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June 30, 2011


Cill Dara Historical Society

'Kildare Town's Local History Group'


The 2011 Giraldus Lecture

"Senator Michael Smyth"

  Cooleen, Kildare Town   


Michael D. Higgins

President of the Labour Party


The Kildare Education Centre

Friary Road,  Kildare Town


Wednesday   6th  July  2011      at   8 pm

All   Are  Welcome

Further   Information   Contact  Joe  Connelly at:  086 168 62 36

Below is a synopsis of the article which will appear in full in the Kildare Nationalist next week.

Cill Dara Historical Society: Kildare Town Heritage Series No. 123

Giraldus Lecture 2011 – Senator Michael Smyth

Mario Corrigan

Michael Smyth was born at Rosetown, Athgarvan, Newbridge, on 9 March 1888 to Terrance and Anne Smyth, both of whom were born at Rosetown. He was educated at Two-Mile-House National School though his mother had taught him to read and write at home.
By 1911, still at Rosetown, Michael was a postman and became actively involved in the Labour Party/ITGWU shortly after being elected as a Labour member to Kildare Co. Council and also Newbridge Town Commission/Council in 1920. He remained a Co. Councillor for some 38 years, standing down in 1967.
He became Secretary of the new Company of Volunteers formed in Athgarvan in June 1914. A split occurred and a new company of Irish Volunteers was formed with Michael as Company Captain in September of 1915. He was deputed to buy arms and ammunition but found it difficult to get them from the Curragh Camp. He became Secretary of the National Volunteers and arranged to buy weapons and ammunition from them for some £300 – some of these were sent to Dublin in March 1916.
Michael had mobilised the Athgarvan Comapny on Sunday of Easter Week but saw the countermanding order and did not march to Dublin. They remained mobilised for the week, awaiting further instructions. He was arrested on 2 May and lodged in Hare Park, the Curragh. From there he was brought to Richmond barracks on 8 May and deported to Wandsworth Jail on 2 June and interned in Frongoch Camp on 26th June – number 1124, Hut 24, North Camp. He was tried at Wormwood Scrubs Prison for receiving ‘£300 in German gold’ to buy arms, found guilty and sentenced to two years in jail. Returned to Frongoch, he took part in a hunger strike in November and was detained in South Camp Frongoch until 23 December 1916 when the general release of prisoners was made.
At home in Ireland he once again became active in the cause – he was appointed Kildare Battalion Commandant in December 1920 as the War of Independence raged. He received a Death Notice ‘By Oder H.M.F.’ (Her Majesty’s Forces) to force him to desist from these activities.
Arrested on 3 July 1920 by a party of Black and Tans Michael was badly beaten and imprisoned at Newbridge Barracks from 7-13 July. He was transferred to the Curragh and later to Mountjoy in October until he was released on 14 January 1922 as part of the General Amnesty. Michael remained neutral during the Irish Civil War.
He remained in politics becoming one of the driving forces of Labour in Co. Kildare and was elected to the Senate in 1943.
On 17 Oct 1934 he married Miss Annie Murphy, daughter of Mrs Alice Murphy and the late Patrick Murphy, Belan Avenue, Moone. His best man was Senator William Cummins and Michael and Anne honeymooned in London.




Michael D. Higgins, President of the Labour Party, will give the 2011 GIRALDUS LECTURE in Kildare Town, on Senator Michael Smyth, Cooleen Kildare. Kildare Education Centre, Wednesday 6th  July  2011 at 8 pm. All Welcome. 



Newington House

James Durney

Newington House is in the townland of Christianstown (Ord. S. 17) and the parish of Feihcullen, which is partly in the barony of East Offaly, but chiefly in that of Connell. Feighcullen comprises 3,835 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. According to the Tithe Applotment Books of 1826 Newington House, the residence of Samuel Neale, comprised 131.2.0 ARP with a rateable value of £13.5s.41/2d. In the entry for Feighcullen in Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of 1837 ‘the gentlemen’s seats are Newington’ House, the residence of Samuel Neale, Esq. According to Griffith’s Valuation of 1853 the occupier of Christianstown was Sarah E. Neale and the lessor Samuel Neale, whose house, offices and land comprised approximately 507 acres at an annual rateable valuation of £414.
The Kildare Observer of 22 September 1883 carried an advertisement for a midwife, which referred to Joseph Manly Neale, Esq., M.D., Newington House, as Honorary Secretary of the Robertstown and Kilmeague Dispensary District. In 1887 J. Manly Neale, Newington House, was nominated as a land valuer by the Irish Land Commission. In April 1899 Dr. J.M. Neale was appointed warden of the Robertstown Dispensary District. Dr. Neale seemed to be a collector of archaeological artefacts as the Journal of the Co. Kildare Archaeological Society mentioned, on two separate occasions, that he had in his ‘possession’ a granite cap or top-stone of a sculptured Celtic cross and ‘a panel belonging to the Wellesley monument, which was carried off, and is now used as an ornament in the garden’.
The 1901 census returns for Newington – a first class house with twenty rooms – are as follows: Joseph Manly Neale (63); Irish Church; head of the family, who was born in Co. Kildare. His wife was born in Dublin. They had two daughters and one son – Samuel (23) – all born in Co. Kildare. A series of advertisements and meadow sales from 1910 to 1928 established that Newington was the residence of J.M. Neale in 1910 and Samuel Neale from 1911. It is assumed then that J.M. Neale died before the 1911 census as in the returns Samuel was described as a farmer and head of the family, while his mother was described as a widow.
Samuel Neale, husband of Norah Harriette, died in Dublin on 21 March 1947. The Leinster Leader of 29 March 1947 carried a ‘Preliminary notice to creditors.’

'In the goods of Samuel Neale, late of Newington, Newbridge, in the County of Kildare, Gentleman, deceased.
All persons claiming to be creditors of the above-named deceased, who died on 21st March, 1947, are hereby requested to forward particulars of their claims (in writing) forthwith to the undersigned Solicitors for the Exequtrix.
Dated this 26th day of March, 1947. Brown & McCann, Solicitors, Naas and 23 Anglesea Street, Dublin.'

Mrs. Samuel Neale was a prominent member of the Kildare Archaeological Society until her death. Newington House was sold and later demolished and a new residence built on the property.

A potted history of Newington House, the residence of the Neale family for over 130 years


The Sunday Press, April 15 1951

Mountains were our safeguard

Seamus O’Connor and his Republican comrades in arms were captured in July 1922. After imprisonment in Limerick Jail they were shipped to Dun Laoghaire and then imprisoned in Newbridge, where they immediately start into tunnelling:
Everything had to be done neatly. There were periodic inspections for tunnels. All operations were kept as secret as possible in case of spying. We agreed that whichever tunnel was through first would be made available to the other teams, so that all could escape at the same time.
After a few weeks we got word that one was ready. The escape was planned for that night. Newbridge was an old cavalry barracks. There was a large manhole in the square. It was connected with an old main sewer. The authorities had shown nervousness about this, thus drawing attention to its possibilities. The sewer ran right through the centre block, into the Liffey about 300 yards away. The tunnel was dug from a ground floor room into the sewer.
Each block of four rooms was self-contained and each room held nearly twenty men. Word was passed to everybody who knew of the tunnel. No person could leave his block, by order on penalty of being fired on by the sentries. At about seven each night a whistle was blown and each man had to withdraw from the square to (presumably) his own block until morning. There was no check afterwards, however, on the occupants of each block.
The tunnel was not in our block and a few minutes before whistle time we got ready to move in silently to the escape block. A message was however passed to us that the escape had been postponed until the following night. When the whistle blew we went to our own rooms.
The following morning whilst in bed somebody whispered in my ear that 70 men had escaped. It was true. The information given to us at the critical moment the night before was wrong. We moved into the empty escape room and took it over.
The authorities knew nothing of the escape. It was in our favour that the day was Sunday. The prisoners here, as in Limerick, also looked after themselves. The soldiers merely acted as guards on the outside.
On Sunday usually, there was little or no connection between them and us. Before an hour, the escape was known to all the prisoners. It was made clear, however – with the aid of butchers’ knives from the cookhouse – that drastic measures would be taken against anybody trying to pass out information. As it happened, no information was passed out.
We knew nothing of the working of this tunnel – all who did were gone. A wiry, diminutive lad – Hussey of Killarney – was selected to make an inspection that morning. He came back, leaving his shoes outside – perhaps that he would have an excuse of going out for them again, or to prove that he had made the journey.
We decided to escape that night. We found it would be impossible to get away by day. And now we had a bit of trouble. We prisoners had our own commanding officer. He now approached us and claimed the right to take over control, as he was anxious that a batch of key Dublinmen would escape first. We very reluctantly agreed on condition that ours should be the second batch.
When the whistle blew in the evening for everybody to go to their blocks, there were up to two hundred men in the escape block. We waited. An hour passed. We wondered what was delaying the first party. They were patiently waiting in a ring round the tunnel entrance in the escape room.
At last the O/C called for attention. It was now about 8.30. The escape was called on, he said. He had definite information, he said, that there was an armoured car outside with machine guns trained on the mouth of the tunnel. Naturally and very correctly, of course, he refused to be responsible for sending unarmed men to their deaths. After the order his men fell back from round the coveted spot. We edged in and took their places. At that moment we felt responsible to no-one but to our individual selves. Turning to them I said “Are we going to drop it?” There was no doubt about their “No”. I lifted the neat square board that covered the hole, and threw it aside – the bed underneath which it was hidden had already been moved earlier that night. Hussey, the guide, went first, and each of us who had elected to come followed him.
After about a dozen feet, we got into the sewer. We were able to crawl without difficulty on our hands and knees. The distance seemed long. It seemed to take over an hour. The noise made by the crawling line – about 25 of us – seemed very loud. We passed under a sentry box. It seemed almost incredible that he could not hear us.
Tom O’Brien had a new blue suit on. Earlier in the night he had carefully wound a cloth round the legs to preserve it. He was after me, I kept asking him how his suit was. It was unnecessary to ask.The knees of our trousers were soon worn through, and then the skin began to come off at the knees and palms.
There was a disused sawmill on the bank of the river. The sewer passed beneath it. The architects of the tunnel knew their geography well and they bored right up into the mill house. The entrance to the river had been blocked with iron bars by the Free State authorities. We waited to give a helping hand until all were up. We decided that five of us should make the first attempt to cross the river – the others to wait until they were sure that everything was in order, and then come as they wished.
We crawled out in single file, turned to the right along the bank for a hundred yards, in order to avoid going too close to where we knew there was an outpost, and then struck straight across the river. The river was high enough to cleanse us after the sewer. O’Brien carried his cigarettes and matches in safety under his cap. Suddenly a light shone down on us, along the river. We froze, crouching where we were, expectantly. It slowly lifted, turned aside, and passed on. It was probably the light of a car travelling the Naas road.
We climbed a steep bank on the other side, into a large field. Then we were free.
Never again do I hope to experience the exultation I felt going up that field – the joy of being free.
When we reached the top of the field, we were together. Suddenly from behind, I heard my first name called. I waited. A young lad came running up, 15-years-old Tully O’Sullivan of Tralee. He asked me to take him with us.
Thinking he would be too great a liability to us and to himself I advised him to go back and link up with another party. He pleaded and I consented. Just then another figure loomed up. Nash from Newcastle West. He like O’Sullivan had also stolen after us, and he pleaded to be allowed accompany us. He had been wounded previously and on that account, perhaps we consented.
We were now seven. Besides Allman and Hussey, there were two Dublin lads, Tom O’Brien already mentioned, and Jimmy Kenny. Kenny was in the Fianna in Easter Week with Pearse and had been in charge of the 4th Batt., Dublin Brigade, for some time. O’Brien had seen a good deal of service. We had shared the same room, and I had previously initiated them into the

*** … with a view of our going to Dublin. In return they were to supply us with arms there

***… picked out a star which we thought lay over Dublin, and

*** … us glowed the huge wall of light, forming a ring of death in the barbed wire around the camp.
We didn’t bless the whitethorn hedges – favoured by the farmers in Kildare and Dublin – through we had to force our way.
After about an hour we heard continuous bursts of gunfire coming from the direction of the camp. We knew the escape had been discovered. We later learned that one party of escapees – not the one that came with us – had been caught under fire. We heard afterwards that some were killed and wounded. One wounded man, swept down the river, got into a friendly house and escaped. Some went back through the sewer again. We heard also that one went astray in a smaller offshoot and got stuck there.
There were Free State posts at Naas and Blessington. It was important that we go between them. Our star carried us right through. When daylight came we approached a house for food. The poor woman had no bread. She baked us a cake on the griddle. We ate and rested in a nearby wood until nightfall.

*** … the village of Brittas. Somebody had a half crown. We bought a few bottles of stout and set out again by road.
Shortly after leaving the village, we met four officers on a sidecar – probably from the aerodrome at Tallaght!  They looked at us, and we looked at them. They said nothing and passed on. We thought they must suspect us and might organise a search party. We took to the fields again.
Then Allman hurt his knee crossing a fence. We could go no further. We looked for the light of a house, but could see none. We came on a field of hay left out to feed sheep or cattle for the winter. We made a bed in a dry dyke and slept until morning.
That day we got into Rathfarnham. The two Dublin lads and I slept for a week in a loft of a cow byre. The other four found refuge – through the help of a friendly priest in a barn. The gardener supplied food. They were closeted at hand for a week, as they had to remain, as they had to remain there until Allman’s knee was better.
Then one bright Thursday afternoon, armed with one service rifle, three Webley revolvers, a bottle of iodine and some bandages and a very good map of Ireland we turned our faces to the South, out by the Hell Fire Club, down across the Dublin Mountains on our journey home. There were five of us: Allman, Hussey, Nash, O’Sullivan and myself (four Kerrymen, one from Limerick).
As we came off the mountains on the road near Glencree we heard the sound of a bugle call. We immediately took cover in a ditch, and sent young O’Sullivan forward to investigate. Being young he was not likely to be suspected. He reported back that it was a Reformatory, run by a religious order – on semi-military lines, I presume, hence the bugle.
We knocked at the door and asked for our dinner. The Superior was called and we could see that he did not like our appearance. We had to certify that our arms were for defence only (like all great nations do).
He admitted us and provided us with a very fine dinner. He didn’t seem to like our side. It was dusk when we left Glencree, and followed a grass grown road made to subjugate Michael O’Dwyer, many miles long and wide, running through a huge glen. We were tired and there was no house except the broken-down block houses sight. That night we slept under a large overhanging rock. The night was cold and there were showers of sleet. It was the end of October.
We had no overcoats and our summer clothing was thin and scanty. (We from Kerry had no connection with our homes since capture). Some of us had no shirts. They had worn out in prison, and we had made ourselves instead a sort of long undergarment, from army blankets. We slept fitfully through a very long night, huddled on top of each other, for warmth.
At daybreak, we found we were only a short distance from a house surrounded by trees. It looked big, and we suspected a military post, as we had one marked on our map in the locality. We spread out and closed in cautiously.

*** … carded slings were scattered in the open hall. The soldiers had been there and had gone.
We knocked up the caretaker – it was a shooting lodge. He lit a fire and we thawed out. He made a huge container of tea and gave us all the bread he had - not much. He said he had to bring the flour six miles from Laragh on his back.
After a few hours we set out again, keeping as far as possible to the mountains. It was safer that way. To us, mountains were a natural safeguard. They had always been our main chance of survival. We made straight for Mount Leinster, up a sheep track, over the top and down near Borris-in–Ossory.
From there straight to Slievenamon and then to the Galtees. Rivers were a difficulty – bridges are usually on or near town, and they were occupied. We forded the Slaney, and crossed the Barrow by boat. We approached the Nore about a mile underneath Thomastown and were shown a ford. It was in flood and looked high and wide.
As we sought a place to cross, we saw a party of soldiers on the other side. They saw us and retreated towards Thomastown – we guessed for reinforcements.
We had no alternative now. We got into the water and crossed. Here young O’Sullivan was nearly drowned. He was being carried off when somebody pulled him out by the hair.
We slept in outhouses, stables, in the kitchens of farm labourers’ houses. Somehow, they understood human needs and frailties better than their richer neighbours. We developed an amazing brand of lice. Their quantity and quality in such a comparatively short time was truly phenomenal.
Once (in Carlow), we approached a very large residence for our dinner. The owner had a title of some sort, and we wanted to give him a chance to atone for some of the sins of his ancestors by contributing something to the Republic. He took us into a parlour, and produced a bottle of whiskey. He probably suspected who we were, because he showed us a newspaper which gave account of the big Newbridge escape.
His good lady assisted the maids to wait on us, and presented us with a towel and soap on our departure. We found the offer slightly embarrassing.
So far we hadn’t met any of our own, and when we did it nearly proved our undoing. We went astray on the Galtees, and instead of going west we turned north into the glen of Aherlow. We struck on a Republican doing sentry duty for a Column, east of Galbally. We met the members of the Column (McCormack’s) in nearby farm-houses and were entertained royally.
A horse and cart was provided to take us to some place near Ballylanders, where we slept in real beds. There was a Free State post in Galbally who must have heard of our location. The following morning we were forced to flee our bed by news of an approaching Free State party. We lay all that day in a

*** …We made a vow that we would not rest in bed again till we reached home in Kerry.
It was Saturday night at 7 o’clock when we started out again on the last lap. We met a rabbit trapper and we pressed him into our service. He took us out of the mountains and put us on the road.
We went on by Milford, Broadford, skirted around Charleville, which was occupied. Travelling all night, we arrived in Tullylease in County Cork about 11 o’clock, and we met the people as they were coming out from Mass.We parted with Nash at Rockchapel.
At Brosna (Kerry), we said good-bye to Hussey and Pat Allman. We were to meet again. In Pat I was reminded of what I had read was not yet 20, and was then of Red Hugh O’Donnell. He was not yet 20, and was then a Battalion Commander. He had already shown before his capture, and was later to prove himself a born leader and a very brave man.
Even his fine physique could not save him, however. In four years he was dead from much hardship and many wounds.
Now young O’Sullivan and I were alone. We had about eight miles to go. Towards the end it was becoming difficult to bring him along. At every fence he stopped and wanted as he said , “to lie down and die.”
At about one o’clock on Monday morning we reached home – Knocknagoshel, a little hill-top village beyond the Cork-Kerry-Limerick border. I knocked on the house of a friend, Charlie O’Donoghue. He got up, opened the door. He passed no remark, motioned us to sit down. He put the fire together and hung an oven. He sliced the bacon. He made the tea. We ate and went to bed.
To-morrow was another day. If we had only known it, what had happened was but a very little episode of what was to come- all part of the uneasy pangs of a nation being born.


In an article from The Sunday Press of April 15 1951 Seamus O’Connor recounts the 1922 escape from Newbridge Barracks. Retyped by Aisling Dermody

June 28, 2011



By Jacinta Prunty and H.B. Clarke

What percentage loss of population did Kildare town experience during the famine decade 1841-1851? Why do you think Maynooth was chosen in 1795 as the location for the Royal College of St. Patrick? How does historic Maynooth or Kildare compare to other Irish towns? The answer to these and many other questions can be found in Reading the Maps: A guide to the Irish Historic Towns Atlas. This is a user’s guide to the 23 atlases that have been published in this series.  The book compares and contrasts the development of 21 towns around the country.

• This new publication from the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, Royal Irish Academy uses an historical and geographical approach to understand the evolution of Irish towns and cities through the ages.
• The book is richly illustrated with maps, historical plans, views, illustrations, reconstructions and photographs with several featuring Kildare.
• It explores themes such as ‘buying and selling’ and ‘amusements and pastimes’ and has chapters dealing with particular periods of urban development in Ireland from the monastic town to the nineteenth-century resort town.
• Reading the Maps is a book for everyone but also a particularly useful tool for teachers and students, with ‘test yourself’ boxes to encourage reflection and further study.
• The book draws upon the work of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas. This project is based in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, and has been producing scholarly atlases on Irish towns for over 25 years. Irish Historic Towns Atlas no.1 Kildare was published in 1986
• Previously in the atlases the stories of these towns were told individually; now in Reading the Maps they are told collectively as well.
• The authors Dr Jacinta Prunty and Professor Howard Clarke are both editors of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas series and have published widely on Irish towns and map history.
• Reading the Maps can be purchased for €25 from your local book shop or online (free postage until end June 2011) at www.ria.ie
• For further information please contact Maria Shanahan, Publications & Communications Intern at m.shanahan@ria.ie

The answer to these and many other questions can be found in Reading the Maps: A guide to the Irish Historic Towns Atlas. This is a user’s guide to the 23 atlases that have been published in this series.  The book compares and contrasts the development of 21 towns around the country.

Reading the Maps: A guide to the Irish Historic Towns Atlas by Dr Jacinta Prunty and Professor Howard Clarke

June 22, 2011


Leinster Leader 19 January 1963

Making Music For Over 100 Years

The reorganisation of St. Patrick’s Fife and Drum Band, Droichead Nua, may not be of more than passing interest to younger readers, but for many older people it will recall many memories. The history of the band stretches back to 1848 and over that century-plus of music making many members of well-known Droichead Nua families were associated with the band.
In recent years, Droichead Nua people have seldom heard their town band for it has been an up-hill fight by the few members to prevent total disintegration. Never once, however, have they failed to greet each New Year with a parade through the town on New Year’s Eve.
Over the past few years, they have been helped out by the few surviving members of the Bishopwood Band, who find themselves in the same position as St. Patrick’s.
Down through the years, St. Patrick’s Fife and Drum Band was closely associated with the independence movement - the staff in use now had its first outing at Parnell’s funeral and the bass drum was presented by the Volunteers in 1914. In 1918, the band played at Sinn Fein victory celebrations all over the county for many years played at the Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown.
At the close of the last century, when the population of Droichead Nua was little over 1,000, the town could boast of three bands – St. Conleth’s Brass and Reed Band, The Parnell Band, and St. Patrick’s Fife and Drum Band. On the death of Parnell, the Parnell Band joined with St. Patrick’s.
An amusing story is told of a tramp who came into the town on a Sunday when the St. Patrick’s Band and the resident British Army Band were playing at different junctions. The tramp refused help, stalked out of town, looking back at the bridge with a final farewell: “Bad luck to you, Newbridge – music and hunger.”

St. Patrick’s Fife and Drum Band, Droichead Nua, making music for over 100 years. Retyped by Dana-Maria Floarei

June 21, 2011


Leinster Leader, May 19, 1973

Famous Kildare Horse Dies in the U.S.

One of the best known Kildare horses of the early fifties, Indian Hemp, bread at Ardenode Stud, Ballymore Eustace, by Captain Spencer Freeman, died of a heart ailment early this year at California, USA.Bread in 1949, Indian Hemp, sired earners of more than £1.7 million, including £36,00 earner, T. V. Lark which is 14th in the list of leading earners. Capt. Freeman sold him as a yearling at Newmarket for over £7,000 to Sir Humohery de Trafford.Raced by Sir. Humphrey and trained by Marcus Marsh, Indian Hemp, at two won the Windsor Castle and Tattersalls Sales Stakes, was second in the Exeter Stakes and third in the royal Lodge Stakes. He was ranked at 121 pounds on the free handicap, 12 pounds below the high weighted Windy City II.Max Bell, the Canadian industrialist, bought Indian Hemp privately after he came third in the Newmarket Stakes, at three. After being beaten by a neck in the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot, he travelled to the US in ’52 for the Washington DC International but was unplaced. In 1952 he won the Yerba Buena Handicap, came second in the lakes and Flowers and San Pasqual Handicaps, and was third in the Hawthorne Gold Cup, Washington Park, Charles E. Bidell, Tanforan, Chicago and Bay Meadows handicaps.After winning seven races and earning £42,500 he was retired in 1955. Syncicated in 1960, he was eventually moved to Mrs. Connie M, Ring’s Three Rings Ranch near Beaumont, California, where he died. Other big earners sired by Indian Hemp, include Linitt, Mr. Wag, Old Moses, Hempen, Judge Savage and Prince Hemp.Indian Hemp was among seven foals from stakes – placed Sabzy, a daughter of Stardust which Capt. Spencer Freeman sold to C.H. Jones and Son in 1954 for almost £1,000. Sazby produced four winners in the US from five reported foals, including the dams of All I Can and Starry Prince, stakes winners.


The Guy Williams Lecture on ‘Royalty in Kildare - From Henry II in 1171 to Elizabeth II in 2011’ will take place at 8pm in Aras Bhride (Parish Centre), Kildare Town, on Tuesday night, 21 June.

There will be a poetry and story night with local writer Mae Leonard at 7.30pm on Thursday night.

The Guy Williams Lecture on ‘Royalty in Kildare - From Henry II in 1171 to Elizabeth II in 2011’ will take place at 8pm in Aras Bhride (Parish Centre), Kildare Town, on Tuesday night, 21 June.  


Just a reminder: the next meeting of the Newbridge Local History Group will take place in Sarsfield GAA clubhouse, Roseberry Room, on Tuesday 21 June at 8.30pm.

This meeting will consist of a slide show selection of the photos we have collected during the year so far - aerial photos, street scenes and the changing face of Newbridge down the years will feature in the presentation. Looking forward to seeing you all there.


Paul Cooke.

Raphael Ryan.

meeting of the Newbridge Local History Group will take place in Sarsfield GAA clubhouse, Roseberry Room, on Tuesday 21 June at 8.30pm. 

June 18, 2011


Leinster Leader, 6 September 1980

The Late Mr. Samuel Shaw, Athy

A man who played a vital role in building the House of Shaw into the largest commercial group of its kind died last week at his residence at Cardenton, Athy, aged over 90 years. He was Mr. Samuel Victor Shaw, native of Mountmellick.
The commercial empire he left behind started in Mountmellick about 1864, when his father, Henry Shaw, set up a successful little drapery. Henry’s widow took over in the 1890s, and with the help of her children opened in Portlaoise a large general drapery and footware store as an extension of the business. Her son William, managed the new premises.
In 1902 a slim fair-haired boy arrived in Athy to serve his time to drapery at the Duke St. establishment of John A. Duncan. His name: Samuel V. Shaw. His hours were long, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and for his labours he received 2/6 (12 1/2p) a month pocket money. When he had completed his apprenticeship his mother sent him to London to learn tailoring. Before he left he urged her and his brother, William, to buy Duncan’s business if it went up for sale. In 1914 a telegram he received in London from his mother summoned him home; Duncan’s premises had come on the market, and had passed into the ownership of the Shaw family.
On his return to Ireland he entered into the family business, and when his brother, William died in 1929 took over the running of the Athy branch. Under his guidance, Shaws acquired a second premises in Duke Street and entered into the hardware/furniture business. A further development in the Shaw family was in 1934 when the firm was registered as a limited private company, Shaw & Sons, and he became its managing director. His mother had died some years previously.
Under his skilful management the firm grew very much larger. It acquired the Waterford City concern, Robinson, Ledley & Ferguson, in 1940 opened a branch in Carlow in 1949, and took over the big Gaze & Jessops business in Portlaoise in 1954, and developed it further as a general hardware, farm and machinery and furniture business. His next venture on behalf of the Shaw group was to open a branch in Roscrea in 1964, and in the last decade extended their activities by opening a branch in Ballymun. Actively engaged with him in the group extensions in recent years were his sons, Billy, Mervyn and Trevor. Up to the time of his death last week, he continued to act as the group’s chief executive and signed the bulk of the cheques.
The late Mr. Shaw had many qualities that contributed to his tremendous success as a business magnate. These included a spirit of enterprise, a quiet tenacity, a feeling for the exact requirement of the customers, and a capacity to ensure that these requirements were met with civility and at attractive prices. Everybody who had dealings with him found him to be a charming, affable man of extraordinarily even temperament, and possessed of a delightful sense of humour. He tool pleasure in meeting customers on the shop floor and exchanging a few friendly words.
Outside of the group responsibilities he found relaxation and exercise in attending to his farm and in tending his garden. For years he was a prominent exhibitor of pure bread Hereford cattle at the RDS Show, and won many major awards, including the championship of the Show. A first class gardener, he took pride in his produce; vegetables and flowers. To him the simple things in life mattered greatly. He stood very high in the community, a man for whom there was deep admiration and respect, and a great deal of affections,. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, sons, Billy, Mervyn and Trevor, and daughters Mrs. Betty Kelso and Miss Rosaleen Shaw. After Burial Service in Athy Methodist Church, he was interred in the family plot in Rosnalls Cemetery, Laois.


Leinster Leader, January 6, 1951


Naas Housing Programme

Old Gaol To Be Demolished?

The new scheme of 130 houses proposed to be built between the Caragh Road and the Canal Basin , was again discussed at the meeting of the Naas Urban Council on Tuesday night. A lengthy debate took place as regards the Old Gaol and a resolution was passed eventually, that it be acquired and demolished. Mr. M.J. O’Donoghue inquired that now that the Town Planner was back from when would the proposed 130 houses scheme commence. The Chairman (Mr. MI. Fitzsimons) said that apparently more land was required. Town Clerk (Mr. Whyte – Negotiations are going on. I understand that the Town Planner has been with the Department and that the Department has approved in principle the lay-out and that now it is only a matter of completing the documents. Mr. O’Donoghue – Any chance of starting development work in the near future? Chairman – We must get the loan sanctioned. Town Clerk – The big job is the preparation of the bills of quantities. Until that is done we cannot advertise. Mr. Tom Dowling said that it was apparently intended to acquire the field at the rear of Mr. Noel Dowling’s house and also the small piece of road behind Mr. Frank Dowling’s new grocery store. “I was under the impression,” added Mr. Dowling, “that the gaol site would also be developed”. Town Clerk – No. Mr. S. Curran – I thought that a ball alley was to be built there.  Mr. O’Donoghue said that the acquisition of Messrs. Dowling’ lands was a new one to him. He thought that they had acquired all the land that they required eighteen months or two years ago.


The Town Clerk said that the land was necessary to provide an outlet to the main road. Mr. Jack Lawler – I was under the impression that the old Gaol was to be taken down. Surely it isn’t intended to build 130 houses up against that? They should be ten miles away from a structure like that. Mr. Dowling – I think that it is a great eyesore there. Mr. O’Donoghue – It should be taken away. Mr. Dowling – It would make a marvellous building site. Mr. Daly – Would there be any chance of a contractor demolishing it for stone? Chairman – They would be no good for building purposes. Mr. O’Donoghue – Send one of the stones to instead of the Lia Fail (laughter). Mr. Jack Lawler said that they should draw the attention of the Town Planner to this anomaly – that they did not approve of the new scheme unless the Old Gaol was taken down. Mr. O’Donoghue – Put that in the form of a resolution and the Council will back it. Town Clerk – The Council have already approved of the scheme, but we didn’t know that we would have to acquire further land.













June 16, 2011


The Leinster Leader abroad

Leinster Leader 19 June 1948
Soldier’s tribute to “Leader”
To the Editor, “Leinster Leader.”
Dear Sir – On behalf of myself and my friends I find a little time to write to you a few lines concerning the “Leinster Leader” and how we all here look forward to receiving it from home. It is indeed a treat to read all the brightly edited news and to know how all our Gaelic games and sports are progressing in the county.
During my twelve months in Palestine the “Leinster Leader” was a welcome gift from home, and even to the present day we all look forward to receiving it. The Battalion is at present stationed in Egypt, and now that our duties have been reduced a great deal, we find more time to read the news from the homeland. I most sincerely hope I shall continue to receive it throughout my active service duties in the Middle East.
I would like to mention that during my service in Austria, 1945-46 with 1st Battalion, Irish Fusiliers, I and other Kildare soldiers were always on the look-out for the “Leader.” It helped to dispel the loneliness and brought us again in contact with our friends and people. I hope the good work will continue to reach those of us in exile.
I would like to thank all connected with the “Leinster Leader” for such a fine production and such a welcome gift to those abroad. – I remain yours faithfully, J. Kelly, late of 475, Ballymanny Cottages, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

Leinster Leader 4 February 1961
The “Leader” went the rounds in the Congo
Gunner D. Finn, a member of Round Towers GFC, was one of the most popular men in his Company, every Monday that the 33rd Battalion was in the Congo – that was the day the Leinster Leader arrived.
“The Club arranged with us to have the paper sent each week. Everyone wanted to read it, and it went the rounds of the whole Company,” he said on his return.
Now the Leinster Leader is going out weekly, at the request of the Club to his brother, Trooper L. Finn, of the Armoured Car Group in the 34th Battalion.

The appreciation of the Leinster Leader by Kildaremen serving overseas from 1948 and 1961


Leinster Leader articles of 10 July 1948

County Kildare Show

Ambitious programme arranged
The attention of all those interested in horse breeding, jumping and agriculture generally, is drawn to the advertisement in this week’s issue of the County Kildare Hunt Horse and Farmers’ Association Show, which is being held at Tipper Road, Naas, on Monday, 2nd August. Over £300 in cash prizes is being offered and as will be seen from the advertisement, very valuable premiums have been provided by the Royal Dublin Society for hunter stock. The County Kildare Committee of Agriculture have also given a grant of £50 towards the prize funds.
 There are classes to suit all interested in farming, while classes for vegetables, flowers and fruit ensure that all gardening enthusiasts are provided for. Nation-wide interest will be centred in the open jumping competitions, and we are glad to state that the Army School of Equitation are giving a display of jumping.
 After the Show a dance will be held in Mrs. Lawlor’s Ballroom, the music for which will be supplied by Billy Carter and his Band.
 The Committee have asked us to remind those interested that completed entry forms should be returned on or before the 15th instant to the Hon. Secretary at 42 Main Street, Naas.

Seventeen in one house
“There are seventeen people living in a two-bedroomed house (three families) in New Row,” commented Mr. Wm. Daly at the meeting of the Naas Urban Council on Tuesday night, when a letter was read from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children drawing the attention of the Council to two families who were badly in need of houses in the urban area. It was decided to draw the attention of the County Manager to the matter.

Newbridge man’s distinction
For services with the R.A.F. in Palestine, Squadron Leader C. Harrington, M.B.E., of Natal, South Africa, who was born at Newbridge, Co. Kildare, was mentioned in despatches. He joined the R.A.F. in 1921 and was commissioned in 1941. He was made M.B.E. in 1943.

Kill Old I.R.A. Association
The monthly meeting of above was held in Kill National School. The Brigade Secretary, Mr. J. C. Delaney was present and gave a detailed account of resolutions which came before the Brigade meeting in Newbridge on Sunday 27th, ult. These resolutions dealt with medals, re-opening of pension claims, acquisition and division of estates, vesting of tenants in occupation over a number of years.
A lengthy discussion took place on the attitude adopted by the Land Commission towards Branch members, after which it was decided that immediate and direct action be taken.
The Brigade Secretary was directed to contact representatives from Straffan, Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip, Celbridge and Clane, so that they may come within the ambit of the association. It is however, a matter for regret that the Association of Old I.R.A. men was not in existence years ago, holding as it were a watching brief for all its members for just and equitable treatment.


Some interesting articles from the Leinster Leader of 10 July 1948

June 14, 2011


The Civil War in Kildare

We would like to invite you to the official launch of

The Civil War in Kildare
by James Durney

on Thursday 23 June at 6.30 p.m.
in Barker and Jones Bookshop
Poplar Square, Naas, Co. Kildare

To be launched by Liam Kenny, Journalist
Leinster Leader and Kildare FM

Copies will be available for sale
Mercier Press. Irish Story

We would like to invite you to the official launch of The Civil War in Kildare by James Durney on Thursday 23 June at 6.30 p.m.


The Kildare Observer, December 25, 1909

The Abolition of Naas Workhouse

At the weekly meeting of the Naas Board of Guardians, on Wednesday, Mr. Myles Healy presiding, the following report was read:-

1. That the Government be pressed to introduce a Measure embodying the chief, if not all the recommendations of the Viceregal and Royal Commissions on Poor Law Reform.
2. That a District Relief Board be established for Naas No.1 and Naas No. 2 Districts, consisting of Ten Members of the present Board of Guardians and Five Members of the County Council, with a Sub-Relief Committee of Seven acting under them, in the following Districts:- Naas, Newbridge, Kilcullen, Kildare, Clane, Ballymore-Eustace, and Blessington, for the purpose of selecting the number of deserving poor in each.
3. That the district Relief Board have the power of granting from the rates weekly pensions from 2s. to 5s. in all cases of deserving poor under the age of 70, and for this purpose and arrangement be entered into with the Postmaster-General so as to have all such pensions paid by the same method as at present adopted in paying the “Old Age Government Pensioners,” that is by cash order books payable at any Post Office, the County Council, on receipt from the Postmaster-General, to transmit twice in each year the amount stated therein required to meet all such pension payments.
4. That the present salaries of Doctors and Midwives, rents and allowances to caretakers of Dispensaries, be paid quarterly in future by the County Council.
5. That the present District Hospital be managed by a Board of Local Governors, as is at present done in the case of the Kildare Infirmary, and a set annual sum allowed for same from the rates by the County Council.
6. That the unused portion of the Naas Workhouse be sub-let at the existing head rents charged (a) for Workshops or Factories for the purpose of employing the people; (b) a County Agricultural Technical Schools; (c) a Sanatoria, or other useful purpose.
7. That the destitute weak-minded people at present located at the Workhouse be transferred to an Asylum, the cost of maintenance to be discharged by the County Council, and levied as a county charge in future.
8. That the Clerk of the Union, so far as Union charges are concerned, be directed to only raise in his estimates the required amount for three months – for instance, from the 31st March to the 30th June, 1910. 
9. That all future instalments of loans charged against the Guardians be paid by the County Council, and raised by them as a Poor Rate.
10. All classes in Ireland agree upon the proposition that the eminence of the Poor Law system on the existing standard is both inefficient and unenomical. The poor Law relief, as at present administered, has only a demoralising effect, while it involves a reckless waste of money and time.
It is ludicrous to have able-bodied men and women supported out of the rates in sheer idleness. These we would propose to be ejected from the Workhouse. As for the remaining inmates, those of them who feel able to leave the House, and having a doctor’s certificate to that effect, we will give them 5s. a week conditionally – that is, they are neither to beg, steal, get drunk or, in other words, break the law; for three-serious convictions of any of the above-named will deprive them of their weekly allowance. And the sick poor we would suggest that the Hospital be renovated, and keep apartments for paying patients, and likewise to see that both paying patients and poor will be better treated than heretofore. Then as is mentioned in No. 6 of this Scheme, that every hole and corner of this vast establishment be utilised to the best advantage, so that, after some little time, it is our conviction, that this Naas Workhouse, instead of being a drag on the ratepayers, will turn into a paying institution.
Now we, the members of this Committee, consider it may not be in our power to abolish the Union just now. However, we feel that at least two good results will come from this motion. First, it will hurry up the Viceregal or some other Commission to action; and, secondly, it will prove conclusively to the world that there has been, not a fraudulent, but a terrible waste of money in the Naas Union.
That the master and several relieving officers furnish a correct report under the following headings – (1) number, age, name and former address of all able-bodied inmates at present in Naas Workhouse, male and female, stating the period resident therein; (2) number, name, age and address (if any) of all children at present in the workhouse; (3) number, name, age and address of all people receiving outdoor relief in Naas Nos. 1 and 2 districts; (4) a return of the amount paid in temporary relief by the relieving officers of the union in their several districts for the year ended 30th September, 1909.
The Clerk said the usual course was to have an important report like that printed and sent out to members, to be considered at another meeting.
The Chairman said what he considered would be the best way would be to send copies of the scheme to the members of Parliament for the county.
The Clerk said it would be first necessary that the suggestions should have the approval of the board.
Mr. J.S. O’Grady said they had no particular information in connection with the matter. They had nothing to show that the cost under the proposed scheme would be less than the present cost. Finance was the whole thing, and financial information they should have before them (hear, hear).
The Chairman said the committee considered that under the new scheme proposed the cost would be about half what it is at present.
It was decided on the proposition of Mr. J.S. O’Grady, seconded by Mr Charleton – “That the report be referred back to the committee to give particulars as to the probable financial result of the proposed scheme as compared with the expense of the existing system.”


June 11, 2011


The Great People of Caragh

Caragh History Group will launch:
The Great People of Caragh. Through the Arches of Time.

Date: Friday 1st July 2011
Venue: Caragh Community Centre
Time: 8 p.m.

This book is a pictorial record of our families and neighbours, the way they lived and a snapshot of Caragh in times past.

An open invitation is extended to one and all and we look forward to seeing you there.

Caragh History Group will launch: The Great People of Caragh. Through the Arches of Time on Friday 1st July 2011

June 09, 2011


Mind the Gap are looking for old footage

I'm writing from the independent TV production company Mind the Gap
Films about a national call for home movies, amateur and professional
footage of community festivals. We're in production on a series about
these festivals around Ireland, particularly those that crown a festival

Apart from filming at six festivals this summer we want to illustrate
the history of this tradition by using archive footage of festivals in
years past   baking competitions, parades, funfairs, festival queen
competitions; all the events that make these traditional festivals what
they are.

The programme is funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which
only backs programming of historical, social or cultural merit. The aim
of the programme is to celebrate the history of these festivals while
showing that they are still alive and well today.

We would be very grateful if you could pass on the word to your members
or any film clubs you are in contact with. We would love to get footage
stretching back as far as possible, and chances are there will be some
gems hiding under beds or in attics! We can also reassure anyone who is
interested that anything we receive will be returned to its owner.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. If I can provide more
information, or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to
contact me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Fran McNulty

Mind the Gap Films
6 Wilton Place
Dublin 2

+353 87 274 0914


Mind the Gap are looking for old film footage of community festivals


Rosanna Nightwalker – the Wren of the Curragh
By Martin Malone
Directed by Barbara Sheridan
Tuesday 14th to Saturday 18th June

It is winter, 1863. Rosanna Doyle, hopeful of a happy future with her soldier lover John, takes off to the Curragh camp to surprise him. But life still has some tough lessons for Rosanna to learn and she finds herself forced to join Bridget and the other ‘wren’ women of the Curragh plains. Making their homes in the furze bushes surrounding the camp, the wrens survive by offering their services to the soldiers.
Another, more distinguished, visitor is there that same winter; pressman Richard Tone has been commissioned by the great Charles Dickens to write about the women and he soon becomes engrossed in their lives.
Grounded in historical fact and based on his acclaimed radio play, Rosanna Nightwalker, and subsequent novel The Only Glow of the Day, Kildare writer Martin Malone has written a stage play of great power and tenderness which will be brought to life on the Moat stage by All Ireland winning director Barbara Sheridan.

MOAT THEATRE BOX OFFICE: 045883030 or book online at www.moattheatre.com

'Rosanna Nightwalker – the Wren of the Curragh,' by Martin Malone at the Moat Theatre, Naas, Tuesday 14th to Saturday 18th June


Calling all Cycling Enthusiasts & Budding Historians!

‘Bicycle Culture 1.0’

An exhibition of historical photographs and information about bicycles and cycling down through the ages, running at Newbridge Community Library from 7th to 25th June.

Launching Tues 7th June @ 7pm
in Newbridge Community Library

Calling all Cycling Enthusiasts & Budding Historians - get down to the exhibition!


'By the way,' Ann Lane

In November 2010 Wordwell Books published a book of photographs of public art all around Ireland called By the way. Ann Lane, the author of the book, travelled over 16,000 miles to list 760 sites and take hundreds of photographs. The book was well recieved and since its publication Ann has been toying with the idea of a slightly follow-up book, a sort of hidden Ireland type.

'If there were any local sites/images/commemorations/beautiful hidden scene or scenic road/private gardens/quirky things in your area that you might feel would be attractive to foreign tourists - or indeed anybody - I would be delighted to hear about it/them. If there is a background story about the item that would, of course, be significant - especially if there is any legend involved. Having it publicised could help tourism in your area. I would certainly plan to include tribute statues, i.e., Bill Clinton in Ballybunion, Joe Dolan, etc., but I would have to know the artisyt of those pieces because they have to be credited in each case.

At the moment I am just doing a general background check to see if there is enough material out there to warrant more research. If there is a local History Society, Historical Association or Museum Society in your area who are interested I would be grateful if you could contact me at ann.lane@ireland.com

An appeal by author Ann Lane for material on a book about hidden things in your area


Leinster Leader, October 4, 1924




Sallins Catholic Church will be opened to-morrow (Sunday). His Lordship Most Rev. Dr. Foley, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, will officiate at the opening ceremony, which will consist of the blessing and dedication of the Church and the celebration of Mass.
The occasion will be one of great importance and rejoicing to the people of Sallins and district, who heretofore attended Mass at Naas, many being obliged to travel long distances, often under the most distressing weather conditions. The inhabitants old and young, have at last seen the realisation of their hopes for practically at their doors has been erected a house of worship, a compact little structure, admirably suited to their needs.
It is now more than fifteen years since the people of Sallins petitioned the Parish Priest for the privilege of having a weekly Mass celebrated in the village, and Very Rev. Fr. Norris, with that keen perception of the spiritual needs of his flock, which has been an unfailing characteristic of his pastorate, saw at once the necessity for a auxiliary Church, and gave to the petition his full support. Having obtained the sanction of the ecclesiastical authorities a committee was formed under his parentage and a collection was made for the purpose of giving effect to the project. Foremost amongst the committee were the late Mr. P.J. Healy, the late Mr. Patrick Byrne, Mr. Thos. Fleming and Mr. J.J. Flanagan, the energetic Chairman. In a remarkably short space of time the sum of £400 was realised.
Fr. Norris then conceived the idea of having a better and more up-to-date schools for the district and informed the committee of his intention to press the National Board of Education for a grant in aid of this purpose. In the early part of 1914 he was promised the necessary financial assistance and a site having been acquired the plans and specifications for the new schools were prepared. But the intervention of the world war upset all these arrangements. One of the immediate effects of the outbreak of war was the cancellation of the promised grants and the revered pastor and his willing co-operators – the people of the district – were thrown back on their own resources. Had his plans materialised he proposed that after the erection of the new schools, equipped on modern lines, the old ones should by a serious of alterations and additions be converted into a chapel of ease.
As a result of the rapid increase of the cost of building during the war years, the whole matter was left in the abeyance until 1923 when Fr. Norris and Mr. J.J. Flannigan made a new start. This time it was decided to utilise the site acquired on the first occasion for the erection of a wood and iron structure to serve as a house of worship. Tenders were invited from the leading firms in this class of building and eventually the execution of the work was entrusted to Messers. Harrison and Co. Camberwell, London. Fr. Norris now informed the committee that instead of building on the site given by G.S. and W.R. Co. he would be prepared to give the site of the school garden and adjacent ruins which he had secured some time previously. This generous offer was availed of and the clearing of the site and the laying of the concrete foundations were commenced – also the front entrance and boundary walls. Messrs. Harrison had completed their contract by February 21st 1924.
The church as finished looks rather plain in contrast to the fine examples of cut stone erected in more favoured localities. It is approached by two wide roadways. One known as School Lane – leading – from the main road affords a pleasant view of the little building with its fine entrance, and grounds planted with evergreen shrubs, and the other leads on to the Grand Canal, facilitating the parishioners in every way. These roadways have been re-surfaced and drained by the County Council, during recent weeks.
On entering one is struck by the happy arrangement of having two entrance gates and also two doors to correspond with those in the porch. The porch partition has two swing doors leading into the interior of the Church. There is also a small wicket gate and a passage for use of the officiating priest from the entrance to the vestry. The body of the Church appears much more spacious than one would imagine from its exterior aspect. It is fully seventy feet in breadth and has actual seating accommodation for 400 people.
The seats were made by Mr. T. Corcoran, contractor, Naas, and are the gift of Fr. Norris. The Church is perfectly lighted and ventilated and the Stations of the Cross look very beautiful and artistic in their oak frames, spaced as they are in the bays between each window, which is dedicated to the memory of the late Patrick and Mary Boushel, of two very worthy parishioners, is a perfect specimen of its kind. The central figure is the sacred Heart with the supporting figures of Our Lady and St. Joseph. The Alter, artistically designed, and made of pitch pine, well polished, is the gift of the late Miss Condron, Eadstown, and was made by the eminent firm of Messers Scott, Dublin, who also furnished the credence Table and Prieu-Dieu. The Communion Rail, of brass, was erected by the well known firm of Messrs. Gunning and Sons, Fleet Street, Dublin whose fine work may be seen in many Churches throughout the land. They also supplied the fine Sanctuary lamp, massive brass Candelabra and the sacred vessels and Crucifix for the Alter. On the right and left of the Chancel Arch hang two very fine pictorial representations one of the National Apostle and the other of St. Brigid. These were presented by Mrs. B. Hourihane, N.T., Sallins, in memory of her deceased husband, the late Hon. Secretary of the Church Committee. The vestries are convenient and well furnished in everything pertaining to the needs of a Church, thanks to the generosity and care of Fr. Norris who also gave the beautiful sacred vessels and vestments.
The bell which was erected by Mr. D. Corcoran, Naas, is the gift of the Very Rev. W. Lockhart, P.P., Eadstown. The people of Sallins are sincerely grateful to all concerned for the erection of a Church in their midst, fulfilling a requirement so ardently desired. To their revered pastor. Very Rev. Fr. Norris, a sense of lasting obligation is felt, for it is recognised that the earnestness and zeal with which he co-operated made success ultimately possible. He never once lost sight of the project, even when the pressure of the economic conditions compelled the committee to make an indefinite postponement of the work. On the occasion of his golden jubilee last year Fr. Norris presented the money gifts received from his parishioners to the Sallins Church Fund. A debt of gratitude is also due to Mrs. Reddy for the generous measure of her support, which went a long way, to the Chairman and members of the committee who were indefatigable, and to the farmers and others of the district whose carts, horses, etc., were readily placed at the disposal of the contractors.
Mr. D. Smyth, contractor, Sallins had charge of the carpentry section of the work, which he executed with his usual efficiency.

An article from the Leinster Leader, October 4, 1924 about the opening of the iron Chapel in Sallins. Retyped by Aisling Dermody.

June 08, 2011


Leinster Leader September 2, 1972


The soldierly figure of Mr Peter Lawlor of Pacelli Road, Naas, erect to the last despite his 79 years is gone from the scene. He died last week at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Athy. His career was an unusually colourful and varied one with long service at home and overseas. Native of Halverstown, Naas, he was a former O.C. Cavalry Corps at Plunkett Barracks, Curragh Camp. He was to retain a link with the Army stretching over four decades. From O.C. in 1924 to the time when he retired from his job at the cavalry workshops, 43 years later, he was held in deservedly high esteem. Peter fought in the Dardanelles with the 1st Australians (the famous Dinkums) in the first World War and joined Michael Collins on his return to Ireland. He got his commission as Commandant in 1922.
His career as a soldier also embraced service with Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War as an officer. A much-travelled man, he worked in various parts of Canada and in eleven of the States of America. He went to New Zealand in 1911 and returned to Ireland after World War I. He also served with the Old I.R.A. for a period.
The date of his death coincided with the 50th anniversary of the death of Michael Collins. Peter was extremely proud of the fact that it was Collins who bestowed on him the insignia of rank as Commandant in the National Army. He was a loyal supporter of the Labour Party.
Mr. Lawler is survived by his wife, Mrs. Barbara Lawler, who has been a patient at the County Hospital for some time, son, Frank and daughter, Jean who is a public health nurse in Peckham, London. Military honours were accorded at the funeral to St. Corban’s Cemetery, Naas, following Requiem Maas on Thursday. The attendance included officers of the Cavalry Corps and many former comrades, as well as a big representation of the townspeople. Rev. Fr. Ramsbottom, C.C., officiated at the graveside. With him while receiving the remains on Wednesday evening were Very Rev. J. McDonald, P.P., Kill, and Rev. D. Hogan, C.C., Kill.


Leinster Leader March 8, 1975

200- year band link

The 200th anniversary of the founding of the first band in Maynooth was marked at the annual general meeting of St. Mary’s Brass and Reed Band.
The first Band was formed in 1775, and from 1908 to 1910 there were twin bands in the town, Mahons (Tailors) and Bagnells. Up to 1913 they were brass bands and in that year, woodwind was introduced by the then Bandmaster, Mr. Gorman who also trained some of the present band. The Band Hall was burned in 1923 and the band went out of existence and was reformed in 1931 by Fr. T. Grogan, S. Kavanagh, M. Nolan, P. Weafer, all since passed away, and Tom Waldron. He became a member in 1910 and Asst. Secretary B. Grady joined in 1917.
Beginners classes are held each week and there is room for new members.
Elected: Life President, Phil Brady; President, Very Rev. F. O’Higgins, P.P.; Chairman, P. Boyd; Vice-Chairman, P. Dunne; Secretary, M. Dempsey (Greenfields); Asst. Secretary, B. Grady; Treasurer, C. Murphy; Staff Major, M. Brady; Committee: M. Dempsey, J. Boyd, J. Dunne, J. Beane, M. Dempsey, Miss C. Dempsey. A vote of sympathy was passed to the relatives of the late Mr. P. Weafer who died recently and the meeting was adjourned as a mark of respect.


Great Southern and Western Railway, Newbridge – early stationmasters

James Durney

Newbridge railway station opened in 1846 when the Great Southern and Western Railway line reached the town. Newbridge was then an important military centre, having its own cavalry barracks and being less than three miles from the celebrated camp on the Curragh. The railway station in Newbridge was kept busy with constant troop movements, but it was also a place for meetings, sales and unfortunately, accidents.
The first stationmaster mentioned in newspaper records was Mr. Hynes, who, according to the Irish Times of 15 June 1860, was presented in June 1859 with a silver cup from the officers of the 3rd Light Dragoons. The following year the same gentleman was presented with a lever watch by Colonel Sullivan and the officers of the 5th Royal Lancers, ‘for his uniform attention to those regiments whilst stationed at Newbridge’. A court case covered in the Kildare Observer of 17 December 1881 regarding an unpaid fare mentioned Martin Tighe, Newbridge stationmaster, as the main witness. Mr. Tighe is also mentioned in Slater’s Directory of 1881 as being the stationmaster in Newbridge. In a court case covered in the Kildare Observer of 7 October 1882 we find that hay, the property of Jonathan Tarlson, stationmaster, Newbridge, was burned. In his evidence Mr. Tarlson said he had bought the hay from the late stationmaster, Martin Tighe, six months previous.
The coverage of the funeral of local man Thomas Farrell in the Kildare Observer of 20 November 1897 mentioned Mr. J. Breen, stationmaster, Newbridge, as being one of those present. The 1901 Census returns for 17 Charlotte Street, Newbridge, give Thomas Manifold as the stationmaster in Newbridge. Thomas Manifold (44) was born in King’s County and was married to Eliza, who was ten years his junior. They had two children – Honora (18) and Mary (8), both born in Co. Cork. Manifold is still stationmaster a year later as he is mentioned as in attendance at the funeral of Peter Sullivan in the Kildare Observer of 4 October 1902.  The 1911 Census returns for 2 Piercetown, Newbridge, give Patrick O’Reilly as the stationmaster in Newbridge. Patrick O’Reilly (46) was born in Waterford City and had then being married to his Tipperary-born wife, Maryanne (40), for fifteen years. 

[Note: According to Mark Humphrys his ancestor Blennerhassett Cashel was the stationmaster in Newbridge from at least 1875 to 1877. Two of his children, Willie (1875) and John (1877) were born in Newbridge. Both children died in September 1878 from the 'croup,' when Blennerhassett Cashel was stationmaster in Seefin, Birr, Co. Offaly. Website: http://humphrysfamilytree.com/Cashel/blen.html]

The early stationmasters of the Great Southern and Western Railway, Newbridge

June 03, 2011


McDonnell’s Public House. A Newbridge landmark

James Durney

Recent renovation work on McDonnell’s public house on the corner of Edward Street revealed the remains of several earlier buildings in the rear yard. Speculation to what they might have contained engineered a search for the answers in the Kildare Library and Arts Services, based in Newbridge Library. A post card of Moorefield Terrace and Edward Street, from around 1905, clearly shows the name Farrell’s on the present building. In Issac Slater’s commercial trade directories of 1870 and 1881 John Farrell is listed as a ‘Grocer and spirit dealer,’ while an unrelated court case in September 1882 mentions ‘Mr. John Farrell’s public house’. A John Farrell bought the Standhouse Hotel around 1898, and while not confirmed, it is possible that it is the same John Farrell from Edward Street as Farrell’s public house is taken over by Patrick J. Doyle around this time. Another unrelated court case in December 1898 mentions ‘Patrick J. Doyle’s public house’. In the 1901 Census No. 6 Edward Street is listed as a public house with five rooms and seven out offices comprising: two stables, a coach house, a harness room, a turf house, a shed and store. The landholder was Miss Moore. Patrick J. Doyle was listed as the head of family. Born in 1862 in Yomanstown, Caragh, Patrick J. Doyle was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Doyle, Yomanstown Lodge. In his lifetime Patrick J. Doyle was a Justice of the Peace (J.P.), Chairman of the Naas Board of Guardians, a Newbridge Town Commissioner, farmer and spirit merchant.
The 1901 returns for No. 6 Edward Street are as follows: Patrick J. Doyle (36), Justice of the Peace for Co. Kildare, farmer, and married; his wife Margaret Doyle (33), grocer; John O’Neil (30), shop assistant or grocer’s shopman; Thomas Reilly (42), shop assistant; Anne Stapleton (17), barmaid; Margaret Delaney (67), servant and cook; Mary Brady (21), housemaid. All the residents were born in Co. Kildare; all could read and write and with the exception of the Mr. and Mrs. Doyle were all single. Patrick and Margaret Doyle had two children – one of which, Margaret, died aged two, in August 1904. The other daughter, Mary, married an army officer, but also died quite young, in February 1925, when she was twenty-four.
Porter’s Post Office Guide and Directory, 1910, listed P. J. Doyle, J.P., as ‘grocer, wine and spirit merchant, livery stables, Edward Street’. In the 1911 Census No. 6 Edward Street is listed as a public house with six rooms and twelve out offices comprising: seven stables, a coach house, a harness room, a turf house, a piggery and store. (Many British army officers stationed in Newbridge owned horses for hunting, but could not keep them in the barracks, so local businesses – for a fee – kept the hunters in their back yards.) The landholder was not listed, so Patrick J. Doyle was probably the owner. Patrick J. Doyle is listed as the head of family. The 1911 Census returns for 6 Edward Street are as follows: Patrick J. Doyle (48), head of family, J.P., farmer and grocer, married thirteen years; Margaret M. Doyle (45), his wife; Thomas O’Neil (19), grocer’s assistant, from King’s County; Jane Greville (19), grocer’s assistant, from Co. Meath; Julia Ellis (24), cook and general domestic servant, from Co. Wicklow. Thom’s Directory of 1914 has Patrick J. Doyle listed as a J.P., though the address is noted as 10 Edward Street.
In the Newbridge District Court in October 1925 a transfer of licence from Margaret M. Doyle to Hugh Neeson, Newbridge, was granted. Patrick Doyle retired to Yomanstown, his birthplace, where he died, aged sixty-nine, in February 1927, while Margaret died, in May 1937, aged seventy-four. Hugh Neeson had moved with his wife and family to Newbridge from Co. Fermanagh. Hugh and Jane Neeson had five children: Hubert, Gertrude known as Gertie, Eileen, Teresa or Teasie and Kathleen, or Carle. Gertie married Tom O’Rourke, whose family also had a licensed premises on Main Street; Eileen married Bob Whitton, an English businessman who was based in Newbridge, and moved to Northampton; Teasie went to the US when she was sixteen and later married and settled there; Carle, an army nurse on the Curragh, died in her early twenties in 1958. Carle had been in 'indifferent health for some time'. Her obituary said: 'She was a most efficient nurse and by her quiet and retiring disposition made many friends.' Hugh Neeson died in August 1946, aged sixty-eight. His obituary in the Leinster Leader said,

'Mr. Hugh Neeson, Edward Street, Droichead Nua, who died at his residence late on Monday evening last, August 12th, was one of the district’s most popular businessmen, and his death at the advanced age of seventy years occasioned sincere regret. Deceased, who had been in ill-health for some time past, first came to Droichead Nua in 1924, and his cheery disposition, warm-hearted generosity and deep sincerity soon won for him the friendship and admiration of all with whom he came in contact.'

On the death of his father Hubert took over the running of the family business. Hubert never married. From the 1940s to the 1970s the name H. Neeson was listed in the trade directories as a ‘grocer, wine and spirit merchant’. Occasionally, Hubert Neeson ran a bar at social events in the Town Hall. Moorefield GFC had their clubhouse on the Moorefield Road and as Neeson’s was the nearest public house it was to there members would retire for a drink. Neeson’s soon became the unofficial headquarters of Moorefield G.F.C. In 1983 Hubert died from the result of a car accident, which occurred between Trim and Navan as he drove to Fermanagh. He died from cardiac arrest after surgery on 14 September 1983. His obituary in the Leinster Leader said,
'Popular Newbridge publican, Hubert Neeson died last week following an accident in Co. Meath in which his car was in collision with a truck. Mr. Neeson, in his early seventies, was well known in sporting circles, particularly in his association with Moorefield G.F.C. He is survived by two sisters. The funeral took place to St. Conleth’s Cemetery, Newbridge, on Saturday.'

When Hugh died his nephew Brendan O’Rourke took over the running of Neeson’s for a short time. As Hubert Neeson was Brendan’s uncle he had served his time in the bar trade there. Brendan married Joan McCabe, granddaughter of Tom McCabe, who also had a licensed premises on Main Street and came from the same area of Ulster as the Neesons. However, Hubert’s will stated that the premises were to be sold. The premises went to auction in May 1984.

Substantial Residential Licensed Premises
Corner Site of C. 7,000 sq. ft.
“H. Neeson,” Edward St., Newbridge, Co. Kildare
For auction Wednesday, 6th June at Red House Inn, Newbridge, at 3 p.m.
(Unless previously sold)
(On the instructions of the Executor of Hubert Neeson, deceased)
Prominent and valuable corner trading position on the Main St. near commercial centre of the town and close to numerous large industrial concerns. The property offers considerable potential for expansion of the long established Lounge and Bar trade presently carried on.
Certified Turnover Figures available.
Accomodation: Lounge Bar c. 392 sq. ft.; Public Bar c. 675 sq. ft.; Large Kitchen; Store; Upper Floor Drawingroom; 4 Bedrooms, etc.
Outside: Range of Outoffices and stores.
Double gate entrance to large rear yard.
Tenure: 99 year lease from 1936at £8.25 p.a. Inventory of Furniture and Effects included in the sale available.
Viewing strictly by appointment
Co-agents: Daniel Morrissey & Sons Ltd. Phone (01) 765781.
Solicitors having Carriage of Sale: P. J. Farrell & Co. Charlotte St., Newbridge (045) 31542.

Two weeks after the auction the Leinster Leader of 23 June 1984 reported that “Neeson’s” was sold:

'The well known Newbridge licensed premises “Neeson’s” was sold recently at auction for £230,000. The sale, which was handled by local agents Brophy, Farrell & Co. and Morrissey’s of Dublin, represents the highest price ever paid for a Main Street property in Newbridge. The property was bought in trust by Newbridge solicitor, John Reidy for an undisclosed client.'

The licensed premises, in operation for over 100 hundred years, was bought by local bricklayer Eric McDonnell, from Pairc Mhuire, Newbridge. The property was later divided in two and the former Lounge area taken by Graham’s betting shop. The bar, now re-named McDonnell’s, continues to be a great sporting pub and a Moorefield club meeting place.

The history of McDonnell's public house on the corner of Edward Street, Newbridge, from the 1870s to the present


Leinster Leader 11 August 1984
Tone House
A public house once owned by Wolfe Tone was the subject of a licensing appilcation at Naas Circuit Court.
James McLoughlin was granted a licence for an extension to the Wolfe Tone lounge at Naas. Mr. Cassidy, Counsel for the applicant told Judge Roe, he understood Wolfe Tone once owned the premises. It was conveyed to him in 1795 and held in trust under a marriage settlement.

Grace's public house on North Main Street, Naas, was once owned by Wolfe Tone

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