1st and 2nd Battalions. The lists comprise name, address, rank, regimental number, date and the whereabouts of death, and memorial where commemorated, of each casualty.

A brief history and statistical information of Kildaremen with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers 1st and 2nd Battalions in WWI, by James Durney.

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