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January 26, 2012


Pollardstown Church

James Durney

Description from ‘The Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society’: The churchyard of Pollardstown lies to the north of the Curragh. It contains the east and west gable ends of the old church, in both of which was an unusual feature – viz., three tall narrow lancet-windows, the centre one higher than those at the sides; those at the east end are now a breach in the wall, but those in the west end are in good condition and of cut stone; as a rule a small single window, ogee-headed or pointed, occupied the east wall of medieval churches. The burial ground is a small one, and headstones are few in number.

Pollardstown was a lightsome and ambitious church of the thirteenth century, an architectural satellite of Kildare Cathedral. From ‘The Medieval parish churches of County Kildare,’ by Michael O’Neill.

Description from Rev. M. Comerford’s Collections relating to the dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin: Ruin of a Church, 34 feet in length by 26 feet in breadth. The greater portions of the east and west gables remain. In the west gable is a triple lancet window, 6 feet long by 6 inches wide on outside – splayed within. A similar window appears to have existed in the east end. There is a recess in the south wall beside the place where the altar stood. A portion of a stone vessel, probably a baptismal font, remains; it is 1 ½ feet square, and is pierced in centre. The adjoining ground is used as a place of interment.

Some descriptions of the thirteenth century church at Pollardstown


Leinster Leader, November 22, 1952
Sir Edward A. Fanshawe, K.C.B.

The passing of Lieut-General Sir Edward Arthur Fanshawe, K.C.B, on Thursday week last, at his residence, Rathmore, Naas in his 94th year, removes a well-known and highly respected figure from the county.
The County Kildare Hunt loses one of its oldest and most esteemed members, even previous to the first World War, while serving for years with the Horse Artillery at Newbridge, he was one of its most active and enthusiastic supporters. This interest continued when he came to reside at Rathmore and his support was so highly valued that he was made an honorary member of the Hunt; a unique distinction.
Sir Edward was the eldest of three soldier brothers from Oxfordshire, who all became Generals. Educated at Winchester he entered the Royal Artillery in 1878 and soon saw active service in the Afghan War (1878-80). In 1895 he was in the Suakin Expedition including the action at Hasheen.
On July 5th, 1893 at Great Connell Church, Newbridge, he married Francis Rose, youngest daughter of Sir James Higginson, K.C.B. She died in 1950, and they are survived by their three sons all born at Newbridge. Their daughter who was the wife of General Sir Eric de Burgh, K.C.B., O.B.E., D.S.O., of Naas, died in 1934.
In September 1914, he was sent to France to command the Royal Artillery of the First Division of the Expeditionary Forces in place of Brigadier General Findlay, killed in action. He was at once in the thick of the fighting on the Aisne, 1st Ypres, etc. He was awarded the C.B., and promoted to the rank of Major-General from June, 1915. Shortly afterwards he was ordered to the Darndelles and arrived at Sulva on 23rd August, and took over command of the 11th Division from General Hammersley. On arrival at Marseilles in 1916 he went to Bailleul to command the 5th Corps, was mentioned in dispatches and received the K.C.B. He was promoted to Lieut-General in 1919.
On the occasion of his farewell to his command on French soil in 1918, Sir Edward was quoted as being “a no office General” and his successes and great popularity were in no small measure due to the fact that he insisted on seeing things for himself and was more often in the front line trenches than in his own Staff office.
He was placed on the retired list in 1923, and later in the same year he was appointed Col. Commandant of the Royal Artillery and in 1930 Col. Commandant Royal Horse Artillery. He also held numerous foreign decorations.
Sir Edward was laid to rest on November 15th, beside his wife in Maudlins Cemetery, Naas, following the graveside service, conducted by the Rector, the Rev. Precentor E. W. Clover, B.D., his old friend. The funeral by special request was very quiet. The Kildare Hunt was represented by Brig., the Baron de Robeck, C.B.E., and there were many exquisite wreaths.
A veteran of war, but yet the soul of sincerity and kindness he was a true Christian at heart and friends and acquaintances are left to mourn a great gentleman and a fine character.

The obituary of Sir Edward A. Fanshawe, K.C.B. from the Leinster Leader of 22 November 1952


Leinster Leader 21 November 1936
Kildare men’s distinction in New York Show

It is interesting to see two Kildare members of the sporting world distinguishing themselves in the military ranks at the New York Show, namely Capt. R. G. Fanshawe and Lieut. J. A. Talbot-Ponsonby, members of the English military jumping team who carried off the International Military Perpetual Challenge Trophy and the Brooks Bright Cup and the Individual Military Championship.
 Lieut. J. A. Talbot-Ponsonby is son of Major Talbot-Ponsonby. For many years a popular Master of the Kildare Hounds, and was well known in Kildare hunting life as his father. Capt. R. G. Fanshawe is son of Major-General Sir. E. Fanshawe of Rathmore, the latter the oldest follower of the Kildare Hounds.


An article from the Leinster Leader of 21 November 1936 on two Kildare men's performances in the 1936 New York Show


Leinster Leader 21 November 1936
Phoenix Park Murders recalled

Sergt. Emerson, whose death occurred recently, was attached many years ago to R.I.C. Barracks at Straffan. After the disbandment of the R.I.C. he became a member of the Dock Police in Dublin, and was still with that force at the time of his death. His demise will be deeply regretted.
It is interesting to recall that deceased, while in the R.I.C. force was at the time a member of the escort of Mr. Burke, under Secretary of State for Ireland, who was assassinated in the Phoenix Park.

An article from the Leinster Leader of 21 November 1936 which recalled the Phoenix Park assassinations


Leinster Leader 26 January 1962
County has lost an illustrious son

Through the death last week, of Dr. Robert P. Farnan, Co. Kildare lost one of its most illustrious sons, the medical profession a foremost member, and the country a man whose lifetime was devoted quietly but steadfastly to the cause of Irish nationalism. He died at his home “Bolton,” Baily, Howth, where he had lived for many years.
Born at Bolton Castle, Moone, near the West Wicklow border, he was a son of Mr. Patrick Farnan, who had been a friend of, and a regular visitor at the home of Charles Stewart Parnell. A maternal uncle was Dr. Patrick L. O’Neill, Geraldine House, Athy, Coroner for South Kildare. During the time
he attended Athy C.B.S. he lived with Dr. O’Neill at Geraldine House.
After his early education at Athy C.B.S. and Castleknock College, he studied medicine at the Royal University of Ireland. Before taking his M.B. and B.Ch. degrees, he attended Cecilia St. School of Medicine of the old Catholic University, where he was assistant to Dr. Bermingham, the famous anatomist, and an associate of Dr. Denis Coffey, former President of U.C.D. He graduated from the Royal University in 1897 and, two years later, qualified for his M.O.A. and Licentiate of Midwifery at the Rotunda Hospital.
Dr. Farnan, who soon rose to be one of the leading obstetric surgeons in Ireland, became Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at U.C.D., and was gynaecologist at the Mater Hospital, Dublin, a post from which he retired 13 years ago.
He was Chairman of the Medical research Council from its establishment in 1937 until he retired in 1955. In that year, an honorary degree of LL.D was conferred on him by Trinity College.
Lifelong friend
During the Black and Tan period, President de Valera, his life-long friend, was a guest at his home, 5 Merrion Square, Dublin, and used it as his headquarters. When Mr de Valera went on his mission to meet Lloyd George, the British prime Minister, he was accompanied by Dr. Farnan and it was at 5 Merrion Square that Mr. de Valera met general Ian Smuts, Prime minister for South Africa, for talks before the 1921 Truce. It was also at Dr. Farnan’s home, when Most Rev. Dr. Mannix was his guest that Mr. de Valera met the Archbishop of Melbourne.
Dr. Farnan was a close friend of all the leaders of Sinn Fein and the Irish Volunteers, and regular meetings and conferences of the leaders were held at his home.
In 1938, he became a member of the Seanad and held that office until 1948. He was again a Seanad member from 1951 to 1954, and from 1957 until 1961.
As a boy Dr. Farnan first met Parnell, and in honoured place in Bolton Castle hangs the flag of the Ladies Land League which belonged to Fanny Parnell. He was later to become President of the Land League in Co. Kildare.
Farming was Dr. Farnan’s recreation and hobby and, during the pressure of professional duties he found his loved home at Bolton Castle a place of welcome retreat. In latter years he became increasingly interested in farming and was a most successful breeder of pedigree cattle. The progress of the Aberdeen-Angus cattle in Ireland owed much to his interest in and attention to that breed. He established a record in the history of the Aberdeen-Angus Association by being its President from 1946 until May 1960.
Applied science
As far back as 1918, Dr. Farnan laid the foundation of his famous Bolton herd by building it up of animals most valuable from the point of view of conformation, breeding and quality. What contributed greatly to the success of his herd was his skilful application of the science of genetics to the breeding of pedigree stock. His unerring judgement in the selection of foundation was the admiration and envy of Scottish breeders, and was in time reflected in his winning innumerable prizes at the R.D.S. and other leading shows.
Since 1932, he was a member of the board of directors of the Irish Press Ltd.
In his native district, as well as elsewhere, Dr. Farnan will be remembered, not only as an outstanding Irishman, but as a big hearted country gentleman, generous and hospitable to a very high degree.
He is survived by his wife and his only son, Padraig, a student at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, Dublin.
The Obsequies
Following Requiem Mass in St. Fintan’s Church, Sutton, Dr. Farnan was interred in the family plot in Moone Cemetery. Very Rev. P. Fahy, P.P., Castledermot, assisted by Rev. V. Kelly, C.C., Moone, officiated at the graveside.
Included in the huge cortege were the President and Mrs. De Valera; the Taoiseach, Mr. Sean Lemass; members of the Government and of the Oireachtas, the judiciary and representatives of the medical and the many other associations with which he had been associated.
The coffin, draped in the Tri-colour, was carried from the church by members of the medical staff of the Mater Hospital, and members of the nursing staff of the hospital formed a guard of honour.
The other chief mourners were Mrs. Brigid Farnan (wife); Padraig Farnan (son); Mrs. M. Lynch, Mrs. S. Lynch, Mrs. M. Keady (sisters-in-law); Dr. J. O’Neill, Athy; Messrs. P. J. O’Neill, Kildare Co. Registrar; Brian Tobin, Athy, and Joseph Brennan, Two-Mile-House (cousins); Sister M. Lazarian, Dominican Convent, Cabra; Rev. J. Murphy, C.C., Arran Quay, and Mrs A. Healy (relatives).

An article from the Leinster Leader of 26 January 1962 on the death of one of Co. Kildare's most noted sons, Dr. Robert P. Farnan 

January 17, 2012


Dates For 2012, Dublin City Bookfair

All Bookdealers,

The following are the dates for  our Bookfairs for 2012 at the Tara Towers Hotel, Merrion Road, Dublin.

Sunday January 22

Sunday March   4

Easter Monday April 9

Sunday May  27

Sunday July  1

Sunday September 9

Sunday October 28

Sunday December 2

For info or to make a booking please call Eddie Murphy at Ph 01 4589237 or Mob. 087 2567908

Email: lyonshillbooks@eircom.net

Barbara and Jack O’Connell at 028 37317 or Email: schullbooks@eircom.net

Jim Vallely at 048 37526938 or Email: craobh@btinternet.com


Our website with dates can be accessed at www.dublincitybookfair.com


With Best Wishes For the New Year from the Organisers

Dates For 2012, Dublin City Bookfair


Kill Local History Group

The programme for the Kill Group is not yet finalised However, the next meeting will be on Monday 23rd January in the Parish meeting room at 8.30 p.m. The guest speaker will be James Durney who will talk about Kildare connections with the Titanic. The talk will be preceded by the Group's AGM at 8 p.m.

Kill History Group's first talk of the year - Titanic. The Kildare Connections by James Durney





These grants have been made available by the Society to further archaeological and historical research relating to the county of Kildare.

Applications are invited from members of the Society in good standing and students in third level institutions in Ireland for inddividual grant applications to a maximum of  €1,000, towards suitable projects in categories of 




For further conditions and application forms, please see www.kildarearchsoc.ie or write to The Honorary Secretary, County Kildare Archaeological, Newington House, Christianstown, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

Applications for the Grant, clearly typed on official forms, must be received in hard copy by the Honorary Secretary by 4pm on 15th March.

The decision of the Society in every case will be final.


January 12, 2012


Edenderry Historical Society 2012 Lecture Series

January – Annual Dinner (more details to follow)

17 February – AGM (no lecture)

23 March - Ciarán McCabe, 'Are you mad also?' - The murder of RIC  Sergeant Michael Rogan and his family in Ballinadrumna, near Enfield , 1892

20 April – Rob Goodbody, The Quakers in

4-7 May: Bank Holiday Weekend: Annual trip to Fermanagh and Cavan

25 May – Dr Terence Dooley, The Murders at Wildgoose Lodge: crime and punishment in pre- Famine

June & July: Two day outings (TBC)

25- 31 August: National Heritage Week  event (TBC)

21 September – Sheamus Farrell, A life behind the lens: Images of Edenderry

20 October– Kevin Kenny, ‘Get down on your knees and pray for Shackelton': The life and times of Ernest Shackelton explorer

23 November- Ciarán Reilly, The burning of country houses in Offaly, 1920- 1923

14 December – Declan O’Connor, ‘ A night at the pictures: a mix of images about Edenderry and Districts’

Edenderry Historical Society 2012 Lecture Series




In spite of the weeds and sedges, the canal today is as it always was, long and lean and leisurely. It would be impossible to associate it with the hectic haste of our roads; and between it and the dual-carriageway leading from Dublin to the West within earshot of it there is a world of difference.
Now the boats on it are painfully few. There was a time not so long ago when a long line of turf barges could be seen making steady progress from the bog to the city. They kept the home fires burning there when little or no coal was imported and returned with what we in they country couldn’t do without, stout, furniture, groceries and machinery. That was a good time on the canal.
Day and night cumbersome awkward barges chug-chugged along, leaving a trail of foam in their wake, and cutting away at the weeds that now flourish unchecked.
Some boats were horse drawn and through it was hard on the horses they were of the stout sturdy kind, tough and well cared for, and never pressed for time. Mules there were in plenty too and they never tired or so it seemed. Rarely did they sulk either sulky as their kind are reputed to be.
Pranks played by schoolboys
Many the prank schoolboys on their way home from school used to play on the canalmen. I remember one bright lad leading a mule by the headcollar up a boreen at right angles to the tow-path while the poor man at the tiller used bad language, but was unable to retrieve his mule until the barge came alongside the bank and he jumped out. By that time however, the lad had put many fields between himself and the irate boatsman.
The boatmen themselves were well-known along the canal. They were good spenders, for horses needed stabling, and hay and oats, and they were jolly good cooks when it came to making a dinner of bacon and cabbage and the plump tasty hares and rabbits foraged by their dogs en route.
Eggs and milk and spuds – in fact every cookable vegetable was bought and paid for; and should the boat pass in the middle of the night and a head of cabbage or a turnip be taken from a garden adjoining the canal it would be paid for on the return journey. The boatmen were strictly honest and a great asset to the farmers bordering the canal.
Many of the yarns they told as they sat by our fires when the boat was moored at the lay-by. It is strange the wealth of lore and legend this long stretch of water had built around itself. The faery lights that glimmered in and out among the bog patches; the haunted bridge where men shivered as they passed under its awning; the bad spots where a man could get a “turn” passing a lone stretch, and had to screw up his courage to repass it so as to leave his ailment behind him. Ghosts there were plenty, too. The thirteenth lock in Kildare was full of them. Arthur Griffith wrote a poem where a captain had not only the wraiths from the outer world to contend with, but a mutinous crew as well. But his action was swift and brave, “Then the skipper quick made a mighty kick and the mariner felt the shock. And the crew found a grave ‘neath the deep blue wave on the way to the Thirteenth Lock.”
Tales were exchanged
The boats had spotless holds where local boys swopped tales of the district for those of places far apart as Arigna or Waterford. Indeed, without stretching our imaginations too far it would be easy enough to “voyage” from Belfast to these places taking in the network of inland lakes without touching dry land. The country is shaped that way geographically. They seldom pass now, Jo Hayes, Mick Kane, Jack Roche, Paddy Farrell, the Fennels from Athy, and the wag whose thirst stranded him in Robertstown and he sent home for supplies thus: “Boat sinking, Jim drinking, come quick or send Mick,” and with their passing has gone much that gave the canal its character. They were unique characters, and they belonged to the canal and nowhere else. In fact I doubt if they’d fit in in any other way of life.
The canal has changed nothing since the first lock was built in 1740. Its long slender line still runs due West catching the glow of the setteling sun and the blue of the noonday sky. There is charm in its defiance of the restlessness of change.
Once fly-boats plied for hire and tall imposing hotels stood on its banks from Portobello to Shannon Harbour. Along this route too were numerous warehouses filled with merchandise. Some of these have fallen into decay, and some have happily become useful as at Sallins where a prosperous meat processing plant is working full time.
Now a new phase is opening on this erstwhile sleepy waterway, and prim perky, brightly coloured craft with gay curtains and inviting deck chairs, and lovely luxurious houseboats have taken the place of the company’s barges and the old traders. They carry people from another world to the one we knew, people who display grand manners and who speak with polite accents. They have been growing in numbers these last few years. They are not as friendly as our old friends who never hurried and yet got there.
Radiogram plays ‘pop’ tunes
Ah, no. In this new era there is no time for meandering as a craft speeds by leaving a nice smell of cooking food after it. On sunny days young lads scantily clad stretch themselves out on rugs and cushions on the decks their torsos brown and tawny and while a radiogram plays ‘pop’ tunes or classical music to suit the moods of the voyagers.
They wave as they go by sure of themselves and of their destinations – some inland lake to fish in, Derravagh perhaps where Fionula sang to comfort her brothers, the children of Lir, during their captivity, or Owel where Malachy drowned the Danish king after first filching his collar of gold. Or maybe ‘tis to the lordly Shannon to cruise on, past Kincora where lived Brian of the Tribute or Athlone of the storied bridge, or Carrick of the rallies.
When they stop they never stay long. They never talk a lot either. They just buy our eggs or rhubarb or apples, and they don’t barter for anything. They pay us in a businesslike way and go. If there’s change nobody would say “toss you for twopence” or when when won cry “doubles or quits.” They mightn’t like it, and so we never try it on.
Isn’t it time anyway that these weedy growths were dredged out the Grand Canal? Time to make way for the new life that’s growing with terrific speed on its waters? Or is it worth dredging it at all?
Somehow we in the flat lands think it is. We refuse to visualise the end of this old familiar ribbon of water linking us with the country Westwards and Southwards and Northwards, this quaint and friendly watercourse redolent of the spirit of the midlands, of easy placid sun-kissed fields where cattle graze and men move from place to place unhurriedly because the tempo of their lives is slow; where brown bridges that cast their shadow at noon and where birds call from peatlands where heather blooms and streams are dark. We refuse to think that any people, no matter how learned and wise, would cut us off from the world that this grand waterway is now opening up for us.
There is a sobering thought worth thinking before this awful thing happens – if it does happen. When floods come down and banks are swollen to bursting point, we in the short grass lands can save ourselves by opening the lock gates one after the other, as we have always done, letting off the waters thereby. But when the Blackhorse Bridge lock is sealed against it where will the released spate of water go?
Looking down now from the parapet of a canal bridge one sees clearly the steady downward flow of water strewn with the decayed leaves of Autumn on its way to the sea. It flows unhurriedly and smoothly now. But when floods sweep it angrily and swiftly that way it might be disastrous to prevent its getting there. Indeed it might.

Another article sent to us by Eoghan Corry,  in this one from the Irish Press, November 8, 1963 Brigid Maguire recounts tales of her life beside the Grand Canal. Retyped by Aisling Dermody. 


A Royal visit to Kildare a century ago

Visits to Ireland by heads of state of overseas countries are filling the news columns but there will be a particular focus on the planned visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland in May. The fraught history of relations between Ireland and Britain would fill many printed volumes never mind a newspaper column but it is fair to say that there is a wide spectrum of opinion regarding the proposed visit by a British royal. Whatever the shape and itinerary of Queen Elizabeth’s visit Kildare readers might remark on the coincidence that it comes just a century after the last British monarch to visit Ireland, George V and his wife Queen Mary, set foot within County Kildare.  The focus of their visit was not the county’s equestrian excellence – the normal attraction for of royalty to visit the county – but rather St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, the largest and most influential Catholic seminary in the English-speaking world. The Kildare Observer newspaper was surely being tongue in cheek when it described the unprecedented decorations at Maynooth College as being ‘simple but effective’. There was nothing simple about the politics behind the placing together of the King’s colours and the Pope’s flag – nowhere else in Britain or its Empire would such a combination be possible or tolerated in 1911. The visit is generally reported in terms of the local colour and the obsequious nature of the welcome received by the Royal visitors but the extraordinary significance of the occasion in terms of world history should not be overlooked. Here was the King as head of the Church of England visiting the most significant institution of the Catholic Church outside of the Vatican.  Whatever about the epic political significance of the occasion the spectacle was enough to attract locals to line the route from Lucan to Maynooth. The Observer reported that at Lucan the crowd was so great and the applause so enthusiastic that ‘the King directed that his car should reduce speed, so that he might be able to more fittingly bow his acknowledgements in response.’  An interesting note is the fact that the King was travelling in a motor car rather than a horse-drawn carriage was novel enough to attract a crowd. The scene in Maynooth was no less welcoming than it had been in Lucan. According to the Observer a ‘large number of village-folk … had assembled for fully an hour before the arrival of the King.’  The wait had not diminished enthusiasm:
‘His Majesty’s appearance was the signal for loud cheers from the entire gathering and the cheering was at once taken up by the ticket-holders within the college gates and vigorously sustained.’ A great Maynooth institution which has outlived monarchs and presidents, the Brass Band, featured in the proceedings. The Observer reported that the band was in position beside the police barracks and escorted the Royal car as far as the college gates. There ‘the Royal Standard and the Papal Flag floated side by side above the main entrance, while beneath some pretty devices in flowers and silk were intertwined with Union Jacks.’ Inside the college gates the musical honours were rendered by the Artane Boys Band which struck up the British national anthem as the King arrived in to the quadrangle of Maynooth College. There to greet him were the leading lights of the Irish Catholic church headed by His Eminence Cardinal Logue, Archbishop of Armagh; Archbishops Healy and Walsh, and ten other Bishops. Also in the receiving party were a dozen of the senior College clerics headed by the College President, Monsignor Mannix, and the Vice President, Very Rev. J. F. Hogan. That there were sensitivities surrounding the visit was evident in the range of terms used to describe the College within the body of the report. At one point it is referred to as ‘the Royal College of Saint Patrick, Maynooth.’  The President of the College, Dr. Mannix, used a more neutral phraseology welcoming ‘Your Majesties to our National Ecclesiastical College.’  However to get an anything but neutral view on the royal visit a reporter only had to journey a few miles from Maynooth on the same day. By one of those great coincidences in history the great annual assembly of nationalists at the grave of Wolfe Tone at Bodenstown near Sallins was taking place on the same Saturday. And in an admirable gesture of journalistic ecumenism the Kildare Observer ran reports of the Royal Visit to St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and the of the Pilgrimage to Wolfe Tone’s grave in side-by-side columns. Truly, in the month of July 1911, Kildare readers were getting both sides of the story.  Series no: 222.

Liam Kenny in his 'Looking Back' column from the Leinster Leader of 29 March 2011 reflects on a previous royal vistor to Kildare one-hunded years ago. Our thanks to Liam


Hardly a tremor beneath the plains of Kildare

The earthquake which devastated northern Japan is a reminder of the powerful forces deep within the earth’s crust. Volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis have become the headline words which represent the unleashing of natural forces against which even the most technologically advanced societies have few defences.
 From an Irish viewpoint such catastrophes are regarded as being terrible but at a safe distance. The rocks underlying the island of Ireland are, on the face of it, stable and steady. However when it comes to dealing with nature there are no guarantees. Last May, a tremor off the west coast of Ireland rattled the residents of the Clare coast. It surprised seismologists – scientists who study earthquakes – too because the rock off Ireland’s Atlantic coast had been regarded as supremely stable. Not so the east coast where a band of frequent seismic activity has been recorded extending across the Irish Sea. Many Kildare residents felt the July 1984 earthquake which had its epicentre in north Wales – this column recalls a sensation similar to hearing a truck rumbling down a road. 
The effects of more distant quakes can be felt in the bedrock across thousands of miles. Sensitive equipment can detect the echoes and vibrations of earthquakes on opposite sides of the world. In May 2008 a school in Baltinglass equipped with a seismometer for measuring earth tremors picked up the echoes of an earthquake which just a few minutes earlier had devastated the Sichuan province of China. The school – Scoil Conglais - was taking part in an exciting programme known as ‘Seismology in Schools’ run by the Geophysics section of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies which maintains the network of recording stations for earthquake measurement in the Irish bedrock.  For some years a measuring gauge at the Lyons Estate near Celbridge was a component of the Irish seismic network.
The speed at which earthquakes waves travel through the bedrock is astounding – it  took just twelve minutes for the vibrations of the Japanese earthquake to show up on the Irish seismic measuring gauges. The geological history of Co. Kildare bears little witness to the great collisions of the continental plates which happened many billions of years ago. The terrain of the county is shaped by more recent forces of nature – powerful in their own way but perhaps not as dramatic as the volcanoes and earthquakes which left their mark on the more rugged parts of the island of Ireland.
The generally flat landscape which characterises most of the county’s terrain is a product of the ice age (about 1.5 million years ago) when melting glaciers deposited vast quantities of glacial soils and gravels. The glaciers had gouged chunks out of the underlying limestone rock and ground it down into particles. Floods from the melting glaciers created some of Kildare’s best known terrain features. The five thousand acres of the Curragh and its adjoining farmlands are the surface terrain of an extremely thick deep deposit glacial sandy soils. Geologists have measured depths of seventy metres or more of sandy soil before the limestone bedrock is reached. Even this bedrock is the result of relatively gentle processes: this part of Ireland was immersed by seawater for many millions of years. Over this period deposits of marine life drifted to the bottom of the sea building up layers of rock rich in the calcium which in time would nurture the ideal grazing conditions for bloodstock. More than three-quarters of the landscape of the county is underlain by limestone rock produced by this gradual process of seawater deposition.
However in parts of the county traces of older rock can be found which bear witness to the kind of violent earthquakes and eruptions seen in modern times in the Pacific and the Caribbean. What is now the landmass of Ireland is made of two halves – one attached to the north American continent, the other to the European continent. Great movements of the continent plates  brought the two halves together. The Hill of Allen which protrudes above the Bog of the same name was formed from a volcanic eruption triggered as the ancient continental plates collided. However there is no need for alarm at the mention of a volcano in mid Kildare … it is an unimaginable 500 million years or more since the last eruption and there is no sign of any resumption of volcanic activity beneath the old rocks of Kildare. Series no: 221.

Liam Kenny in his 'Looking Back' column in the Leinster Leader of 22 March 2011 reassures us that the plains of Kildare are safe from earthquakes. Our thanks to Liam


Sobriety and socialism – themes of St. Patrick’s Day 1915

St. Patrick is said to have slain all the serpents in Ireland but there was one demon which escaped his missionary zeal and was to come back and haunt his feast day centuries later, the demon known as ‘drink’. The extent to which alcoholic excess had debased the national holiday in the early twentieth century was apparent in an editorial from the Kildare Observer in March 1915. It is clearly with some relief that the Observer editor reported that ‘There was a notable absence of the drunken dissipation which self-respecting Irishmen so condemned in the festivities of a few years ago.’ He was happy to record that the wave of temperance which had spread over Ireland in the previous decade had relegated to the past ‘the old time revels, chiefly stimulated by the use of alcohol.’   Warming to his theme he prophesied that the abandonment of alcohol and its vices would unlock the potential of the Irish race and open the way to a brighter destiny. Indeed the words which flowed from the editor’s pen in 1915 bear much similarity with the rhetoric being used by commentators in a modern Ireland looking to a better future after years of mediocrity (albeit for different reasons) - ‘Despite all the discord that has devastated our country and which has prevented its progress in a material sense there will come a time when, the shackles of drunkenness and misunderstanding removed, Ireland will take her place among the countries of the world.’

A model of the new and sober approach to marking the national patron’s feast was to be found in the report of the Naas Commercial Dance held in the Town Hall on St. Patrick’s Eve. The tone of the account suggests that this was a highly respectable evening with the Naas commercial circle being the epitome of manners on their night out. Upwards of fifty couples waltzed on the polished floors of the Town Hall ballroom to the strains of Messrs. Boushell’s dance orchestra. When not playing dance music the Boushell’s ran a shoe and boot shop, interestingly its premises are now part of the Leinster Leader offices in South Main Street, Naas. The dance organising committee comprised Messrs. P.Dowdall, J. McDonald, P. Malone, J. Maher, J.J.O’Neill and M. Foynes – names which were to continue in Naas commercial circles well into the twentieth century. The same could be said for many of the patrons whose names were dutifully recorded in the Observer report – the Misses Hyland, Tyrrell, Higgins, Sammon, Berney, Patterson, Coughlan and O’Neill,  all daughters of well established business houses in the locality.

Looking towards rural Kildare the Observer’s local notes column recorded that St. Patrick’s Day was marked in a more robust way, still temperate but with a political nuance. A fife and drum band which had been started in connection with the Staplestown corps of the National Volunteers led the volunteers on a route march on St. Patrick’s Day. The National Volunteers comprised of followers of the Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond who had split the masses of the Irish Volunteers the previous September when he had promised recruits for the British army at the outbreak of the world war.

There was high politics too from the pulpit on St. Patrick’s Day in Staplestown when holy day mass goers heard an exhortation from Fr. Conroy, curate, that ‘God would rid the country of socialism, Larkinism, and every other “ism” that tended towards dissension and ruin.’  Father Conroy went on to ‘refer to the sad fate of the traders in the city whose little businesses had been smashed because of Larkin’s society.’  The Larkinism referred to is the mobilisation of workers in Dublin led by Jim Larkin, regarded as one of the founding figures of Irish trade unionism.  The Dublin worker’s strike of 1912 had seen Larkin organise mass protests by workers against the captains of commerce in the capital. The Catholic clergy saw communist anti-clerical influences behind such militant trade unionism.  Even St. Patrick could not have envisaged that his name would be invoked to, in the words of the Staplestown curate to his parishioners ‘ deal with godless influences which existed on the continent’ – a reference to the emergence of socialism in the industrial cities of Europe.  Series no: 220.

In his column 'Looking Back' from the Leinster Leader March 15 2011 Liam Kenny reflects on sobriety and socialism on St. Patrick's Day 1915. As always our thanks to Liam.


Bypassed – but Kill looks to future
By Brigid Maguire

A decade or so ago the village of Kill now by-passed by the dual carriageway from Naas to Dublin was small and insignificant. A few houses, a couple of pubs, two churches, a post office. An old low ceilinged schoolhouse was dismally clamouring for demolition.
Then gravel was discovered and a company was formed. The Castle Sand Company, later to become Roadstone, sent dumpers and trucks along to ruffle the quiet of the village.
Houses to hold workers and a new school were built, the chapel under the wing of the popular sagart pharóiste was built doubling its floor space. A posh hotel was built.
Now a further addition —  a project to set up a new bloodstock sales emporium strikes the imagination as being the right thing in the right place. For is Kildare not the home of the horse? If the reality is as planned this project will not only rival all existing sales’ arenas but will far outdistance them. As well as catering for sale of horses, the grounds promise to be on a par with other beauty spots in the county, and there are many. The shell house in Carton, the lovely view of the Liffey from the bridge at Straffan, the Japanese grdens in Tully. These are just a few of them. So Kill has its work cut out to compete. The introductory brochure is optimistic it will.
It tells us that there will be landscaping and planting of gardens. An elegant canopied gateway will lead to lovely lawns with ornamental pools. On the diagonal a glass and steel facility building will be erected and beside it will be the most important spot in the whole complex, the circular sales ring.
This sales parade will be ten feet below ground level and will have seating to hold 750 patrons with we hope, nicely padded cheque books. This in fact is the allure behind it all.
Into the sales compound the horses will come via a low gradient ramp. A prospective buyer yet undecided which horse to invest in can come to a holding paddock underground and take a good long look at every animal before be comes under the auctioneers’ baton. There will be no restrictions on people who can move about freely and not disturb the equine equanimity of the animals leaving or entering the sellers ring.
Much has been made of the foolishness of moving a blood- stock sales’ agency from the aristocratic precincts of the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge. There is no need for a second agency for these elusively valuable animals whose value is on a downward slope, say the experts who know it all.Idiotic to erect this projected enterprise which will run into millions at a time of shortages which are worldwide.
The answer to this loaded question is the oft heard platitude that the proper place to find one’s coat is where it was lost. Also it can be admitted that bravery carries its own reward; and indeed Goff’s must have a major share of the still upper lip in their composition else they would take a falling market lying down, fold up, and sell hotcross buns instead. But they have shown faith in Irish bloodstock by appealing to the small breeder, the farmer who chances his arm to turn out an Arkle or Nijinsky from his own brood mare. Where better to demonstrate this than in an area where horses have been bred, born and put through their paces on the surrounding racetracks?
The appreciation of these people has been their fine response to the buying of shares recently on offer. An invitation to “small” people like myself and my kind to come into the game has been made, Dublin-barrelled names like the wind on the bog will always be associated with racing. Plain Joe Soap should now be able to come from the other end of the buyers’ ladder and perhaps meet the elite half way.
It is for this Messrs. Goff and Company have bought this eighty acre scoup of rich Kildare land to prove that the prestige of our horses can be recaptured and brought back before it is too late to do anything to arrest its passing.
A horse bought at the Kill stadium has a multiplicity of racecourses to choose from. When ready to face the tapes Naas, the nearest, is only a stone’s throw away. Punchestown is equidistant on the fields’ side. The Curragh since the days of Finn and the Fenians has been a racing place and will continue to be so. Point-to-point meetings at the Hill of Kill, at Windgates and at Newcastle are capable of being revived. [Text missing]
On the periphery of the sales ground in Kill that goddess of racing ponies, Miss Iris Kellett, has her establishment. Palmerstown stud is adjacent, while across the road lives Ted Walshe, the premier amateur jockey of the day. Scarcely a field in the parish but has had a race-horse over its surface from times immemorial.
There could be a rival in the sales line too. Five or six miles to the north east as the crow flies, Ned Cash, one of the biggest buyers and sellers of hunters, has a sales arena some 160 feet long and half as wide with jumps to show off his charges prowess, let it be raining or sunny outside. Ned’s sons veritable Clark Gables in their own right are no strangers to tough cross country riding. Nor do they balk at the danger of Bechers in Aintree nor at the up banks of local race venues, and dangerous stints on horseback when cliffs loom darkly and death seems imminent hold no terrors for them when engaged in the making of films.
Already from the stables of Kildare farmers in the district have come many winners. I can recall the names Martin and Ten Per Cent winning locally. Boston Road has been bred near at hand. Lady Aylmer hit the frame by chalking up two wins and a placing. Seamus Buggle’s Waddi Halfa has obliged. The progeny of Nas na Riogh recalls the “affair” of Dean Swift with the dauntless Vanessa by lending her name to a winning line.
Millhouse, whose sire was owned by the late Joe MacDonnell of Naas, was worthy of his boast of being the owner of “the best horse in the world. He beat Arkle fair and square’, which he did. And for the bob- each-way folk horse racing is a very legitimate and profitable pastime. On her death-bed an old lady gambler was heard to say pleadingly: “Bury me near the gate in St. Corban’s Cemetery ‘where I can hear the horses coming up the straight in Naas. Then I’ll raise me oul’ head and cheer the winner home.”
These are some of the facts and fantasies of the Kildare Paddocks where Messrs. Goffs have come to buy and sell our bloodstock to the world. They will find nothing but goodwill and kindred spirits when they have settled in. What. could be better?
Already emissaries from the company have been making contact with bloodstock representatives in places as far flung as Australia and U.S.A., South Africa, Iran and, of course, every capital in Europe. So let us hope that when buyers come they will be falling backwards to buy our horses.
The period of eclipse when the progeny of great sires like the Telrarch and Nasrullah may have fallen into temporary decline but there are other days coming. It surely is a challenge to the farmers of the short grass and beyond it to give that small blood transfusion to their horses of today to bring them to the standard when practically every stable held a possible winner, nay even a classic co[unreadable]. Then once again could Irish bloodstock be the envy of the world. Their first sale will be next September.

An article from the Irish Press of April 1, 1975 sent to us by Eoghan Corry. It is about the proposed building of a new "bloodstock sales emporium" at Kill by Messers. Goff and Company.

January 04, 2012



A website dedicated to the Stewart family in Ireland can be found at www.thestewartsinireland.com its free to view and copy from.

The website is the creation of George V Stewart whose family of Stewarts were based in Hortland from the 1820's Donadea area and  Mount Armstrong and Millicent. The web site lists Census returns for all Stewarts in Ireland for 1911 and 1901, Head of Household from Griffiths Valuations and the applotment Books. Plus other articles.

Other items include;

  • Millicent in included showing The St Michaels Church of Ireland, Cooke Trench family and back to Richard Griffiths of Griffiths valuations plus a history of the area.
  • Church records of Stewarts of births marriages and deaths most taken from the RCB Library Churchtown Dublin (this work is on going), and from irishgenealogy.ie.

Also included are details of his mothers side of the family, her maiden name was Fawcett, Grandmothers Muldrew and GGrandmother Sinton.

List of the burials in the following graveyards:
Timahoe, Ballinafagh, Staplestown, Donadea, and  Dunmurraghill (Greenhills) nr Donadea.

A website dedicated to the Stewart family in Ireland can be found at www.thestewartsinireland.com its free to view and copy from.




Series of Talks and Walks

All talks take place in

The Kildare Education Centre (Old Parochial House), Friary Road, Kildare Town

and begin at 8 pm.


Thurday January 5, 2012 - "Curragh Military Museum" a guided tour, 7 pm with Sgt. Charlie Walshe.

Wednesday February 8, 2012 - "A Long Road from Tipperary to Kildare Town" St. Brigid's Hurling Club, an illustrated history with Eamonn Cullagh and Tom Madden.

Wednesday March 14, 2012 - "Custer's Last Irishmen" story of the Irish, including those from Kildare and surrounding counties, who fought with the 7th Cavalry at Custer's Last Stand with Robert Doyle.

Wednesday April 4, 2012 - "The Titanic and its Kildare Connections" An illustrated talk with James Durney and Mario Corrigan.

Wednesday May 2, 2012 - "Movies/Memories/Memorabilia Night" with Contributions from Society Members.

Saturday June 2, 2012 - "Annual Outing" Howth Castle, Marino Casino and Trinity College, Numbers Limited.... Pre-booking essential.

Wednesday July 11, 2012 - "A Thread in the Tapestry" Talbots in Kildare with A.C. Talbot.

August "Summer Break"

Wednesday September 5, 2012 - "60 Years a' Growing" The ICA in Kildare Town with Hazel Campbell

Wednesday October 3, 2012 - "Tales of de Búrca" with Traditional Storyteller Niall de Búrca.

Wednesday November 7, 2012 - "The Barracks, Clubhouse and Leinster Walk" The Payne Bros. Building Contractors, Kildare Town early 1900s with Frank Goodwin and Mark McLoughlin.

Wednesday December 5, 2012 - "1912 & 1962" What they said in the Papers with Mario and Joe.

For further information contact Joe Connelly 086 168 6236



Cill Dara History Society, Kildare Town's Local History Group Series of Talks & Walks 2012.

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