Friday, August 05, 2016

Recalling fundraising fighting fun in a 'little bit of Heaven'

It's 34 years ago since these pictures were published, taken during an open day at Castlemartin Estate, then owned by businessman Dr Tony O'Reilly, writes Brian Byrne.

The main event was a re-enactment of the Donnelly-Cooper fight at Donnelly's Hollow, which had happened 170 years before.

The whole idea of the open day was to raise money towards the €400,000 cost of the Community Centre which had been built with the help of the Community Council of the time.

Local people paid £1 a head to spend the day on the Estate, hosted by Dr O'Reilly and the then 'Lord Mayor' of Kilcullen, Jim Collins, who had earned his robes in a fundraising competition.

Other attractions of the day included an example of stunt flying by Arthur Wignall, and the presence of the 'Silver Stream' car built by Philip Somerville-Large at Carnalway Glebe in 1906. The car was brought by then owner Denis Lucey from Portlaoise.

'Dan Donnelly', played by Alan Byrne, and 'George Cooper' played by Francie O'Brien, were also representing two local pubs, the Hideout and Berneys respectively, and the crowd of supporters for each fighter were mainly from the pubs.

The clipping is from the collection in Kilcullen Heritage Centre of the late Nicky Myers.