The 6th Annual Seminar Saturday the 9th April 2005 in Kilcullen Heritage Centre.
The Leinster Leader’s status as a resource for Kildare historians was highlighted at the Co. Kildare Federation of Local History Groups annual seminar in Kilcullen in April. In a tribute to the late Mary Carroll, long time co-ordinator of the Leader indexing project, the Mayor of Naas and member of Naas Local History Group Cllr. Paddy Behan described the Leader indexation as a ‘monumental source for local historians throughout the county.’
The importance of resources such as the Leader files to the history of the county was echoed by Kildare County Library local history specialist Mario Corrigan who in an opening address spoke of the work which the county library had underway to make accessible documents, maps and newspapers of a bygone age by making use of the latest information technology. Mr. Corrigan stressed the progress made by the county library in terms of opening hours and access facilities for the local collection and urged the county’s historians to add to the collection with publications generated from their own research.
The theme of applying new skills to old stories was taken up by Federation committee member Adrian Mullowney of Kildare town who demonstrated the use of the Internet as a tool for local history research. As a follow-on to his presentation a Workshop on Basic Internet Skills under the Co. Federation auspices was offered for Sat 30th April at R.A.C.E, Kildare Town.
Maura Gallagher of the Celbridge historical society drew on a wide range of sources to paint a picture of the Liffey-side town long before it became embraced in the commuter belt. She illustrated the importance of the mill industry to Celbridge and used figures from 19th century census returns to illustrate the different occupations and levels of literacy in the locality at the time.
Another Liffey-side landmark was the centre of a talk by Kilcullen historian Nessa Dunlea when she gave an engagingly personal account of memories of Castlemartin, the great mansion on the Liffey west of Kilcullen, now owned by Dr. Tony O’Reilly.
Nessa traced the recent history of the house from when it was in the ownership of the Blacker family and emphasised the place that the building and its residents had played in the life of the Kilcullen community. The forty-strong attendance at the seminar later had a first hand experience of the historic Castlemartin site when in the afternoon, Nessa and Federation chairman Ger McCarthy, led a visit to the grounds of the house courtesy of Dr. O’Reilly. The undoubted focus of attention was the mediaeval church on the grounds, faithfully restored in the last decade, which was part of the extensive legacy of the now vanished Eustace family who were once among the most powerful aristocracy in Co. Kildare. Ger McCarthy, an acknowledged expert on the great families of Kildare, gave an account of the Eustace properties which extended from Baltinglass to Clongowes wood.
Earlier in the day the vibrancy of the local history movement in Co. Kildare was highlighted by the reports from spokespersons for the dozen or so societies in existence in the county. Monasterevin’s Barry Walsh reported on the world wide response which the local society was getting to its internet site on the Barrow side town in bygone days. Clare Doyle of the Ballymore Eustace society spoke plans to repeat a photographic exhibition of the town’s heritage given the many old photographs which locals had produced in reaction to a previous exhibition mounted by the society.
A new insight into the ubiquitous Kildare republican John Devoy was indicated by Kill History Group spokesperson Brian McCabe who said that the group had made contact with a relative of Devoy’s who was able to supply new information on his life and career. Paddy Flanagan of the Cill Dara Historical Society spoke of a renewal in its activities with access to facilities in the Kildare Education Centre being a key part in its revival. Una Heffernan of Clane Historical Society and Anne McNeill of Celbridge highlighted the local history activity in north Kildare while Nick Coy described the packed programme of the Naas Local History Group and noted that the county town society was this month marking the 21st anniversary of its foundation.
Federation Secretary Larry Breen said that the Federation’s role was to act as a network for the dynamic local history movement in the county which saw new groups emerging all the time. He recalled that the Co. Kildare Federation had been formed in 1999 by a core group of experienced local history activists including Ger McCarthy, Brian McCabe, Nessa Dunlea, Adrian Mullowney and Seamus Cullen and had now established a strong network. The annual seminar and the Federation website were its pioneering activities but there were also plans for a summer field trip to a northern location and for further talks in the autumn.
He said that the Kilcullen Heritage centre had become the Federation’s ‘spiritual home’ given its atmospheric displays of local heritage items and evocative views to the mediaeval bridge over the Liffey in the town.
The meeting also featured the first formal AGM of the Co. Kildare Federation which resulted in the founding officers being unanimously returned with the addition of some other committee members.
The committee for 2004/2005 comprises:- Chairman: Ger McCarthy, Naas; Vice Chair: Brian McCabe, Kill; Secretary/Treasurer: Larry Breen, Naas; Webmaster: Adrian Mullowney, Kildare Town: committee: Barry Walsh, Monasterevin; Pat Foley, Kilcullen; Anne McNeill, Celbridge, Brendan Cullen, Clane; Liam Kenny, Naas. Groups represented at the seminar included: Celbridge, Clane, Timahoe, Naas, Newbridge, Curragh, Kilcullen, Kill, Ballymore Eustace and Kildare Town.
Details of Federation activities are available from Chairman Ger McCarthy at 045-879108 or Secretary Larry Breen at 087-9841551.
Co. Kildare Federation of Local History Groups – Annual Seminar
The 6th Annual Seminar will take place on Saturday 9th April in Kilcullen Heritage Centre commencing at 10.15 a.m.
Each year this seminar offers local historians and their friends an opportunity to come together with a series of lectures and a field trip to some local place of historical interest. But equally important it offers people interested in local history a forum to meet socially, talk about what different history groups are doing and exchange ideas, hopes and aspirations. Invitations to all the history groups will follow in the near future but below is the intended programme for the day. Remember anyone interested in local history is welcome, so come along and bring your friends.
10.15 – Assembly and Registration. Tea/Coffee.
10.45 – Opening address, Ger McCarthy, Chairman Co. Kildare Federation of Local History Groups. Mario Corrigan, Local History Studies, County Library Newbridge.
11.00 – Celbridge in the 19th Century — Maura Gallagher, Celbridge Local History Society.
11.30 – Memories of Castlemartin – Nessa Dunlea, Kilcullen Local History Group.
12.00 – Tea/Coffee break.
12.15 – Internet Resources for Local Historians – Adrian Mullowney, Cill Dara Historical Society.
12.45 – Annual General Meeting
1.15 – Lunch/ buffet.
2.30 – Society Speake. Groups talk about their activities.
3.15 – Field Trip. Visit Castlemartin.
Note: Any group who would like to display any of their publications for sale or otherwise are encouraged to bring them along and they will be put on display.