Saturday, August 11, 2018

That was the August 2008 that was

In August 2008, Kilcullen was a different place to today, yet it was in many ways the same, writes Brian Byrne.

Trawling through the Diary reports of that month, we began with details of a survey carried out by the Parish Pastoral Council which, among other things, found that more than half of those interviewed had lived in Kilcullen for more than 20 years. Most respondents painted community life in Kilcullen in a positive light, although there was some negativity about the 'recent fast pace of development'.

We also reported on the production of a DVD of the recent dedication day for the Dun Ailinne Interpretive Park, produced by Michelle Ryan Videography.

A profile of the late Paddy Maloney was also one of much recollection, as he remembered how his first interests in canoes developed, from his attempts — at first failure but later very successful — to build them, as a way of increasing the use of the Liffey by local people.

Your Editor found a few memories too, while cleaning up his office, which brought up photographs from the opening of the Kilcullen Bypass (M9) some 14 years previously. These included a number of local VIPs who had time-travelled forward for the occasion.

It was also the month that Jo Doyle published her memoir of 17 years life in Africa as a nurse in the 1980s, 'Labyrinth through the Elephant Grass'. She remembered that she came out of the experience 'suffering the same level of post-traumatic stress disorder as soldiers on a battlefield'.

A feature on Kilcullen Heritage Centre provided the opportunity to discuss the background to some of the many items of local historical interest on the premises, and to note how the Centre had evolved from its previous incarnations as part of the theatre and the cinema years.

We were also beginning to get a foretaste of the erratic weather patterns coming down the line because of climate change, and unusually heavy rains for August led to some significant flooding in the square area. Among the worst hit was the White Horse Inn, then being operated by Charlie Dowling.

Fortunately the Kilcullen Scout Troop, at a Jamboree in Punchestown, were able to weather the rainstorms without being flooded out.

Among those who left us that month was stonemason Paddy Brangan of Conroy Park, who had carried out all the stone work on the Valley Park some 30 years before, work that was recalled in this piece by Jim Collins, who has also, and sadly, recently passed on.

Another local man who has just recently passed is Michael McDonnell, and he and his wife Helen were the subject of a feature on the Diary that August. In particular, Michael described how they had built a pond and an island on land that was previously inaccessible due to waterlogging. An unexpected by-product was a field of wild-flowers.

Kilcullen had two connections to the annual Rose of Tralee Festival that year — Donal Droney, son of Philomena, won the Escort of the Year title; and the Kildare Rose was Denise Healy, daughter of Marlena.

And we closed out the month with some news of Miah Phelan-Sweeney, who at the age of ten, was about to take the next stage of her progress in the talent competition on RTE's 'The Den', Star Search. Miah at that stage had been doing music since she was five, and her upcoming gig would have her performing her own song, 'Ain't no Way'.  How did she do? Well, check out the next month, September 2008, and see.

Of course, lots more happened in Kilcullen that month, and indeed that year. But it's a busy life, and maybe we had forgotten. Hope this lookback revived memories.

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