Thursday, August 25, 2016

Big Blue Box coming to Kilcullen

An Ireland's Ancient East cycling challenge to raise funds for the Irish Heart Foundation will be in Kilcullen on 13 September, and local people are being asked to get involved, writes Brian Byrne.

The Big Blue Box Volunteer Challenge is organised by Bank of Ireland. Two groups, starting in Dundalk and Wexford respectively, will tour parts of Ireland’s Ancient East from 2-16 September. Bank of Ireland staff and members of local communities will travel by bike along the route, through 29 towns. There will be local fund-raising events in each town.

All funds raised will be matched by Bank of Ireland and will go directly to support the Irish Heart Foundation’s new Mobile Health Units.

Earlier this year the Big Blue Box was carried along the Wild Atlantic Way, raising €40,000 for the Society of St Vincent de Paul. This figure was matched by the Bank to total €80,000 given to the SVP.

Inside the Big Blue Box will be placed a symbolic item that each local community wants to share with their neighbouring town, representing local community interests or businesses. This gives each town the opportunity to raise the profile of their community with neighbouring towns.

The cycle starts on Friday 2 September, and will arrive in Kilcullen from Naas at 12pm Tuesday 13 September. The participants will leave Kilcullen at 11am Wednesday 14 September for Athy. The event will finish in Nowlan Park in Kilkenny at 12.30pm on Friday 16 September.

Local people are being asked to get involved in the fundraising and the Challenge is also looking for people to cycle local route segments. The Kilcullen committee helping out includes Liam Walker, Noel Clare, Nessa Dunlea and Steve Kinneavy.

More details of local initiatives will be posted over the coming weeks.

Josie and Friends collection for St Vincent's

The Josie Connolly and Friends annual collection and walk in aid of Alzheimer Services at St Vincent's Hospital takes place this weekend, writes Helen Dreelan, Director of Nursing at the Hospital.

The bucket collection takes place in Kilcullen this coming Saturday 27 August and the walk is on Sunday 28 August.

The proceeds from last year’s exercise have contributed hugely to the further development of the Dementia Specific Unit in St Vincent’s Hospital. The money raised this year will help with the creation of a kitchen specifically geared to patients living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Pictured collecting last year are Helen and Betty, and Josie and Nora.

Please support.

World Peace Runner in Kilcullen overnight

My amazing Japanese guest of last night, Takashige Katsuhiko, is running around the world, writes Hilary Jones Pallister.

A former Senior Secondary School Teacher, he visits schools and explains the devastation following the tsunami.

He started his adventure on May 25, 2011 and hopes to run 40,000km around the world on five continents.

He finished the first stage of Running Across the USA in 2011 from LA to NYC 5,285 km in 138 days.

He ran across Australia and New Zealand in 2013. Arriving in Ireland last Tuesday, from Glasgow after a run around the UK, he came to Kilcullen last night, on the 33rd day of his current run.

You can follow him on Facebook Peace Run Running Around the World.  His blog Lonesome Road is here.

A true gentleman.

(ED NOTE: Hilary provides Kilcullen Homestay accommodation at 2500 Conroy Park.)

Free Parenting Skills talks

The annual series of free Parenting Talks organised by the Kildare Library Service gets under way again, writes Brian Byrne, with talks on a wide range of subjects scheduled for September through November.

The talks are in libraries county-wide, but here we’ll just note those in this locality — Naas, Newbridge, Kildare and Athy. A full brochure is available from your local Library.

The series includes Mental Wellbeing and Self Care Strategies: 'You Cannot Get Water from a Dry Well”, presented by Finola Colgan from Mental Health Ireland, at Naas Library (Thursday 10 November 7pm), and Athy Library (Tuesday 15 November 7pm).

Improving your child’s social skills will be given by Dorothy Armstrong, Occupational Therapist, in Newbridge Library (Tuesday 13 September 7pm).

Anger Management and Strategies for Managing and Preventing Aggressive Behaviour will be presented by Dorothy Armstrong, Occupational Therapist, at Kildare Library (Thursday 22 September).

It’s Too loud, Too Bright, Too Tight and the Seams on my Socks Hurt! Helping Children with Sensory Processing Disorder concentrate and learn in an overwhelming world will be presented by Dorothy Armstrong, Occupational Therapist, in Athy Library (Thursday 27 September 7pm).

“Coming Out” – a talk for LGBT People and their supporters, will be presented by Michael Ryan, Author and Counsellor, at Newbridge Library (Tuesday 27 September 7pm).

Parenting: The Challenges and Rewards, will be given by John Lonergan and Caroline Crotty, at Naas Library (Tuesday 4 October 7pm).

Behavioural Therapy: Challenging Behaviour will be presented by Audrey Cully, Behavioural Consultant, in Athy Library (Tuesday 4 October 7pm).

Parenting Tips and Strategies will be presented by Dr Julie Connolly, HSE Primary Care Clinical Psychology Service, in Athy Library on Wednesdays (October 5, 12, 19 & 26 10.15am–11.45am), and by Dr Gary Collins, HSE Primary Care Clinical Psychology Service, in Newbridge Library on Wednesdays (November 9, 16, 23 & 30 10am–11.30am).

Social Networking & Cyberbullying Training will be presented by Fiona Ashe from Flashefoward Communications in Newbridge Library (Tuesday 11 October 7pm).

Yuck I’m NOT eating that! Toddler and Childhood Nutritional Challenges, will be presented by Paula Mee, Dietician, in Naas Library (Thursday 13 October 7pm).

Helping Children to be Resilient and Develop Skills to Cope with the Challenges of Life will be presented by Dr Gary Collins, HSE Primary Care Clinical Psychology Service, in Newbridge Library (Tuesday 18 October 7pm).

Parenting When Separated is presented by Martina Newe from HelpMe2Parent, in Athy Library (Tuesday 25 October 7pm).

Speakeasy — Talking to Your Children about Growing Up, will be discussed by Anita Ghafoor-Butt, Training and Development Manager, Irish Family Planning Association, in Naas Library (Thursday 27 October 7pm).

Study Skills for older children and teenagers with Dyslexia will be discussed by Dorothy Armstrong, Occupational Therapist, in Athy Library (Tuesday 18 October 7pm).

The Building Blocks of Language will be presented by Catherine Sheahan, Speech and Language Therapist, in Naas Library (Thursday 20 October 7pm).

Helping Children with Down Syndrome develop their handwriting skills will be given by Dorothy Armstrong, Occupational Therapist, in Newbridge Library (Tuesday 25 October 7pm).

Helping my child who struggles with maths (Dyscalculia), by Dorothy Armstrong, Occupational Therapist, in Naas Library (Tuesday 15 November 7pm).

Self-harming Behaviours in Young People will be presented by Marguerite Kiely, Clinical Director, Pieta House, in Naas Library (Thursday 24 November 7pm).

Continuous Professional Development Certificates of Attendance for all TTT and Let’s Talk about Parenting events in 2016 will only be given in person on the evening/day of the event. So please remember to ask for your cert before you leave as we will not be able to provide them at a later date.

For up to date details of future talks and events relating to the TTT Project please email to join our mailing list at

Attendance at all of the events is free of charge and open to everyone but advance booking is required. Please contact the library where the talk is happening to book your place.

Athy Library 059 8631144;

Kildare Town Library 045 520235;

Naas Library 045 879111;

Newbridge Library 045 448353;

Shackleton, man of Antarctica ... and south Kildare

"I deem the night a success — we ran out of chairs."

Librarian Julie O'Donoghue put it in a practical numbers context, writes Brian Byrne, but Mario Corrigan's illustrated talk last night on the life of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was also super successful both for its content and for Mario's delivery, which blended heritage and history with his own inimitable salsa of wry humour.

Some 40 people attended the National Heritage Week event in Kilcullen Community Library. An occasion which provided a picture of a man who became obsessed with the South Pole, but who also never let his obsession take over his belief that life, especially the lives of those who travelled with him, was the most important thing.

The Ernest Shackleton connection with Kildare is direct, if short-lived because his father gave up farming in Ballitore when Ernest was six and went to study to be a doctor in Trinity College Dublin. After he qualified, the family moved to London.

"There's a lot of commentary at the moment that Ernest was an Englishman," Mario noted. "But he was born in Kildare, and that makes him Irish." He showed a slide of the England Census of 1901, when Ernest was living in the household of his future father in law. "He was registered there as being from 'Ireland, Kildare', so even then it was recognised."

With deft addendums to his illustrations, Mario brought to life what might have been in another environment mere dry facts of the various Shackleton voyages — the first being part of the Robert Falcon Scott 'Discovery' expedition in 1901. It was on that trip that Ernest met Kerry man Tom Crean, who was to be an important compatriot in Shackleton's own later expeditions. "Crean was a man who had shown that he could get things done, and perhaps when you know that you're going into a tough place, you like to have your own around you."

We also heard that the explorer was no great businessman, and most of his attempts to build an income on his explorations failed. Yet he was able to persuade backers to underwrite further expeditions. Probably using the same charisma by which he led men on extremely dangerous endeavours, and maintained their spirits in what were otherwise impossible to survive situations.

This is not a place to reprise in detail Shackleton's life, exploits, and eventual death on South Georgia in the early part of his last attempt to conquer Antarctica — after which his wife Emily sent a message that he should be interred there. Rather that we should appreciate that he is an intrinsic part of the heritage of south Kildare as much as an explorer hero of Britain and the Royal Geographic Society.

The Athy Heritage Centre-Museum is building a strong section on the explorer, with the model of the 'Endeavour' that was used in a film about the man. And the currently being refurbished actual cabin where Shackleton lived and died on his last voyage is also destined for the venue. A statue of Sir Ernest is being unveiled in Athy next Tuesday by the Mayor of Kildare, Cllr Ivan Keatley, in the presence of descendants of the Shackleton family.

But in Kilcullen last night, it was the words of Mario Corrigan, along with surviving photographs and film clips of the travails of the 'Endurance' expedition, in which both Shackleton and James Crean played heroic parts in enabling the rescue of their stranded shipmates, which brought home an appreciation of a special man whom we can indeed call a local.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tidy Towns trojan work in Valley

Some views of The Valley Park where Kilcullen Tidy Towns Group have been doing some superb work recently with the help of volunteers and workers on the CES Scheme.

The refurbishment of the steps is nearly complete, and the path has been gravelled the full length, weeds have been cut back and hedges cut.

“A special thanks to Matthew, Ray, Nigel, Sean and Daire,” says Noel Clare of the Tidy Towns Group, “and of course to Celia for keeping the litter under control.”

Talk on Shackleton in Kilcullen tonight

A reminder that an illustrated talk by Mario Corrigan on ‘Ernest Shackleton - Kildare Born Hero’ will take place in the Community Library this evening, Wednesday 24 August, from 7.30pm, writes Brian Byrne.

The event marks the 100th anniversary of the rescue of the crew of the Endurance, crushed by ice on an ill-fated expedition to the South Pole.

The talk is free, and well worth coming along to. It is part of the National Heritage Week programme.

BAG season approaches

Autumn approaches, (meteorologically, at least; let's hope for an Indian Summer), which, among other things, means that the BAG summer break is coming to an end, writes Roy Thompson of the Ballymore Acoustic Gigs. Bad news if you love the summer; great news if you love live music!

The full schedule from now to Christmas is here.

We're back in business on Monday, 5 September. Back with a bang, in fact, as we kick it off with the return of the great, the inimitable, Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly! Doors open as usual at 8:30pm, with the show starting at 9pm. Admission is €12.

Spread the word, and let's pack the shop to kick off the autumn run!

See ye in Micks!