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February 26, 2011


Kill History Group Spring & Summer 2011

Monday 24th February: History of Cross Chapel (Jim Corley)

Monday 28th March: “Banjo” Patterson: Australia’s National Bard - the Bishopscourt connection (Jimmy Robinson)

Monday 18th April: The 1911 Census – 100 years on (Group discussion)

Monday 23rd May: “Jim Dunne, Irish Republican” (James Durney)

Monday 27th June: Military Aviation in Ireland (Michael O’Malley)

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

The Spring/Summer schedule for Kill Local History Group

February 25, 2011


Leinster Leader 14th October 1961

New Kildare Deputy Elected on Sixth Count

For the third successive general election Labour candidate Mr. William Norton headed the poll in Kildare Constituency. He was elected on the first count with 8,015 preference votes, 1,695 over the quota of 6,320. Also elected on that count was outgoing Fine Gael candidate Mr. Gerard Sweetman who polled 7,035 first preferences. The outgoing Fianna Fail deputy, Mr. Patrick Dooley, passed the quota on the second count in which he got 603 of Mr. Norton’s surplus.
The fourth seat - the first time there was a fourth in the constituency due to the addition of parts of Meath and Westmeath - was not filled until the sixth count when the surplus of Norton, Sweetman and Dooley had been distributed and Mr. John Keegan, F.G. and Mr. Terence Groome, F.F. eliminated. The new deputy is Fianna Fail candidate Mr. Brendan Crinion, Killiskillen, Kinnegad, who got 3,908 first preference votes and was eventually brought in on the transfer of Groome’s votes after the elimination of the latter. The electorate was increased by 6,370 but the Government Party Fianna Fail showed a loss on first preference votes from the last election. With two candidates in the field in 1957 they were first choice for 13,170 whereas this year with three candidates they had a first count total of 12,806, a loss of 364 No.1 votes. Mr Dooley, their outgoing candidate, polled 993 votes less than in 1957 when there were only two F.F. candidates, his total standing at 5,865 as against 6,858 last time.


Fine Gael increased its first preference poll by more than 50 percent from the last election. Then with only one candidate in the field, Mr. Sweetman, the first preferences totalled 6,341. This year their three candidates polled 10,775 votes between them and increase of 4,434 with Mr. Sweetman adding 694 to his personal total of first preferences.
Mr. Norton also had more No. 1 votes to credit with 8,015 as against 7,039 (plus 976). Spoiled votes showed an increase of only 13 so that taking a ratio of the figures, the percentage of spoiled was down. The counting that began at 9 a.m. on Thursday finished at 2.15 Friday morning.
Electorate: 44,144 Votes Cast: 32,828 Spoiled: 232 Valid Poll: 31,596 Quota: 6,320


W. Norton, Lab. (outgoing), elected, 8,015; G. Sweetman, F.G. (outgoing), elected, 7,035; P. Dooley, F.F. (outgoing), 5,865; B. Crinion, F.F., 3,908; T. Groome, F.F., 3,033; J. Keegan, F.G., 1,913; C. Chambers, F.G., 1,827.
Second Count: Distribution of Norton’s surplus.
 Dooley plus 603, elected 6,468. Crinion plus 128, 4,036. Groome plus 270, 3,303. Keegan plus 312, 2,225. Chambers plus 382, 2,209.
Third Count: Distribution of Sweetman’s surplus.
 Crinion plus 29, 4,065. Groome plus 39, 3,342. Chambers plus 390, 2,599. Keegan plus 257, 2,482.
Fourth Count: Distribution of Dooley’s surplus.
 Crinion’s plus 35, 4,100. Groome plus 50, 3,392. Chambers plus 44, 2,643. Keegan plus 19, 2,501. Keegan was eliminated and transfer of the votes took place.
Fifth Count. Keegan’s transfer.
Crinion plus 219, 4,319. Chambers plus 1,556, 4,209. Groome plus 120, 3,512. Non-transferable votes, 596. Groome was eliminated and transfer of his votes began.
Sixth Count: Groome’s transfer. Crinion plus 2,345, elected, 6,664. Chambers plus 152, 4,361. Non-transferable votes, 1,015. State of the parties: F.F. 2 seats; F.G. 1; and Labour 1.


Having headed the poll if fell to Mr. Norton to propose the customary vote of thanks to the Co. Registrar, Mr. P. J. O’Neill and his staff. He expressed his appreciation of their courtesy and kindness and also that of the Gardai, polling clerks and presiding officers at the various booths.
He expressed in a very special way his appreciation of all who had voted for him, those who subscribed to election funds, and those who had canvassed for him. He paid a special tribute to the Press for the fair and balanced reporting accorded to each party in the constituency and added that he would strive to serve, with the other representatives, the best interests of the people.
Mr. Sweetman, seconding, said that when an election started it did not appear that they in Fine Gael would have much chance of contesting the last seat. They determined, however, that they would make an all out effort to do that and were very proud that they succeeded very substantially in increasing their vote.
“We went into it as a team,” he said, “and on behalf I thank all for their co-operation.” He added that it remained for all of them to see what they could do in the best interests, not alone of the constituency, but of the country as a whole.


Mr. Dooley, associating himself with the vote of thanks, thanked also those who had worked on their behalf during the election and those who supported them. “The verdict has been given and we accept it,” he said, “and I and my colleagues will do our best to further the interests of our country and of the constituency.”
 Mr O’Neill recorded his thanks for the words of appreciation.

To commemorate this historic election day an article from the Leinster Leader of 1961 on the election of Co. Kildare's new deputy - Fianna Fail candidate Brendan Crinion


Martin Lynch brings smash-hit play about 'The Maze' prison to Kildare

Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Date: Thursday 10th March, 8pm

Book now: 045 448327 // www.riverbank.ie <http://www.riverbank.ie/

For three decades, Northern Ireland’s infamous prison – Long Kesh – was home to both Republicans and Loyalists, in an era of riots, hunger strikes and “The Troubles”.  Martin Lynch’s smash-hit play Chronicles of Long Kesh tells the story of the prison – also known as The Maze – from its opening in August 1971 to its closure in July 2000.

Martin Lynch’s dramatic portrayal of life on the inside tells a painful, shocking and poignant story of the day-to-day reality of history in the making.  Time is marked with Motown classics, prison breaks are conducted under the cover of Smokey Robinson, and the stories are angry, devastating and, at times, hilarious.

The story concentrates not on the big politics of the day or those who became well known as a result of their time in prison, but on the experiences of ordinary prisoners, prison officers and their families.

Playwright Lynch interviewed dozens of ex-prisoners from both sides of the 35-year conflict in Northern Ireland (IRA & Loyalist UVF/UDA paramilitary groups).  The ex-prisoners revealed many personal stories about the experience in the conflict and in the prison.  Many of the stories were heart-breaking, shocking and also hilarious.  These stories have made their way into the play woven into the lives of the characters. 

A huge crowd-pleaser, Chronicles of Long Kesh is told through the eyes of prison officers, Republicans and Loyalists, a rich assortment of patriots, chancers, leaders, wives, escapers and hypochondriacs!  Full of 1960’s Motown songs and wild, irreverent humour, this is the inside story of The Troubles.

Following its world premiere in January 2009 at the Belfast Waterfront Hall Studio Theatre, Chronicles of Long Kesh has since performed for international audiences totalling more than 50,000 people throughout Ireland, London, Liverpool, Glasgow, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, receiving standing ovations after nearly every single performance. Don’t miss this performance at Riverbank Arts Centre  on Thursday 10th March.

PLEASE NOTE: this production contains strong language and themes of an adult nature and as such is deemed unsuitable for those under the age of 16.

Tickets for Chronicles of Long Kesh, Thursday 10th March are €18/€16 conc. and can be booked through Riverbank Arts Centre’s Box Office on 045 448327 or online at www.riverbank.ie

WATCH THE TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=okDCvhK9fkY&feature=player_embedded

Green Shoot Productions present


Martin Lynch brings his smash-hit play about The Maze prison 'The Chronicles of Long Kesh' to Kildare Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare on Thursday 10th March, 8pm

February 24, 2011

Released From Captivity

Leinster Leader, October 20th 1945

Released From Captivity

“The last time I saw Derry Fleckney of Ballylinan, he was working in a Japanese labour camp in Burma.” This news was contained in a letter received at home a few weeks ago, from Mr. Peter Whelan, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Whelan, Kilmoroney, Athy. Peter, a member of the R.A.M.C. was captured in Malaya by the Japanese in 1942. Grave fears for his safety were entertained for a long time, until the news reached his parents recently that he had been released from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp and was in hospital in Calcutta recuperating from his terrible ordeal. Derry M’Donough Fleckney, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. William Fleckney, Ballylinan, served in the R.A.F. in the Asiatic theatre of war in 1942. When the Japanese overran Malaya he was cut off from his comrades in a jungle swamp. “When we last saw him” reported three soldiers who escaped from Malaya to Australia. “he was wounded and bleeding and unable to travel. We did what we could for him, but when the Japs were closing in on us he urged us to leave him and try to save ourselves.” This was the last news the anxious parents received of Derry until Christmas of 1942 brought a postcard from him from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp to say that he was well. As the war continued, no further news of him was received, despite enquiries through the International Red Cross Society, and fears for the worst again assailed the family. Then, last Saturday, came the most welcome news that he had been released from the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp and had reached Canada, and that he would be sailing for home around October 25th. His mother, Mrs. Fleckney retired on pension a few years ago from the position of Assistant Principal of Ballylinan National School. She is a sister of the celebrated Irish stage and radio impersonator, Val Vousden. Mr. Fleckney is Company Commander of Ballylinan L.D.F. Both are held in high esteem.

February 23, 2011

Church Of The Sacred Heart Kilcullen

Kildare Observer, October 6th 1883

Church Of The Sacred Heart Kilcullen

This handsome edifice was filled to overflowing on Sunday. Father Langran, the esteemed and beloved pastor, had chosen the day for the dedication of the new side altar. The ceremony was invested with peculiar impressiveness, and awakened a feeling of deep fervour amongst the Catholics of the parish. The gift of Mr. Owens, Celbridge, the new altar is in keeping with its surroundings, and may be said to complete all the appointments of his exquisite church, which, as a model of chaste architecture, has no superior in the diocese. The artist who designed the noble high altar (Mr. McCarthy), and the sculptor who carried the design into effect (Pearse and Sharpe, Great Brunswick-st.), produced a work of art which has won general admiration, and it was in the natural fitness of things that the benefactor who has endowed the church with its latest adornment, should have turned to them to realise on a smaller scale what they so successfully accomplished on a larger. How well they executed the trust is reflected in the finished appearance of the new altar, and in the scrupulous care with which even the minutest detail is worked out. The material used in the altar is Caen stone of Irish marble. The design of the reredos is particularly striking. All the figures are beautifully carved, and the most critical eye is satisfied by the delicate tracery which fills up the intervening spaces.

The ornamentation on the frontal stone is also very effective, and even in the most subordinate portions of the work there are points of great beauty and taste. The ceremonies commenced at half-past eleven o’clock with High Mass, which was sung by Father Murphy, Rev. T. Morrin, P.P. Naas, being deacon, Rev. Father Kelly sub-deacon, and Rev. Father Langran master of ceremonies. At the conclusion of the High Mass, the music of which was admirably rendered by the local choir, the Blessed Sacrament was carried in solemn procession round the church. The scene, as the various parts of the procession fell into their allotted places round the high altar, was one of unsurpassed beauty and edification. First was borne a beautiful banner of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a number of young children, walking three abreast, and wearing blue sashes. Then came a banner representing St. Joseph and child, followed by a number of children similarly attired in white and blue. Next a banner of the Blessed Virgin, followed by a member of the sodality of the Children of Mary; next a banner of the Sacred Heart, followed by a number of gentleman in soutanes, who chanted the solemn strains of the Pange Lingus, and then came twelve children most beautifully dressed in white, with red sashes. Each child carried in her hand a tiny basket of flowers, and these were strewn in the path of the Blessed Sacrament, which was borne under a magnificent canopy by the officiating priest. This closed the procession, which, after making the circuit of the church, returned to the high altar, where the Litanies of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints were then sung.

The sermon was preached after the first Gospel, by the Very Rev. Dr. Tynan, who took for his text the following passage from the 21st chapter of Apocalypse: - “Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself with them shall be their God.” In the course of an eloquent and impressive address, the very rev. preacher said-John the Evangelist, the loved disciple of Jesus Christ, in recompense for his labours, his fidelity, and his love, was raised above the ordinary condition of humanity, and was permitted to see things which no human eye had ever seen before, and to hear words which till then had never fallen upon the ear of man. As the events of the past are successfully unfolded in the pages of history, as the outlines and objects are carefully reflected, so before the vision of John rose up one by one those events which will mark the last stage of the present order of things. He saw the material world melting with the fire of God’s justice, and going forth from the purifying flames pure and free from the stain of sin. He beheld the Divine Spirit breathing with a breath of love upon the scattered homes of humanity, and the souls of the just re-assuming their bodies and entering into possession of the promised reward, intimate and eternal union with God-“Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be their God.”  This intimate union with God, foreseen by John, is the only object to which man can rest content for ever. Nothing else can satisfy the desire which the Creator has implanted in the breast of man. We may seem, perhaps in this life in the possession or enjoyment of creative things, but perfect happiness we can never find in them-not in sensual pleasures, not in riches, not in power, which is full of anxiety and care, not in honour, fame or glory, which are ever dependant upon the whim of others. The end for which we were created, to which we were created, to which we must ever tend, even in spite of ourselves, is no creative thing, but the Creator himself. Hence it is that from the day our first parents were driven from Paradise, man has felt within himself an instinct to seek for the presence of God to love and to enter into union with Him. It was this instinct which impelled our Pagan forefathers to erect their altars and build their temples that God might dwell therein. It was the same instinct which impelled the ancient Greeks and Romans to place in their altars and temple statues, which were regarded with reverential fear, as if they possessed the majesty and the power of God. This desire for the visible presence of God was not confined to the civilized or semi-civilized nations of antiquity. The savage felt the same need of a God dwelling with him, and interpreted every important or marvellous event as a manifestation of the divine presence. The thunder was the voice of God, the lightning flash was the brightness of God, the wild waves were the breath of God; His smiles were manifested in the lovely flowers; His threats were in the howling tempest. Three times, and in three different ways, had God condescended to give to man the visible presence of Himself.

When the chosen people, under the guidance of Moses, came up from the land of bondages, God was with them. Through the waters of the Red Sea, through the trackless waste of the desert, He marched at the head of His chosen people, concealing His glory under the form of a cloud, raining down manna from heaven, causing streams of sparkling water to spring from the rock, and proving in a thousand loving ways that He was present in the midst of them. And when at length they reached he Land of Promise the presence of the Divinity forsook them not. There God manifest His wish; there the people erected altars to pay Him the homage of sacrifice, there they assembled to lay before Him their offerings and thanks and praise and prayer. This presence in the midst of his chosen people was the main spring of their national power and national greatness. And when at length the Temple was destroyed, the altars demolished, the ark of the covenant despoiled, and the people carried into captivity nothing could console them for the loss of the Divine presence until they were assured that another temple would rise superior to this, and that God would appear no longer in the form of a cloud, but in the person of the Man-God. Time passed, the Man-God came; the sacred object formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary was the second tabernacle of God on earth. In the person of Jesus Christ was made the second manifestation of God’s love; for the second time since Adam was fallen the earth became the sanctuary of the Almighty, and all earth was sanctified by the presence of the Creator in the form of creature. The sun shone down on Him as he journeyed through the plains of Galilee, preaching his heavenly doctrines and performing works of miracle and mercy; the hills and the valleys re-echoed his words as they fell from his lips upon the heart of man, the seas and lakes bowed down before him, and the fierce storm ceased at the bidding of his voice.

God in this second manifestation to man also raised an altar; the altar was the cross of Calvary on which the victim offered was God himself. God’s revelation is progressive. The stream of his love never flows backwards, his gifts are multiplied, what he foreshadows he fulfils in reality. Hence it was that the night before suffered he instituted a means whereby his presence on earth might be continued to the end of time. Taking into his hands, as the scripture tells us, a piece of unleavened bread he pronounced the words, “This is my body,” and then taking the chalice of wine he pronounced likewise, “This is my blood of the new Testament which shall be shed for many into the remission of sin.” By these words he changed the substance of bread and wine into the substance of his body and blood, and he gave his apostles and his successors in the priesthood a command and a power to perform the same miracle; so that wherever and whenever a priest of God pronounces over bread and wine, with the intention of creating it , the solemn words of Jesus Christ, Jesus himself is present in the midst of us, and the Christian altar on which the sacrifice is offered is the third tabernacle of God with men. What Christ had promised in the synagogue at Capernaum he afterward accomplished in the upper room at Jerusalem.

The cause which brings us together to-day naturally recalls to our mind these thoughts. We are assembled to commemorate in a special way the great love which Jesus has shown for us in the sacrifice of the altar. We are assembled also to dedicate the altar upon which the sacrifice may be offered, that it may be amongst the throne of God. That altar is the greatest manifestation of God’s love for men, for the sacrifice of Calvary is not only renewed upon our altars, but is renewed as often as Mass is celebrated there. When for the first time we approached the altar pure and unsullied purity, and when our faith was lively and our hope was strong, had we not felt what a happiness it is to be united with God; and when later on, when the chain of sin had bound us, and the poisoned serpent had invaded our souls, had we not felt new life and a sense of liberty when we received the body of Jesus Christ. How often in days gone by has it not lessened our sorrows, calmed our troubled minds, enabled us to bear with patience our trials, and rekindled our languid piety and faith. It may be that some of us have never realised this great gift, the sacrament of the altar, but assuredly the day will come when we shall all see it in its true light. It will be the day of our last communion, the day on which Jesus Christ shall visit us on that bed of sickness from which we shall rise no more. How insignificant then will appear these earthly pleasures we now seek so greedily compared with the pleasures of the Blessed Eucharist, and which leave behind them nought but a bitter recollection and sickening remorse of conscience. The earthly pleasures on which our hearts are now set, the wordly pleasures we now seek, which allures us from the true way of heaven. The sacrament of the altar  will alone remain to console our dying moments, to secure our entrance into life eternal for “he who eats of this bread shall not die but shall live for ever.” Regard the sacrament of the altar now as you will regard it then. Receive the Eucharist now as you hope to receive it then; and during these few days that are given to you for a closer and more intimate union with God renew in your hearts those sentiments of lively faith, firm hope, and ardent charity, which is a consideration of this great mystery must necessarily excite; and this union commenced here at the foot of the altar which today is dedicated to Him will continue in that heavenly tabernacle which He has prepared for us; in which until we shall see Him no longer in the sacrament but in the fullness of His glory, and where we shall live for ever in the enjoyment of His love.


An article from the Kildare Observer 6 October 1883 about the dedication of a new side alter in the Church of the Sacred Heart Kilcullen. Retyped by Aisling Dermody.

Maynooth Local History Group Thursday 24 February

John Colgan will be giving a talk to Maynooth Local History Group this Thursday 24 February 2011, in the Glenroyal Hotel at 8 pm. All welcome.

February 16, 2011


Naas Local History Group

Spring/Summer Programme 2011

Sunday February 20. Annual Dinner. Lawlor’s Hotel. 3.00. Please bring unwanted Christmas present.
Saturday 26 February. Raising of the Welsh flag by members of Naas Local History Group. Town Hall 3.00 pm.
Tuesday 1 March. Illustrated talk ‘St. David, Naas and Wales,’ by Paddy Behan. Naas Library 7.45 pm.
Tuesday 5 April. Illustrated talk ‘Naas and the Spanish Civil War,’ by James Durney. Naas Library 7.45 pm.
Sunday 1 May. Punchestown ‘Walk-in Sunday.’ ‘Reminiscing Punchestown,’ by group members. Meet at Parade Ring 3.00 pm.
Thursday 19 May. ‘Canal Walk,’ with Paddy Behan. Meet at the Harbour 7.30 pm.
Saturday 25 June. ‘Sunny Southeast Historical Bus Tour,’ Day trip to the southeast – details to follow.
Saturday 16 July. ‘Discover County Kildare.’ First in a series of trips around Co. Kildare, commencing with Kildare Town. Meet at Church of Irish Martyrs, Naas. 2.30.

The Naas Local History Group 2011 Spring/Summer Programme.


Leinster Leader 5th August 1961


The stout walls of Naas Gaol are tumbling - walls which took such time and labour to construct fall under the bulldozers in a matter of minutes. But this landmark, familiar to every traveller to the south, will not be mourned by many; it is of no great historical or architectural value and is only about 130 years old.
On many previous occasions the townspeople had hoped that they were rid of what they considered an eyesore when the gaol was offered for sale or demolition – but no one was interested. Good use was found for some of the cut-stone from the walls when it was used to face the interior of the fine Mortuary Chapel in the Parish Church of Our Lady and St. David. A map preserved in the National Library, Dublin, and dated 1825, shows the area on which the gaol was to be built. The land belonged to a J. Murphy and an R. Lawler. A limekiln was situated on the western end of the site. The Market House, built in 1813 at Canal Harbour, is shown, as is the line of cottages which formerly stood on New Row. Building must have started soon after this map was made as the gaol was completed in 1833 at a cost of £14,000.
Had 96 Cells
The main wing of the building had 96 cells and a treadmill. Dining halls, wash-houses, etc., were included; there was a school and quarters for the governor and wardens. Executions were carried out in the gaol, over the massive main gate, according to local tradition. Most of the prisoners were those found guilty of agrarian offences and amongst the last men to be kept there were those convicted in connection with the Clongorey evictions. After barely sixty years of life the place was closed in the last decade of the 19th century, though some of the buildings there were used as residences until recent years. A glance at the accounts for the year 1835 will give some ideal of the routine of the institution. During a fever a barber was paid 5/- for shaving the heads of the prisoners, and £5 was the hangman’s fee for an execution carried out during the summer Assizes of that year. Eight turn-keys, as the warders were called, were employed and their suits cost £2-17-0 each. In 1861, bye-laws for the administration of the prison were drawn up; they provided for a staff which included a governor, matron, school master and chaplains.
Included in the records which had to be kept were those showing the punishments, the retention of juveniles and the diet of inmates. From the table of daily routine it can be seen that the prisoners had to rise at 6 a.m. in summertime, an hour later in winter; eight-bells, or lock up, was at 5.30 p.m., and earlier in wintertime. Stirabout, oatenmeal, milk, gruel, soup and brown bread appeared regularly on the menu.
Body ‘Snatched’
After his death, one of the warders, made news - his body was ‘snatched’ from Maudlins Cemetery. A contemporary account of this deed - which was then all too common - tells of the finding of the dead man’s grey hairs in the hedge over which his body had been lifted in the night. Before the opening of this ‘new’ gaol the prison was where the Town Hall now stands. Built on the site of an old castle, which had also been used as a gaol, it was known as ‘White’s Castle Gaol’ and it had been in use since about 1786.
A map of this building, also preserved in the National Library, shows it as it was in 1824. Provision was made for the incarceration of male and female prisoners, and the ‘debtors’ were separated from the ‘felons’. Exercise yards and a hospital were included in the plan.
From the prison records of 1791 it is learnt that the salary of the gaoler was £25 per annum, while a clergyman got £10 for inspecting the place, and the prison doctor was paid £11-17-6 per half year. Bread for the prisoners, for a year, cost £60. At another period, early in the 19th century, there was a bridewell on the Sallins Road. A private house now stands on the site.

An interesting article on the demolition of Naas Gaol from the Leinster Leader 5th August 1961. Re-typed by Aisling Dermody.

February 15, 2011


Leinster Leader 15th April 1961


Stone Ceremony on Sunday Week
The foundation stone of the Church being built at Cooleragh, Coill Dubh, County Kildare, will be laid on Sunday week after eleven o’clock Maas, by Most Rev. Dr. Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. The Church is rising on a site donated by Mr. Robin Cusack. Mr. A.H. Lardner, B.Arch, M.R.I.A.I., Dublin, is the architect, and Mr. J. Geraghty, Celbridge, the contractor. The site was blessed and the first sod turned by Right Rev. Monsignor Miller, P.P., V.F., Droichead Nua, in mid-February.
This will be the fourth Church in the parish of Clane. The Church will be for the people of Coill Dubh and surrounding districts, and able to accommodate about 520. Its necessity has being brought about through the coming into being of the village which sprang from local Bord na Mona bog development works.
A board hostel near the village has been used for years for Mass. Long before that in fact from the start of bog operations there, a hostel a little further away had been in use.
The cost of construction and furnishing is expected to be £35,000. Subscriptions may be sent to any of the parish clergy, Very Rev. J. Doyle, P.P.; Rev. P. Keogh, C.C.; Rev. C. Cullen, C.C. and will be gratefully acknowledged.

February 12, 2011


The enduring fascination of maps and map-making

New book: If Maps Could Speak by Richard Kirwan.

Brian Friel’s groundbreaking play Translations, on the theme of the Ordnance Survery in Ireland, was premièred thirty years ago last month, Friel commented on of If Maps Could Speak:
‘Richard Kirwan’s splendid book and Mark Patrick Hederman’s lucid foreword deal with this business of the ordnance survey so engagingly and so efficiently and so comprehensively that they make fictions like Translations altogether superfluous…if maps could speak is a wonderful contribution to this entire study and I’ve no doubt Lancey, Colby and O’Donovan in their unmapped and unnamed abode all approve wholeheartedly.’
In If Maps Could Speak, Richard Kirwan, a former director of Ordnance Survey Ireland, takes the reader behind the scenes into the minds and work of the early map-makers with accounts of their inventions, adventures, endurance and heroism in pre-famine Ireland. Their struggles and achievements are counterpointed by the successful efforts of these to bring the mapping of Ireland up to date with the help of photographic and computer technology in the final decades of the twentieth century.
This is also the story of a boy, brought up in Waterford, who loved the lines and boundaries on maps and got to know his city and its surrounds, its physical characteristics and its people in the company of a loving father and grandfather.
Although Richard Kirwan lost his father when still a young teenager he never lost his affection for the old maps and the people who created them – both map-makers like the first director of Ordnance Survey, the great Thomas Colby, whose achievements are felt throughout the book as a kind of inspiration, and the people of Ireland who gave the maps their placenames, their boundaries and their memories. Throughout If Maps Could Speak, the author writes honestly about his professional and personal struggles and in the final section, ‘The Two cartographers’, provides a fascinating reflection on the differences between the old kind of map-making and the new, both of which served Ireland well. If Maps Could Speak is an engaging combination of memoir, history and stories about people and places.
Richard Kirwan was born in Waterford and qualified as a civil engineer at University College, Cork. he was director of the OS from 1996 until he retired in 2006 and since then has worked as a consultant to international mapping agencies. He lives in West Dublin and Waterford.

If Maps Could Speak is published by Londubh Books at €14.99/£12.99.
Richard Kirwan is available for interview.

If you would like to arrange an interview, please email Jo O’Donoghue (jo@londubh.ie) or telephone: 01-4903495/ 086-8568917.
Londubh Books, 18 Casimir Avenue, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W; Tel: 01-4903495/086-8568917; email info@londubh.ie; www.londubh.ie


The enduring fascination of maps and map-making in a new book: If Maps Could Speak by Richard Kirwan.


Newbridge Local History Group February Talk

Tuesday 15 February 8 pm.
In the Liffey Studio, above Johnsons Liffey Arms

Pat Byrne, slideshow presentation on Bord na Móna.

Note: There will be a need for a contribution of euro 2 per person for rental of Studio for the two hours.

Newbridge Local History Group February Talk - Pat Byrne. Bord na Mona.

February 11, 2011


A Cannycourt childhood

Sean Landers

In 1911 new tenants moved into Cannycourt House, just outside Kilcullen in County Kildare.  The Bacon family. They would remain there for three years. The head of the family, Eddy, was a retired captain in the Hussars and had seen service in South Africa during the Boer War. His wife, Winnie, was a wealthy woman, the heiress to a fortune in the steel business. There were  also five children, the most important of whom  was Francis, aged nine, who would go on to become one  of the most controversial British painters of the 20th Century. He was  born in 63 Lower Baggot Street in Dublin and when he died in 1992, his partner, John Edwards, donated his studio and its contents at 7 Reece Mews in London  to the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin where it  was  installed six years after the artist's death. The family nurse with the enchanting name of Jessie Lightfoot also accompanied the family to County Kildare.
In his biography of the artist, "Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma,"  published in 1998, Michael Peppiatt discusses his childhood years spent in Cannycourt House but concentrates his attention primarily on the influence his father had on the child. He paints a rather grim picture of Bacon Senior. He had come to live in Ireland because it was much cheaper than living  in  England. He had spent some time hunting in the Irish countryside.  He would make his living as a horse trainer which was considered to be an acceptable occupation for a retired army officer. The house was quite close to The Curragh with its large British Army barracks and its excellent horse breeding, training and racing facilities. The following information about the house can be found in the 1911 Census Returns. Eddy  listed Cannycourt as consisting of "eighteen rooms, occupied by the family and five servants and twenty outhouses and farmsteadings where the nine grooms lived and worked".
Pettiatt describes Eddy Bacon as opinionated, quarrelsome and rancorous. This was in contrast to his wife who was by all accounts " noted for her outgoing, gregarious nature, a stark contrast to her highly strung and argumentative husband. He adds: "By all accounts life at Cannycourt House. was not particularly agreeable. The house was run on military lines with the emphasis on self discipline, a regular routine and punctuality." He found it difficult to hold onto whatever few friends he had and his bouts of anger did not fit well into the world of horse racing where social contacts and friendships formed an important part of the business.
Francis was a "sickly child" . Not only did he suffer from asthma but he was also allergic to dogs and horses. This probably  made his life at Cannycourt quite unpleasant.  Jessie Lighfoot took care of him and frequently gave him doses of morphine to ease the pain during his attacks. A strong bond developed between the nanny and her young charge and in his later life in London  she would live in his house and he would take care of her.  He was spared a lot of his father's outbursts of rage. The children were kept at the back of the house and only met their parents for half an hour after tea and occasionally for Sunday lunch. Eddy developed a puritanical streak. He became a teetotaller. Alcohol was banned from the house. This, Pettiatt remarks,  was "an enforced abstinence for which his son would take particular revenge".  He had one major vice, however. He liked to gamble. This was a practice that the best horse trainers avoided. He would send his son to the nearest post office to place his bets by telegram "before the off".
Francis had a strange relationship with his father. Pettiatt elaborates: "He considered him an intelligent man who had never developed his mind and who had wasted all his opportunities, including the money his wife had brought to the marriage. Francis also emphasised  how little understanding there had been between father and son particularly during his adolescence yet he  remembered thinking his father was a good-looking man and he experienced erotic sensations about him before he was even aware what sex was."
When war broke out in 1914, Eddy was anxious to do his bit for his country. In conversation with Athy photographer, John Minihan, Francis remembered "just before the 1914 War was starting,  the British Cavalry regiment (one of two barracked at the Curragh) galloping up the drive of the house and carrying out manoeuvres". At 44, he was too old for active service. His fellow officers remembered his bad temper and his name was not put forward for Special Services. He did manage to get a job in the  Territorial Force Records Office in London and so the family left Cannycourt and moved to Westbourne Terrace. They would return to Ireland after the war but not to Cannycourt. The family stayed in several different houses which, according to John Minihan, gave  Francis "a feeling of displacement that would stay with the artist throughout his life".( From THE BRIDGE, Kilcullen Community Magazine. )

Sean Landers recounts the story of the Bacon family who lived at Cannycourt House, Kilcullen. Our thanks to Sean.


                            Fethard Sunday 13th February From 2pm – 6pm

      Admission   €2.00.

Dear Booklover,

The annual Tipperarania bookfest takes place as above this Sunday. Approx 40 book dealers with “books of all shapes and sizes ranging from pulp fiction to the finest antiquarian items” will be exhibiting and looking forward to meeting old friends and hoping to make some new ones at the cultural event of the year.

Some special items on offer:

Craobh Rua Books from Armagh has a Programme from a 1963 concert of the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, signed by all three of the Clancy brothers from Carrick on Suir,  and by Tommy Makem from Keady and in case anyone’s wondering about the pronunciation of ‘Keady’ please refer to the following rhyme:

‘Once a certain Mrs Tweedie

Asked a man the way to Keedy

The man replied, “Excuse me lady,

The proper name of the place is Keady.”’ A very unique item indeed.

Schull Books from Cork  will have a very nice copy of the scarce first edition of Dan Breen's My Fight for Irish Freedom [1924], in a dustwrapper, and  a copy of Guerilla Days in Ireland by Tom Barry, the second edition, 1955, also very good in a dustwrapper.

Lyonshill Books from Dublin will have on offer 20 Tipperary GAA Yearbooks as well as  good selection of other GAA items.

There are refreshments provided in the hall by the local community. The event is know as the Premier Bookfair as befits a Bookfair in the Premier County and is probably the best attended social event in Tipperary except for the Munster Final. So drop in , buy a book or two and have a good browse around the Historic Fethard.

For more info contact the Organiser, Terry Cunningham at email: bookfair@fethard.com

Please note Dublin City Bookfair takes place on Sunday 6th March, Tara Towers Hotel, Dublin.



Eddie Murphy.

The Tipperarania Book Fair. Fethard Sunday 13th February 2pm – 6pm. Be there....

February 09, 2011


Leinster Leader 11th February 1961
No Pension for Postman of 74

Nearly sixty years of public service ended at the week-end when Mr. Billy Byrne, Rathangan, handed in his postman’s uniform at Rathangan Post Office. He will be 74 in September. When he joined Rathangan postal staff as a “telegram boy” in the early 1900s he added a couple of years to his age to get the job. A few years later he was delivering letters and parcels. “I had two deliveries a day then-one at 7am and the other at 10.30 am,” he recalled to our reporter. And he made deliveries on Sundays-even on Christmas Day. His wages? “I got three-and-four-pence a week.”

For five years before he got his first uniform-they seemed to be very scarce in those days, he wore only a postman’s peaked cap. It was, he says, about two sizes too big for him. Postmistress then was Mrs. Mather, whose daughter married her successor, the late Mr. Kit Kenny. For 56 years Mr. Byrne worked the Lullymore route, a daily journey of 34 miles. The people were always kind and generous to him; he would never forget them, he said. During the Emergency years, with 3,500 military cutting turf on Lullymore bog, Billy had a hard time. “Everyone of them seemed to get letters every day, judging by the size and weight of the bags. I often had to walk most of the 34 1/2 miles, especially in snowy weather.” He reckons that he cycled and walked well over a half-million miles-“but you can make it up yourself.” (it works out at about 579,600 miles).

He played football with Rathangan from 1910 to 1920. He recalls games played for the Edenderry New Church tournament as being “the best ever seen”. He was Secretary to Rathangan G.A.A. for 35 years. Many locals still pay tribute to his efficient and devoted work. Billy lives with his nephew, Mr. Andrew Byrne, the present Secretary of Rathangan G.A.A. Records in his possession testify to his uncle’s good work, once, when short of funds, the members ploughed a field and sowed a crop of oats to raise money. Clouding the future of this grand old public servant is the fact that he retires without a pension or gratuity. The reason is that he was never made an “established” post man.Yet harsh regulations do not dim his lively sense of humour. He is rich, he says, in having lived a full life and retired with the good wishes of a host of friends.

An interesting article from the Leinster Leader of 11 February 1961. Retyped by Aisling Dermody.


Kildare Observer 30 December 1916


The Hill of Lyons is an object of beauty attracting us by the strident verdancy of its graceful slopes descending to the plains. On its summit the design of its forestry suggests a battle. Advancing from opposite directions the woods abruptly halt, leaving a green space of No Man’s Land between. In the 12th century Henry II possibly surveyed the hill, marked it as his own, and formed it into the first Royal manor. In a State paper we are told, in all Leinster, he kept for himself only the Barony of Newcastle-Lyons, “and we cannot see that the King had in all Ireland any inheritance of the Crown, only the lordship of Newcastle.” The first Norman holder was Walleran de Wellesey, who was a travelling Justice of Ireland in 1261. Ten years later he held the new Castle of Lyons from the Crown, and was slain in 1303. He was succeeded in the 13th century by the Aylmer family, who held the property through five centuries; then it passed into the possession of the Lawless family.

Crossing Henry Bridge over the canal the road leads up Lyons Hill. The first lodge on the left admits to the lands of Clonaghlis, an ancient parish in County Kildare. During the Ordnance Survey of 1837 inquiries were made locally and the report was:-“Clonaghlis goes now in common by the modern name of Farm Hill. Clonoclis is not at all known as a parish name by the people, who do not even remember there was a church called by such a name.” The place is still known as Farm Hill and the Irish name is never applied. The parish church and cemetery have wholly passed into oblivion.

In the 12th century Conquest of Ireland the first invaders were Welsh, Normans and Flemings. Their chief settlements lay between Naas and Lyons, where a strong Welsh colony was established. The first Welsh holder of the lands of Clonaghlis was Peter of Caermarthen, who gave the church of Clonoclis and all its appurtenances to the Abbey of St. Thomas the Martyr, which was founded in Dublin in the presence of Archbishop Laurence O’Toole in the year 1177. This grant was ratified by the Bishops and Canons of Kildare, when the churches of Cloncurry, Oughterard and Castle Warden were also granted to the Abbey. An exchange of lands between Clonaghlis and Ougherard is also recorded. Clonaghlis is mentioned in Inquisitions in the reigns of James and Charles. A short distance from these lands adjacent to one of the entrance gates of the Lyons demesne, an ancient cemetery was discovered called The Relick, perhaps a vestige of the old parish graveyard. A moat at the top of the hill probably gave the place its Name. The total elimination of parish, church, and cemetery is a curious occurrence, and the only explanation that I might venture to make is that they were absorbed in the Norman parish of Newcastle Lyons. The hill on the opposite side of the road is known as Boston Hill.

The road on the right, higher up, leads over this hill, a long , delightful country walk, with fine views over the Kildare plains; but as an alternative we come back to the Canal and turn to the left along its banks. It is a long stretch of over two miles to Ponsonby Bridge, which bears date 1794. An old windmill stands in a flooded field, but its sails are missing. One does not expect to find a lonely chapel on the uninhabited banks of a canal. Yet one is to be seen in the hamlet of Ardclough, with a National School, erected in the year 1839, and a few houses. Further on there is an old toll-gate near a thatched cottage.
Crossing the bridge, we pass into Baronsrath, the county of the Fitzgeralds, Barons of Naas. This place, however, evidently got its name from Henry Baroun, who held lands in Barony. In 1318 William of London, who owed Walter Istelep £160 sterling, was obliged to give all the lands of Baronsrath in discharge of his debt. No trace of rath or castle is found on this old baronial property. A handsome modern house stands vacant.

A short walk up a pretty, wooded country road leads to the parish of Whitechurch. Two iron gates bar the way to the ancient cemetery, but they are easily crossed. There is a strong castle tower here, if we could see it naked, but it is heavily encumbered with dense masses of ivy. Its strong outer walls are stained with lichens. A well-preserved circular flight of stone steps leads up to the first storey, where we find a ground floor, but the overgrowth of ivy obscures every outline. Over the bronzed ivy leaves rise thousands of light green floral plumes, the stamens resembling tiny drumsticks. A great breach in the wall near the foundation gives a glimpse of a deep, gloomy dungeon, and makes us shudder when we think that human beings were confined here, perhaps in chained captivity. A large ruined chapel is attached to the tower, and here again we find a surfeit of vegetation. Outside and inside are crowded with the ready sprouts of ancient elder trees. Immense branches of purple berries hang pendant, from which birds extract the juice, which in olden times was brewed by frugal housewives into elder berry wine. There are two splayed windows, supported on the lintels, on each side of the ruined chapel. There is no chancel. The end window is large and some later masonry has been inserted. On the ivy-carpeted floor, among moss green stones, lies a large, square-holed font. Outside the ruins there are two holy wells, one called the Lady’s well, the other nameless. Time has worn the older gravestones jagged and thin, and the inscriptions have long been erased. There are also one or two squat granite crosses. Some tall dark Irish yews add to the solemnity of the place.

It is stated that these fortified ruins were once a Carmelite monastery, but there is no corroboration. In the year 1329 we find William of London granting the lands of Whitechurch to John Plunkett. Nearly two centuries later, in 1508, it belonged to Sir William Preston, 2nd Viscount of Gormanstown. Then Jenice Preston, 3rd Earl leased the manor of Whitechurch on February 16, 1560, to Patrick Sarsfield, merchant of Dublin, and brother of Sir Wm. Sarsfield of Lucan, who afterwards acquired the property.
At the head of the road we keep left and cross the quaint old bridge over the Great Morrell river, which in the 18th century supplied the Grand Canal with water. In close proximity stands Turning House, a grey, modern three-storeyed mansion, covered with the glorious fiery red foliage of the Virginian creeper. In its back wall there is a carved stone window with four curious figures of animals, resembling some of the signs of the Zodiac, which probably date from the 14th century. On another tablet is engraved, “Thomas Par, 1711,” The house stands in a grove of trees. In the year 1414 Thomas Britt granted to Christopher de Preston, Knight, the manor of Turning.

We now pass on to Sallins Road and keep to the right. A gate here is known as the Gallows Gate, and a stretch of land is known as Crookawn. Further on the weather worn grey walls of Straffan estate come in sight, and we get a magnificent exhibition on the fading glories of autumn. The birches, with silver holes, are putting forth all their golden splendour in their final change of raiment this season. A high, wood-encased pump is the sole outstanding object. A few perches to the left reveals a row of small cottages, the only habitable part of Ladycastle.
Travelling by train to Straffan we find our way to the village. The road runs straight into Lower Turnings, but at a white gate we keep to the right through the townland of Ballyhaise, and reach the bridge over the Liffey. The wayside is full of rural charm. The white flower of the Yarrow and the faint blue of the Scabious still linger. The hedges are bright with the yellow rosy berries of the dog-rose, and the clustered purple beads on the corymbs of the elder trees. The glory of autumn is freshly painted on the tinted foliage. Haws are scarce, but the thorn bushes are black and red with berries awaiting pickers. Beside the bridge a high wall thickly covered with ivy suggests the ruins of an old mediaeval castle. Tall feathery pines, lichened in quaker grey, stand about it like ghostly sentinels. Investigation, however, proves it an old disused flower mill.

Further on we pass the parish church with tower and spire, built by the Bartons in 1837; then comes the village, with a neat row of cottages and gardens. Treasure trove was found in the end garden last year – 29 large French silver coins, the size of an English crown piece, dated the 16th century. Beyond lies the churchyard, “where the rude forefather of the hamlet sleep.” Christianity separated them in many ways during their lifetime, and in death their ashes are permanently divided. The Catholics are buried on one side, the Protestants on the other. A pathetic touch, strong enough to bring tears to our eyes, is found on one tombstone. “here lies Biggy Tommy, a mother’s son. Rest in Peace. Also two brothers.” It is the family grave of the Carey’s of Kilmainham. In another grave a woman has buried her three husbands. The village sculptor spells July with a G.
In the midst of the cemetery rises a picturesque “ivy-clad” castled tower with a ruined chapel attached. Little is recorded of these buildings. Straffan first appears as Trachstraph when it was granted by Strongbow to Maurice Fitzgerald. After the dissolution of the reign of Henry VIII we find that Richard Weston, last Prior of St. Wolstan’s, held property in Straffan.
In the Inquisitions of James I and Charles I there are references to the parochial church of Straffan.

A short distance down the Bohereen lane as it is called we arrive at a field with a mansion in the background. It was inhabited by a family named Whitelaw, and the house still bears the family name. The field has a circular raised rampart with a double circle of ditches. The circumference is considerable, and it must have been the site of a large military encampment. Ramparts and ditches are well preserved. It is stated that it was and ancient boundary of the Pale. The succeeding field has an old Irish rath.
Doubling back here we recross the bridge, and further on the fingerpost points the way to Sallins. This road brings us to Ladycastle. Some vestiges of the old estate existed in the early part of last century, but they have disappeared. On March 23, 1227, there was a great assembly of lords and high officials to make provision for the mother of Baron David of Naas. The Baron granted to his mother the manor of Ladycastle and Tolachtyper, and all the appurtenances. David Fitzgerald was evidently a loving son for he stipulated that if the lands of Ladycastle did not produce sufficient revenue for his mothers upkeep that it should be supplemented from other sources. In the 11th century Ladycastle was in the possession of the Wellesley family.

The adjoining townlands are Upper and Lower Turnings. The chief motive of this paper is to put forward a notion of mine as to the significance and origin of the name Turnings. I have long been convinced that Sir Percival lived in Ireland, and evidences in support of this belief have frequently been put forward in these articles. Arthurian romances show that his father came to Ireland, and that Sir Perceval was educated and trained for the Knighthood by Gorneman, an old Irish knight. In the first volume of “Perceval de Gallois on le conte du Graal,” a manuscript preserved in the Burgundian Library in Brussels, there is an account of a battle between Sir Perceval and the Knight of the Dragon at Turning Castle.
This romance has been brilliantly translated by Dr. Sebastian Evans, under the title of “The High History of the Holy Grail” – a book of exceptional fascination and interest. The romance is full of stories of bewildering magic and enchantment, which are purely imaginative and must be brushed aside before we reach the rock-bottom facts. The lady who owned the castle here was called the Queen of the Golden Circlet, and the romance tells us “she had for name Elysa, and a good life she led and right holy, and she died a virgin. Her body still lieth in the Kingdom of Ireland, where she is highly honoured.”
My studies in the Perceval romances have led me to fix the date of his adventures as taking place in the last decades of the 12th century. These lands were given to Maurice Fitzgerald in 1171, including Trachstraph, or Tech Straffain – the house of Straffan. He died in 1176. His wife’s name was Alice or Alicia, and I assume she must be the Elysa of the romance. She, as in the case of the later widow of Baron David, was given the house of Straffan as her dower, and from her originated the name of Ladycastle, and also Ladychapel and Ladyhill in the same neighbourhood. The statement that she was a virgin is probably an assumption.
Now it is ourious [Sic] to find that the first reference to Turning castles are found in an old Irish manuscript of the 8th century, “The Voyage of Maeldum,” which Tennyson made the subject of one of his poems. Máeldum comes to an island around which runs a fiery rampart. “After that they sight another island, which was not large, and a fiery rampart was around it, and that rampart used to revolve round the island. There was an open door in the side of the rampart, and whenever that doorway came opposite to them they saw the whole island, and all that dwelt therein.” There are several references to Turning castle in the Arthurian romances.

Now the field at Straffan, which I have described, appears to offer a solution of the mystery of this flame encircled field.  Fire was evidently used for defence purposes. These two great ditches were, perhaps, filled with wood and other inflammable matter, and set ablaze. The surging flames moving around in these vast circles may have created an illusion of a revolving island.
To return to the story, Perceval had his quarters in the island of elephants, which may be identified with the island in the Liffey, which is only a short distance from Ladycastle. This may be a corruption of an Irish name. We are reminded that, in Dublin, about two centuries ago, Mellifont Lane was corrupted into Elephant Lane. The Knight got his title from a great shield which he carried with a “dragon’s head in the midst that casteth out fire and flame in great plenty, so foul and hideous and horrible that all the field stank thereof.”  The lady of the castle prays Sir Perceval to go out and slay the Knight, “for the longer you tarry, the more lands will be desolate, and the more folk will be slain.” Sir Perceval advances to the attack, but the Knight of the Dragon ejected a jet of fire that burned his shaft up to his hand. Then we are told that “a further flame that issued from the Dragon’s head turned back again, as it had been blown of the wind, so that it might not come nigh Sir Perceval.” Then Sir Perceval plunged his sword into the dragon’s mouth, which turned towards his lord, who was scorched and burned to dust.
There are things symbolic and mysterious in all this, which we will not attempt to interpret. The revolving turrets and the jets of flame and poisonous gasses are not unknown to us to-day in modern warfare. The greatest of the Arthurian romances were composed in France and Germany.
The best of all is the Parzifal of Wolfram von Eschenbach, the Bavarian of knightly family, who tells us in his immortal poem that he could not read or write. Probably the incident related told from the Norman side, is the story of some Irish chieftain who descended from the hills to drive out the new settlers, and recover the inheritance of his race.-W.J. Henderson, in the “Evening Herald.”

An interesting article from the Kildare Observer of 30 December 1916 on a historical walk in the Newcastle Lyons-Baronrath area. Re-typed by Aisling Dermody.

February 08, 2011


Rathangan Local History Group

Thursday 10 February 2011
8 p.m. in Rathangan Library
'The Battle of Rathangan 1798' – by Mario Corrigan

February talk Rathangan Local History Group. 'The Battle of Rathangan' by Mario Corrigan.


Leixlip History Club, February talk: Leixlip Library, Confey

Historian and journalist Ciaran
McCabe will give an illustrated talk entitled,

'Are you mad also?' - the murder of RIC Sergeant Michael Rogan and his family in
Ballinadrumna, near Enfield, 1892.

Thursday 17th February 2011 at 7.30pm

Admission free to all

Library is at: 01-6060050
Leixlip Library is adjoining Leixlip-Confey railway station, on
Captain's Hill, Leixlip. Parking. Buses - No. 66

While all the Club's events at Leixlip Library are free, an annual membership subscription of EUR10 is requested to defray the expenses of the Club.

Future events in 2011:

James Durney, author and historian, 'The History of Irish Gangsters in America.' (1st March)



Richard Kirwan, former head of the Ordnance Survey, 'If Maps Could Speak,' (7th April)

Visit to Kildrought House, Main Street, Celbridge, (Saturday,14th May ‑ Provisional); First 15 persons, admission, including tea, coffee and lemon cake, EUR10 prepaid.



Liam Kenny, columnist with Leinster Leader, 'How the First Kildare County Council Got Started, Who's Who and What they Did (1899),' (June)



Elizabeth Bracken, Tony Maher and others, 'Leixlip Village in the 1950s' (July/August)

Historic Walkabout Leixlip (Sunday morning, September)

Tony Maher, 'Illustrated Talk on the Making of the Blue Max Movie (Weston Aerodrome and elsewhere), 1960s,'  (October)

'Memorabilia Night,'  (December).
















February talk Leixlip History Club:  'Are you mad also?' - the murder of RIC Sergeant Michael Rogan and his family in Ballinadrumna, near Enfield, 1892, by Ciaran McCabe.


Kill History Group

The next meeting of Kill History group will take place on Monday 28th
February in the Parish Meeting Room beginning at 8.30 p.m.  The guest
speaker will be Mr Jim Corley who will speak about the history of Cross

February talk for Kill History Group: History of Cross Chapel by Jim Corley

February 05, 2011


Freeman’s Journal October 8 1807

On Thursday last the Kildare militia, quartered at Antrim, began to volunteer for the line; and such was the laudable spirit of the corps, that, although allowed thirty days for the purpose of completing their complement of 95 men, they furnished their quota within three days. The activity and desire of their officers to give every facility to the intentions of Government cannot be too highly applauded, and we are proud to state that no inconsiderable share of the praise for this liberal disposition is due to their loyal and patriotic exertions. Almost the entire number volunteered for unlimited service.

An entry in the Freeman's Journal of 1807 on the formation and training of the Kildare militia.

February 04, 2011


Ernest Shackleton … Kildare’s greatest person?

Over the past few weeks RTE has been running a series of documentary programmes as part on a selection process to nominate Ireland’s greatest person. The final slate identified by RTE after various public surveys and on-line polls includes Michael Collins, James Connolly, Mary Robinson, John Hume and Bono – an eclectic mix for sure. The series – brilliantly presented by such competent broadcasters as Miriam O’Callaghan, Joe Duffy and Dave Fanning - provided an opportunity to consider the contributions made by prominent figures to Irish society in the context of their times. Applying the concept to Co. Kildare with a view to identifying the greatest son or daughter of the short-grass would throw up an interesting list of high achieving Lilywhites. From the domain of politics there would be a range of characters from Lord Edward Fitzgerald of 1798 fame to former European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy. There would be a long list under the heading of sport with the racing industry likely to provide strong candidates – Dermot Weld and Ted Walsh being obvious choices under this category. The most commercially successful Co. Kildare export is one Arthur Guinness who in 1759 founded a brewery at St. James’ Gate in Dublin which was to gain global recognition for his product and brand. However in terms of honours for leadership and achievement in the face of adversity it would be hard to find a better Kildare-born representative than Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer and adventurer. Curiously, Shackleton’s fame lies as much in what he did not achieve as what he did. His judgement in turning back from an attempt to reach the South Pole in January 1909, one of the great prizes of early twentieth century exploration, won him admiration as a leader who put commonsense above ambition. Somewhat self-effacingly he later told his wife Emily that his decision in turning back was based on his thinking that ‘a live donkey was better than dead lion.’  Shackleton was never to reach the South Pole, the honour went to the efficient Norwegian explorer Amundsen in 1912 who won the race for the pole ahead of the tragic British explorer Robert Falcon Scott who died on the return journey with three companions. Modern writers have, controversially, compared Shackleton’s good sense in turning back with Scott’s rashness in insisting on marching for the Pole. Shackleton’s enduring reputation was based on his super-human resilience and leadership when his second expedition in attempting to cross the Antarctic continent was halted by the punishing conditions. His ship the Endurance was trapped in the ice in January 1915. For more than a year Shackleton and his crew endured life on the ice, surviving such disasters as the crushing and sinking of  the Endurance, and a period camped on drifting ice floes, all the time hammered by violent storms and blood-chilling temperatures. Eventually they reached a barren island known as Elephant Island and prepared for a long wait for help.  More than twelve months later with no sign of help appearing Shackleton made the decision to take to the turbulent ocean in an open lifeboat and attempt to organise a rescue from the distant South Georgia island. With a small crew including Kerry man Tom Crean, he braved the appalling seas and after fifteen days of the worst sailing conditions in the world reached the unpopulated southern shore of South Georgia. Shackleton summoned his strength again and trekked across the mountainous island to a whaler settlement. From there he managed to get a rescue effort underway and return to Elephant island and rescue his twenty-two crew. When some months later he returned to Britain, Shackleton was lauded for his resourcefulness and leadership. The lure of the South Pole was compelling for the Kildare man and in 1921 he set off again for the Antarctic. It was to be his last expedition; at South Georgia in January 1922 he suffered a heart attack. His wife, Emily, sent instructions that he was to be buried on the island overlooking the cold southern oceans which had been the setting for his life of exploration. His Co. Kildare origins (he was born at Kilkea House near Castledermot) have inspired the Shackleton autumn school in Athy, this year marking its tenth anniversary. A great variety of speakers, film, exhibitions and drama feature over the October Bank Holiday weekend where activities are based in the Town Hall in Athy. Details of the attractive programme for the weekend can be found at www.shackletonmuseum.com or by calling the Athy Heritage centre at 059-8633075.  Attendance at some or all of the events on the Athy programme might help answer the question … is Ernest Shackleton Kildare’s greatest person?

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 21st October 2010 asks the question is Ernest Shackleton Kildare's greatest person? Our thanks to Liam.


A school with a difference … Padraig Pearse and St. Enda’s. 

This column seldom strays north of Newlands Cross but an invitation from Eadestown man Brian Crowley to visit St. Enda’s in Rathfarnham, the school where Padraig Pearse pioneered an adventurous approach to education, proved a tempting reason to venture into south Dublin suburbia. Brian Crowley is curator of St. Enda’s and, following many years in a similar role in Kilmainham Jail, is immersed in the personal stories of the Easter Rising leaders, a group whose motivations and achievements will be centre stage as the centenary of 1916 begins to loom large. Padriag Pearse has become the epitome of the soldier-poet … his reading of the Proclamation outside the GPO on Easter Monday, 1916 has been etched in the memory of every Irish schoolchild or at least of those who were at school when a copy of the Proclamation was a mandatory fixture in every classroom. Less appreciated is his pioneering work as a teacher and educationalist. Long before he strapped on the bandolier of an Irish Volunteer he was a teacher committed to finding ways of encouraging the talents of each child rather than subjecting them to the dead hand of an irrelevant and rigid syllabus. And it was in St. Enda’s that his experiment in education was to find its full expression. As a young man he had been an ardent student of the Irish language, of the great Irish mythology of the Fianna, and of the more recent generation of patriots such as Tone and Emmet. And it was while following in the footsteps of Emmet that Pearse found his way to the 18th century gentleman’s house then known as the Hermitage in Rathfarnham. In 1908 he had established a school, Scoil Eanna, in Ranelagh where his passions for patriotism and for teaching offered his students a new window on the world of education – one that was bilingual and immersed in Irish culture but also modern in its concept. Pearse was no dreamer fixated on things past; he was right up to date with alternative approaches to teaching and had travelled to the continent to understand the modern classroom methods pioneered by Maria Montessori. It was this broad view of education that prompted him to relocate from the confines of Ranelagh. He discovered the Hermitage by following the route which had been taken by Robert Emmet on his clandestine forays from the rebellious city to meet with his sweetheart Sarah Curran in the sylvan estate of the eighteenth century house. The historical resonances, coupled with its generous grounds (largely intact) and dramatic location on the foothills of the Dublin mountains, fulfilled his dreams for an exciting place in which to locate a school. He re-established his Scoil Eanna in the Hermitage – promptly renamed St. Enda’s – in 1910 and it was to become a pioneering location for a new approach to education. He adapted the fine house to accommodate a science laboratory, an art gallery, and a museum run by a curator elected by the boys themselves … an early example of student participation in an era when pupils were meant to be seen and not heard. Out at St. Enda’s the school flourished. The boys triumphed on the sports pitch (Gaelic of course) and their dramas were performed on the stage of the Abbey Theatre, itself a crucible of the resurgence of interest in the Celtic inheritance. Naturally the great energy of St. Enda’s suffered a blow when Pearse’s involvement in the military strand of the nationalist movement saw him in the van of the rising of 1916. Even in the chaotic circumstances of that Easter morning, his passion for education was to make its mark on the formative document of the Irish state. The much-quoted phrase in the Proclamation that the new Republic would ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’ may well be grounded in Pearse’s remarkable educational adventure carried through at St. Enda’s.  The good work at St. Enda’s did not end with Pearse’s death in 1916 –  one of his students went on to university, graduated and came back to become principal at the school until it closed in 1935. Today St. Enda’s is one of the State’s hidden gems; its beautiful grounds in Rathfarnham being as good a reason as any to visit. As a parting word, it is worth mentioning that his past pupil who later followed in his footsteps as principal of St. Enda’s was a Kildare man, Frank Burke of Carbury, who was a young volunteer in the Rising and later an All-Ireland winning hurler. But in the words of another Irish poet … sín scéil eile.    Series no: 200.

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 28th October 2010 writes on Padraig Pearse and his pioneering school, St. Enda's. Our thanks to Liam.


The Curragh story brilliantly depicted in new museum

The new Defence Forces museum about to open on the Curragh will be a much-welcomed addition to the heritage resources of Co. Kildare. A museum on the Curragh has long been hoped for by the local history community in the county. This column can confirm that the long wait has been worthwhile. The compact but attractively configured museum presents the Curragh story in a compelling manner. The focus is on the military presence in the Curragh from the mid-19th century to the present day but there is generous attention given to the community aspect of life at the camp through the generations. As one of the informative story-boards points out, by the time of the Emergency in 1940 camp residents had the services of a hospital, a library, a swimming pool, two cinemas, playing fields, a fire-station, and a full-service post office, putting the Curragh ahead of other small communities in Ireland.
The museum is laid out in a chronological fashion with an ideal balance of original artefacts and interpretive panels featuring the story of the Curragh military presence down through the ages. The environmental background to the unique terrain of the Curragh is given due attention with a display panel focussing on the rare flora of the plain and surveying the imprints which man has made on its soils over the years.
Naturally all eyes will be drawn to the primary military theme of the exhibits. Here the story begins well before the permanent encampment and there is informative visual presentation of episodes such as the Gibbet Rath massacre, a controversial incident from the 1798 rebellion which is imprinted in the folklore of Kildare.
The museum takes the visitor through the evolution of the camp from the tented assemblies of the early 1800s to the nucleus of a permanent installation. The British government, faced with the demand to mobilise large bodies of men for the Crimean war (1855-65), laid out a large camp mainly of wooden billets but with some brick buildings of which the restored clock-tower is a conspicuous survivor. The next stage was the replacement of the wooden huts by the red-brick buildings so synonymous with the Curragh as a military camp. By the early 1900s the camp consisted of seven separate red-brick barracks each echoing to the martial drills of men and horses.
The museum displays small arms from old muskets right through to the modern Steyr rifle in use today by the Defence Forces.  An 1896 Mauser rifle inscribed by a Boer commando in South Africa and possibly brought to Ireland as a war trophy, indicates how soldiers trained in the Curragh found themselves guarding the fringes of Britain’s far-flung empire. It’s an international reach reflected in a very different world order by the Irish Defence Forces service on UN peace-missions in the second half of the 20th century. The fact that the Curragh is regarded internationally as a centre of excellence for peace operations training is reflected in the museum. A notable anniversary in the Irish UN story is depicted through a special display on the Army’s deployment to the Congo sixty years ago.
An earlier seminal moment in the history of the camp – the take-over by the Irish Free State from the British forces in May 1922 is highlighted with the display of a Union Jack flag left by the departing British.  The later phases in the history of the camp are given a compelling exhibition, not least that remarkable period in 20th century Ireland known as ‘the Emergency’ when British and German airman and sailors who made landfall in Ireland were interned in the Curragh. Items of uniform from one of the German airmen who settled in the Newbridge area after the war are a reminder of the human stories that were interweaved with the epic conflicts of the last century. Of course not everything in history is serious and a light-hearted presentation at the museum is a model of a life-sized horse with rider from the Equitation school, an exhibit which cleverly epitomises the intersection of the two great users of the Curragh, the military and the bloodstock industry.  As well as the permanent collections a special temporary exhibition recalls the achievements, sporting and military, of the late Lt. Gen. Dermot Earley including a display of his GAA medals. The new Defence Forces museum (due to open officially later this month) promises to be of enormous education value through its modern presentation of the story of the Curragh in its military, social and environmental dimensions. Series no: 197.

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader of 26th August 2010 reflects on 130 years of the Leinster Leader newspaper. Our thanks to Liam.


Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from the Leinster Leader 6th October 2010, writes on the opening of the new Defence Forces museum on the Curragh. Our thanks to Liam.

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