Saturday, April 30, 2016

No more an old men's town

Fr Furlong blessing the site at the turning of the sod for Kilcullen's affordable housing project, in the early 1970s.
"We want to change it from being an old man's town," a member of Kilcullen Development Association told a group of journalists in September 1962, writes Brian Byrne. He was presenting the views of his Association’s members, then comprising Paddy Nugent, Michael St Leger KCC, Tommy Orford, Mrs Margaret Burke, Sean McDonnell, Joe McTernan, Andy Nolan and Tommy Byrne.

The description was apt. At that time it was said that more young Kilcullen men met after work in Reading, England, than in their home town. That was where Kilcullen-born Matty Aspell had a busy building company, and was always ready to give young men from back home a 'start'.

The press conference had been called in part out of frustration. Because Kilcullen Development Association Trust, formed three years earlier, and previous incarnations established in 1949 and 1954, had failed in their efforts to attract an industry to Kilcullen. Chronic unemployment was endemic across Ireland. No less than in any other small Irish town, the Co Kildare village was being bled of its youth virtually at the point of its children leaving school.