Local Historians Meet for the 8th Annual Seminar and AGM of Co. Kildare Federation of Local History Groups.
Over fifty delegates representing fourteen local history groups from all over County Kildare met recently in Kilcullen Heritage Centre for their Annual General Meeting and one day seminar. There were representatives from Naas, Kilcullen, Kill, Curragh, Celbridge, Rathcoffey, Kildare, Lexlip, Blessington, Clane, Monasterevin, Timahoe, Newbridge and Athy. The attendance was a measure of the huge interest in local History in Co. Kildare. This was the eighth meeting since the foundation of The County Kildare Federation of Local History Groups in 1999.
After registration the conference MC, Larry Breen, introduced the Federation chairman, Ger McCarthy, who welcomed everyone to this the keynote event in the year’s calendar.
The programme was officially opened by Fionula Dukes, Mayor of Kildare, who remarked how refreshing it was in this age of commercialism to see so many people giving time to pursue their sense of place in the local community. There were now more than ever an increasing collection of books being written and published about County Kildare which was evidenced by the recently very fine book published in the series on Irish counties, The History of Kildare. She complimented the great work local history groups were doing to help guard and preserve the natural and built environment against some unnecessary modern developments by acting as vocal lobby groups on these important issues, which would otherwise go unnoticed. The Federation was very much alive and active in encouraging people to better appreciate the wider community they lived in and help to pass on this rich heritage to their children and grandchildren.
The first lecture of the morning programme was delivered by local historian Hugh Crawford. Hugh gave a fascinating talk from his award winning paper, “The Kildare Locke Hospital”. This proved to be much more than the story of the hospital alone, but was a social history of life and times on the Curragh and its hinterland during those difficult times.
The Mary Carroll Memorial Lecture was both interesting and informative as Brian Crowley, Curator of the Pearse Museum in Rathfarnam, captivated the audience with his presentation on “Naas Gaol”. The talk widened out to include the history of gaols from the sixteenth century onwards and included comparisons with Pentonville in England and as far afield as Pennsylvania in USA. The final talk heard local poet, writer and broadcaster Mae Leonard take the audience into the court of Elizabeth I of England with her very personal story of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. He was one of the most powerful men of his time and the man who was responsible for building Jigginstown House. Aided by Ger McCarthy, she painted a vivid picture of Wentworth’s work in the establishment of Jiggenstown, which was the biggest house ever built in Ireland.
The Federation’s AGM followed the morning talks during which time the committee for the incoming year was elected. Chairman, Ger Mc Carthy; Vice Chairman, Brian McCabe; Secretary/Treasurer, Larry Breen; Pro, Liam Kenny; Web Master, Adrian Mullowney; Members, Brendan Cullen, Ann McNeill, Barry Walsh.
There then followed an open forum when each society reported on their year’s activities.
An excellent lunch was enjoyed courtsey of Fallons in Kilcullen after which the historians traveled to Clongowes Wood College for the days field trip.
The Federation was met at Clongowes Wood by Father Conor Harper of the College who is a recognized expert on the Castle and the College. The chequered history of this unique establishment then unfolded as the speaker took the group through centuries of fascinating history including its distinguished owners, religion, politics, war, intrigue, ghost stories; distinguished students like Joyce, Thomas Frances Maher, John Redmond, John Bruton and the saintly Jesuit Fr. John O’Sullivan. The visit to the people’s church with its impressive marble altar, its beautiful stained glass windows and its unique painted stations of the cross proved to be a highlight of the afternoon. The day concluded with a walk through the peaceful and tranquil pleasure gardens to see a remaining part of the Pale, which is still very much in evidence wihin the Castle grounds.
8th Annual Seminar – Sat 26 May 2007 at Kilcullen Heritage Centre
9.30 am – Assembly and Registration.
10.25 am – Welcome. Gerry McCarthy, Chairman, Co. Kildare Federation.
10.30 am – Opening Address. Fionnula Dukes, Mayor of Kildare.
10.45 am – Mary Carroll Memorial Talk. Naas Gaol, Brian Crowley.
11.15 am – Kildare Lock Hospital, Hugh Crawford.
11.45 am – Thomas Wentworth-Earl of Strafford, Mae Leonard.
12.15 pm – AGM
12.35 pm – Society Speake.
13.20 pm – Lunch ( Buffet -Birney’s Pub )
14.45 pm – Visit. Clongowes Wood College/Castle/English Pale.
Total cost €20.00 per person-price includes all presentations, buffet lunch and field trip to Clongowes Wood.
To book – contact Larry Breen, 8 The Paddocks, Naas
orTel: 045-897445 by Mon 21st May at latest.