Federation Seminar 2002

KILCULLEN, 25 October 2002: by Paddy Behan.

Local history groups from all over the county was represented at the 4th Annual History Seminar organised by the Co Kildare Federation of History Groups, in the environmentally friendly surroundings of the Kilcullen Heritage Centre recently.

The one-day annual event was opened by Dr Raymond Gillespie, PhD, Head of the Department of Modern History, at N.U.I. Maynooth. Dr Gillespie who is the Honoury Editor of the Co Kildare Archaeological Society Journal, and also the “Maynooth Studies in Local History,” gave a most enlightening opening address on where to find the sources of Local History. He made special reference to the local library, the census, the Griffith valuation, and the calendar of Christ Church deeds. He described the upsurge of interest in local history as revolutionary and emphasised the importance of the local historian in their own area.

Historian Seamus Cullen of the Donadea Historical Society dealt with the Kildare involvement the Robert Emmet Rising of 1803. in a very well researched and delivered illustrated talk entitled “Rebellion, Conspiracy and Manhunt in Kildare 1803”. Seamus who is well known in local history circles in the North Kildare area, as the co-editor of “Oughterany” the Journal of the Donadea Local History Society. And as co-editor with Hermann Geissel of “Fugitive Warfare ” a history of 1798 in North Kildare. He also contributed to the TG4 programme on the “Esker Riada”

Seamus Cullen’s talk was a revelation as to the extent Co Kildare involvement in the ill-fated Rising of which so little is known, it being overshadowed by events of the earlier 1798 Rebellion. The country will next year celebrate the bi-centenary of the Emmet Rising and many events are planned within the county to commemorate it.

Local Brannockstown Pastor Rev. Robert Dunlop B.A., who has made a life long study of the LaTouche Family of Harristown, Co Kildare, and particularly of Rose LaTouche, and her short stormy relationship between celebrated Victorian writer and art critic John Ruskin. Pastor Dunlop made a variation on his usual theme when he delivered an exhilarating talk entitled “Agony and Integrity–the spiritual journey of Rose LaTouche 1849 – 1875” a description of the lonely and gentile life of a young lady in the Victorian Ireland of the nineteenth century. The talk which is available in book form, will be repeated at the Naas Local History Group’s Annual Ger Kinchella Lecture in February of next year.

Following lunch the seminar moved outdoors for an afternoon Field Trip to Moone High Cross, where the speaker was Naas and Clane History Group Member Brendan Cullen of Clongowes Wood College. Brendan related the story of the High Cross and described the various Biblical scenes, and how the were used to disseminate the Christian message in the early Celtic Christian era.

The Chairperson of the Co Kildare Federation of History Groups Ger. McCarthy, (who organised and arranged the Seminar) was pleased with the fine attendance and welcomed special guests, Ms Maeve Mulryan Maloney, National Federation of History Groups, Ms Bernadette Cunningham, Librarian, Royal Irish Academy, in addition to individuals and representatives of Local History Groups in Ardclough, Athy, Celbridge, Clane, Ballymore Eustace, Ballytore, Curragh, Donadea, Kildare, Kilcock, Kilcullen, Kill, Leixlip, Maynooth, Naas, Newbridge, Timahoe.

At the commencement of the Seminar, Chairperson Paddy Behan, of Naas History Group, remembered and paid a special tribute to the following who died during the past year. Local historian, Willie Kelly, Ballytore. Mr Jim Maher, Crookstown Mill, and former FAS Leinster Leader Naas Indexation Project Supervisor Mary Carroll, who passed away in her native Tullamore. The attendance stood in silence to their memory.