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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Liam Lawton concert

The Irish Pilgrimage Trust (IHCPT) is hosting a concert with Liam Lawton and the Saggart Parish Choir in the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Saggart on Sunday, 26 April.

This will be a chance to hear music from Liam Lawton's new album, 'Healing Song', which will be released soon, as well as his other pieces that have become modern favourites.

The Irish Pilgrimage Trust travels to Lourdes every year on Easter Sunday, as a huge group of young people who will be joined by thousands of other young people who came on flights from Belfast, Dublin, Shannon and all over the UK and further afield. This is a non-stop week full of laughter, song and fun.

The Liam Lawton concert takes place at 8.30pm. Tickets cost €25 and are available from Martina at the Parish Office 01 4589209 (9.30am to 1.30pm)

Wall calls on banks to ease credit pressure

Labour local election candidate Mark Wall has called on the Government to immediately re-engage with the banks to allow cash flow become available to small and medium size enterprises in order to protect jobs in our communities.


He was speaking at the recent Labour Party Conference.

Wall also called on the banks to favourably look at a two year moratorium on home loans repayments for families who are desperately trying to do all they can to repay their loans and mortgages.

"Small businesses, be they corner shops or small commercial enterprises, are being hit with cash flow problems that are forcing their owners to consider their positions as employers," he said. "These SMEs are the backbone of employment in our communities and funding must urgently become available to allow them continue to operate in these difficult times."

He also said families are suffering 'terrible trauma and worry' that their family home will be sold from over their heads because they cannot get agreement with the banks in regard to reframing loans and mortgages.

"Yet it is these same banks that cried and cried successfully to the Government when they were in difficulty and they were facilitated to the tune of seven billion euros. What beggars belief is why this Government, in negotiating with the banks, did not put in place conditions and ring fence them to ensure that families would be protected and that SME'S could survive?"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kilcullen AFC Easter Soccer Camp

After the success of the inaugural Easter Camp last year we are holding our 2nd Easter Soccer camp from the 14th to 17th of April on the all-weather pitch Kilcullen.

Age group from 7–15. Cost per child is €70. Time each day is 10.30-14.30.

Coaching will be by Kildare County team manager Thomas Donnelly and FAI accredited coaches.

Camp Registration takes place this Saturday from 9.30 to the AFC clubhouse in the Community Centre grounds. (Note - Fees payable with Registration)

Further information from 087 2636375.

Ray Kelly.

Pitching into their majority

Just over two decades ago, a group of club-swinging enthusiasts decided they’d try and build a pitch & putt club in Kilcullen.


There was some land available on the property deeded to the community by the Cross & Passion sisters, for sports and recreation purposes. And there was a grant of £200 given by the operators of the Community Sports Complex.

Things weren’t all in place yet, though. The piece of land available was badly drained, boggy in many parts, and it was likely that more water hazard than grass area would be the main feature of the nine hole course the founders of the future club envisaged.

“But we all worked on it,” recalls Liam Sherry, this year’s Captain and one of those people with the vision that has today resulted in a magnificent 18-hole course. “It wasn’t easy, and some people thought we wouldn’t make anything out of it, but the hard work picking stones and draining the land eventually paid off and we have a terrific club today.”

The anniversary year officially began on St Patrick’s Day with the Captains’ Drive In. There was a large turn out for this event and the opening competition of the year was also held in beautiful weather.

Incoming Captains Ann Sweeney and Liam Sherry, before their drive in, presented the traditional pennants to the outgoing captains Mary Sherry and Dave Hanlon.

The winners from the more than 40 who competed were Jason Hannon and Ian Dillon in the Mens, and Chrissie Byrne and Bernie Dunne in the Ladies.

Among the plans to further celebrate the year is the possibility of a day for those who played in the club’s first Open some two decades ago.

But already in the schedule is the club’s hosting of the All-Ireland Scrambles in May, an event which St Bridget’s will share with Ryston in Newbridge.

“This is only the second year of the competition, which was inaugurated in Dublin last year,” says Liam. “There will be 72 teams of three people, so it will be a big weekend event.”

Over the years the club has recorded many successes, especially with its juvenile members. Pitch & Putt becomes very much a family sport, and family names regularly crop up in local and national competitions, such as the Sherrys, Dillons, and Byrnes.

“We were only talking the other day about how it has all gone, and how many of our youngsters have grown up, and some of us have grown old, in the club,” Liam says wryly. “But there was tremendous satisfaction in being there on St Patrick’s morning and seeing the great condition of the course.”

St Bridget’s is still one of the youngest clubs in the county, as only Prosperous and Woodlands have started up since it was founded. “When we set up we were the ‘baby’ club of around seven others which were long established.

The current numbers are about 90 adults and 20 juvenile members, a figure which Liam Sherry says could be improved on.

“Sometimes we wonder if it is being used to its full potential, but people have so much to do today, and they have to bring their kids to all sorts of their games like football, soccer and rugby. They’re running here and there every day, and they don’t have a lot of time to play sports themselves.”

Most members are from the Kilcullen area, but there are also people from The Curragh, Kildare, Newbridge, Sallins, and Prosperous.

Brian Byrne.

(This feature originally appeared in last week's edition of the Kildare Nationalist.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

'A Life' on the boards

Kilcullen Drama Group presents 'A Life', the late Hugh Leonard’s greatest play, in the Town Hall Kilcullen from Tuesday 14 April to Sunday 19 April 2009.

Performances will be at 8pm each night.

The play itself is a masterpiece. We are given an insight into joys and disappointments of life through an intimate examination of the experiences of Desmond Drumm.

In the play, Drumm has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness which causes him to reflect on his life. We see him, and his friends, as teenagers. We are keenly aware of the hopes and aspirations of these young people.

We see them again, in their sixties and we are allowed to examine how life had dealt with their youthful expectations.

It sounds like a sombre and deeply meaningful play and it is, but the genius of Hugh Leonard allows us to laugh uproariously, not only at the vicissitudes of life as experienced by the characters in his play, but also, by ourselves in our own lives.

To Book, phone Bernard 045 481497, ticket price €10.

Philomena Breslin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Still time for Mini Marathon entry

The Kilcullen and district ladies who have signed up to do the Flora Mini Marathon in aid of the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund will meet next Monday night in the Parish Centre.

The meeting, between 7.30-8.30pm, will work out details of registration, shirt and singlet sizes, and transport.

The organisers will also be on hand to answer any questions.

Phena Berminghma says there is still time for more participants to join the team, and though the closing date is April 21, it is advisable to enter at least a week before that date.

Further information available from Phena (045-485232 or 087-9767531); Lorraine (085-7604806); Siobhan (087-7673002) or
Caroline (087-2562563).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Boy will Fall into the Book Thursday

Just a reminder that Evelyn O'Sullivan's Youth Drama Production of 'The Boy Who Fell into a Book' is running from Thursday 26th-Sat 28th March, in the Town Hall Theatre.


Tickets are available at Bernard Berney's Chemist Shop, phone 045 481497.

Cello concert

Kildare Steiner School is delighted to announce a fundraising concert by the international cello soloist Georg Mertens.

georg mertensThe concert will take place on Friday, April 3rd at 7.30pm in the unique setting of Dunshane Camphill Community Concert Hall.

The program includes works from Rachmaninov, Bach, Albeniz and Mertens himself.

Georg, father to Svantje Mertens, a teacher at Kildare Steiner School, is visiting from Australia. He is a cello teacher at the Mitchell Conservatorium of Charles Sturt University, NSW. Mertens has made numerous recordings and toured internationally.

Tickets €20 Adult/€15 Consc/€10 child are available from Svantje Mertens on 085 1574267, or from Harvest Fare, Blessington 045 891636, or at the door. Early booking is advised to avoid disappointment.

Great Daffodil Day

Once again our Daffodil Day fundraising in aid of The Irish Cancer Society was a huge success.


Great credit goes to all the volunteers - ladies & gents - who gave so generously of their time. Luckily we had fine weather and they were out from early morning smiling and ready to accept all donations.


Thanks to the tremendous support of the local community who gave so generously, we raised approximately €5,500.


Thanks a bunch for all your support!


Nuala Collins.

(On behalf of The Irish Cancer Society.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scoil Bhride scores in CU Quiz

A team from Scoil Bhríde NS won first place in the regional Competition of the Credit Union Quiz.

The team, made up of Jack Kelly, James Pitman, Bevan Murray and Josh Green achieved an outstanding score of 67 out of a possible 72 points.

The boys now go ahead to represent their school and Kilcullen Credit Union in the All Ireland Final on April 5th in the RDS.

Best of luck boys.

Athletic club says 'thanks'

Crookstown Millview Athletic Club held a very successful fundraising Table Quiz on 7 March.

The organisers would like to thank John Cradock Ltd, Kilcullen, for generous sponsorship of the 1st Prizes.

Thank also to all who supported this fundraising evening for Crookstown Millview Athletic Club.


The winning team.

The runners-up team.

Ann Fitzgerald.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring equinox 2009

For the second spring equinox of his javelin sculpture in the Dun Ailinne Interpretive Park, the sun performed brilliantly again for artist Noel Scullion, who took the actual equinox shots last Friday morning.


The equinox gathering on Saturday morning unfortunately took place in a lot of fog and there was no show with the sun, but there was a lovely gathering of people who were treated afterwards with brown bread and Nolan's sausages in Ray and Fiona Kelly's home.

For those who are wondering about the 'sunburst' in the foggy photo, that was a little neo-druidic magic organised by Ray Kelly!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Story teller visits Scoil Bhride

Pupils at Scoil Bhride NS had a rare treat during National Book Week when traditional story teller Eddie Lenihan came to talk to the children.

Eddie read from his own publication ‘Humorous Irish Tales for Children’
and his enchanting stories entertained and amused pupils of all ages.

His stories told of the hair-raising adventures of the Fianna, the escapades of Saint Patrick and of a world infested by monsters, ogres and foreign invaders.

Eddie Lenihan was born in Kerry and now lives in Co Clare. His publications include ‘Irish Tales of Mystery and Magic’, 'Stories of Old
Ireland for Children’, 'Long Ago by Shannonside’, 'In search of Biddy Early’ and 'Ferocious Irish Women’.

Since the visit many of these publications have been flying off the shelves in the local library.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Minister coming to Nolans

Nolan’s Butcher’s in Kilcullen will be visited this afternoon by the Minister for Agriculture, Food & Fisheries Brendan Smith TD.

The visit will mark the official granting of an export licence to the long-established business, which is one of the finest in Europe.

James Nolan who was this year’s national winner in the Crest Retail Excellence award in the large store category has recently transformed his family's landmark business with a major investment.

It is now a 28,000 square feet complex which houses a state of the art butcher shop, abattoir, boning hall and curing facility with supporting chills.

The visit takes place at 2.30pm.

Tidy Towns plans discussed

Early works on the Kilcullen Tidy Towns agenda were discussed at the recent meeting of Kilcullen Community Action.

They included the need to deal with brambles on the Town Hall side of the riverbank, which threatening to overwhelm the original landscaping.

"The place was planted beautifully at the beginning," Noel Clare remarked. "But now this stuff is taking over."

There was some discussion on the best way of tackling the problem, and Ray Kelly said he would take advice on it.

Ray will also look at the possibility of re-painting the wood tops on the bridge railings, which have become very weathered.

It was suggested that using a different colour than the original varnish might be considered. The job will be done in conjunction with repainting the street flower tubs for the spring.

Daffodil Day 2009

Today is Daffodil Day. This is our 22nd year to collect in Kilcullen and our 45 volunteers will be out as enthusiastic as ever to collect as much money as possible for a very worthy cause. We hope that our supporters will be generous with their donations.

Last year we collected €6,358. All the money we raise this daffodil will go to meet the needs of cancer patients and their families as well as meeting a growing need for information on cancer and support at every stage of the cancer journey. Our own St Brigid’s Hospice Unit at The Drogheda Memorial Hospital, The Curragh (founded 1990) benefits from these funds.

* Latest data shows that in 2005, 830 people developed cancer in Kildare
* Last year The Society raised €4 million nationwide from its Daffodil Day campaign
* Of the 1,642 families who availed of the Night Nurse service in 2008, 58 families were in County Kildare
* The Helpline received 12,468 calls last year and 196 of these calls were from callers in County Kildare

We collect at seven locations in Kilcullen and we are hoping once again to achieve the very generous levels of support which we have got over the past 22 years.

We are pinning all our hopes on you. Please give what you can.

Thanks a bunch in advance!

Nuala Collins

(On behalf of The Irish Cancer Society)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

KCA Table Quiz

The annual KCA fundraising Table Quiz has been set for Monday 30 March.

The event will again be held in Bardons, with questions set by Ray Kelly.

Local businesses who want to sponsor spot prizes should contact Ray, or any KCA member.

Motorway service area for Kilcullen

Plans are well in train for a dedicated motorway service area to be located just outside Kilcullen on the M9.

The facility will be adjacent to the motorway extension currently under construction, near Halverstown National School.

According to plans on the website of the National Roads Authority, the service area will include shops, fuel and toilet facilities, but no hotel.

It will be directly accessible for northbound traffic, while vehicles travelling southbound will reach it via a bridge over the motorway.

The motorway itself, which will link up with the one bypassing Carlow, is now expected to be completed by the end of 2009, a year ahead of the original schedule.

Kilcullen players in Badminton finals

Kilcullen Juvenile Badminton Club took 22 trophies at the recent Leinster Branch Badminton Union of Ireland (LLBUI) ‘Westside’ tournament held in Kilcullen Community Complex.

Nine clubs were represented from Leinster, with over 120 entries, providing a great weekend of badminton for players aged from 11 to 17 years.

Kilcullen Juvenile Club is thriving and with extra coaching provided by Sheila Smyth, league and tournament results are excellent this season. The club meets every Saturday at 10am. Call Rose on 087 2496254.

Special thanks must go to a dedicated and hard working committee who provided food and refreshments over two days of badminton. Thank you to our sponsor for the shop Ronan Murphy, and all the helpers - Rose, Sinead, Nora, Ger, Fiona, Trina, Pamela, Caroline, Bernadette and PJ Lydon.

Westside Tournament Results, Kilcullen Players: (pictured in attached photo)

U11 G plate winner - Caoimhe Nolan; U13 G singles winner - Miah Phelan; U13 B singles winner - Ben O'Shea; U13 B doubles winners - Ben O'Shea & Micheal O'Shea; U13 B Plate R/up - Ben Morris; U13 G Singles R/up - Melissa Mc Mahon; U13 B Plate Doubles winners - Ben Phelan & Sean Fitzgerald; U15 B plate winner - John Byrne; U15 B Plate Doubles winners - Harry Murphy & Michael O'Shea; U15 G plate R/up - Yvonne Phelan; U15 G Doubles R/up - Yvonne Phelan & Amy Barton; U17 B Doubles Winners - Gareth Hogan & Des Cassidy; U17 B Doubles Plate Winners - Bryan Coyne & Myron Larkin; U17 B Doubles Plate R/up - Mathew Wilson & Josh Uddin; U17 G Doubles R/up - Yvonne Phelan & Amy Barton.

Hilary Makin.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Equinox event this weekend

The Spring Equinox takes place this weekend, and provides an opportunity, weather permitting, to see the extraordinary effects on the javelin sculpture at the Dun Ailinne Interpretive Park in Nicholastown.

sunrise7551A number of hopefuls are planning to meet at the sculpture on Saturday next March 21st, when sunrise is estimated for 5.42 am. Last year was a spectacular first occasion for this event, and it should be well worth while getting up early.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pitch & Putt Captains Drive

The Captains drive in for the St Bridget's Pitch & Putt Club's 21st year was held on St Patrick's morning.

captains drive in St Patricks day 2009 002

There was a large turn out for this event and the opening competition of the year held in beautiful weather.

The incoming Captains were Ann Sweeney and Liam Sherry who, before their drive in, presented the traditional pennants to the outgoing captains Mary Sherry and Dave Hanlon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The passing of Paddy Bathe

The Diary has learned with sadness of the death of Paddy Bathe, Nicholastown, Kilcullen, Co Kildare.

He will be deeply missed by his wife May, who is in Curragh Lawns nursing home; his sisters Kathleen Moran (Nicholastown), Madge FitzFerald (Newbridge); and Tom Bathe (Newbridge) and Michael Bathe (Logstown); his nieces and nephews, and many friends.

He is reposing overnight at the Church of The Sacred Heart and St Brigid, Kilcullen.

Paddy's funeral mass will be celebrated tomorrow, Monday, after 11 o'clock Mass. Interment will take place immediately afterwards in St Brigid's Cemetery.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


22nd Annual Daffodil Day is on March 20th

To Fight Ireland’s Biggest Threat…

…Ireland’s Biggest Cancer Charity…

…needs your help more than ever this year and we’re confident that if we stand together in the fight against cancer we can raise much needed funds

New volunteers are always needed. Can you spare one hour of your time this Friday?

And of course all donations are very welcome

Please phone Nuala Collins 087 9094380

or email to lend your support

(On behalf of the Irish Cancer Society)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mini Marathon update

The ladies doing the Flora Women's Mini Marathon 2009, in aid of The Punchestown Kidney Research Fund, are looking for your support. How can you help?

Join us in doing the race. Walkers, runners, Joggers all welcome.

By sponsoring someone or by taking a sponsor card for the charity.

Spread the word and encourage someone to join us. You may be able to facilitate by minding the children or mind the dog or the house.

All support appreciated.

Monday, March 30th, 7.30-8.30pm at Kilcullen Parish Centre, we meet to organise registration, take t-shirt sizes and organise transport on the day.

Entry forms and race details are on the Evening Herald on Thursdays and Saturdays.

You can register on line at Closing date for entries is 20th april, but can close anytime when target number is reached. Minimum age 14.

If you have any queries contact Phena at 045-485232. mob. 087-9767531; Lorraine at 0857604806; Siobhan at 087-7673002; Caroline at 087-2562563.

Phena Bermingham.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Discussion on recession effects

A discussion on how the recession is affecting Kilcullen brought out a number of pro-active ideas at the most recent meeting of Kilcullen Community Action.

These included the possibility of hosting a public meeting at which local individuals and businesses could outline how they were feeling the effects of the economic downturn. The same meeting could include a subsequent panel discussion aimed at helping deal with the situations raised.

Ray Kelly suggested there could also be a series of informal 'coffee morning' events held in the Town Hall where people who have lost jobs could come for networking and information about their entitlements.

The level of job losses among residents isn't known, but Esther Kiely remarked that there were 'many more men' dropping their children off to schools than used to be the case.

Noel Clare suggested that the Community Directory could be updated, to provide information on the availability of local craftsmen and service providers.

"We could put it on the internet too," he suggested.

J J Warren concurred, saying that KCD should be 'pro-active' in encouraging people to support local business.

Esther Kiely suggested that there might be opportunities for people to barter their skills and services, and Noel Clare said he already knew of one instance where this was happening.

During a further discussion on upcoming KCA projects, it was suggested that any contractor involved should be encouraged to employ local people.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pizza at Paulo's

Well, we've been watching it coming for a while, but now there's a new option for eating out in Kilcullen.


And in recessionary times, it's nice to see that it can be done on a budget, courtesy of 'Paulo's Classic Pizzeria & Pasta'.

The name gives it away, of course, as the new enterprise is Paul and Freda Mullen wearing their Italian hats, so to speak.


The word has already spread fast that a little bit of Italy can be sampled at reasonable cost, and in a pleasant candle-lit ambience. A full range of traditional Italian pizzas and pastas are available from just €9.50. There is also a wide variety of starters, sides and desserts available.


A take out service is available at the end of a phone, and local delivery will be available shortly.

Meantime, it's worth a visit.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Change to art exhibition

The Kilcullen Art Group exhibition planned for April has now been put back to May.

The event will now be held in Fallons, with a cheese and wine reception opening on May 7. The exhibition will run for a week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Paddy Downey, in Memoriam

Patrick (Paddy) Downey of Mount Bagnal died peacefully in Carlingford nursing home on 19 February 2009 aged 91. Paddy formerly of Kilcullen Co Kildare is survived by his wife of 63 years Anne, sons Anthony and Patrick and daughters Mary and Gabrielle, 7 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.

paddydowneyPaddy was born on 28 Dec 1917 the eldest of 6 sons of Patrick and Bridget (nee Fitzgerald) Downey of French Furze near Kildare town. He had an older sister Ettie. He outlived all his siblings. Paddy’s family had a long tradition in the horse racing industry and Paddy followed this tradition by joining Mr Ken Urquhart’s Tully Stud when he left school. Paddy worked in various stud farms owned by Ken particularly New Abbey Stud outside Kilcullen, for the next 52 years until his retirement at age 67. Before his retirement Paddy was managing the day to day operations of the farm. After his retirement Paddy’s love of horses saw him taking casual work on major race and sales days.

Paddy met his wife Anne (nee O’Doherty) in Kildare where she was working and they married on 13 June 1945 in St. Mary’s Church Lordship. Paddy and Anne lived most of their lives around Kilcullen where his four children were born and raised. Paddy had a great love for his family and always made time for his children. He worked long hours in the difficult post war years often adding part time jobs to give them the best. This love of children continued all his life and extended to his nieces and nephews and ultimately his grandchildren and great grandchildren. All were welcome in his house as evidenced by a constant stream of visitors from his and Anne’s family. He will be sadly missed by all of them.

After his family Paddy’s great love in life was the horses racing industry. He was not a gambling man but he loved the excitement of the races and attended some of the world’s great races including Ascot, the Melbourne Cup, the Aintree Grand National and all of Ireland’s major races. His knowledge of the industry was enjoyed by all who attended the races with him and his visit to the corporate marquee at the Melbourne Cup was long remembered. He particularly enjoyed meetings where his daughter Mary’s horse was running. Although he always had a small bet I doubt he caused the bookies any great stress nor them him.

Paddy was also a great lover of people and enjoyed parties, dances and the ‘craic’ in general even if it were no more than a simple chat in the street from a chance meeting. As a result he was widely known in Kilcullen and in the Gyles’ Quay area where Paddy retired some 9 years ago.

Paddy was a knowledgeable gardener and together with his wife Anne won many awards for his vegetables and flowers at local shows including the top overall award on several occasions. His garden in Kilcullen was renowned and he was presented with a special award by the Kilcullen Tidy Town Committee. He grew all his own vegetables and strongly believed in the value of clean organic food.

Paddy always had an interest in fishing and took it up in earnest when he retired to Mount Bagnal. He was a regular at the Greenore foreshore fishing spot where he landed many a fine mackerel.

Paddy’s children grew up and in the classic Irish fashion and all four emigrated and are spread across the world from England to Australia, Germany to the Netherlands. As a result Paddy travelled widely to visit his family with visits to England, Iran, USA, Australia and other European countries. Paddy enjoyed relating colourful tale of visits to Tehran, Bangkok, Singapore, China, Australia and biking through The Netherlands.

Paddy enjoyed a long healthy life and was still driving as he approached his ninetieth birthday. His funeral mass in St. Mary’s Church Lordship, with its choice of music was well attended and deeply moving. The subsequent horse drawn hearse to the cemetery reflected Paddy’s love of life. He will be remembered with affection and a smile and deeply missed by his extended family.

Paddy’s Month’s Mind Mass will be held in St Mary’s Church Lordship on Friday 20 March 2009 at 7.30pm.

Tony Downey.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Teagasc seminar invitation

Teagasc invites farm families and rural dwellers to a seminar on 'Idea and Income Generation in Food and Rural Tourism'.

This seminar will be of interest to small food producers and rural tourism providers already in business or exploring their options in setting up a food and or tourism business.

The venue the Hazel Hotel Monasterevin,Co. Kildare, on Tuesday 24 March, 8-10pm

For further information please, contact Cindy Mahon, Teagasc, (059) 8631719 or (087) 2811698.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Anna Manahan: a personal memory

It might seem strange that we record the death of actress Anna Manahan on the Diary, but she had her own input into the career of your Editor.

Way back in the middle seventies, when I was managing the Hideout, I brought her to Kilcullen to perform her one-woman show in what was then known as 'The Cave' in the Hideout. She was, of course, a tremendous success, and I brought her back a number of times.

Around the same time I had been doing quite a lot of writing in my spare time, especially poetry. In 1976, Anna was doing a Radio 1 afternoon programme on poetry, and she used a small, four-line poem of mine, 'Living, Loving, Giving', on one of the programmes.

In the course of time, a cheque came from RTE, payment of one pound and 50p for using my poem. As it was my first payment for any writing, I never cashed it, and still have it. I did, of course, cash a subsequent cheque for half the original amount when the programme was repeated!

Little did I know at that time that I would later make my living from journalism ... or that I would spend a decade in RTE's newsroom itself as part of that career.

In succeeding years I would occasionally meet up with Anna again. Among other things, she was very supportive of my short story writing, which was a boost that made me continue with that kind of work for many years. Although pressures of my journalist life meant that I ceased writing fiction for quite a time, I've been doing it again recently.

There are many plaudits and appreciations of Anna going the rounds today, from people who were much closer to her than I was. All I can say is that she had a wonderful spirit with which she invariably inspired and encouraged others. As a woman of her own craft, she has long since taken her place in the pantheon of the greats.

All who came into contact with her, who worked with her, or who were hugely entertained by her performance, will miss her.

But we are all better for her having lived and worked among us. I know that I certainly am.

Brian Byrne.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Lions Community Day plans

The Kilcullen Lions are considering running their annual Community Day in association with a proposed festival weekend to be held around the FBD Milk Ras start planned for Kilcullen in May. This will include their Duck Race fundraiser.

This was revealed at a recent meeting of Kilcullen Community Development, where there was a discussion of how the organisation might help.

Chairman Kieran Forde said KCA would 'row in' with whatever is going on with the weekend, which at the moment is being organised by cycling interests in the town.

"We've offered help, and whatever is required, we'll do," he said.

KCA 'will continue' with Valley work

The continuing involvement in maintaining the Valley Park was raised during a recent meeting of Kilcullen Community Action.

It was noted at the meeting that FAS workers involved in maintenance work on the Valley, and on other parts of the Kilcullen river frontage, were working under the auspices of the Tidy Towns group in Kilcullen. KCA is the umbrella group for Kilcullen's Tidy Towns effort.

The matter arose from an item in the minutes of a previous meeting, where KCA member Noel Clare said KCA needed to keep the area 'in top condition', considering the organisation 'had paid for and carried out the majority of the work' to get it to the stage that it is at.

A comment at the meeting that the Valley 'was no longer likely to become somebody else's front garden' was further interpreted that a proposed pedestrian bridge from the Market Square development was no longer likely to actually happen.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

'Awful' wall to be tackled

A suggestion from last winter that Kilcullen Community Action 'adopt' the section of the New Abbey Road from the traffic lights was raised again at the most recent meeting of the organisation.

During a general discussion on what Tidy Towns matters might be pursued during the coming spring and summer, Celia Travers said the wall and the church car park were 'just awful', especially since the recent refurbishment of the Library across the road.

Recalling the original suggestion, Ray Kelly noted that the offending wall was 'half owned by the church, and half by Andrew Nolan'. "Both might be persuaded to help clean it up," he said.

He added that investment in a power washer by KCA might be generally useful, and specifically for cleaning up the wall. "We should look seriously at the idea," he said.

Moving away from that particular area, Celia Travers also raised the possibility of KCA doing some 'maintenance on the timber topping of the bridge'. It was decided that the matter would be looked at when the weather got drier.

Ray Kelly also said he would look into cleaning up and painting bollards on the New Abbey Road and the pump at The Hideout.

Equinox presentation planned

Presentations of appreciation to Sir Anthony and Lady O'Reilly and the Thompson family for their support of the Dun Ailinne celebrations last year are being planned by Kilcullen Community Action.

The organisation's recent meeting heard that the equinox around March 21 might be a good time to mark that appreciation. It would be the second time that the unique sunrise interaction with the javelin sculpture during the spring equinox might be observed, weather permitting.

Suggestions that the presentations include copies of the special book produced for the key people involved in the Dun Ailinne excavations and subsequent investigation, as well as DVDs of the music composed by Liam O'Flynne for the summer dedication of the Dun Ailinne Interpretive Park, sponsored by the O'Reillys, were agreed at the meeting.

CPC students bite the Big Apple

Thirty-nine Fifth Year students from Cross & Passion College had a tremendous trip to the ‘Big Apple’ over the mid-term break.

Over the five-day trip they packed in all the ‘must-see’ sights, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, The Metropolitan and Natural History museums, St Patrick's Cathedral and the Cathedral of St John the Divine.

Central Park and Broadway were also on the itinerary, and other highlights of the trip included a night-time visit to the top of the Empire State building and a Basketball match at Madison Square Gardens.

They did a terrific video diary.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Community Games Art

There was a large turnout for the recent Community Games Art Competition, held in Kilcullen Parish Centre.

The competition was judged by local artist Noel Scullion, who also presented the Brenda Scullion Memorial Trophy (presented to the artist showing most potential) to the U/8 boys winner Leon Cullen. All of the medal winners will represent Kilcullen at the county finals to be held in Newbridge on 8th March.

The full results were as follows:

Tiny Tots - Jack Redmond, Emily Quigley, Kelly Mangan, Hannah Maloney
U/8 Boys - 1st Leon Cullen, 2nd Eoin Redmond, 3rd Odhran Healy
U/8 Girls - 1st Grace O'Toole, 2nd Iseult Reid, 3rd Reiltin Green
U/10 Boys - Joint 1st Martin Allen, Fiachra Healy, 2nd Ben O'Shea
U/10 Girls - 1st Ellie O'Toole, 2nd Rachel Fitzgerald, 3rd Sarah Holohan
U/12 Boys - 1st Conor Tutty Bardon, 2nd Khalid Kamil, 3rd Jack Fitzgerald
U/12 Girls - 1st Kerri Ann Murtagh, 2nd Emily McGlinchey, 3rd Kelsey Anderson
U/14 Boys - 1st Christopher McGlinchey, 2nd Michael O'Shea
U/14 Girls - 1st Siomha Reid, 2nd Daniella Traynor, 3rd Aoife Buckley
U/16 Girls - 1st Aisling Dooley
U12 Boys Model Making - 1st Brendan Aspel

TCD and Dun Ailinne

Researchers from TCD visited the ancient royal site at Dun Ailinne recently in the course of a survey of heritage sites around the country.

The visit was led by Dr Elene Negussie, and in the course of the day they spent some time at the new Dun Ailinne Interperetive Park as well as in Kilcullen Heritage Centre.

On the Kilcullen side, they were shown around by local historian Des Travers, and Nessa Dunlea, chair of Kilcullen heritage Group.

The visitors were also given a copy of the report on the excavations on the site in the 1960/70s, published last year by Dr Susan Johnston of George Washington University and Dr Bernard Wailes of the University of Pennsylvania, who conducted those excavations.

Dr Negussie said the report had ‘been very useful in gaining further understanding of the site’.

Their visit to the site itself was courtesy of the Thompson family, on whose land it is located.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

'Serious fundraising' for KCA

Kilcullen Community Action will have to address some 'serious fundraising' to continue its work, the organisation's chairman Kieran Forde said at the most recent meeting.

He was commenting on the draft financial results for 2008, during a discussion prior to submitting them to the auditors, as is required now that KCA is a limited company.

When exceptional payments are taken out of the current financial position, significant extra funding or cost cuts will be required for the activities of KCA to be properly covered, the meeting heard.

Could you be a teacher in China?

The daily life of a foreign teacher in China is the stuff of an article by Kilcullen-born Garreth Byrne in the current issue of ‘The Far East’, the magazine of the Columban Fathers.


Garreth, who has had a long career teaching English in Ireland, Africa, the Middle East and China, was recently awarded the Lushan Friendship Award, given to selected ‘foreign experts’ working in Jiangxi Province in China.

In the piece, ‘Come and Teach in China’, he details how he has learned to adapt to working in a country where he doesn’t speak the local language. “Although I have learned to count to a thousand in Chinese, which is a great help when shopping,” he notes.

Garreth has been back to China many times over the last decade. He is currently teaching in Nanchang University, which specialises in technical and engineering studies.

He details the work and daily life of a ‘foreign expert’, up to six of which may be working at any typical third level institution in China. Many are sent there by the Association for International Teaching, Education and Curriculum Exchange (AITECE), an organisation based in Australia but with national offices in Ireland, Britain and the USA.

The people it sends must have a university degree, and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate is a welcome bonus.

“Not all of the teachers have a degree in English per se,” Garreth says. “Actually, some of the best English teachers may be retired engineers, accountants, or classics graduates excellent at wrestling with tricky Latin or Greek irregular verbs.”

But he stresses that what the Chinese students want most from those who teach them English are ‘clear diction and happy personalities’.

“The most important thing to bring with you is a sense of humour and openness to the ups and downs af the varied and often exciting China experience,” he adds.

On many Friday nights, that experience for Garreth includes going to a tree-shaded area on his campus, where students hold a weekly ‘English Corner’. Any student can come along and join the many conversations in English, in huddled groups.

“If a foreign teacher like myself arrives, he or she is immediately surrounded by a welcoming cluster of students anxious to chat with and listen to the words of a native speaker. My strategy is to get through the ritual patter of phrases they learn in classrooms and then politely steer conversations into areas I personally like, such as classical and folk music, art house movie techniques, or travel.”

It’s a long way from Kilcullen to shopping for fruit and vegetables from street vendors outsidehis apartment, to whom Garreth has become a welcome face as a regular customer. And it is different ... and yet, so much the same as anywhere else, even here at home.

If there’s one thing Garreth’s travels have taught him over the decades it is that behind the languages, the different clothes, the unusual customs, people the world over will always react in a friendly way to friendliness.

Life is worth living anywhere to find that.

(Anyone interested in this kind of work should in the first instance contact Danielle at

Monday, March 02, 2009

Christmas lights cost €12,000

The total cost of the Christmas Lights in Kilcullen came to €12,640, a recent meeting of Kilcullen Community Action heard. Donations towards the expenditure have so far totalled €8,850, with more expected to come in.

The response to the appeal for funding was 'very good', Niall McDonnell said. He noted that in Carlow, where the Chamber of Commerce had spent in excess of €30,000 on lights last Christmas, only about a third of the cost had been recouped from donations.

KCA chairman Kieran Forde noted that much of the 2008 cost was on infrastructure, and in future years the charge would be much less. He paid tribute to J J Warren for both putting the lights in place and collecting the donations from businesses and individual supporters.

Ray Kelly said there were still difficulties in getting a reasonable costing from the ESB for the power to the lights, despite the fact that they were provided by a voluntary body.

'Let's get elected...'

"You're here because he's a good guy and you want him to succeed," Mairead McGuinness MEP told the full house that turned up for the launch of Martin Heydon's local election campaign on Friday night.

heydonlaunch - 04

At the event in Walls of Kilgowan, the veteran broadcaster and journalist, and very successful European politician, said that the Fine Gael candidate is a 'man who knows his people, and his area well'.

"It takes guts to put your name on a ballot paper and your face on a poster," she added. "But more than ever we need people not to see politicians as all the same, and when we have young people prepared to put their names forward and do what is required, it augurs well for politics."

Earlier, outgoing councillor for the Athy Electoral District Rainsford Hendy had introduced Martin's campaign, saying he was 'very honoured to have a young man of this calibre to follow in my footsteps'.

Cllr Hendy, who has served the area for nigh on 20 years, recalled the candidate's family background in Fine Gael, and said that he had no doubt that after the June elections, Martin will be elected, and will 'serve the party well'.

He also expressed his satisfaction that, after seeing so many things happen in politics in recent times, the party had a candidate of such integrity. "When we get people of Martin's calibre, we need to give him committed support," he said.

Saying he was 'humbled' at seeing so many people turn out for the campaign launch, the candidate said he was a very proud Kildare man from an area which had seen 'huge changes' in the past few years.

"Some of these were positive, some negative," he said. "But I want to make South Kildare relevant again to the people who live in it and who call it home. I want to be part of the change that is going to happen in this country. We may be in a downturn, but there will be real opportunities, particularly in agriculture."

He criticised current Government policies relating to education and the elderly, quoting local examples of where these created real difficulties.

"I want to work for all sections of the community, and I will need your support for this," he told those present, adding that, like a rugby team on the pitch, his core campaign team will need the help of a lot of people off the field as well. "We have 14 weeks to the election, so let's get out there, let's spread the word, and let's get elected."

Below is the slide show from the night.

Brian Byrne.

CPC Access Project, Phase 2

The second phase of a €500,000 project to make Cross and Passion College more accessible for people with disability has now got under way.

Phase 1 was completed last summer, when the accessible toilet facilities were upgraded and accessible desks were installed in all class rooms.

Phase 2 will remove barriers such as steps throughout the school building and grounds. The main part of the project involves the building and installation of a lift shaft and a lift to allow access to the second and third floor of the old building.

The project has been spearheaded by a steering group of parents and teachers with including Denis Dennehy (staff), Breda Kelly & Geraldine Kelly (parents), Gabriel McGinley (architect), and Susan Forde (Enable Ireland). Support was also given to the project by Councillor Willie Callaghan.

The work will take 16 weeks - right up to the end of the school year. School will continue as normal although it does involve considerable disruption with students being re routed as they travel from one part of a building to another.

The contractors are Weslin Construction

The project is being funded through the Department of Education and Science.


Pictured above at the signing of the contract for the second phase of the CPC Access Project were (Back) Gabrielle McGinley, Architect; Paul Tyrrell, Principal; Willie Callaghan, Kildare County Council; Breda Archbold, Parent and Steering Group; Geraldine Kelly, Parent and Steering Group; and (Front) Brendan Boyle, Weslin Construction; Sr Anne Harnett, Chairperson Board of Management; and Karl Kelly, First Year Student.

Kilcullen teens do Aykburn

Kilcullen teenagers will take part in a production of Alan Ayckbourn's 'The Boy Who Fell into a Book' at Kilcullen's Town Hall Theatre in March.

The production is being presented by Evelyn O'Sullivan's Teen Theatre from 26-28 March inclusive. It brings alive several well-known children's books where the play's heroes become part of such stories as 'Kidnapped', 'Grimms' Fairy Tales', and 'Chess for Beginners'.

Tickets for the play are available from Bernard Berney Chemist, phone 045 481497.