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May 31, 2011


Leinster Leader, August 6, 1969

Luftwaffe man visits scene of internship

A former member of the German Luftwaffe on a nostalgic visit to Ireland this week called to Curragh Camp and no doubt recalled memories, pleasant and otherwise, of the barbed wire enclosure where he was interned during the war.
The former internee, Harbert Schultz, is accompanied by his wife and two children and realising an ambition of almost thirty years in revisiting the scene of his captivity during the Emergency. Herr Schultz wrote from Germany to the Gardai in Bandon, Cork, and asked if they could put him in touch with anyone in the area who could point out to him the exact field into which he crash-landed in 1941.
When he did arrive in Bandon he had the names of several locals who could recall the incident and the scene and the exact spot on which he made his original unintended entry into this country was pointed out to him. He camped there, with his wife and family, on the first night of his visit of recollection and on the following day retraced in his car the route which had eventually taken him into captivity on the Curragh Camp almost thirty years ago. Having had a good look at the scene of his former internment, Herr Schultz visited Droichead Nua, Kildare and other centres close to the Curragh which he remembered as places he had frequented on parole from the camp.
In Droichead Nua he renewed acquaintance with quite a number of people he met during the war years and was able to give them information regarding other internees whom they had known at that time.

May 28, 2011


The Black O’Connell of the United States

James Durney

First published in the United States and Ireland in 1845, the Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass – An American Slave dealt a mortal blow to American slavery. Its author, an escaped slave, arrived in Ireland for a four-month lecture tour as the country was descending into the nightmare of the Great Famine.
Ireland embraced Frederick Douglass with an openness that transformed the young African-American. His encounter with Daniel O’Connell left an indelible impression on his worldview. He departed Ireland an internationalist, determined to oppose injustice and oppression wherever he encountered it and retained a life-long respect and affection for Ireland.
Douglass achieved iconic status in US history as an author, orator, suffragist, statesman and diplomat. A recognised founder of the Civil Rights Movement, he is considered a hero by leaders such as President Barack Obama.
To coincide with the visit of President Obama to Ireland in May 2011 Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass – An American Slave was re-published by ‘A little book company,’ Dublin. This unique and expanded edition contains: letters and speeches from Ireland; details of his escape from slavery; defence of the Narrative; lecture on Haiti; and letters from descendants on the occasion of President Obama’s inauguration. The foreword is by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, and the afterword is by Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern Worldwide. The volume is edited and introduced by bestselling author and humanitarian Don Mullan. All royalties go to Concern Worldwide’s Haiti Programme.
Ireland was the first country outside of the United States to publish Narrative. The 2011 edition of the book was printed by Naas Print Ltd., Naas, Co. Kildare, for Beta Printing Services. Two copies were sent from Naas to the White House for the occasion of President Obama’s visit.

To coincide with the visit of President Obama to Ireland in May 2011 Narrative of the life Frederick Douglass – An American Slave was re-published

May 26, 2011


Leinster Leader, February 27, 1971

Worked First Tractor

One of the first men to use a tractor in this country died last week at the age of 86. He was Mr. Ned Loughman, Bennetsbridge, Athy. In 1912 he worked the first tractor, a Saunderson, to come to Ireland, and much of his time in that period was spent in giving tractor demonstrations around the country. Mr. Loughman was also a champion ploughman, and in 1908 won first prize at Athy ploughing competitions. He was father of the well-known Athy garage proprietor, Mr. Michael Loughman, Bennetsbridge. Other children surviving him are Edward, Mrs. Mary Harlowe, England and Mrs. B. Dinneen, Ballylinan. Everybody who knew him held him in much esteem and learned of his death with deep regret. He was interred in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Athy.

May 25, 2011


The Kildare Observer 5th July 1913

Parish of Carbury, Co. Kildare

The handsome Church of St. Ann, recently erected by Mr. Charles Colley Palmer, D.L., on a picturesque site in his demesne at Rahan, in Carbury Parish, was dedicated on Tuesday week by the Archbishop of Dublin, who was assisted in the ceremony by Rev. Chancellor Graham, of Lea, and Rev. W.F. Shea, of Rathcoole (both former curates of Carbury), and by the present Incumbent – Cannon Follis. A large congregation was present and all joined heartily in the service, and listened with attention to the helpful address of the Archbishop. The church is built entirely of the beautiful dove-grey Carrick limestone, from Mr Burnell’s quarries, situated on Rahan estate. The interior faces of the walls are lined with brick and finished with plaster, having a granulated surface. The building is “cruciform” with shallow transepts, that on the south side containing the vestry and on the north side the little organ. A cut-stone arch and piers divide the chancel from the nave. There is seating accommodation for between 70 and 80 persons. A beautiful stained glass window is placed in the east wall, which, together with some of the chancel fittings, has been provided through the generosity of Miss Cornelia Prime, Huntington, New York, in memory of her mother, Augusta Temple Palmer, wife of Rufus Prime, of New York, and Daughter of Captain William Palmer, 18th Light Dragoons. The window has two lights – in the left-hand panel as one looks eastward is depicted “The Light of the World” recalling Holman Hunt’s famous picture, and on the right the subject of the Good Shepard is artistically treated.  This beautiful window comes from Miss Purser’s studio, Lower Pembroke street, Dublin, and Miss O’Brien, who designed and executed it has produced a work delightfully quaint in fancy, rich in symbolism and full of religious feeling. The architects – Messrs. Orpen and Dickinson, of Dublin – have succeeded most admirably in giving the church a distinctive Irish character, introducing very effetely Celtic ornament on the chancel arch and the north porch. On the tablet inserted in the north wall of the nave is the following inscription: - “This church was erected in 1912 by Charles Colley Palmer to the glory of God and in loving memory of his mother, Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Colonel Nugent of Clonlost.

May 19, 2011

ROYAL VISITS TO KILDARE 1904, 1911 and 2011

From Royal Mail red to Free State green …

Liam Kenny

What is it about visiting heads-of-state? Like the old story about the Dublin buses, nothing happens for ages and then two come at the same time. This week Elizabeth II of England pays an extended visit to Ireland while next week the President of the United States, Barak Obama will make landfall in the Emerald Isle.  It is the former which grabs our attention this week. There is a remarkable symmetry about the royal visit -- and Co. Kildare is at the centre of such symmetry: in the summer of 1911 George V visited Maynooth College; in the summer of 2011 his grand-daughter is visiting another Co. Kildare location, the National Stud at Tully.
Indeed Kildare was the county most associated with visiting royalty in bygone generations and, with the exception of George V’s visit to the ecclesiastical powerhouse of Maynooth, the other regal visits were in the pursuit of horseflesh. Undoubtedly the most colourful of such visits was Edward VII’s itinerary to Naas and to Punchestown in 1904. The county town surpassed itself with décor and ornamentation guaranteed to catch a King’s eye. The reporter from the Kildare Observer could barely contain his use of superlatives to describe the town’s royal makeover: ‘On the eve of the Royal visit there was colour in Naas. The flags, bannerettes, festoons and arches, were of such a nature as would delight the eye of the most aesthetic.’ The anticipatory fervour was not confined to decorating buildings – there was a fascination among the locals to see the arrival of the royal couple. And they were not to be disappointed. On the big day, the Royal train drew up at the rail station in Naas at precisely 1230. The King and his wife Queen Alexandra were welcomed by a stellar line up of Dukes and Earls. Also finding a place in the welcoming party were the local government officials including Michael Gogarty, Town Clerk; William Staples, Chairman of Naas Urban District Council and Stephen J  Brown, Chairman of Kildare County Council. It was the latter who read an address of welcome to the King as he paused at the station before proceeding by coach to the racecourse. The  welcome was suitably respectful – it began ‘We the Urban District Council of Naas, take this opportunity to offer our humble homage ….’
Having got the formalities out of the way Mr. Brown helped make the King feel at home by referring to royalty of a previous generation who had left their mark on the locality: ‘we welcome your gracious Majesties to the ancient corporate town of Naas, at one time residence of the Kings of Leinster.’ Of course no local politician could get the opportunity of face-time with a King without making a reference to current affairs: ‘ For centuries our town was an important centre but various circumstances of time, as well as its proximity to the Metropolitan City, have detracted from its prosperity.’ This was an elongated way of saying that Naas people were too ready to hop on the train for the bright lights of Dublin’s fashionable shops, leaving the town’s traders to rue their declining trade.
However Mr. Brown and his Naas council colleagues could not complain too much as at least they had the King and his retinue stopping off in the town. Pity their municipal counterparts in the south of the county, the members of Athy UDC, who had to settle for knowing that the King would be passing through their town on the train on his way to visit Kilkenny as part of his April 1904 itinerary. This posed a knotty protocol problem of how to present an address of welcome to a ‘passing through’ king. The Athy representatives solved this dilemma by posting their address of welcome to the King’s secretary. Whether it was passed on to his majesty or not is not recorded. However on the question of royalty and the post office this column hopes that some of Elizabeth II’s escorting staff might manage to tug at her sleeve and point out one of the postboxes with the cipher of her great-grandfather, Edward VII, still in widespread use in Co. Kildare.  There is only one difference between then and now – the boxes are painted Free State green rather than Royal Mail red, and therein lies another long story. Series no: 230.

We break with protocol this week and publish the current article from Liam Kenny in the Leinster Leader of 17 May 2011. Liam compares the historic visit of Elizabeth II to the Irish National Stud and Gilltown Stud  in 2011 with that of George V to Maynooth College in 1911, one hundred years ago, and the visit of his predecessor Edward VII to Naas and Punchestown in 1904. As always our thanks to Liam.

May 18, 2011


The Kildare Observer, February 22, 1890



In drawing up this their first Report, the Commissioners are anxious to give the rate-payers the fullest information regarding their proceedings for the past year – to point out the improvements effected, and to submit a statement of the receipts and expenditure, together with their present liabilities.
“His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant having been pleased to approve of Naas being placed under the “Towns’ improvement (Ireland) Act, 1854,” and directed that nine Commissioners should be elected by the rate-payers, a meeting was convened on the 3rd of March, 1855, for the purpose of electing said Commissioners. The turmoil of an election was happily avoided, as the following Commissioners were unanimously appointed, viz:- Messrs, James Farrell, Christopher Clarke, John Hickey, Edward Hanlon, Robert S. Hayes, William McEvoy, John Blowney, Patrick Farrell and James Kellett.
On the 5th of March, 1855, the Commissioners held their first meeting, and after each member making the declaration required by the Act, proceeded to elect their Chairman for the succeeding year. John Hickey, Esq, was elected to fill that office, after which they proceeded to form the rotation list, the object of which is to fix the Commissioners that go out of office each year. The annual meeting for electing Commissioners is to be held in October of each year, at which meeting three members retire, and three more are to be elected in their place – the out-going members being eligible to be re-elected.
The Commission have much pleasure in stating that during the year the utmost harmony prevailed at the Board – each member using his best exertions to carry out the intentions of the legislature with fairness, justice and impartiality.
Mr John Clinch was appointed Town Clerk, at a salary of £20 a year, and Mr Patrick Lawler, Inspector of Nuisances, at £10 per annum. The first matters that occupied the attention of the commissioners were – the inspection and regulation of lodging-houses, the licensing of hackney cars, and the preparation of bye-laws for their regulation.
From a recent report of the Town Clerk and Inspector, the lodging-houses, with one or two exceptions, are generally clean. The inhabitants were next called on by public notice to have the footways and pavements before their doors swept every morning before 8 o’clock, pursuant to the requirements of the act; and the Commissioners are happy to say the request was very generally acceded to, and that a great improvement in the cleanliness of the town has been the result.
The bye-laws and regulations for the hackney cars were, after much consideration, adopted by the Commissioners; and being submitted to the Lord Lieutenant were approved of by him, and then came into operation. The bye-laws were printed together with a scale of charges, and the distances to all places within seven miles of the town; every car-driver being bound to have a copy, and to produce it when called on; and although the commissioners were extremely liberal in regulating the fares to be charged, they regret to say the car proprietors and drivers have not co-operated with them in carrying out their bye-laws.
The public should therefore provide themselves with a copy of said bye-laws, and in case of over charge or misconduct, report the circumstances to the Town Clerk, who will take steps to have the party offending punished. The Commissioners have used every exertion to have the cars at Sallins Station kept in proper range on a stand appointed for that purpose, and approved by the Directors of the Great Southern and Western Railway; but, notwithstanding that several of the owners and drivers have been fined for violations of the bye-laws, they still continue to crowd around the entrance to the station-house, to the great inconvenience of the public. The Commissioners will continue their exertions to remedy this evil – but they regret to say they have from the commencement been systematically opposed by some of the owners and drivers of cars in their efforts to carry out the intentions of the Act of Parliament.
On the 4th of April, the Commissioners advertised for tenders for cleansing the streets and lanes of the town, but no application was sent in. They ezpected [sic], for the sake of manure, some person would have engaged to sweep the streets once a week. Having no funds at this time in their hands, the Commissioners were unable to employ men to do so; they hope, however, after some time, to appoint scavengers and have the town kept clean. It is not perhaps, generally known that the Commissioners have the exclusive right to sweep the streets, lanes, and fair-green, and remove the manure – and can convey that power to any person entering into a contract with them for that purpose.
The Commissioners, finding that they could do little without funds, resolved on making their first assessment. For this purpose Mr Peter Doyle, civil engineer, was employed to make a map of the town and boundary, and also to arrange a tenement valuation, which map and valuation lies at the office of the Commissioners, and are open at appointed times for the inspection of any rate-payer affected thereby.
A sum of £25 12s 1, the balance of a race fund having lain in the hands of Thomas de Burg, Esq, for some years, an authority was given to Mr de Burg to pay over said sum to the Commissioners towards purchasing and execting [sic] an ouncil in the town; and a vacant piece of ground lying in the centre of the street, suitable for the erection of a market-house or town-hall, being available, it was resolved to take said ground from Thomas de Burg, Esq, at a yearly rent of £5, and to erect on said ground the ouncil and weigh-house. The ouncil which has been purchased at a cost of £28, has proved a great convenience and accommodation to the public, and will, there is no doubt, soon clear itself, after which its proceeds will go in aid of the town-rate. The weigh-house at present seems rather detached and unseemly, but it is so arranged that as soon as a building is erected on the plot of ground it will be covered in and hid from public view. The Commissioners look forward with confidence to the “Fair and Market Bill” passing into law when they hope to be enabled to erect a market-house in the centre of the town, thereby bringing the markets into the centre of the town, instead of having them in backward and inconvenient localities, as at present.
On the 7th June, the Commissioners caused application to be made at the Special Sessions, for a presentment towards flagging one side of the street (that leading from Kavanagh’s corner to the chapel); also, for making a new sewer in the back lane, and setting a number of granite grates in room of the iron ones which had been stolen from time to time. The presentments having been granted, the Commissioners became in the name of their clerk, the contractors, and said works have been well and permanently done, and approved of by the County Surveyor. The flagging is acknowledged by all to be a great and lasting improvement to the town. It appears in rather an unfinished state at present, but this is owing to the irregularity of the houses. The Commissioners propose shortly directing their attention to this subject, and completing the flagging into the houses, the expense of which will be defrayed by the occupier, and assessed as private improvement rate under the 66th section of the “Towns’ Improvement Act.” The Commissioners expect in a year or two to have the other side of the street similarly flagged.
The new sewer which has been made in the back lane is intended for carrying off drainage, &c., of the adjoining yards; and if the occupiers do not, when called on, to the satisfaction of the Commissioners, make proper sewers to empty into the main sewer, the Commissioners will be obliged to perform the work the work [sic] themselves, for the preservation of the health of the neighbourhood, and charge the expense thereof to the occupier, as a private improvement rate.
The new granite grates are a vast improvement on the old iron ones, and do not hold out the same inducement for paltry theft; but, unless parties before whose houses they are placed, will keep them swept, clean and free from stones and other lodgements, they will, of course, become choked and of little use.
The Commissioners also obtained two presentments at the last Special Sessions; one for making a new sewer from the main-street to the canal harbour – the other for making a paved channel along the new line of flagging. When this is done, and the flagging made perfect into the houses, the Commissioners flatter themselves it will be as creditable and useful a piece of work as has been done in any country town for many years.
The Commissioners finding as they proceed that they occasionally required the assistance and advice of a solicitor, on the 27th June, unanimously appointed Richard Ennis, Esq., their solicitor. There is no salary attached to the office but merely payment for what ever business he may be called on to transact.
The Commissioners having long felt, the great necessity there was for supplying the people of Naas (especially the poor), with pure spring water, resolved on erecting two public pumps. Sites were chosen at either end of the town, and contracts entered into for sinking the wells, and furnishing and erecting pumps. In a matter of this kind they decided on having the best metal pumps. Having advertised for tenders, they selected Messers Paul and Vincent, as being the cheapest, and having already given much satisfaction in the erection of the ouncil. These pumps are acknowledged to be a great benefit and accommodation to the poor. Hitherto they were obliged to use the filthy water of the streame [sic], which carries off the drainage from the barracks, and workhouse, whereas they are now supplied with spring water of the best and purest description, so that in a sanitary point of view it must be of the utmost importance. Owing to the pump on the fair green being likely to be injured by cattle on fair days, they caused a strong wall to be built round it; the pump in the other end of the town being in a more public situation they propose having granite stones with chains placed round it, which, when done, will be not only useful but ornamental.
The assessment book being prepared, and all the necessary notices given, the commissioners, on the 17th December, 1855 made a rate of 8d in the £ on all houses, and of 5d in the £ on all houses within the boundary. The whole amount of rateable property within the boundary, £4,253 24s on land, and £2,732 13s on buildings. So that after deducting unoccupied houses and places that are exempt, the total rate is £126, of which sum £115 has been collected.
The accounts which accompany this report will show how the money received has been expended. The Commissioners regret that they should appear before the public in debt, but their anxiety to serve and improve the town induced them to do more than the state of their finances justified, besides the flagging was much more expensive than they anticipated, caused by the great demand for flags at the Curragh camp. It will be seen by the account that there has been no extravagance – no litigation or unnecessary expenditure; in proof of which they would merely mention that whilst the expense of carrying the Towns’ Improvement Act into operation at Kingstown was £100, and at Carlow £60 17s, as appears by their published reports; in Naas the expense did not amount to £5.
On the 3rd of September the Commissioners addressed a communication to the Board of Ordnance, on the exposed and neglected state of the North Moat, and suggested that a wall should be built round it, to keep it from falling in on the road. An engineer was sent to inspect it, after which some improvement was attempted, by sloping off the sides; but the same evil exists – it is constantly crumbling and falling on the road – choking up the water course, and proving a great nuisance to the public. The Commissioners will draw the attention of the Board of Ordnance again to this subject, and trust by the time they make their next report, they will succeed in having a wall built, as it is the only thing will remedy the evil complained of.
The Chairman of the Commissioners having been appointed by the Lord Chancellor a justice of the peace, the Commissioners addressed a communication to the Inspector General of the Constabulary, requesting that all cases cognisable under the Towns’ Improvement Act, should be brought before him or the magistrates at Petty Sessions, by the constabulary in the name of the Commissioners, as by the act all fines go to the Commissioners in aid of the town rate. The Inspector-General of Constabulary replied that the constabulary cannot legally act so, except in cases in which they are expressly required to do so under the act. The Commissioners are of a different opinion, and have memorialled [sic] the Lord Lieutenant on the subject, and the matter is still under consideration.
A portion of the militia stationed in Naas, having, in the course of last year, disturbed the quiet of the town, by riotous and disorderly conduct, the Commissioners reported the matter to the authorities and had them removed.
Being obliged by the act of parliament to lodge our funds in bank, and make all payments by cheque, we appointed Messrs La Touche and Co., Castle-street, our bankers .The contracts which have been entered into during the year, are as follows;-
Mr Peter Doyle, to supply maps and tenement valuation.
Messers Paul and Vincent, to supply and erect ouncil and two metal pumps.
Messers Hanlon and Whittle, supplying granite kerbing.
Mr Ronayne, Bagnalstown, to supply flags.
Mr Rankins, to set flagging and make sewers.
Mr John Kelly, to sink wells.
Mr Cantwell, to make office press.



Turtle Bunbury is heading on the road this summer as part of the Genealogy Roadshow's historical swat team. This pioneering new series is to be aired on Ireland's RTE1 television channel in July and August. Every week, Turtle and his fellow sleuths, genealogists Nicola Morris and John Grenham, will meet members of the public at Roadshow events across Ireland and endeavour to work out who is related to someone famous or connected to a historical event. Perhaps they might even solve a family mystery or two along the way. The series will be hosted by Derek Mooney.

Alternatively, why not gather up your family histories, stories, letters,photographs, birth certificates, dusty heirlooms and such like, and come along to one of 'The Genealogy Roadshow' events.

  • Sunday 29th May: Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.
  • Sunday 19th June: Adare Manor, Adare, Co. Limerick.
  • Sunday 26th June: Glenlo Abbey Hotel, Galway City.
  • Saturday 9th July: Slane Castle, Slane, Co. Meath.

May 12, 2011


This weekend sees the second running of Kildare Reader's Festival by Kildare Library & Arts Services. Make sure to pass on the details to someone you know if you cannot come along yourself.

Fantastic Line up


Friday 13th May       
Mayor’s Festival Opening reception with music by Ellen Cranitch (Flutes) & Denise Kelly (Harp) Launch of KRF_1 Notebook Exhibition
 18.00-19.30 Riverbank Arts Centre
Join Peter Murphy, John the Revelator, in conversation with Maria Doyle Kennedy
 19.30-21.00 Riverbank Arts Centre €5.00

Saturday 14th May

Walking tour with Mae Leonard
 11.00 - 12.30
 Departing from Riverbank Art Centre
Kevin Barry: City of Bohane and There are little Kingdoms
 11.00 - 12.30
 Riverbank Art Centre €5.00
Stories for the Ear: Reading with Tom Hickey
 12.30 - 13.00
 Riverbank Art Centre Free
Kildare Author Panel: Peter Cunningham, Rose Doyle and James Lawless with Linda Geraghty
 14.00 - 15.00
 Riverbank Art Centre €5.00
Bloody Women! Alex Barclay, Arlene Hunt and Ava McCarthy in conversation with Declan Burke 15.30 - 16.30
 Riverbank Art Centre €5.00
Laura Jane Cassidy - Reading & Book Signing 15.30 - 16.30
 Easons Whitewater SC
Lissa Oliver - Reading & Book Signing 15.30 - 16.30 Farrell's Book Shop Free
The Vanising Ireland Project with Turtle Bunbury, James Fennell and Siobhan Cronin, followed by presentation of Cecil Day Lewis Bursary Award
 17.00 - 18.00
 Riverbank Art Centre €5.00
Slovak Orchestra and tastings from Plate to Plate cookery book 18.30 - 19.30 Riverbank Art Centre Free
Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad Bee Rowlatt in conversation with Yvonne Nolan 19.30 - 20.45 Riverbank Art Centre €5.00
Festival Club: An evening of sean nos song and fiddle tunes with Lorcán Mac Mathúna, singer, and Daire O Breacáin, fiddle and poetry from John McAuliffe and Leanne O Sullivan
 21.30 onwards Johnson's Pub Free

Sunday 15th May       
Dermot Bolger, Peter Sheridan and Carlo Gébler in conversation
 11.00-12.30 Riverbank Arts Centre
Cathy Kelly - Reading and book signing with one of Irelands most popular authors
 11.00-12.30 Newbridge Silver Free

Come along to Kildare Reader's Festival this weekend Friday 13th to Sunday 15th May

May 07, 2011


                         RUN FOR FUN WITH THE HOUNDS OF FIONN

                                                     Mario Corrigan


Sunday 15th May offers runners, joggers, wheelchair users and walkers an excellent opportunity to test their stamina and participate in 3 different athletic events collectively entitled the Kildare Marathon. Whether it is for personal fitness or to break a personal barrier – to win or to participate, will be a day of pride and exhilaration for the thousands who take part. Last years half marathon was won by Lorcan Cronin of Clonliffe Harriers in 1 hour, 10 mins and 23 seconds. This year the main event has been extended to become a full marathon of some 42km. It however may surprise people to know that it is not the first full marathon to be run in Kildare.  

The race has its origins with Pheidippides (or Philippides) a Greek soldier who carried a message from the Battle of Marathon to Athens and died after telling the assembly that the Greeks had beaten the Persians. Some accounts say he had run from Athens to Sparta previous to the Battle some 300 miles, had fought in the battle and then ran the final journey from Marathon to Athens – no wonder he expired! The marathon race which commemorates his journey has been an Olympic event since the first modern games in 1896. The winner of the first Olympic Marathon, on April 10, 1896, was the Greek, Spiridon Louis, who ran the race in 2 hrs 58 mins and 50 secs. Originally a 40km race it was changed in 1908 and standardised in May 1921 for the Paris Olympics in 1924 to 42km or around 26.22miles.  

Marathon races became popular worldwide and in Ireland they became part of local sports events organised around the country covering anything from 1-12 miles, such as the Marathon Race from Newbridge to Kildare in 1909 in aid of the White Abbey Church which was started by ‘Boss’ Croker. A large silver cup was presented by horse trainer, J.J. Parkinson and the race won by Patrick Brady, Kilteel, with Edward D’Arcy, Kildare, second out of a field of 26 runners. Other sports days advertised Marathons from Blessington to Valleymount, Newbridge to Naas, Kildare to Kilcullen and Sallins to Two-Mile House.  

But they were also organised on a larger scale. In 1904 a ‘Go-As-You-Please,’ Race was organised from Inchicore to Naas – you could run or walk. A distance of 20¾ miles, it was won in 1 hr and 54½ mins by James Steele of Moate in Westmeath; there were 70 competitors and the day was a scorcher.  

In 1906 The Evening Herald sponsored a Marathon Race from Inchicore Bridge to Naas Courthouse on Sunday 20 May, a distance of 16¾ miles (apparently 4 miles less than 1904?). The previous year ‘The Herald’ Race was run from Dublin to Balbriggan and was won by Pat White from Donabate. Of the 100 entered some 50 faced the starter who fired the gun at exactly 6 mins past one and despite the rain and slippy roads, conditions were generally good. Huge crowds attended the race through Rathcoole, Blackchurch, Kill and Johnstown and cyclists thronged the competitors. On the outskirts of Naas the Dublin youngster P. Fagan was caught by Pat White who raced into the town to great cheers and applause from the dense crowd. He ran the race in 1 hour and 40mins. The Town Hall served as the dressing room and the scene for a magnificent luncheon at 4 p.m. A large R.I.C. contingent had been drafted in but all went well. A special train from Kingsbridge to Naas, designed to get spectators to the town ahead of the runners, arrived after the winners had crossed the line much to the disgust of the passengers.

In 1926 Charles Farrell, himself a former athlete who had discovered the legendary Tommy Conneff, presented the first ‘Ballinagappa Cup’ for a Marathon Race from Dublin to Naas. It was organised by the Naas Amalgamated Games Society on Sunday 28 November. The race was run from Nelson’s Pillar, via Westmoreland St., College Green and Dame St. to Inchicore and on to the Town Hall in Naas. The 9 competitor field included Irish Marathon Champion J. O’Reilly from Galway. It was won by Martin O’Brien from Naas in 2 hrs 20 mins followed by W. O’Brien from Maynooth.

 In Naas of the Kings, at a quarter to four

 The hum of the multitude swell’d to a roar

 As a runner appear’d on the distant skyline

 And the vantage-post scouts announc’d Martin O’Brien   

On Sunday 4 Dec. 1927 the race ran from Nelson’s Pillar to the football field on Naas Racecourse and there were 20 entries. It was won by D. McKeown/McKeon (Blackrock A.C.) in 2 hours 27 mins with Naas men Tim Coyle and Martin O’Brien second and third. McKeown had taken part in 1926 but failed to finish.  D. McKeown won the Cup again in 1928 but the Race seems to have been suspended in 1929 and he actually claimed a ‘walk-over’ and ownership of the trophy. The race was revived for the Naas Feis on Sunday 1 May 1932 and McKeown won the cup outright, winning it for the third time in succession.

         In the centre of the 2011 Full Marathon Course stands the statue of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and his two Irish Wolfhounds, Bran and Sceolan. When the artists came to the Library for an idea for a sculpture it wasn’t difficult to suggest one, for the association of Fionn and the Fianna with the Curragh and their legendary home on the Hill of Allen is well-known. When Kildare Village were looking for ideas some years before they picked up on the idea of the two wolfhounds and they are beautifully commemorated there also. It is said that the Fianna raced their chariots across the Curragh Plains and on Sunday 15 May races will once more be held on this most historic site. There will always be a competitive element but for most people it is about completing the course and taking part in which ever event they choose – it is an accomplishment to be proud of.


















Stories of Kildare Marathons from yester-year by Mario Corrigan

May 06, 2011


Visits throughout history by English Monarchs to County Kildare


Seamus Cullen

There have been many royal visits over the centuries to Ireland and visits to county Kildare have been on the agenda on most occasions. The visit of Queen Elizabeth will bring to ten the number of English monarchs to have visited Ireland since 1171 and all of them have either visited or travelled through county Kildare. 

Queen Elizabeth unlike the other monarchs has a strong personal connection to county Kildare as some of her ancestors were from the county. One of the most noteworthy of her Kildare ancestors was Richard Colley-Wellesley who was born in Carbury Castle circa 1690. He was her 5th great grandfather on her mother’s side.

The previous visits commenced with King Henry II who passed through the area of the ‘Liffey Plain’ that later became county Kildare, on two occasions. Firstly, on his route from Munster to Dublin in late 1171 and again in the spring of the following year when he travelled to Wexford to embark on his return journey to England.

His son John also visited Ireland on two occasions. The first occasion was in his capacity as Justiciar between April and December 1185. He landed in Waterford and travelled to Dublin also by way of the ‘Liffey Plain’ It is reported that along the way he built a number of Castles. The second trip was in 1210 when he was King. It is known that on this occasion he stayed in Naas and built a strong Castle which was named King John’s Castle.

Richard II was the third English King to visit the country. He arrived on  2 October 1394 and returned home in July 1395. Like his predecessors he landed in the south and travelled through county Kildare on his way to Dublin. The late fourteenth century were troubled times in Ireland with Art MacMurrough Kavanagh causing King Richard untold difficulties and this led to his return in May 1399. However, his second trip was an ill-fated event that had to be cut short due a serious threat to his authority in England. On his return he was deposed by his cousin who became Henry IV.

Almost three centuries were to pass before there was another visit from an English King. In 1689 King James II having lost the Crown of England to William of Orange arrived in Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant the Duke of Tyrconnell, himself a Kildare man had held Ireland for James. James landed in the south and on his way to Dublin there is a tradition that he stayed in Castlemartin Castle near Kilcullen. It is known that he briefly resided and held court in the original Viceregal Lodge, in Chapleizod. This building was known in later years as ‘The King’s House’. The conflict for the crown of the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland between James and his son-in-law William of Orange ended with the latter’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. King James, however, did not wait to see the end of the battle but rode at speed back to Dublin where he was confronted by Lady Tyrconnell, wife of the Lord Lieutenant who politely asked him who had won the battle. His reply was ‘your husband’s country men made good their heels at the Battle’- in other words the statement suggested that the Irish ran away. The good lady sarcastically replied, ‘then I see your majesty has won the race’.

Following the battle, a victorious King William made his way south to Limerick It is recorded that he travelled uneventfully through county Kildare and at Castledermot conducted some affairs of state by way of correspondence.

One hundred and thirty years was to pass before there was another royal visit when King George IV became the first monarch of the nineteenth century to visit Ireland in 1821. He had come previously in 1816 when he was regent. The King landed at Dun Laoghaire on September 4, 1821, and this led to the town being named Kingstown. During his visit he attended the September race meeting at the Curragh and the event was an occasion of great excitement, £3,000 was raised to erect a new stand and marquees were installed for the masses. At the meeting the King presented ‘The Royal Whip’, a trophy whose handle was decorated with gold shamrocks, to encourage horse breeding in Ireland.

George’s niece Queen Victoria visited the country on four occasions during her reign in 1849, 1853, 1861 and 1900. In 1840 her wedding to Prince Albert was celebrated in the town of Kilcullen with particular fervour where there was a street party on the wedding night that ended with three cheers for the royal bride and one for the illustrious consort.

Her first visit in 1849 was just two years after the Famine. Accompanied by Prince Albert she landed at Cobh which was subsequently renamed Queenstown in her honour. During the trip the Royal couple visited Maynooth and spent one night at Carton as a guest of the Duke of Leinster. On the lawn of Carton the royal party were entertained by Irish dancing performed by members of Fr Mathew’s temperance movement. She thoroughly enjoyed the jigs and reels, indicating that ‘they were different from the Scottish reels, not so animated and the steps, very different, very droll’.

On her second trip to Ireland in 1861 she travelled to the Curragh Camp where her son and heir the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII, was undergoing a period of military instruction at the Camp. One of the highlights of the occasion was when the Queen inspected a grand review of all the troops in the Camp. During the visit she was entertained by a piper from the locality, and as a gesture of thanks she presented him with a set of silver mouthed Irish pipes.

During the period when Prince Edward was stationed in the Curragh, the Aylmer Tower was under construction on the summit of the Hill of Allen. The Prince could clearly see the structure from the Camp and in September 1861, he visited the site from which he could see panoramic views of virtually the entire county of Kildare and the Wicklow mountains. Edward made many subsequent visits to Ireland and attended Punchestown Races on a number of occasions. As King in 1904 he attended the two day event at Punchestown and was accompanied by his wife Queen Alexandria on the first day. The royal party arrived in Naas by train each day to an awaiting coach. Bands played and crowds cheered as their entourage made its way through the town and on to the races. It was a lavish occasion in which Switzers of Dublin fashioned arches across the Main Street of Naas and the Royal coat of arms was draped on the courthouse.

King Edward accompanied by the Queen paid a private visit to Maynooth College on 24 July 1903. The royal party were cordially cheered as they drove from the train station through the town to the College gates. They were welcomed by a substantial number of Irelands leading Catholic bishops and red carpets covered the stone floors of the cloisters. The Royal couple visited the Chapel and in the sacristy were shown a set of robes presented to the College by the late Empress Elizabeth of Austria. During the visit the King reminded his hosts of a visit he made to the college on a previous occasion.

King George V also visited Maynooth College shortly after he ascended the throne in 1911. Accompanied by his wife Queen Mary, the royal party were driven by motor car from the Vice Regal Lodge to Maynooth where they were greeted by a massive crowd of people who lined the main Street as the royal entourage passed. At the entrance to the college the Royal party were greeted by Cardinal Logue and virtually the entire aristocracy of the Irish Catholic Church.  The King and Queen were brought on a tour of the College similar to the previous royal visit.

However, the visit occurred during a period of national revival when nationalism in the country was at fever pitch and there were some opposition in Maynooth to the visit with the local band split on the issue.  The previous day there was a nationalist pilgrimage to Bodenstown where sentiments of opposition to the royal visit were also expressed.

King George V is remembered favorably in Irish history. Ten years after the visit the ‘War of Independence’ was raging in the country and there appeared to be no end of the conflict in sight. An official opening of the new Parliament of Northern Ireland by the King was planned for 22 June 1921 and the occasion was regarded as a suitable opportunity to offer a message of peace to the whole of Ireland. The King, who had made his unhappiness at the behavior of the Black and Tans in Ireland well known to his government, was dissatisfied with the official speech prepared for him by Lloyd George for the opening ceremony. Another draft of a speech in which there was a significant input from the King with the assistance of General Smuts of South Africa was prepared and accepted by Cabinet.  King George delivered the speech in Belfast as planned. It had an immediate impact and led to the Truce which was signed less than three weeks after the speech was delivered. This allowed negotiations regarding Irelands constitutional position between the British Government and Irish representatives to commence and led to the Treaty in December of 1921.

 It could be argued that negotiations regarding Irelands constitutional position between the two governments continued on and off until the Good Friday agreement was signed in 1998.

Arguably, King George V did more to end the British-Irish conflict than any of his predecessors. However, one question relating to the King and Ireland needs to be asked - has history given him the credit for his role in the initiative that brought about the truce and its subsequent consequences?

Seamus Cullen recounts some of the Royal Visits to Co. Kildare through history 

May 05, 2011


Leinster Leader October 16 1971


Within this year 1971 falls the one hundredth anniversary of the coming of the Christian Brothers to Naas. For all its modern appearances the town can boast a proud past. Earliest tales relate that it was founded by Lugh, a celebrated philosopher and king of the Tuatha De Danann. Hence it was called Lios Lugha. This Lugh was also a warrior of renown and holds a prominent place in the story of the famous Battle of Magh Tuireadh, in which the Tuath De Danann defeated the Fir Bolg. It is frequently mentioned in Irish records as the royal residence of the Kings of Leinster for well nigh 1600 years.
The great moat at the upper end of the town now remains as a poor memorial of the regal grandeur that once adorned the site. St. Patrick, crossing the Liffey by the celebrated Ford of Clane, went to Naas which was only five miles distant. The tripartite life of Patrick says; “The site of his tent is in the green of the dun to the east of the road, and to the north of the road is his well.”
The green of the dun was the fair-green of the modern town. The site of the ancient royal rath was just outside the fair-green to the east of the road. The holy well was to the north of the road, just inside the demesne wall which bounded the road by which Patrick came from Clane to Naas. The newly converted Christians showed extraordinary zeal in the faith brought to them by Patrick. Many of the leading men among them offered their services thinking it an honour to be employed in the erection of churches.
Kilossy, near Naas commemorates the name of a companion of Patrick. This was St. Auxilius whom he had known in Auxerre. The Saint appointed him Bishop of this place which now bears his name.

The word Naas means an assembly and thus it became the name of the royal fort. It continued to be a royal residence down to the year 904 when King Cearbhall Mac Muireagan was slain and “Naas is without a King ever since.” After the Norman invasion it was granted to William Fitzgerald or Fitzmaurice, son-in-law of Strongbow and passed successively to the families of the De Lourdes and De Prestons. From its central position within the Pale it rose to be a place of importance. To protect it from hostile Gaels outside the Pale a wall was built around the town and some places of military strength were erected inside the town.
A priory of Canons Regular of St. Augustine, founded in the town in the twelfth century, flourished until 1316 when it was sacked by the Scots under Bruce. In 1355 Fitzmaurice founded a Convent of Dominican Friars in Naas and in 1484 another Convent of Augustines was founded there. In the 26th year of Elizabeth’s reign this convent with a hundred and twenty acres of land was granted to Nicholas Aylmer for a term of fifty years.
In 1641 the Reverend Peter O’Higgins O.P., Prior of Naas, was taken prisoner and put to death. The town was the scene of many conflicts after its occupation by the English. 1534 it was taken from Silken Thomas by Skeffington. In 1650 it was captured for Cromwell.
The town is pleasantly situated in a fine tract of fertile country, gently undulating and enriched with woods and beautifully contrasted on the south-east by the varied outline of the Wicklow Mountains. A writer tells us in 1897 that the streets are neither paved nor lighted but the inhabitants had a good supply of water from wells. An official report in 1833 says; “The streets are in a bad state of repair although they form part of the country roads and should be kept in order by trustees of the turnpikes. They are not cleaned by the authorities, who at the same time, prevent the inhabitants from doing so, as one of the portreeves claims the sweepings which are valuable for manure. To such a length has this been carried that persons have been fined for removing heaps of filth which had remained for days opposite their houses.”
A census of the parish in 1834 shows that there were then in the Parish 600 Protestants and 5,000 Catholics. There were fourteen day schools attended by 300 boys and 157 girls. In 1833 the Catholic Church was erected. It is a spacious handsome edifice in the early English style. Adjoining it is the Mercy Convent and Schools. The Parish Priest at the time was the Reverend Gerald Doyle. He was instrumental in bringing the Sisters of Mercy to the town. The old Christian Brothers’ School was formerly known as the Moat School. It had originally been known as the Catholic “Chapel,” the word “Church” being reserved for places of Protestant worship, and had been leased by the Landlord in 1786 at five shillings a year. When the new church was built the wretched building functioned as a school – the “Moat School” – so called from the great circular mound which adjoins it.
The first Community of three Christian Brothers settled into their poor residence in the upper storey of the school building on August 22nd 1871. The residence was small and frail. A most economic plan had been adopted – sods of turf were used instead of bricks to build up partitions. These frail 'walls' were neatly papered and had the recommendation of being very dry. When a Brother arrived in the house for the first time a vigilant Superior warned him “not to lean against the wall, for if he did it would fall.” The corridor in this unique residence was so narrow that two persons could not pass easily in it. The bedrooms were like the corridor, narrow and small, while the dining room was so small, that all had to sit on one side of the table. When the first Community arrived they brought the furniture for the house with them. Among other articles considered necessary were three mattresses, one for each Brother. When Dean Hughes, Parish Priest at the time, saw the mattresses he told the Brothers to cover them up at once, as the people thought the Brothers never slept in a bed, and they would be disedified. To provide shelter from the draughts the old Church Windows had ill-fitting shutters attached to them; but even with these candles were frequently blown out.


An article from the Leinster Leader of October 16 1971 telling of the arrival of the Christian Brothers 100 years before.


St. Conleth  


“Brigid’s Artificer”


  • First Name :                 Roincenn  
  • Surname:                      Conleth, Conlath, Conlaeth, Conlaith, Conlaid, Conlian. 
  • Date of Death:              3rd May 519/520 A.D.  
  • Bishop of Kildare:         Prior to 480 AD  
  • Feast Day:                    3rd May


  • Lived as a recluse in a cell at Old Connell on the banks of the Liffey.  
  • He was a metalworker and made religious objects from gold and silver. Said to have made the crozier which belonged to St. Finnbharr of Termon Barry in Connaught .  
  • Said to be an illustrious man, adorned with every virtue, and that the Almighty had been pleased to effect great wonders on him. 
  • Visited St. Brigid and her nuns in nearby Kildare and stayed for a number of days. Shortly after this visit Brigid chose Conleth as Bishop of Kildare.   
  • St. Brigid gave his vestments of many colours, which were made in , to the poor.  
  • Killed by wolves on his way to possibly in Wicklow.  
  • Was buried close to where he died then moved to Cathedral in Kildare on right of alter, upon her death Brigid was buried on the left.  
  • The shrines of Brigid and Conleth were raided by Danes in 836 and either his remains or relics were then buried at Connell.

     Source; Lives of Irish Saints Vol V. By The Rev John O’Hanlon M.R.I.A.



May 03, 2011


Kildare Observer April 29, 1911


Punchestown and After




Punchestown has passed, and Naas is beginning to settle down once again to a state of sanity. “Punchesmania” has not been accepted by medical lexicographers as a form of mental affection, but it nevertheless is an expression that conveys intelligently to the lay mind an idea of the utter abandonment to sport which seizes the inhabitants of and visitors to this district during the Punchestown carnival. Nowadays Punchestown without rain and mud has come to be regarded as completely Utopian assay Punchestown minus gaudy colours and latest fashions in feminine attire. This year again we had Punchestown and not Utopia. We has rain and mud and colours as vivid and diversified as ever on Tuesday. On Wednesday we had the mud and colour in augmented quantities and qualities, but no rain worth speaking of. Notwithstanding a rather bad day climatically on Tuesday, and a thoroughly bad one financially, good spirits abounded. The clerk of the weather atoned for his misbehaviour of the first day on Wednesday, but the goddess of pecuniary fortune still continued to smile only on the “bookies”. What mattered it, however, to a sporting Punchestown crowd whether its fancy won or lost? Unlike John Gilpin, when on pleasure bent it has not a frugal mind. “Unborn tomorrow and dead yesterday,” it fretted not about them. Friends and foes, rich and poor, plebeians and patricians, all went there to enjoy themselves, and this they did, considerations of the purse notwithstanding.




The Traffic

The regulation of the traffic to Punchestown, at Punchestown, and from Punchestown must ever be a matter of mental and physical activity for the police. Their duties are strenuous, unenviable and fatiguing, and since the motor has become so popular as a means of conveyance for racegoers, entail an amount of vigilance in planning and regulation of the highways. There were about 200 extra members of the R.I.C. drafted into Naas for the races, and about 60 D.M.P’s were on duty at the course under Inspector Kernan. The R.I.C. were in charge of County Inspector K.L. Supple, Naas, assisted by District Inspector Burke and Head-Constable Harrington, Naas. The arrangements so far as the police were concerned were admirable, a fact testified by the absence of serious accident, notwithstanding the tremendous volume of vehicular traffic. A policeman on traffic duty at Punchestown needs to have a watchful eye and an even temper, and on not a few occasions we saw both tested sorely on Tuesday and Wednesday by refractory jehus and impatient and insistent motorists. Undoubtedly amongst the many duties a policeman has to engage in there is none which imposes a greater tax on his skill and tact than that which he has to perform at Punchestown, and which he fulfilled this year as he invariably has discharged them with credit. Naas was in charge of Sergeant Clarke, and he got through an arduous and difficult time in exemplary fashion.

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