The New Century brought a new system of Local Administration to Naas, when the new Urban District Council, established by the Local Government of Ireland Act 1898. Succeeded the Town Commissioners, who in 1854 had replaced the Grand Jury who ran the affairs of the town during one of the most difficult periods in our history. 1840 – 1854, which included the infamous famine years. Prior to that the Old Corporation had governed the town 1409. The sitting members of the Town Commission in 1900 were promoted to Urban Council status, and continued in office until the next elections in 1902.
The first meeting of Naas Urban District was held on Tuesday 3rd April 1900 with Mr William Staples, a prominent Naas merchant of the time in the chair. The other members of the council were; Mr Stephen J.Brown, Solicitor and founder of the present firm of solicitors Brown & McCann, who have been the Legal Advisors to the Council for the best part of its first century. Shopkeepers were well represented by Mr Joseph O’Neill, Mr Nicholas Flanagan, Mr James Conway and Mr William Masterson. The other members of the council were Mr William Quinn, Baker. Mr Henry J. Farrell, Publican & Merchant. Mr Richard Sargent, Undertaker completed the line up of the first Naas Urban District Council. The Town Clerk was Mr Michael Gogarty, whose family are still in business in the town 100 years later. The Town Surveyor was Mr John J.Inglis.
The first motion placed on the placed on the agenda for the next meeting to be held on the 17th April by Cllr Henry J. Farrell read:-
1) “That he would move at the next meeting, that all meetings of the Council called for “fair days” be held at 4 oclock in the afternoon, instead of 11 oclock AM.”
2) ” That the Hibernian Bank Ltd, be appointed treasurers to the Naas Urban District Council”.
Both Motions were passed, the Hibernian Bank Ltd, were the forerunners of the Bank of Ireland who are still the councils treasurers 100 years later.
1900 was also became a milestone year in the educational history of the town, when a new national school was opened by the Sisters of Mercy, which would serve for the next three quarters of a century, until a new modern building was
opened in 1975.
The clock was an important part of the town day and night, but the inhabitants could not see its face at night, they complained to their councillors. And Town Clerk Mr Gogarty got one of “SUGGS” patent gas burners erected . It proved most satisfactory, and the councillors were delighted, and directed him to procure a pendant and two of the burners for the offices.
Naas Carpet Factory established in a classroom at the new convent school, with the aid of the local Gaelic League. The prime movers were Fr. D. Gorry and Stephen J.Brown, who later became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kildare Carpet Company Ltd. With the support of Lady Geraldine Mayo, of Palmerstown, the venture grew from strength to strength, and in 1904 moved to a new premises at Corbins Mill, Millbrook, where carpet was made to any size, shape, colour, shape or design. Customers own designs were catered for. The Directors in 1910 were, Geraldine, Countess of Mayo, Lord Frederick FitzGerald, John Edward Fottrell,Esq, Rev Edward Norris PP, Edward Glover, Esq, M..Imst.C.E., Stephen J.Brown, Esq, MA, JP, chairman, Robert M. Martin, Esq, Managing Director, Martin Salmon, Secretary, and Manager William S. Wild. In 1911 THE Kildare Carpet Company made four carpets for the RMS “Olympic” and the ill fated RMS “Titanic” that were owned by the Cunard Shipping Company at least two of these carpets were made at Naas. The factory ran into difficulty in 1912 due to lack of materials and finance, and it ceased operations in 1913 when it became a depot for some years, it was bought by the Maguire family in the 1920s and was later to gain fame as the one and only Mrs Lawlors Ballroom.
The members of Naas Urban District Council heard Town Clerk, Mr Michael Gogarty, read a letter from the secretary of the Automobile Club in London, seeking support for the holding of the Gordon Bennet Motor Club Race in Co Kildare in July 1903. It was received favourably by the members.
In August 1901 the Christian Brothers purchased one acre and thirteen perches on the Friary Road, on the 12th May 1903 the foundation stone was laid and on the 23rd April 1903 the community took up residence in their new home. On the occasion of the opening Father Murphy CC presented a beautiful picture of the Last Supper to the community. A large number of shrubs was got from the gardens ofCaptain Lambe to beautify the surroundings. The crosses on the roof of the monastery are tile and were brought from Scotland. The Intermediate School was transferred from the lower to the upper storey, vacated by the Brothers and during October a new Science Laboratory was erected.
A royal visit to Naas and Punchestown, on the 26th and 27th of April the town was decorated with bunting, flags and flowers, bands played as thousands cheering public converged on the townto catch a glimpse of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The fledgling Urban Council prepared an address of welcome, to be delivered by the Chairman Cllr William Staples, but alas the royal entourage swept past – presumably more anxious to get to the races than to hear yet another speech from a small town dignitary.
Was the year that Naas Town Hall got a facelift when local builder Jack Eacret renovated the building which had been damaged by fire some years previous. The façade as we know it today was built and the clock got its two faces. Plans used in that reconstruction were handed over to the council in 1993 by Sheila and Reggie Redmond from Terenure, Dublin. Mrs Redmond is the daughter of Mr Alma Kingsley Sargent who was an engineer in Naas in the 1940s and came into possession of the plans that were drawn for the renovation carried out in 1904.The Sargent Family had strong Naas Connections and lived on the Dublin Road, their house was demolished to make way for the Railway Bridge in the 1880s. Mrs Redmonds Grandfather, Richard Sargent was a member, and Chairman of the Urban District Council in the early 1900s, His brother George was a coffin maker on the Fairgreen.
Naas Urban District Council became one of the first councils to establish its own lending public library, availing of a grant of £500 from the Scottish based Carnegi Foundation. The newly refurbished Town Hall became its home for the next seven decades.
Naas G.A.A. leased a sportsfield from the U.D.C. The entrance to this field was from the Tipper Road along what was known locally as “Spooners Lane”. The committee appealed to the Gaels of the town ” to now come and join them, and throw in their lot and help foster our national games”.
On the morning of June 28th 1914, the heir to the Austo-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinard and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo by a young Bosnian Student. The assassination was to be the opening shots in one of the fiercest and bloodiest wars the world has ever known, over six million would die including over 49,000 Irishmen, many of them from Naas and Co Kildare.
Naas Town Hall was the venue on Tuesday 18th May, when Mr Percy French, just back from his successful American tour, gave a Humorous Song and Art Recital which included many new war songs, stories, with an exhibition of his most delightful paintings thrown in, all for the admission charge of one shilling, or two shillings if you reserved your seat in advance.
The “Co Kildare Tennis Club” at its Annual General Meeting decided to admit ladies to the club by ballot on payment of a ten shillings fee. Mna na hEireann and Naas enters the twentieth century.
Naas won their first Co Kildare Senior Football Championship title, they went on to win three-in-a-row, in 22′ 23,and 24. And seven senior championships, and five Leinster Leader Cups between 1920 and 1932. They also formed the nucleus of the great Kildare team that won six Leinster Championships and two All-Ireland’s between 1926 and 1931The year 1920 also saw the founding of the Naas Harriers, by Mr P. Berney. They started with a mixed pack, Their home for the next eighty years would be at Jigginstown where they would contribute much to the sporting life of Co Kildare. The last meet of the hounds from Jigginstown took place from their old Kennels at .Jigginstown in January 2000. They will in future be based at Punchestown.
1921 saw the first moves in the formation of the Naas Racecourse Co, In January 1921 the Leinster Leader reported “that moves were afoot to establish a racecourse for the town. Thirty businessmen and farmers formed a syndicate and put up £200 each to buy land at Tipper, a lot of difficulties were encountered before the project became a reality, when the first race meeting was held on the 19th June 1924.Improvements were carried out in the 1950s, a new tote building, changes to the enclosure buildings, improved stand facilities, and a new entrance from the Dublin Road.
February, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers evacuated their barracks in Naas. They sang ~’ The Wearing of the Green” as they marched through the town, on their way to the Naas Railway Station. Their destination was Borden in Hampshire, to join the 1st Battalion.
Sunday 16th April 1922 a great Leinster Rally was held in Naas in support of the Free State. The main speaker was Mr Michael Collins T.D. other speakers Mr Joseph McGrath TD, Alderman M.J. Staines,TD. and Mr Kevin O’Higgins, TD. The Kildare Observer reported that they were entertained with dinner in the Town Hall on Sunday Evening. Rev Fr Doyle CC. Presided, and the dinner having concluded, said he need not say how proud he was to propose a toast to Mr Collins. He had the proud privilege of claiming Mr Collins, as a personal friend.
The Irish Independent of February 1st 1923 reported that at 9.30 on Monday night, Palmerstown, the Irish residence of Senator, The Earl of Mayo, and the Countess of Mayo was entered by armed men who set the massive building on fire, destroying it and its contents. Lord and Lady Mayo had just finished dinner when two young men knocked at the door, the butler opened the door, the men stated they were “Orderly’s” and Officers of the Irish Republican Army, under orders to clear the house and destroy it.
Naas Athletic Club founded. The major event in their annual calendar is the cross-country race for the Millbrook Cup at Punchestown on “Walking Sunday”.
Local Election year, but it was not necessary to hold ballot as only ten candidates went forward for election, and just before the nomination closing date Mr D.J. Purcell withdrew leaving just nine, who were elected without a contest.
On August 11th 1927 the Electricity Supply Board was formed under the Electricity (Supply) Act of 1927. The ESB had a wide obligation to generate, sell, distribute and promote the use of electricity. The immediate task was the electrification of 86 towns within easy reach of the power lines from the Shannon scheme. Naas changed over from gas to electricity in the homes. The change had already been made on the streets by a Mr Peter Foy who converted the old gas lights to electricity generated by a machine at the back of the town hall. Mr Foy also showed pictures in the Town Hall Assembly Room using the same source of power.Radio Eireann or 2RN as it was known in those days commenced to broadcast in 1926. Naas Choral Society made their first broadcast in 1927. Mr Foy picked up the signal on his crystal radio set and rebroadcast the programme through loudspeakers to the crowds who were assembled both inside and outside the town Hall.
Naas G.A.A. moved to their new grounds on the 1)ublin Road the move was initiated by Fr Owen Brennan who unfortunately did not live to see his dream come to reality, The club had previously played at Spooners Lane, Tipper, and before that down by the canal at the Knocks.
The new Republic did not have any need for a Conservative and Unionist orientated newspaper, yes, the old “Kildare Observer” had to give way’ to its rival Nationalist competitor “The Leinster Leader” after a half century of publication, the Observer closed down in 1934.
Also in 1934 the Leinster Leader reported The goings on at a Co Kildare V.E.C. Meeting. The C.E.O. Mr Mullowney was reading a letter in Irish from a Mr Sean Og O’Ceallig, Secretary of the Gaelic League, but Mr Henderson retorted that’s a waste of time reading a letter in Irish, when we don’t know what you are reading”. Mr Mullowney, explained that the letter was requesting the Committee to protect the public against the broadcasting of “Jazz” on 2RN Radio Eireann, “because it was immoral, against christianity, learning, and against the national spirit”.But Mr Henderson retorted ~’ Who wrote that stuff, it’s all bosh, I can’t do it, but if the young people want it, they will have it”.
The Sisters of Mercy opened their first Secondary School In Naas. They transferred this school to a thatched” building in Abbeyfield It again moved in the l960s to the present St Marys College which has been extended in the l980s and again in the 1990s.
The Naas Cotton Mills first phase was commenced in late 1938. The Industrial Revolution had come to Naas. The jobs, the status, the social outings gave a new sense of independence to many young Naas People during the war years and right up to its closure in 1970. Many more industries would come and go, Kingswear, Woolcraft, Concrete Pipe Factory, A Car Mirror Factory, and then they began to come in groups, Industrial Estates they called them.
Mr Sean T.O’Kelly, Minister for Local Government and Public Health, formally opened the New St Mary’s Fever Hospital in Naas There was a large attendance including members of the Kildare Co Council. Kildare Board of Health, and prominent people in the commercial life of the county.