History Group honour for Naas Cobbler

History Group honour for Naas Cobbler

By Paddy Behan 

On January 24 2012 Naas cobbler Bill Glennon was awarded the Heritage Cup by Naas Local History Group

“I am really chuffed about getting this award” was the response of  Naas shoemaker and cobbler Bill Glennon when he was presented with the Naas Local History Group’s  annual  Heritage  Cup and illuminated Scroll in recognition of his long contribution  to the craft heritage  of  Naas. Bill is the third generation of his family to carry on the cobbler-shoemaker craft and the last of many crafts to have flourished in the New Row area of the town over the past two centuries.

Naas Local History Group Chairperson Ger McCarthy making the presentation of the Heritage Cup at the AGM of the group. (Photo: Tony Keane)

Making the presentation of the award at the annual General Meeting of the group. Chairperson Ger McCarthy recalled all the crafts people in the area. Ger grew up across the street from Glennons in New Row and still gets his shoes repaired there. “When I call into Bill to get a pair of shoes soled or healed, Bill keeps talking  and working away with the tools of his craft: the Last, cobblers hammer, leather knife, awl, pliers, pincers, rasp and all the other tools of his craft.”  Ger on behalf of the group wished him many more years to use them.

P.C. Behan addressing the meeting where Bill Glennon was awarded the Heritage Cup. (Photo: Tony Keane)

In his presentation citation Paddy Behan history group PRO recalled that Glennon’s bootmakers go back over a hundred and fifty years and is one of the oldest surviving businesses in Naas. Bill’s grandfather William started the business, handed it on to Bill’s father, named William also, and then he in turn passed it on to Bill who has carried on the business for almost fifty years.

Bill in a short film made a few years ago (by Sallins based photographer Daniel Balteanu, which was shown on the night) recalls his life and memories of the trade, the journey men who were part and parcel of the scene and who were employed on a temporary basis. They were continually on the move and would often leave in the middle of making a new pair of shoes.

Bill Glennon addressing Naas Local History Group at the Heritage Award 2012. (Photo: Tony Keane)

Business picked up during the Celtic Tiger years and continues to hold its own in the aftermath. But Bill is sad at the fact that the art of the cobbler is unlikely to survive the next generation as there is no one left to carry it on. Bill’s other great interest is horseracing  and everyone is familiar  with the “back in five minutes” note on the door as he nips around to the bookies which has been part of his daily routine for longer than he cares to recall. We wish Bill and his family many years of good health and prosperity and hope that Bill will continue to craft a trade, which has been almost lost to antiquity for many years to come. 

Paddy Behan PRO.