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April 21, 2011


Shoot on sight Smyth

James Durney

One of the most dramatic stories of the War of Independence was the mutiny in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in June 1920. Many RIC men, from County Inspectors to Constables, had resigned in protest against the tasks assigned, when into Listowel police barracks on 19 June 1920, came a cavalcade of top-ranking crown officers. Leading them was Lieutenant-Colonel Gerard Bryce Ferguson Smyth, Divisional Commander for all Munster, a one-armed veteran of the Great War. With him was General Tudor, soon to become leader of the Auxiliary Cadets, County Inspector O’Shee, Captain Chadwick, of the British Staff, Resident Magistrate Leatham, Assistant County Inspector Dobbyn, and a number of others. It was an imposing group for the eighteen constables who lined up in front of them in the day-room of the barracks. Divisional Commissioner Smyth addressed them:

Well, men, I have something of interest to tell you; something I am sure you would not wish your wives to hear. Sinn Féin has had all the sport up to the present and we are going to have the sport now … I am promised as many troops from England as I require, thousands are coming daily. I am getting 7,000 police from England …
Police and military will patrol the country at least five nights a week. They are not to confine themselves to the main roads but take across the country, lie in ambush, and when civilians are seen approaching shout ‘Hand up.’ Should the order not be immediately obeyed, shoot, and shoot with effect. If persons approaching carry their hands in their pockets and are in any way suspicious looking, shoot them down … We want your assistance in carrying out this scheme and wiping out Sinn Féin.

The assembled constables stared at him. Commissioner Smyth turned to the first man in the ranks: ‘Are you prepared to co-operate?’ However, the men had already chosen a leader, Constable Jeremiah Mee, and it was indicated he would speak for all of them. ‘By you accent,’ he said, ‘I take it you are an Englishman; and in your ignorance you forget you are addressing Irishman.’
 As the rows of startled officers faced the rows of determined policemen, the men’s leader, in a gesture of contempt, took off his cap, belt and sidearm, and laying them on a table said: ‘These too, are English. Take them!’
Commissioner Smyth and Inspector O’Shee shouted that Constable Mee be immediately arrested, but an angry murmur filled the day-room, and it was clear that any attempt to do so would lead to violence. After a moment of bafflement and amazement, the group of high-ranking officers withdrew.
A little later, there was a similar scene in Killarney RIC barracks. Commissioner Smyth informed the constables there of a new freedom. Hitherto, facilities had been given for an inquiry when the RIC killed a man, he said.

Henceforward no such facilities would be provided and no such policemen would be held up to public odium by being pilloried before a Coroner’s jury. Further, when a police patrol saw coming along a road a Sinn Féiner whom they suspected of intent to attack them they were to get in the first shot and there would be no further questions asked.

Then Commissioner Smyth chalked a line on the floor of the day-room and asked any man not prepared to carry out these instructions to step out and he would be paid off. Five men promptly stepped out, and after a pause, the rest cheered them.
 Smyth’s words caused great controversy and there were awkward questions for the Chief Secretary, Sir Hamar Greenwood, in the House of Commons. Greenwood denied that Commissioner Smyth had ever used such words. What he had said had been twisted entirely out of its true meaning. The Munster IRA were sure of what Smyth had said, and made plans to assassinate him.
Smyth was summoned to England in the second week of July and attended the Irish Office where he was questioned on newspaper reports of his speeches made in Listowel and Killarney. On his return to Ireland he went to Kerry on business connected with the holding of the Assizes, and returned to Cork on 16 July in connection with the same duty at the Cork City Assizes, to be held that Monday.
On the night of Saturday, 17 July 1920, at least six IRA volunteers entered the exclusive County Club, Cork, where on the first floor smoke room Commissioner Smyth was sipping a glass with County Inspector George Craig. Three volunteers guarded the entrance, while three others went upstairs. They entered the room where Smyth and Craig were chatting together on a lounge. Two others were also in the room, Mr. Barker, Secretary of the Club, and another member. The three volunteers walked into the room and one, who obviously knew the target, pointed out Smyth. The volunteers were not masked and one walking over to Smyth, asked: ‘Were not your orders to shoot at sight? Well, you are in sight now, so prepare.’ The Commissioner jumped up and reached for his gun. He was dead as his hand closed on the butt. Two bullets struck Smyth in the head killing him instantly. He was also hit in the body. Several more bullets missed, one hitting Inspector Craig in the leg. Without even a glance to the other occupants of the room, who were stunned at what they witnessed, the volunteers pocketed their weapons, rejoined their companions downstairs and the whole party mingled with the crowd that was leaving a neighbouring picture palace.
A hurried examination of the Divisional Commissioner showed that he was beyond aid. Inspector Craig was wounded in the leg, though not seriously. The police and military were quickly on the scene and a doctor was summoned. Craig was administered to by the Rev. Father Nunan, of the South Presbytery, and Dr. Dalton. An ambulance brought Smyth’s body to the Cork Central Military Hospital, where an inquest was to be held the following day.
Later that night soldiers and Black and Tans raced through the streets of Cork City, firing in all directions as they went. An IRA volunteer, James Bourke, who was an ex-British soldier, was shot dead, and over twenty other local citizens were injured. Eighteen jurors were called to the inquest the next day, but only nine appeared. After several hours delay and unable to swear in a jury the inquest was abandoned by the Coroner.
Commissioner Smyth's companion on that fateful night was a Co. Kildare native - George Fitzgerald William Craig was born in Naas on 17 June 1869. Craig’s first wife was Emily Hayes and he was married secondly in 1899 to Isabel Roche, a native of Co. Dublin. He became 3rd District Inspector in 1895 and County Inspector on 15 June 1920. The Irish Times reported on 20 July 1920:
Condition of County Inspector Craig
On inquiry at the Military Hospital it was ascertained that County Inspector Craig, who was wounded during the murder of Brigadier-General Smyth, was progressing as well as could be expected. The bullet is embedded in his left leg, and Dr. Shanahan has arranged to perform an operation to-day for its extraction.
Gerard Bryce Ferguson Smyth was a native of Banbridge, Co. Down. He joined the British Army at the outbreak of the Great War, and served with distinction in the Royal Engineers. He was severely wounded at Le Cateau in 1914 and lost his left-arm. He gained the DSO and several other distinctions, and attained the rank of Brigadier-General, although he was only thirty-eight years of age. He had only been recently appointed to the office of Divisional Commissioner of the RIC, and several counties in the South were placed in his charge. His remains were brought by train to Dublin and then on to Belfast and conveyed to the residence of a relative at Clonaslee, Banbridge. Commissioner Smyth’s funeral on 21 July was of a most impressive character, with the Union Jack draped coffin conveyed on a gun carriage, preceded by a military firing party. A detachment of 100 men of the Norfolk Regiment, with band, and over 100 police, with their band, took part. Later that evening loyalists attacked a nationalist owned premise and proceeded to the local linen factories where they demanded the expulsion of Sinn Féin workers, stating that they would not work with them. Rioting also erupted in Belfast which resulted in the deaths of seven civilians with nearly 100 wounded.
Isabel Craig died at 42 Landsdowne Road, Dublin in 1918. County Inspector Craig was awarded the King’s Police Medal in 1922 and pensioned of fon 31 August 1922. George Craig died in 1956.


A Kildare connection to the killing of Divisional Commander Smyth in Cork in July 1920


The Kildare Observer
September 11, 1909



The Bazaar and Fete opened on Sunday in the White Abbey, Kildare, was a very great success. Thousands thronged the town, and the Very Rev. Father Staples, Prior, O.C.C., should be immensely pleased at the outcome of his energetic work. It may be said that the Bazaar opened with the Marathon race from Newbridge at 2 o’clock, when Mr. Richard Croker started 26 competitors on the road for Kildare to wind up at the White Abbey grounds. When Mr. Croker arrived at Newbridge thousands were thronging the streets anxious to see the start, and when a rosette with Mr. Croker’s colours – pale blue and gold – was pinned on him by one of the committee, he was warmly cheered. Such excitement has not been witnessed for years in the district as was exhibited while the race was in progress. Each competitor was attended by a cyclist – a matter which was arranged by the committee; but the roads being exceedingly greasy, before Ballymanny Hill was in sight some 14 cyclists had bitten the dust – or rather, the mud. After entering the Curragh proper some others came down, and it was amusing as well as exciting to see the different cars in endeavouring to avoid mishaps taking advantage of the excuse to get in on the short grass and endeavour to pass others. Hackneys, traps and motors went at top speed towards the Bazaar in accompanying the Marathon runners; and when the short grass was reached a large number of horsemen were seen to ride beside the road as if forming a guard. Crowds were assembled at different points while the men sped into Kildare, and the result of the race was – Patrick Brady, Kilteel, 1; Edward Darcy, Kildare, 2; Phil Doyle, Abbeyleix, 3; D. Langman, Kildare, 4; - Moran, Ballyroan, 5; M. Farrington, Granbeg, 6; Thomas Dorcy, Newbridge, 7. The prizes were presented by Mrs. Bowman.
Immediately on the arrival of the Marathon winners the Very Rev. Father Staples, Prior, introduced Mr. Richard Croker, saying he had to thank him very heartily for his kindness in coming there to open the Bazaar. Since Mr. Croker had come to Ireland he had done many good works, but the present was not the least of his many good ones. For the past 200 years the Carmelite Community had been paying a large rent for the White Abbey grounds, but recently he (Father Staples) had got an opportunity of purchasing out the ground rent free for ever and he availed of it. The bazaar was for the purpose of clearing off the debt incurred in connection with it. Mr. Croker by his presence there had contributed a great deal to help in the good work. To show their appreciation of him in Newbridge when starting the Marathon race Mr. Croker was cheered by thousands who had assembled.
Mr. Croker said it gave him a very great pleasure to formally open the bazaar, and to see such thousands assisting Father Staples in his good work. He had known Father Staples for a very considerable time, and everything in his hands was bound to be successful.
The bazaar was then opened, and special trains having arrived from different centres the grounds were thronged by thousands during the afternoon who enjoyed the varied forms of amusement.
In connection with the sports, the boys’ race was won by Joe Ryan, Frenchfurze, T. Heffernan and E. McCormack being respectively second and third. D. Kirby (Dublin) won the two mile walk.
The Kildare Derby (donkey race) aroused a very great deal of amusement, and after three heats Mr. J. O’Neill’s Americus Girl won after a good finish, with Pollardstown and White Night following.
There were four teams entered for the tug-of-war, but owing to a dispute it was not finished.
The day throughout was on the rainy side, but not sufficiently to damp the pleasure of those present. Fireworks were witnessed in the evening.
Stallholder – Mrs. Dunne, Osborne Lodge, and Mrs. Dawson, Rathbride Manor; Mrs. Parkinson and the Misses Brophy, Mrs. Charles Bergin, the Misses Maxwell, and the Misses Regan, Mrs. Joe Connolly, Mrs. Jas. Healy, the Misses O’Grady and Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Francis Bergin, the Misses Bergin, and Mrs. Strath, Mrs. Harte and Mrs. Lizzie Talbot, Mrs. Cosgrave, Mrs. Kennedy, and the Misses Kennedy, Mrs. and Miss McHugh and friends; Miss Fitzpatrick and friends, Mrs. Dr. Griffen, the Misses Mooney, Miss O’Neill, and the Misses Byrne, Mrs. Stynes and the Misses Quinn, Newbridge; Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Lawlor, and Mrs. Ryan, Mrs. Wm. Ryan, Mrs. Cooney, Mrs. Dennehy, and Miss Gavin, Mrs. Heffernan, Misses Heffernan, and Miss K. Byrne, Mrs. Logan, Miss Logan and Miss Behan, Mrs. Heffernan, Mrs. O’Brien and Mrs. Flemming, Mrs. Conlan and the Misses Conlan and friends, Miss Mary Bergin. Café Chantant – Miss Talbot. Tea Gardens – Mrs. D. Boland, Miss Boland, the Misses Moore and Mrs. Behan.

April 20, 2011


'U.S. President to visit  Timahoe'

If you were listening to ‘Today in the Papers’ on Radio Telefís Éireann (RTE) in 1970, you would have heard that leading headline announcement.

Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the United States of America, had discovered his Irish roots, and had included a visit to the old Quaker cemetery at Hodgestown, near Timahoe, in north-west Kildare in his official round of Irish visits.

The press were somewhat puzzled. ‘Where’s Timahoe?’ asked national and international journalists. 'County Laois,'  chorused all the knowledgeable people, in reply, and many of the good people in the County Laois Timahoe nodded their heads in total agreement, and claimed their town was the genuine resting place of the President’s Milhouse ancestors.

This heresy was soon put to flight, and Timahoe, in North Kildare, began to take on an international news dimension.

Does this remind you of the current competing claims for connections to President Obama’s Irish ancestors?

You are very welcome to hear the full story of President Nixon’s visit to the real Timahoe at 8 pm. on Wednesday, 11th May at the Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth, when Maynooth Local History Group presents a talk by local historian, and Donadea resident, Seamus Cullen.

Admission is free.

The visit of President Nixon to Timahoe, a talk by Seamus Cullen for Maynooth Local History Group, Glenroyal Hotel, 11 May.

April 19, 2011




APRIL 25th  11AM-5PM



Dear Booklover,

  Our Easter Monday Bookfair takes place as above. With over  thirty dealers exhibiting this could prove to be the biggest book event of the year. As well as First editions, ancient and modern, there will be an extraordinary range of items on offer by dealers.

Schull Books of Cork  Will have;

  • a copy of the 2nd edition of the Sinn Fein Rebellion handbook in its original wrappers.
  • A two volume set of the memoir of Thomas Emmet and Robert Emmet. Mint in a slipcase.
  • Tudors Toughs a history of the Auxiliary Division, Royal Irish Constabularly.
  • And for something completely different, a signed ,numbered copy of the Collected Short Stories of Jeffrey Archer, mint in Slipcase.(for secret admirers)

Laracor Books of Co. Meath will be offering the following items for sale:

  • Memoirs of my Family   history of the Morris families of Tipperary, Galway and Mayo, E. Naomi Chapman, Private printing, Frome 1928
  • Capuchin Annual, 1966 – 1971, run of 6 issues, all with 1916 1921 commemorative  sections
  • Journals of the Association for Preserving Memorials of the Dead, Ireland, 20 issues
  • Tours in Ireland, published by Irish Railways, 1903, includes timetables and fares.

Dave Downes of Dublin Bookbrowsers has

  • “Life in the West of Ireland” illustrated by Jack Yeats,
  • Books on the Shackelton family of Ballitore, Co Kildare and lots of local history items.

Hope this will give you a flavour of what is on offer as there will be many thousands of similar items being exhibited and offered for sale. And don’t forget dealers can be very flexible with prices at the moment!

Tara Towers can be accessed by buses, 4,7 and 45 and is served by the Dart at Booterstown. Parking for patrons of the Bookfair is free (don’t forget  to get your permit at the admissions desk) and there are bar and restaurant facilities in the Hotel. Bring along your old and treasured books as many of the dealers give Free  Valuations. It may be the time to dig out an old rarity or two and perhaps get something for it.
Admission is €2.00, with No Levy and No surcharge! Children welcome with adult.

Venue is disability friendly.

For more info please contact: Eddie Murphy at
Mobile: 087 2567908 or
Website: dublincitybookfair.com


Newbridge Local History Group

'County Kildare in the early 20th century as viewed by a Laois man'

Newbridge Local History Goup is hosting a talk tonight, Tuesday 19th April 2011, at 8.30pm in Sarsfields GAA Clubhouse. Ronnie Matthews of Laois Heritage will give a talk on 'County Kildare in the early 20th century as viewed by a Laois man' through the medium of old postcards and photos.

If you have any of your own old postcards or photos of Newbridge people and places please bring them along and with your permission they can be scaned and shared them with the group.

A donation of €2 on the door would be greatly appreciated.


April 16, 2011


Annual SIPTU May Day Labour History School
Saturday 30 April & Sunday 1 May 2011-04-16
The Athy Community Arts Centre

Following the success of last year’s event the organisers of Athy’s May Day Festival have decided to extend the festival into a two-day event, beginning on Saturday 30 April of the May Public Holiday weekend and continuing into Sunday 1 May.

This year’s event combines music, a photographic exhibition and a History Ireland Hedge School, exploring the radical leftist/republican tradition in Irish history. On the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Inland Barrow Navigation scheme, we also look at the life of the original Irish Navvy, with particular focus on the impact of the opening-up of the Grand Canal on Athy and its surroundings. Music will be provided on Saturday night  by Jimmy Kelly, Luke’s much acclaimed younger brother) and Tom Crean.

All are welcome to the picturesque town of Athy where you will be sure to meet a most eclectic bunch, enjoy the activities and celebrate the dawn of the summer.

Saturday 30 April

12 pm-4.00 pm:
A photographic exhibition commemorating the workers who built canals and the boatmen who transported goods throughout the canal network.

2 pm-2.15 pm:
Official opening of the Festival by the Mayor of Athy.

2.15 pm-4.00 pm:
A series of talks examining the socio-economic and cultural impact that the opening of the canals had on provincial life. The typical life of the early Navvies and boatmen will be brought to life, and the struggle for improvement in conditions leading to early Trade Union formation will also be explored.

8.00 pm:
A concert of labour and Worker’s songs, featuring two of Dublin’s well-known balladeers, Tom Crean and Jimmy Kelly. The concert will be preceded by a Wine Reception at 7.30 pm.

Sunday 1 May

3.00 pm:
History Ireland’s Hedge School:  'Whatever happened to the Citizens Army?'

We have the pleasure of hosting History Ireland’s successful Hedge School series. The round table discussion will trace the history of the radical Left Republican tradition in Irish history.

The panel will consist of:

Brian Hanley: St. Pat’s, Drumcondra (co-author of ‘The Lost Revolution: A History of the Worker’s Party and the Official IRA)

Eoin O’Broin: Sinn Féin

Fergus Whelan: ICTU (author of ‘Dissent into Treason)

Jack O’Connor: President of SIPTU

The panel will be chaired by Tommy Graham of History Ireland

There is no charge for any of the events. If you wish to attend, we strongly suggest that you book a seat to avoid disappointment. You can do so by contacting Evelyn during office hours between 9-1 pm and 2-5 pm on Tel: 045 432318.
All events will take place in Athy community Arts centre (Methodist Church), Woodstock Street, Athy.

For further details contact www.siptu.ie or www.kildare.ie

The Annual SIPTU May Day Labour History School Saturday 30 April & Sunday 1 May 2011 in The Athy Community Arts Centre

April 08, 2011




10.00hrs – 13.00hrs
15.00hrs – 17.00hrs

14.00hrs – 20.00hrs


14.00hrs - 1700hrs

TEL: 045 445342



The opening hours for the new Military Museum on the Curragh


Kildare Observer 18 April 1914


The Kildare Carpet Company Limited. It’s Completeness And Progressiveness

(special to the “Kildare Observer”)

Kildare is a county which, like perhaps twenty-eight of the other thirty-one counties that go to make up our country of “questions” and disputes, is popularly regarded as industryless, or practically so, if we leave out of consideration agriculture and its kindred pursuits. It is quite true that most - nearly all - of the textile industries with which the county was dotted over half a century or a century ago have disappeared, leaving us a legacy of gaunt, unoccupied buildings - “the mills lying idle by the wayside” of which the novelist, Thackeray, wrote in his Irish sketch book - and other evidences of an industrial activity which was, but has ceased to be. Within the past few years the lethargy and indifference, the fatalism and the let – somebody – else – do - it attitude which has characterised our people in the past are in progress of abolition and a keener and saner interest in affairs generally is being substituted. When the Irish public begins to realise that regeneration - social and industrial - must be effected from within, and that nothing will over come of looking longingly and expectantly to foreign sympathy to bring about our uplifting the regeneration will have already set in and the ascent will have begun. To the general spread of this feeling we look forward as the sunset indication of a national awakening-a manifestation of a high and a real patriotism.
In the absence of anything like a general industrial activity it is well that we should devote our attentions to the industries that are carried in our midst, few, unfortunately, as they are in number, and, save in a few cases, comparatively unimportant in their present undeveloped condition. In Co. Kildare one of the most important of existing industries - in fact, the most important - is the carpet factory at Naas which, after many vicissitudes and troubles incidental to a new industry, has now established on a firm businesslike and progressive basis. Its importance and potentialities are not recognised as they ought to be even in Naas, but few are acquainted with its operations save in a general way. How many, for instance, realise that the Naas factory is one of the few self - contained industries in the country, where the material is received from the spinners in a raw state and leaves the factory a beautifully and artistically produced carpet to grace the drawing room of a leader society or the stateroom of a mammoth ocean liner? Yet this is in fact a perfectly true description of what occurs in Naas, as we have seen ourselves.
During the week the “Observer” representative visited the Co. Kildare Carpet Co.’s extensive premises at Naas where he met the chairman of the Company, Mr.
S. J. Brown, M.A., J.P.; the managing director, Mr. R. M. Martin, and the manager, Mr. A. B. Anderson, and was conducted over the buildings, which comprise all the departments of a fully and expensively factory of the most modern and up-to-date type. Indeed, in many aspects the factory is quite unique. To begin with, it is the only one of its kind in Ireland in which the raw material passes through all the process in the evolution of a carpet until it is placed on sale or consigned to the customer to whose order it has been made. Again, the factory is unique in being the one in the world in which a carpet 42ft. wide can be made in one piece. Two large cylinders or “booms” as they are technically know 42ft.long, and each weighing 4 tons, render the making of this enormous one-piece carpet possible. It is interesting to note as an aside that the work of carrying the two “booms” referred to, with their tremendous weight and unwieldiness, into the factory and fixing them into their positions was preformed by local labour - no mean tribute to the ingenuity of Naas craftsmanship.
It will doubtless he of interest to our readers to learn the various processes through which the yarn passes in the local factory before being transformed, in the finished state, into the luxuries which Kildare carpets admittedly are. First of all the Yarn goes into the hands of the dyers out of the stores, as carpets of various colours - sometimes of innumerable colours and shades in the one carpet - are required to the order and design of a particular customer. The elaborate and expensive dyeing plant installed here quite recently obviates the necessity of sending the yarn to England as would otherwise have to be done for colouring - a costly and delay - causing procedure. An expert dyer and three assistants, drawn from the local labour supply, are in charge of the dyeing department. Here we find the company has provided three 850 gallon vats and six 950 gallon vats in which the raw material is treated according to formula requirements. Having been coloured to the desired shade the yarn is placed in a splendid hydro - extractor in the same department, after which it passes into the drying-room where a high temperature is maintained day and night by steam pipes with radiators fed from a massive boiler. The yarn placed in this compartment overnight is ready for use in the winding-room on the following morning. In the winding room by means of ingenious contrivances it is wound on bobbins with a degree of dexterity on the part of the winding girls, pleasing to watch. The bobbins are then conveyed as required to the weaving rooms where rows of weavers – girls - sit at the looms with designs - prepared on the premises by the company’s designing staff of four young ladies under the direction and supervision of Mr. Wilde, the chief designer-before them. Here again one is fascinated by the dexterity displayed by the weavers - all local hands and locally trained - who do their work interestedly and cheerfully to judge by the way in which they chant snatches of musical - hall ditties as they weave. An undeniable proof of the excellence of the products placed on the market by the company is the fact that within the past year a substantial addition was found necessary in the weaving department, and a commodious extra weaving room has been built-entirely by local labour. The texture of the carpets having been completed in the weaving rooms they are passed on to the shearing-room, where an expensive modern shearing apparatus with ingenious cylindrical knives has been installed. Here the carpets are dealt with process their jagged appearance gives place to an admirably smooth even surface, after which they are taken to the finishing-room, into which has been converted the floor of the old mill until recently used by Naas Urban Council as a forage store. Finally treated here by the finishers they are passed into the hands of the packers from whom they go to the purchasers all over the world.
The products of the Kildare Carpet Company, Ltd, have achieved a world-wide reputation, and there is scarcely a quarter of the civilised globe to which they have not been sent for use. When our representative visited the factory he was shown three superb large carpets executed to the order of purchasers in New York and one of Chinese design for use in the southern states. One fine carpet of Chinese design was seen on the looms at the time to the order of a resident in Montreal, Canada, and the destination of another Japanese design in process of manufacture is Chicago. It is of melancholy interest to note that some of the carpets in use on the Titanic when it foundered on its maiden voyage were produced in Naas Carpet Factory. The Company has even benefited to a degree by the “futurist” craze, four “futurist” carpets having been finished and despatched to London last week, while at the time of the “Observer” man’s visit one of similar design-a splash, or rather a series of splashes, of vivid and lurid colours-was on the looms in course of manufacture. Last week a special carpet made in this factory was dispatched for display in the British Arts and Crafts section of the French Exhibition. An order recently carried out was a large carpet of special mohair which was sold at 85s. per yard. We would counsel all those requiring products of neat design and faultless execution to pay a visit to the Kildare Carpet Factory.
The Company’s premises are lighted throughout by electricity, and the comfort of the workers is ensured by a series of special heating plants. One of the engines provides the necessary driving power for the shearing machine and the dynamos, while also pumping the water for use in the vats and boilers. Some 80 hands in all are employed at the factory and 15 in Abbyleix, where the company has an auxiliary weaving department. In Naas alone the wages bill of the operatives amounts to about £30 a week. This amount is paid to weavers alone and does not include pay lists of other departments-assuredly an appreciable consideration in a town like this. The demand for operatives exceeds the local supply, and the company would be prepared to take on some 20 or 30 girls as an addition to the existing staff.
On the whole the Kildare Carpet Factory is a revelation in completeness, and since that it has survived the ills and obstacles which are concomitant to the infancy of such a concern we have no doubt it will enjoy a prosperous and progressive future.



A special report on the Kildare Carpet Company factory in Naas from the Kildare Observer of 18 April 1914. Typed by John O'Byrne


Kildare Observer December 13, 1913


Naas Hostel Closed
Owing to the General Unrest

To the Editor, “Kildare Observer”

Dear Sir,-May I trespass on your space and inform those friends who so kindly helped by giving me money and goods to start the Hostel for girl workers at the Carpet Factory that I have closed it. Owing to the general unrest and the difficulties that must ensue to all industries in Ireland, the directors of the Carpet Factory have decided that at present they cannot employ a greater number of hands than are available from Naas. I trust that times may improve, and that the Hostel may be re-opened under better circumstances in the future.-

Yours truly,
Geraldine Mayo.
Palmerstown Straffan,
December 9th 1913.

A letter from Lady Mayo to the Kildare Observer on the closure of the hostel for female workers at Naas Carpet Factory. Typed by John O'Byrne

April 07, 2011


The Kildare Observer 8th February 1919

Burning of Kill Village Hall


At Naas Quarter Sessions on Wednesday The Countess of Mayo claimed £600 compensation for the alleged malicious burning of the village hall at Kill on the night of 1st January.
Mr. Cecil Fforde (instructed by Mr. C.P. Tracy, solicitor) appeared for the applicant: Mr. W.A. Lamphier, solicitor, for the Kildare County Council and Mr. Kinahan, B.L. (instructed by Messrs. Brown and McCann), for the Naas No. 1 District Council.
Mr. Fforde in opening the case said the claim was for £600 odd in respect of the malicious burning of a village hall in Kill. Some years ago Lady Mayo wished to provide some place where the people around about could hold concerts, dances and amusements of that kind. She got subscriptions amongst her friends and raised a sum of £101, of which she subscribed £25 and Lord May £10, and there was a balance of £150, which Lady Mayo provided part of which was repaid by the receipts and there was still a sum of £80 due to Lady Mayo. About a year ago the hall was used for dancing classes, and its use for that purpose was discontinued as it led to noisy scenes, etc. In August, 1917, the secretary of the local Sinn Fein club wrote to Lady Mayo demanding the hall for the purpose of meetings on the grounds that as the hall had been built by public subscriptions they were entitled to use it. “I need hardly say” said council, “that these gentlemen did not subscribe one penny to that or probably to any other purpose to serve the nation.” The letter from the Sinn Fein club of Kill and Ardclough set out that as the hall had been built by public subscriptions, the committee came to the conclusion that they should have the use of it. The letter was signed by Thos Clarke, New Row, Kill. To that letter Lady Mayo replied stating that the use of the hall could not be given, as under its rules it could only be used for educational or recreational purposes. Later on there was a certain amount of these public demonstrations which took the form of cattle-driving, and a number of Lord Mayo’s grazing tenants’ cattle were driven off the land. It was necessary to bring police into the district, and the police took possession of the hall without permission of Lord or Lady Mayo to be used as a centre. On the 1st January of this year a concert was being given in the hall in aid of the fund for payment of the district nurse, and some soldiers gave their assistance. That entertainment closed about 10 o’clock. A number of lamps that had been used in the hall were carefully extinguished. About midnight some of those who took part in the entertainment passed the hall and there was no sign of fire. About 2 o’clock the police were notified that the hall was blazing. The hall cost £255 to build, and could not be rebuilt now for less than twice that amount. There was a lot of things in the hall, which brought the claim up to £600.
Lady Mayo, examined, in reply to Mr. Fforde, said the hall was built in the year 1914 on her own initiative for educational recreational schemes in the neighbourhood. A number of her friends and the people of the neighbourhood helped by subscribing about £70. About a year ago the hall had been let for dancing classes, and that was discontinued. In the year 1918 there was a good deal of cattle driving on the lands of Lord Mayo’s tenants. On the 1st January this year there was a pantomime held in the hall. The replacement value of the hall was over £300. The articles enumerated in the list produced were in the hall at the burning. A few days after the burning witness got an anonymous letter. (Council said he would not read the letter, but would hand it up to his Honour).
Mr Kinahan objected to the introduction of the letter.
Lady Mayo, examined by Mr. Kinahan, said the public around the district subscribed to the fund for the erection of the hall. There was no boycotting of another enterprise of hers in Kill – the Dewdrop Inn. The hall was insured but she did not know whether the policy precluded the use of the hall for theatricals. There was not to her knowledge any repudiation by the insurance company of liability.
Frank Leckton, butler at Palmerstown, examined by Mr. Fforde, said he got up the pantomime on 1st January. There was in the hall a portable oil stove, which was alight during the day of the performance, but was extinguished by him before 7 p.m. There were oil lamps in front of the stage and over the auditorium. There was smoking in the auditorium and a certain amount amongst the players on stage. The performance concluded at 10.10 p.m. Witness saw the pianist put out the candles on the piano and he then went to put out the oil lamps on the stage. All the lamps were put out except three suspension lights and one light in the dressing room. The footman footman put out the remaining lights, and witness said the others went to supper at Mr. Stevens’s. When returning on their way home about 12 o’clock everything was all right and the hall was in darkness.


The direct examination of Frank Lockton was continued on Thursday morning. In answer to Mr. Fforde witness said there was nothing inflammable in the room at the back of the stage. During the performance there was smoking on the stage. There was a small window in the gable end of the building. The evening of the fire was wet and the floor was wet and damp with the audience. Cross examined by Mr. Kinahan – Smoking was not forbidden in the body of the hall. About four men might have been smoking in the dressing room. The performance was “Dick Whittington” and a lot of fancy dresses were used. The window at the gable end was taken out to illustrate the throwing of chestnuts from the scenes as if from trees.
Mr. Fforde – The chestnuts were pantomime jokes (laughter).
Witness continuing said that no particular hostility was shown to them during rehearsals.
George Franklin, chauffer to Lord Mayo depose that he extinguished the acetone lights on the night of the performance. Witness saw no cigarette ends or burning tobacco in or near the dressing room.
William Whitaside, footman at Palmerstown, deposed that he put out all the lights on the night of the performance with the exception of a hurricane lamp, which was outside to show people the tree steps leading up to the hall. After the people left the hall a woman came in and said she had lost a key. With the aid of the hurricane lamp witness searched the whole of the floor, and there was nothing about to cause a fire.
Mr Richard Lowe, Manager of the Dew Drop Inn Kill, deposed to being awakened at 1.50 on the morning of the 2nd January. He went to the window and on looking out saw the hall on fire. The place was just one mass of flame.
To Mr. Kinanhan the witness said everyone round the place dealt in the Dew Drop Inn.
Constable Longheed deposed that he was at the performance on the 1st January. He would not say there were any Sinn Feiners in the hall that night at least no pronounced Sinn Feiners. There might have been some of the weak-minded Sinn Feiners there. (Laughter)
His Honour. Some people say that description might apply to all and explain the existence of the institution. (Laughter)
Further examined the witness spoke of having been awakened by the noise of the burning and seeing the hall in flames.
Mr R.H. Hall produced a map of the district showing the position of the hall. His Honour in the course of his remarks in summing up said it was a great pity this fine hall that was created through the generosity of Lord and Lady Mayo who had done so much for the locality should have been burned. He thought the theory of accident was extremely unlikely. The tendency of his mind was to say that the possibility and the probability was that it didn’t happen by accident. But he could not decide on probability. He thought it unlikely the fire happened by accident but he could not say it was impossible. He wanted evidence and he had not got that evidence and he therefore had to refuse the application. He allowed £6 10s costs and expenses. There were a number of other claims in respect of loss of property through the burning. A like order was made in all the cases.

An article from the Kildare Observer February 8, 1919 telling of a claim for compensation for the burning of Kill Village Hall. Re-typed by Aisling Dermody

April 01, 2011


Hermann Geissel's memorial service, Clane, 31 March 2011

The memorial service for Hermann Geissel took place in Clane parish church on Thursday, 31 March 2011. Like the man himself it was a distinctive, interesting, inclusive and electic commemoration. A range of speakers from many parts of Hermann's life and interests contributed their reflections interspered with music that inspired reflection and rememberance but in an upbeat manner full of hope.

The first to speak was Eoghan Corry who recalled being a pupil of Hermann's
when the latter taught Biology in Clane post primary school. Eoghan inspired
some humour when he reminisced how Hermann covered lines of enquiry way
beyond  the prescribed syllabus and in doing so opened his and his
classmate's  minds  to possibilities beyond the confines of the textbook.
Two of Hermann's friends from the Newbridge philosophical group told of
Hermann's deep interest in discussing the greater mysteries of life and how
his mind never accepted the conventional but always wanted to explore the

His contribution to unlocking the layers of Kildare's landscape was honoured
by his great companion in the field, Seamas Cullen, who spoke of his skills
in reading the landscape and in finding connections between truncated
laneways and abandoned green roads so that the route of the Sli Dala could
be recreated from the ford of Ath Cliath (the location of which
Hermann identified with precision) to Clonmacnoise. Community leader and
historian Tony McEvoy spoke of his acquaintance with Hermann over a period
of thirty years and his interest in the civic progress of Clane and its

Hermann wore his German origins on his sleeve and Rudi, a family member,
read a Biblical passage in German. There were other speakers who spoke of
Hermann's many roles in life as a farmer, naturalist, photographer, tour
guide, falconer and publisher, among others as well as his times spent in
Germany, the United States, and various parts of Ireland notably Clonmel and
Co. Kildare.  A series of prayerful intentions were read by members of the
extended family from little tots to older relatives.

His son Adrian spoke about their family, at once unconventional yet
inclusive, and how Hermann was the loving heart of a vibrant family circle.
Adrian described how Hermann's wish to be interred in a way sympathetic to
the environment was honoured on Tuesday evening last when he was taken to
the Woodbrook natural cemetery, high on the slopes of the Blackstairs in
Co. Wexford, on his last journey (or more accurately, as one of the speakers
remarked, his last earthbound journey). Adrian thanked Fr. Paul Dempsey for
his support in organising the memorial service. The service concluded with a
presentation of gifts representing Hermann's life ranging from a falconer's
glove, to a copy of the Eiscir Riada book which he published with Seamus
Cullen, to a GPS which he used on his field explorations.

There was a large attendance including the teaching staffs, current and
retired, from all three Clane schools and the prefects from Scoil Mhuire in
Clane where pupils had benefited from Hermann's stimulating and innovative
approach to education over a period of twenty five years.   

Liam Kenny

A memorial service for Hermann Geissel took place in Clane on 31 March 2011



Leixlip History Club illustrated talk 

Leixlip History Club is hosting another of its illustrated talks on aspects of mainly local history. On Thursday, 7th April at 7.30pm, Richard Kirwan, recent head of the State's map-making body, the Ordnance Survey, in the Phoenix Park, will be talking on the theme of his book, "If Maps Could Speak," in Leixlip Library, Captain's Hill, Leixlip. Mr Kirwan lives at Hazelhatch and his talk will refer to maps in the vicinity.

All are welcome, admission is free.

The recently established Club would welcome members; the membership fee is €10.

John Colgan, chair, Leixlip History Club, 01 6244631, 085 100 73 69

Leixlip History Club illustrated talk 'If maps could speak,' 7 April 2011

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