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July 28, 2012


Leinster Leader 29 October 1960

Passing of distinguished doctor

Dr. Joseph Roantree, Moorefield Lodge, Droiched Nua, who died recently, was one of the town’s most distinguished residents who, for sixty-three years, until his recent retirement in April 1959, had been dispensary doctor for the area.
Aged 93, he was a native of Lurgan and first came to Droichead Nua, then a British Garrison town, in 1896. He was educated at Summerhill College, Sligo, and in 1887 began study of medicine in the old Catholic University in St. Cecelia St., Dublin. He studied under the famous Ambrose Bermingham, then a professor in the University.
Qualifying in 1894, Dr. Roantree was appointed House surgeon at the Mater Hospital, Dublin, and two years later came to Droichead Nua as dispensary doctor. For the next 63 years he ministered to the sick of the Droichead Nua area and in that period established for himself a unique reputation as a doctor and a Christian gentleman.
Notable figures
His area of administration extended over many miles and his patients, rich and poor, included many notable figures in public, military and sporting life. As a doctor he was painstaking and completely thorough in all his examinations. Even in his declining years he maintained that strict code; complete thoroughness remained the feature of his dealings with all his patients.
If, as a doctor, he was thorough and complete, as a human being he was no less forthright. He had no time for platitudes, empty phrases or hypocrisy. In his professional and business life he used no subterfuge and his so obvious honesty and singleness of purpose earned him the unqualified respect and esteem of all with whom he had any dealings.
Famous escape
With such a long and extensive experience, he naturally could reminisce a great deal. He could for instance, recall Republicans escaping from Droichead Nua. Armed men called him out that night to attend to a wounded escapee – the revolvers were incidental for Dr. Roantree never needed either persuasion or enticement to make his professional services available to the sick
He was one of the first men to own and drive a motor car in the district; before the advent of the machine he favoured a brougham, invariably drawn by a grey. His love of horses was deep-rooted and up to a few years ago he hunted regularly with the Kildare hounds and was also a well-known figure at the Curragh race meetings, being honorary medical doctor for the venue for a great many years.
He will be remembered as a man of true piety, with a deep sense of the real meaning of his vocation, a dedicated adherence to the highest principles of that vocation and, mixed with all, a full understanding of the real meaning of charity and an ever readiness to put that conception of Christian charity into practice.
In his lengthy life, Dr. Roantree became something of an institution in Droichead Nua. “A doctor and a gentleman” – that tribute, spoken by a prominent businessman referring to his death, just about sums up a town’s feeling for one of its most esteemed and popular citizens.
He is survived by two sons, Lt. Col. F. F. D. Roantree, and Dr. W. Roantree; by a daughter, Mrs. M. E. Tadeusz and a sister Mother M. Austin.
An immense concourse attended the funeral from Newbridge Parish Church to Kilbelin Cemetery. Rev. A. S. McNally, C.C., officiated at the graveside.

Dr Rowantree Red Cross Course Ryston House WWIIsmall.jpg

The above photo was given by Kathleen Conlon Kavanagh of Tankardsgarden, Newbridge to the Local Studies Dept., Kildare Library & Arts Services and was possibly taken at Ryston House in Newbridge where Red Cross Training took place during the Emergency (1939 -1945). Dr. Roantree is seated in the front row fourth from the right [note by Mario Corrigan].

Dr Rowantree Red Cross Ryston House WWIIsmall.jpg

The passing of distinguished Newbridge resident Doctor Joseph Roantree, from the Leinster Leader of 29 October 1960


Leinster Leader 30 May 1981

Late Mr. J. Breen
The death took place last week of well-known Naas man, John “The Briar” Breen, Rathasker road. He was a former postman in Naas area and a popular greyhound breeder. His pseudonym was, in effect, a badge of popularity, as he was a forceful and outspoken individual, and he matched these traits with generosity and good neighbourliness. Numerous friends were very sorry to hear of his passing in Gorey (Co. Wexford) hospital when visiting his sister. His funeral to St. Corban’s cemetery, Naas, was eloquent testimony to his popularity and was largely attended despite the atrocious weather conditions.

A note on the death of 'The Briar' Breen from the Leinster Leader of 30 May 1981


Ship to shore … Ernest Shackleton and his polar vessels

Liam Kenny

Kildare’s landlocked location means the closest that most Lilywhites come to encounter the high-seas is when building sandcastles at Brittas Bay or wallowing across the Irish Sea on the ferry for Cheltenham. However inland as it might be, Kildare has produced seafarers of renown, not least the great Ernest Shackleton ( born at Kilkea near Castledermot) whose Antarctic achievements were made possible by the ships and boats which he navigated to such spectacular effect on his expeditions through the treacherous Antarctic waters. 
More insight into Shackleton’s seafaring achievements in the polar seas is to be found in an impressive book titled ‘Ordeal By Ice – Ships of the Antarctic’, authored by Rorke Bryan and published by the Collins Press in Cork.
The author’s primary interest is in the design and detail of the myriad of ships used on Antarctic expeditions, and his research is forensic. He devotes much attention to Ernest Shackleton and the vessels which served him for better or for worse in the turbulent southern oceans.
In 1908, Shackleton departed New Zealand on the Nimrod, bound for the Antarctic. The ship was grossly overloaded, with the deck only a metre above sea-level. When he reached the icebound shore of the Antarctic he set out on a trek in an attempt to win what was the last great prize in the world of exploration – to be the first to set foot at the South Pole. However he was forced to turn back less than a couple of day’s march from the pole in January 1909 due to lack of food. Had he been able to afford a larger ship to take more supplies he might well have been the first to reach the Pole. No matter how good an explorer was on land, it was the quality and capacity of the vessels supporting the expedition which determined its success or failure.
The prize of being first to the Pole fell to the capable Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen (he got there in December, 1911) who remarked that Shackleton’s achievement was “the most brilliant incident in the history of Antarctic exploration”.
Amundsen himself used a vessel named the Fram on his voyage to the Antarctic. Rorke Bryan’s text and pictures demonstrate how Fram was purpose built for riding the ice floes, being shaped more like a barrel to give the hull huge strength against the ice, and causing the boat to lift as the sea froze rather than be pinched and crushed.
Ernest Shackleton re-enters the polar story as he sets out in 1914 on the Endurance on an expedition to land on the Antarctic and be the first to cross the frozen continent. Visitors to the the Heritage Centre in Athy will see the beautiful scale model of Endurance which forms the centrepiece of the Shackleton display there. This expedition showed Shackleton at his finest as a leader. The Endurance was crushed in the ice and sank, leaving 28 men stranded, their fate and whereabouts unknown to the rest of the world. Shackleton managed to keep morale up among his men in the most hostile of environments where temperatures often plummeted to minus forty degrees .
 He made inspired decisions, eventually leading a crew of five on an almost impossible 800 miles voyage across the roughest oceans in a small ship’s boat -- the James Caird.
Rorke Bryan writes that the successful completion of this voyage was “close to miraculous” and if health warnings could be attached to books, this column would advise against reading the account of the voyage on cold, windy nights! Constantly bailing water and chipping ice from the boat to keep her afloat , Shackleton and crew landed on South Georgia after fourteen days at sea. He then had to cross the island to reach help at a Norwegian whaling station.
Space precludes a full account of  the Endurance expedition and the subsequent rescue of the crew from Elephant Island but Shackleton’s achievement remains one of the great survival stories of the twentieth century.
‘Ordeal By Ice’ analyses Antarctic ships from those used by the earliest explorers right up to the modern day vessels built for scientific exploration and for tourism. Fittingly, the final double page photograph of the book is a striking picture of the modern Antarctic Survey ship, it’s name ‘Sir Ernest Shackleton’ standing out in white letters against the massive red hull, itself framed by the frozen contours of the Antarctic mountains.
‘Ordeal by Ice’ is being launched at the Ernest Shackleton autumn school in Athy which runs over the bank holiday weekend. Based in the Heritage Centre in the Town Hall, features an enticing programme of talks, re-enactments, theatre, film screenings and a bus trip to the Griese valley and Shackleton country.
For full details of the Shackleton weekend programme ring Athy Heritage centre at 059 8633075. To locate a copy of ‘Ordeal by Ice’ contact the Collins Press at 021 434 7717 or check your local bookshop. Series no: 252.


In his 'Looking Back' article of 25 October 2011 Liam Kenny reviews Rorke Bryan's 'Ordeal by ice - Ships of the Antartic,' and Ernest Shackleton's Kildare connections. Our thanks to Liam


From the banks of the Liffey to Staten Island … a Celbridge link

Liam Kenny

It’s not often that a school secretary gets a phone call from America from a caller wanting to buy a history book. But such calls have not  been unusual in the office of Scoil Mochua, Celbridge, following the publication by the school of a splendid colour book A History of Celbridge.
The book’s launch packed the school hall with an audience who lapped up the commentary given by author and retired teacher Tony Doohan on how he went about researching the story of Celbridge and environs.  There are few better qualified than the Donegal native – years of leading classes of eager pupils on walks and cycle tours of Celbridge equipped him to find the answers to the multitude of questions which only a class of eight-years olds could generate.  Turning such experience in the field into the serious study of sources and records concerning Celbridge in times past formed the basis for his first history of the town published by Celbridge Community Council in 1984. This publication was a pioneer in its day, showing that history could be published in a manner that would attract and hold the interest of a wide readership.  Text written with a light touch, and a profusion of photographs and drawings, made for a winning combination and indeed Tony Doohan’s first book was an inspiration for history groups in other parts of Kildare when they began to think of how to present history in their own publications. 
But back to the Celbridge and New York connection. In his new book Tony Doohan reflects (among many other nuggets on Celbridge) on a land-owning family whose name has vanished entirely from the locality: the Dongans. In the turbulent sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Ireland, big estates changed hands at a dizzying pace with estates being confiscated and then being reclaimed by owners as the fortunes of strife ebbed and flowed. The lands at Castletown, Celbridge were no exception to this shuffling about of ownerships and in 1641 a John Dongan inherited the estate and according to A History of Celbridge ‘built the first large dwelling house there’.  The Dongan’s supported King Charles 1st as he tried to hold out against Cromwell. However Cromwell prevailed and the Dongan’s paid for their loyalty to the King when their house at Castletown was burned by Cromwellian planters.
However their fortunes took a better turn with the restoration of the monarchy in England and the crowning of Charles II. The new king appointed Thomas Dongan to be Governor of the new found English colony at New York on the north-east coast of the North American continent. He was granted 24,000 acres on Staten Island where he built a house and a 24,000 acre estate which, recalling his  Celbridge origins, he named “The manor of Castletown.’  Tony Doohan writes that the name still exists in the Staten Island borough of New York with placenames such as ‘Castleton Hill’ and ‘Castleton Corners’ keeping the Celbridge connection alive.
 An even more tangible reminder of the Celbridge man is to be found in the city of Poughkeepsie, a town in New York state, where there is a statue of Dongan and an inscription which credits him with proclaiming a charter of citizen’s rights for New York city which guaranteed political and legal rights for all. Tony Doohan suggests that it was Dongan’s Charter of Liberties and Privileges published in New York in 1683 which was later adapted as the basis for the Constitution of the United States published ninety years later and which is hailed as one of the great constitutions of the free world. The circle on the Celbridge connection with New York’s influential governor was closed in 1995 when the then US Ambassador, Mrs. Jean Kennedy-Smith, unveiled a plaque in Tea Lane cemetery, burial place of the Celbridge Dongans.
There is much more in the new history of Celbridge – a book is rich with colour photographs and maps of the town, old and modern. The growth and modern pattern of Celbridge is dramatically illustrated in a striking aerial photo spread across two pages and taken as recently as July 2011.  The views of the built up area of Celbridge to the west of the Castletown estate and of the extensive green belt around  Donaghcomper to the east of the estate gave a dramatic overview of how the town has evolved in recent decades. The price of the book (twelve euro) is worth it for this picture alone. Enquiries to Scoil Mochua, Celbridge but be patient as there may be callers on the line from New York! Series no: 251.
Postscript: Interesting heritage initiative taking place in Clane on Saturday, 22 October. An afternoon seminar on valuing the village’s historic and natural heritage will feature speakers such as Éanna  Ní Lamhna, environmentalist and broadcaster, and Pat Given, of the Clane Local History Group. The seminar runs from 2pm to 6pm in the Westgrove Hotel.

In his Leinster Leader series 'Looking back,' of 18 October 2011 Liam Kenny writes of a Celbridge connection to New York. Our thanks to Liam

July 21, 2012


Kildare Observer 23 July 1921

The end of the Workhouse

The proposal of the Naas Board of Guardians to abolish the Workhouse has taken definite and practical form as a result of a special meeting on Saturday last. Provided the arrangements which have been made are satisfactorily carried out, and there is no reason why they should not be, the ratepaying public should have no reason to find fault with the change which has been made, while a more humane system of treating the aged and infirm is substituted for what was at all times regarded as a crude and unfeeling system which did no credit to our Irish life, and was always out of sympathy with the general outlook of the people. The present salaries of the officials who will be dispensed with under the new arrangements – master, matron, schoolmistress, carpenter, van-driver, cook, midwife, and attendant in maternity ward – amount in the aggregate to £945. 11s. 2d. a year, taking into account war bonuses. The new scheme provides for pension allowances aggregating £429 for the first year and £419 a year thereafter, that is an immediate reduction of £516, which in the normal state of things will diminish in process of time. The officials whose services are to be dispensed with can certainly entertain no feeling in the matter other than they have been generously dealt with, one and all. All aged and infirm inmates of the workhouse are to be allowed what will be described as county pensions of 15s. a week each until they attain the age of 70 years, when they become eligible for the State pension, which will then be supplemented by county pensions of 5s. a week each. Unmarried mothers are to be given a new start in life, some returning to relatives, while others will take up situations, the children to be boarded out and the mothers are expected to contribute a reasonable sum while the children remain a charge on the Union funds. In the case of the aged and the infirm we do not anticipate that the new system will represent any very great saving, for the average cost, apart from officials’ salaries, cannot amount to more than the 15s. pension they are to be allowed, if the figure at present is so high at all. With regard to the scheme for dealing with unmarried mothers it is simply an experiment which may prove successful. About that there will, no doubt, be a difference of opinion, but at any rate the children will be given a better chance of becoming useful members of the community, which they rarely become under the present system. Maternity cases will in future be sent to Dublin hospitals. Here again the prospects of economy, are remote. Orphan children in the workhouse are to be boarded out in suitable homes in the Union area. Married women who have been deserted by their husbands will be given a temporary allowance at the ordinary rate paid for nurse children to enable them to maintain their children outside. Epileptics and idiots are to be sent to Carlow asylum where the medical officer is satisfied they are suitable cases, other cases of this class to be regarded as infirmary patients. Persons who leave the workhouse or at present are receiving outdoor relief are to be paid their pensions in cash by the relieving-officers, who are to be known in future as county pension officers. Of course, in view of the additional work, which the new scheme will impose upon relieving-officers, these officials will doubtless have their stipends increased, and this charge will diminish to some extent the savings effected in the first instance by the pensioning of intern officials. A wise discrimination will have to be exercised in the granting of county pensions or outdoor relief to new applicants if abuses are to be prevented, and if the new system is not to become more oppressive on the ratepayers that the one for which it is substituted. Again, the continuance of the pensions must be made conditional in some degree at all events on the recipients behaving themselves as decent, and as far as possible, industrious members of the community, otherwise it might be found that the pension system placed a premium on undesirable behavior. The position established is a delicate one from many points of view, and will need the strictest supervision in administration, combining a desire to ease the lot of the poor and afflicted so long as they show themselves worthy of consideration, while at the same time showing a rigid determination to suppress extravagance or abuse of the system in the interests of the ratepaying public. It is anticipated that the scheme will come into operation on 1st August. We trust, having regard to the interests of morals, economy and efficiency, that the scheme will prove a success.

An editorial from the Kildare Observer of 23 July 1921 on the ending of the Workhouse system


Kildare Board of Health Minute Book 18/1/1937-20/12/1937

General observation regarding economic conditions in District

18 January 1937
Fair economic conditions are to be found in general throughout the County at present, there are a good number able to obtain employment at public works which are still being carried out, and at work in connection with agriculture.
12 February 1937
In the town of Leixlip there are seemingly a good number unable to obtain employment and where on this account conditions are not so good, but in the remainder of the district conditions are fair.
13 August 1937
The factories in the towns of Athy, Kildare and Droichead Nua, are proving a great financial benefit to the district adjoining and in the bog areas the sale of turf is also a benefit, the wheat crop as well as all others promising to be good, therefore economic conditions are improving throughout the County at present.
15 November 1937
In general through this district economic conditions are fair at present.

The general observation on the economic condition of Kildare in 1937 from the Kildare Board of Health minute books


The Dubs come to Naas

James Durney

On 3 March 1873, General Order No. 18 was specially issued introducing a new scheme for the localization of the British Army. Under this scheme the 102nd Royal Madras Fusiliers and the 103rd Royal Bombay Fusiliers were linked together and formed the 66th Sub-District with a Brigade Depot at Naas military barracks. The Counties of Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Carlow composed the sub-district, while to the two regular regiments were affiliated the following five Militia Battalions: the Carlow Rifles, the Kildare Rifles, the Wicklow Rifles, the Royal Dublin City (Queen’s Own Royal Regiment), and the Dublin County Light Infantry.
The command of the Brigade Depot was bestowed upon Colonel J. B. Spurgin, C.B., C.S.I. Spurgin had risen from the rank of lieutenant and had served with the Madras Fusiliers – the famous ‘Blue Caps’ – in the Second Burmese War and the Indian Mutiny. On 14 June 1873 the establishment of the Regiment was fixed at 28 officers, 42 non-commissioned officers, 16 drummers, 40 corporals and 480 privates.
With the issuing of General Order No. 69, in July 1881, the 102nd and 103rd Regiments formed henceforth the 1st and 2nd Battalions respectively of ‘The Royal Dublin Fusiliers,’ of which the Carlow, Kildare, Dublin City and Dublin County Militia formed the 3rd, 4th and 5th Battalions. The headquarters of the Regimental District was still at Naas. So began nearly forty years of association between the Dublin Fusiliers and Naas. The Dubs travelled to the far reaches of the globe, winning fame and glory, on battlefields from South Africa’s velds to Flanders field’s and from the Madras to the Dardanelles. Hundreds of Naas men passed through the ranks of the Dublin Fusiliers and probably bestowed many local connections to the Dubs lore, so much so that ‘Bradley’s river’ at Rathasker was known as the ‘Madras.’

In 1873 Naas Barracks became the Depot of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers

July 13, 2012


Matthew Cusack in 1798
by Maureen Cusack

Matthew Cusack, of Blackwood, was complained to Dublin Castle for forging an inordinate amount of pikes. He was denounced from the altar in Staplestown. After the battles the British soldiers came to the house and asked a seventeen-year-old lad where were his brothers. His mother told him ‘Die before you tell anything.’ Whereupon they hanged him between the shafts of a cart out in the yard. An artist who heard about it came from Dublin to paint the scene. I can’t remember the Christian name of the seventeen-year-old.
After that all the family went to America except Pat and Mary (probably a nephew and niece, a brother and sister) who lived in the old thatched farmhouse. The outoffices were slated – a man told me who saw them. Pat and Mary died in the early 1900s. The farm is now Kilmurray’s.
About 1909 or 1910, Fr. Keogh, Parish Priest of Clane, came up to Blackwood to ask my father-in-law, J. P. Cusack, did he ever hear why the two Cusacks fought in Kilcullen, but did not fight in Prosperous. He didn’t know because he had only come from Dublin to take over the farm. There must be a list somewhere of the Kilcullen fighters. For some short time there was a hedge school on the farm at Blackwood. A Mrs. Kearney was the teacher. After the milking every morning the children had class in the byre and they could stay there all day as the milking wouldn’t start again until they were well home.


Maureen Cusack recalls the story of Matthew Cusack in the 1798 Rebellion. Our thanks to Maureen and Marie Kane.



SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 1885.


On Tuesday General Hutchinson, on behalf of the Board of Trade, inspected the new line between Sallins and Baltinglass. The occasion was one of very considerable interest, not merely from a purely commercial point of view, but because the extension is one that opens up a most beautiful and picturesque country. The line is twenty four and a half miles in length, is built by the well-known contractor, Mr. R. Worthington, J.P., and the cost is about £120,000. From Sallins to Naas the line is double. When the Prince of Wales visited Punchestown he travelled over portion of the way; and racing men, to say nothing of the general public, are bound to appreciate the advantages which that part of the branch presents. At Naas there is a very pretty and substantial station of black limestone and granite dressings. Nothing could be much better than the way in which it has been arranged. The waiting room, the booking-office, &c., are all neat, well-lighted and airy; and here, as at the other stations, a good store of stone completes a really admirable set of buildings. The station-master’s residences are in each case capital specimens of work, both as far as design is concerned and as regards the substantial and workmanlike way in which they have been built. At Naas and at Harristown they are of brick, and at Dunlavin, Collinstown and Baltinglass the material is stone. Harristown station is six miles from Naas, Dunlavin is the next and there are about five and a-half miles between that and Baltinglass. The original contract included twenty-five bridges, but it was subsequently found necessary to erect no fewer than twenty-nine additional, in order fully to accommodate the country people passing to and from the different districts intersected by the line. It is not an exaggeration to say that these fifty-four bridges have been very well contrived, and that they may challenge criticism, so far as their form and general treatment are concerned. They are all either of iron or stone. The ironwork is by Courtney, Stephens, and Bailey and one need scarcely add that they are of good workmanship. The Liffey bridge is not only the most elaborate of all, but it is the most remarkable, from the fact that it happens to cross the river at a point of the most singularly picturesque beauty, and one that to travellers is certain to be the centre of a great amount of admiration. This bridge is nearly 309 feet long. There are five spans or arches 46 feet each, reaching about 40 feet above the river bed. It is all built of stone. It cost about £10,000, and the Ballyknocken quarries supplied the granite. It should be mentioned that at each station there is a large cattle-loading dock and cattle pens to meet the requirements of fairs. The work was carried out under Mr. Kenneth Bailey, Chief Engineer of the Great Southern and Western Railway, and Mr. Benjamin Fleming, C.E. The contractor’s engineer is Mr. Thompson, who was assisted by Mr. Everett and Mr. Fletcher. The work was commenced just two years and six months ago. It has given a great amount of employment, the average number of men employed being about 1,263. The contract was something under £100,000 for building the line. This, however, did not include the twenty-nine additional bridges already alluded to, nor, of course, the rails and sleepers. Some of the cuttings, especially those between Harristown and Dunlavin, and between Naas and Harristown — were difficult enough. It may be mentioned incidentally that the hedges of “quick fence” have been supplied by Mr. William Shepherd, of Dundrum, whose contract gave the opportunity for affording a considerable amount of employment, and has been most satisfactorily carried out.
General Hutchinson was accompanied by Mr. Bailey, C.E.; Mr. J. M. Burke, assistant engineer; Mr. J. A. Aspinall, locomotive engineer; Mr. Robt. Worthington, J.P., contractor; Mr. Samuel Worthington, contractor. Mr. Ilberry, Mr. Thompson, and other gentlemen. The inspector very carefully examined the line, stopping at various portions of it, and in nearly every case availing himself of the opportunity of expressing his satisfaction at the way in which the work was carried out. If an unprofessional opinion may be ventured on the subject, it is no exaggeration to say that a more admirably constructed line is not to be found in the country. It certainly looked most perfect, and presented every evidence of having had careful and skilful judgement exercised in the completion of even the most trifling details. The line will be opened on the 15th instant.
The extension to Tullow is proceeding apace. It will be ten miles of a single line, and will be finished in about ten months.


An article from the Kildare Observer of 13 June 1885 on the Sallins and Baltinglass extension rail line







We take the following from a copy of the “St. Louis Globe-Democrat,” received yesterday:—

Dermot Robert Wyndham Bourke, Seventh Earl of Mayo, is stopping at the Southern Hotel, where he arrived last night from Denver, Col., in which place he spent only one day, having just returned from the Big Horn Mountains, where he has been hunting for the last three months.
The present Lord Mayo succeeded his father, Richard Southwell Bourke, to the Earldom on the death of the latter in 1872. At that time his father was Governor-General of India, and was on a tour of inspection of the British Provinces of India. He had reached the penal settlement of Port Blair, where he was assassinated — stabbed in the back by a Mahommedan convict, who broke through the guards surrounding him. He fell on the spot. The Earl was appointed Governor-General of India in the latter part of January, 1868, and his administration was distinguished by great executive ability, and the introduction of many reforms. His son, the present Earl is 30 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches high, slender in build, but very wiry and active. He has golden hair, auburn moustache, whiskers trimmed close to his face, and blue eyes. His expression is very kindly, and he is very pleasant and democratic in his manners. Indeed, as some one in the lobby remarked, “He hasn’t half the style of a dry goods clerk.”
The Earl wore a suit of light grey clothes, and was accompanied by his friend and fellow-traveller, Mr. H. H. Porter, who was very much such a looking young gentleman as the Earl, and similarly dressed. Both were very unostentatious in their manners, and could easily have been mistaken for two quiet St. Louis young gentlemen. They expect to spend the rest of this week in St. Louis, and are the guests of Mr. Richard Everett, of the firm of Post and Everett, metal merchants, who has been acquainted with them for some time.
A reporter of the “Globe-Democrat” had an interview with the young Earl in the lobby of the Southern last evening, and, after introducing himself, was greeted by the visitor with the remark that he had often read the “Globe-Democrat” and liked the conservative positions it had taken in regard to Irish affairs — not going off wildly as some American papers did, without knowledge of the subject they spoke of.
“How have you employed yourself since you have been in America?” asked the reporter.
The Earl said that it was a long story, and he began by stating that he arrived in New York in the beginning of August last, and after spending about a week in that city, went out to Wyoming, where he has been hunting ever since. He stated that his outfit for hunting consisted of five riding horses and eight pack horses loaded with the ordinary hunting and camping equipage, in charge of two guides and a cook, besides whom he was accompanied by his valet, who is still with him.


Mr. Porter here interposed that their party had killed eighteen buffalo, which was as many as they wanted to kill, though they could have killed a great many more; three grizzly bears, a number of mountain lions, elk, Rocky Mountain sheep, cinnamon bears, deer, antelope and small game. They have with them a number of buffalo hides, panther skins, elk and buffalo heads, and other trophies of their hunt, which they intend to carry home with them.
The Earl impressed it upon the reporter by repeating it three times during the conversation, “Please tell your paper to pitch into those skin hunters who are killing all the buffalo cows and calves for their skins, and leaving the bulls to gore each other to death. It is a perfect outrage, and the ranchmen out there are terribly opposed to skin hunters, who are exterminating the buffalo so fast that there cannot possibly be one left for the next generation to shoot.
“We saw,” he continued, “over 400 buffalo while we were hunting, and there were not a dozen cows in the whole lot, and fully 375 of them were old bulls.”
“What was the state of affairs upon you estates in Ireland when you left?”
“Well, my estates are located in the counties of Meath, Mayo and Kildare and there was no attempt to Boycott me while I was there, but I have since learned that I must not hunt upon my estate in Kildare, which means, I suppose, that if I did I would suffer personal harm. I do not believe, however, that my people would hurt me in any way, if I should return there now. I intend to return to my Kildare estate, and to hunt there in the spring, and I don’t think I will be shot at, although the English correspondents of the American press have had me boycotted and shot at both, which, thank God, is wholly untrue. My principal agent, Mr. Christopher Rynd, is a very clever man of great executive ability, and my tenants have paid him very well, I believe.”
“Will you tell me something of your family history?” asked the reporter.
Here the Earl blushed and looked at Mr. Porter, who came to the rescue and stated that the first Viscount of Mayo was made by Queen Elizabeth, and the earls came later, but died out for lack of male heirs. The title of Earl of Mayo, however, was conferred on the issue of one of the female heirs of the family by George 1., since which time there has always been an Earl of Mayo. Lord Mayo sometimes resides on his estate at Palmerstown, in the County Kildare, but is a great traveller, having spent a great deal of his time in Europe, Asia and even Africa.
“How do you like America, and what do you think of Americans?”


“I like Americans very much indeed, and have been treated splendidly everywhere I have gone. I think the American people can not be outdone in hospitality, and I haven’t been here long enough to judge how hospitable they really can be when they desire. I have met with kindness wherever I have gone, and do not remember a single unpleasant occurrence, except a small matter of difference with an American lion on the top of Crazy Woman’s Mountain. He was certainly a native American of true grit to the death. I can not say too much for the American people, and I could spend a year filling invitations now extended to me. I expect to leave St. Louis for New York in a few days, and hope to return to England on the steamer Cynthia this month.”
“Don’t forget to scalp the skin hunters,” said the Earl as the reporter was going out of the door.
We also take the annexed from St. Louis Republican:—
The Earl of Mayo, of County Kildare — residing within 12 miles of Dublin, Ireland — and Mr. H. H. Porter, of Fermanagh, Ireland, are in the city, the guests of Mr. R. Everett. They have just returned from a hunting tour in Wyoming and other parts of the West. They say that they met with considerable success in bagging game, and had very fine sport. They incline strongly to the opinion that the Government should protect the game in Wyoming from the ravages which are made upon it, and particularly the deer. What are known as skin hunters shoot down the deer just for the sake of getting the skin. These hunters, they allege, shoot the doe early in the summer, when the fawn is too young to take care of itself, and the consequence is that the latter dies.
The Earl of Mayo had nothing to say regarding affairs in Ireland, as he has been away some time. Mr. Porter said that in his county — Fermanagh — there is little or no agitation, and, in fact, there is not a land league in the whole county. The people, as a rule, are more contented in his county than other parts of Ireland.
The two foreign gentlemen will remain in St. Louis a few days, and will sail for Ireland on the 16th inst.

A report from the Kildare Observer of 19 November 1881 on the Earl of Mayo's travels in America


Military Manoeuvres - the Making of a Masterpiece

Maebh O'Regan

The Dublin-born painter Richard Moynan was 24 years old at the commencement of his artistic training. He was educated with a view to entering the medical profession and proceeded so far on the course to need only his final examination to qualify, but his artistic instincts proved to be too strong to be resisted, and he abandoned the profession of medicine for that of art, and made it his life long study. (The Irish Times, 11 April 1906, p. 5.)
Moynan entered the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (DMSA) in January 1880, having initially studied there on a part-time basis. Due to an Act of Parliament passed in 1877 the school came under the control of the Department of Science and Art of South Kensington, which aligned it with the British art education system. The headmaster, Robert Edwin Lyne, was a product of this education as he had received his instruction in the (British) National Training School prior to taking up his appointment in Dublin in 1863.  In the DMSA, Moynan gained the requisite qualifications in 'Freehand, Geometry, Perspective and Object Drawing, 2nd grade' (Thoms, 1891, p. 833), which allowed him entry to the Royal Hibernian Academy Schools in 1882. The following July he was awarded the 'Albert Scholarship for the best picture shown in the Academy by a student' (Strickland, Vol II, 1913, p. 144). This enabled the artist to continue his studies in Académie Royale des Beaux Arts in Antwerp, moving on to Paris in 1885, where he honed his skills in portraiture at Académie Julian.
Moynan returned to his native Dublin in December 1886 to establish a practice as a portrait painter, but he also pursued his craft in terms of genre scenes, history painting and literary subjects. The painting, Military Manoeuvres (1891), marks a watershed in the artist's development. It demonstrates his art-making process and provides an insight into his political beliefs.


Military Manoeuvres was exhibited when Moynan was at the height of his powers. In July of the previous year he was elected to full membership of the Royal Hibernian Academy, which earned him the honour of being one of 30 constituent members of the most important professional Irish artistic institution. This radically changed the painter's studio practice. It allowed him to modify both the size and pricing structure of his paintings, as he was no longer obliged to submit his work for selection to the RHA jury. Therefore, from 1891 onward Moynan tended to focus on one expensively-priced, large-scale painting per year, as well as smaller auxiliary pieces to help sustain his income. The asking price of Military Manoeuvres was £210, an amount that far exceeded the price requested by his fellow exhibitors. However, it appears that the practice of RHA members seeking inflated prices for their work was not unknown:
It has often been observed by the public, though seldom ventured into print, that the resident artists of capacity demand exorbitant prices for their work and the fact is advanced as a reason why so few pictures are sold.  (The Freeman's Journal, 24 March 1891, p. 5).
Military Manoeuvres illustrates a crowded street-scene depicting a group of children amusing themselves by pretending to be a regimental band. The title of the work is humorous and although Moynan shows the children's ragged dress, he focuses mainly on the boys’ ability to have fun. Their toys include saucepan lids as cymbals, an upturned bucket serving as a drum, a biscuit tin, a coffee pot, a paper trumpet, a penny whistle and a wooden sword. Their leader carries a broom and wears a splendid brass helmet, which contrasts with his general apparel. This helmet was obviously purloined nefariously from some source. This attracts the attention of a passing soldier who happens to recognize the elaborate headgear as being a black-plumed band helmet from his own regiment, the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards. The trooper makes eye contact with the bandleader and steps threateningly towards him. The soldier’s lady-friend encourages him to see the funny side of the incident, while passers-by stop and stare.
The success of this piece lies primarily in two areas, the skill of the artist in challenging the viewer to interpret the story, and the excellent execution of the figure work. There are 15 children in the band, all individual in facial type and dress. Moynan’s sketchbooks in the National Gallery of Ireland demonstrate his commitment to grouping and regrouping his subjects as he explored different dynamics in an effort to achieve the most effective composition. He was an acute observer of human nature and although this picture contains over 30 figures, the scene appears to be naturalistic and spacious. The viewer’s eye-movement is guided by the interaction between the young 'drum-major' and the soldier, and is, in turn, reinforced by the anxious glances of the flower seller in the foreground.
This finely-painted genre scene reflects the artist's academic training. The detailed execution of the figures demonstrates the influence of the painter's RHA professor, Augustus Burke, while also showing a connection with French art practice as the cloudy sky exhibits a dull, even light made popular by the plein air painter Bastien Lepage. The scale of the work is significant as it measures 148 x 240 cm, a size that was considered to be more suitable for a history subject rather than a genre piece. The expansive scale was not without precedent, as two years earlier Aloysius O'Kelly exhibited The Station, Saying Mass in a Connemara Cabin in the R.H.A. exhibition. This work, measuring 152.5 x 178 cm is slightly smaller than Military Manoeuvres. O’Kelly’s quintessential Irish subject reflects the importance of Catholicism among the peasant population. Moynan was a keen observer of O'Kelly's work. He adapted the central motif for his award-winning painting The Last of the 24th at Isandula from an O'Kelly newspaper print entitled The State of Ireland, Affray at Belmullet, Co. Mayo, published in 1881 in The London Illustrated News. Moynan's Unionist politics differed radically from O'Kelly's Nationalism but, nevertheless, the size and the subject matter of The Station, Saying Mass in a Connemara Cabin must have struck a chord, as, two years after its appearance in the R.H.A exhibition, Moynan painted a large street scene which explored another important aspect of Irish life, the effect of the military in the every-day lives of the people.
Moynan's sketchbooks in the National Gallery of Ireland provide an insight into the artist's working methods and contribute to our knowledge of the process involved in the construction of his paintings. This invaluable collection of 9 sketchbooks was donated by Gordon Lambert in memory of his friend, the artist's daughter, Eileen Nora (known as Biddy). One of the chief characteristics of the artist's work is mise en scene, or the ability to present a composition with dramatic force, as if the characters were actors arranged under the proscenium arch. This was not simply a serendipitous occurrence, as the artist's sketchbooks reveal no less than 8 studies for Military Manoeuvres.  These illustrate the painter's careful assembly of material, taking infinite pains in constructing a suitable streetscape, while also exploring several alternative arrangements of the figures within the composition. This approach demonstrates the methodology employed by a classically-trained artist, who painstakingly built up a picture by addressing compositional issues and architectural detail along with exploring different methods of conveying the narrative.
Most of the artist’s NGI sketchbooks are pocket-sized containing pencil slots suggesting their primary function was to capture ideas and poses. An analysis of the material relating specifically to Military Manoeuvres suggests that their chief thrust is generic, rather than specific. The artist employed the sketchbooks as a kind of manual camera, to record ideas as opposed to developing studies for specific figures. There are over 30 individuals depicted in Military Manoeuvres, each of whom is a distinct character. Moynan must have sketched and painted studies for all of these people, yet this type of detail is not present in the sketchbooks. Instead, they contain studies dealing mostly with compositional matters.
Military Maneuvers drawing.bmp
The artist's notebooks in the National Gallery provide two alternative compositions for Military Manoeuvres. Sketchbook no. 19.171, Folio 10 Verso shows a group of children marching in time to the beat of their instruments and sketchbook  no. 19.175, Folio 9 recto, is essentially the same group of children, but, in this version, their leader holds a sword in his hand. It is interesting to note that the artist finally selected a passive, more psychological composition as opposed to the simpler, more action-packed version depicted in sketchbook no. 19.171, Folio 10 verso.
This dynamic sketch exudes motion as the band members march forward four-abreast, the tilt of their bodies and the movement of their feet suggesting rhythm and pace as they advance energetically towards the viewer. The theme of motion is reinforced by the presence of a soldier and his lady-friend, as they walk in step with the children's band. This rhythm is also expressed by Moynan's quick, slashing pencil-strokes as he loosely establishes the figures in the foreground, the soldier and the lady. Standing on the right of the composition, conducting the action is the young drum major. Once again he is wearing the elaborate brass, regimental helmet of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, with its horsehair plume. His body is arched in counter-rhythm to the marching band and, at first glance, he appears to be halting the action. He waves both hands in the air; his left hand directing the music, while the tightly-gripped staff in his right hand confers almost regal authority. The attention of all members of the band is focused on his directions. The soldier looks directly ahead, while his companion curiously gesticulates towards the drum major. This composition differs enormously from the final painted version of Military Manoeuvres. It tells a much less complex story of the children's ability to find amusement by pretending to be an army band. Their enjoyment is infectious, as the soldier and his companion march along to the beat of the music. The children concentrate on their own pursuits and do not notice that their game has the added benefit of also entertaining the adults. There is no air of mystery about this piece. All parties in the picture are in harmony. The children do not tease the soldier, and there is no sign of the concerned-looking flower girl. In this version, the soldier is proud of his occupation and this sense of pride is endorsed by the children's games. The humour in the piece lies in the fact that, for a brief moment, it appears as if the trooper is an honorary member of the children's band, who has temporarily fallen under the command of the bandleader.
There is a freshness and sense of immediacy about this sketch that begs the question, was this perhaps an actual event that Moynan witnessed? The soldier has been identified as wearing the walking-out dress of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, a regiment based in Newbridge between the late 1880s and 1893 under the command of General Sir Edward Cooper Hodge, K.B.E. Could the trooper have been visiting his home in Leixlip when he saw his young brother parading about the streets wearing his regimental band helmet? Moynan frequently worked in the Lucan/Leixilp area during the period when the Dragoon Guards were situated in Newbridge. The popularity of the spa at Lucan made it much favoured by 'visitors and invalids' (Thoms, 1891 p. 1310) as it was accessible by steam tramway which ran from Conyngham Road. The artist was a member of the Dublin Sketching Club who ventured on a field trip to the village of Lucan in the spring of 1889. His 1892 painting entitled, Old Mill - Leixlip, also suggests familiarity with the Leixlip area. Moynan's knowledge of Aloysius O'Kelly's Mass in a Connemara Cabin may have prompted him to consider the possibility of producing a large genre piece, reflecting Unionist rather than Nationalist values. The sketch he made in Leixlip village provided an excellent opportunity to explore the importance of the military within an Irish rural environment.
But the artist was dissatisfied with such a simplistic arrangement as found in sketchbook no. 19.171, Folio 10 Verso, as he wished to challenge the viewer to interpret the scene. In the final version of Military Manoeuvres, the children's band is far more intent on baiting the soldier than pursuing their games. The inclusion of the flower girl enables the artist to construct a moment of tension as she observes the expression of the soldier and awaits the interaction between the trooper and the bandleader. Moynan rejected the forward march of the musical band in favour of a more diffuse arrangement, as the triangular relationship between the flower girl, the Drum-Major and the soldier prompts inquiry into the reactions of the various groups within the canvas. Indeed, the painted version of Military Manoeuvres could in fact be the sequel to the sketchbook version. This shows the artist's ability to develop, not just the compositional elements within the painting, but to modify the idea behind the narrative to produce a more engaging story line.
Opinion has long been divided on the setting for Military Manoeuvres. At first glance, the streetscape mirrors that of Main Street in the village of Leixlip, Co. Kildare but certain details do not support this theory. Dr. Brian P. Kennedy's careful comparison with the near-contemporary Lawrence photograph establishes broad parallels between the photographic and the painted version, but it is difficult to reconcile certain details. This is precisely because of Moynan's approach to formulating a composition was creative rather than topographical. He had no difficulty in relocating solid architectural features in an effort to gain balance and symmetry. Kennedy remarks that the church spire is the result of 'artistic license' (Kennedy, 1993, p. 28). This is true on two counts. The church of St. Mary's is situated on the left side of the road as one proceeds up Main Street, Leixlip, in the direction of Pound Street. Furthermore, St. Mary's does not have a conventional spire but terminates in a castellated Norman-style tower. Reference to the artist’s sketchbooks reveals that the spire featured in Military Manoeuvres was 'borrowed' from the church of St. Andrew in the nearby village of Lucan. This distinctive architectural gem obviously attracted the artist, as he sketched it from no less than three different angles. Therefore, Moynan sacrificed architectural accuracy in his quest for a perfectly balanced composition.
 It is also possible that the presence of the spire in Military Manoeuvres had another, more personal significance for the artist, as a spire, or an obelisk, is emblematic of the craft of Freemasonry. By including the spire in Military Manoeuvres the artist may have been acknowledging the importance of ‘the craft’ and paying tribute to his fellow Masons. He had been a member of the Dublin Lodge of St. Cecilia (No. 250), since January 1887. He had special links with the Masonic Orphan Schools as its headmaster, J. Holbrook, was a fellow member of the Lodge of St. Cecilia. In 1888 the Masonic Boys School moved premises from Adelaide Hall in Merrion to Richview in Clonskeagh, to allow an increase in the student body. The artist's involvement with this charity was held in such high regard that his fellow lodge members held a special dinner in his honour. Pictorial comparisons between the school’s sports day activities, such as the tug-of-war featured in the Masonic magazine, and a 1891 painting of the same title by the artist suggest that Moynan may have sourced many of the young models for his genre scenes, including Military Manoeuvres, from the Masonic Boys School.
Military Manoeuvres marks a turning point in the artist's oeuvre as it demonstrates a move away from his usual studio-based painting and shows a tendency to work out of doors. This street scene was one of six paintings exhibited by the artist in the 1891 RHA exhibition, and three other titles, Tug-of-War, ‘Wady-Buckety’, and View on the Dodder, (near Templeogue) also suggest outdoor scenes. This trend to work en plein air was a practice developed by the artist over the next ten years. It led to a group of distinctly ‘Irish Impressionist’ style paintings and canvases such as Killiney Sands painted in 1894 (currently in the Allied Irish Bank Collection), demonstrate this trend as it expresses Impressionist influences in terms of subject matter, application of paint and use of colour.
Moynan was a passionate Unionist who used his art as a platform for his political beliefs. He was the chief illustrator with the leading Unionist newspaper of the day, The Union. He painted a number of highly political works, such as Home Again (1883). But the main thrust of the narrative in Military Manoeuvres is observational and humourist rather than political. Yet the artist does not shy away from showing the children's shabby surroundings. He frankly portrays the neglected state of the roads. This was probably a popular topic of discussion within the Moynan family circle as his brother, John Ouseley Bonsell Moynan, was the principal engineer for county Tipperary where he introduced an innovative system of road building and maintenance.
Contrasting reviews of the 1891 RHA exhibition provide an insight into contemporary attitudes to Irish art. The critic writing for The Freeman's Journal initially addressed controversial issues such as the high prices of the exhibits and then proceeded to embark on a major diatribe regarding the lack of support for the exhibition by the government, the aristocracy and the so-called patrons of the RHA. He questioned the quality of some of the work: 'Allusion has been made to the fact that many very inferior productions are allowed a place on the walls of the exhibition' (The Freeman's Journal, 24 March 1891, p. 7) and even condemned a painting by the President of the RHA, Sir Thomas Alfred Jones (Jones was an associate of Moynan's in the Masonic Lodge): 'The President's picture Paddy's Proposal is anything but a success. Subjects of this kind are quite outside his range. He should stick to portrait painting' (The Freeman's Journal, 24 March 1891, p. 7). Yet, consistently through out three reviews the same critic extols Moynan's virtues:
There is one fact undoubted that will be gratifying to the members of the Academy and the public - namely, that in one or two special instances the younger members unquestionably have shown a desire and a capacity to prove worthy of their name. Mr. Moynan's large picture has already been spoken of as an example of this.
(The Freeman's Journal, 5 March 1891, p. 5)
He also mentioned Military Manoeuvres in an earlier review:
There is a lot of exceedingly good work in this picture. The subject is good and it has been treated with great humour and skill and with genuine artistic instinct. (The Freeman's Journal, 2 March 1891, p. 5) The reviewer in The Irish Times was also fulsome in his praise of both the artist and the painting in question:
Mr. Moynan is another artist who has this year come to the front. His big picture Military Manoeuvres (No. 26) at once challenges attention on account of its size and the novelty of its caption, and the abundant labour that has been expended upon its detail. For an Irish artist the work is a most ambitious one, and we cordially recognise the success of the artist. The group of boys passing through the village streets playing at soldiers equipped in mock panoply is full of life and movement, and the introduction of a real red coat is a happy stroke. (The Irish Times, 2 March 1891, p. 3)
But it is equally important to note that Moynan's reaction to the critics was bi-directional. It appears that Military Manoeuvres in its original format had a dog in the centre of the composition and in response to a newspaper notice the painter altered the composition. The instigator of the change was the reviewer form The Freeman's Journal: '... the picture (Military Manoeuvres) is really interesting and very clever of its kind. There is a very eccentric looking dog in the centre of the picture - very eccentric' (The Freeman's Journal, 2 March 1891, p. 5). Yet, on publication of the Second RHA Notice, just three days later, the artist has taken this criticism on board and reacted by removing the dog from the composition: 'and bye-the-bye, he has quite rightly painted out that very eccentric dog alluded to in our last notice' (The Freeman's Journal, 5 March 1891, p. 6). This shows the artist's willingness to accept informed criticism and to act accordingly.
But despite all the praise heaped on Military Manoeuvres, this work, like many other paintings exhibited in the 1890s Dublin market, remained unsold at the close of the exhibition. Two years later it was shown in America:
Military Manoeuvres, exhibited at the RHA, at the Chicago exhibition and at the San Francisco exhibition. In the following year it was purchased in the latter place for a large sum.  (The Irish Times, 11 April 1906, p.5.)
Military Manoeuvres is the product of the confluence of the artist's academic training and experience. This mid-term painting offers an insight into various elements, which helped forge Moynan’s professional identity and provides a glimpse of some of the educational, social and political issues that affected the art-making practice of his day.

CAMPBELL, Julian, 'Irish Painters in Paris 1886-1914,' Irish Arts Review Yearbook, 1995, Vol. XI, p. 163.
CAMPBELL, Julian, 'Aloysius O'Kelly in Brittany' Irish Arts Review Yearbook, 1996, Vol. XII, pp. 80-84.
POTTERTON, Homan, 'Aloysius O'Kelly in America', Irish Arts Review Yearbook, 1996, Vol. XII, pp. 91-95.
SHEEHY, Jeanne, 'The Irish at Antwerp', Irish Arts Review Yearbook, 1994, Vol. X, pp. 163-166.
SHEEHY, Jeanne, 'The Flight from the South Kensington: British Artists at Antwerp Academy', Art History, Vol. 20, No. 1, March 1997, pp. 124-153.
TURPIN, John, 'The R.H.A. Schools 1826-1906', Irish Arts Review Yearbook, 1992, Vol. X,  pp. 198-209.
BOURKE, Marie, and Sighle Bhreathnach-Lynch, Discover Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, 1999.
CROOKSHANK, Anne, and the Knight of Glin, The Painters of Ireland, c.1660-1920, London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1978.
KENNEDY, Brian, Irish Painting, Dublin: Town House, 1993.
STRICKLAND, Walter, A Dictionary of Irish Artists, Vol. I & II. (1913), Dublin: Irish Academic Press, Reprinted Edition, 1989.
STEWART, Ann M. Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts: Index of Exhibitors 1826-1979, Dublin: Manton, Vol. 1, 1985; Vol. 2, 1986, Vol. 3, 1987.
STEWART, Ann M,. Irish Art Loan Exhibitions 1765-1927, Index of Artists, Vol. II, M-Z, Dublin: Manton Publishing, 1995.
THOM’S DIRECTORY, Oxford:  Alden Press, 1891.
CAMPBELL, Julian, The Irish Impressionists, Exhibition Catalogue, Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, 1984.
LE HARIVEL, Adrian, National Gallery of Ireland, Illustrated Summary Catalogue of Drawings, Watercolours and Miniatures, Dublin: NGI, 1983. LE HARIVEL, Adrian & Michael WYNNE, National Gallery of Ireland Acquisitions, Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, 1984.
LE HARIVEL, Adrian & Michael WYNNE, National Gallery of Ireland Acquisitions, Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, 1986. (Entry by Francis Gillespie)
O’SULLIVAN, Niamh, Aloysius O’Kelly, Dublin: Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art Dublin, 1999.
POTTERTON, Homan, National Gallery of Ireland, Illustrated Summary Catalogue of Paintings, Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1981.
POTTERTON, Homan & Michael Wynne, Exhibition of National Gallery of Ireland Acquisitions 1981-1982, Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, 1983.
SHEEHY, Jeanne, Walter Osborne, Exhibition Catalogue: National Gallery of Ireland, Ormond Printing Co., 1983.
WYNNE, Michael, National Gallery of Ireland Fifty Irish Painters, Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, 1983.
ALLAN, Lorna, Interviewed by Maebh O’Regan, 2000
CLARK, Barbara, Interviewed by Maebh O’Regan, 2000.
GREY, Hazel, Interviewed by Maebh O’Regan, 2000
RIGGS-MILLER, John & Nancy, Interviewed by Maebh O’Regan 2001.
WHITE, Maude, Interviewed by Maebh O’Regan, 2001.WEIR,.  
The Grand Lodge of Freemasons Archive:
1887 Membership list of Lodge 250.
Minutes of St. Cecilia, Lodge Number 250, Friday 14 December 1888, p. 4.
National College of Art and Design Library:
The Dublin Metropolitan School of Art Inscription Register 1877-1883.
National Gallery of Ireland:
The Sketchbooks of Richard Thomas Moynan: 19.171-19.179 inclusive.
The Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths
Richard Moynan - Death Certificate 1906.

The Freeman's Journal, 'The Royal Hibernian Annual Exhibition', 2 March 1891, P. 5.
The Freeman's Journal, 'The Second Notice of the Royal Hibernian Exhibition', 5 March 1891, p. 6. The Freeman's Journal, 'The Third Notice of the Royal Hibernian Exhibition', 24 March 1891, p. 7.
The Irish Times, 'The Royal Hibernian Academy', 2   March 1891, p. 3.
Irish Masonry Illustrated, July 1901, p. 44.
The Irish Times, 'Death of Mr. R. T. Moynan R.H.A., 11 April, 1906, p. 5.



An essay by Maebh O'Regan on the origin of Richard Moynan's painting 'Military Maneouvres.' Our thanks to Maebh

July 10, 2012


Not Only is the new book by Mario Corrigan a walking tour guide and heritage trail for Kildare Town it is a practical guide for would be tour guides on how to arrange and give a walking tour.


Kildare Footprintssmall.jpg
A new book on Kildare Town entitled Kildare Footprints will be launched in Kildare Education Centre on Wednesday night, 11 July, at 7.15 p.m. by James Cannon, Chairman of the Centre. All are welcome.
It has been written very much as a follow-up to the popular The Hundred Acres which was originally published in 2006 to promote the Slí na Sláinte routes but at the same time to discover the rich and varied heritage the town has to offer.
Essentially, this book, Kildare Footprints, is the textual basis for the town walking tours which were developed through Kildare Town Heritage Centre. We want to encourage people to become guides or to use it as a basis for entertaining visitors and friends. We want our schools to have the knowledge to develop tours and projects for their students and to preserve the tours for the future. It is a dangerous thing to rely on one or two people and the knowledge that they have gathered. The book includes all the information used to develop the tours in 2006.
This guide is for everybody, whether it is the first time visitor, the returning pilgrim or the resident interested in finding out a little more about where they live. It encourages us all to take time to walk around the town and spend some time there, to allow ourselves time to relax or get fit, to understand a little more about the heritage of the town or to simply find a good place for a cup of coffee, a pint or place to shop — or to try them all.
Kildare Footprints is not just a heritage trail or guide book, it is a local history book in its own right and a practical manual for tour guides or would-be tour guides in the town or indeed elsewhere. The book is well illustrated throughout while a colour photo section captures some key events in the recent history of the town, including the inaugural ‘Giraldus’ lecture of Cill Dara Historical Society in 2011, on the late Senator Michael Smith of Cooleen, which was delivered by none other than Michael D. Higgins before he was elected President of Ireland.
As a keepsake or a working guidebook, Kildare Footprints has something for everyone and will be available at the launch at a specially reduced price of €5 per copy. The launch at 7.15 p.m. in Kildare Education Centre will be followed by the eagerly anticipated ‘Giraldus’ lecture, ‘A Thread in the Tapestry – Talbots in Kildare,’ by A.C. Talbot. All are welcome.

Not Only is the new book by Mario Corrigan a walking tour guide and heritage trail for Kildare Town it is a practical guide for would be tour guides on how to arrange and give a walking tour. Kildare Footprints will be launched in Kildare Education Centre on Wednesday night, 11 July, at 7.15 p.m. by James Cannon, Chairman of the Centre. All are welcome.


July 07, 2012


Kilrush 1642

James Durney

A recent donation to Kildare Library and Arts Service, Newbridge Library, from Pat Dunne, Calverstown, of a folder titled ‘Kilrush 1642,’ led to some detective work there and further input from Adrian Mullowney, Kildare.

Folder of papers relating to the Battle of Kilrush, Co. Kildare, April 1642, Col. Dan Bryan, 1958.

Contents of folders (indexed by Adrian Mullowney)

Part 1. Introduction
• Purpose stated to be ‘To awaken interest in Irish Military History.’
• Chronology of battles mentioned in Annals which took place in the general area of Kilrush.
Part 2.
• Sketch map of the main expeditions in Leinster by the opposing forces, Oct. 1641 to cessation Sept. 1643.
Part 3.
• Sketch map ‘Approach Marches Battle of Kilrush.’
• Assessment of opposing forces.
• Assessment of opposing commanders.
Part 4.
• Attempt to identify site of battle (note: associate with 6in. map in Old Carlow Society folder).
Part 5.
• Discussion of English positions.
Part 6.
• Discussion of Irish positions.

Folder: Old Carlow Society, Outing to Narraghmore District, 17 August 1958.
• 6in. maps of area showing analysis of ground from a military viewpoint.

Blue Folder.
• Estimates of Forces and Muster Rolls.
• Sketch map: Contemporary English Official Plan of Engagement at Kilrush, Co. Kildare, April 1642.

There were several excursions to the Kilrush site in 1957-8 by the Kildare Archaeological Society, Old Carlow Society and the Military History Society of Ireland. The Leinster Leader of 8 June 1957 reported on the Kildare Archaeological Society excursion:

The Spring Afternoon Excursion of the Society took place to the Kilrush-Narraghmore area on Wednesday, May 22nd, and there was a big attendance when the company moved off from the meeting place at Ballyshannon Cross Roads at 2.30 p.m.
The first place to be visited was the Great Rath on Mr. Edward Cleary’s land at Kilrush, and here Comdt. K. O’Brien of the Military College, Curragh, gave a very learned and lucid talk on the battle of Kilrush, which was fought between a section of the Confederate Army and that of the Marquis of Ormonde – the King’s lord Lieutenant of that date, 1642. The speaker, who knew his subject thoroughly, pointed out on the surrounding hills the sites occupied by the Confederate army composed as it was of Leinster and Munster men, and the position occupied by Ormonde’s troops. He also described the most suitable position that the guns of Ormonde’s army would occupy. The talk was a wonderful reconstruction of this important battle, which the English Parliament considered so great and decisive that they voted a jewel be bestowed on Ormonde for the great victory. The amount of information given by the speaker to those present, many of whom had only a hazy knowledge of the battle, was revealing.

The Nationalist and Leinster Times of 23 August 1958 contained a report on the trip by the Old Carlow Society under the title ‘Details of battle.’

On Sunday last members of the Old Carlow Society enjoyed a day in Fontstown, Co. Kildare. Comdt. O’Brien, Military College, Curragh described for them in a very realistic way all the details of the Battle of Kilrush between the English Army, under the Earl of Ormond, and the Confederate Army, under Col. Hugh McPhelim O’Byrne and Col. Rory Moore. The visitors were each presented with a souvenir brochure of the outing, containing maps of the area, the amount of troops on each side, their strength in arms, development, etc.

On 1 June 1958 the Military History Society of Ireland visited the site of the battle of Kilrush. The visit was conducted by Colonel Dan Bryan and Comdt. Kevin O’Beirne, Military College, Curragh. Col. Dan Bryan also wrote a paper ‘Ballyshannon Fort, Co. Kildare, 1642-1650,’ which was published in ‘The Irish Sword,’ Winter 1959. 

The battle of Kilrush
The first phase of the Irish civil wars began in October 1641 with the outbreak of the rebellion and ended with the conclusion of a ceasefire in September 1643 between the Irish Catholic Confederates and the predominantly Protestant, Irish royalist forces, under the command of James Butler, the marquis of Ormond. During the winter of 1642 the most important military operation in Ireland was the siege of Drogheda. On his return from the relief of Drogheda, Ormond set forth on a scorched-earth expedition to the midlands. At Athy on 13 April 1642 he was informed that an Irish army under the command of Lord Mountgarret, Rory O’More and Hugh O’Byrne lay between him and Dublin. As yet, Ormond had met with no more than nominal resistance, but hurried preparations had been made to give him battle, and an army of some 6,000 untried troops had been raised from Kilkenny, Queen’s County, Carlow, Kildare and Wicklow and Wexford. Richard Butler, viscount Mountgarret, a leading Anglo-Irish nobleman, was a son-in-law of Hugh O’Neill and an uncle of Ormond. He was a kind and dignified man, but was lacking in leadership. Ormond left Athy on 15 April and tried to avoid battle, but Mountgarret sought him out at Kilrush and was decisively defeated. Ormond marched on to Dublin, leaving a regiment under Sir Charles Coote, at Naas. A contemporary writer, Richard Bellings (‘History of the Irish confederation and the war in Ireland’), charges Mountgarret with having deliberately lost the battle, ‘choosing to be a loser himself in that game than his nephew not to be a victor’. The defeat at Kilrush convinced the Irish leaders of the need for a central government. Both Ormond and Coote, however, were unable to develop their successful raids in the north and south into a decisive victory.

A recent donation to Kildare Library and Arts Service, Newbridge Library, from Pat Dunne, Calverstown, of a folder titled ‘Kilrush 1642


March Away My Brothers

Irish Soldiers and Their Music in the Great War

Written and performed by Brendan Mac Quaile

Friday July 20th

Time 8pm

Price €15/€12 (EB ticket €10)


‘March Away My Brothers’ is a one man show taken from the Book of the same name by Brendan MacQuaile. It follows the journey of a young Irish Lad, Lawrence Kelly, from Bridgefoot Street, in Dublin’s Liberties to the Christmas Truce in 1914, somewhere near the Messines Ridge, in Flanders, where many Irish fought and died during the course of this terrible conflagration. But Larry’s story is not one of hell and damnation, let’s face it, he is already dead, blown to bits at the now infamous Passchendaele and remembered only as an inscription on the Menin Gate. Larry looks back with the  excitement of the early call to arms still palpable, the Guinness Pals battalion forming after Kitcheners call to arms and the sheer chaos and melee of new troops arriving in France, gung ho, ready to serve the crown, and do their bit before it was ‘Over by Christmas.’

Many of the popular songs of the time are included as an integral part of this fascinating tale. Songs such as ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ and’ There’s a long, long trail a winding’ were popular hits for singers such as John McCormack and Stanley Kirby during the war years and they are sung with Gusto in this performance. Some modern reflections in song are also included. And finally to the Christmas truce, an impromptu meeting of soldiers from both sides, on a bitter cold Christmas Eve in an area known as ‘no man’s land.’ Shared cigarettes, and photos. Shared experiences that revealed similarities between the troops, similarities that the Top Brass would rather keep hidden .........


‘What a great show, we enjoyed ourselves immensely’........Joe Duffy, RTE.

‘Our Members sang along and enjoyed every note’.....Des Byrne, Dublin Fusiliers Assoc.

Riverbank Arts Centre
Main St. Newbridge
Co. Kildare
Tel: 045 448309

Riverbank Arts Centre acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council and Kildare County Council

March Away My Brothers. Irish Soldiers and Their Music in the Great War. By Brendan MacQuaile, Friday July 20th at 8pm in the Riverbank Theatre, Newbridge

July 04, 2012


The origins of Macra na Feírme

Macra na Feírme (at first known as the Young Farmers’ Clubs) was founded as a national organisation at Newman House, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin, in September 1944. The founders were a twelve member group of agricultural advisers, rural science teachers and young farmers, all members or lecturers in discussion groups, which became known as young farmers’ clubs.
The first headquarters of Macra na Feírme was at the Town Hall, Athy, Co. Kildare and opened by Mr. Sean T. O’Kelly, President of Ireland, in September 1947. Athy, Co. Kildare, Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny and Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, are regarded as the first branches.
Stephen Cullinan, M. Agr. Sc. Rural Science teacher at Athy became founder, first Secretary of Macra na Feírme and first editor of the Young Farmers’ Journal, which later became today’s Irish Farmers’ Journal.
Macra na Feírme founded Irish Farmers’ Journal, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, Macra na Tuaithe (later Foroige), National Farmers’ Association (now IFA), Farm Apprenticeship Scheme, Irish Farm Accounts Co-op (IFAC) and National Co-operative Farm Relief Services Ltd.

[Taken from Macra na Feírme 50th Anniversary 1944-1994 Catalogue]

The origins of Macra na Feírme taken from the 50th Anniversary 1944-1994 Catalogue


Leinster Leader 6 June 1959

Mrs. Gwendella Cassidy, Monasterevan
The last link with Monasterevan’s once famed distillery and brewery, which was founded in 1784, and began the town’s era of prosperity, was severed by the death in England of the proprieter, Mrs. Gwendella Cassidy, widow of the late Mr. Robert Cassidy of Togher House, Monasterevan.
Formerly Miss Gwendella Bellairs, of Italy, she came to Ireland with her father, who was then Italy’s Ambassador to Ireland. She has one son, Mr. James Cassidy, who resides in England, and one daughter, Mrs. Redmond, who predeceased her by some years.
In 1870, James Cassidy built Togher house, now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Parkinson. It was previously the residence of Sir George Holden, Bart., and for a short period the temporary home of the famous tenor, Count john McCormack.
The distillery, built on a site of portion of the lands of St. Evin’s Monastery, was founded by Mr. John Cassidy, magistrate and merchant, who first came to Monasterevan from Kinitty, Co. Offaly, as estate agent for Moore Abbey. It was carried on by the Cassidy family until 1934, when it finally closed as a distillery.

The obituary of Mrs. Gwedella Cassidy, Monasterevan, from the Leinster Leader of 6 June 1959


Leinster Leader 5 December 1942

Tower Cinema, Kildare
Auspicious opening
The Tower Cinema, Kildare – the town’s new luxury house of entertainment – had a most auspicious opening on Tuesday night (1st. inst.) For the occasion, there were two showings, at 6.30 and 9 p.m., each attracting a full house and on all sides could be heard nothing but expressions appreciative of the comforts and amenities of this example of the modern cinema. The feature picture was “Keep ‘Em Flying,” a Universal product, starring Abbot and Costello, and justly described as one of the screen’s greatest comedy offerings. The “Tower” is definitely, “O.K. for sound.”
The seating, artistic decoration and lighting and many thoughtful provisions for the comfort and convenience of patrons, were generally admired.
Mr. W. Keogh, speaking for himself and his fellow Directors (Messrs. J. J. Byrne, Junr., and T. A. Kelly) extended a cordial welcome to the patrons of the “Tower.” No effort or expense had been spared, he said, to provide the people of Kildare with a cinema worthy of that famous town. The people of Kildare, he added, were to regard this new cinema as theirs, equally with the management, and in cordial understanding with the latter. The management undertook to provide the best possible entertainment. He paid tribute to the great work of the contractor, Mr. Cormac Murray, to the Architect, Mr. T. Kelly (Kilkenny), and all those other craftsmen who had combined in the construction of the “Tower.”
Mr. Michael Doyle, Kildare, expressed the appreciation of the people of the town and district of the enterprise which had provided them with such a worthy house of entertainment.

On 1 December 1942 Kildare's new luxury house of entertainment –  the Tower Cinema – opened its doors for the first time


Kildare Observer, 29 September 1883

Labour Meeting at Kill

On Sunday last a meeting of the labourers of the district was held at Kill, for the purpose of securing the benefits of the Act recently passed. The proceedings were enlivened by the Ardclough band, which played a choice selection of music at intervals. There was a large attendance of local farmers, and when the proceedings commenced, the substantial platform, which had been erected in a field close to the town, was well filled. Amongst those present were - Very Rev. Dr. Gowing P.P.; Rev. G.P. Gowing, C.C; Dr. Patrick J. McEvoy, Dr. Coady, Mr. A. Ritchie, Mr. L. Malone, Mr. D. Kearney, Mr. M. Kearney, Mr. Howe, Mr. Barry, Mr. T. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Monahan, Mr. Cummins, Mr. Palmer, Mr. J. Coady, Mr. Walsh, J.P.; Mr. J. Short, Mr. R. Turner, Mr. P. Traynor, Mr. R. Ledwich, Mr. T. Broughall.
On the motion of Mr. Ritchie, seconded by Mr. T. Fitzpatrick, the chair was taken by Very Rev. Dr. Gowing, P.P.
The chairman said as he had been moved to that position he would read for them some of the correspondence he had received as follows: -

“Narraghmore, Athy, 20th Sept., 1883.
“My Dear Dr. Gowing, - In reply to your invitation for Sunday next, I regret extremely it will be wholly out of my power to be with you on that day. I am nevertheless glad to see you moving on behalf of the working class, and trust to hear of your meeting as an entirely successful one. The labourers stood everywhere loyally by the farmers in the late land agitation. The farmers are therefore now bound in common gratitude to return the compliment. Add to this that it is the interest as well as the duty of the farmers, and others in comfortable and independents positions, to now come forward and do all they can to elevate their poorer fellow men and fellow Christians in the social scale (Hear, hear.). No man has more to do with the working men of Kildare than I ever had, and no man can speak with great experience of their honesty, civility and intelligence than I can. (Hear, hear.) These qualities I have always found in the character of the labouring class to a degree which has always appeared to me to be surprising considering the treatment its members have had to submit to. It now therefore gives me the greatest pleasure to see light breaking on the working man and his following. A comfortable, an airy, and a well lighted dwelling will be a fitting first step in the improvement of his position. (Hear, hear.)The bit of land attached to his residence will be a means of teaching his children habits of care and industry, while the produce carefully cultivated and harvested, will supply his family with many comfort, and be moreover to him and them, a stock to drain from at intervals of chance or unavoidable disemployment. Secure in his home, the Irish labourer will gradually feel a new life within him. He will gain in manliness and independence. He will realise that he is at least a citizen and no longer a serf. (Hear, hear.) Self respect will follow, and for this offspring he will long for that education he never had the opportunity of acquiring for himself. The great gains to society by the elevation of the labourer will be a lessened pauperism, and a decrease of crime. Labour is the only source of a nation’s prosperity - (Hear, hear.) - and wealth. Until this is fully recognised in Ireland the resources of the country will never be developed as they ought. (Hear, hear.) The Labourers’ Act is a beginning in this direction. May the policy be yet further improved upon is the sincere wish and hope of yours faithfully and truly,    
“Thos. Robertson”
(Loud cheers.)
                     “Ballygoran, Maynooth
                                       “Sept. 21st 1883
“Rev. Dear Sir-In reply to your kind letter of the 19th inst.. I hasten to say that I am truly obliged for your invitation to attend the meeting at Kill on behalf of the labourers. Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than to be able to be with you all for the promotion of this most desirable object. But my other engagement will, I regret, not admit of it. Perhaps at some future time I may have the pleasure of giving my humble cooperation. Rest assured of my sympathy of this, I have endeavoured to give practical proof in my own immediate neighbourhood, for nearly fifteen years ago I spontaneously raised the pay of my workmen 33 per cent. and I have in the interval spent several thousand pounds in wages. Here wishing you great success - I am, Rev. dear sir, yours faithfully,         
“S. Patterson”

“The Rev. Dr. Gowing, P.P”
           “Drummin House, Sept. 20th 1883.
“Dear Sir-I thank you for your kindness in sending me an invitation to attend the meeting to be held at Kill next Sunday, for the purpose of taking into consideration the claims of the labouring classes and the best mode of improving their condition. I trust your meeting will be the precursor of many such in Kildare and the adjoining counties, I will be with you in spirit. Unfortunately, my strength is beginning to fail and I am quite incapable of making long continued bodily exertion, besides I am fast losing both sight and hearing, still what I can do in the cause of Ireland I will not willingly leave undone. I can carefully consider our unhappy condition and give my advice. I send you two copies of my last publications; perhaps you might find an opportunity to call the attention of the meeting to it. Recommend the adoption of Edenderry resolutions (page 24), the adoption by so influential a meeting as yours promises to be would give them an importance they might not otherwise possess, and place Kildare foremost in the present struggle for Irish independence. With sincere respect, yours very truly.          
“Richard Grattan.”
(Loud cheers.) A letter was also read from Mr. Charles Kelly, New York, in which he stated he had seen a report of the labourers meeting at Kill copied into the Irish World from Kildare Observer. He stated the money which had been subscribed there was given by the labourers, and it was expected that portion of it would be spent on the Irish labourer. (Cheers.)
The Chairman said the observations he proposed to make must necessary be short. He would bring under the notice a few texts from the valuable pamphlet he had before him by Mr. Healy. He thought he properly expressed the sentiment of all there when he stated they had only one purpose in their presence at this meeting, and that to aid the cause of labourers. He would not be there that day if he did not believe in his heart he was there in the discharge of duty of charity as well as of patriotism. (Cheers.) He might tell them this was not a political meeting, but it is one in which the hearts of all persons could unite. He hoped to see all in the country combine for the benefit of the Irish labourers and for the good of their mother land. It was in that spirit he made a move two years ago. It was at that time they had a meeting in the school house to help the labourers. He did not then expect that Parliament would have passed a bill in favour of the labourer so soon, and it was now likely to prove a great blessing. He for one did not believe that justice had been done to the tenant-farmers by the Land Act, and justice would not be complete until the leaseholders were placed on the same footing as the other farmers, and the working of the act made more expeditions and more inexpensive. (Cheers.) At the first labourers meeting held in the county he asked the tenant-farmers to give a few things to the poor man-a better house, a piece of land, &c. He was sorry to say two years had passed away and nothing was done. Now Parliament had stopped to make them generous and patriotic.
They all knew this Act came into force on the 25th August last. That Act of Parliament was one of the messages of peace Mr. Gladstone had sent to Ireland, and they were indebted to him for it. They owed a lasting debt of gratitude to Mr. Gladstone for the great boon. (A voice - And Mr. T. P. O’Connor.) He hoped Mr. Gladstone’s name would go down to posterity with the gratitude and blessings of the Irish people, and that his cherished memory would find an abiding place in the hearts of posterity, along with the other illustrious philanthropists of the 19th century: a Howard, a Wilberforce, an O’Connell, a Grattan and a Parnell. Moreover, he hoped yet to see - and that time might not be far distant when Ireland will adequately express her reverence for the great man, who, in spite of opposition, did so much for her. He hoped yet to see a monument erected to him in Dublin, and he thought no fitter time could be chosen to erect the monument than when the Irish Parliament was opened to the Irish people in College Green. (Cheers.) He would be greatly disappointed if these two events did not simultaneously take place within a few years: the unveiling of the national monument to W.E. Gladstone, and the restoration of Ireland’s legislative independence. It was not his place to enter into any lengthened explanation of the Labourers’ Act. It was their business and the business of the farmers to take the initiative, and the working of the Act lay with the Board of Guardians. This was the first step they had seen made towards self-government. They found this Act of Parliament empowered the Boards of Guardians throughout the country to administer public funds and to take the management into their own hands. This was a point in the right direction [Doctor Gowing here explained the working of the Act. He stated it was necessary to get a form of representation signed by twelve ratepayers and sent to the board of guardians who then carried out the necessary steps and the responsibility further rested with them]. No one should lose time in taking the initiative step so as to precure the benefit of the Act. He had seen in the papers within the past few days that a charge of apathy had been brought against the Irish farmers. He was sorry to say he could not free them from the charge. There was certainly a marked indifference shown in this matter. He trusted the farmers would hold public meetings to secure for the labourers the benefits of the Act. It was a matter of charity to assist the poor and it was their duty to do so. The man who did not help the poor in their necessities had not charity, and therefore, had not the love of God. Is not the social and domestic condition of the Irish poor a disgrace and a scandal in Europe? It was some years ago since the Devon Commission was appointed to enquire into the condition of the labourer. They stated, as a reference of most of the witnesses will show, that the agricultural labourer of Ireland continues to suffer the greatest privations and hardships; that he continues to depend upon casual and precarious employment for subsistence. That he is badly housed, badly fed, badly clothed and badly paid for his labour. Our personal observations during our inquiry have offered us a melancholy confirmation of these statements, and we cannot forbear expressing our strong sense of the patient endurance which the labouring classes have generally exhibited under sufferings greater, we believe, than the people of any country in Europe have to sustain. Mr. Ruskin, a distinguished man, wrote as follows:- “The cabins in Ireland have been so frequently described that there is no necessity for telling the English public that in the villages I have named anything approaching the character of a bed is very rare. A heap of rags flung on some dirty straw or the four posts of what was once a bedstead, filled in with straw, which a blanket spread over it form the sleeping place. Everybody knows that one compartment serve in these seaside hovels for the entire family, including the pigs (if any), ducks, chickens, or geese.” (A voice - Right, your reverence.) Speaking on the same subject, the special correspondent of the Daily Telegraph said “the cabins of the peasantry seem to be about the very worst dwellings for human beings I had ever viewed. I noted that many of the cottages I passed boasted of no windows-that they all had mud floors and most of them mud alls-that many were insufficiently thatched-nearly all wore shared by the family pig as well as the family children - that in the majority of cases a very slough of mud faced the door - and that the utmost misery of appearance characterized every dwelling. I have been in many lands, and have seen many so-called oppressed people at home, but I declare that neither in the Russian Steppes, nor in the most neglected Bulgarian village, still less in the very poorest Hindoo hamlets have I ever seen such squalid kraals as the Irish poor inhabit. Here they are not hidden away from public view, but front the high road-a dreadful testimony to mismanagement and uncleanness as can be met with nowhere else. An officer of one of Her Majesty’s Regiments, who lately served with honour in Zululand, declared to met that not even in the worst parts of Cetewayo’s dominions, did he come across anything so bad, and I am inclined to believe that he was not exaggerating in the slightest.” How could a nation prosper under such circumstance? (A voice - No, no.) That was the condition of a crushed people. It was as true that day as the time before mentioned-it was true three years back-aye forty years back. Was a nation like Ireland to be ever degraded in this manner? – a nation of renown for a knowledge of the arts and sciences and light of the Gospel long before any of the great nations of Europe had yet approached the cradle of Christianity or of civilization. He would continue Cardinal Newman’s beautiful thoughts as they apply at present: “A noble and puissant nation rousing herself as a strong man after sleep and shaking her invincible looks as an eagle renews her mighty youth and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam purging and unscaling her long-abused sight at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance, while the whole noise of timorous and flocking birds, with those also who love the twilight flutter about amazed at what she means; and would it not be strange indeed that this old Catholic nation should not feel acutely the bitterness and wounds, the injustice and injuries inflicted on her through centuries –that she should not have been through the strength of her unsullied faith her best support in every ordeal and persecution, hopes and aspirations, commensurate with her past and her future avocation.” There was no doubt good would come from the Labourers Act if vigorously and earnestly worked. The labourers would excuse him if he exhorted them to sobriety, good conduct and self respect. If they were not true to themselves and if they did not reform their habits the remedy which was now sought to be applied for their welfare would be worse than the disease. Let them endeavour to realise the future that was before them and be faithful to the trust that was placed in their hands. Unless that was done, he for one did not expect much advance in the future. He knew the poverty of the labourer was attributable somewhat to his own shortcomings. He (chairman) had seen poverty and wretchedness worse than Mr. Ruskin or the correspondent of the Daily Telegraph had described. If they asked him the cause of all this he would tell them it was unfortunately too often drink. More squalid poverty had resulted from drink than from anything else. Therefore it behoved all persons to lead sober lives. He did not want them all to become teetotallers, but he wanted every man to live within his means. (Cheers)
Mr. Fitzpatrick - Rev. Chairman and fellow countrymen (A voice - More power, Mr. Fitzpatrick) - I have great pleasure in reading for your adoption this resolution: -
“That all present pledge themselves to immediate and hearty co-operation to secure for our struggling and dependent fellow countrymen, the agricultural labourers, the fullest benefits of the Labourers’ Act within our respective electoral divisions.”
He said the working out of the Act in a great measure depended on themselves. If they did not urge on farmers to assist them, the farmers might be slow to move in it. (A voice - That is right.) The labourers stood by the farmers during the last two or three years of the Land League. He thought the farmers should come forward and work this Act for the benefit of the labourers. The Act was in a great measure due to the extraordinary exertions of Mr. T.P. O’Connor. He thought many of them had the pleasure of hearing him at a Land League meeting at Allen. That was the man who brought forward this Act, which was acknowledged to be the only measure of good for Ireland. A plot of ground was to be attached to every house (A voice - They will think very bad of giving it.) He hoped when they got it when they would be contented with it. Some one in the crowd says the farmers will think badly of giving the plot of ground. He must say the farmers in that district did not benefit much by the Land Act, as they were nearly all leaseholders. He thought the farmers were willing to conform with the Act, and he hoped they would adopt it spiritedly and speedily. (Loud cheers.)
Mr. Carroll seconded the resolution which was passed.
Mr. Byrne proposed -“That an organizing and corresponding  committee (with power to add to their number) of the following gentlemen, be now appointed to take speedy and effective steps to carry out the preliminary conditions required to render operative in our midst the Labourers’ Act-a measure which we regard as an augury of future peace, contentment, and national prosperity, and highly calculated moreover to alleviate the social and domestic privations of a necessary, deserving, and long neglected class - Rev. Dr. Gowing. P.P; Rev. G.P. Gowing, Messrs. T. Fitzpatrick, P.L.G., Laurence Malone and Archibald Ritchie.”
Mr. Malone seconded the resolution. Peter Purcell, labourer, proposed -
“That we, the labourers of the parish of Kill, express our sincere gratitude to Mr. W.E. Gladstone and to the Irish party, in particular among the latter Mr. T. P. O’Connor, for espousing our cause and so effectively helping to improve our domestic and social condition; and we hereby promise to turn our newly acquired advantages to the best account by the careful practice and example of sobriety, industry, and faithful attention to our duties and to the business of our respective employers.”
He said he felt pleasure, brother labourers and gentlemen (hear, hear) in proposing the resolution. If they would look after their own interests the farmers would do their duty. It was time to get some relief. They all knew in what sort of hovels they lived, and wages, food, and clothing bad. He hoped better times were in store for them.
Patrick Halligan, labourer, had great pleasure in seconding the resolution. When they got the benefits of the labourers act they would have peace and plenty.
Dr. McEvoy proposed -“That we work together without sectarian differences for Ireland’s prosperity and peace as a united Ireland with a sympathetic and intelligent spirit of justice and compassion for the labouring poor.”
He said the labourers cottages should be vastly improved as far as sanitary arrangements were concerned. Mr. Palmer seconded the resolution, which was passed. A vote of thanks was proposed and seconded to the chairman.
The Chairman, in thanking them, said he did not feel he deserved the vote of thanks. He was convinced he was only doing his duty to the people. Whenever an opportunity arose which was suitable, he should not be wanting in assisting the people. He knew no part of Ireland which presented so desolate a spectacle as northern Kildare. He would give a few figures to show how matters stood there. In 21 townlands they had 4,8882 acres. How many houses did they think were on that extent of land? 62! And some of those were so wretched that they ought not to be called houses. He was speaking to a man last week who was living in a house with only one room, and seven children besides himself and his wife had to reside there. That man told him also that he had to walk 4 ½ miles to his work every day and the same distance back in the evening. Not very far from where they stood he could show them a house with only one room which had to accommodate twelve in family. This was a condition of things too general, he was sorry to say. There were 334 people living on the 4,882 acres. He hoped everybody by and bye would have justice and fair play. (Hear, hear). They should go home orderly and quietly and they would be pleased with the business of the day, as they had done good work. (Loud and prolonged cheering.) The meeting then separated.

A Kildare Observer report from 29 September 1883 on a large labour meeting held at Kill

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