Monday, July 20, 2015

Party swings at St Brigid's Avenue

The party in St Brigid's Avenue went on well into last evening, writes Brian Byrne.

It was a great day for meeting up, old and young and in between. For swapping stories of the past and the present and still a few hopes for the future. For looking at old pictures getting some new ones to mark where are the people after 50 years who made the estate what it is today.

The individual houses were blessed for the occasion by Fr Harte, and the oldest and youngest residents — Madge Clarke and James Gaffney —got together to plant a tree to commemorate the event. The tree was presented by Sean O Fearghaill.

Kathleen Mitchell was one of the original residents, moving in when she was 27, and she welcomed everyone to the afternoon. She could remember all the details of the new house, and especially how coming to the estate meant the children of the new community had an instant playground with the green area.

Mary Kelly read out a list of those from the estate who had passed on, numbering 53 in all. She also recalled her own arrival to St Brigid's Avenue at the age of 11. "We moved in from Convent View, and the new house seemed like a mansion compared to where we had been," she said, adding that she has very happy memories of the 50 years, 'and a few sad ones too'.

Sheila Peacocke told how the estate was originally designated an extension of Nicholastown, and didn't have any name of its own. "I went in to the Council and told them I wanted it called St Brigid's Avenue," she remembered. "I don't know whether I was supposed to or not, or whether I should have applied for permission, but I did it anyhow." Sheila also listed out a number of people who had helped make the Avenue a wonderful place to be, in particular Lil Delaney, 'who had treated the estate as her personal garden, sowing plants, trimming trees, and if she wasn't able to do something herself, she'd find somebody who could'. "She was a great woman, and we remember her very fondly here today."

Vivian Clarke did MC for the day, and he provided some information about the estate's location, Bolger's Field — "they were my Granny's people" — and the fact that the houses had been built by Paddy Barrett of Ballymore, and resident Tommy Clifford worked for him. He noted that the copper canopies were made by Jim Collins in the Mill down the street. Vivian also recalled the first boy born on the estate, Jim Cardiff, and the first girl, Elizabeth Domican.

The celebration day was made possible by the combined efforts of neighbours and friends living in the estate today, with the help of a €700 grant from Kildare County Council. The marquee for the food and chairs were sourced by Ronan Murphy, and music was provided by Clifford Minehan and a variety of local musicians.

All the pictures are here.