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November 19, 2011


For over a year now Kildare Library & Arts Services have had The Kildare Observer Newspaper online but it was only accessible to those in the know ot those who chanced upon it. It is a remarkable resource but the online version was a little slow and cumbersome.

The Irish Newspaper Archive have now re-designed it and improved its functionaility and it will become a major resource for researchers. Please remember it covers only the years 1880 - 1935 and that you must look at the instructional video or explore the technical sections to get the most from the paper. You can search or browse.


It is free and searchable courtesy of KLAS and KCC and we would like to thank the British Library for permission to use its archives for this purpose.

A very merry christmas to all our members, readers and friends from Kilre Library & Arts Services and Kildare Co. Council. 


The Kildare Observer 1880 - 1935 site has been updated;  it is online, searchable and free courtesy of Kildare Co. Council, Kildare Library & Arts Services, The British Library and the Irish Newspaper Archive. Click on the link in the article and save to favourites for you will no doubt be coming back time and time again. Enjoy! 


Kerry, Korea and Kildare. Charlie Dennehy  - a tribute

James Durney


Charlie Dennehy died on October 22, 2011, after a short illness – far from his birthplace of Co. Kerry – in his adopted county of Kildare. Charlie, was born in Staigue, Cahirdaniel, Castlecove, Co. Kerry, the youngest of fourteen children. He only met his older siblings when he emigrated to New York City in 1947 at the young age of seventeen. He remembered there was plenty of work around Kerry, but no money, and was forced to take the emigrant trail. After a period living and working in the Bronx and Queens Charlie joined the US Army at the Times Square recruiting station in July 1949, signing up for three years. He went through his sixteen weeks basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey after which he applied for duty in Germany in May 1950 from where he planned to visit home. The process usually took about a month but the Korean War broke out before his application went through and instead he found himself shipping out to Korea with the 32nd Regiment, 7th Infantry Division who were earmarked for the Inchon invasion.
The Korean War began in June 1950 when the North Korean Communist Army crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea. The North Koreans over-ran the South and captured the capital, Seoul. The United Nations assisted by fifteen nations including America, Britian and Australia supported South Korea while North Korea was sustained by China. This was the first major action by the United Nations. Charlie said he really liked the Koreans. “They were a very humble people. The men always walked ahead of the women to protect them.”
On the second day of the invasion, troop transports carrying the 7th Infantry Division arrived in Inchon Harbour. “We got terrific aerial and naval support as well. I think our firepower was far superior to theirs” Charlie recalled. “I think they were taken by surprise. They had good defences set up there but the Air Force and Navy took care of a lot of that. Just as we landed they opened up. The North Koreans had tanks – Russian T34s. As we went up to the front we met loads of wounded coming back in jeeps – Americans and South Koreans covered in blood.”
After three days of sporadic fighting, Seoul was cleared of Communists and the Inchon landing ended in total victory. Seoul after the fighting, recalled Charlie, was a “heap of rubble.” He was a witness to the savagery visited on the civilian population, while the North Koreans occupied Seoul. “They wiped out whole families. We found the bodies in swamps. They were bound, their hands and feet, with wire, shot in the head and thrown into these rice fields.”
By the time the American forces had captured most of North Korea Charlie had been promoted to Corporal. As a rifleman and mortarman, he was “closest to the frontlines. We never knew the Chinese had entered the war. We’d thought it was all over. We felt great. We figured, ‘that’s it, we’ve reached the borders of China.’ And then the Chinese came in. There was no sign of them during the day; they were packed tight into Korean huts because of our Air Force. They only moved at night. We thought we were still fighting the North Koreans until the firepower increased. We were wondering where they got all the firepower but it was the Chinese. They came in hordes, blowing a lot of bugles and a lot of whistles. They outnumbered us, I suppose, twenty to one at times. They suffered heavy casualties because they came in open waves and superior firepower always counteracts that.”
After the Chinese intervention the UN elements made a withdrawal from the Fusan area. Charlie was wounded in the arm and leg by shrapnel from a Chinese grenade, which killed three of his comrades. He was still able to walk and when the 32nd Infantry reached the safety of Samsu, Charlie was evacuated to the Naval Hospital in Kove, Japan, where he spent a month recovering from his wounds. He left Korea in August 1951 and was discharged from the US Army in September 1952. He had taken part in four major and three minor engagements and was awarded a Purple Heart (for wounds received) and a Bronze Star (for sixty days in combat). He returned to Ireland in October 1951, stayed for a year, and then returned to New York.
Back in NYC Charlie attended many boxing fixtures at Madison Square Garden and could recall notable fights from memory. He was also a great conversationalist and very well read he had a particular interest in WWII and the Vietnam War. After serving in Korea Charlie had little desire to read about that War and was always very modest about his service there. He returned to Ireland and soon was on the move again, this time to the east of the Country.
On the formation of the Irish Free State, the Land Commission was reconstituted by the Land Law (Commission) Act, 1923, which also dissolved the Congested Districts Board. Provision was made for compulsory purchase of land owned by non-Irish citizens. Untenanted land could now be compulsorily purchased and divided out to local families; this was applied unevenly across the country, with some large estates surviving if the owners could show that their land was being actively farmed. In 1963 Charlie and his brother Ned left their holding in Kerry and came to Turnings, Straffan, Co. Kildare, as the Land Commission broke up the Mills estate. Charlie recalled when he and Ned went to mass in Straffan on the first Sunday after his arrival in Co. Kildare, all their new neighbours lined up to shake their hands and welcomed them to the area.
Charlie married Anne in 1968 and they had two daughters, Helen and Caroline. The area around Straffan where they lived was so full of Kerry natives – the Ashes, Norris’, McKennas – it was known locally as the ‘Ring of Kerry’. He became a member of the Kildare-Kerry Association and the American Legion, which looked after the affairs of ex-servicemen. He farmed at his holding right up to his last illness. Charlie was a big sports fan and despite being from Kerry he would have had no problem with Kildare taking the Sam Maguire, as he had lived most of his life here. Alas, he did not live to see that day and Charlie is now buried in Straffan graveyard, far from his Kerry homeland, but in the bosom of the Short Grass County.

James Durney writes about Charlie Dennehy, a Kerry man who made his way to the USA and then to the Korean War before finally settling in Co. Kildare.

November 01, 2011


All along the banks of the Royal Canal …

Kildare resident and explorer Dick Warner is making a welcome return to Ireland’s canal system as seen in the television series ‘Waterways-the Royal Canal’ currently being screened on RTE1 on Sunday evenings. With a countenance that has seen many storms and a voice that is laden with benign gravitas he is the ideal guide for a voyage along the Royal Canal on its course of ninety miles from the Liffey at Dublin to the Shannon at Clondra, west of Longford.
Kildare landmarks feature in the series as some ten miles of the Royal navigation lie within the county beginning at Leixlip/Confey and on westwards to Spin Bridge beyond Kilcock. And for another twelve miles the canal flirts across and back over the Kildare-Meath county boundary before finally exiting Kildare territory as it approaches Longwood.
Dick Warner’s vessel for the voyage is the Rambler, a steam tug built in 1878 specifically to tow barges on the Royal Canal. It’s the first time that the Rambler has voyaged on the canal since 1923.  It’s a big boat for the channel and the crew have had close shaves as the vessel just squeezes underneath bridges and clears through lock gate chambers with bare inches to spare.
 Fortunately there is no rush on the voyage – it took half a day to cover the first mile of the channel setting out from the sea lock at Dublin’s North Wall. A railway bridge which had to be lifted, and propellers fouled by canal debris, slowed the boat to a crawl on this first stretch and even when clearer water was reached beyond Blanchardstown progress was still leisurely. It is a tribute to film director Stephen Rooke and his production crew that the slowest form of travel on the planet is made into an adventure with exciting distractions on and off the canal.
The Royal canal is well-known to north Kildare dwellers with the road linking Leixlip, Maynooth and Kilcock running parallel to the channel for long stretches. The Royal is a constant companion to commuters on the Kilcock to Connolly railway line with the tracks running on the south bank of the canal. This coincidence was brought about when the canal was purchased in 1845 by the Midland Great Western Railway company not for its value as a transport waterway but for its towpath which provided a ready-made foundation for the railway tracks from Dublin to the midlands.
The richness of this transport heritage is perhaps best seen at Maynooth where the gem of a harbour sits adjacent to the ultra-modern railway station. Equally striking is the approach to Kilcock where rail and canal are framed by Shaw’s bridge overlooking the pristine harbour now a venue for a thriving canoe polo club.
Dick Warner’s voyage is timely as it was only last year that the Royal canal was reopened to navigation along its full length.
Built by manual labour between 1792 and 1817 it was closed to boats in 1961 and its condition deteriorated almost beyond recovery in the following decades. A stop-go restoration project began in the 1980s but it was only last year that the collapsed sections of the channel were rebuilt and low bridges heightened so as to once more allow boats to transit from the Liffey to the Shannon.
As well as its engineering heritage the canal has associations with some of the great figures of Ireland’s literary history. Brendan Behan immortalised the waterway in his prison ditty ‘The auld triangle goes jingle jangle all along the banks of the Royal Canal.’  Kildare’s own poetess Teresa Brayton was inspired by the peaty lanes which lead to the canal bank west of Kilcock– her composition ‘The Old Bog Road’ was the sentimental anthem of generations of Kildare emigrants.
And now Dick Warner and Tile Productions, the producers of the current television series, will inform a new generation about the charms of this most regal of waterways. As their publicity blurb says ‘The stunning cinematography of the spectacular canal vistas will evoke the look and feel of an Old Masters landscape painting.’ Or as an old time cameraman is supposed to have said to a demanding director -- ‘Every shot is a Rembrandt …!’ Series no: 250.
PS: this column this week reaches its 250th instalment this week. Many thanks to readers from Carbury to Castledermot – and everywhere in between -- who have made contact with nuggets of information to add to the tapestry of Kildare history told in these pages from week to week. LK


We break with protocol this week and publish the article from Liam Kenny which in the Leinster Leader of 11 October 2011. This marks the 250th instalment of Liam's column which has been recently renamed "Looking Back".  This week Liam looks back at the history of the Royal Canal in light of Dick Warner's return to Ireland’s canal system as seen in the television series ‘Waterways-the Royal Canal', As always our thanks to Liam.


Leinster Leader, October 20, 1962.


The death has taken place at his home of Mr. Laurence Cribbin, Richardstown, Clane, one of Kildare’s greatest All-Ireland footballers. He was 82.
Born in Clane, he began his great career with the local club team, and first donned the white jersey as a senior player in 1901. That was the start pf a wonderful career, which was to span nineteen years in senior ranks, and during which he won 47 medals in hurling and football.
Larry Cribbin became known as one of the strongest defenders of the game. He figured in the famous replayed finals of 1903 against Kerry. Two years later, he won his first All-Ireland medal. In 1906 he turned out with Kildare Junior Hurlers and went on to win a Leinster championship medal. In the years that followed, he switched from left-full back to goal and made his last appearance in the Leinster final of 1920, when Kildare defeated Dublin in the Leinster following their second All-Ireland victory the previous year. During his career Mr. Cribbin also represented Leinster on many occasions and was a member of the famous Leinster team to contest the Railway Shield against Munster in 1903.
Mr. Cribbin’s wife died in August of last year.
The remains were removed to the Church of SS Patrick and Brigid, Clane, on Tuesday evening and the funeral took place to the Abbey Cemetery on Wednesday. A Guard of Honour of former colleagues was under Mr. Peter Marron, Clane.
The late Mr. Cribbin is survived by sons, Messrs. Jack, Tom, Larry and Frank; daughters, Mrs. B. Dowling, Mrs. M. Casey, Mrs. W. McNamee and Mrs. L. Taylor (England), brothers, Messrs. Thomas, John and Denis; step brother Mr. W. Merriman and sister Mrs. M. Farrell.  

A story from the Leinster Leader, October 20, 1962 about the death of Kildare footballer, Laurence Cribbin, who held 47 medals in hurling and football including two All - Ireland football medals. Re-typed by Killian Brennan.


Leinster Leader, May 9, 1931









 Football Challenge,


3 p.m.

Minor Football Challenge,

North Kildare v South Kildare, 4.15 p.m. 


 New Grounds will be formally declared Open at 2.45 p.m., summertime.


 ADMISSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-

SIDE LINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 - EXTRA



To-morrow (D.V.) the powers that be of Gaelic in old Kildare will set up a headline in the centre of the county which shall stand as a testimony of their sincerity in their work and an encouragement to their successors when they themselves have resigned the reins  of office. This land mark will take the form of a new Gaelic park at Newbridge and at 2.45 in afternoon it will be opened not for a day or a year but for a guaranteed 12 years as covenanted in, a lease obtained from the State authorities by three years of dogged hammering.
It should be borne in mind that the cost of providing up-to-date grounds such as the new park at Newbridge is enormous. This park has cost in addition to a grant from the Leinster Council, the County Board no less than £400 and to make it perfect a still greater outlay is needed. In this regard however little fears of the extra work being carried need be entertained if the co-operation of the public and enthusiasm on part of our footballers are forthcoming.
Then, there is the question of the training. The expense also is enormous but it is unavoidable. To have a perfect footballer he must be perfectly trained. In this connection the Kildare County Board intended during this season to embark on an intensive programme of training. They intend to see to it that a team will be raised in the county which will raise the standard of the All Whites above that of any county in Ireland. They have the materials and with the present team built up they have every reason to hope that their ambition will be realised. But new blood has had to be introduced and this has now to be cultivated. A feature which must necessarily tax the now depleted county funds very heavily.
To-morrow at the opening of the new grounds the All Whites with some of the new players will try conclusions with Cavan. Cavan by the way are given their services to the Kildare County Board free of expense and it is to be hoped that their generous and sportsmanlike act will be shown appreciation by a heavy following from Kildare.
The teams are as follows: -
Cavan (Royal Blue) – W. Young, T. Crowe, T. Campbell, M. Denning, J. Molloy, P. Lynch, F. Fitzpatrick, H. O’Reilly, J. Rahill, P. McNamee, P. Colleran, J. Smallhorn, L.Blessing, T. J. Weymes, T. Coyle.
Subs – B. Fay, P. Phair, J. Farrelly, J. Murphy.
Kildare (All White) – T. Wheeler, J. Meaney, M. Goff, J.J Murphy, F. Malone, J. Higgins, P. Ryan, P . Matthews, P. Loughlin, P.Pringle, P.Martin, P. Byrne, D. Burke, J.P. Murphy, P.Waters.
Subs – P. Harrison, P. Higgins, P. Myles, T. Cahill and P. Hennessy.

An article and advert from the Leinster Leader, May 9, 1931 prior to the opening the next day of the new G.A.A. ground at Droichead Nua. The first match was Kildare v Cavan and the final result was;

Kildare 1 - 12 

Cavan   1 - 7

Re-typed by Killian Brennan

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