« November 2011 | Main | January 2012 »

December 21, 2011


Voters Register

Register index

Voters Register 1835 - 1839
Qualifying Freeholders and Leaseholders
Extracted from the Leinster Express

One of the most valuable sources for local history are local newspapers and Kildare Library and Arts Services has an extensive collection. In 2005, the Local Studies Department decided to extract articles and individual records from the Leinster Express Newspaper pertaining to Co. Kildare and make them available in database and text form. This therefore compliments the original work but offers the researcher easy access to the relevant Co. Kildare articles and easy access to the genealogical and other information by means of a searchable database covering all the entries.
There was an enormous amount of inputting, typing and re-editing of the material once the initial database was created and the overall format of the project decided upon. This project could not have been completed without the support of Co. Librarian Breda Gleeson and the staff of Kildare Collections and Research Services. It could not have been completed without the aid of Niamh McCabe, Roy O’Brien, James Durney, Rose Sheridan and Mary O’Hara who worked on it from 2005 to the final editing stage in 2009. Much gratitude is due to them for their enthusiasm, patience and editing abilities. Any mistakes are mine and I welcome criticism and advice should mistakes be noted so that corrections can be made. Copies of the original newspaper are available in the Kildare Collections and Research Services, Local Studies Department of Kildare County Library.
The Voter’s lists offer a sort of mini-census of a particular class of people in Co. Kildare just before the Famine. It is a source I use regularly in research and constantly recommend to people who are researching Ireland in the 19th Century. For people trying to trace their ancestors in Co. Kildare it will hopefully provide an insight into their ancestor's lives and into the locality in which they lived or even more importantly help identify their ancestors for them.
I do hope that researchers and enthusiasts find it useful. It is part of the process of making primary and secondary material available via the Internet which has been undertaken by the combined departments of Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives, to encourage people to engage in local history and genealogy as well as increasing accessibility to the Local Studies Collection in Kildare County Library and other information by means of a searchable database covering all 4,533 entries in addition to the articles from the Leinster Express newspaper from 1836.
Mario Corrigan
Kildare Collections and Research Services
July 2010


To mark the 800th article we are posting a link to the Voters Register 1835 - 1839. This database of Qualifying Freeholders and Leaseholders and was extracted from the Leinster Express. The Voter’s lists offer a sort of mini-census of a particular class of people in Co. Kildare just before the Famine.


The Worlds Largest Irish Newspaper Digital Archive

The Irish Newspaper Archive - the world's largest online database of Irish Newspapers, is now available in the County Kildare Library Branches listed below. Search, retrieve and view Ireland's past exactly as it was originally published. With many of Ireland's leading national, regional and out of print titles, this website is a wonderful resource for novice historians and academic institutes.
The archive ranges from the 1700's to present it takes in many of the seminal moments in the development of New World countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, to name but a few. The national newspapers give a unique perspective on national and international events through the Irish news press, whilst the local titles are a wonderful resource for all those interested in genealogical research and local history investigations. This database is only available in the specified branches and is not available from home as library members.

The Irish Newspaper Archive - the world's largest online database of Irish Newspapers, is now available in the County Kildare Library Branches listed below. Search, retrieve and view Ireland's past exactly as it was originally published. With many of Ireland's leading national, regional and out of print titles, this website is a wonderful resource for novice historians and academic institutes.The archive ranges from the 1700's to present it takes in many of the seminal moments in the development of New World countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, to name but a few. The national newspapers give a unique perspective on national and international events through the Irish news press, whilst the local titles are a wonderful resource for all those interested in genealogical research and local history investigations. This database is only available in the specified branches and is not available from home as library members.

Irish Newspaper Archive
























Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all in the Local Studies Department of Kildare County Council Library Service. We wish to draw your attention to a resource that is now available in some of the Library branches, the Irish Newspaper Archive.


Leinster Leader March 12, 1975


Unusual new Church blessed in Newtown

KILCOCK parish’s new Church of the Nativity at Newtown – the  birth of a modern, unusual building richly spiritual in atmosphere – was blessed by the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Most Rev. Dr. Lennon, on Monday in a ceremony and con-celebrated Mass personally involving all concerned with Gods work in this pleasant, intimate rural area.
Physically the church is a far cry form the nineteenth century Gothic edifice it replaces, a new building for new days designed with a freshness of approach, modest of line and denied the grandeur of the old Church’s noble proportions. Instead there is a compartmentalised simplicity capturing a living awareness. It speaks of the presence of God, as Most Rev. Dr. Lennon said. One relaxes in the uncluttered surroundings, more acutely aware of the Divine presence.
Irish artist including Michael Biggs, Brother Benedict Tutty, Bernadette Madden and Patrick McEllroy gave their expertise to its decoration, after the design had evolved from, as the Parish Priest, Very Rev. P. J. Brophy, commented, a great amount of thought and theological reflection.
There is no attempt to conceal the materials used. Statues and other representations are at a minimum, and stained glass totally absent. In many other respects there has been a rejection of traditional church building and fitting without being totally revolutionary. Care was obviously taken that the transformation did not defeat its purpose.
And the past is not altogether forgotten, for the old square tower has been retained. The designer has given a rural community a church in a modern setting using today’s resources and expertise. He is Mr. Richard Hurley who has presented the dove over the baptistery as an added gift.
The Brass Band came from neighbouring Maynooth to play sacred tunes in the Church before the ceremony, and one of its trumpeters sounded the Royal Salute at the elevation in the Mass. Later the Band entertained the congregation in a marquee across the road while a light meal was served.
Chief con-celebrants of the Mass were the Bishop, Father Brophy and the Vicar General of the Diocese, Right Rev. Msgr. Conway, Bagenalstown. There were 14 other con-celebrants. Many clergy were in the congregation also. Newtown choir was accompanied on the organ by Mrs. Marine Ennis, and she had the advisory and local assistance of Rev. Ian Kelly, English mission, native of Tiernoghan, Donadea. Mr. Hurley, the architect, read the first Lesson, followed by Michael Connolly. The applicatory prayers were read by Bernadette O’Donoghue, Mrs. M. Devine, Mrs. P. Dillion and Mrs. H. Sheridan – brought the offerings to the alter.
His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Lennon said that the building of a church was an act of faith by the people, that the present and future generations would remain true to their great Christian heritage which had come down from St. Patrick whose feast-day they observed that day. Christ still lived; he was present among them, in their homes and schools and above all particularly present in His church. When they came to church on Sundays it was Christ who would receive their offering and return it. It was Christ who spoke when they listened to the word of God.
Did the new Church speak of the presence of God? Did the atmosphere bring a conviction that God was present? The answer was decidedly yes. It evoked a prayerful response from his heart and he was sure, from the hearts of all present. His Lordship thanked the architect and his collaborators for the simplicity and warmth which created that atmosphere, the contractor and workers for their skills, and the priests under whose direction the work took shape: the Very Rev. Fr. O’Meara, Rev. Fr. O’Reilly. Rev Fr. Phelan and laterally Very Rev. Fr. Brophy, the new Parish Priest. The church was a tribute to the generosity and sacrifice of the people and it counselled them to cherish what they had built, using it for the glory of God, as a house of prayer, a place in which to thank God for the Patrician heritage of their Catholic faith in the tradition of biblical piety and Eucharistic devotion.
During Mass, in the prayers for the departed, Most Rev. Dr. Lennon invoked God’s mercy on the soul of Miss Brigid Doyle who, he said, had worshipped in the old Church far beyond the normal span of life. Miss Doyle, who lived at Killeighter, Kilcock, died the previous day. She was 105. Very Rev. Fr. Brophy, in thanking the architect, artists, builders and all others involved, said the building was a magnificent expression of the fundamental truths of the Catholic faith, and dwelled on the amount of thought and theological reflection in its conception. He sensed already that everybody felt very much at home in the building.


An article from the Leinster Leader March 12, 1975 about the blessing of a new church in Newtown, Kilcock. The church of modern design replaced a nineteenth century Gothic one. Retyped by Aisling Dermody.


The Local Studies and Genealogy Department of Kildare County Council Library Service will be closed from Thursday 22nd December 2011 to Tuesday 3rd January 2012 inclusive.

If you wish to leave a query during this time please email or leave a message for the relevant department using the contact details below. All queries will be dealt with in rotation in the New Year.

Local Studies Department

e-mail: localhistory@kildarecoco.ie

Phone: +353 (0)45 448351; (0)45 448352

Web: www.kildare.ie/library

Genealogy Department

e-mail: kildaregenealogy@iol.ie

Phone: +353 (0)45 448350

The Local Studies and Genealogy Department of Kildare County Council Library Service will be closed from Thursday 22nd December 2011 to Tuesday 3rd January 2012 inclusive.

December 20, 2011


The Kildare Archaeological Society’s Programme 2012

Sunday 11th March, 3.00pm
“If maps – could speak – the History of Ordnance Survey in Ireland.”

An illustrated talk by Richard Kirwan.
Venue: Kilcullen Heritage Centre. €5, Tea.

Saturday 14th April, 1.00 pm
Kildare Treasures in the National Museum of Ireland.

An illustrated talk by Padraig Clancy (Member) followed by an opportunity to view the Kildare Treasures in the Museum.
Venue: The National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin. No charge.

Sunday 13th May, 3.00 pm
“A guided tour of Athy – the Fortress Town in the Marches of Kildare”
Guide: Frank Taaffe (Council Member).
Meet at the Heritage Centre. €5, Tea.

14th, 15th and 16th June
Exursion to East Cork and West Waterford
Leader: Hugh Crawford (Vice President).
Based at Garryvoe Hotel, Ballycotton.
Visits to Michelstown, Ardmore, Lismore, Youghal and Cobh.
Please see booking form. Members are advised to book early. Members only.

Sunday 15th July, 12.00 noon
Annual Excursion: County Louth
Guide: Conleth Manning (President)
Picnic at Mellifont Abbey, followed by a tour of the ruins of this Cisterican Abbey founded in 1142 on the orders of St. Malachy and which became the model for other Cistercian abbeys founded in Ireland. Visit the historic ruins of Monasterboice founded in the late 5th century by St. Buithe, which comprise two churches, a round tower and 10th century high crosses. Visit Beaulieu House for a guided tour of the house, and enjoy the walled garden and Museum containing Classic race and road cars and memorabilia.
Stop for supper on the way home.
Book by 30th June at the latest – please see booking form. Members only.

Sunday 26th August, 3.00 pm – Heritage Week Outing
Robertstown, the Grand Canal and Lowtown Lock
Guided walk by Karen Gorey.
Meet at the Holiday village Car Park, Robertstown. No Charge.

Sunday 23rd September, 3.00 pm
Carbury Castle, by courtesy of John and Olwen Beattie, and with thanks to John Potterton. Drummin House by courtesy of Grattan de Courcy Wheeler.
Guides: Conleth Manning (President) and Michael Dempsey (Council Member).
Meet at Carbury Castle €5, Tea.

Saturday 20th October, 2.30 pm
“Anglo Norman Castles in Medieval County Kildare”
An illustrated talk by Dr Kiernan O’Connor.
In memory of the late Lt Col Con Costello, KM, PhD (Past President).
Venue: NUI Maynooth – The John Hume Building,
North Campus, Room (JH L5).

Saturday 17th November, 3.00pm
Annual General Meeting
Venue: The Council Chamber, Aras Chill Dara, Devoy Park, Naas, by kind permission of Kildare County Council. Followed by a short illustrated talk by Conleth Manning (President) on the drawings of H.G. Leask
No charge. Members only.

3.00 pm at Naas Branch Library, by kind permission of Kildare County Council
25th February, 28th April, 9th June, 8th September, 3rd November

The Kildare Archaeological Society’s Programme 2012



Seeing the wood for the trees

The rag tree, the tulip tree and the tree-of-heaven … such are some of the unlikely names for trees of special interest to be found within Co. Kildare. On the face of it Kildare would not seem to be sympathetic terrain for woodlands of any extent. The county’s topography is flat offering little of the shelter available to forests in mountain valleys. Man’s intervention on the landscape of the county has not always been helpful to tree culture with most of Kildare’s land being highly managed to maximise farm output with little spare acreage available for forestry.
However Kildare is not without its sylvan charms and National Tree Week is as good a time as any to explore the woodland heritage of the county. The named trees mentioned are part of a schedule of specimen or champion trees drawn up by the Tree Council of Ireland, an organisation which promotes an appreciation of the multitude of ways in which trees enrich our surroundings.
The rag tree refers to the superstitions which surround trees in some rural parts where draping rags from the foliage was considered to be a kind of offering to the supernatural. The example mentioned in the Tree Council survey is to be found at St. Brigid’s Well at Tully near Kildare town. The tree is a sitka spruce which most likely replaced a native species which once formed part of nature’s architecture at this holy site.
The tulip tree is also a non-native species but one which flourishes in the grounds of the Curragh Military Hospital … a splash of bright green against the background of red brick so characteristic of a military institution. An institution of a different kind, although no less regimented in bygone years, is St. Patrick’s College Maynooth where generations of gardeners have nurtured a range of native and exotic species. Given the theological repute of the college it is appropriate that a species named the ‘Tree of Heaven’ should be represented by an outstanding tree which, quite literally, soars to the heavens in the college grounds.
Maynooth is also the location for another striking example of mankind’s intervention in the landscape – but this time with a positive and incredibly long term vision for the place of trees in the landscape. The avenue to Carton planted by the Dukes of Leinster in the mid 18th century is regarded as one of the most magnificent avenues of lime trees in Ireland or Britain. Although it no longer serves the purpose of an entrance to the Carton Estate proper, it is now appreciated as an outstanding amenity affording a walk of a kilometre or so among swaying lime trees over 250 years old.  Not quite as old but no less impressive is the lime-lined entrance to Clongowes Wood College which was planted around 1840. The squires of the country houses who planted the trees knew they would never live to enjoy them approaching a mature height. They have left a generous legacy to later generations of Kildare dwellers.
Another very old specimen tree in the south of the county is the ‘turkey roost tree’ at Moone – a European larch with a girth just short of three metres. According to local folklore the flat profile of the tree is a result of compaction caused by turkeys that used to roost in the upper foliage. While many localities will claim to have trees which are the ‘oldest’ or ‘tallest’ of their kind in Ireland, identifying record breaking trees is not an easy science given the endless variety of trunks and branches to be found even among examples of the same species. However a dizzyingly-high cedar in the grounds of the K Club at Straffan is recorded by the Tree Council as being the largest of its species in Ireland measuring a whopping 29 metres tall and a hefty 6.6 metres around its trunk. 
The walls of the old estates watered by the Liffey at Straffan and at Brannockstown shelter spectacular woodlands of broad-leaf trees. Among the old stands of deciduous trees to be found there is one of the few Kildare items to have featured on a postage stamp … the gigantic ash which stands proud in the grounds of Carnalway Lodge was illustrated by artist Susan Sex for the An Post issue of stamps in 2004. Thus a little reminder of Kildare’s arboreal heritage has, no doubt, found its way to many corners of the world.

Series no: 219.

In his column 'Looking Back' from the Leinster Leader March 8, 2011 Liam Kenny marks National Tree Week with a look at the role trees play in the heritage of Kildare. As always our thanks to Liam.

December 15, 2011


The Department of History,

National University of Maynooth  


invites you to celebrate the launch of six

new volumes in the 

Maynooth Studies in 

Local History series 



Tomás Kenny, Erin Kraus, Maria Luddy, 

Miriam Moffitt, Karol Mullaney-Dignam and Suzanne Pegley


Iontas building (north campus) 

on, 15  December 2011 

at 7.00 p.m.

Professor Marian Lyons will speak

  Email: history.department@nuim.ie














Please provide (to history.department@nuim.ie) an email address at which you may be contacted about future events.   

The Department of History, National University of Ireland Maynooth invites you to celebrate the launch of six new volumes in the Maynooth Studies in Local History series.


Book Launch

A History of Christianity in Clane & Rathcoffey
Clane & Rathcoffey
Ecclesiastical History Committee


Millicent Golf Club, Clane
Thursday 15th December 8pm



Featuring …
•Early Christian period of St Ailbe & St Mochua
•Clane Monastery, 600-1170 AD
•Knights Hospitallers, Mainham 1200-1500 AD
•Franciscan Friary, 1258-1540 AD
•Parish areas from the Reformation
•Work of the Jesuits and the Presentation Sisters
•Distinguished individuals from the area
•Recent discoveries

“A journey to the past, like all journeys, can be enhanced by a few well chosen travelling companions.” Eoghan Corry, writer and columnist

Book Launch - A History of Christianity in Clane & Rathcoffey by Clane & Rathcoffey Ecclesiastical History Committee

December 13, 2011


Peadar Clancy’s Naas connections

James Durney

As far back as anyone can remember Paddy ‘Sam’ Clancy, from St. Conleth’s Place, Naas, always wore a black beret. A black beret worn in the 1970s and 1980s usually meant you had republican sympathies. Frank Driver, from Ballymore-Eustace, always wore a black beret, but Frank was a lifelong republican, interned when he was only sixteen. Few if any knew the significance of Paddy Clancy’s headgear. However, recent family discoveries revealed the reason why Paddy wore a beret. He had an uncle, Peadar Clancy, who was killed in the War of Independence. Paddy’s uncle was killed when he was very young, so he never knew him. Like many people of his generation, Paddy did not talk about this event. Thousands of Irishmen had died in the Great War and in the revolutionary period from 1916 to 1923, but it was like a collective amnesia had befallen the country – nobody talked about it. As the northern Troubles ground violently on, it was not wise to say your relative had died serving in the British Army, or that he was even a republican. It seemed everyone was embarrassed about their past.
So life went on and nobody said anything about their past loyalties. It was only quite recently discovered by his grand-daughter, Chris Wilson, that Paddy Clancy, was the nephew of republican soldier, Peadar Clancy, killed by the Auxiliaries in Dublin Castle on Bloody Sunday 1920. Peadar Clancy was born on 9 November 1888. He was a native of Carrowreagh East, Cranny, Kilrush, Co. Clare. The 1901 Census shows Peadar, or Peter, aged ten, residing with his parents James and Mary, and his siblings, Thomas (27), James (25), Susan (20) Patrick (18), and Bartholomew (12) at No. 18 Carrowreagh East. Thomas Clancy was the father of Paddy Clancy, who moved to Naas to work in Cunninghams Bakery, taking up lodgings in Murtaghs boarding house. Paddy, known as Sam, married a local woman, Elizabeth Birchall. They had six children: Patricia, Joan, Olive, Tom, Geraldine, and Eugene. Elizabeth died on 5 November 1964, aged forty-two, while Paddy Clancy died on 8 August 1988 aged seventy-three.
Peadar Clancy moved to Dublin to work and involved himself in the nationalist cause by joining the Irish Volunteers on their formation in 1913. In 1916 he was in charge of the barricade at Church St. Bridge in the Four Courts area. For his part in the 1916 Rising Clancy was sentenced to death. This was later commuted to ten years penal servitude. After the Amnesty of 1917 Peadar helped reorganise the Volunteers.  He was chosen to contest the East-Clare by-election but GHQ ratified de Valera instead and Clancy returned to Clare to support the Sinn Fein candidate. On return to Dublin he was made Vice-Brigadier of the Dublin Brigade IRA. He was an active volunteer and when he was imprisoned in Mountjoy helped to organise a hunger strike, demanding release or trial. After ten days fasting the strikers were released.  The basis of resistance to British power in Ireland was the Dublin Brigade developed under Dick McKee as Brigadier, and Clancy, as his second-in-command.  If the British could not control the capital, they had no hope of controlling the rest of the country.
In late 1920 Michael Collins compiled a list of British Intelligence officers to be executed on Sunday 21 November 1920.  On Saturday 20 November Dick McKee, Peadar Clancy and other high-ranking officers met Michael Collins upstairs in Vaughan’s Hotel.  Collins, McKee and Clancy had just left the building when crown forces surrounded it.  McKee and Clancy went to their lodgings in Fitzpatrick’s, Gloucester Street, but were arrested shortly after on a tip-off.  McKee managed to burn all their papers, including the list of those officers to be executed that morning.  McKee, Clancy and Sean Fitzpatrick were arrested and taken to Dublin Castle guardroom.
A long with another volunteer, Conor Clune, McKee and Clancy were tortured in the guardroom in order to extort from them the names of the Volunteers who had earlier that morning shot the fourteen members of British Intelligence. Refusing to talk, they were “shot while trying to escape” on the evening of 21 November. Michael Collins, deeply moved by the deaths, demanded that the bodies, which had several bullet wounds and numerous bruises caused by batons, be dressed in Volunteer uniform and he took part in this dressing.  The funeral took place in Glasnevin Cemetery where the two were interned in the Republican Plot.  Collins riskily attended the funeral, and helped to carry the coffins. He penned on a message: ‘In memory of two good friends Dick and Peadar and two of Irelands best soldiers.’
Peadar Clancy was thirty-two years old at the time of his death. The Islandbridge Barracks was renamed Clancy Barracks and the former Marlborough Barracks was renamed McKee Barracks in their honour. A number of streets in Finglas were also named after Clancy, McKee and Clune. In 1939 a commemorative plaque was erected by the National Graves Association on the external wall of the guardroom of Dublin Castle in Exchange Court next to City Hall. A commemorative bust of Clancy, funded by the people of New York, is also displayed on top of a plinth in the main square in Kildysart, Co. Clare, while the local school in Cranny is named ‘Peadar Clancy Memorial N.S.’ in his honour and displays his picture. 
On 18 November 2000, a plaque was unveiled by the son of Sean Fitzpatrick, at 36 Lower Gloucester Street, Dublin, now Sean MacDermott Street, at the house in which Clancy and McKee were arrested on 20 November 1920. On Sunday 4 December 2011 the annual commemoration for McKee, Clancy and Clune – organised by the 1916-1921 Club, incorporating the Old Dublin Brigade IRA – took place at the Exchange Court plaque, and for the first time members of the extended Clancy family, from Naas, Co. Kildare, were present. Paddy Clancy’s daughter, Joan, grand-niece of Peadar Clancy, laid a wreath on behalf of the 1916-1921 Club. After a minutes silence a short address was given by Jim Maher, author of  ‘The oath is dead and gone.’ The large crowd then retired to the Coach House, Dublin Castle, for Mass, followed by refreshments.

An essay by James Durney on Naas man Paddy "Sam" Clancy's uncle, republican soldier, Peadar Clancy who was killed in Dublin Castle on Bloody Sunday 1920.

December 08, 2011


Leinster Leader, July 24th 1948

General De Burgh

Distinguished British Solider

Writing under the heading of “An Irishman’s Diary” in the “Irish Times,” Nichevo states:-
This is a queer country. It is only occasionally, when something as it were, hits you in the face that you begin to realise the changes that have taken place here during the last few years. If anybody had told me ten years ago that a full General of the British Army would be contributing to “An Cosantoir,” the official journal of the Irish Army. I should have been tempted to ring up my friend, Dr. John Dunne, of Grangegorman with a request that he should examine the informant: but the thing actually has happened. In the current issue of “An Cosantoir”-which by the way I invariably read almost from cover to cover, as it is extremely well edited and turned out – there is an article on “Indian Army in Retrospect” by General Sir Eric de Burgh, K.C.B., D.S.O., O.B.E. who is living at present near Naas, in the County of Kildare.

Military Career

General de Burgh had had a remarkable career as a soldier. He began as a young officer in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (Militia) and went through his preliminary training at the depot at Naas. Then he went to South Africa, where he served in the war in 1902, gaining the Queen’s Medal with four clasps. In the first World War he was mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the D.S.O. In 1919 he was in Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier, went thence to Waziristan, where he was mentioned again in dispatches and awarded the O.B.E., gaining a further “Mention” in 1937. From 1939 to 1941 he was Chief of Staff of the Indian Army, and was recognised generally as one of the most brilliant officers in the King’s service. Actually, when the famous Eighth Army was being formed, I believe that it was a toss up whether General De Burgh, or the legendary “Monty” should command it. It is interesting speculation to ponder what might have happened if the Kildare man had won the toss!
General de Burgh is the only full General resident in Ireland. We have quite a few Major-Generals, including the ageless Sir William Hickle and, I have an idea that there is at least one Lieutenant General: but Sir Eric is the only top-notcher, and I congratulate the Editor of “An Cosantoir” on getting such an acknowledged expert to talk about the now defunct Indian Army in the columns of his admirable little publication.

This article which featured in the Leinster Leader, July 24, 1948 reproduces the previous weeks "An Irishman's Diary" from the Irish Times where the writer Nichevo remarks on the change in mindset that allows a General of the British Army contribute to "An Cosantoir," the official journal of the Irish Army.


Mysterious goings-on at Monasterevin and Maynooth.

Mysterious nocturnal goings-on at Monasterevin entranced the readers of the local papers a century ago in March 1911. Under the headline ‘Monasterevin Mystery’ the Kildare Observer reported on how persons unknown were interfering with the safety of the railway line through Monasterevin station by taking the signal lamps from the siding junctions on the track. The line being the main railway route from Dublin to  Cork was a busy one and any interference with the signalling equipment risked causing a catastrophe. Extra police had been drafted in to Monasterevin to try and capture those interfering with the signal lights but despite vigorous patrolling of the track by the constabulary and the railway staff the lamps were being taken almost under their noses. On two successive nights when the lamps were removed, the police and staff of the railway company had patrolled the section of track just a few minutes before. One of the policemen reported seeing some movement in the dark and gave chase but the suspect was of fleeter foot and managed to escape.
On a subsequent night the town lamp-lighter was on his rounds extinguishing the street-lamps and was about to ascend a lamp-post near the railway bridge when he spotted two of the railway lamps which had been left near the bridge. Whoever left them there clearly intended that they would be found and returned to their proper position on the rail tracks. Why somebody should go to the bother of taking the lamps and then leave them to be found was a source of bewilderment to the townsfolk of Monasterevin. There was another twist to the story when one of the signal lamps was found on the steps of Mr. Cassidy’s home (owner of the Monasterevin distillery) accompanied by ‘written notes of an uncomplimentary nature.’  The paper reported that the local people could not understand the motive for the interference with the signal lamps as it was not for profit or robbery as the lamps were always left in a position where they could be recovered.
In the era before electric light the dark held many mysteries for people and some of a superstitious nature began to fear that the interference with the railway lamps was not the work of a human hand. They reasoned that if there was a culprit he should have been caught by the intensive police patrols but whoever was responsible only seemed ‘to laugh at all the efforts of the authorities to catch them.’  Others believed that the culprit was of the human kind but was a madman as no ‘sane person would be guilty of such conduct.’ Generally the offer of a cash reward was enough to flush out an informant who might point the authorities in the direction of a suspect. However the twenty pounds offered by the railway company (a serious sum of money in 1911) did not result in any useful information being proferred to the solution of the Monasterevan mystery. The Observer report concluded with the bewildered comment that ‘the police or public, so far as can be ascertained, have not the slightest clue to the perpetrators of the outrage.’
There was a mystery man involved in another episode reported in March 1911 from the northern end of the county when a Maynooth publican was before the court on a charge of allowing persons to be on his premises during prohibited hours on a Sunday. Sergeant Finnegan of the Maynooth constabulary said he had knocked at the door of Mr. Caulfield’s licensed premises. The door was opened and the constable caught sight of ‘a man’s leg going up the stairs.’ Mr. Caulfield, the proprietor, said the man was in the premises to repair the porter machine in the bar and must have got nervous when the policeman appeared at the door. Mr. Lambert, defending solicitor, remarked that ‘The sight of a policeman’s uniform has a terrific effect on a good many people’ – an observation which prompted laughter in the court. The magistrates accepted Mr. Lambert’s courtroom humour and the case against the publican was dismissed.  Series no: 218.

In his column 'Looking Back' from the Leinster Leader March 1, 2011 Liam Kenny writes about strange happenings in Monasterevin and Maynooth. In the former railway signal lights were disappearing and reappearing in unusual locations. Maynooth had a case of a man who disappeared on the arrival of the police at a public house during prohibited hours on a Sunday. Our thanks to Liam.


Powered by
Movable Type 3.2