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March 26, 2011


West Wicklow Historical Society Journal call for papers

Hello everyone,

As we are now into March, it's the appropriate time to remind one and all that we hope to publish another West Wicklow Historical Society Journal towards the end of this year. To that end, if anyone has [or can work on] articles with a west Wicklow/north Carlow/South east Kildare flavour, we would accept them very gratefully! Our geographical area does not preclude other historical articles from consideration by the editors either!

Articles can be sent to me at this email address, lawlordunlavin@eircom.net or hard copy sent to my home address. My telephone number is 0879321737.

Hope to hear from you all soon...


Chris Lawlor.

Articles needed for the West Wicklow Historical Society Journal now! Get writing!


Monasterevin Historical Society

Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary

By the Author of Tudor's Toughs, Ernest McCall

The Dreaded “Auxies” of The War of Independence

Explore the myth and reality of the role this group played in the birth of the Nation

Thursday 7th April
Council Hall, Main Street,

Monasterevin Historical Society Presents 'ADRIC Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary' by Ernest McCall


Kill History Group

Spring & Summer 2011


Monday 28th  February:   History of Cross Chapel (Jim Corley)
Monday 28th March:  “Banjo” Patterson: Australia’s National Bard - the Bishopscourt connection (Jimmy Robinson)

Monday 25th April:    The 1911 Census – 100 years on (Group discussion)

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

Monday 27th June:  “Collins & De Valera: contrasting uses for Military Aviation in Ireland
       (Michael O’Malley)

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

Series of talks for Kill History Group. Spring & Summer 2011.


Killeen Cormac, Colbinstown: an ecclesiastical site on the Kildare-Wicklow border
Sharon A. Greene 

Killeen Cormac is a site that has a far more interesting tale to tell that that represented in any discussion published on it so far. The most immediate feature that has understandably attracted most attention is the presence of seven ogham stones, remarkable for their number and also for their location in this part of the country. The corpus of ogham stones here also includes the only bilingual example with both ogham and Roman lettering.
The site consists of a natural gravel hillock adjacent to the River Greese, which was terraced. The terraces were edged with large slabs that bear some resemblance to the kerb stones on megalithic tombs (though early excavations disproved the theory that this was the original function of this mound (Macalister & Praeger 1929)). As well as the ogham stones there are at least two cross-inscribed stones, a pillar with an image of a cleric and numerous late grave markers. There is now no indication of the former presence of a church on top of the mound, a subject which has been debated in the past (Brash 1874, 167 vs. Shearman 1866, 253). The mortared stone wall that now encloses the site was built at the end of the 19th century replacing an earlier dilapidated, dry stone wall (Fitzgerald 1895, 382).
The site was curiously not mentioned by the original Ordnance Survey team in 1837 and first came to notice in Father Shearman’s 1866 article in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (Shearman 1866). It has since received the attention of notable scholars such as Lord Walter Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald 1900) and R.A.S. Macalister (Macalister 1914; Macalister & Praeger 1929). Macalister carried out an excavation to determine the nature of the mound in 1929 in which “every part of the mound which could be examined without disturbing recent graves [was] turned over” (Macalister & Praeger 1929, 249). This clarified the question of prehistoric origins (in the negative) and provided some evidence for the church in the form of some fragments of cut stone and, most interestingly, a “small granite gable finial” found in excavating along the north side of the mound (ibid, 252).
In the early 1980s the Cork-Dublin gas pipeline was constructed very close to the site, in fact running as close as 90 metres to the east of the enclosure (O’Donnell 1987). The course of the pipeline crossed a field boundary to the south of the site which was suspected to have at one stage been part of a larger monastic enclosure for the site; however the results of the excavation were inconclusive. No artefacts were recovered in the course of monitoring and no early features recorded. No geophysical survey was carried out (Hurley 1987, 2) and it has been noted that the successful discovery of archaeological deposits by monitoring archaeologists was dependant on the topsoil removal procedures, which were not always favourable (Sleeman 1987, 3).  Therefore the small area excavated and the difficult monitoring conditions do not discount the possibility of there being further archaeological features in this field.
Apart from these two excavations, the only aspect of the site to have received attention in the last century is the ogham stones and the question of whether this is an example of the earliest Christian establishments in the country (e.g. McManus 1991; Swift 1996).
The name of the site has been interpreted variously as Cell Fine Cormaic (with suggestions that this is the Cell Fine where Palladius left the relics of Ss. Peter and Paul (Hogan 1910; Shearman 1866, 260) or Cell Ingen Cormaic ‘the church of the daughters of Cormac’ (Nicholls 1984, 548; Swift 1996, 14). Folklore claims a Munster king to be the source of the name, though ‘di ingen cormaic’ ‘two daughters of Cormac’ are listed among the early saints of the local dynasty of the Uí Dunlaige (ibid). This placename evidence in conjunction with the ogham stones which are linguistically dated to the 5th/6th centuries AD, suggest very early Christian origins for the site.
In the 13th century the site appears to have been known as Gris/Grys (Price 1953, 202), with a register book of the archbishops of Dublin known as Crede mihi (c.AD1280) referring to a church on the site (‘Capella de Gris’; ibid). Archbishop Alen’s description of the See of Dublin in 1530 also mentions the capella de Gris as belonging to the nunnery of nearby Timolin (White 1941, 209).  The site was probably then a victim of the Dissolution as it does not appear as church or ruin in either the Down Survey of c.1654-56 or William Petty’s 1683 map of Co. Kildare. Noble and Keenan’s 1752 map of Kildare does however name the site as ‘Killincormuck’ and marks it with the symbol of a church.
The ogham stones at this site are largely responsible for our limited understanding of its full history. While the origins are early the historical evidence suggests that the life of this early foundation extended at least as far as the Reformation and it is hoped that future research will shed light on its changing functions over the centuries.
Brash, R.R. 1874 ‘On the ogam inscribed stones at Killeen Cormac’ Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland  Ser.iv, Vol.iii, No.19, 165-182.
Fitzgerald, Walter 1900 ‘Killeen Cormac’ Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society 3, 149-163.
Fitzgerald, William 1895 ‘Killeen Cormac inscribed stones’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Vol.5, No.4, 380-382.
Hogan, E. 1910 Onomasticon Goedelicum: locorum et tribuum Hiberniae et Scotiae. An index with identifications to the Gaelic names of places and tribes. Available at:
Hurley, M.F. 1987 ‘General introduction’ in R.M.Cleary, M.F.Hurley & E.A.Twohig (eds) Archaeological Excavations on the Cork-Dublin Gas Pipeline (1981-82). Cork Archaeological Studies No.1, Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, 1-2.

Macalister, R.A.S. & Praeger, R. Lloyd 1929 ‘Report on an excavation recently conducted in Killeen Cormac, Co Kildare’ Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 38C, 247-261.
Macalister, R.A.S. 1914 ‘The “DRUUIDES” inscription at Killeen Cormac, Co Kildare’ Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 32C, 227-238.
McManus, D. 1991 A Guide to Ogham. Maynooth Monograph Series 4, Maynooth.
Nicholls, K. 1984 ‘The land of the Leinstermen’ Peritia 3, 535-558.
O’Donnell, M.G. 1987 ‘Killeen Cormac, Co Kildare’ in R.M.Cleary, M.F.Hurley & E.A.Twohig (eds) Archaeological Excavations on the Cork-Dublin Gas Pipeline (1981-82). Cork Archaeological Studies No.1, Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, 61-64.

O’Hagan, T. 2010 Kileen Cormac, Colbinstown, Co Kildare: Etymology, Hagiography and Archaeology (A Preliminary Report). Unpublished report.

Price, L. 1953 The Placenames of Co. Wicklow. IV: The Barony of Talbotstown Lower. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
Shearman, J.F. 1866 ‘On inscribed stones at Killeen Cormac, near Dunlavin’ Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 9, 253-260.
Sleeman, M.J. 1987 ‘Monitoring the pipeline construction’ in R.M.Cleary, M.F.Hurley & E.A.Twohig (eds) Archaeological Excavations on the Cork-Dublin Gas Pipeline (1981-82). Cork Archaeological Studies No.1, Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, 3-4.

Swift, C. 1996 ‘Christian communities in fifth and sixth century Ireland’ Trowel 11, 11-17.
White, N.B. (ed) 1941 ‘Archbishop Alen’s Repertorium Viride’ Analecta Hibernica 10. Irish Manuscripts Commission.

An essay by Sharon A. Greene on Killeen Cormac, Colbinstown, an ecclesiastical site on the Kildare-Wicklow border. Our thanks to Sharon.






As part of the joint programme between the two federations we have organised a one day seminar which will focus on the theme of Labour and the Trade Unions in the period 1900 to 1923. This was a turbulent period in Irish history which involved much industrial unrest including strikes and lockouts, the War of Independence and the Civil War. Internationally the world was at war with far reaching effects on people  and society in Ireland.
 A number of leading historians will review recent scholarship on the events of those years and discuss how far working class interests played second fiddle to the constitutional and political divisions of the time.


10.00 – 10.30         Registration

10.30 – 11.30        Alexander Bowman –a labour pioneer in Belfast City politics.
                                  Speaker:  Mr.Terence Bowman – Journalist and Writer.

11.30 – 12.30        William Walker and the “Chinese Slavery” question in Belfast
                               1903 -1907.
                                  Speaker: Dr. Emmet O’Connor – Lecturer in History at UU,     

12.30 – 13.30        “Walker, Larkin and Connelly: the misfortunes on Labour in
                              the frontier society of Belfast 1907- 1914”
                                 Speaker: Mr. John Grey – Historian and former Chief Librarian     
                                 in the Linen Hall Library.          

13.30 – 14.30        Lunch

14.30 – 15.30        Dublin Labour – from Lockout to the 1918 Sinn Fein landslide.
                                  Padraig Yeates: Journalist, Writer and Trade Unionist.

15.30- 16.30          “Labour in Crisis in Belfast and Ulster 1918 – 1922”
                                  Dr. Peter Collins – History Lecturer - St. Mary’s University
                                  College, Belfast.


Note:  There will be an opportunity for questions and answers at the end of each talk.
Cost:    Delegate fee is €22. This includes the seminar and lunch which will be provided in Grosvenor House.

Transport – Train: Delegates are responsible for their own travel arrangements.  For those wishing to travel from Dublin there is a 7.35 am train from Connelly Station which arrives at Belfast Central Station at 9.45 am. It is a short journey and there is a regular bus service from the station to the City Hall. It is a short walk from the City Hall to Grosvenor House. This allows ample time to get to the Conference Centre at Grosvenor House in time for the start of business. Return trains from Belfast to Dublin are 16.10; 18.10 and 20.10.

Transport - Car: For those travelling by car there are car parking facilities in Grosvenor House and this is free.

Grosvenor House: This is located at number 5 Glengall Street, Belfast, which is very central and just off Great Victoria Street. A good reference point is the Europa Hotel which is just beside it. Also adjacent to it are Great Victoria Train and Bus stations. 



Name of Society:         ________________________________________________

Name of Delegate(s):  ________________________________________________

Delegate fee €22 (includes lunch), payable to the Federation of Local History Societies should be sent to Larry Breen, 8 The Paddocks, Naas, Co. Kildare by Friday 8th April 2011.



March 23, 2011

New Church In Athy

Leinster Leader October 21, 1961

New Church To Accommodate Over 1,400 People

Before over 500 parishioners, the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev. Dr. McQuaid, on Sunday afternoon blessed and laid the foundation stone of the new Parish Church which is being built in Athy at a cost of £138,000.
The Church will seat about 1,400. It occupies the site of the old parish church, which was erected over 100 years ago and was demolished to make room for the new edifice. In the meantime a wooden church has been provided temporarily for the parish.
The silver trowel used by His Grace at the ceremony was presented by Messrs. R. Guy and P.V. Maloney of the firm of Messrs. O’Connor & Alyward, architects who designed the church.The stewarding was by members of Athy unit of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps.
Clergy present
The Archbishop was assisted by Very Rev. V. Steen, P.P. V.F. Athy; Very Rev. J. Fahy, P.P., Castledermot; Very Rev. M. Browne, P.P., Ballymore Eustace; Very Rev. H. Pollock, O.P., Prior of St. Dominic’s Athy; Rev. J. Cunneen, C.C., Athy; Rev. F. Mitchell, C.C., do.; Rev. Jas Kelly, C.C., Crockstown. Rev. Jas Kelly, C.C., Kilmead; Rev. N. Neenan, C.C., Castledermot; Rev. M. O’Donohue, Convent of Mercy Chaplin, Athy; Rev. G. Canning, Castledermot Convent Chaplin; Rev. W. Tynan, Sacred Heart College Cork; Rev,. J. O’Suillivan, O.P., Athy; Rev. Dr. A. MacMahon, Archbishop’s House, and Rev. B. Houlihan, do.
Special brick lining
Athy’s new church is of Lombardie-Romanesque style. In the belfry tower, which will be 120 feet high, there will be a statue of St. Michael, after whom the church is being named. All the brick used in the building is of Irish manufacture and the internal brick lining is being made specially in Courtown, Co. Wexford.
Other features of the Church include a rose window over the main entrance; walls of a special pattern of brickwork, an open arcade at the back of the high alter, and a walking aisle on either side of the nave. Walking aisles were part of the old Lombardic style of architecture. There will be only one gallery, which will be at the back of the nave.
The grounds in the immediate vicinity of the Church will be in the nature of open terracing, in the manner of the grounds attached to famous churches in Rome, Milan and Venice.

Skeletons Unearthed on Hill Top

Leinster Leader August 12, 1961

Skeletons Unearthed on Hill Top

Twelve skeletons, believed to be those of unusually tall males, have been unearthed in a field two miles from Athy – the remains of people who died very many years ago. The skeletons, buried only 15 to 17 inches deep, were found when Kildare County Council workmen were excavating for a new carriageway which is being constructed for a distance of 400 yards to realign the Athy-Carlow road. The name of the townland in which the discovery was made is Abbeylands.
A curious feature of the discovery was that the skeletons lay four in a row, and all except one faced west. The exception was one which lay with the feet pointing east. All the bones of the skeletons appeared to be intact, and each skeleton had all its teeth.
How the skeletons came to be where they were is anybody’s guess. Local history contains no record of a battle there. Nearby, however, was an abbey which was pillaged by Cromwell’s forces. All the skeletons were carefully and reverently placed in a big coffin and buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Athy.

March 16, 2011


The Kildare Observer 9th November 1895

Naas Young Men’s Christian Association

The opening meeting of the Naas Branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association, for the Session of 1895-’96 took place in the New Schoolroom, on Wednesday evening last – the Rev H.B. Kennedy, the President, being in the chair – when a most interesting lecture on “Plant Life” was delivered by Mr Cooke Trench, D.L. There was a fairly good attendance of members and their friends, who all appeared to thoroughly enjoy the evening’s entertainment. Mr Trench illustrated his lecture with specimens of various grasses, ferns, &c, and kept his audience absorbed the whole time, though some of them had evidently expected rather a dry evening. At the close of the lecture, which was seconded by Mr Lanphier, and most enthusiastically passed; and after a few words in reply from Mr Trench, the meeting ended.The subject for next Wednesday will be a lecture on “Three Mad Poets,” by the Rev W. Fitzgerald, M.A.


The Kildare Observer, January 7, 1882



By order of the executive the ladies of Rathangan held a meeting on Sunday last. The members present were – Mrs. J Murphy, president; Mrs. J.J. Morrin, vice-president; Miss Kelly, treasurer; Miss Dunne and Miss O’Shaughnessy, secretaries; members of the committee – Mrs. Flynn, Miss McCabe, Miss Jacob, Miss M.S. Byrne, Miss M. Byrne and Miss Alicia Flood. Unavoidable circumstances prevented the meeting from taking place at the usual meeting room. The meeting was an open air one; it was held on the road. Before going to the place of the meeting some of the committee members were met by Constable Doyle, who warned them against holding a meeting and said it would be illegal, and that he had the authority to stop it.
Not deeming himself sufficiently powerful, he went away, but returned almost immediately with Sub-Constable Doyle; the latter was directed to take down the names of the ladies present.
Constable – I’ll have to do my duty, although it is a very painful one. I’ll have to disperse you if you meet.
Miss Dunne – You shall require an Act of Parliament before you succeed in doing that.
Miss Kelly – And I may ask you when did Parliament sit?
Miss O’Shaughnessy – It must have been last night.
The Constable gave another warning as the ladies proceeded down the road. When they arrived at a considerable distance they stood. There was only one drawback – there was no chair for the president. “The stand still” attracted the notice of the police and the police were seen to advance once more. When they got as far as the meeting, Miss Kelly was engaged in telling them of a letter from her cousin, Mr. Patrick Murphy, now a “suspect” in Naas prison.
Miss Dunne – And I have to read you an address to the women of Ireland. Here the Constable caught hold of Miss Dunne, turned her round, saying – “You go home now.” He then addressed the other ladies telling them, “I’ll disperse you by force.”
Mrs. Murphy – I am astonished at you, constable, to treat any lady after such a manner. Indeed, I would not expect that you would treat any lady so roughly.
Constable – I did not treat her roughly.
Miss Dunne returning – I have to announce £7 12s. 9d. collected in the boxes for the prisoners during the month of December. Constable – I tell you to go home. I ask you to go home ladies.
Mrs. Flynn – `Tis a fine day and we intend to take advantage of the sunshine. Mrs. Murphy – Yes, we intend to have a walk today.
The ladies then started for the walk, accompanied by the constable and sub-constable. They soon fell back and returned to the town. In their absence the following resolution was proposed by Miss O’Shaughnessy, and passed unanimously:-
“That we condemn the arbitrary action of the authorities in attempting to prevent our ordinary meeting specially convened for the purpose of collecting funds for our imprisoned brethren, and we call to our sister leaguers to attend on Sunday to hold a meeting for this charitable cause. Proposed by Miss Kelly and seconded by Miss Jacob. “That we heartily congratulate Miss Reynolds for he courage in going to jail sooner than give bail.” The constable and sub-constable paid another visit to the ladies.
Constable – Now do not annoy me but go home.
Miss O’Shaughnessy – It would be a pity to do anything that would displease you.
Constable – But I have the authority to disperse you.
Miss Dunne – Yes, you have Colonel Hillier’s proclamation.
Miss O’Shaughnessy – That is only a police proclamation.
Constable – The Government declares all Land League meetings illegal.
Miss Dunne – Oh, the Government is like Foster’s conscience. It is elastic and can stretch a long way.
Constable (shaking his head) – Oh you –
Miss O’Shaughnessy – You had no right to treat Miss Dunne after the fashion you did.
Constable – I did not treat her badly. I know I’ll be in the newspaper, and I am sure it will loose nothing by the telling. (Turning to the sub-constable) – I hope you have all the names down? The police then retired amidst a storm of cheers and exclamations of derision. The ladies then finished their business, and all are determined to carry out the orders of the Executive, and hold their meetings as usual.
The ladies then walked up the town, and cheer after cheer was given for the Ladies Land League, and an occasional cry of “Down with Buckshot.


The Kildare Observer November 9, 1895


A Social Meeting was held at Newbridge, in connection with the above Church, on Wednesday evening last. The Committee, consisting of Rev William Elliott, Messrs Boyle, Llewellyn, Gibson (Newbridge), Dunlop, Keatley, and Gibson (Naas), left nothing undone in their efforts to have a thoroughly good programme, and the result must have been very pleasing to them. The good things, which were supplied by the individual members of the committee, consisted of tea and cake and an abundant supply of fruit. The idea of the promoters was to make everyone as much at home as possible. and certainly they succeeded beyond anticipation. After tea, Rev. W Elliott, M.A., took the chair, and addressed a few introductory remarks to the audience, when he called on Rev J.A Campbell, M.A., Sandymount, Moderator of the Dublin Presbytery. Mr Campbell congratulated the Newbridge people on the result of their endeavours in establishing the Church, and also on the success of the meeting. He brought them, he said, the hearty good wishes of the Dublin Presbytery, and wound up by a reference to the idea which Rev Mr Elliott had initiated, and which he was trying to work out, viz., that of utilizing the service of students. He (Mr Campbell) hoped that it was the beginning of a movement which would be more largely taken advantage of, as it would tend, he had no doubt, to the benefit of the Church at large. The remaining part of the programme consisted of music (vocal and instrumental) and recitations, in which the following took part – Mrs Elliot, songs, Miss Gibson, song; Rev WL Coade, BA, song; Miss Boyle, song; Miss McCaughty, pianoforte piece; Mr McCaughey, songs; Mrs Dunlop, song; Mrs Boyle, recitations; Miss Nellie Morrisson, song; Rev JT Bird, MA, pianoforte piece; and Master G M Elliott, recitation. Needless to say, the different performers rendered their items in a pleasing and thoroughly enjoyable manner, and the reception each was accorded and the appreciation showed by the entire audience of the efforts made to add to their enjoyment of the evening, proved that not only were the majority already great favourites, but that they had on this occasion still further raised themselves in the estimation of their bearers and endeared themselves to them. The Church was tastefully decorated, the result we are sure, of the ungrudgingly bestowed services of the fairer sex. The work reflected much credit upon the individuals concerned. It had very little of the look of the “’prentice hand” upon it. A number of plants, kindly lent by Mr Llewellyn, added greatly to the general effect, being placed upon the tables and about the room in such a way as to give you the idea that you were stepping into a miniature tea garden. Mrs Elliott, Mrs Boyle, Miss Dods, Miss McCaughey, and Miss Boyle, presided at the tea tables, while Messrs Boyle, Dunlop, McCaughey, Keatley, and Gibson acted as stewards.
The Chairman said he considered the usual votes of thanks as quite unnecessary, as everyone did all possible to make the meeting a success, and any services rendered were given heartily. However, he thought that the meeting should be greatly obliged to Revs Mr Campbell, Mr Bird, and Mr Coade, who were not connected with the congregation and who came there no doubt at inconvenience to place their services at the disposal of the committee. Mr Cockburn being called on to say a few words, expressed the pleasure he had in being present and his appreciation of the efforts made by Mr Elliot to supply Newbridge with a service upon Sabbaths, from which he (Mr Cockburn) had derived so much benefit. He regretted more did not take advantage of those services, it would be so encouraging not only to the preacher but to the parties attending. He was pleased to be connected which had been so successful as Newbridge had. He told of a church in Scotland with which he was connected twelve years ago, which had only then a few members meeting in a much smaller room than the Iron Church. Now they were some hundreds strong, had a church which cost £2,000, and were after opening a meeting room costing £800, and all free of debt. No reason, he said, why Newbridge should not succeed in a similar way.
Mr Gibson having been referred to by the chairman as the individual who had taken the “lion’s share” in the work of decoration and arrangement of the hall, thought it his duty to remove the impression that statement might have on the audience. He believed giving honour where honour was due. Although he might have had a large part of the manual labour, the ideas were all supplied by the ladies and he took his directions from them. He was, as it were, the tool by means of which the ladies got their plans executed. He said Mrs Boyle ,Miss Boyle, Miss Dods and Mr Boyle where the parties to be thanked, but he had no doubt their services, as well as any he had rendered, were given freely and without any idea of any complement in the undertaking gave them reward enough for any slight assistance they might have accorded it.
The meeting was closed by all joining in singing the Doxology, and the pronouncing of the benediction by the REV JT Bird, MA, Chaplain to the Forces.

March 11, 2011


Last editorial of 1899

The closing days of 1899 were no doubt ones of warm post-Christmas domesticity for many readers of the Kildare Observer. But the editor of that redoubtable journal when he sat at his desk to compose his last editorial for the year also reflected another worry which was at the back of many minds – namely the progress of a war in the southern Cape colonies of South Africa, better known as the Boer War. The Observer editor was all too aware that from some households in the county sons and fathers had gone to the far away continent as soldiers of the British army. He was aware too that this war which the British had confidently claimed would be over before Christmas 1899 was quite literally not over before that Christmas and now looked more serious as the British were repulsed in a series of battles by the Boer guerrillas. However another strand of worry appears in his editorial: that of the danger of the equilibrium of Ireland within the fold of the British Empire being disturbed as Irish nationalists took inspiration from the Boer fight-back. This resurgence of nationalist activism had the potential to threaten the union of Britain and Ireland – a union which provided a comfortable existence for the occupants of the big houses of Kildare who were the main readers of the Observer. And this was his assessment as Naas slept in its winter hibernation and he bent over his writing desk in the soft light of his paraffin lamp: ‘ With midnight tomorrow draws to a close the old year of 1899 and immediately we cross the threshold of a New Year. The first lively peals of the church bells will proclaim the dawn of the last year of the nineteenth century – a year which must prove a memorable one and one of more than ordinary importance to this country in many respects. Being engaged in a war which must and will be decided in favour of British interests, and which accordingly must alter to a great extent the destinies of our Empire, the year about to open is assuredly one which has for Ireland, as part of that Empire, a deep concern.

‘As the most powerful nation (Great Britain) in the world progresses so must our interest as a dependent country also progress and hence it should be the ardent prayer of all at the dawning of the new year to see that nation come speedily victorious out of the great trial which she is engaged on in South Africa. In Co. Kildare and adjoining counties the present crisis is rendered of supreme interest in face of the fact that many of the sons of those counties are fighting a gallant battle for the safety and integrity of the mother country.

‘The consummation of the work in South Africa is, as our readers well know, being helped on by famous Irish regiments, amongst them being the 1st and 2nd battalion of the Dublin Fusiliers, both of which are closely identified with Kildare and the surrounding counties. Thence we once again appeal to the public to show that recognition that brave deeds of the men of our local battalions (for the Dublins are indeed local) so well deserve by subscribing to the funds that have been started in aid of the widows and orphans of the gallant fellows who are so nobly laying down their lives for the nation.’

‘Let the Kildare people do their best in recognition of the bravery of their countrymen, and though in many instances one’s best may be but a mite, yet it will be thankfully received.’

Little did the editor know as he put the paper to bed for the last edition of 1899 that the Boer War would continue for another two years with the British Empire being shaken by the stoic Boer marksmen. And little did he realise too that within a matter of a few years the dormant energy of Irish nationalism would come to the fore and eventually sunder that connection with Empire which he had commended so fulsomely in his editorial.

As with then, so with now, and one wonders what changes the year 2011 will bring to the record of our lives. However putting aside all prediction and apprehension this column will repeat the closing words of the editorialist of December 30, 1899, ‘We wish our readers a prosperous and a bright New Year.’

Series No. 159.

Liam Kenny in his 'Nothing new under the sun' column from the Leinster Leader of 30 December 2010 reflects on the last editorial from the Kildare Observer in 1899


Larceny of a turkey!

Christmas time brings stories that evoke the joy and the nostalgia of the festive season. But not everybody gets to enjoy the feasting and merriment that go with the mid-winter celebrations. Both sides of the Christmas experience can be seen in the yellowing pages of the Kildare Observer newspaper of 23 December 1899. An item headed ‘Larceny of a Turkey’ tells the story of  ‘a tramp named Patrick R _____’ who was charged at Naas court with the larceny of a turkey, the property of Mr. Samuel Cooper of Dunstown. It appears that Mr. Cooper had the turkey in a carriage outside Mr. Cunningham’s bakery, and had given orders to a Bridget Cook to take it to Mr. Glennon’s, New Row; in the meantime she having gone towards Mr. Quinn’s shop, the accused, it was alleged, saw his chance and went over to the unattended carriage and took the turkey. He was arrested by Sergeant O’Connor, Royal Irish Constabulary, and brought before Mr. T J de Burgh, magistrate, who remanded him to a court in the New Year. The account does not make it clear whether the turkey was alive or dead but one presumes the latter! On a happier note under the heading ‘Christmas tree and treat’  the Observer tells us that the children at the Naas Presbyterian School at Railway Terrace had a merry Christmas party. Two ladies of the congregation,  Mrs. Elliott and Mrs. Carter,   provided a sumptuous tea and a Christmas tree loaded with numerous and valuable gifts. After tea the little ones indulged in such games as could be carried on in the room, the grown-up people helping in every way to make the evening pass pleasantly. Before separating, Father Christmas appeared, creating much merriment, and distributed the many valuable and greatly appreciated toys and other presents which had been selected with wonderful care and judgement. The tree, kindly given by Mr de Burgh, when settled up, looked beautiful.

For adults too at Christmas time there was much cheer to be had judging from the enthusiastic advertising of the merchant’s houses and shop-keepers throughout the county.  For instance J.H. Clinton of Edward St., Newbridge (opposite the Artillery Barracks) advertised his business as ‘Wine and Spirit and General Provision Merchant’ and advised readers that he was ‘showing a choice selection of goods in every Department, highly suitable for Xmas purchases’. Not to be outdone Quinns of the Bakery in Newbridge described their business as ‘the oldest and most reliable establishment in the district which as well as baking breads of a weight, value and quality which defied competition were also the purveyors of a large stock of Christmas supplies with their ‘Old Whiskey being a speciality.’

Shoppers looking for a break from the 1899 Christmas rush in Newbridge could always repair to Harrigan’s which advertised itself under the regal title of the ‘The Prince of Wales – Hotel and Central Bar.’ The advertisement proclaimed that ‘ these premises have been rebuilt, newly furnished and designed in the latest Dublin style with bath room, smoke room, commercial room and dining room.’ And those contemplating a winter wedding would be well catered for at the Newbridge establishment where the rhetorical question is posed in the advertisement ‘ Where will I spend my honeymoon? In the Prince of Wales hotel, where you can have a carriage, each day to tour around the Wicklow hills and enjoy the beautiful scenery.’

Those who still had some last minute Christmas baking to do could direct their attention to James P.Healy, family grocer, of Sallins who begged ‘to call attention to his well-selected figs, apples, plums, currants, raisins and rice’ for the season and his customers could also contemplate his ‘Jameson Whiskey, five years old’ as well as his stock of old ports, sherries and claret.

Of course a good crackling fire was necessary as the temperatures plunged at mid winter and here the solution could be find by sending a wire to Maynooth where an advertisement for M & J Dawson begged to inform their numerous customers that the business always stocked a the best quality coke and coal at ‘very moderate prices’. Confident in their product Dawsons proclaimed ‘a number of unsolicited testimonials have lately been received.’  A telegram to ‘Dawson. Maynooth’ was sufficient to get in an order before Christmas.

And thus the local newspaper recorded the seasonal fuss and rush of a mid-Kildare Christmas in the closing years of the Victorian era.

Series No. 158.

Liam Kenny in his 'Nothing new under the sun,' column from the Leinster Leader of 23 December 2010 goes back to the seasonal fuss and rush of a mid-Kildare Christmas in the closing years of the Victorian era.


A white Christmas on the plains of Kildare?

The odds on a white Christmas for 2010 have shortened with the recent wintry blast which took many by surprise coming as it did in the last days of November. While professional meteorologists hesitate to predict such a storybook ending to the year what is definite is that 2010 will register with weather historians for having two distinct winter emergencies in the same calendar year –  the first three weeks in January 2010 and, at time of writing, the last days of November and into December. The prolonged cold spell last Winter which began on Christmas day 2009 and extended well into January was a severe one by any standards. There was ground frost on almost each day of January; the lowest temperature being recorded at Casement Aerdrome on the 8th when a minus 12.8 was recorded. It is hard to believe that even this blood chilling temperature was still well higher than the lowest temperature recorded in Ireland in the 20th century … a minus 18.8 at Lullymore in west Kildare in January 1979. Scientific comparisons aside, the folk memory of such weather events tells its own stories about people’s perception of how conditions affected their daily routines. Those with long memories compared the New Year 2010 severity to the snowbound winters of 1962/63 and 1947. It even overtook recollections of the blizzard of 1982 which blocked the Naas dual carriageway for days. For hard winters in the pre-television age we have to rely on reminiscences and the occasional photograph to get a picture of the impact of the snow and ice on daily life. Recollections of skating on the canals in Naas and Kilcock, and snaps of buses stuck in Dunlavin, are among some of the sources for recalling how normal routines can be transformed overnight by a drop in temperature. Historians in the future looking back at how people coped with the weather in 2010 will have a much greater assortment of sources to draw upon. The blizzards of 2009/10 was recorded on all sorts of media – traditional and modern - with pictures of snow conditions being posted liberally on Facebook and Youtube websites. The Leinster Leader played its part in creating the record of winter of 2010. Reports on meals-on-wheels volunteers being transported by Army vehicles to people living in the Clongorey area and accounts of how children (of all ages) transformed the Curragh plains around Donnelly’s Hollow into Kildare’s version of the winter Olympics make permanent the otherwise transient impact of weather on local routine.   The January 2010 snow and ice was so severe that it is easy to forget that on February 25th and, as late as March 30th, there were more falls of snow which brought their own disruptions. Kildare has had its share of weather emergencies in modern times – the flooding and resultant evacuation of people from homes in the Sallins area in late November 2009 was a major news item only overtaken by the snow and ice of the following two months. Whether such meteorological episodes can be considered part of a general destabilisation in our weather patterns as a result of climate change time will tell. A scientific review of winter 2009/10 published by the Royal Irish Academy and to which Dr. Rown Fealy of the climate research unit at NUI Maynooth was a contributor highlights the dilemmas involved in interpreting complex weather patterns. The study concludes that both the November 2009 downpours and the December/January big chill were ‘likely to be part of natural variability’ but supplemented by human-driven climate change. Whether Christmas of 2010 will bring a white festive season to the plains of Kildare will be answered in a fortnight’s time but even at this stage the year has imprinted itself in the weather folk memory for a long time to come.
Falklands memories: military historian Michael Rowley who recently presented a talk on military graves to the Curragh Local History Group is keen to learn of Irish men who took part in the Falklands war of 1982 when Britain sent a fleet to the South Atlantic to recover the islands which had been invaded by Argentina. He can be contacted at rowleymj@tcd.ie or 087 7534986. All assistance will be appreciated and acknowledged where appropriate.

In his weekly column 'Nothing new under the sun' from the Leinster Leader of 9 December 2010 Liam Kenny ponders on a white Christmas in Kildare

March 10, 2011


Leinster Leader, 27 April 1946


Briefly reported in last issue, Oakley Park, the magnaificent [sic] Celbridge mansion, intimately associated with Irish history, changed hands once again, when it was sold last week for £14,625 by Mr. Kevin Wilson, the Auctioneer to the Irish Christian Brothers, to be turned into an industrial school.
Oakley Park was owned by Mr. P. Guiney a cousin of Mr. Deinis Guiney. A splendid example of Georgian architecture it will be used by the Christian Brothers as an institution on the lines of Artane school and is expected to be ready to house about 200 boys in a year. It contains 16 bedrooms and will be further extended and fitted by the Brothers.
Here it is told, are the graves of Henry and Mary Grattan, believed to have been the famous Henry Grattan’s grandparents – in a private burial ground. On different occasions it was the residence of Richard John Caswell Maunsell, J.P., who was the High Sheriff of Ireland. Large wine cellars attached to the mansion support the belief, current in the district that here the first stout was brewed by a member of the Guinness family. Now plans of a very different nature are envisaged for the great house. Dormitories will be erected and special attention paid to the development of a farm. Everything is at hand for such a project, for the mansion stands in 153 acres of excellent land. A dairy section attached to the house is also ready to be taken over. Nothing definite, however, has been announced as to when alterations will start owing to shortage of materials. No decision has been taken either regarding what boys will be accommodated but a good cause could be made for the committal of boys from country districts to this type of school. The disposal of the property at such an excellent price has been, in any event, a signal success for the house of Wilson, the Auctioneers. The sale was at Commercial Buildings, Dame St., Dublin.

March 09, 2011


Below are two articles fom the Kildare Observer relating to the erection of a War Memorial in Newbridge Cemetery in 1931. Thanks to Deirdre Twomey, who brought this to our attention while researching her Uncle Private William Wilmot who was killed on the 26th March 1916 in Ypres, Belgium. This eighty year old memorial to Newbridge men who lost their lives in the Great War is in need of restoration, and it is currently under consideration by the Monuments Committee of Kildare County Council. 


Kildare Observer, 7 September 1929



To the Editor "Kildare Observer"
Dear Sir – In continuation of my letter of August 5th, which you were good enough to publish, I have the pleasure to inform you that the Kildare Board of Health have been pleased to sanction the erection of the contemplated War Memorial in the Newbridge Parish Cemetery.To the following has been allotted the task of collecting subscriptions: - (1) Mrs. Bragg (2) Mrs. Brennan (3) Miss Falkiner (4) Mrs. Leo Faulkner (5) Mrs. Finn (6) Miss K. O’Connor (7) Mr. Blair (8) Mr. Finn (9) Mr. Hall (10) Mr. Kelly (11) Mr. Kerrigan (12) Mr. O’Neill, - yours faithfully,P. LEO FAULKNER Indian Police (retd.),Chairman of the Committee.Newbridge, Co. Kildare,August 31st, 1929.

Kildare Observer, 21 March 1931



A procession was formed at the Legion Hall on St. Patrick’s Day and the members of the Legion, with band playing, marched in large number to the Newbridge Church where they attended High Mass which was celebrated by the Very Rev. Father Brophy, P.P.
After Mass the men formed up outside the Church marching to the New Cemetery with their band to assist in unveiling of the memorial to the members who had fallen in the Great War. The Dead March in Saul was played in their march to the New Cemetery, and approaching it the drums were muffled and the large body moved on then to the unveiling of the tablet which has been erected in the plot set apart for the ex-servicemen, which was afterwards unveiled by Lieutenant General Sir Edward Fanshawe, K.C.B., C.B.
General Sir E. Fanshawe, K.C.B., K.C.,V.O., who in a brief address spoke of the men who went voluntarily and gave the greatest thing a man can give, his life, for the liberties of small nations and other great things, and the relatives can now feel proud that this token of remembrance has been erected to the honour of God and the glory of man. In years to come when we have all passed away, some relatives and the descendants will look on those names and feel proud. He only hoped that those who had died were looking on and feeling pleasure that they were remembered here on this earth on that day by their relatives and friends. He then unveiled the memorial and this was followed by the wreaths by the relatives and the local branch of the Legion laying a beautiful wreath and also a choice of one from the women’s section and relatives.
The Last Post was then sounded by the buglers of the Legion. Then followed the silence of two minutes’ duration and reveille. By this time we noticed several of the women relatives were moved to tears, weeping silently.
The Rev. Father William Murphy, Killashee, who was an army chaplain during the Great War, carried out a short religious service. This completed the ceremony and the ex-servicemen marched back with their drums playing lively tunes through Newbridge to the Legion Club, where they were briefly addressed by Mr. Wilkinson, secretary of the Legion, who urged those ex-servicemen who are not members of the Legion to come forward and become members.
Amongst those present were:- The Very Rev. Father W. Murphy, Canon B. McLean, Rev. Canon O’Connor, Major J.J. Tynan, D.S.O., Capt. W. Redmond, D.S.O., T.D.;  Major H.A. Henry, Chairman, the local branch of Legion; Lady Goulding, Mrs. Henry, Miss Henry, The Misses O’Connor, The Rectory; Miss Violet Falkiner (Hon. Sec., Woman’s Section). Lady M. Greer, O.B.E., was represented.
The tablet is the work of Mr. P. Walsh, Newbridge. The men afterwards marched back to the Legion rooms, Newbridge, where they were briefly addressed by Mr. T. Wilkinson, Secretary of the Legion.


Royal Irish Constabulary Officers born in Co. Kildare.
A biographical dictionary and genealogical guide, 1816-1922

Anderson, Thomas Charles; RIC number 13936; LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) 2097/184; born 1823, Co. Kildare; 3rd SI (Sub Inspector) 31/5/1850; seconded to the Commissariat Department in the Crimea on 6/7/1854 where he died on 11/8/1854.
Cannon, Henry Charles; RIC 16550; LDS 2097/195; born 1831, Co. Kildare; son of Thomas Cannon, Esq., Resident Magistrate (d. 1853); 3rd SI 17/12/1852; pensioned 10/4/1868; died 6/4/1872 at no. 3 Park Terrace, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin; will proved on 11/6/1872 at the Principal Registry by the oath of Susannah Cannon, 3 Park Terrace, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, widow, the sole executrix – effects £5; his daughter Ellen, who was also the granddaughter of Major James Tandy, Millbank, Naas, Co. Kildare, married Charles, the only son of Charles Vawser, Esq., Cambridgeshire and Boxholme Hall, Lincolnshire at Bray, Co. Wicklow on 21/10/1899; buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin.
Caulfield, John; LDS 2097/161; born 1828, Co. Kildare; son born on 15/12/1853 at Bruff, Co. Limerick, prematurely and only survived a few hours (Cork Examiner 26/12/1853); 3rd SI 27/9/1847; received a favourable record on 31/12/1869 for untiring exertions in protecting voters against formidable mobs and arresting many of the rioters and house wreckers; resigned 27/8/1888; died 4/1/1900 at the residence of his son-in-law, Solomon Darcus, Plasnewydd, Killiney, Co. Dublin, late of Cartref, Greystones, Co. Wicklow; administration granted on 2/4/1900 at the Principal Registry to Charlotte Caulfield, widow, effects £23.10s.1d.
Clayton, Edward Myles; RIC 52875; LDS 2098/036; born 1863, Co. Kildare; clerk to Messr’s Carnegie and Co., 40 Dame Street, Dublin for four years; married firstly on 1/6/1892 (Dublin South Registrar’s District, June Quarter, 1892, vol. 2 p. 539); married secondly on 22/4/1896; 3rd DI (District Inspector) 1/5/1888; King Edward Visit to Ireland Medal, 1903; CI (County Inspector) 6/8/1910; awarded a certificate from the Irish Police and Constabulary Recognition Fund; AIG (Assistant Inspector General)15/4/1920; divisional commissioner for Munster No. 2 Division, 11/3/1920-14/4/1920; pensioned 31/8/1922.
Coleman, John; RIC 28343; LDS 2098/073; born 1845, Co. Kildare; 3rd SI (Sub Inspector) 25/3/1891; died 24/6/1901 at Rossmult Cottage, Ballycahill, Thurles, Co. Tipperary; will proved on 15/7/1901 by the oath of John H. Coleman, railway clerk – effects 3492.10s.0d; his wife, Mary Teresa (b.1854), predeceased him at New Line House, Portumna, Co. Galway on 13/4/1895 (Portumna Registrar’s District, 1895, June Quarter, vol. 4, p. 259).
Craig, George Fitzgerald William; RIC 56625; LDS 2098/113; Born 17/6/1869, Naas, Co. Kildare; (Naas Registrar’s District, 1869, vol. 12, p. 847); married firstly, Emily Hayes; married secondly on 12/7/1899 (Dublin South registrar’s District, September Quarter, 1899, vol. 2, p. 620), Isabel Roche, native of Co. Dublin; 3rd DI 1/4/1895; CI 15/6/1920; his wife died at 42 Landsdowne Road, Dublin on 25/9/1918; wounded at the Cork and County Club, Cork on 17/7/1920 in an attack in which RIC Divisional Commissioner Gerard Bryce Fergus Smyth was killed; awarded the King’s Police Medal in 1922; pensioned 31/8/1922; he died in 1956.
Graham, Francis Johnstone; LDS 2097/170; born 1809, Co. Kildare; enlisted as a sub constable on 17/2/1827; wife native of Co. Kildare; 3rd SI 1/6/1848; received the approbation of the Lord Lieutenant on 31/3/1850 for zeal and activity in detecting two separate attempts to fasten crime on innocent parties; died 28/7/1863.
Hunt, Michael John; RIC 70010; LDS 2098/109B; born 16/6/1898, Athy, Co. Kildare; (Athy Registrar’s District, 1898, June quarter, vol. 3, p. 305); captain, Royal Irish regiment; married Nina Moore Swinden, a native of Lancashire; 3rd DI 4/1/1920; pensioned 19/5/1922.
Hurst, George; RIC 51165; LDS 2098/001; born 1865, Co. Kildare; married on 27/3/1889 (Parsonstown Registrar’s District, March Quarter, 1889, vol. 3, p. 487), wife a native of Co. Dublin; 3rd DI 12/7/1884; King Edward Visit to Ireland Medal, 1903; CI 20/12/1908; King George V Coronation Medal, 1911; pensioned 8/12/1916; his brother Gerard Hurst, RIC, died in Athlone, Co. Roscommon on 7/10/1887; (photo in the Constabulary Gazette, vol. XIII, no. 24, 5/9/1903).
McDonald, Augustus LeClerc; LDS 2097/308; born 1857, Athy, Co. Kildare; son of Canon McDonald, of Athy, Co. Kildare and brother of Charles Montagu McDonald, SI, RIC; clerk in a merchant’s office in Belfast for five years; married on 20/6/1883, wife from Co. Mayo; 3rd SI 6/10/1880; King George V Coronation Medal, 1911; pensioned 26/4/1920; (photo in Constabulary Gazette, vol. XIV, no. 20, 2/21904).
McDonald, Charles Montagu; LDS 2097/321; born 1860, Athy, Co. Kildare; youngest son of Canon McDonald, of Athy, Co. Kildare and brother of Augustus LeClerc McDonald, SI, RIC; clerk at the Broadway Courts in Belfast; married on 12/8/1884, wife from Co. Kildare; 3rd SI 6/10/1882; died 19/2/1912 at 175, Rathgar Road, Dublin; late of Bagnelstown, Co. Carlow; will proved on 16/4/1912 to Kate C. McDonald, widow – effects £1,023.8s.5d.
Medlicott, Edward Richard; RIC 16163; LDS 2097/194; born 1832, Dunmurry, Co. Kildare; son of Edward James Medlicott, of Dunmurry, Co. Kildare (b. 1790) (d. 11/1/1868 – Rathdown Registrar’s District, vol. 2 m p. 807) and Anne (b. 1805) (d. 22/8/1866 – Rathdown Registrar’s District, vol. 12, p. 654), daughter of Solomon Speer of Granitefield, Co. Dublin, by his wife, Anne, daughter of Richard Donovan of Ballymore, Co. Wexford; 3rd SI 11/9/1852; he was one of the first four RIC officers to undergo training on 31/8/1861 at the School of Musketry, Fleetwood, North Lancs., England (Cork Examiner 26/8/1861); musketry instructor from 1/2/1869 until his death; died unmarried on 25/11/1872 at the Maison de Sante, Charlemont Street, Dublin, late of Parkgate Street, Dublin; administration granted on 4/2/1873 at the principal Registry to James Edward Medlicott (1827-1913), a brother of the deceased – effects £1,500.
Moran, John; LDS 2098/190B; born 21/10/1892, Athy, Co. Kildare; (Athy Registrar’s District) December Quarter, 1892, vol. 3, p. 268); captain, Leinster Regiment; 3rd DI (District Inspector)10/1/1920; pensioned 8/5/1922.
Roberts, John Cramer; CarNB (Patrick Carroll’s notebooks); b. 1796, Sallymount, Co. Kildare; son of Rev. John Cramer, of Sallymount, Co. Kildare, DI, who assumed by Royal licence the additional surname and the arms of Robert on 9/10/1801, having married on 2/1/1794, Martha (b. 29/9/1767), eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Roberts, Bt., of Glassenbury, Kent; married at Malta, 12/11/1828, Marian, daughter of David Ross; his third son, Herbert William Cramer Roberts, aged 13 years died on 14/5/1851 of gastric fever at the Phoenix Park Training Depot, Dublin (Cork Examiner 14/5/1851) & (the Dublin Evening Post, Tuesday, 13/5/1851); AIG (Assistant Inspector General) 11/6/1836; Commandant of the Phoenix Park Depot, 1842; DIG (Deputy Inspector General) 4/12/1857; died 3/31864 in his 67th year, suddenly at Saint-Leonards-on-Sea, formerly of No. 38, Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin (Cork Examiner 8/3/1864).
Roney, William; LDS 2097/092; born 1804, Co. Kildare; wife a native of Dublin City; his daughter, Maria Roney, died on 31/3/1864 (Longford registrar’s District, vol. 8, p. 171), aged 30 years, at Prospect, Co. Longford (Cork Examiner 6/4/1864); enlisted as a sub constable, 24/12/1824; 3rd SI 25/12/1835; received a grant from the Reward Fund on 31/3/1856 for zeal, tact and success in obtaining circumstantial evidence resulting in the conviction of the perpetrator of a barbarous murder; pensioned 15/8/1870; died 27/10/1886 at Sligo, Co. Sligo (Sligo Registrar’s District, 1866, December quarter, vol. 2, p. 197).
Sargent, William; RIC 41488; LDS 2098/198; born 1857, Co. Kildare; eldest son of Joseph and Fannie Sargent, of Rathmore, Co. Kerry; married on 31/8/1866 (Galway Registrar’s District, September Quarter, 1886, vol. 4, p. 97), wife a native of Co. Galway; 3rd DI 13/1/1905; died 10/11/1908 at Kanturk, Co. Cork; buried in Rrathmore, Co. Kerry on 12/11/1908.
Sheehan, Timothy Powell; RIC 71651; LDS 2098/139B; born 19/8/1891, Co. Kildare; captain, Royal Irish Regiment; 3rd DI 8/7/1920; married on 4/9/1920 (Waterford Registrar’s District, September Quarter, 1920, vol. 4, p. 389), wife a native of Co. Meath; pensioned 13/7/1922; died in Belfast, 4/9/1971.
Smyth, William; RIC 5827; LDS 2097/275; born 1826, Co. Kildare; wife a native of Co. Galway; 3rd SI 1/2/1869; died 25/2/1880 at Waterford, Co. Waterford (Waterford Registrar’s District, 1880, September Quarter, vol. 4, p. 533).
Wills, Henry; RIC 19694; LDS 2097/296; born 1836, Co. Kildare; married on 3/6/1868; wife a native of Queens County; 3rd SI 16/1/1882; pensioned on 1/8/1896; died at the residence of his son-in-law at Clarehayes, Churchtaunton, Honiton, Devon on 30/6/1922, husband of Lizzie P. Wills (Irish Times, 7/7/1922).

Taken from Royal Irish Constabulary Officers. A biographical dictionary and genealogical guide, 1816-1922. Jim Herlihy (Dublin 2005).


Royal Irish Constabulary Officers born in Co. Kildare. A biographical dictionary and genealogical guide, 1816-1922

March 08, 2011


Leinster Leader 25/9/1976

Naas driver bids for big-time motor sport

By John Lynch

Michael Roe, the 21 year-old motor racing star, who is having his most successful season to date, has his sights set on becoming a world-class race driver. Next spring he will be going to England to pursue his career on the racing circuits there.
Michael, son of Veterinary surgeon Michael Roe and Mrs. Rose Roe, Sallins road, won his last three races in convincing fashion at the Mondello track and will be competing in his first big – time race, a grand prix on the international Silverstone track in England on October 2nd.
Cars and racing are Michael’s life. He is working at a local tyre centre to enable him to have enough money to keep on racing. Fair-haired Michael, whom I spoke to last week, has been interested in cars for as long as he can remember. When Mondello Park opened in 1968 it gave young Michael the chance to indulge his fantasies.
“I went to every meeting there as a non-competitor up to 1972 when I built a grass-track car with a Volkswagen engine. In 1973 I won the Munster championship. I gave up grass-track racing because it became too expensive driving around to meetings which were held all over the country. Last season I saved up enough money to buy a Formula Ford car. This year I was offered a works deal by the Royale factory which supplied a car at cost price. The Aldon firm supplied the engine free but I have to return it at the end of the season”

Same Cup
He wants to follow in the footsteps of Irish racing driver John Watson who is now driving in the world’s premier racing league – the formula one. “He won the same trophy – the Dunboyne cup – which I won at Mondello last Sunday week. That was ten years ago when he was starting out in Ireland. There’s really no future here for a driver who wants to race full-time. There is only the Mondello track and a couple of circuits up the north where it is not really safe to go now”.
He has no illusions about being successful in England. He competed in four races there last year and won one. “I want to go to see if I am good enough for the big-time. I want to make racing my career. There are over 60 races in the two championships there during the season; so I should have plenty of opportunity to find out how good I am”. But if he does not make the grade, he intends to retire from racing altogether.
“I would never take it up as a hobby or a past-time: it’s much too expensive to be involved in it at that level”, he says firmly. However, if he is successful in his first English season, he reckons that it will be five years before he can dice into formula one racing – into the big-time and into the big money.
Motor racing is generally regarded as a rich-man’s sport. That, says Michael, is true to a certain extent. “Anyone starting racing would need a lot of money, but once you get to know the ropes it is not so expensive. The increased price of petrol has not deterred so many from racing
You only use £1 worth of petrol on the track. The expense is incurred if, unlike me, one has to travel a long distance to a meeting”.
Nevertheless a racing car in the Formula Ford class would cost – complete with engine- around £4,200, although much of that can be recovered by selling the car at the end of the season. Then there is the cost of maintenance and repairs – a new set of tyres is needed after every three races.

Repair Cost
Competitive racing for a season Michael estimates, would cost £12,000 in England and £5,000 here without sponsorship.
Competitors at Michael’s grade are not so much worried about the dangers of the sport (if they were they would probably not be involved) as the cost of repairs if they crash. “If one races like I do – out to win every race – one always finishes in the first four. It is there that the risk of collision is most dangerous as the cars are so close together. Every 3 or 4 races one gets a bit of a shunt and a broken front corner can cost £300 to replace”, he explains.
At this stage in his career Michael has to be mechanically skilled – largely to enable him to carry out his own repairs – thus saving money and because he has to take a job in England on the mechanical side to earn enough to continue racing.
The deal that I am working out is that I’ll be working in a racing car factory. When I’m not racing I’ll be working on my own car and when finished I’ll be working on customer’s cars. It’s the only way I can keep racing. As well, over there I can get spares at reduced prices from the factories and keep up with all the developments in racing cars”.
He has had a couple of “spills” while racing – the worst being at Kirkwood track up north when he was bruised and the car badly damaged. Only a few weeks ago he was unhurt in a collision at Aintree.
Racing at his present grade is not considered dangerous. Although a lot of people have been injured, only one has died in Britain or Ireland. Mondello he regards as being very safe with plenty of grass on top to stop a car if it goes off the track. But the English tracks wee more dangerous as an out-of-control car would hit the safety barrier protecting spectators.

Family Backing
How did his family feel about his involvement in such a potentially dangerous sport?
“Well my father did not mind – being interested in it himself – but my mother opposed it at first. Now she does not mind so much and the family come along to most of my races”.
His brother James helps out with pit signs at races. Even if there had been total family opposition he would have continued his career because he feels motor-racing is in his blood. “It’s the only thing I want to do” he asserts.
Winning for Michael is the real incentive in the sport. “”One could be involved in a less expensive way by being content to race and remain down the field where the risk of collision is minimal. But I am out to win. Besides that, I like the speed”. His fastest speed has been 145 miles per hour at the Phoenix Park. At Mondello he does about 110 m.p.h on the straight and says an average race speed is 76 m.p.h
“It is not so dangerous because the cars, which are built for those speeds, are thoroughly checked out. It’s safer in a way than driving on the road. We’re all going in the same direction, and one does not have to look out for lorries or cars sneaking across junctions”. It would make one a safer driver on the public roads although Michael has no ordinary car of his own as he sold it to continue racing.

By Coach
He travels to meetings in a converted coach which carries two racing cars and he and the crew live in a section of the coach. The money in racing is improving here – about £100 for winners – and is probably better than for the same racing in England. But he does not see himself earning any kind of a living completely from driving unless he breaks into formula one.
He has the example of John Watson, who he reckons earns £200,000 a year from racing alone, to follow.  As well, 3 Irish drivers went over to England this season where they are sweeping the boards in their class. He has no doubt that given the breaks he can do better. “I hope to move into formula three racing after a while and that’s next to the formula one grade”.
There were 10-12 top drivers in his present grade in England and 4-5 in Ireland. About 25 drivers were in the top world league.
He admits it will be a tough struggle needing total dedication to get anywhere near the top in the racing world. But he has that quality. He works on his car every night. His work keeps him physically fit: for a week before a race he gets plenty of sleep to make him mentally alert, “I win here simply because I put in the effort”, he says. He often goes to a track the night before a race to “get the feel of it”.
Racing at the top ironically does not require the detailed mechanical knowledge of the racing-car that he of necessity has to have now. “The top driver just drives to win and nothing else. Normal racing careers at that level come to an end at about 35 but they could come a lot earlier if the driver is not consistently successful. There are hundreds of drivers just waiting to take a top driver’s place. The pressure for winning comes from the sponsors to the makers, who in turn put the squeeze on the driver”.
What tends to make the sport a rich mans hobby in Ireland is the lack of total sponsorship. Michael says that is because few races are televised. As well, there are not enough spectators at events to justify a firm spending so much money. All one can get is partial sponsorship: he was sponsored by a local draper for his race at the Phoenix Park on September 18th.

At Trade
Most of those involved in Ireland are working at the motor trade. “They are mostly mechanics and panel-beaters who can carry out their own repairs and maintenance. There are a few rich people involved but they usually don’t do any good as they mostly are content merely to compete. About 50% of the drivers of Formula Fords (so called because they have a Ford Mexico engine of 1600cc, developing about 106 brake horse power) are from the North, and about 30% of the remainder from Dublin. Michael has been in the first four in every race he has contested and in the 14 he took part in the Formula Ford grade since last season he has won 7. He acknowledges his success this season is due in great measure to his partnership with John Murphy of the Mondello Racing Drivers School. John is the agent for Royale cars in Ireland and ensured that Michael got the model which has brought him to the top in Irish racing. He helps him look after the car – an RP21 – and after the Aintree crash both of them rebuilt the car in time for the following week’s Mondello meeting.
With such a total commitment to motor-car racing, Michael is certain to go far in the sport. If he does no reach the top it will not be for want of trying. He is certainly a name to look out for on the English tracks. One hopes that his dream of competing in the world’s top-class events will come true, bringing honour both to Michael and his native town.

March 05, 2011


Downed at Tacumshane

James Durney

On 3 March 1941 a German air force Heinkel 111H-5 made a forced landing at Tacumshane, Ladies Island, Co. Wexford. Lieutenant Alfred Henzl’s bomber had been hit during an attack on an Allied convoy in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Luftwaffe squadron, based at Brest, in France, was tasked with attacking Allied convoys at the point off St. George’s Channel where they split up and where ships were most vulnerable. One engine had been knocked out by gunfire from the SS Sinaloer, the other damaged and the twenty-three-year-old rear gunner, Gefrieter (Corporal) Gerd Rister, shot dead. The crew had been able to put out the fire in the rear of the aircraft but had no hope of returning to their base in France. When the navigator, Feldwebel (Sergeant) Arthur Voight, explained they would have to choose between landings in Britain or Ireland the choice was straight forward. “All we knew was that Ireland was supposed to be neutral, so we opted for there,” Voight recalled. “I picked out a spot in County Wexford and we limped in our battered aircraft towards it.”
It was 2.45 in the afternoon when the plane landed with its wheels up on the broad stretch of beach at Rostoonstown Strand, a strip separating a lake from the ocean. The aircraft floated on and on until the pilot had to force the nose down as he was running out of space. The wireless operator tapped out a last message: ‘Greetings to all our beloved and to our homeland. I end, comrades.’ The four surviving crew members – Lt. Henzl, Voight, Feldwebel Rudolf Hengst, and Gefrieter Max Galler – immediately alighted and removed Rister’s body, before activating the usual explosive device which, however, failed. They walked about a hundred yards into the sand dunes and when Arthur Voight was also thwarted in his attempts to set the aircraft on fire, he dismounted the dorsal machine-gun and took it and several ammunition drums up to the dunes. The crew set up the machine-gun and began firing on the plane. As some local people approached, the crew warned them to take cover because the plane was about to blow up. A lookout post had warned nearby Gardai of the crash landing and when they arrived ordered the Germans to cease firing. The Germans ignored the order and eventually, after ten minutes firing and three drums of ammunition, there was a loud explosion. Bits of the plane went hurtling into the air. The gunner had hit a hung-up bomb which had been intended for a British merchantman.
The crewmen were detained by the local garda who provided them with food and Guinness in a nearby pub. In the Garda station the local priest and a solicitor, both fluent in German, translated and assisted the crew in reporting by telephone to the German Legation in Dublin. The Germans were handed over to the military and brought to Wexford barracks, where they were given tea, bread, rashers, sausages and eggs – things, which because of rationing they had not seen for some time. They were then conveyed to the Curragh Camp. ‘K Lines,’ or the No. 2 Interment Camp, as it was officially known, was a newly constructed barbed-wire compound at the Curragh, about a mile from Tintown, the No. 1 Internment Camp, in which members of the IRA were held. From 1940-45 dozens of Allied and German airmen whose planes had landed in Ireland were interned at K Lines.
“At first we were depressed about being taken to the Curragh, “Arthur Voight recalled. “We hoped to be set free.” However, Voight quickly found his lifestyle was much different from that of a prisoner-of-war. “Our way of life was unbelievable,” he wrote. “We were all treated extremely well by the Irish authorities.” The internees were free to go out on parole between two and five o’clock each afternoon. They could use the swimming pool, though they had to share it with Irish soldiers and Allied internees in the afternoon. They also had the full use of the other sporting facilities, or they could visit the three adjacent towns of Newbridge, Kildare and Kilcullen to do some shopping. “The first thing I did was to go into nearby Newbridge and order a new suit,” Voight said. “It was the first time I had a handmade suit.”

German aircraft crash file at Tecumshane, Co. Wexford, 3/3/1941.
J. Ryan, Lt. Fighter Squadron, Baldonnel

Went out on instructions from O/C Depot in Saloon car no. ZC 7351 on the fourth instant to the above named. He learned that the plane arrived safely (Heinkel 111H) with the undercarriage up “just above high water mark on the strand”. One took one of the machine guns from the turret and set it upon a dune and opened fire on said plane for approx 30 mins. The engine types were “Junkers Jumo 211D.” The fuel was probably a crude oil. The nose portion of a 250 kg bomb similar to that dropped at Campile was found at the scene. Gun was armed and that crew appeared to have beaten the gun against a rock. The officer in charge threw his revolver into Ladies Lake then surrendered. All crews statements were taken. All crews stations seemed to be heavily armoured plated, all metal armour is in good condition. Found a very intricate bomb sight amongst wreckage. The plane was only recently made (September-October 1940). The number painted on the fin was 366A. The underside of the wing outboard from the crew was a Large H.
Equipment collected.
Bomb sight, complete tail, part of a wheel, portion of fin on which was painted two ships, a large number of torn maps (Germany, France, England and the Irish Seas), partly burned canvas flying helmet, stub of a cancsrew blade, samples of armoured plating, unidentified electric equipment, engine name plate, a steel tube leading from the fuselage, typed painted red and white and several miscellaneous aluminium sheets.

[In August 1940 an apparently disorientated crew of a German aircraft bombed a creamery at Campile, Co. Wexford, killing three women workers.]

Time Line (s.d.) Séan Breen 2 Lt. O.C. ‘B’ Coy.

15:00 hrs on 3rd Carnsore L.O.P. reported a plane coming in over the sea and appeared to have crashed behind a low hill in the vicinity of Tacumshane.
15:45 hrs I again rang Carnsore for further information and was informed that the plane had crashed and that a party arrived from Wexford.
18:00 hrs Lieut Kinsella returned to barracks and informed that four prisoners detained in Garda Barracks arranging to hand over prisoners he had given all particulars to G.2. Branch.
19:30 hrs Received a call from Garda barracks to collect prisoners and convey them to Wexford Barracks.
20:00 hrs Body taken to Barracks.
21:00 hrs Inquest taken.
23:15 hrs Prisoners conveyed to Curragh Barracks.

[Copy of declassified document from the Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin.]

Command Headquarters, Curragh 6 March 1941


Chief Staff Officer,
G. 2 Branch,
Department of Defence,

Forced landing of German ‘plane at Tacumshane, Co. Wexford, 3/3/1941

 I have the honour to confirm ‘phone messages of the 3rd and 4th inst., and to report that at 14.45 hrs. on the 3rd. inst, a German Heinkel 111 Bomber aircraft made a forced landing at Tacumshane, Co. Wexford. The crew numbered five, one of whom, Corporal Gert Rister, aged 23 years, was dead when taken from the plane by his comrades, who afterwards destroyed their machine on the ground. The remaining four members of the crew were interned at the Curragh early on the morning of the 4th inst., and I attach a list giving correct names and particulars of them. They were visited at the Curragh on the afternoon of the 4th, by Herr Thompsen.
From information given by the crew it would appear that they left their base at 12 noon on the 3rd. inst. and shortly before they were forced down a small explosion occurred in the tail of the ‘plane. The engine was working badly and the pilot decided to land. On landing a second explosion took place. The reason for the explosions given by a member of the crew was “bad oil”. Needless to remark they were very cautious about giving any information. Drawn on the tail of the plane was a representation of two ships dated 1/3/1941. This drawing has been cut off by an officer of the Air Corps and removed to Baldonnel, apparently as a souvenir. The ‘plane itself, following the explosion in destruction, was scattered over an area of about two acres, and parts have been collected and taken into Wexford Mil. Bks. The remains of the ‘plane are not worth the trouble of removing to Baldonnel but occupy a large amount of space in Wexford Bks. Although the tail of the plane was perforated with bullet marks, the crew deny being engaged in aerial combat.
 Four machine-guns; a cannon gun with magazines and ammunition, a Verey-light pistol, and a Parabellum .38 with six rds. of ammunition have been recovered. (The Parabellum was in the possession of Cpl. Max Galler and is now in the possession of Capt. Fitzpatrick, Internment Camp, Curragh. The Air Corps has taken possession of the remainder of the guns with the exception of the Parabellum, one machine-gun, five magazines and some rounds of the cannon-gun ammunition, which are in the possession of the command Ordnance Officer, Curragh.
The funeral of the dead man, who was machine-gunner in the tail of the plane, took place yesterday at Wexford with military honours in accordance with our regulations. The German Legation was represented by Herr Thompsen, who took possession of the dead airman’s Iron Cross, ring and identity disc, giving a receipt for same to Lieut. Breen, O.C. Wexford Bks.
An inquest was held at Wexford Bks. at 21.00 hrs. on the 3rd, inst. by Mr. O’Connor, and the verdict was returned that the German airman died from shock following bullet wounds and burns.
Because of the widespread distribution of scraps of the plane I feel sure that many people in Wexford possess “souvenirs” – even some of the soldiers were in possession of the small H.E. shells of the cannon-gun, but the troops were paraded in my presence and those collected. A further effort will be made to get all material collected.
A map of England and Ireland, part of France and Holland was found on Lieut. Alfred Heinzl, which I am sending to you herewith, also an armband compass and a small camera from which I have removed a roll of film enclosed in case, which I am also forwarding to you herewith for development. I do not know if it is destroyed or not because Heinzl stated that as it had contained military photos he did destroy the film. [Note: Heinzl did not destroy the film. He kept the camera which he used to take photographs inside the camp.]
I have been informed that what was described as a “bombing map” was handed over to the C/Superintendent at Wexford by a Mr. Wickham, Roslare, a leader of the L.D.F., who was one of the first on the scene, also a small camera. The bombing-map showed Dublin and Belfast ringed in red, but those have not been handed over and when I asked the C/Supt. and Supt. at Wexford if they had any papers or documents they told me they had not. I also understand that a Sergt. of the Garda has taken possession of a training manual on the machine-guns found in the ‘plane. The craze for souvenirs is so great that it is nearly impossible to locate articles which may be very important.
When the Garda Sergt. at Rosslare got word of the landing he immediately got Mr. Wickham to take out his car and dashed to the scene without taking a Military Officer from the post at Rosslare with him, although the Post is only about 150 yards away. There is no car or lorry at the Military Post. The result was that the Garda arrived before the ‘plane was destroyed and actually saw the German airmen firing into it and destroying it. If the Military had been there in time the ‘plane might have been saved. The Garda stood by and could do nothing. When the German airmen, having set the plane on fire, came up to the Garda, one of them had an automatic in his hand and was asked by the Garda to hand it over. He did not do so, but was allowed to throw it into the lake (Lady Island Lake), but it is expected to recover this weapon as the lake is drained out at this time every year.
When taken into custody the prisoners were not searched by the Garda nor would the latter hand them over to Military custody until instructed to do by Curragh Command later in the afternoon. I suggest that greater co-operation should have been shown and less of a race to bring in the prisoners. It would also appear to me that the securing of maps, papers, etc., etc., was entirely forgotten by the Garda or if not, I have no evidence to the contrary. Not a single item was given to me by them. Perhaps if they did secure anything of value it was sent by them to their own H.Qrs., but I have no knowledge of such being the case.
I have the honour to be, sir,
Your obedient servant,
D. Mackey, Commandant.
Officer i/c. G. 2 Curragh Command.

Landing of German aircraft at Tacumshane, Co. Wexford on 3/3/41

(a) Type of aircraft: Heinkel III H with Junkers Jumo 211 D engines.
(b) Condition: Complete wreck.
(c) Reason for crash: Not known.
(d) Possible mission of aircraft: Commerce raiding.
(e) This aircraft landed safely with undercarriage up, just above high water-mark on the strand. Four of the crew got out and lifted out a fifth man who was dead from a bullet wound. They carried the dead man to a distance of 100 yds. from the aircraft and then set up a machine gun on a sand dune and commenced firing at the aircraft. After about half an hour’s firing, just before the Military arrived there was a loud explosion and the aircraft was completely wrecked. The fuselage was scattered several hundred of yards around. The nose portion of a 250 kg. bomb similar to that dropped at Campile was found and it would appear that this was the object at which the gun had been firing. The machine gun appeared to have been beaten against a rock. The Officer i/c. of the party then threw his revolver into the adjoining lake. They then surrendered and were marched off.
The Military from Wexford collected the machine guns, the shell firing cannon and all the ammunition they found, together with two parachutes and as much assorted equipment as their lorry could carry. The only recognisable parts of the aircraft left were the tail assembly which had broken away just forward of the fin and the wings from the engine nacelles outwards. Painted on the rudder were two ships with the date 1-3-41 after each, which seemed to show that the function of the plane was commerce raiding. There was no trace of nose of main part of the fuselage, the engines were burned so badly as to be useless. All the crews stations seem to have been heavily armour plated and all the armour plate is in good condition. What appeared to be a very intricate bomb sight was found amongst the wreckage and although it is badly burned it’s method of operation could be deduced. Most of the tabs on the parts of the machine bear dates in September and October 1940 indicating that the machine was very recently assembled.

[Copies of declassified files from the Military Archives, Cathal Brugha Barracks 23 August 2010]

The material for this story was supplied by Jarlath Boyle, Kildare, and Sarah Heinzl and taken from the books Guests of the State by T. Ryle Dwyer and Landfall Ireland. The story of Allied and German aircraft which came down in Ėire in World War Two by Donal MacCarron.

On 3 March 1941 a German air force Heinkel 111H-5 made a forced landing at Tacumshane, Ladies Island, Co. Wexford.

March 03, 2011

Honours for Newbridge Man Killed in a Flying Accident

Leinster Leader, February 8th 1947

Honours for Newbridge Man

Killed in Flying Accident

The French government have posthumously award the Legion de Honnoeur and Croix de Guerre to Acting Wing Commander William Christopher Maher, D.F.C., A.F.M. who was killed in a flying accident over Sylt, Germany on 25th July of last year. Wing Commander Maher was a member of the well-known Newbridge family and had many friends and acquaintances in the district, and his tragic death in July (after a magnificent active service record) was widely regretted.
The deceased officer is survived by his wife and four children, at present residing in England. Mrs. Maher received the French awards at the investiture at the Institute Francais, London, on January 15th. The presentation was made by the French Ambassador, Mon. Rene Massigli, K.B.E. Wing Commander Maher was awarded his D.F.C. in July 1946, in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations. He had taken part in a large number of air sorties when commanding Squadron No. 107, R.A.F. It was while leading the former Squadron in an attack on enemy E Boat sheds at Ijmuiden on March 26, 1944 that he displayed the great courage and determination which earned him the D.F.C. Intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire was encountered by the attacking formation on that occasion, and Wing Commander Maher received a shrapnel injury. Despite his injury the Formation Leader pressed home the attack on the target. His courage, skill and enthusiasm went a long way towards making the raid a successful one and set to his Squadron an inspiring example.
Acting Commander Maher enlisted as an aircraft apprentice in 1923 and was later trained for pilot. At the outbreak of the war he was commissioned and in February 1944, was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander. Commanding in turn the 88th and 107th Squadrons, he later led the No. 342 Group, “Lorraine”. It was for his magnificent work in conjunction with the “Lorraine” Force that he was signally honoured by the French government. The late Wing Commander was extremely popular with the officers and men of his Squadron, and his courage and devotion to duty excited their greatest admiration. He took a deep interest in athletics and other active sports. A fine hockey player, he participated in an international trial match at Londonbridge Road, Dublin, some years ago. He also played for R.A.F. (Representative) and County Warwick. A lover of the sport of the roped arena-and no mean boxer himself-he represented R.A.F. at his weight and was a “Wakefield Trophy” holder. He also won many cups, medals and trophies.  Spared after the unending dangers of the six-year horror which claimed so many of his fellow flyers, the death of Commander Maher, caused by the crashing of his “Mosquito” aircraft, came as a shattering blow to his wife and family. The severity of their loss will be lessened by these well-merited awards-enduring and cherished monuments to the memory of a life of courageous devotion to duty and ideals.


Leinster Leader 14th January 1961

New Consul General Leaves for Chicago

Dr. Sean O hEideain son of Mrs. Marie A. Hayden and the late Mr. Wm. Hayden, Shamrock House, Naas, and Cashel, Co. Tipperary, left on Wednesday by Aer Lingus jetliner to take up his new post as Consul General of Ireland at Chicago.
Flight IN 113 brought him to New York on the first leg of his journey to territorially the largest of the three consular areas into which the United States is divided. The consular area of Chicago extends from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
Since 1957, he had served as Secretary of the Embassy to the Holy See. On 11th November, His Holiness Pope John XXIII created Dr. O hEideain a papal knight, making him a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (K.C.S.G). This is a knightly order instituted in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI and recognised in 1905 by Pope St. Pius X. The new Consul General was in December awarded the degree of Doctor in Social Science by the Faculty of Philosophy of the Angelicum International Pontificial University in Rome. The degree was awarded “cum laude” by the Angelicum and he has the unique distinction of being the only Irishman and the only layman to have been awarded the degree.
The defence of his thesis, regarding aspects of world government, was conducted entirely in Latin, in public, before a board of professors, including persons of French, Hungarian, Italian, Belgian, Canadian and Spanish nationality.
Among the general attendance at the public defence was a cross-section of the Irish community, regular and secular in Rome. Before his departure from Rome Dr. O hEideain was the guest of honour at a reception given by Ambassador Leo T. McCauley at the Villa Spada, and at several other functions. He held a farewell reception at his home “Viletta Irlanda” on the Via Aurelia. During his term at the Irish Embassy there he had the honour of being received several times in audience by the late Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, and by His Holiness Pope John. He attended the obsequies of Pope Pius, the coronation of Pope John, several canonisations, and such important events as Pope John’s visit during the first few weeks of his reign to the Irish Dominican House and Basilica of San Clemente, Rome.
Dr. O hEidean was educated at Christian Brothers Schools, Naas. His Superiors during his secondary school course there were Very Rev. Brother M.R. Keogh and Very Rev. Brother C.B. Brady, and the lay teachers included Mr. D. McNamara and the late Mr. John Ryan. He graduated in Economics (B.Comm) at the National University of Ireland, U.C.D. He joined the Civil Service and served as an Executive Officer in the Land Commission and Civil Service Commission. During the emergency he served as Lieutenant and Captain with the 1st Irish Speaking Battalion in Galway and with the Chief of Staff in Plans and Operations Branch of G.H.Q. Dr. O hEideain entered the diplomatic service as a Third Secretary by open competitive examination in 1949. After brief periods at the Department of External Affairs in Consular Section, he served as Third Secretary in Washington from 1949 to 1951 on the public relations and cultural side of the Embassy there. He later served as Charge d’Affairs in Buenos Aires and with the council of Europe at Strasbourg, and in Political and Protocol Sections of the Department of External Affairs, Dublin.


Leinster Leader 28th January 1961





Blessing of New Rooms Before Convention



The annual Convention of Kildare G.A.A. at Droichead Nua on Sunday will be held for the first time in a place of assembly owned by the Co. Board. The new Committee Rooms, at St. Conleth’s Park able to accommodate 250 delegates will be blessed by Right Rev. Monsignor Miller, P.P., V.F. and formally opened by him at 1.15. This ceremony will follow Mass at noon for dead G.A.A. members in St. Conleth’s Parish church, Droichead Nua. Convention starts at 1.30, and delegates will be entertained to dinner afterwards in the Town Hall. The agenda is a fairly lengthy one but should be completed by about 5 p.m. Convention will consider 24 motions on widely divergent topics, senior players in junior leagues, venues for various competitions, the automatic suspension on being ordered off the field, admission of army teams to the junior hurling championship ……

But probably the most interesting will be three relating to the structure of the areas allotted to clubs from which players can be selected. A bye-law in the county allows a club operating in one parish to be granted portion of another parish as part of its “selecting territory” this meaning that it can get the services of a player or players not otherwise available to it. There was in fact one instance where a team that won the senior championship got several of its best players from another parish, and there are many cases of one or two being introduced to a team from an “outside parish.” Objections to new rulings on the matter are expected but, of the three motions on the subject, it is anticipated that the one under the aegis of Maynooth will stand the best chance of getting through. It asks that Bye-law 21 be deleted and replaced by the following: “That the parish boundary be that under the jurisdiction of the parish priest and only players who have taken part in Senior, Junior or Intermediate Championship or League under Bye-law 21 as constituted in 1960 be allowed to play for their existing clubs.”  Clane sponsor a motion which, in view of the current state of the county senior side, will evoke a lot of comment. It wants the selection committee to be composed of a representative of each senior team in the county.

Several motions are sponsored by Athy, who want a Parish League, instruction for referees and a three monthly report on the progress made on motions passed in each year in convention to ensure that they were not left in abeyance. The Leinster Leader Cup is subject of two motions. Carbury would like it played on the home venue of one of the competing teams, with areas arranged for a two year period so that the venues would alternate from year to year. A motion by Naas asks that the cup be divided into two sections and the 1962 senior championship contested by the four top teams of the two sections. Other motions seek various rule changes and with such a large total at least two hours should be needed to get through them.


March 02, 2011


Leinster Leader 29th July 1961

Dignity of Naas Building Restored

Naas Courthouse, reconstructed after extensive fire damage of a few years ago, saw its first big event in more than two years when the Trinity Sittings of the Circuit Court opened there before Judge Deal last week. Built in the early eighteen hundreds, it was designed by Sir Richard Morrison, a pupil of James Gordan, the architect of what is probably Ireland’s finest building, the Custom House.
The plan of the Courthouse was based on the requirements of the Grand Jury System of Local Government and consisted of two courts, one on either side of the main entrance hall, with the main staircase in the centre giving access to the Judge’s chambers and Grand Jury room. The gallery on the side of the Criminal Court was for the use of the Grand Jury, and its private access stairs to the former Grand Jury room is still in existence. The original façade of Morrison’s Courthouse comprised the end walls of the Courts linked by an arcade of three arches, approached by a flight of steps. These arches are now dividing the main entrance hall from an inner hall. The building joints, between the original building and a front extension, were discovered during the reconstruction. The front extension consisting of offices, entrance hall and pillared portico was added in 1859 and the date can be seen worked into the pattern of the top quoin of the north east corner of the building. An extension to the rear was undertaken in 1899 shortly after the functions of the Grand Jury system were taken over by the County Council. No significant alterations were made after that until the recent reconstruction began.
The buildings, as now reconstructed, represents a great improvement on the structure as it was before the fire took place, and is now the County’s most imposing building. The opportunity was taken to replan and adapt it to present day requirements and standards while restoring the character and dignity of the building and the work was carried out under the direction and supervision of the Council’s Architect, Mr. N. Meagher, B.Arch., M.R.I.A.I., A.R.I.B.A., A.M.T.P.I.
In dealing with the roofs, a complex of valleys and gutters was eliminated and replaced by ribbed concrete roofs finished with insulated asphalt. All defects in the structure were dealt with and the flooring was renewed completely. The building was rewired throughout and a modern system of central heating installed, and a completely new plumbing and ventilation system. The Portland stone pillars of the portico have been cleaned and restored and the façade is now painted in pale salmon. The new coffered ceiling of the Portico is coloured in jasmine. Railing and windows are touched up in neutral blue. The entrance doors are mahogany and the entrance porch is panelled in the same material. A striking feature of the entrance hall is the representation of the County Council crest, incorporating the Coats of Arms of Naas, Athy and Leinster, which occupies the centre of the floor and which has been finely worked in rubber flooring material.

Overhead is a delicate chandelier of modern design suspended from fibrous plaster moulded ceiling. The mouldings of this and other ceilings were based on fragments of the original plaster ceilings recovered from the debris. The walls of the hall are finished in a warm salmon shade while the ceiling is primrose. The doors and window sashes are shadow grey. The inner hall has a special acoustic ceiling with hardwood edging to ensure a degree of quiet outside the doors leading to the Court. The walls are mimosa and the ceiling white. Pillars and niches are featured in deep salmon. The flooring of the halls are of lead grey 6.7 linoleum. The stair hall, of oval shape, has been provided with fire reinforced concrete staircase moulded to the contours of the walls and having a delicate white wrought iron balustrade with a patent plastic handrail in brick and hardwood edging to the steps. The stair lino is blue with white nosings while the walls are of pale blue.
The cornice, covered ceiling, and roof light of the stair hall are particularly elegant and the artificial lighting is concealed in the cornice. Features of the stair hall are fine wrought iron grills; similar work may be seen in the entrance hall. The splendid Bar Room (formally the Grand Jury Room) is now panelled in oak. The walls are pale blue, the ceiling blossom pink and the niches burgundy. The Courtrooms are coral and peach respectively while the ceilings are mimosa. These ceilings form one of the most interesting features of the building. They are special heated acoustic ceilings. The heating pipes are concealed and the panels have properties of absorbing and controlling sound reflection. Formally the bad acoustics of the Courtrooms was a source of great annoyance. The sound is now perfectly balanced.

The main building contract was carried out by Cormac Murray of Naas and Navan, at cost of about £20,000, Mr. John Doran of Newbridge, acted as general Foreman throughout. The central heating and mechanical services contract was carried out by Messrs. McCann of Dublin at a cost of £7,000, while the electrical contract was undertaken by Messrs. J.F. Ryder, of Manor Street, Dublin at a cost of £2,000.
Messrs. J.A. Kenny and Partners, Dublin, acted as Consultants in respect of the electrical and mechanical services, while the Quantity Surveyor was Mr. A. Whelan F.R.I.C.S., also of Dublin. The Clerk of Works was Mr. Hugh Dempsey of Droichead Nua.


The Kildare Observer, Saturday, 21st November 1891


On Sunday the solemn and impressive ceremony of the blessing of the new bell for the Carmelite Church, Kildare, took place in the presence of a large congregation. The Most Rev. Dr. Comerford, Coadjutor Bishop of the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, officiated at the ceremonies, which commenced at ten o’clock.  The bell, which for the present is suspended from a wooden structure in the grounds attached to the church, was supplied by the Fountainhead Bell Foundary, James’s street, Dublin, and reflects credit on the manufacturer, Mr. Mathew Byrne.
It is one of the largest in the diocese, weighs 25 cwt. and is of very fine tone. The ceremony of consecration lasted over an hour.
At eleven o’clock Pontificial High Mass was sung, the celebrant being Very Rev. Father Bartley, ex-Provincial; deacon, Rev. Father O’Reilly, O.C.C.; sub-deacon, Rev. Father Byrne, The Very Rev. Father Butler, O.C.C., Sydney Australia, officiated as master of ceremonies. His lordship the Most Rev. Dr. Comeriod presided at the Throne, and was assisted by the Very Rev. Father Hall, Provincial, Dublin.
The other clergymen present were:-
Very Rev. N.A. Staples, Prior Kildare; Rev. John Daly, O.C.C., Dublin; Very Rev. Dr. Murphy P.P. V.G., Kildare; Very Rev. Father Skelly, O.P. Newbridge; Rev. Father Ransbott, P.P., Suncroft; Rev. George Going, C.C. do.; Rev. John Cullen, C.C., Kildare; Rev. Joseph Delaney, Curragh Camp, Rev. P. Byrne, C.C. Rathangah.
After the first Gospel the Very Rev. Dr. Murphy, P.P., V.G. ascended the alter, and preached an appropiate [Sic] sermon, taking from his text: - “This is the victory which overcometh the world – our faith” – words from the first Gospel of St. John, 5th chapter and 4th verse. The preacher said the consecration of a bell for the use of Catholic purposes is a rite of solemnity and suggestiveness. The minister of the ceremony must be a prelate endowed with the plenitude of the priesthood and clothed in his Pontifical garments. He reads over that material object many prayers and benedictions, employs various mystic ceremonies, and by the use of holy oil finally consecrates it to the service of the Almighty God. The bell consecrated to-day has become a sacred thing. It shall be used no more for profane purposes, but only in the service of religion. It would be a sacrilege to injure it maliciously, or to treat it with disrespect. By virtue of its consecration it has received a certain supernatural character and dignity. Its sound shall be the voice of God – sweet, melodious, and inviting all to comply with God’s Words. Of the Apostles it has been written that their voice went forth into all the earth and their words into the end of the world; so the tongue of this bell shall for ever speak the words of faith, shall avert calamities, drive away the demons, shall be the rebuke of the wicked and a warning to the sinner, an exhortation to the just, and a grace of inspiration to all. From its eminence in the tower of this beautiful church, whether it reminds us in the morning, at noon and in the afternoon to commemorate with grateful love and adoring worship the incarnation of the son of God – it invites us to this beautiful temple to celebrate its sacred mysteries, or again, it inspires us with sympathy for the suffering dead, it shall be for ever the symbol of that faith which is the root and the beginning of human salvation – of that Faith, which in the words of the text overcometh the world.
The words of the text imply that there was an antagonism between our Faith and the world. They imply too, that in the strife of human life, wherein eternity is at stake, there is no escape from the perdition of the world, except through the agency and sanctity of holy faith. Continuing the preacher traced the history and character of that conflict which is ever progressing between the spirit of the world which opposed to the spirit of Faith, and what are the principals of the world which are the contradiction to the principals of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The spirit of the maxims of the world are that riches, honour, preferment ,and renown is happiness- that the joys of life and the delights of sin are happiness; that poverty is a curse; that insults are to be resented; that the rules of society are the supreme standard of what is right and wrong. Looking out upon the world what did it show? He did not mean in this Catholic land that no prayers are ever said, that God is never honoured. No, but he meant that the homage due to God is not given, that His majesty is well-nigh outraged by the poor pittance of honour which mortals – the creatures of His own hand – consent to pay Him. He is regarded as an obstacle and inconvenience, demanding from men a service they have neither time nor inclination to render, that the time and attention which should be devoted to his honour and the service of His holy law are wasted in the pursuit of passing pleasures in the external seeking after money. Is not, then this world an enemy of God? Are not its maxims the very opposite of the maxims of the Gospel? What does Jesus Christ say? One thing is necessary – “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world if he suffers the loss of his soul? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice. If any man be My disciple let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me – pray always.”
It was not easy to resist the spirit of the world. Man has three more powerful enemies – the world, the flesh, and the evil, and over these no victory can be gained without prayer and the grace of God. For those exposed to the world there is much danger, so we have much reason to fear for them. Everything is presented to inflame the passions of sin, and develop in the human heart the root of crime. Vices are exhibited in the most attractive shape, certainly by attractions it is hard to resist. There are theatres, balls, shows and plays, books and pictures, amusement and society. There is the love of distinction, ambition, pride, jealousy. There are factions and party feelings, and the thousand other instruments which the world employs in doing the devil’s work, in resisting God and wrecking human souls. Therefore, if we would be saved, we must put away from us the spirit of the world, to take no part in the world’s customs, which are opposed to the laws of God and which serve as the occasion of sin – to resist its pleasures and attractions when these are incompatible with our duty to our holy faith.
As the conclusion of High Mass, the Rev. Father Staples ascended the alter and said, with the permission of his lordship he took this opportunity of thanking him, not only for officiating to-day, but for his unvaried kindness to the Carmelite Community. To the Very Rev. Dr. Murphy, the preacher, he also offered his grateful thanks for kindly preaching on the occasion, and for his kind and generous sympathy on every occasion when needed since he came to Kildare, and he (Father Staples) may thus publicly be permitted to say that it will not be his fault if the worldly spirit referred to in his sermon will not be absent from the people of whom he has pastoral charge. To the benefactors of the late Mr. Cassidy of Monasterevan; of Mr. Richard Bolger, of Dublin, and of Mr. Ralph Bowen, of Brownstown, who had given £100 towards the bell and tower, and also the two handsome confessionals which added so much to the appearance of the church. The religious ceremonies were brought to a close with the Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament, at which his Lordship the Bishop officiated. A collection was made.

March 01, 2011


‘Living Stones’ tell their tale in Celbridge

As the year draws to a close this column has a little catching up to do regarding anniversaries and publications relating to local history in Kildare. A publication which was launched earlier this year and made a big impact in north Kildare was a book celebrating the 150th anniversary of St. Patrick’s church in Celbridge. The book titled ‘Living Stones’ sets a new standard for local publications with its well-researched content and high production quality. While many such anniversary books are published in time for the anniversary in question the compilers of the Celbridge book decided to leave its publication until after the event so that the anniversary celebrations could be recorded and become part of the text. The book was published in 2010 following the anniversary proper which had taken place the previous year. It includes a report and pictures from the anniversary celebrations and the text of the homily given by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Dermot Martin, on the occasion. By taking this decision – to publish after rather than before – the Celbridge committee has given ‘Living Stones’ a currency which will last until the next major anniversary in fifty years time.

The design and construction of St. Patrick’s church is of interest not alone to its Celbridge parishioners but has an echo for parishes in other parts of north Kildare. The common link is the architect J J McCarthy who had a prolific output of church design throughout Ireland in the mid 19th century. His most spectacular work was the design of the college chapel at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where his enthusiasm for the Gothic revival style is amply demonstrated.  He was also the architect for St. Coca’s, Kilcock (1867), Sacred Heart & St. Brigid, Kilcullen (1869), and the small but perfectly formed chapel at  Ladychapel-Taghadoe (1863).

 He was particularly busy in Co Kildare in the years 1857-59. He was responsible for overseeing the building of the 200 feet high Gothic revival spire for Naas parish church, completed in 1858. At the same time he was also architect for the building of St. Patrick’s in Celbridge from the time its foundation stone was laid down in March 1857 to its celebratory opening in 1859. Thus one can picture McCarthy shuttling with his drawings between Naas and Celbridge by horse and carriage, or possibly by train from Sallins to Hazelhatch, as he supervised both projects.

As well as its associations with the leading church architect of its day, St. Patrick’s in Celbridge is notable for its somewhat unusual location, central to the town layout and positioned in its main street. The clergy who built the numerous new churches which sprung up after the penal laws suppressing the Catholic religion began to be relaxed, had to make do with whatever sites were available, no matter how removed from the old town centre,  and that in turn often depended on the goodwill of a local landowner. In Naas for example the De Burgh’s donated a site for the building of the parish church in 1827. . Perhaps the key to the central location of St. Patrick’s is due to the enlightened attitude of the Protestant squires of Castletown, the Connollys, who permitted the continued existence of a chapel at the central location in Celbridge’s Main Street.  This site in turn was likely that of an old chapel established when the site was part of the estate of the previous owners of Castletown, the Dongans, who were Catholics. This is the conclusion reached by historian Seamus Cummins who indicates that there is evidence of a chapel in on the spot from at least 1709: ‘The unusual location of the Catholic church for the time, when most were discreetly located in a side street (such as Maynooth), or on the outskirts of a town or village (such as Leixlip) … is an indication of harmonious relationships between Catholic and Protestant in Celbridge.’   In addition to Seamus Cummins’ wide-ranging article there is a galaxy of contributors to the ‘Living Stones’ including Kathy Sheridan, local resident and an Irish Times journalist; Dr.  Marian Lyons, newly appointed Head of the Dept. of History at NUI Maynooth; and Eoghan Corry, travel writer, historian and broadcaster. There are many other contributors including some long time residents who have reminisced about memories of Celbridge in bygone times when it was a small but vibrant town on the Liffey, a vibrancy it has retained in its modern suburban status.  Series no: 204.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of St. Patrick's Church in Celbridge Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing new under the sun,' from the Leinster Leader of 25 November 2010 reviews the book 'Living stones.' Our thanks to Liam.


Leader editor termed ‘a gentle revolutionary’

Revolutionaries are generally perceived as being men and women of daring action, assertive leadership, and strong personality – all characteristics needed to lead resistance to an occupying power. The story of how Ireland won its independence is full of them – Wolfe Tone, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, John Devoy, Countess Markievicz and the 1916 signatories  epitomised the characteristics associated with revolutionary activists. But not all revolutionaries possessed such formidable personalities. Behind the frontline figures of the revolutionary movement were many who, in a quieter way, applied their skills and intellects to the cause. Such men and women won the battle for hearts and minds while the more militant leaders were out winning the battle on the streets.  Numbered among such forgotten figures of the Irish revolution is a past editor of the Leinster Leader – Seumas O’Kelly whose tenure at the editor’s desk extended from 1906 to 1912 and again briefly in 1916.  A native of Loughrea where his father owned a milling business Seumas O’Kelly grew up in a milieu where the conversation and folklore of rural folk were major influences. Drawn to a life of writing he worked as a journalist in east Galway before heading southwards to his first editor’s job with the Southern Star newspaper in west Cork. Perhaps attracted by word of an emerging activism in the Irish cause centred on Dublin, he moved to Naas in 1906 to take up the editorial desk at the Leinster Leader. The paper, founded in the heady days of the 1880s Land League, was a sympathetic environment for a writer interested in advancing the cause of Irish independence. Seumas O’Kelly’s finely written editorials over a period of six years did much to invigorate nationalist spirit in Kildare. As well as his weekly journalistic writings O’Kelly began to publish creative work based on his observations of the good, and the bad, in Irish rural and small-town society. His work quickly gained recognition among the leading lights of the Irish literary revival of the time. In 1908, while he was still in Naas,  he wrote a play which was produced on the stage of the fledgling Abbey theatre prompting a commentator to describe him as ‘Ireland’s most popular new playwright.’ His later output of short-stories, poetry and novels met with popular acclaim even if professional critics regarded his work as uneven. However all were agreed that his short story ‘The Weaver’s Grave’ ranked as one of the finest of its genre.  An early edition was illustrated by the celebrated artist Jack B. Yeats who also provided sketches for O’Kelly’s poetry collection ‘Ranns and Ballads.’  His reputation as a writer brought him into contact with the influential circle of poets and authors which included headline names such as Padraig Colum, Oliver Gogarty, Lady Gregory, and, indeed, W B Yeats.  O’Kelly’s fine characterisations of Irish rural people were largely drawn from his east Galway origins. More rarely, traces of his tenure in Naas can be seen in his writing. His short story ‘Michael and Mary’ tells of a canal-side romance and opens with a description of a boat gliding along the canal with the Bog of Allen mists casting an ethereal light on the waterway: ‘ The soft rose light that mounted the sky caught the boat and burnished it like dull gold. It came leisurely, drawn by the one horse, looking like a ‘Golden Barque’ in the twilight.’  While capable of such creative flourishes O’Kelly remained rooted in the day-to-day journalistic needs of the nationalist movement and, after leaving the Leader in 1912, made his talents available to Arthur Griffith, one of the inspirational figures of the independence movement, who published the newspaper Nationality aimed at a growing nationalist readership.  His brother Michael succeeded him as editor of the Leinster Leader; Michael was made of more militant stuff and was interned after the 1916 Rising. Seumas returned to the Leinster Leader to fill the gap left by his brother’s incarceration.  After some months he went back to Dublin and resumed work on Griffith’s paper which was published at the Sinn Fein premises at Harcourt St., Dublin. It was there in November 1918 that some British soldiers and their followers,  engaging in riotous celebration of the armistice which ended the first world war,  attacked the premises where O’Kelly was working into the night. A man of gentle character he was upset by the aggression and suffered a seizure. He did not recover and died three days later on 14 November 1918. The contribution of his journalism to the nationalist cause was reflected in the great turnout for his funeral to Glasnevin. A later biographer remarked that ‘he died for Ireland as surely as if he had been shot by a Black and Tan.’  He is commemorated in a plaque at the Leinster Leader premises in Naas which bears the fitting tribute ‘Seumas O’Kelly, a gentle revolutionary.’ Series no: 203

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothin new under the sun,' from the Leinster Leader of 18 November 2010 chronicles the life of editor, poet and revolutionary - Seumas Kelly. Our thanks to Liam.


Troubles on the home front overshadow war’s end

The date line on this week’s issue meant that there was only one historical theme that could be considered in the column this week. The 11th November is a date that still has the capacity to send a frisson down the spine even if the anniversary it marks originated over eighty years ago in the Armistice which ended the First World War of 1914-18. Such is the enormity of the tragedy of the war and its consumption of many millions of lives that it continues to resonate through the decades. When the war erupted in the summer of 1914, the generals assured a trusting public that it would be over by Christmas of that year. Instead four Christmas seasons were to pass in an orgy of carnage in the trenches of Flanders and the arid shorelines of Gallipoli before Germany eventually buckled in front of the Allied onslaught. The ceasefire was to come into effect at 11a.m. on the 11th November 1918. It came too late for men like Denis Kelly of Athy, Larry Molloy of Rathangan and Mick Donnelly of Newbridge. Laurence Molloy, a private in the Royal Munster Fusiliers was killed in France in the final months of that terrible war. He died on the 21st of March 1918; his fellow Kildare man, Michael Donnelly, a Lance-Corporal in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, lost his life on the same date. The Armistice was just six weeks away when Denis Kelly, a Private in the Leinster Regiment, died of his wounds in France on the last day of September 1918.

All three are numbered among the 30,000 or more Irish who perished in the catastrophic conflict between empires. No doubt they were not forgotten in their Kildare homesteads but reading the coverage in the local newspapers in the days after the Armistice the reaction in Kildare to the war’s ending was low key if not indifferent. The Leinster Leader of 16 November 1918 captured the sense of war-weary anti-climax: “The Great War, which for four years has continued with almost ceaseless slaughter, and brought in its train all the misery and horrors which are its usual accompaniments, has ended almost as suddenly as it broke off.’ There were some token official recognitions of the end of hostilities. The Kildare Observer reported that when news of the Armistice reached Naas the Union Jack was hoisted over the courthouse. A tinge of triumphalism appeared in the proceedings of Newbridge Town Commission which passed a resolution ‘of congratulation to the Allies and of satisfaction at the splendid triumph which had been gained’. There were sporadic episodes of celebration at the war’s end but no mass jubilation.  One of the few reports of prolonged celebration came from Celbridge where, according to the Leader, ‘bonfires were lighted on the streets, and dancing was kept up until the small hours of Tuesday morning.’ Perhaps a likely explanation for the indifference was the fact that those on the home front faced troubles of their own. Ireland was a disturbed place in November 1918 and had long stopped listening to the din of distant wars. The political energies unleashed by the 1916 Rising continued, two years on, to reverberate in the market squares and the parish halls. An election was due in Ireland in the autumn of 1918 and local conversation was more concerned with its outcome than with the cessation of a war many miles away.  Even more devastating was the influenza outbreak which tore through households irrespective of gender and age. The Leinster Leader of November 1918 recorded a grim procession of influenza casualties. In Celbridge ‘... a whole family named Dillon, of eight persons, were stricken with the disease. Five were removed to hospital where two of the sons have died. The mother died at her home and the other members of the family are in a critical condition.’  Thus it is not surprising that the men who had left three or four years past to fight a distant war were no longer to the forefront of the public mind as new and more immediate hardships made their presence felt.  Series no: 202.

Liam Kenny in his column 'Nothing new under the sun,' from the Leinster Leader of 11 November 2010 on the anniversary of the Armistice of 1918. Our thanks to Liam.


The day the Big Fellow came to town

The name Michael Collins still provokes a frisson in a modern Ireland. It is amazing how three generations removed from the era in which he lived his name has a certain magnetism. Only recently there was a successful campaign to preserve what remained of the national school which he attended in west Cork. And within the past month when RTE carried out an on-line poll to identify a short-list of Ireland’s greatest persons, Collins featured among the final five. For many the picture of Collins is characterised by the oft-repeated photograph of him in the uniform of the army of the Free State – a photograph which projects an aura of authority, leadership and dynamism. For others the image of Collins is forged through the accounts of his multiple roles in the construction of a new State in the volatile years from 1919-22. As a republican leader he masterminded an insurgent campaign in the capital virtually under the noses of the British authorities in Dublin Castle. His indefatigable energies and talents extended across the full range of skills needed to establish a working government for an independent Ireland. His success as Minister for Finance in the early Dáil government in raising a loan for the new state – at a time when the same Dáil government was a banned organisation – reflects his potential as an administrator capable of structuring a viable government machine while operating under extreme pressure. His personal courage both in the immediacy of fighting a guerrilla war and on the wider scale in signing the Treaty with Britain have been widely acknowledged. But it would be going too far to say that all of his contemporaries felt that he could do no wrong. In the contentious early months of 1922, after the signing of the Treaty the previous December, there were many who were bitterly opposed to his decision to sign the Treaty. This was a key theme in the beginnings of the split in the nationalist movement which was to break out into a wasting Civil War from late April 1922 – had Collins and company wrested the best deal possible for Ireland or had they betrayed the aspirations of the Republic proclaimed in 1916? As in all political situations it is difficult to calibrate to what extent the arguments on either side were influenced by high principle. The personality clashes and the inevitable rivalries for power which seems to permeate all organisations probably had as much to do with raising the tension of the time. However when Collins came to address a public meeting in Naas in April 1922 he was met by a great crowd vocal in their enthusiasm in what he had to say in defence of the Treaty. According to a report in the Kildare Observer up to 3,000 people gathered in the square of Naas to greet Collins who it described as ‘Chairman of the Provisional Government’. The crowd could have been greater – special trains had been laid on from Tullow and from Maryborough (Portlaoise) but few travelled.  A comment by the reporter perhaps sums up the way in which across the country a certain perception of Collins was crystallising: ‘In the crowd were several former Unionists, attracted doubtless by the personality of Mr. Michael Collins, around whom so much mystery sounded long ago, and whose pronouncements in the recent past have given traits of statesmanship and sound commonsense.’ Certainly the crowd were not be disappointed. Collins delivered an intensely-argued speech which drew interjections of support from the audience assembled in the main street of Naas. He injected fire into the political argument that had developed between his supporters and those of Eamon de Valera, political leader of the anti-Treaty faction. But his intensity had a certain logic. He pointed out that things which Irish people had never thought they would see in their own lifetimes – the evacuation of the British army and the Royal Irish Constabulary, was underway in towns across the country.  Series no: 201.

Liam Kenny in his Leinster Leader column 'Nothing new under the sun' of 4 November 2010 describes the visit of Michael Collins to Naas. Our thanks to Liam.


Leixlip History Club 2011 schedule

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).





















Leixlip History Club series of events for 2011

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