Saturday, October 22, 2016

Postcard from another time

A cousin recently sent me a postcard he'd come across, showing a section of the Gordon Bennett Race course, near Kilcullen, writes Brian Byrne. It triggered a memory of finding a whole set of those postcards in my grandfather's things after he died.

The set of 17 was pristine, unused. We placed them in a picture frame, laid around a map of the 1903 race, and for many years that was on display in the family pub, The Hideout. Those who recall the original Hideout will know that the frame was hung in the 'Head Room', where there were also prints of other old maps of the area. The set disappeared subsequent to the sale of the premises by my late brother Des

The interesting thing about the one sent to be recently was that it had been posted on the day of the race, from Sallins to an address in Dublin. The sender makes reference to a ‘glorious day for the race' and ‘immense crowds’ out for it. "Will not know the result until evening,” he or she finished, signing off with initials that look like ’N F’.

What intrigues me is the existence of such postcards on the day of the race itself. And that shows the entrepreneurship of the publisher, William Lawrence of Dublin. Lawrence was a publisher of postcards from around the end of the 19th century into the early years of the 20th. He hired a photographer named Robert French to travel the country, taking pictures in every town and village. We're all familiar with the results, copies of which adorn walls of pubs and other premises around the country, reprints from what's known in the National Library as The Lawrence Collection. In Kilcullen, there’s a fine representative collection in Bardons Pub.

As an aside, the only reason that Collection is still here is because some caring civil servant soon after the formation of the state spotted an ad in a Dublin newspaper, offering many thousands of 'dirty' sheets of glass for sale, which could be useful after cleaning for a purpose such as a glasshouse. They were, of course, photographer French's glass negatives ... and instead of being scraped for a glasshouse, they were rescued for the nation.

Anyhow, back to the Gordon Bennett course set. They depict, as I remember, various parts of the course, then dirt roads. Typically there was a car in the picture, and a few people. In the one I reproduce above, the 'spectators' are a few young boys.

So here’s the thing. Obviously, there was no 'instant print' technology around then, so postcards couldn't be produced on the day. Lawrence, clearly a man with a nose for profit, had his photographer take the pictures well in advance of the race days, so he could have stocks to sell to the many thousands who came to enjoy the big event.

According to my cousin, he used to collect postcards and he says that Gordon Bennett ones were very rare. Interestingly, a set of 17 went for auction at a collector’s sale in 2007, with a listed price of £40-60. The British auction house is named, by concidence, Lawrences, based in Somerset.

I wonder ….

Kilcullen winner of Credit Union Bursary

Congratulations to Aoibhin Tutty Bardon from Kilcullen who was the winner of the Chris Kelly Bursary Draw 2016. Pictured here is her Dad, Tommy Bardon, accepting the cheque on her behalf.

The Chris Kelly Bursary was set up in memory of a founder of Kildare Credit Union, with which Kilcullen Credit Union recently merged.

The Bursary has been running since 2005, and is paid to the winning student in three €1,000 tranches over three years.

Sunnyhill Road issues raised

A call for the banning of heavy goods vehicles from the Sunnyhill Road was raised at the recent meeting between Kilcullen people and their local representatives, writes Brian Byrne.

It was one of a number of traffic issues which were outlined to councillors and TDs at the meeting, which was organised and hosted by Kilcullen Community Action.

"Residents will tell you that they take their lives in their hands every day on the road, which is used as a rat-run by traffic trying to avoid Kilcullen," KCA chairman Ray Kelly said, adding that speed on the route continued to be a problem, despite the positioning of a Garda car there from time to time.

The politicians were asked for the Council to consider a HGV ban, and traffic slowing measures such as speed bumps or narrowing of sections of the road.

Dangers due to the traffic lights setup in Kilcullen itself were also raised, particularly for traffic trying to turn into the Milemill Road from the south.

Mayor of Kildare Ivan Keatley said the current lights simply weren't suitable for the need and should be replaced as a matter of safety. "They need a major overhaul," he said.

Ray Kelly said that Council engineers inspecting the lights decreed them as 'working perfectly'. "If they were working perfectly, we wouldn't have the tailbacks we get through the town," he added. He also said further narrowing of the footpath at the crossroads could provide safer turning lanes.

The local representatives were also told that box junction lining was needed at a number of estate entrances, for example at Avondale. In general, road lining was a problem through the town.

A specific related issue is the lack of markings at the entrance to Market Square, which regularly had vehicles coming down the hill overshooting the turn onto the bridge and driving into the square.

Concert to aid young homeless, tonight

A reminder that a special concert in aid of Homeless Care CLG, which helps Kildare’s young homeless is taking place tonight, writes Brian Byrne. It will feature members of Horslips and special guest star Mundy

Being held in the Osprey Hotel, Naas, the event is headlined by rock and blues band Paddy Goodwin and the Holy Ghosts (above), and other guests include Reprisals.

Tickets are €15, available from or phone 087 1262561, and also from the Tuckmill Gallery and Jam Music in Naas.

Homeless Care CLG is planning to renovate and convert Jigginstown House as a residential centre for homeless young people. The centre will contain 12 one-bed units.

The organisation was set up by social care worker Paula McHale with a number of business people from the area who were concerned at the lack of resources to help homeless young people.

The long-term goals of Homeless Car CLG are to offer a comprehensive service to young people, who have been through the state care system. This includes helping to develop life and coping skills in those they assist, to enable them to reach their full potential.

The aims are also to provide suitable and secure accommodation for them, and subsequent integration into the local community with ongoing outreach support. (Pic: John Ward via Youtube.)

Kilcullen v St Patrick's, Tullow, in Newbridge today

The sign says it all, about the important Leinster quarter-final game today against St Patrick's of Carlow.

The game was originally supposed to take place in Kilcullen, but is now at St Conleth’s (County Grounds) in Newbridge, with a throw-in time of 1.30pm.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Conor is running another photography course

Local photographer Conor Williams is running another three-night Photography Course, beginning on Wednesday 2 November.

The course is over three successive Wednesday evenings from 7pm-9pm, at a total cost of €60.

Participants will learn a number of practical skills, including what the controls on a camera are for, how to create an emotional photographs, and photographic composition.

Taking photographs in different kinds of weather, and the use of different lighting setups will be discussed.

The course is aimed at people who want to learn more about photography and how to use what ever camera they have, even if it is only a camera phone.

It also provides an opportunity for those who might want to purchase a new camera to get a grounding in the fundamentals.

More information from Conor at 086 8721707.

Marion Sherlock finishes at Halverstown with best wishes

Marion Sherlock finished her last day as Principal of Halverstown NS today, writes Gerry O’Donoghue, surrounded by students and well wishers.

She was principal for ten years and received many tributes from members of the local community as she bade farewell to students, colleagues, parents and their extended families. Marion takes up her new appointment as Principal of Robertstown NS on Monday. The good wishes of the entire school community go with her.

The school is looking forward to welcoming Barry Whelan who, having until recently been on the staff of Castledermot NS, takes on the role of Principal on 7 November.

Fr Mackey shows his medal

Back from his visit to the US, Fr Niall Mackey was in Halverstown NS today, where he was persuaded to pose with his medal from the half-marathon he ran in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend.

According to Gerry O’Donoghue who met him today, and took the photos, Fr Mackey was happy with his performance. “But he wryly observed that in his ‘younger’ days he completed full marathons in less time than he completed last Sunday’s event.”

Set Dancing for Brannoxtown NS tonight

A night of Set Dancing with Syl and Liz will be held in the Cross & Passion Assembly Hall tonight, Friday 21 October, to raise funds for Brannoxtown NS.

The event is being organised by the school's PTA, and admission is €10.

Refreshments will be served, all welcome, and things get going at 9pm.

Tree trimming at Castlemartin

There's a lot going on around Kilcullen today, including tree-trimming at Castlemartin. (Brings back memories of when I was a boy playing in those woods, they certainly weren't anything as neat as they are today. BB)

Water leak in Logstown

There was a mains water leak in Logstown this morning. And the work on Hillside footpaths continues.(Pics Jay Lambert-Mills above and Martin Heydon below.)

Greenshine in the BAG

It's been a long time coming, but I'm delighted to finally welcome Greenshine to BAG on Monday 24 October, writes Roy Thompson of the Ballymore Acoustic Gigs.

Greenshine is a family band made up of guitarist/singer Mary Greene, her multi-instrumentalist husband, Noel Shine, and their daughter Ellie, who is blessed with a beautiful voice.

Their material straddles the boundaries of contemporary, folk and roots and includes many self-penned songs. Their fast picking and close harmonies are a treat to the ear.
Their current album — 'The Girl In The Lavender Dress' — was released in the summer, and the spell-binding title track has been receiving much airplay.

Doors open at 8:30pm. Admission is €12

Coming next: 

31/10 — No Gig
7/11 — B & The Honey Boy (aka The Remedy Club) — Up-Tempo Blues/roots duo.
14/11 — The 4 of Us — Acoustic incarnation of 80's Irish super group. Signature songs like 'Mary' and 'Drag My Bad Name Down'
21/11 — Jeff Finlin/Peter Bruntnell/Clive Barnes — expect outstanding 'alt-country' songwriting, and musicianship — from U.S./U.K/IRL, respectively.
28/11 — John Blek — Solo show from this young Cork songwriter, making huge waves with his band — John Blek and The Rats. Second solo release just out.
5/12 — I Draw Slow — Top flight Irish Trad/roots/Americana band, making their BAG debut.
Friday 9/12 — 6th Annual 'Vibe for Larry'.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ireland and Brexit, 'not as easy as people believe'

Last Monday's meeting in Kildare about the implications of Brexit brought together business owners and advisers from the county to both hear from the political front and voice their own concerns, writes Brian Byrne.

Hosted by the FG deputy for Kildare South, Martin Heydon TD, the meeting was addressed by Minister Simon Coveney and former Fine Gael party leader and EU expert Alan Dukes.

The latter said a 'soft' Brexit is 'imperative' for Ireland, as there is a combined level of trade of €7bn between the two countries.

Minister Coveney spoke of the complexity of the issue with politics, EU direction, and business all intertwined. "He believes we need to stay close to both the UK and the EU as the negotiations get under way to ensure the best deal for Ireland," Deputy Heydon said afterwards, "He stressed that getting a special treatment for Ireland will not be as easy as some people believe."

Maureen Bergin, Retail Director at Kildare Village, said that Kildare businesses needed to work together to keep a sense of value for the UK visitor who has now seen a 20-25pc increase in the cost of their trip to Ireland.

There were also representatives from Kildare IFA and local cereal growers, who highlighted the risks and challenges for Kildare farmers from the current uncertainty. Representatives from both Kildare South and North Chamber business organisations were also at the meeting.

Deputy Heydon noted the additional structures that the Government has put in place to strengthen Ireland's response to Brexit, with a special cabinet committee, a second secretary general in the Department of the Taoiseach, and additional resources to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Pictured are Martin Heydon, Minister Coveney and Alan Dukes.

Flowers down, next it's Christmas lights

The Christmas Lights Committee is seeking support from businesses and individual contributors for the second stage of its 2-year plan to complete a full set of new lights for the festive season, writes Brian Byrne.

A sub-committee of Kilcullen Community Action, the Committee has expressed its appreciation for the effort last year, which was very successful thanks to businesses, Kildare County Council, and the community response to the street collection.

On its Facebook page, the Committee says it would really appreciate help again this year to help fund the second phase of Christmas lights for the town. "If every business could please contribute €50 and residents support the street collection would certainly be a fantastic help," Antoinette Buckley of the Committee says.

Businesses will be canvassed in the first week of November and a street collection date will be confirmed later.

The Kilcullen Christmas Lights 2015 project cost a total of €13,115. Income for the project totalled €11,885, comprising €5,885 provided by local businesses, a grant of €5,000 from Kildare County Council, and proceeds of a street collection of €1,091.

The biggest expenditure was the purchase of new lighting systems from Newpark Electrical totalling €12,055, electricity charges of €450, the Christmas tree at €120, insurance premium of €240 and miscellaneous costs of €250.

The deficit of €1,230 was absorbed by Kilcullen Community Action.

The bulk of the work installing the lights was carried out by volunteers.

Fr Niall runs Columbus half-marathon

Fr Niall Mackey took part on Sunday in the annual marathon in Columbus, Ohio, USA, writes Brian Byrne.

Local people may have noticed our parish administrator going for runs in recent months, which was him getting in shape to take up marathon running again after a break of some years.

In Columbus, Fr Niall did the half-marathon of 13.1 miles, and completed it in a time of 3hrs, 23m, 13s. Our picture is a screen grab from the official video of him crossing the line.

There were six men in his 75-79 age class, and in all more than 10,000 people took part in the event, which over the last five years has raised some $4.5m for Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Youth Club Halloween Disco

A Halloween Fancy Dress Disco is being run as a fundraiser by Kilcullen Youth Club (KiYC).

It will be held in the Community Centre on 28 October, with the 4-8 years session from 4.30-6pm and the 9-12 years one between 6.30-8.50pm.

The entry fee for both is €5, and all participants will receive a goodie bag.

CPC Parents Association AGM

The AGM of the Cross & Passion College Parents Association will be held on Monday next, 24 October, at 7.30pm.

All parents are welcome to the event, which will be held in the College.

'Fly the Rags flag' reminder

Kilcullen GAA has called on all businesses in the town to 'fly the Rags flag' this week in advance of an important Leinster quarter-final game this Saturday against St Patrick's of Carlow.

The club has decorated the town in the last few days, but wants Main Street businesses to put up black and white bunting, flags, or anything else in the colours to show the town means business in the game.

"Flags can be bought in the Value Zone shop beside the Post Office at reasonable prices," a spokesperson wrote on the club's Facebook page. "You will also be supporting a fellow local business.

"A thank you as well to those that have already placed flags and bunting outside their businesses, we really appreciate the support!"