Thursday, June 22, 2017

James is off to World Transplant Games in Spain

Local businessman James Nolan will be among the squad of Transplant Team Ireland taking part in the World Transplant Games in Malaga, Spain, this coming weekend, writes Brian Byrne.

The 28 Irish competitors and 19 supporters will join others from over 50 countries in what will be the biggest gathering of transplant recipients this year — almost 1000 competitors registered to take on events as diverse as athletics, badminton, swimming, ten pin bowling and darts to name but a few.

The competitors are aged from 30 to 79 and include five liver transplant recipients and 23 who have undergone kidney transplants.

James is pictured above (second from left, front) with the team (five members are missing from the photograph). He will be competing in the 50-59 years age category in 4x100m Relay (Heats & Finals); 4 x 400m Relay (Heats & Finals); 200m (Heats & Finals); 400m (Heats & Finals); 800m (Heats & Finals); and well as in the Golf Singles and as a member of the Golf Team.

In 1987, after spending the first 20 years of his life dealing with kidney problems, James received a donor kidney from his sister Catherine. He has been ever since a very active advocate of fundraising for kidney patient facilities, and promoting the carrying of organ donor cards.

Annual trip to Lourdes in September

Each year on the 17-22nd September Miriam McDonnell and her team join a pilgrimage from Inchicore in Dublin — the Oblate Pilgrimage to Lourdes — who bring 120 very ill patients to Lourdes.

These guests come from their own homes, hospitals and nursing homes from around the country. Once in Lourdes the guests enjoy a beautiful holiday in the heart of the Accueil de Notre Dame (a hospital) looking directly at the Grotto of Our Lady.

There are hundreds of helpers who travel each year — Nurses, Carers, Doctors, Pharmacists, Catering Assistants, Cleaning Assistants, Porters and a wonderful Youth Service (100 young people) all who voluntarily pay their own way and use a week of their holidays to ensure that each guest has an amazing trip to remember.

Miriam is the Director of Nursing of the pilgrimage and has been travelling as a nurse to Lourdes with the Oblates for over 40 years. She is assisted in the task of organising the assessments, travel arrangements, and nursing care for the 120 patients each year by a team of Doctors, Nurses and Carers.

The entire team — 3 planeloads! — Move into an empty hospital floor for the five days each year and bring all the equipment hoists, wheelchairs/gloves/aprons/medical apparatus etc with them from Ireland.

If you would like to travel to Lourdes and require assistance of the Nurses and Carers you might like to stay at the Accueil.

People who would like to travel on pilgrimage to Lourdes and stay in the hotels in the town are very welcome to join us, a variety of hotels are available.

Miriam is at the Kilcullen Parish Centre each Tuesday night from 7.45pm-9.15pm. If you prefer you can telephone her on her mobile 087 9799403 to make arrangements.

Book Club for young adults at Woodbine

A Young Adult Book Club is being established at Woodbine Books, beginning next Saturday 24 June, writes Brian Byrne. It kicks off at 4.30pm.

Saoirse from Woodbine will be conducting the Club, which is aimed at young people from Sixth Class in Primary School to Third Year in Second Level.

Meetings will take place on last Saturday of every month at 4.30pm, and members will get a 10pc discount on the book of the month.

It's a great opportunity to get more involved in books and reading, which offer enjoyment, increased vocabulary, and stimulate the imagination.

"A book Club can introduce you to all sorts of books," Saoirse says. "But it also gives you the chance to meet new people and make new friends."

Interested? Contact Saoirse at 085 2079211 or 045 482777 for more information.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thanks from Maintain Hope

Shamsi, Salma and Zahara in their new school uniforms for Ngong Township Primary School.
This is a note of thanks to everybody who contributed to making Acoustic Picnic 3 such a great event, writes Gerry O'Donoghue of Maintain Hope. These include artists, crew, tea makers, and audience. Roy Thompson is already planning Acoustic Picnic 4!

The money raised will be used to sustain our children's health and education. We are currently supporting 32 destitute children and we are implementing a Reintegration Programme in conjunction with the Kenyan Government. Where possible children are placed with living relatives in a family situation. The whole family is then supported and incentivised to keep the children in school through financial support and the provision of food, medication and basic necessities. The children's welfare and school attendance is closely monitored by our volunteers in Ngong, by local head teachers, and by the Children's Officer of Kajiado County, where Ngong Township is located.

Events such as Acoustic Picnic are vital elements of our fundraising efforts and, as well as raising much needed funds, they raise public awareness of our work and make for some memorable nights in Kilcullen Town Hall.
Thanks again to all.

Esther had an accident in school but received prompt treatment thanks to our medical programme.

May Connolly memorial refurbished

A memorial stone in the Valley Park to May Connolly has been fully refurbished by PJ Willis, writes Brian Byrne.

Mrs Connolly was a stalwart of Kilcullen community through the 1970s and 1980s, and served as chair of Kilcullen Community Council between 1977-1983.

When the memorial stone was originally erected, the suggestion of the inscription 'She gave the greatest gift of all, her time' came from the late Jerry Kelly, another person who devoted much of his life to the betterment of Kilcullen.

And now, in refurbishing it with his own expertise and time, PJ Willis has contributed a similar gift.

(For those interested in the background to all the current plaques in the Valley, it can be read here, in a piece your editor published in 2009.) 

GAA U14 Girls heading for Féile weekend

The Kilcullen GAA U14 Girls team who won the Kildare Féile Championship 2017 travel north this weekend for the John West Féile Peil na nÓg 2017 in Cavan, Fermanagh and Monaghan, writes Brian Byrne.

They were wished well for the competition last night at a presentation of kit for the event, funded by more than 30 sponsors from the Kilcullen area and further afield.

Club chairman Des O'Brien said the squad had worked extremely hard to get to this stage and he also thanked them for the level of sponsorship they had raised to support the trip. He had an encouraging word for the Mentors for achieving a place in the finals for the second year in a row, and he commended the parents for children who are 'a credit to you all'. He hoped that he would see some continue in the club and become senior players.

On behalf of the fundraising committee, Orla O'Neill thanked everybody who had made a 'huge effort' in raising over €11,000 in a relatively short space of time. She noted that the average raised per sponsorship card by the team was €170, and that €7,000 had come in directly from sponsoring companies, organisations and individuals. Any surplus left after the weekend campaign will be put back into the Juvenile section for the Girls team needs.

Liam Cronin, chairman of the Juvenile Section, thanked the parents for introducing their children to GAA at an early age, and for their commitment every weekend in helping them get to matches. He also said the mentors were the life-blood of the Club, and those working with the U14 Girls team had done a fantastic job in helping them reach their potential. For the girls themselves, they have a great 'never give up' attitude, he said, and he encouraged them to enjoy the weekend and have fun. "Hopefully, with a bit of luck, we'll be in Clones on Sunday at 3 o'clock," he concluded.

The Kilcullen squad will be challenging teams from Tipperary, New York, Monaghan, Armagh, Kilkenny, Cavan, Laois, Down and Offaly. The group will be staying in the Belturbet area with host families. They are pictured above with their new kit, and their Mentors Aoife Sully, Nicholas Birchall, Pat Devanney and Ger Breen.

Sponsors who specifically supported the weekend campaign include K-Bowl Naas, O'Keefe Lynch Accountants, Keadeen Hotel, PLR Equipment Repairs, KWETB, The River Cafe, Laura's Flowers & Gifts, Saol Nua, VTV Vehicle Testing Network, SC Dunne & Co, MGS Manufacturing Group, KCCEC, Murphy Design & Build, Sean Hussey & Sons, Ngai's Restaurant, Sigcom Ltd, Toddlers & Wobblers, Nicholas Egan, USSR Ltd, A Little Massage, Cross & Passion College, Aunty Anne's Country Creche, The Curragh Racecourse, The Beauty Hub, Delaney Commercials, Bank of Ireland, Dennison Trailers, Berney's Chemist, Derry Bros Shipping, Bord na Mona, Ecokem, BT, G&N Fencing, Burns Nowlan Solicitors, Home Instead Senior Care, CMT Transport, H&H Motors, and International Trailers Ltd.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Parish Lotto Draw results

The numbers drawn in the Kilcullen & Gormanstown Parish Lotto Draw held on Tuesday 20 June 2017 were 2, 14, 18 and 29. There was no Jackpot winner and next week's main prize will be €8,400.

The winners of the €50 Open Draws were Barbara Dunne (Promoter Margaret Hughes), Betty Miley (Wednesday Bridge Club) and Fr Niall Mackey (Fr Niall Mackey).

The winners of the Promoters Draw were Vanessa Clarke and Vivienne Clifford and the winner of the Draw for those in the Parish Centre on the night was Siobhan Tuite-O’Sullivan.

The Parish thanks all who support the Lotto.

Review: This Cruel Station

This Cruel Station. Martin Malone. Short Stories. Published by Doire Press.

A book of good short stories is like an Easter egg, writes Brian Byrne. Break it open and eat a piece, and it becomes difficult not to eat more until you finish it all, even if you had absolutely planned to leave the rest for later.

So it is with this new collection from Kildare writer Martin Malone. I had intended dipping in and out over maybe a week. But like with the pieces of chocolate, I couldn't stop nibbling.

Those familiar with this author's work will know that he doesn't write succulent milk chocolate. More the high-quality dark stuff, where there's a strong under-taste of bitterness that both complements and contrasts the chocolate flavour.

The short pieces here are unrelated. But they all probe at human matters and situations more than making big statements. I'm not going to go into details of any of them, but every reader will likely have had personal experience directly or indirectly with at least some of the themes explored.

The stories also reflect real life in that mostly there's not an end at the end. Just like life, there's a future beyond the episode, with its unknowns which may or may not become sequels. One of the nice things about writing short stories is that you don't have to go beyond the now at the final full stop.

In this collection there are echoes of the author's home places and life, and also of the work he has been involved in far beyond Kildare town, recalling his peacekeeping times in the Middle East. He has done what every writer is urged to do, write what you know, from your own experience, or what you see happening around you. But it takes a further experience to learn how to actually do that, and then move to the next level. In this collection — added to his previous seven novels, short story collections and playwriting — we can see clearly just how much Martin Malone continues to mature as a writer.

Staying with the Easter egg theme, there is an extra piece of interest in the book, as with the samples of whatever chocolate bars under which the modern eggs are marketed. A longer story, a novella, extends and concludes the collection. Its proposition is right up to date, linking Ireland's efforts on refugee resettlement with the author's first hand knowledge of conditions in Libya and neighbouring countries — and most of all, of the people involved. In this one the reader is gently led in, then shocked by the successive lobbing of unanticipated narrative grenades.

This collection relies heavily on the author's excellent ear for conversation, and how he has learned to transcribe that into a vehicle for narrative which is both interesting and believable. At first sip, sections of dialogue might read a tad haphazard, even disjointed. But then, like tastings of interesting but not expensive wine on the palate, they rise beyond the price. And everything suddenly becomes just right.

Wine and chocolate, especially dark chocolate, will always do it for me.

(The Kildare launch of 'This Cruel Station' will be in the Kildare Town Library on Thursday 22 June, at 7pm.)

Freshening up Kilcullen

A nice bit of tidying up going on in Kilcullen today, both of which should help to improve the Tidy Towns score, writes Brian Byrne.

One is the visual work on the house where Pat Lawlor used to live and which has become rather derelict. Kilcullen Community Action/Tidy Towns is putting in photograph based windows and doors covers to improve the streetscape look.

And An Post was busy at Hillcrest, painting up the letter box outside Secret Kloset. Everything helps, and it's all looking even better with the sunshine we're enjoying this week.

Niamh, Ellen and Sophie in Kenya

When CPC students Niamh Doran, Ellen Byrne and Sophie Murphy went to work for a couple of weeks with the Cara Girls Rescue Centre near Ngong, outside Nairobi, writes Brian Byrne, it was an eye-opening experience in many ways.

Read their story on the Kilcullen page of the Kildare Nationalist published today.

World Vision event raises €2,000

Last Sunday's Midsummer Melodies Garden Party in La Touche Cottage, Brannockstown, in aid of World Vision raised just over €2,000, writes Brian Byrne.

And according to the host for the event, Mrs Olive Dunlop, the fund is 'still open'. "The proceeds of this event are earmarked directly for World Vision activities," she told the Diary. "It was also a lovely way of bringing the local community together."

Apart from raising money through the generous donations of those who attended, Olive was anxious to raise awareness of the global work of World Vision, the Irish branch of which her late husband Pastor Robert Dunlop was a founder.

It is one of the largest privately-funded NGOs in the world, dealing particularly with refugee children, and with a speciality in answering needs in emergency disaster situations. One of the major projects at the moment is helping at the Bidi Bidi & Imvepi Refugee Settlement Camps in Northern Uganda, trying to alleviate some of the refugee issues from the current war in South Sudan.

Irish actor Liam Cunningham, best known as Davos Seaworth in the HBO epic-fantasy series Game of Thrones, recently visited Bidi Bidi with World Vision.


Brannoxtown NS Sports Day

It was delightful to be invited back to photograph Brannoxtown National School's Sports Day in Kilcullen GAA's venue, writes Tom Horan.

Pitch playing conditions were perfect under a Summer sky for the pupils, teachers, family, friends and neighbours.The sporting activities were really enjoyed by everybody and the fun was followed by a delicious barbecue, cool beverages and treats.

Well done and congratulations to everybody involved in and around Brannoxtown Naas.

All the photographs from the day can be seen here.