Monday, May 20, 2019

Councillor 'battles' for local area funds

An inequality in funding because of Kilcullen and other areas being added to the Newbridge LEA is being contested by an independent candidate and sitting Newbridge councillor, Morgan McCabe. He says a 'battle' has to be fought to get the funds.

"When you were moved into our much larger MD with Two Mile House, Caragh, Brannockstown and Gilltown, the Naas MD never sent any funding with you," he says in A Letter to Kilcullen this week, welcoming the residents of the town to their new area. "They kept it for themselves and their much smaller district. Our MD is now 60,000 versus Naas MD with 29,000 — with exactly the same budget allocation. Very fair of them!"

Cllr McCabe says he saw this coming for a long time and submitted a motion from Naas Municipal District to the full Council meeting at the end of April demanding fund allocations to cover Kilcullen and the other new towns added to the district.

"It is important to me that all towns in our district continue to have the same funding as before. This however isn’t guaranteed and a battle has to be fought over this. I have fired the first salvo and as a result this request has been sent the budget committee for review in September. This could also impact community funding outside of LPT and I have made this known to the Council also."

Cllr McCabe lives in Newbridge and his family have lived in Newbridge for generations. His grandparents lived in Kilcullen and his mother Noreen McCabe (nee Guiney) went to school in Kilcullen.

“I’m passionate about law and order, climate change, animal welfare, and most of all helping people in need,” he says. “Advocating for people in distressed situations is my most important job as a councillor. I’m a key member of the committees that bring the Newbridge Christmas Lights, St Patrick's Day Parade, and I am a past President and current member of the local Lions Club. I am a hands-on community worker.

“My main skills are based around seeking creative solutions to problems and I am a rational, calm and skilful negotiator at getting things done. I promise you that I will work hard for the people of Kilcullen.”

Find out more about what Cllr McCabe has done and what he hopes to achieve in the next Council on his Facebook page.

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Camp Kilcullen Summer Camp

The Camp Kilcullen summer camp this year will run from 1-5 July, with sessions from 10am-2pm in Scoil Bhride.

The cost is €75 per child, with discounts available for siblings.

Sport, music and dance, art, crafts and baking will feature on the programme, and there will also be a Kilcullen's Got Talent competition as well as a water balloon battle.

Organised by teachers Odhran Lloyd, Róisín McNairney, and Muiris Ó’Raoghaill, the emphasis will be on fun in a safe and familiar environment.

The Camp will cater for all boys and girls of primary school age, and their cousins and friends are welcome to participate.

For further information, phone 087 2141180. An application form can be downloaded here.

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'Ring around the Ring Barrow' event on Thursday

An innovative way of creating awareness of the archaeologically important Ring Barrow at Old Kilcullen hopes to organise a human chain around the ancient burial site next Thursday evening, writes Brian Byrne.

The ‘Ring around the Ring Barrow’ idea is being led by Pat Griffin, a member of the Old Kilcullen Area Community Association with a deep interest in local heritage, and Gerry O’Donoghue who has a long-standing passion for Old Kilcullen and its history

The formation of the ‘ring’ will start at 7.30pm, and the organisers hope there will be enough people there to outline the shape and extent of the site and also represent the community’s determination to respect and preserve it.

Everybody with an interest in the area and its heritage is welcome and those attending are advised to wear footwear suitable for rough ground.

The event will include a talk by Gerry O’Donoghue on the ring barrow, as part of the Kilcullen 700 celebration year.

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Ger takes top spot in golf competition

Congratulations to Kilcullen golfer Ger Peacocke on winning the Andy Nolan Intermediate Scratch Cup at The Royal Curragh Golf Club yesterday, writes James Nolan.

Andy would have been thrilled to see Ger win, and well done to Alan Kenny for his third place in the Minor Scratch Cup.

Meanwhile, Team SKY Cycling move over — here come Paul Dunne and Paul Fitzsimons, Team Nolan’s of Kilcullen, at Foothill’s Cycling Race in Naas.

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Naas Tidy Towns helps Kilcullen in Bloom

Kilcullen in Bloom last year.
Kilcullen Tidy Towns is getting five planter stands on 'long term loan' from Naas Tidy Towns, writes Brian Byrne.

The recent Kilcullen Community Action meeting was told by Pat Mangan that the planters were now available for collection, at no cost, following discussions with Cllr Seamie Moore and the Naas group.

Ann Cashman welcomed the news, which comes as preparations for this year's Kilcullen in Bloom initiative are reaching the point of installing the window boxes and planters.

She noted that some of the existing planter boxes around town are in poor shape. "The ones at Hillcrest are hanging by a thread," she said.

The group has arranged for planting flowers in the window-boxes on Saturday 25 May, and all members are invited to help out on the day. "It's family-friendly, bring the children along if you want," Ann said. "We had a great bit of craic doing it last year."

Up to 200 boxes and baskets need to be planted, and it was noted that they may not be all done on the one day.

A suggestion that peat-free compost be used is being considered, subject to availability.

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Andy Steed and Matt Hughes have been home

Andy Steed and Becky.
Some of Kilcullen’’s ‘wild geese’ have been home over recent days, and touched base with the Diary through which they maintain a connection with where they came from, writes Brian Byrne.

We met Andy Steed in Kilcullen Heritage Centre yesterday morning, with his friend Becky. They live in Clearwater in Florida, and Andy left Kilcullen in 1967.

He was impressed with the Volvo leather seats in the Town Hall Theatre, which are a far cry from the hard stool 'cheap seats' in the cinema there when he was growing up.

“We used to run out in the interval to McCarthy’s sweet shop beside the bank,” he recalled, and also remembered getting 4d (pennies in old old money, when 12 of them made a shilling) each day when at school to have a cup of tea in The Hideout to go with his lunch sandwiches.

Your editor was also called over to a car which pulled in while I was walking downtown on Friday, driven by Matt Hughes who has been back on this side of the world from Australia for a wedding.

We had already flagged the planned arrival of both Andy and Matt, thanks to word from Jim Greenway in New Zealand, who is also coming this way in June.

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Pendant found in Kilcullen

Did you lose a pendant three months ago? The item was handed in to Kilcullen Post Office at the time, found on the floor in front of a service window.

It has silver and gold and gemstone features, and may have slipped off a chain that opened or broke.

Contact Pam or Carmel in the Post Office if you think it's yours.

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Kilcullen Pollinator Project in full flight

Jason Aspell, KCA chairman Ray Kelly, Paul Leighton and Noel Clare.
The launch of the Kilcullen Pollinator Project today was much more than that potentially dry description, writes Brian Byrne.

Part of the Kilcullen Tidy Towns/KCA Programme for 2019 and beyond, the initiative led by local beekeeper Paul Leighton provided a fascinating insight into the importance of bees to our everyday life, and even to the future of the planet.

“If the bees aren’t here, will we not be here too?” The question from a child at the launch presentation was blunt, as children’s questions on such issues can be, untainted by political obfuscation.

“We will be,” Paul reassured her. “But we wouldn’t have as much to eat. Or as many different things.”

That set the tone for half an hour or so of his presentation, because it was significant that most of the questions asked in the Town Hall Theatre were from children. That may be a lesson for those of us in the present and passing generations. The future is for the children. And they are worried.

Paul explains a detail of bee activity to Ray Kelly.
But there is hope, in that there’s much this generation can still do to slow the current decline in the populations of bees and other pollinators. It may only happen at very local levels, but if enough small communities play their part it can have a global effect.

The Kilcullen Pollinator Project highlights the importance of the Native Brown Irish Honey Bee. Partly because it is the focus of Paul Leighton’s personal passion, and partly because Ireland is the only place in Europe where this particular kind of bee is still primary.

“We are in the position where we could be reintroducing this bee to Europe,” he told those at the launch, but with the caveat that neither Ireland or the EU have any regulatory policies about the spread of non-native bees.

A variety of pollinator insects are crucial to the life cycle of crops, and the Native Brown Irish Honey Bee is part of Ireland’s heritage, he said. He outlined the challenges it faces — the impact of environmental changes and habitat destruction, ‘hybridisation’ and competition through the importation of non-native bees which also bring in parasites, and the negative effects of pesticide and chemicals use in gardens and agriculture.

On the positive side he illustrated the Kilcullen project supported by KCA, how the new community beehives — one bought, one constructed by local carpenter Jason Aspell — had been decorated by Scoil Bhride pupils.

He detailed the various stages of the development of the hives as bee colonies, one already at work, in a secure local location.

A description of how bee colonies operate proved to be both fascinating and an insight into an extraordinarily disciplined life of one of our important planet companions. Worker bees, queens, and drones operate in a complex and very ordered society.

Paul’s presentation included information on the benefits of honey to human health, as well as that of other useful byproducts from honey production. The enjoyment he gets personally from beekeeping was clear, but he also counselled those interested to be sure to do a beekeeping course with one of the local associations before plunging into doing it themselves.

Undoubtedly the most important advice of the morning was about what we can all do to help bees and other pollinators continue their critical role in maintaining the planet Earth as a viable place for humankind.

Planting pollinator-friendly flowers, shrubs, and trees are part of that. A small but very useful idea is to retain part of home gardens unmown, allowing growth of grasses and wildflowers which nourish bees and other life.

The work of Kilcullen Tidy Towns/KCA in this was also noted, including allowing grass verges on approaches and in estates to grow wild until now so that pollinator-friendly ‘weeds’ like dandelions are available to foraging bees.

Paul showed a map centred in Kilcullen which illustrated the 3km range of bees from the new community hives in Kilcullen. It takes in a very large area of the town’s hinterland.

The plan for the project includes growing a second hive colony to an ability to survive next winter. Schools and other groups are also invited to visit the hives, by appointment, This will encourage full community involvement and other local beekeeping initiatives.

By next summer, the project is expected to be producing a significant amount of honey which will be sold in aid of local charities.

Paul Leighton hopes that Kilcullen’s lead will become a model for other communities to imitate.

The launch event concluded with a group visit to the community hive location to observe the bees in action.

This is National Biodiversity Week. Kilcullen is doing its bit.

(This article was updated to correct Jason Aspell's surname, which had been inadvertently reported as Doyle.) 

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Murty Aspell hopes for ‘historic’ election for Kilcullen

Fianna Fail candidate for re-election to the Newbridge LEA Murty Aspell recently met with representatives of the Old Kilcullen Area Community Association to confirm a €1,500 allocation from his Discretionary Fund to support projects of the Association.

He is pictured at Old Kilcullen with committee members Pat Griffin, Kevin Sheehan and Christy Howard.

Murty is the present Mayor of the Newbridge Municipal District, to which Kilcullen has been moved for representation in the elections being held next Friday.

“Should I be reelected, it will be a very historic occasion for me and the Aspell family,” he says, “My parents lived in Nicholstown for many years, where we were born and reared and attended local school. My dad Paddy Aspell also had the privilege to represent Kilcullen as a Kildare County Councillor for many years, supporting many new developments in Kilcullen, new housing estates for the local people, schools, roads, sports facilities, and many more.”

He says his commitment and support to the people of Kilcullen will focus on roads and safety Issues, town traffic and parking, educational facilities, new bus shelters and the inner relief road, which he believes will solve many of the existing problems and issues in the area and further enhance Kilcullen as a place where people will enjoy and be proud to live, work, play sports, rear and educate their families and enhance their careers and achievements.

He has spent 20 years in public life and is looking forward to continuing to work for communities in the area.

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Latest Audrey Moore children's book launched

Audrey Moore and Margaret Scott.
"This is the hard bit of book-writing," Margaret Scott said when she launched the latest children's book by her friend Audrey Moore, in Woodbine Books yesterday, writes Brian Byrne. "Putting yourself out there, the publicity ... it's awful."

But that's the same reason the best selling author of The Fallout and Between Me and You said 'yes' immediately to Audrey's request for her to say a few words for the Kilcullen launch of Ping and Po-Li Rainforest Rescue.

"A children's book is so much different to write than the adults books, as I do. It's much more complex, way harder than 'boy meets girl' or 'whodunnit'. Children are very complex creatures and it's very hard to get their attention and to hold their attention. So it is such a talent to write a children's book, the way Audrey has, which does."

After delegating a first read to her 10-year old Emily and getting in return a positive summary, Margaret said she sat down with her youngest, Mikey, and read it to him herself. "And he loved it. It's got serious topics, and it gives just the right mix of sad and funny. The monkey has to be rescued, but there's a great friendship tale, and the bad guys don't win in the end."

Margaret said there's a 'crisis' happening in that children aren't reading any more. "Reading is like a muscle, it has to be exercised. If we don't have them reading at Emily's age, or even at Mikey's age, they won't be able to 'lift the heavy weights' when they get to secondary school, they won't be able to do their exams unless they're reading now."

Thanking Margaret for doing the honours, Audrey Moore spoke about how children are 'tough critics' and will tell you exactly what's wrong with a book very quickly. She expressed her thanks too to Kim Sponaugle, the American illustrator who has illustrated a large number of books, 'and it was great to be able to get her' for this latest one.

The full house turnout included, appropriately, a large number of children, who were clearly enjoying the Woodbine Books ambience, and the refreshments and snacks that were available to all. Storytelling and face-painting were other attractions through the afternoon.

At the end of the formalities, Nessa Dunlea of Kilcullen 700 presented Seoirse Behan of Woodbine Books with a commemorative print of the towns celebratory logo, for the organisation of many such events in the shop during this year.

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The triumph of Twelve Angry Jurors

If there's one way to judge a dramatic play, it's by the reaction from the audience, writes Brian Byrne. In the first hour of Twelve Angry Jurors in Kilcullen's Town Hall Theatre, one would have heard the proverbial pin drop at any moment of stage silence. The play was written to build and hold suspense, and that was executed to perfection last night.

There were sixteen different people in the jury room, not including the guard. Sixteen different personalities. Twelve of them we could see and hear on the stage. The others were unseen — the victim, the accused, and the two principal witnesses.

That's a lot of personality to manage. At writing, acting, and stage direction levels.

The writing by Reginald Rose back in the mid-50s for the original movie, and later his adaptation for stage, is a masterclass. A dozen people in the claustrophobic confines of a jury room, talking, fretting, arguing, sometimes coming close to blows. All the time building for us the stories of the unseen but key characters. Revealing as they do, the jurors' own stories, their opinions, biases, and insecurities.

It's complicated. It's intense. The play is monumentally challenging for even a professional cast to maintain the pressure-cooker level of angst, suspense, and stripping away of the facades which everyone builds around themselves.

At last night's performance by the Drama Dynamics Drama Group, we all saw that the future of Kilcullen's proud history in amateur drama is in excellent hands. The DDDG is wonderfully complementary to the Kilcullen Drama Group and the Kilcullen Junior Drama Group, not to mention the outstanding work of pupils in both Scoil Bhride and CPC. But the standing ovation which the cast and production team of Twelve Angry Jurors received at the end of the show had been absolutely earned.

It wasn't just the acting out of the diverse characters which can inhabit any real jury room. It wasn't only that they had learned their lines and their individual personas so well. It was also the stage-craft that kept movement going on a potentially most static set of a large table and twelve chairs. It was how they each retreated into their own space when the action shifted elsewhere, but still demonstrated their ongoing soul-searching. It was, in short, an extraordinarily three-dimensional presentation which had everyone else in the theatre sweating it out with them in that jury room.

There is no way that I would single out any individual performance, because every one was its own inspiration to anyone interested in getting on the stage themselves. Producer and director Evelyn O'Sullivan noted that the foundation of the group was the adult class started in Drama Dynamics a few years ago, and that it was the class's annual performances which continued to attract more members.

But we'll not let Evelyn get away that lightly. As she rightly pointed out, there are the actors, and there are the audiences without whom there is no point in acting. But — and Evelyn being the person she is, she didn't mention this — there's also the vision and skill that's necessary to bring all the elements of a play together to become a living thing on the stage and in the minds of those who come to see it.

So the presentation of a bouquet to the director by Ray Kelly, one of the early Drama Dynamics adult students, was just a small token of appreciation for her work. From the cast, and from all of us in the audience. For giving us another tour de force.

All the Diary's pictures from the play are here.

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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Drama Group AGM

The AGM of the Kilcullen Drama Group will be held on Monday next, in the Town Hall Theatre.

The meeting will begin at 8pm sharp. All members, and anyone interested in getting involved in amateur drama in Kilcullen are welcome to attend.

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Chris Pender canvassing Kilcullen today

The Social Democrats candidate in the Newbridge LEA elections next week, Chris Pender, had the party co-leader Catherine Murphy TD supporting him in a canvass of the town today.

Chris's profile is here.

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Relay coffee morning well supported

Nothing like a coffee and cake on a Saturday morning, and the goodies that were on offer at the Kilcullen Relay for Life Coffee Morning today were mouth-watering.

And plenty of people turned out to support the occasion. Our pics show just a few.

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