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

Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year Greetings via Diary

Happy New Year to everyone in Kilcullen and especially all the Archbold family.

We have just returned from spending Christmas in Kilcullen, at home with my family and glad to see (Dad) is looking OK after his op.

I would also like to wish a Happy New Year to everyone who looks at this website and is not living in Kilcullen and cannot get home for Christmas or New Year.

May all your dreams and wishes come true.

God Bless and take care,

Oliver & Natalie Archbold in Jersey.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dafydd lands major stage role

Kilcullen actor Dafydd O'Shea, well-known from his Kilcullen Drama Group performances as well as those brilliant Amstel Beer TV ads, has landed his first professional production on the Dublin stage.

coveredprev7909The play is 'Look Back in Anger' by John Osborne, a gritty classic which has only four main characters, and Dafydd (pictured here with Philomena Breslin in KDA's recent production of 'Kindly Keep it Covered') has won one of the leads.

The story involves Jimmy Porter and his wife Alison, who live in a dingy Midlands attic bedsit in a world in 1956 which is changing both socially and politically. With the arrival of Helena, Alison's challenging actress friend, Jimmy's anger with the world around him seems fit to burst. As Alison reaches breaking point with her husband's constant attacks, she faces a decision which will change their relationship forever.

'Look Back in Anger' has been voted the fourth most significant play of the last century and has its place as one of the most revolutionary and influential classics of our time.

The new Dublin run is being produced by Serendipity Productions, and is directed by renowned stage director Paul Brennan.

It wil be staged in Andrew's Lane Theatre Studio, off Dame Street. The run is from Jan 8-27 and bookings can be made at 01-6795720, tickets priced 18 euros (16 euros for the preview performances on January 8/9).

The Diary extends its congratulations on behalf of all Dafydd's friends and fans in Kilcullen.

Brian Byrne.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Opening a sleepy eye...

The Diary is still on its Christmas/New Year break, but we're keeping tabs on things just the same.

We're still waiting on a promised report from the Kilcullenite Christmas celebrations in Sydney ... guess they're still celebrating.

Meanwhile, we've noticed a few more overseas readers logging in; so, welcome, whoever you are from Hyderabad, Tnisvorst, Williston, Crows Nest, Wausau, and Atherton, to mention a few.

Maybe you were in before and we didn't notice. Welcome anyhow.

As we've noted before, it is amazing where Kilcullen people have got to.

Brian Byrne.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Writing competition

A writing competition to mark the 80th birthday of writer Aidan Higgins is being held in conjunction with a festival related to the event organised for Celbridge Abbey, Celbridge, Co Kildare for May 4-6 2007.

You may submit a novel extract, a short story, or whatever you wish.

The competition, which has a first prize of 1,000 euros, will be adjudicated by Patrick McMahon, Galway County Librarian.

Aidan Higgins was born in Celbridge in 1927. Perhaps his best known work is the novel 'Langrishe, Go Down' (1966) which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Irish Academy of Letters Award and was filmed with a screenplay by Harold Pinter.

Full details of the competition are available here or from the Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

'Hello' from the Motherways

The Diary was in telephone touch with Jim and Lucy Motherway in Perth over the Christmas season, and both are in good form.

Many in Kilcullen will remember the Motherways, who lived here through the sixties and seventies before emigrating down under.

Jim, formerly an Army officer, also established a holiday business called Funtrek, where he led small groups of people on holidays to what were then exotic and hard-to-get-to places.

But he was also a leading light in the Kilcullen Drama Group, and during our recent chat he reminded your Editor of the final night of a production of 'The Field', in which he had played the part of a bishop, in full regalia.

The run ended with some post-performance celebration on stage, and at one point the bishop and the sound-effects manager (your Editor) found themselves directing late night traffic through the town around a minor timpist outside the theatre. The bemused response of a truck driver who found himself being waved down at midnight by a 'bishop' was theatre in itself ...

Jim also recalled with affection Dick Dunphy, still a regular performer with the group.

"Dick was the kind of guy who learned his lines assiduously, and he'd be word-perfect at rehearsal, which really used to annoy the rest of us. But I remember on one occasion, in a play directed by Fr Price, when it came to a part where he was supposed to whisper an Act of Contrition into another character's ear ... and he couldn't remember the prayer!"

And Dick got no sympathy from his fellow actors for forgetting those particular lines.

Meantime, though, Jim Motherway is still himself active in drama, and is currently directing a play in Perth.

He says 'hello' to all old friends in Kilcullen.

Brian Byrne.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Philomena sings seasonal

drama665Local singer Philomena Breslin performed on RTE Radio last night, in what she describes as 'one of the biggest highlights of my life'.

She sang 'Oh Holy Night' on the same bill as the Garda Band and Foster & Allen and the Nas Na Riogh Singers.

"I sang really well, thanks to the support from Nas Na Riogh conductor Clive Armstrong and my teacher Patricia McCarry," she told the Diary, adding her thanks also to her accompanist Majella Cahill and 'three brilliant musicians'.

Brian Byrne.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas in Kilcullen

Well, Santa came on his traditional reconnaissance visit to Kilcullen, and was made very welcome, as always. And, as always, he helped out with the Kilcullen Lions Food Appeal.


These pictures are courtesy of Noel Clare of The Bridge, and for them we are very grateful.

Anybody else who has pictures of their own from over the festive season can email them in to us.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Season's Greetings through the Diary

I would like to send Christmas greetings to all I know back in Kilcullen.

raywalkerThis blog has been a fantastic link to my old town and I love to check in almost every day. In fact my dad (Bobby Walker) is always surprised when we talk, that I seem to know more about what is going on than he does.

Keep up the good work and I for one will keep reading. I enclose a seasonal picture of my wife Jill and son Marc.

Merry Christmas to all I know.

Ray Walker,
Emmaus, PA, USA.



Thanks a million for all your hard work in 2006 with the Diary.

Can you please send season’s greetings to two friends that are away from home this Christmas

Firstly, Fionnuala (Finbar) O’Reilly who is living in Bristol. She is a big fan of the Diary as it keeps her in touch with all the happenings around the town. We would just like to with her and John a very happy Christmas and we hope to see them over the Christmas.

Also Karen (Turbo) Walsh was now lives in Australia with her son Christopher. All of us here wish them both a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Thanks again, Brian, for all you do.

Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to reading all the news about Kilcullen in the New Year.

Best Wishes

Red & Tubber


Hello Brian,

Season’s Greetings from Silicon Valley, California. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. You bring great joy with your articles and photos.

All the best

Susan Catan (nee Patterson)
Mountain View, California.


Hi Brian,

I see you are taking a break for the season, Well, if you are back up and running before Jan 6th, I'd really appreciate if you could give our reunion a final plug! We've made contact with about 3/4 of the class and hope to see as many as possible there on the night.

Thanks a million

Breda McHale

*Reunion of the Leaving Cert. class of 1982 from Cross & Passion College on Saturday January 6th 2007 from 8pm at The Hideout Pub, Kilcullen.

This date is the 25th anniversary of our Debs and that's why we thought it would be appropriate! We hope families of girls no longer living locally would pick up the date/venue and remind them. We have successfully made contact with about 3/4 of the class and hope as many as possible will be able to come along.

Any enquiries to Breda McHale (nee McGing) at 086 4052147 or Monica Gorman at 086 2998146.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Diary taking a Christmas break


Due to seasonal and family activities, the Diary is taking a break from December 18 into the New Year. However, if anyone wants to contribute material during this time, including photographs of any Christmas events, we'll be happy to post them.

Also, if anyone out there wants to send Christmas and New Year greetings to others amongst our readership, which on any given day radiates from Kilcullen town across Ireland, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and the US, to name but a few, we'd be glad to hear from them. Pictures also welcome.

In the meantime, may you all have a most peaceful and contented Christmas, and a New Year of health and happiness.

Brian Byrne.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

'The Lost Toys' finds audiences

There were two full houses in the Town Hall Theatre yesterday for the performances of 'The Lost Toys', featuring students from the Talented Kids Performing Arts School and Agency from Kilcullen.


The show was written and directed by Maureen Ward of Calverstown, who runs the TKPASA, which has 54 students between three and 20.


Maureen had worked with the performers for the last two months to stage the show, which is about lost toys being reunited with their owners.


Characters included a number of the toys, as well as Santa and his elves.

"It's a little like 'Toy Story' meets 'The Wizard of Oz'," says Maureen, who has been training young people like this for a dozen years. She established the TKPASA four years ago and it has been located in Kilcullen for the past three.

The proceeds of the shows were in aid of The Barretstown Camp for seriously ill children.

You can watch a slide show from the event.

Brian Byrne.

The enduring world of proverbs

Kilcullen ex-pat Garreth Byrne had a treatise on 'proverbs' published last year in Contemporary Review.

EVERY language has a store of short, succinct sayings that cast a light on life and human nature, and strike us by their common sense expressed in verbal felicity. Traditional observation, supple concision and verbal memorability are the essence of proverbial utterance. More

Gary has taught in Africa and China for most of his working life.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It Says in The Bridge: Dec 06

bridgedec06The final Bridge of 2006 is a colourful one, dominated by a photograph of the famous Harry Clarke stained glass window in St Patrick's Church in Carnalway.

The reason for that is an article by Sean Landers on Clarke, his work, and the St Hubert theme of the window itself, which is the only 'fancy' window in the church. The back cover shows some exterior views of St Patrick's, built in the late 19th century.

The magazine itself is, as usual for the season, stuffed with Christmas wishes from all its advertisers, and it is sometimes hard to find the articles between them. But there's plenty to read, nevertheless.

In news, we read how families and pupils in Brannockstown NS raised funds to provide 80 'shoe boxes' filled with small toys and sweets for poor children in Africa.

Still in fundraising vein, Anna McCarthy's recent event in Fallons for her 'Cultural Canvas' initiative amongst the deprived in Thailand raised 3,000 euros. And a 'Civvies Day' organised by the Cross & Passion College students raised 800 euros for the Kilcullen Senior Citizens Association.

In environment news there's a report on the issuing of an Enforcement Notice on the Carnalway right-of-way issue, and Jim Collins writes about a coming tidy-up of The Valley with the help of a tree surgeon.

There's also a '12 Days of Green Christmas' list to organise us into dealing with the various recyclable waste elements of the festive season.

Annie Schiffer writes a note about the opening of a new 'farm' branch of The Bridge Community at Grangebeg, and how she's very happy to be one of the group which has moved out there.

As always, events of the past month are well covered photographically, mostly by Pat Foley. They include Santa's visit to the very successful Scoil Bhride Christmas Fair, the Kilcullen Senior Citizens Christmas Party organised as usual by the Kilcullen Scouts, and the recent Race Night for the Soccer Club. There's also a number of pictures from the reopening of Nolans Victuallers.

In business news, Pat Behan profiles Louise Laxton's 'Ladies Workout Express' and the new Mini-Me childrens boutique, both enterprises at Hillcrest. There's also a short feature on the new Greenville Bed & Breakfast being run at Nicholastown by Geraldine and Emmanuel Delahunt, a much-needed facility in the town.

There are a few of the usual columns: Billy Redmond goes Off the Cuff on the value of hemp as a possible remedy for everything from the impending 'end of oil' to treatment of many ailments, and Sean Landers reports from a wedding in Taiwan, which took place in the intriguingly named Taipei Hero House.

Roy Thompson gives an extensive playback of the recent 'Miscellany on Sunday' held in Phena and Tom Bermingham's home, and there's also a piece about the imminent release of 'Not the Theme Tune to Casino Royale' by James Healy, which he describes as his latest 'get poor quick scheme'.

Finally, the Christmas messages from the local clergy tell little stories which each cause us to stop at least momentarily from the mad hurtle of the season and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas for Christians. That is summed up also in the final line of the Christmas message in Bernard Berney's advertisement, where he says 'Happy Birthday, Jesus'.

Brian Byrne.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Down Memory Lane: PG Dowlings

Maybe somebody out there could fill in the gaps from this picture taken outside P G Dowling's Garage, which is undated?


Thomas Orford Snr is on the left, with the pipe; the next man leaning against the Caltex pump is unknown, while the man beside the Mobiloil storage is possibly Peter Fenlon?

The young lad immediately behind the Mobiloil storage is Tommy Byrne (the Editor's uncle), and directly behind him is Tim Orford. The lad at the back leaning on the window with his hand to his mouth is Billy Orford. The young man leaning against the BP pump may be named Kennedy, but we have no other name.

Brian Byrne.

'A Harvest of Memories'

It's a good thing that Dick Jeffers has put in book form some of his memories and thoughts from living in rural Ireland from the 1930s.

Because many of the things and people he describes are no longer part of today's life. That makes 'A Harvest of Memories' a repository of precious treasures of heritage.


Which made it apt that he should launch his book last evening in the Kilcullen Heritage Centre, itself becoming an important place of preservation of local memories.

Although only about three years in the actual making as a book, 'Harvest' has been a lifetime in gestation. No more than the making of diamonds takes eons of geologic activity, absorbing and distilling the experiences of childhood through youth into the middle and golden years requires time more than any other resource.

Time, and also a curiosity about what's happening around you and who is doing what. A curiosity that in Dick Jeffers' early life would have been taken as normal, but perhaps today might earn a rebuff on the lines of 'mind your own business'.

jeffersbook8756Because, as he said himself at the launch, Dick Jeffers has always been part of a community. A kind of community that, whether in the old middle of a city or in the farming fields of rural Ireland, used to be synonymous with closeness, with everybody being expected to, and even welcome to, be involved with each other.

'A Harvest of Memories' includes, of course, a tribute to The Boss Man, his father, who in his own youth had been reared by families other than the one he was born into; a common thing when some children of large families were fostered to relations with more space and time to bring them up.

There are treatises which include the experience of growing up as a Protestant, an explanation of the 'Hungry Thirties' and the 'Dismal Fifties', and how entry into the EEC impacted at the front line of farming as opposed to the polished desks of Brussels.

Dick also essays on various components of farming life, from the Ferguson TE 20 tractor through reaping and binding and the sweat, dust and rat-killing involved in threshing.

Few of today's Celtic Tiger wives would know about Pin Money and its importance in the family economy; or the queen of the farmyard, Daisy the House Cow; or the tribulations of The Farm Labourer.

And this writer was prompted to recall when he read a chapter at the launch about the characters of Kilcullen, The Joult, The Trush, The Badger ... and The Gunner Ryan. The latter I remember as an old man living up the road from us and to whom we young Byrnes would bring dinners from time to time. But Dick's story is of a much more dapper and younger Gunner, prepared to entreat the Almighty and His Mother to cause rain so that he wouldn't have to accept a day's work.

At last night's function, Rose O'Donoghue of the Ballymore Bugle introduced the book. Dick Jeffers himself acknowledged the mentoring of Michael Ward, retired editor of the 'Bugle', and of Pastor Robert Dunlop, both of whom proofread and corrected the stories.

The cover and many of the illustrations in the book are the work of Ian Scott, Brannockstown.

'A Harvest of Memories' is available locally for 15 euros. We'll review it in more detail in due course.

A slide show of the launch is available here.

Brian Byrne.

Christmas show on Saturday

A Christmas show in Kilcullen Town Hall Theatre this weekend will raise funds for Barretstown, where seriously ill children from all over Europe can have a holiday which gives them back some lost childhood.

The Lost Toys script was written by Maureen Ward from Calverstown, director of the Talented Kids Performing Arts School, who is also Head of Musical Theatre at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

The show will comprise music, song, dance and drama on a seasonal theme, and the performers are children and young people from the mid-Kildare and West Wicklow area.

Performances on Saturday at 2pm and 5pm. Tickets 10 euros for adults and 7 euros for under 12, and can be booked at 087-2480348 or 045-485464.

Brian Byrne.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A big 'thank you'

I just thought I would drop you line to say a big 'thank you' for providing a fantastic link to Kilcullen.

gannonbeijingLast October you assisted my mother by posting a piece for my birthday and about my travels, on the blog. Earlier this year you posted a picture of my late grandfather Gussie, doing what he did best cutting hair and having a chat! You also posted pictures of my Dad in his usual Friday night haunt at Kilcullen Bowls Club. All of which gave me great pleasure and made that great distance from home disappear for a few minutes.

All through my travels, whenever I had internet access, I had a connection with home. I started my travels in China in March 2005. In Vietnam I bought a motorbike which brought me to Bangkok. My partner and I drove 'the beast' through Vietnam, Cambodia and Myarmar, and it died when we got to Bangkok, Thailand! It was the best 400 dollars ever spent.





We then travelled through Malaysia and Indonisia before Australia. We spent ten months in Australia -- three months working and the rest on beaches and driving around the country in our jeep.

I have had a hectic two years and now I am in the process of applying for residency here in New Zealand. Over the past two years Kilcullen blog has provided essential reading for me and for other former Kilcullen residents -- I have met some walking down streets in Vietnam, many over Australia and a couple in NZ. It may be a small town but we know how to see the world.

I would like to ask you to keep up the great work. You give many many people a valuable link to a place they may have left, but still call home.

All my best wishes to you and your avid readers for Christmas and the New Year.

Best Regards
Helena Gannon

A Christmas leveller

A photograph on James Healy's The Heelers Diaries is a small reminder that Christmas is not the same for everyone.

Brian Byrne.

Learn to use your vote

Community groups are invited to host a programme on Active Citizenship Voter Education.

The aim of the programme is to encourage groups to reflect on how they can, collectively and as individuals, bring about change in their community.

The two-hour session can be organised by Maureen Spain, Community Education Outreach Worker, at ABCE, Naas. Phone 881863 or 087 2756795.

Brian Byrne.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Donnelly's Arm on BBC tonight

BBC Northern Ireland will screen a programme tonight at 11.10 on the 'Fighting Irishmen' exhibition in New York, where Dan Donnelly's Arm is one of the key exhibits.

Santa Claus windows

A double take on window Santas: the top one is from Bernard Berney's Chemist Shop and the lower from Adrian Dunne's Pharmacy.



Brian Byrne.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bloom and friends for Beslan

Luka Bloom (below)and a host of friends will take part in a fundraising gig in the Riverbank Centre on Thursday night, to help the children of Beslan in Russia.

The Beslan massacre happened when 1,200 people -- schoolchildren, their parents and teachers -- were taken hostage by terrorists in September 2004, and then many were killed when a crossfire broke out between the terrorists and police

In all, 344 civilians were killed, 186 of them children, and hundreds more wounded.

Irishman Colin Goggins has set up a fund for Beslan. Colin arranges counselling for the survivors and families of the kids. And he brings some of the kids to Ireland. He has a website called [ED NOTE: Some of the photographs on the site are quite distressing.]

Among those performing on the night, presented by Luka Bloom, are Ronan Hally; Jason Donoghue; Eithne Ni Chatháin; Sabrina Dinan; Pat Timmony; Emily Whelan; Conor Byrne; and Aoife Kelly.

Home staff win big prize

The winning ticket in the Kilcullen & Gormanstown Parish Draw was held by the staff at Curragh Lawns Nursing Home.

parishdraw2316They won 12,000 euros in the draw, which was held last night at the Parish Centre.

Nan Miley of Grangebeg won 1,500 euros, while Tommy O'Connor of Castlefish took third prize of 500 euros.

Prizes of 100 euros each were won by Alfie and Phyllis Haslam, Gormanstown; Dermot Fitzgerald, Brannockstown; John Martin, Moanbane Park; Petra Conroy, Moanbane Park; and Annie and Alex Charlton, Carnalway.


Email re Carnalway

Hi Brian,

In regard to the Carnalway issue, we are pleased to see that the KCC are doing the right thing, and well done to all, that fought to have the fence removed.

That stretch of the river is one of the nicest, in its whole length and a great place to walk. "People Power" when used for good like this , is good to see. Well done the community.


Matthew & Una Hughes,
Sydney, Australia.

Dick Jeffers book launch

A new book by Dick Jeffers will be launched in the Heritage Centre on December 14.

'Harvest of Memories' is a compendium of Dick's recollections from his life in this community.

The event begins at pm and all are welcome.

The book would make an ideal Christmas present.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Speech & Drama show

Pupils of Evelyn O'Sullivan's Speech & Drama classes gave their parents a sample of what they had been learning during a Christmas presentation in Kilcullen Parish Centre yesterday afternoon.


Forty-eight children aged between five and 13 were involved, and there was a full house for the event, which comprised three Nativity shows and a Panto-style piece.

Most of the participants only began with Evelyn in April. And if anyone was worried about the future of drama in Kilcullen, there's plenty of new talent on the way.

A slide presentation of the afternoon can be seen here.

Brian Byrne.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hideout Christmas programme

The Hideout Christmas Dinner menu is a full four-courser with all the trimmings for 28 euros a head. And mine host Martin Myles is organising special nights on December 18, 23, 24 and New Year's Eve. That last is a 40 euros a head gala that includes a mulled wine start and champagne to toast in 2007.

By then, of course, 15 lucky customers will have collected their winnings in the annual Christmas Draw, which this year has a top prize of 2006 euros. Other key prizes include a traditional hamper, a giant teddy bear with a hundred euros to spend clutched in its little fist, healthy living hamper, and lots of wine and other stuff.

Get along there and get your ticket bought quick.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Carnalway enforcement notice

The Planning Department of Kildare County Council has issued an Enforcement Notice to the owner of the land at Carnalway who blocked off access to a traditional riverside path and amenity area.

carnfence002The notice is dated 1st December, under Section 154 & 155 Planning & Development Act, 2000 TO 2002, and says 'whereas the land has been developed without the required permission and whereas the Planning Authority have received a complaint regarding the enclosure and obstruction of access to the River Liffey and whereas the Planning Authority have investigated the matter and found it not to be frivolous or vexatious, Kildare County Council has decided that it is expedient to serve an Enforcement Notice'.

This means that within two weeks from 1st December 2006, Mr Langan (the owner) is required to remove all barriers which have been erected for the purposes of limiting access along this stretch of the River Liffey and to further provide a pedestrian access to the area, to the satisfaction of the Planning Authority.

If these steps are not carried out, the planning authority may enter on the land and take such steps, including the removal, demolition or alteration of any structure and may recover any expenses reasonably incurred by them in this situation.

"As this situation has been ongoing for quite some time now, locals are delighted with this progress," says local man Tom Horan, "and with the effective determination with which Kildare County Council are dealing with this situation."

The Diary understands that representatives of local people who have taken a legal action on the matter recently attended 'proximity talks' in Naas Court with Mr Langan's representatives, offering to monitor the area for litter etc, to the best of their ability, but no agreement was reached at the meeting.

[NOTE: That last paragraph is a clarification of a previous version of the story, where it was suggested that some form of agreement may have been achieved. 'Proximity talks' are talks where the participants don't actually meet, but 'talk' via their representatives from different rooms.]

Brian Byrne.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Kilcullen scouts runners up

Representing Kilcullen's 9th Kildare Scout Unit, four young scouts from 'Badger' patrol achieved runner-up in the South Kildare Scout Quiz for 2006-07.


Shown here with their trophies are Jessica Murphy, Caoimhe McConnell, Karen Champ and Rachel Dunphy. The scouts now hope to go on to represent South Kildare in the National Scout quiz after Christmas.

Roy Champ.

SVP Annual Appeal 2006

The SVP Annual Appeal takes place during SVP Week from 3rd to 10th December. Please give generously to your local SVP.

A collection will be taken at all masses in Kilcullen this coming weekend. It will replace the SHARE Collection.

A lo-call phone number is also available to take donations.

If you are in the Republic of Ireland use 1890 25 12 06.

Brian Byrne.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Credit Union poster prizes

Nineteen pupils from schools in the Kilcullen area received their prizes this week from Kilcullen Credit Union, for their entries in the annual Poster Competition organised by the Irish League of Credit Unions.


Overall winner was once again Adeline Poufong, whose entry in the 18 Years and Over category went forward to the Chapter level, which meant that she wasn't present to receive her Kilcullen prize.

Adeline's entry last year was a second in the 2005 national finals, and features in the 2007 Credit Union Calendar.

Presenting the prizes for this year, Kilcullen CU chairman Pat Stafford said they were 'very proud' of Adeline's success.

But for the latest Kilcullen presentation night, those present were also 'stars', he said.

In the Special Category, the winner was Kim Molloy, followed by Ben O'Dwyer and Martin Pearse. Commended in the category were Karl Kelly, Michaela Pearse and Kate Kelly. All attend Scoil Bhride.

The 7 Years and Under category was won by Ann Marie Farrell of Halverstown NS, followed by Con Creedon and Fiachra Healy from Scoil Bhride. Sarah Holohan from Brannockstown NS and Julie Arseniuk from Halverstown NS were Commended for their entries.

In the 8-10 Years category, Cliodhna Tutty Bardon took the honours for Scoil Bhride, followed by Cara Boyce from the same school and Aoife Stafford from Brannockstown NS.

Scoil Bhride pupils also won all podium places in the 11-13 Years category, with Zarah Reynolds, Ben Foran and Emily Comerford. Katie O'Brien from Brannockstown NS was Commended in this category.

"We were delighted to see, once again, the response, commitment, effort, imagination and creativity of our young artists," Pat Stafford said.

Brian Byrne.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

CCTV fund grows

The fundraising for the CCTV system for Scoil Bhride has reached 8,600 euros, from donations, a draw and the proceeds of the weekend Christmas Fair in the Parish Centre.

School Principal Maurice O'Mahoney is very pleased with the progress of the effort, and says the school is now in a position to look at the various options.

"We did price a system some years ago, but there's much more available now," he told the Diary. "We have to put in the best system possible."

As the Diary noted in the report on the Christmas Fair, the need to install such a system is one of the downsides of life in Kilcullen, and similar villages and towns across Ireland, today.

Scoil Bhride has been targeted several times by vandals and thieves over recent years.

Brian Byrne.

The curtain call man

Ray Donohue is the quintessential curtain call man. In life as well as on the boards.

raydonohue8081It is only those of us 'old' Kilcullen people who might remember how much he was part of the town, from the time he played leading roles in Kilcullen Drama Group productions through the fifties and sixties.

"My debut in Kilcullen was in 'The White Headed Boy', in 1957," he recalls. "I remember a night, standing in the wings and rehearsing my lines. The cardinal sin then was to make a late entrance, so I made sure that I opened the door on time and got onto the stage ... except that my script was still in my hand."

Ray participated in all of the John B Keane productions for which Kilcullen Drama Group made its name across the country in those days. He played Danger Mullaly in 'Many Young Men of Twenty', Teddy Heelan in 'Big Maggie', and both Packie and Petey in 'The Man from Clare', at different times.

"In 'The Field' I played the three main parts -- Tadhg, the 'Bird', and 'The Bull' McCabe. And I did two parts together in 'The Playboy of the Western World', one of them Pegeen Mike's father."

Drama was strong in Kilcullen in those days, no more than it is again today, but it was different, Ray feels.

"It was a different era. All the old characters were around, like Bill Malone, Julia Morris, and Harry Clarke. Dick Dunphy was the same as myself, only a young fella. Drama was a very important thing to the town though, it was like any of the sports clubs, it was always there."

Of course it was also the era when Paddy Melia came to the fore as a director, taking time from his favourite work of managing the Town Hall Cinema as well as his then day job in Newbridge Cutlery.

"In the cinema we had Jimmy Kearns and Matt Dunlea, selling and taking the tickets respectively. There were other people who were also a key part of the town's fabric then, like Simmy Doyle, Paddy McGarr, Christy Connelly ... they all did their party pieces before the films in the days when you didn't have to charge tax if you had live performers as well."

During that time Ray worked in Berneys pub for 'old' Pat Berney, and he can still recall the regular customers like 'Kings' Neill and Arthur Taplis. It was a rings pub, with the rings board located on the back of the door leading to the Berney family's sitting room.

"The rings would make an awful crack, and old Pat used to get annoyed when he'd want to listen to the radio in the sitting room."

It's 48 years ago since Ray worked in Berneys, but he remembers well his first week there, when he was given an unexpected extra duty. "Young Tom Berney had a few sheep out on the farm, and I had to go out there and help shear them."

Ray left Kilcullen in 1970 to go and live in Newbridge, where he'd been working in Irish Ropes since 1961. That job was to last him 40 years, directly and indirectly. "In 1984 I took early retirement, but they brought me back after three months to retail and wholesale carpets for them ... that was the days when Tintawn was what everybody was using."

It was really terrible stuff, pure sisal twine and very rough to the touch. "But it was like a Ford car, you couldn't wear it out. And it was reversible, so you could get two wears out of it."

After 11 years of this he retired again. But in yet another 'curtain call', he came back to work as manager for seven years in the Irish Ropes Social Club.

Ray subsequently worked for ten years in the Red House, and for over 11 years he worked in Kerdiffstown House, the Vincent de Paul holiday facility for old people at Johnstown. He finished there just three weeks ago.

And now his latest 'curtain call' has brought him back to where he started, behind the bar in Fallons ... the pub until recently known as Berneys. It is a different place to when he started out with old Pat.

"I'm also now six kids and eight grandchildren later," he adds with a grin, reminding the Diary that he is in his 68th year. And he looks a long way yet from the Final Curtain.

It must be all this repetitive retiring.

Brian Byrne.

Steiner Craft Fair

The Kildare Steiner School is holding a Craft Fair in The Town Hall, Naas, on Sunday next, December 10.

Also, we are performing a Shepherd's Play in Gormanstown Church on Wednesday December 20, at 8pm. All are welcome.

Helen O'Connor Nolan.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Nolans reopens

When Andy Nolan opened the doors of his family's refurbished shop this morning, the first person across the threshold was his daughter Catherine.


A large crowd waited for the opening, to shop and wish the new venture well.






James Nolan said he was really 'chuffed' to see the shop job finished. The work was carried out by Kilcullen Homes Limited, and took less than six months. Pictured above are Damian Hughes, architect; with Sean Gannon and Alan O'Connell of Kilcullen Homes Ltd; and Brendan O'Connell.

An 'official' opening ceremony is planned for next March.

Brian Byrne.

Call from choir

The Kilcullen Adult Choir is looking for new members. All welcome, especially before Christmas.

Contact Norah Breslin (483042) or Phil O'Donnell (485515) or Gertrude Coffey (481338).

Anna working for Thai deprived

An event held in Fallons at the weekend had a dual purpose: to raise both funds for, and awareness of deprivation among, specific groups of people in Thailand.


It was organised by Anna McCarthy (pictured on right above with her friend Linda Gray), daughter of local schoolteacher Annette, and the project she's coordinating is Cultural Canvas Thailand, based in Chang Mai.

"With another Irish girl and an American girl, we have partnered with a number of small non-governmental groups in Thailand who are working with the hill tribes, Burmese refugees and sex workers," Anna told the Diary. "The aim is to educate them, and help them get jobs and build better lives."

Her two friends, Sarah Latchaw from Florida and Zoe Lambe from Ireland, had been developing this idea for some time when Anna first met them about a year ago.

thaifund8112"We've now acquired a Volunteer House and compound where we can put up people who come out to help us, and we're using a new website to get such volunteers. Our artistic outreach programme will take people being helped by our partner groups and teach basics of arts and crafts. Our first project is a ceramics workshop, which is designed to give them a therapeutic way out of the hardship they live in."

The three girls are friends with a number of Thai artists, and that was the impetus for the initial arts-based project. "It was a case of utilising first the resources that we had. But we're not limiting ourselves to this. For instance, we have an Australian volunteer coming over next March who will provide courses in sexual health for the sex workers in our area."

thaifund8111CCT isn't looking for any specific skills from its volunteers. "We just want people willing to give their time in whatever way they can do best, teaching English, for instance. The people we're trying to help really need attention more than anything, because that's not available in their lives. We're also open to ideas from volunteers themselves, who can come up with projects that would suit the people we're dealing with."

Cultural Canvas Thailand has been nine months in the making, and doesn't so far receive any official funding. Anna has been teaching English part-time to cover her own costs in Thailand.

Her initial contact with the situation came simply from sitting in cafes and bars in normal social settings. "You'd see these kids coming in, selling flowers, for instance. The tourists think they're simply filling a tourist need, but they don't know the actual situations. When we looked into it, we realised the problems they face, including HIV/AIDs. So it branched out from seeing the kids on the street, and their parents, and talking to them about their lives. It just took off from there."

thaifund8108Anna and her friends are simply doing what they can to help local groups which are more or less overwhelmed by the problems they're trying to help solve.

"For instance, there's a man we know, a Burmese refugee; he got a scholarship to study in Britain, and now he's back in Chang Mai, helping other refugees by teaching them computer skills and other things. He works seven days a week, teaching all the time. We're just trying to help."

Further information is available from Anna or from the website set up by the project. Anna returns to Thailand in January.



Brian Byrne.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Email re traffic lights

Dear Brian,

Relating to your piece on the filter at the traffic lights:

While KCC have put in a filter light to turn left when coming into town from the Curragh Road, they have not yet changed the road marking too.

The result is that if you want to go straight on towards Dunlavin, the road marking tells you to keep in the left lane and meanwhile the left arrow comes on, on its own. I have already seen two near accidents as a result of the confusion arising from this, and also witnessed people rather inappropriately becoming angry with those in the left lane who just want to go straight on but obviously can't.

It is a complete mess at the moment.

Noel Clare.

Scoil Bhride Fair fun

There was excellent support for the Scoil Bhride NS Christmas Fair, held yesterday in the Parish Centre.


Members of the school choir sang carols and seasonal hymns, and the attraction of Santa Claus was reflected in queues to see him that stretched all the way from his tall chair to the entrance hall.


Every one of his small visitors got a picture of themselves with Santa, courtesy of Pat Mooney from the Scoil Bhride Parents Association.


As well as stuff for their parents to buy for Christmas, there was also face-painting and drawing for the younger visitors.



The funds raised are going towards the installation of a CCTV system for the school.

Which is a rather unhappy sign of these times, the only downside to what was all in all, a highly successful day.

Brian Byrne.