Listen to Paddy Nugent - Kilcullen in the 1930s with Brian Byrne.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Fr Mackey celebrates 55th anniversary of ordination

Fr Mackey is a serial marathon runner. He is pictured with his Columbus Half Marathon medal in 2016.
A reminder that a presentation will be made to Fr Niall Mackey this evening,  Saturday, to mark the 55th anniversary of his ordination, writes Brian Byrne.

It will take place at 7.30pm outside the Parish House, before the evening Rosary at the grotto.

The celebration will be a socially distanced affair, and Fr Mackey will be given a cake, a card, and a small gift, organised by parishioners. The usual May Rosary will go ahead at 8pm.

Fr Niall came to Kilcullen in 2013, replacing Fr Michael Murphy. There was a much more extensive celebration of his Golden Jubilee in 2015, which can be recalled here.

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Brannockstown held virtual meeting

Brannockstown Community Committee had its first virtual meeting last week, writes committee chairperson Mary Carter.

A number of topics were discussed including a financial update, Tidy Towns, traffic management and a Community Gathering Event when restrictions are lifted.

Efforts are ongoing in relation to Tidy Towns, litter management and general village maintenance. A huge thank you to all who have supported the various actives in the village especially throughout the last number of weeks.

If you wish to become involved please contact any member of the committee.

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Weatherday: A day for a burning

A dry and warm day with long spells of sunshine. Some hazy high cloud, and temperatures up to 22deg in the Kilcullen area.

A light southerly breeze will freshen towards moderate in mid-afternoon.

On this day in 1412, Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake on a trumped up condemnation of heresy, following her earlier conviction of the crime of wearing men's clothing.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

Memories of Brendan Bowyer

Sorry to hear today of the death of Brendan Bowyer, writes Brian Byrne. In the early 1960s when I was going to local ballrooms like Lawlors of Naas, the Royal Showband was the biggest draw around. They also played on at least one occasion in the marquee at Kilcullen Parish Carnival.

I met him several times. He would regularly stop in for a break to the Grill Bar located in the front part of The Hideout, while driving from his home in Waterford to Dublin. His tipple was coffee or Coke, and he was a much quieter guy in conversation, even shy, than was his very lively public persona on stage.

While everyone remembers 'The Hucklebuck', his signature show-stopper to all of us young dancers at the time was Brendan's rendition of 'So Deep Is The Night' (The Swallow/La Golondrina). A classical Mexican folk song, his presentation inevitably just stopped everyone and everything on the floor, to just stand and listen.

He was probably the catalyst to many romances, and maybe also started some of us to first heartbreaks, on the dance floors where we all struggled our way to dealing with our hormones.

Thanks for the memories, Brendan. Even the broken heart ones.

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Swimmers enjoy the local Liffey banks, but warning on dangers

The super weather and the closure of the schools has brought out something in Kilcullen that hasn't really been seen for years — lots of young people swimming in the traditional river spots, writes Brian Byrne.

On the Riverside Manor bank, the old temporary wooden dock which had become dangerous was removed recently by some residents, and a level space cut out on the bank. It's now a good safe place to swim.

Across on the New Abbey side, the bank which for generations attracted Kilcullen swimmers young and old — in summers that seem to have been much better than in recent decades — has also been busy this week.

But local canoeist and countryside enthusiast Brendan O'Connell is a little concerned that the swimmers might not be aware of dangers.

"We used to swim much more in the river, because there were no swimming pools," he says. "It's great to see people back in the water again, but they may not be as aware of the dangerous places as we were."

The most important of these is on the bend just as the river swings by the Valley Park, where the scouring action results in a quite deep section along about 40 metres, along with some odd currents. "We always avoided it, it was quite dangerous unless you were a strong swimmer. You also need to be aware that a Poulaphuca flood came come down quite quickly."

That said, Brendan is very happy to see the river being part of the leisure facilities for today's residents. "Enjoy, and keep each other safe," he says. "And also respect the land and the owners, take home everything you bring out."

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Roy Thompson Facetime gig on Monday

Pic by Danny Lahart, Kilkenny.
Local troubadour, environmentalist, green fingers and general good guy Roy Thompson is going to dip into what he aptly calls the 'Twilight Zone' of Facebook with some songs next week, writes Brian Byrne.

Roy will live stream a set of his original songs, 'and maybe a cover or two', in a 45-minute set on Monday evening, beginning at 7.30pm.

All fans, old and potential new, are invited to tune in on his Roy Thompson Music Facebook page on the night. Encourage him to make it a regular thing?

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Cliona calls for climate action participation by groups

A call has been issued for organisations in County Kildare to get involved in the Climate Action Linkage Group via the Kildare Public Participation Network, writes Brian Byrne.

Kilcullen resident Cliona Kelliher, who is the Environmental Representative on the PPN, is looking for people in any organisation to work for a long-term climate action strategy in the county.

"The organisation doesn’t necessarily need to be specifically environmental, it is open to everyone," she says. The only requirement to join the PPN, a simple online process."

Cliona notes the benefits of PPN membership include access to training and information and a link into Kildare County Council via the reps. "If your organisation is already a PPN member, then you can just contact myself,, or the PPN resource workers via, and let them know you have an interest."

There is a really good team of people now working together with a vision of collaboration with the Council staff and Councillors to further Climate Action goals in Kildare, Cliona says. What they have been doing is available on the website.  "It is an open and collaborative process and we welcome everyone."

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Appleton Property – property market update Covid 19

We opened our business ten years ago in August 2010, in what we thought would be the worst property year ever, writes Austin Egan of Appleton Property. Things could only get better from there. We were wrong, 2011 was even worse.

We survived. We traded through the ups and downs of the recovery and got stronger year on year. When the mortgage credit directive came in it was said that it would sink the market again. It didn’t. The Brexit referendum surprised us all in 2016. Brexit was said to be the biggest threat to our economy since WWII. We all survived three years of wall to wall media negativity. If Brexit is a problem we haven’t felt it yet. I was talking to an older wiser auctioneering friend of mine at Xmas complaining about Brexit. He said to me ‘Austin, don’t be worrying about Brexit. As soon as it is over there will be another Brexit along, it will just have a different name.’ A man whose career began in the late 70s and has seen many a crisis.

Even he could not have foreseen this Covid situation. Every time we step out to buy anything, anywhere, it is only possible because someone, somewhere, took a risk, begged borrowed or saved the money and opened the shop, started the business, took the risk. To be told to close your business is a genuine shock to the system. People in business are constantly looking at opportunities and threats to their business. This was a threat no one could have prepared for and certainly no one had made allowance for in their financial or business planning.

Unfortunately some of these businesses will not re open. We wish the owners, their families and their staff all the best in their own personal journey. For the most part, the same drive that put them in business in the first place will see them through the challenges ahead. For the rest of us I think of a line from the very well-known Kipling poem ‘If’, a poem about strength and looking adversity in the face. ‘Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools'. We can see the people who own the businesses that are integral to our town doing just that, striving to re open with admirable innovation, courage and determination.

There have been some awful outcomes for some from this pandemic thus far. We offer our sincerest sympathies to all those who have had to endure the outcomes the lockdown is designed to minimise. I won't list those outcomes here but would, of course, offer our sincerest condolences to the families of those who passed away. As we all do, I look forward to attending a suitable memorial in honour of those people when all this comes to an end.

Meanwhile, we are focussing on getting back to full services. We have continued to work remotely throughout the lockdown, managing our rental property portfolio, providing remote valuation services, and providing essential services for HSE purposes, and to the banking and legal sectors. More recently we have changed the layout of our office, purchased screens, personal protective equipment, face screens, masks, gloves, sanitiser, signage and a new door access system to regulate the number of people in our office at any one time. We have updated our client management system, our general IT infrastructure and renegotiated our cost base to ensure business continuity.

We are members of the Institute or Professional Auctioneers and Valuers in Ireland. We have had regular webinars updating us on what to expect and best practice in the new normal ahead. We have had weekly one to one virtual coffee mornings with agents all over the country discussing activity in their area in each market segment, exchanging ideas and experiences to improve each other’s businesses and meet the challenges ahead.

If you are considering selling your property or buying a property in the near future the only fact about the market is that no one knows what the future holds. This is not just true of the property market. The ESRI don’t know, The Irish Independent and Irish Times don’t know. The economists, the politicians, the various contributors to talk radio and current affairs TV programmes don’t know. What we do know are the facts available to us and here are the facts as they relate to our business in Kilcullen.

We have had a steady stream of enquiries on all properties we have for sale at present. In the midst of a lockdown the volume of enquiries and the level of pent up demand is surprising but encouraging. The banks are still lending. We provide mortgage valuation services for banks and we have returned to some of these services aligned to construction since Stage 1, May 18th and we have been very busy. Buyers are active. Most approved mortgages are proceeding. Lending criteria have not changed. This is a real indicator.

Solicitors did not stop working in the lockdown. All of the deals we had done that were pending have either had contracts signed or closed during lockdown. We had a very strong first quarter with residential sales ranging from €190,000 to €600,000. The purchasers have all been upbeat on closing and very happy with their purchases. This is a real indicator. We listed six properties for sale in the week that we closed the office. We had at that time many others listed also. There are people patiently waiting to view all of them. We have several properties that will be listed as soon as we are permitted to go in to take the photos. Many of these sellers are also intending purchasers, moving up or down. This is also a real indicator.

There may be an adjustment in certain sectors of the market, who knows? The reality is that we still have a housing crisis. We simply do not have enough houses to meet demand. In our town I count 14 new houses built in the last 14 years. That’s an average of one addition to the housing stock per year for 14 years. More and more people want to live in Kilcullen, more and more people want to stay here or move back. Options are limited in Kilcullen and this has not changed.

We intend to move forward with optimism. If you are considering selling we hope you would share our positivity and invite us to provide you with a professional valuation of your property. Property services resume in Stage 2, June 8th. Our professional body, IPAV, have agreed a protocol to provide our services safely which will be strictly observed. If you have a property to sell or let, or if you need a professional valuation for legal or financial purposes please contact us on 087 1311133 or anytime to arrange a valuation or to have a chat about your properties prospects.

Stay safe and well.

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Weatherday: Everest conquered!

Another day of mostly sunshine, with some hazy high cloud. Temperatures getting up to around 22deg in the Kilcullen area.

And officially we're now in a drought condition. South winds moderate to fresh. Wear the sunscreen.

On this day in 1953, Sherpa Tenzing and Edmund Hillary became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

You can listen to my podcast about that here.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Plea for 'respect for private land'

"I wonder do the people who don’t clean up their shit understand that the field beside New Abbey is not a public park and that access to privately owned land has been traditionally available because those who availed of it in the past were respectful of it?"

That's the blunt comment from a local resident who supplied these pictures after a 'beautiful evening river walk' tonight, writes Brian Byrne. Our correspondent gathered the rubbish together, but didn't have a bag in which to take it away.

The Diary has received a number of reports about similar issues on walkways by the river. Including evidence of 'drinking parties' in private woodlands.

"I don't know what can be done, except to keep highlighting it," another contributor wrote, adding that there's a real danger that landowners will have no option but to close access to their lands if the litter issue, and the sheer bad manners of it, continues.

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Tom Berney Jr's Buan back in action

Tom Berney Jr, who set up his own leathercraft business in his family's famed Kilcullen saddlery while a student, is now back in the workshop, writes Brian Byrne.

Tom took time out for his final exams in the Business and Entrepreneurship studies he has been pursuing at Maynooth University.

But with those out of the way, he's now getting stuck in seriously to developing the Buan label leather bags and wallets which he began while a student.

He has set up his own bench at the back of the workshop, where he's the sixth generation of the Berney family working with leather in Kilcullen.

You can read the article on him we published at the end of March here.

(Photos from the Buan Facebook page.)

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Sean and Siobhan are proud parents again

Good news from the river, Sean and Siobhan Swan's 2020 cygnets have hatched, writes Brian Byrne.

Now we can only hope that foxes or other predators don't get silly and think there are some easy pickings.

They would be silly ... Sean is seriously protective, and packs a helluva punch.

Anyway, congratulations to the proud parents. I'm looking forward to some nice photos when the youngsters are taken out to swim.

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New Credit Union times from next week

New opening times will apply at Kildare Credit Union branches from Tuesday next 2 June.

The Kilcullen office hours from Tuesday-Friday 9am-1pm and 2pm-4pm, and on Saturdays from 9am-1pm.

The same hours apply in the Kildare office, and Narraghmore will open Monday, Tuesday and Friday 9am-1pm and 2pm-4pm.

The Credit Union asks all members to continue to comply with social distancing rules in all branches.

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Parish church webcam being upgraded

The webcam at Kilcullen Parish Church is out of service for the moment while the system is being upgraded.

Fr Mackey says the upgrade is being done parish by parish in order to meet increased online demand.

"Mid-week is a good time to do this, we home they will be finished soon," he says.

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Today's food options in Kilcullen

The savoury options in Armelle's Kitchen today are Chicken & Prawn Skewer and Asian noodles (not spicy) €6; Breaded Chicken with herb baked tomatoes (proven├žales) and Lemon mayonnaise €8; Spanish Tortilla with Lettuce and Aioli €6; and Quiches: Broccoli & Courgette, Salmon & Broccoli or Goat cheese & Tomato €12 or €3 per slice.

There are updates on the daily and weekend takeaway meals options from Fallons Gourmet GarageArmelle's KitchenKalbarri Cookery School, Bardons RestaurantAlkebabishCrean's Place, and the Brown Bear. Also The River Cafe Kilcullen is again selling through the door this week 10am-2.30pm - coffees, fresh baking, breakfast baps, tray bakes. And Rea's Takeaway is open for collection and delivery 045 480537. Jane Russell's Handmade Sausages can be ordered online.

Any other food provider in the Kilcullen area can be on this free list by emailing details to

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