This past few days I have been immersed in reading submissions made by various groups and organisations in connection with the County Council’s Inner Relief Road proposal. One such submission I read was from Athy’s Development and Employment Forum. This Forum draws its membership from Kildare County Council, the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce, FAS and other similar “blue-chip” organisations. I mention the Forum’s submissions because of the declaration in it that the core policy of the organisation was the development of commercial activity in Athy.
It made me think back to those who guided our destinies in years gone by. For them industry provided the essential foundation for commercial development. So it was that Athy forty years ago was a major industrial base which gave employment not only in the local factories such as Asbestos, Wallboard, I.V.I. and Minch Nortons, but contributed and gave opportunities for service and commercial firms in and around Athy.
Our local industrial base has been eroded over the years by dint of factory closures and radical staff reductions within those industries which have survived. Who will ever forget the closure of the Wallboard factory which during its relatively short life was the jewel in the industrial crown of South Kildare. Its closure and that of the I.V.I. Foundry some years later created an industrial vacuum which Athy has never quite managed to fill.
This week I am showing two photographs of the Wallboard Factory and some of its personnel which hopefully will bring back memories of those days not so long ago when Athy enjoyed a pre-eminent position as an industrial town. The first photograph is an aerial photograph of the very extensive factory which was opened just after the Second World War. The other photograph is of a staff group on the day long service Awards were presented. I would like help in identifying those pictured and perhaps someone can confirm the date and the occasion when the men gathered together to have their photograph taken in the grounds of the Wallboard Factory.