Saturday, November 18, 2017

More Nolans awards from Paris

James Nolan is in Paris tonight collecting more recently-won awards for the famous Kilcullen butcher shop, writes Brian Byrne.

"I'm delighted to have represented Kilcullen and Ireland at the European Fins Goustiers Awards," he said in a message to the Diary.

"Congratulations and huge credit to to all the amazing team at Nolans of Kilcullen for making this possible."

The latest trophies (above) will be joining the many others currently on display in the shop's window.

A night of cinematic nostalgia

It was a gathering of cinematic memories as much as anything else, and if last night's presentation of Cinema Paradiso didn't quite fill the theatre with people, it did so with nostalgia, writes Brian Byrne.

The showing organised by Kilcullen Lions drew an audience of cinemagoers who would understand what the smartphone and Netflix generation have probably never experienced — the community of a night at 'the pictures'.

Nessa Dunlea spoke about the early days of the Town Hall, opened in 1933 and rebuilt a number of times since to be the Heritage Centre and classy theatre that it is today. All that time, despite a 'troubled early history', it has been the hub of social activity for the entire community.

Your editor recalled various 'back-room' aspects of showing films when I was a child, access to which I had because my dad and a couple of pals started up a cinema in the premises in the early 1940s — before I was born — and later as a youngster I had the perk of getting in free.

The cinema was later taken over by a community group and operated until the mid-70s when the advent of videos effectively killed the cinemas of rural Ireland. But during that time it became the first cinema in Co Kildare to have Cinemascope wide screen and stereophonic sound, and had the reputation of being the best cinema in Leinster outside of Dublin.

Big movies shown soon after general release included The Sound of Music, The Robe, The Big Country, The Magnificent Seven, The Alamo and many more. As one advertising flyer put it, 'for a little over a shilling, you can see a production costing many millions of pounds'.

The Town Hall has also been the constant venue for the Kilcullen Drama Group productions — today it remains as the home of that group which has been in existence for more than eight decades. There were also live shows, including the famous Community Capers of the 1970s and early 1980s. Boxing tournaments were also presented on the stage.

But last night it was the movies, and the memories, from Nessa, Noel Clare, Bernard Berney, and no doubt others in the evening's conversations. All that was missing was that there was no O'Connells shop across the road to race to for sweets and drinks during the intermission …



Friday, November 17, 2017

Kilsaran seeks extension to Ballysaxhills activity

Picture: Google Earth
Kilsaran Concrete is seeking a 10-year extension to its sand and gravel extraction at Ballysaxhills, and also an expansion of the extraction area, writes Brian Byrne.

In a still-incomplete planning application to Kildare County Council, the company wants to continue working on its overall 35.8 hectare site, for which the current activities were granted an extension permission in 2007.

Kilsaran has been working on the site since 1989, and a readymix concrete batching plant was established in 1994 following an appeal to An Bord Pleanala after permission had been refused by Kildare County Council.

The latest application seeks an extension to the existing permitted sand and gravel pit with associated extraction and processing over an area of c4.3 hectares.

The application envisages continued activity for another ten years, after which a further two years will be required to restore the site to a combination of agricultural and nature conservation areas. This restoration is a condition imposed in successive planning permissions since 1989.

Any submissions on the application must be made by 10/12/2017. The application file number is 171243

Brendan regales with his tales

Dublin-based story teller Brendan Nolan entertained as guest at Wednesday's Spiral Staircase story-telling session in An Tearmann, writes Brian Byrne.

Brendan is an established journalist and writer, and became involved in story-telling by accident, when he was asked to entertain a group of people with his stories. These days he spends much of his time telling stories in schools and at corporate events.

Along with the Spiral Staircase organiser, Tim Ditchburn, he regaled those present with a number of interesting tales, some dark, some humourous, and some both.

He said that story-tellers share their stories between each other, but he had once wisely been told that not every story 'suited the tongue' of any particular presenter.

The next session, on 15 December, will concentrate on Yuletide stories for children. They will be suitable for children age five and upwards. It is a free event, with seasonal treats provided. For more details please contact Tim Ditchburn 087 7267669; email:

Well attended co-housing meeting

A public meeting to discuss a possible co-housing initiative heard that there is no suitable Council-owned land in Kilcullen for such a project, writes Brian Byrne.

Around 20 people turned up to the meeting in Fallons last night, organised by James Brennan, to find out more about the possibility of a cooperative housing plan which could provide homes at an affordable price for those involved.

The concept follows that by the O Cualann Cohousing Alliance project in Poppintree in Dublin, which resulted in homes being built for between €160,000-€190,000 on land provided by the local authority.

James Brennan told those present that he had already been in discussion with Kildare County Council about the possibilities for a site, but the nearest suitable plot of land owned by the authority is in Athgarvan.

"It would be suitable for about 10 homes, and being just seven minutes from Kilcullen, that would be a reasonable compromise for those of us who want to stay in Kilcullen," he said.

The suggested site in Athgravan is in Mountain View. James Brennan noted that the Council did have other, larger sites in Newbridge and Kildare.

Last night's meeting was an exploratory one to gauge the level of interest in the project. Forms were circulated for anyone who wanted to be involved in further meetings.

The meeting heard that participants needed to be 'mortgage ready' just like buying any house, with a 10pc cash deposit available. The deposit money would be used by the housing alliance to commence building the homes, with the mortgages being drawn down as required in the usual way.

The O Cualann Cohousing project has 49 families involved, and the first five homes were handed over last July. All 49 will be occupied by September of next year. The houses are estimated to be about 30pc less expensive than similar in the normal market.

James Brennan told the meeting that an O Cualann representative believed their initiative 'could be replicated all around the country'.

Cllr Joanne Pender said she was 'hugely interested' in the idea, and had previously suggested that the Poppintree promoters be invited to talk to a meeting of the full Council.

"You have to be earning €90,000 a year to buy a house around here for €300,000," she noted. "This is the only way to get affordable housing for people who don't have that."

She suggested that it would make sense for the Council to buy land that was for sale and would be suitable for a larger number of participants in such a project.

James Brennan said it was part of the concept that those involved would already be a community before the project was completed. "That way you get to know your neighbours as it grows."

He thanked those who came along and promised that there would shortly be another meeting, at which representatives of the O Cualann project would be present to answer all questions on the furtherance of a similar scheme in the Kilcullen area.

Pictured are Eliza Dowling, Anthony Shannon, David Campbell, Siobhan Donegan, Sylvisia Stepniak, James Brennan, Clare Kelly and Caoimhe Wall.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

'When it Snows in New Orleans'

And here you have it. 'When it Snows in New Orleans' just recorded by Newbridge songwriter Tony Kirwan with Kilcullen's Jimmy Aspell, which will get its debut on Sunday 3 December in The Spout, writes Brian Byrne.

On the night, a cheque will be presented to the Irish Cancer Society for the latest fundraiser by the generous and committed patrons of the pub.

Enjoy the video. Buy the CD.

Childcare Centre children raise money for Sarah Swaine Run

The children from the Kilcullen Community Childcare Centre recently undertook a sponsored walk to raise money for the upcoming Sarah Swaine Memorial Run, writes Brian Byrne.

Doing their walk five times around the soccer pitch end of the Kilcullen Community Centre campus, they raised a terrific total of €515. Some of them are pictured here handing over the cheque to Carrie Swayne and Gretta Swaine.

The children with the cheque are Fabia, Naoise and Alanna, and Gda Joanne O'Sullivan is included in the picture with the youngest 'walker', Mollie. A great achievement.

Sarah Swaine passed away at the age of 19 on 7 January 2016, following a long battle with cancer. Carrie is leading the Memorial 10K Run and 5K Family Walk project, on 7 January 2018, to aid the charity CanTeen Ireland.

CanTeen works with young people who have or have had cancer, which allows them to meet up in a relaxed and informal setting with other teenagers who are in the same situation as Sarah was.

Welsh voices for Ballyshannon NS

A concert featuring the Dublin Welsh Male Voice Choir will be held on Saturday 9 December to raise funds for Ballyshannon NS, writes Brian Byrne.

The concert will be in Newbridge Town Hall and there will also be performances from special guests Adam Molyneaux and Kaytlynn Walsh.

The Ballyshannon School Choir will also perform at the event, which begins at 7.30pm sharp. Tickets are €20, and bookings may be made by emailing or calling 086 8304641.

No win for Kilcullen in Enterprising Town

There was no joy for Kilcullen in the Bank of Ireland Enterprising Town Competition, the results of which were announced at an event in Tullamore last evening, writes Brian Byrne.

Blessington won the regional section, and Tralee won the overall national award.

The Kilcullen presentation was made in early September to a panel of judges. It was just the second year of the competition, and Kilcullen had been put forward as the county's representative by Kildare County Council.