Athy’s literary legacy is to be found in a large number of publications starting with the Athy Literary Magazine which was to have a longer life than later publishing ventures based in Athy. On sale every Tuesday, the small eight page magazine cost one penny. Throughout its short life the magazine gave an unvarying mixture of leading articles of local interest, extracts from literary works such as Dickens, Pickwick papers and material from national magazines of the period. To these are added contributions poetic and otherwise from the magazine’s local readers. The last known edition of the Athy Literary Magazine was the 25th edition which appeared on Tuesday, 17th April 1838. Three years later Samuel Talbot published the first volume of “The Press” which was intended as a monthly magazine devoted to the advancement of science, literature and the industrial arts. Consisting of twenty six pages, it cost four pence but unfortunately no further edition appeared.
Looking through the material I have collected over the years, I came across a long forgotten magazine, “The Green Hills” published at Christmas 1964 by pupils of the local Christian Brothers secondary school. The copy I have is literally a photocopy of the magazine which was compiled and written by students of Athy C.B.S. It’s of interest to note that the magazine’s editor was Michael Keane who later became editor of the Sunday Press. Michael informed his readers that “the magazine was born in a moment of ambition which was quickly immersed in a cloud of activity that included the forming of an editorial board. “The magazine staff, which I assume also doubled as the editorial board, consisted of Michael Keane Editor, Seamus Clandillon Entertainment, Gerard Moriarty News Editor, Joseph McNamara Sports and Martin Wall Features.
In its opening page two new teachers, “Mr. Hannon and Mr. Kelleher”, were welcomed to the Athy school and while we learned that Mr. Kelleher was middleweight champion in intervarsity boxing while a student in U.C.C., student/teacher relationship in 1964 did not apparently allow the student reporter to mention the teachers first names.
Michael Stapleton, a second year student, gave voice to his opposition to a six day school week. “It’s not fair to have to go to school six days a week. I have to go nine and a half miles to Athy so I have to get up early every weekday morning and also get up early on Sunday to go to Mass”.
Sixth year student Ger Moriarty filed a feature on girls whom he described as “funny things” which explained, he claimed “why us fellows find it so hard to understand them”. Anthony Lynch a sixth year student and a member of the Kildare County Minor Team wrote of his experiences in playing for his county in Croke Park.
“We quietly prepared ourselves for the proudest moment of our youth. Following in the footsteps of so many of my countrymen, I was playing for Kildare in Croke Park. As the minutes ticked away we had time to admire the dressing rooms. The dressing rooms were so big that they dwarfed us. Inspections over, we received our usual final instructions and proceeded to the tunnel. As the first man stepped on to the field the silence was broken as the crowd erupted with cheers and counter-cheers. We made our way quickly to the Railway goal and the soft green formed a cushion beneath our feet as we kicked the ball about. We won the toss and defended the Canal goal. I really felt deserted as I walked back to my position and would have given anything to be up on the deck of the Hogan Stand”.
Michael Keane conducted an interview with Pat Mulhall, a former CBS pupil of the early 1930’s, who described how each Wednesday afternoon was given over to gaelic football, gymnastics, drill and figure marching. Pat, referring to former pupils who had attained eminence in various spheres of life, expressed the hope that a picture gallery or role of honour of former pupils who had brought honour to the school would be set up in Athy CBS.
The pupils who contributed to The Green Hills magazine of fifty one years ago certainly brought honour to their school with the publication of what was Athy CBS first school magazine. Did it I wonder continue beyond its first edition? Those pupils, not all of whom are still with us, are scattered throughout Ireland and further afield and included Philip Tierney, Michael Keane, Dan Flinter, Vincent Gray, Timothy Doyle, Joseph McNamara, Dominic Timpson, Paul Kelly, Donal Flanagan, Kevin Ryan, Alexander Kelly, Anthony McCarthy, Patrick Merelehan, Tom Delaney, Alan Clarke, Dermot Lawler, Patrick Foley, Seamus Clandillon, Michael Dineen, Anthony Lynch, Liam Fahey, Aidan Prendergast, Michael O’Cathain, Jim McCarthy, Reg McHugh, Dan Luttrell, Liam Perse, Ned Martin, Tony Higgins, John Fingleton, Michael Stapleton, Declan Caffrey, Frank Ryan, Anthony McEvoy and Martin Wall.
Declan Caffrey second year student penned the following lines :-
“We’re proud of our school and our greatest ambition,
Is to add to its honour and fame an addition,
Scoil na mBraithre its called and we have no scruples,
In saying that its boys are the finest of pupils”.
Successive generations of CBS students would concur.