Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Parish Lotto Draw

The numbers drawn in the Kilcullen & Gormanstown Parish Lotto Draw held on Tuesday 9th February 2015 were 3, 15, 28 and 30. There was no Jackpot winner, and next week's main prize will be €4,000.

The winners of the €50 Open Draws were Jim Broughall (Promoter Anne Brennan), Siobhán Thompson (Ethna Dempsey) and Marie Aspell (Anne Brennan).

The winners of the Promoters Draw were Anne Brennan and PJ Lydon and the winner of the Draw for those in the Parish Centre on the night was Anne Corrigan.

The Parish thanks all those who support the Lotto.

Demolition crew in to Teach project

No stopping them now! It took a long time to get in, but the crew of volunteers behind the Teach na nDaoine project are already raising dust and knocking walls, writes Brian Byrne.

After an initial meeting to discuss plans last night, they were in full tilt today. "There are a lot of people interested in helping with this, so we needed to get going straight away," says Albert Keenan, pictured above after his morning's toil with a sledge-hammer.

Another prime mover for the Teach, John Brady, was also on duty this morning, but had gone in search of materials when the Diary got up there to record progress. We'll be keeping all our readers up to date as it goes on.

Today, craft & fashion; tomorrow, building & barbering

A coffee morning and decoupage display held this morning at J & A Shabby Chic introduced Fianna Fail general election candidate Cllr Fiona O'Loughlin to a number of local ladies, writes Brian Byrne.

The event was co-hosted by the shop's owners Antoinette Buckley and Jennifer Monahan, and also incorporated a display of fashion from neighbouring shop Secret Kloset, operated by Shirley Kavanagh Hallion.

Cllr O'Loughlin is hosting a seminar on job opportunities at Ryston Social Club tomorrow night, 10 February from 8pm. It will concentrate on the shortage of skilled labour to the construction trade, as well as outlining opportunities for hairdressing, barbering and beauty.

Speakers will include Brenda Lynch, Adult Education Officer with Kildare & Wicklow Education Training Board (KWETB), and beauty career expert Aileen Maher. All welcome.

Reminder: Drama Group AGM this week

A reminder that Kilcullen Drama Group will be holding their AGM on this coming Thursday 11 February, in the Town Hall Theatre.

All current members of both the Youth Theatre and the adult Drama Group are asked to attend.

New members are especially welcome, and anyone wishing to join should come along on the night.

Membership fees are €5 for an adult, €2 for u/18 Youth Theatre.

Spring 2016 – Kilcullen Property Update

Kilcullen is a very desirable place to live.
It's Spring already — Christmas is a distant memory and we at Appleton Property are busy valuing property for the upcoming sales season, writes Austin Egan. In order to value property accurately we must look closely at what happened in the local market in 2015 and assess what is happening now and how it may impact on values at present and in the immediate future.

2015 was a strong year nationwide for property sales and despite the restricting influence of the new mortgage rules introduced, the market continued to move forward. 2016 and the post-election environment will most likely see some further changes to mortgage lending practices and it is likely some incentives for first time buyers will emerge.

The fundamentals for Kilcullen remain unchanged. Demand continues to outstrip supply. We simply don’t have enough houses in Kilcullen to meet the demand from those who want to live here. Kilcullen is a very desirable location. Throughout the year we are speaking to people who just love the feel of the town and want to live in the town itself, or in the surrounding countryside.

The size of the town is a very attractive feature for many who are looking for a nice safe place to settle, integrate, socialise, and raise their families.

Kilcullen has enviable facilities which are literally second to none. Our buyers see the Sports Complex, the GAA, Pitch & Putt, AFC & Astro-Turf, Scout Den, Boxing Club, all the Playing Fields, New Playground, extended and renovated Primary & Secondary Schools, other Educational options within easy reach, River-side and Country Walks, Motorway Access, no Traffic Lights at all onto the M50, a short drive to Newbridge Park and Ride Rail Link to Dublin. All this, on the periphery of our lovely town with its friendly pubs and renowned restaurants, world class butchers ,the pharmacy, doctors surgeries, supermarket, convenience stores, petrol stations, coffee shops, hairdressers, craft shops, shoe-makers, saddlery, post office, professional service providers and all the many elements required to have a fully functioning town.

In 2015 many of our buyers were Kilcullen natives moving house within the community, some trading up and some trading down. There is also a good level of investor activity given the low quantity of rental property in the town and the consequent rental levels providing a strong yield for investors.


In 2016 we expect stronger results than what was a very successful year in 2015. You can benefit from our performance. Choosing us as your local agent will ensure you have a dedicated agent at your service with complete knowledge of the area. Look no further than your local agent to sell or rent your home.

Austin Egan is Managing Director of Appleton Property, Main St. Kilcullen, 045 482 759.


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Thoughts on the bridge

We take it for granted in Kilcullen today, but the bridge that links the two sides of the town and what was once the main road south from Dublin has a long history, writes Brian Byrne.

Before it was put in place, the 'real' town was what's now Old Kilcullen, the principal houses and street — outside the original monastic settlement — being down along the green area below the tower, a commonage now fenced off to prevent illegal encampments.

It made sense that the town be a little away from the river, and on a height. It was easier to defend a height than a valley, and there were Viking marauders who were very capable of plundering their way a long distance upriver. Indeed, the records show the monastery town being attacked by the same Vikings on at least two occasions in the 900s. We can presume that there was a ford over the river at that time, which would indicate to the raiders that there might be rich pickings within short marching distance. Of course, once they'd get to the top of the valley on the south side, the round tower of Old Kilcullen would be readily visible, and attractive. The raiders are recorded as having taken a thousand prisoners, a reflection of the importance of Old Kilcullen at the time.

By the early 14th century, the level of traffic to and from Dublin to the south was growing. A canon of Kildare Cathedral, Maurice Jakis, undertook to build a stone bridge at Kilcullen. We don't know a great deal about him, except that he is described as a 'master' and he knew stone, so it can be deduced that he had the skills. It seems also that he had funds, because there's a reference to his 'munificence' in providing the bridge. He may have had bishop status, as he is described as a 'prelate' in a Chronicle of 1577 by Hollingshed. Anyhow, he had the job done in 1319, sowing the seeds for the shifting of the Kilcullen's centre of gravity from the hill to the river.

We don't have any further description of that first bridge, though it became important enough to be destroyed by the Irish in the religious war triggered by the Rebellion of 1641 against England's attempts to turn the country Protestant. If we want to imagine what it looked like, Maurice Jakis also built the bridge at Leighlinbridge in Co Carlow, still in use today.

The Kilcullen bridge was gone by 1644 when a detachment of British soldiery is recorded as having had to cross the Liffey by the ford at Athgarvan. There is also a French traveller's description in the same year of having 'dined at Kilcolin Bridge, where ends the English ground'. The group swam over the river 'with much trouble, carrying our clothes upon our heads'.

Sometime in the next decade, a new bridge was built at Kilcullen, and it is mentioned in the Down Survey of 1656. The six-arched edifice with which we are familiar today was described as 'handsome' by the writer WR Chetwood in 1748, and another French visitor remarked on it in 1790. There's a sketch of it (above) from 1795 by Sir William Smith and a description from 1837 as the structure having 'an interesting and venerable appearance'.

And a little gem in Bardons Pub is a print from an original engraving of the bridge by J Greig, with people fishing and washing clothes, from the perspective of what would be today the end of the Valley across from the Canoe Club. The original drawing is by the celebrated Irish artist George Petrie, and the engraving was produced for 'Excursions Through Ireland', a book published by Longman and Company in 1820, authored by Thomas Kitson Cromwell. The version in Bardons, unlike the original held by the National Library, is tinted.

Looking close, Petrie's drawing depicts parts of the bridge looking dilapidated, and it may well have been refurbished around 1850, as that's the date given to it by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. There's also a photograph (above) in the British Royal Collection Trust, presented to Edward VII when Prince of Wales by Captain Edward Dyne Fenton of the 86th (Royal County Down) Regiment of Foot, on or around 1861.

A pair of paintings by local artist Richard Murphy, between 1938 to 1946, give us impressions of the complete bridge from a downstream aspect, and part of it leading onto the market square from upstream.



This writer has a strong recall of the bridge before it was widened in the early 1970s, at which time the current mass concrete face of the upstream side was left exposed when a parallel connected bridge was constructed (picture above courtesy of Geraldine Nugent). There was a commitment then that the original stone facing would be replaced, but this was never done. Prior to the widening, there were no footpaths, and it was something of an adventure for pedestrians to get across at busy traffic times.

The view from downstream at the top of this piece still shows elements of what the 19th century possibly refurbished bridge was like, and it would be a great service by the local authority if that original commitment to restore the upstream facing were to be honoured. Possibly the original stones are languishing in some Council depot, their origin forgotten.

Environmental project, anyone?

Monday, February 08, 2016

Work on Teach na nDaoine gets under way

The Teach Na nDaoine Committee — Noel Clare, John Brady, Liz Maloney, Steve Kinneavy, Albert Keenan, Jacinta Sully and Deputy Martin Heydon.
The work on Kilcullen's Teach Na nDaoine project is now getting under way in earnest, with the committee getting a close look last week for the first time at what has to be done, writes Brian Byrne.

"We have decided on a deadline of June to get it opened," says Albert Keenan, who thought up the idea along with Jacinta Sully, John Brady and Steve Kinneavy.

The project has been strongly supported by local TD Martin Heydon, whose knowledge of the ins and outs of officialdom has helped move things forward on a number of occasions.

The building comprises three main rooms, a toilet, and a small kitchen area. A wall between two of the rooms will be taken out to provide a larger space.

Cleaning, repainting and general refurbishment is an urgency. If anyone is interested in helping, you can contact Deputy Heydon, Jacinta Sully, Albert Keenan, Steve Kinneavy or any committee member.





Hazel lands another book deal

Kilcullen-based author Hazel Gaynor has just signed another two-book deal with her publisher, HarperCollins, writes Brian Byrne.

This adds significantly to her body of work which already includes two New York Times Best Seller novels published on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as a WW1 anthology — 'Fall of Poppies' — to which she contributed a novella coming out next month in both the US and here and the UK. Also, her third novel, 'The Girl from The Savoy', will be published this summer.

The new book scheduled for spring of next year is set both in Yorkshire and Dublin, and is based on a true story of two girl cousins who became famous in 1917 for apparently having taken photographs of fairies — the Cottingley Fairies.

The second book in the new deal is a collaboration with one of the other writers in the 'Poppies' anthology, and is also set at the end of the first World War.

Read the full story in Tuesday's Kildare Nationalist, from an extensive interview conducted with Hazel last week.

Narraghmore Reserve secures Coillte agreement

Ballitore Game and Wildlife Conservation Association (BGWCA) has concluded a deal with Coillte for the future Management and Development of the Narraghmore Bog Nature Reserve, for biodiversity improvement.

The Ballitore Game and Wildlife Conservation Association will now progress with its development programme including wildlife ponds, nature trails, and habitat development for its members and neighbouring communities to enjoy into the future.

“The nature reserve is a fantastic local amenity for adults and children alike," says Deputy Martin Heydon, who has worked to achieve this agreement. "It has been used by both local schools and scout groups for education and recreational purposes. This is a great example of a State Body, in Coillte, supporting and working with a local conservation organisation in preserving and developing an amenity for future generations to enjoy."

The Narraghmore Nature Reserve was officially opened in 2015 by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for Forestry Tom Hayes, pictured above with Martin Heydon TD and members of the local committee at the event.

Sunday morning refreshments

Members of Kilcullen Youth Club (KiYC) organise tea after mass on Sundays in Kilcullen Parish Centre.