Monday, August 21, 2017

Flowers vandalised in the night

This is what someone thought was clever on their way home last night — vandalising some of the lovingly-tended flower boxes at Hillcrest. The CCTV footage should be interesting ...

Live and learn — the Grasshopper Warbler

Did you know that there is a bird called a Grasshopper? writes Brian Byrne.

Well, I didn’t until I perused the sign at the Main Street entrance to The Valley Park earlier this year, which signposts the bird life along the river in Kilcullen.

The Grasshopper is a warbler, and rarely seen. But he is one of the no less than 21 bird species resident along the banks of the Liffey which can be walked by the general public in Kilcullen.

The sign, erected by Kilcullen Community Action with the help of grants from Kildare County Council and the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund, also notes three other types of bird which are regular visitors to the area.

A number of other local information signs are at the completed design stage and will be installed in due course.

They are based on information gathered in the course of the Biodiversity Survey 2013 which was commissioned by KCA and produced with the help of Leader.

KWWSPCA Wag and Bone Dog Show

The 15th annual Wag and Bone Dog Show organised by the Kildare West Wicklow SPCA will be held on 17 September.

The Show is held in the parade ring of Punchestown Racecourse. Every type of dog welcome, especially rescue dogs.

More details to come closer to the event.

Date for Kilcullen launch of Hazel's latest book

Local author Hazel Gaynor’s latest book will be launched in Kilcullen in Woodbine Books on Friday 15 September, writes Brian Byrne.

The Cottingley Secret is published by HarperCollins and is Hazel’s fourth historical novel. She has also contributed to Fall of Poppies, an anthology of short stories set in WW1, and a jointly-written WW1 romantic novel with American author Heather Webb, Last Christmas in Paris, will launch in October.

The Kilcullen launch will be at 7pm, and signed copies can be reserved by calling 045 482777. The book was launched in the US on 1 August.

Hazel is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Good turnout to local Liffey fishing competition

Kilcullen Trout and Salmon hosted the 2017 Liffey Shield competition today on the club's waters, writes Simon Dann of the KTSAA. Despite the bad weather a good day was had by all.

Fishing was hard all day with reports of fish being reluctant to rise to dry fly. Many thanks to the 20 anglers that took part, representing five clubs — Kilcullen Trout and Salmon, North Kildare Trout & Salmon Anglers Association, Clane Trout, Kilbride Trout and Dublin Trout. A huge thank you to all who helped out with the event, Eurospar Kilcullen, Kilcullen Town Hall and Kilcullen Canoe Club.

The winning team on the day was Kilcullen Trout and Salmon, comprising Simon Dann, Bobby Murphy, Mick Dillon and Seamus O'Neill.

Our picture shows the members of the five clubs after the event in Kilcullen Heritage Centre, where refreshments were served and the prizes presented.

Kilcullen at Relay for Life

Martin Heydon TD joined the Kilcullen Team at the weekend's Relay for Life event at Punchestown Racecourse.

The event continues until 3pm today, Sunday.

(Pic via Martin's Facebook page.)

Kilcullen is County Kildare's Enterprising Town entrant

River Festival — one of Kilcullen's enterprising initiatives.
Kilcullen has been entered as the County Kildare representative in the Bank of Ireland Enterprising Town Awards which will be announced in November, writes Brian Byrne.

It’s the second year of the Awards, and Kilcullen was nominated by Kildare County Council to the competition, which has a total prize fund of €110,000, of which the overall winner collects €23,000.

Regional winners and runners-up will receive €3,000 and €2,000 respectively, and three National category winners will receive a further €5,000. The overall winner gets €15,000 plus whatever it has collected already.

Judging of Kilcullen will take place on 1 September and will be in the form of a presentation to the judges, followed by a walk through the town to show off examples of its enterprising characteristics.

Points are awarded in six areas which show examples of local enterprise initiatives, the attractiveness of the town, collaborations with business and local authorities, forward thinking and planning, the community support of business, services and local organisations, and recognition that the town has received in the past.

Kilcullen’s positioning in the competition is in the medium 3,001-7,000 population category.

A number of Kilcullen groups, including Kilcullen Community Action/Tidy Towns, are currently planning the presentation, in association with County Kildare Chamber which is managing the entry on behalf of Kildare County Council.

Last year’s entry for Kildare was Maynooth.

In April 2016, Kilcullen was chosen as an Enterprise Town in the BofI programme, which resulted in the promotion of over 100 business and community groups in a weekend of Expos.

Heritage Week talk on Sallins-Tullow Railway

One of the National Heritage Week events of interest to Kilcullen people will be the talk in Ballymore on the Sallins to Tullow Railway line, writes Brian Byrne.

It will be given by John O’Brien, who lived in the station master’s house at Harristown Station, which was located in the Harristown Estate.

The talk is at 8pm on Saturday 26 August, in the Ballymore Eustace Community Centre.

Work on the line began in March 1883 and was completed as far as Baltinglass in the autumn of 1885. The line to Tullow opened in June 1886. The entire route from Sallins to Tullow had intermediate stations at Naas, Harristown, Dunlavin, Colbinstown, Grangecon, Baltinglass and Rathvilly. The last passengers were carried in January 1947 and the line was finally closed in spring 1959.

Your editor attended a similar talk by historian Liam Kenny in 2011 as part of the Brannockstown Festival, and it was fascinating. John O’Brien’s presentation should be equally absorbing.

Premiere School of Dancing autumn term

The Premiere School of Dancing will open its Autumn Term on 9 September, writes Brian Byrne.

Suitable for children aged from 3½ years upwards who want to learn ballet, tap and theatrecraft, the School is now also offering a ‘Tap and Tone’ programme for people in their teens and twenties. This offers fun and exercise for all levels of expertise from beginners to returners.

Contact 045 485369, 086 4116266.

Pictures from the BofI Enterprise Town Community Expo in April 2016.

Hillcrest Summer Barbecue

It was all fun, food and bouncing yesterday at the annual Hillcrest Summer Barbecue, as these pics by Pat Foley clearly show.

All the pics can be seen by clicking here.

Lipsync for cancer research

A lipsync X Factor night in The Spout on 15 September will raise funds for cancer research.

Mick Dillon is looking for volunteers to take part.

Leave your name in The Spout if interested.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Swans on parade

Happened on Sean and Siobhan Swan this morning as they were taking the peek-a-boo sun near the bridge with their two cygnets (apparently a third is missing since the other day), writes Brian Byrne.

Only had the small camera with me, but grabbed what I could.

Nice to see them out.

There's a bounce in Ray's business

A bit over three years ago, Ray de Courcy of Kilcullen had no idea of the kind of bounce his life was going to take, writes Brian Byrne. Then, working at the time with Kilcullen Community Action on Tidy Towns projects, he took a punt on the offer of three surplus to requirements bouncy castles from a friend in the business down the country.

"I had no idea whether there was a market for them around this area," he recalls. "But I advertised them as being available for family events, such as birthdays, first communions and confirmations."

And, in business fairytale style, the interest 'exceeded all my expectations', he says. Which encouraged him to invest in a few more units for the following summer. "Again, the business exceeded all my expectations, so for this year I had 11 units available, and for next year I'm expecting to have 15 available and I imagine that will satisfy the demand in my community."

That kind of growth will impose a strain on any new small business. In Ray's case, the strain was on the family car, an ageing Volvo pulling a trailer to deliver the bouncy attractions to his growing base of customers. So recently he invested in a not-so-new Ford Transit van, and that has transformed the logistics of the business.

"It's not just making it easier to deliver the castles, it has become a travelling billboard for me," he says. "The very first day I had the signs put on the van, by FX Signs in Naas, I got a phone call from a mother who had seen it parked in Kilcullen. And now I'm regularly getting business on the basis of people seeing it going somewhere."

It's a seasonal attraction, usually beginning around April and going through the autumn. "In fact, if the weather is good, September and October can be the busiest months. Then, through the winter, I've been moving the castles indoors, at Kilcullen Community Centre. That keeps things ticking over."

By nature a gregarious character, Ray likes his new business as much for the opportunity it gives him to meet new people as for its contribution to maintaining his family. And over the three years, he has developed a big number of regular customers, thanks largely to his personal involvement in the booking and supply. He has a Facebook page and a web-site — — and the initial enquiry can be made there. "After that, I'm the contact point throughout the process."

While Kilcullen itself was obviously the initial base, Ray will provide castles to most anywhere in Kildare and West Wicklow. "It's really depending on how far I have to travel, and anywhere within about 45 minutes of Kilcullen will be fine."

On the safety of the whole bouncy castle thing, which did get some adverse publicity some years ago, Ray is confident in the latest generation of the attractions. "They're fully enclosed, much sturdier and there are different styles of them, including slides, obstacle courses and disco domes. There's also the importance of guidelines, which we give to every customer, about how they should manage the use of the castles on their property."

Those guidelines are all basic common sense. Such as keeping the same age groups playing on the units at any time, and never leaving them unsupervised. "It's like having children over for any activity in your garden, you simply don't leave them to their own devices, because you have responsibility for them."

If you want to say hello to Kilcullen's newest bouncing entrepreneur, he'll have his Super Slide at the upcoming Kilcullen River Festival.

This article was first published in The Kildare Nationalist.