Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sun shines for Valley fairies

After a miserable morning of bad weather, the fairies did a little magic and not only did the rain stop, but the sun even peeked through for the opening of the Valley Fairy Trail, writes Brian Byrne.

Which was a good job, because the people waiting for the opening spilled out onto Main Street ... and when the ribbon — held by Tara Coules of Frozen Princess Parties — was finally cut by little Ollie O'Connell, it quickly became clear that the crowd was probably as big as when the park was first opened in 1977.

It was also very much a case of wings without the necessity of intervention by Red Bull, with the 50 pairs provided by Kilcullen Community Action augmented by many brought by people themselves, both children and adults.

Head Fairy Antoinette Buckley, who had led the project for KCA, thanked Ger Doyle who has provided the fairy doors, houses, and other fairy facilities, including the Gilly's House. Noting that the house was a particular tribute to the late Jim Collins, she said he had been passionate about the park since its initial purchase for the community. "I think he would be so so proud to see it being utilised in this way today," she said.

Jim's daughter Deirdre, speaking on behalf of the family, thanked everyone for coming out, and also all the people who had developed the Trail. "It's wonderful for us that you have incorporated my Dad's name and to honour his memory of the Valley in this way," she said, and explained that 'The Gilly' had been a nickname since he was a boy.

"The river was his playground, and his whole world was Kilcullen," she said. "His passion for the Valley continued all through his life, and when he died last year we asked people to contribute to its upkeep in his memory. Last week my sister Maeve was able to give a cheque from those donations, and that's a matter of great pride for us."

Deirdre described what the Valley had been before its development as a park, a steep sloping 'wilderness' that was impassible. "They literally brought a bulldozer in at one end and cut out the beautiful valley that we have today. It was literally a fairyland for him, and he spent all this time thinking about it and what could be here."

She said her father would be so excited if he could see what had been done in the initiative by Ger and Antoinette and the KCA today. "It's opening up the Valley to a whole new generation, and to him that would be the most wonderful thing. For us, his family, you have incorporated his name here, and that means he will always be here. He will sit and wait here, for people to tell their stories, and enjoy a wonderful walk in the Valley, with him, here forever."

Ann Cashman, on behalf of KCA, thanked Antoinette, Ger and all in the group who had helped make the day happen.

All the Diary's pictures from the day are here.

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