Thursday, March 29, 2001

Railway in Athy

The recent news that the Arrow service will not be extended to Athy for a number of years yet was disappointing. The railways have long played an important role in the life of the town and with the increasing number of people commuting to Dublin everyday will continue to do so.

Athy was first linked by rail to the outside world in 1846. The following extract is taken from James Cunneen’s History of Athy Parish -

“Apart from a few minor alterations the present Athy Station was the original one. It was designed by a man named Woods, the Architect of many of the Great Southern and Western Railway stations. The siding at Kilberry was built by a Mr. Hodgson who carried out turf production in the area. This siding was later reconstructed for the Bord na Mona factory. Maganey was one of the original stations, while the Kildangan Halt dates from the early years of this century; both are now closed.

On August 4th, 1846 the line between Kingsbridge and Carlow was opened to the public. The first runs were trial trips and they left Dublin at 9.00am and 5.00pm and Carlow at 9.30am and 5.00pm. The first public train to arrive at Athy station was the Carlow/Dublin morning train due in Athy at 10.08am, the train from Dublin was due at 11.46am. The fares at the time of opening were Single - Dublin to Athy 1st Class 6/6; 2nd Class 5/- and 3rd Class 2/10.

In those early days return fares were not available. There were no dining cars or their equivalent in those trains to Athy - not until the arrival of the diesel trains in more recent years. However, in pre-1914 days, breakfast and luncheon baskets at 3/- each and tea baskets at 1/- each could be bought at Kingsbridge and Waterford stations.

Only two trains each way were run at first, as there were not sufficient carriages for more. The third-class carriages on the Athy line, although plain enough inside, were at least covered; such carriages on other lines had no roof at all and sometimes were open to the elements at the sides and often they had no seats. For quite a number of years the second-class carriages had no seat cushions and in fact were little better than the third-class carriages. It is not surprising then that in 1847 the Chairman of the Company complained that members of the middle classes were travelling third-class instead of second, although the third-class intended only for “the poorer classes”. He even complained that “the upper classes” sometimes travelled third-class! Third-class carriages were not completely dispensed with until May 1956.

The first carriages used on the line to Athy were built by a coach builder named Hutton at Summerhill, Dublin. Later, carriages were obtained from other Dublin builders and from England until such time as the Inchicore Works started to build their own. The engines at the time were relatively small, with no cab for the protection of the crew and no brakes except wooden ones working on the wheels and operated by hand. Indeed, stopping the train was a very “tricky business” which had to be helped by another hand-brake in the Guard’s van. Those engines, like many of our engines today, were named - rejoicing in such colourful names as Antelope, Buffalo, Leopard and Pheasant!

At the beginning the line to Carlow was double-track. At the end of the First World War it was singled from Cherryville Junction to Athy in order to provide rails for the Castlecomer branch. Later it was singled from Athy to Carlow to provide rails for the Athy-Wolfhill line.”

A permanent reminder of the difficulties facing the Great Southern and Western Railway Company in laying tracks to Athy remains to this day in the twin level approach road from the town to the railway bridge. This part of Bothair Bui was extensively built on with cottages on both sides of the road. Apparently those living on the north side of the road resisted the Railway Company’s attempts to raise the level of the roadway in front of their houses so a compromise was reached resulting in the raising of the road level on one side only. Indeed the Town Commissioners were somewhat at sea in relation to the erection of the railway bridge and sought the Duke of Leinster’s opinion as to how they should act with regard to the approach to the railway.

The advice offered is lost in time but on 7th May, 1846 the Commissioners were sufficiently assertive to write to the Railway Company.


At a special meeting of the Athy Town Commissioners held this day pursuant to notice it was unanimously resolved that I should communicate to your Board the decided disapprobation of said Commissioners relative to the approach that is now being made from the railway bridge to the town. The Commissioners now see what is intended to be done and are of opinion that it is the worst plan that could be adopted in as much as it injures the property on the opposite side of the street and entirely disfigures the principal entrance to the town. The Commissioners are aware that they cannot prevent the company from building on their own property, but they will not accept the intended line of road in lieu of the one they had. Trusting that your Board will give this matter due consideration prior to your proceeding further with the works.

I have the honour to be your obedient Servant
Patrick Commins - Chairman.”

The Company’s response is unknown but ultimately the road was constructed on two levels and the Town Commissioners noted with approval on 5th March 1849 that the Railway Company had built “a permanent, useful and ornamental wall adjoining the public road at the Railway Bridge”.

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Local Authority Housing Schemes in Athy

Housing is viewed by the general public as the Urban Council’s main contribution to the development of the town. This is despite the importance of roads, water supply and sewerage systems to sustaining adequate infrastructures for the towns population.

The role of local authorities in public housing was re-affirmed and promulgated, if not for the first time, in the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890. An earlier Act, The Labouring Classes Lodging Houses Act, 1851 which empowered Town Commissioners to build houses for workers was a failure as it depended as did the 1890 Act on local rates to finance house building. A central housing fund was first established in 1908 to assist Urban Councils in providing houses for those in need. Athy Urban District Council completed it’s first housing scheme consisting of twenty-two houses one year before the outbreak of World War I. The houses were at Meeting Lane, St. Michael’s Terrace and St. Martin’s Terrace and the tenants appointed were described by the Town Clerk as “artisans rather than members of the labouring classes”.

The first World War and the Irish War of Independence delayed the Urban Council’s plans for further housing schemes in the town. These difficulties however were cleared when in 1923 the Council advertised for tenders for six houses at the Bleach. P.J. Watchorn & Sons of Dublin quoted £2,898.9s.0d. which was accepted and they were asked to build an extra house at the same rate. When Watchorns later increased their tender, D. & J. Carbery of Athy submitted a revised tender for eight houses at £450 each. These houses were completed by the local firm before the end of March 1924 when nine applications were received by the Urban Council for the eight new houses known as Bleach Cottages.

In October 1929 the Urban Council under the Chairmanship of Patrick Dooley of Leinster Street sought to further it’s plans for Council housing with the appointment of Mr. D. Heaney as Consulting Architect. The Council’s Housing Committee which had been asked to inspect the areas of the town suitable for housing brought to a meeting of the Council on 16th October his recommendations. They were advised to acquire the Gaol field on the Carlow Road of about 2 acres 26 perches owned by Miss Kilbride, together with Peter P. Doyle’s field near the County Home and Dr. Jeremiah O’Neill’s field on the Carlow Road. This latter field was in excess of 6 ½ acres. The Housing Committee agreed to review it’s recommendations and a week later it’s Members, accompanied by Mr. Heaney Architect, the Town Clerk John W. Lawler(?) and the Town Overseer Bland Bramley, inspected nine possible housing sites around the town. Apart from the three sites already mentioned others visited were Hollands field at Geraldine and another field owned by the same family adjoining the Showgrounds on the Dublin Road. The ruined and vacant malthouse at Woodstock Street owned by the McHugh family was also inspected, as were ruins at St. James Place, Rigney’s field at Blackparks and Sylvesters field at the Bleach.

At a subsequent meeting on 4th November, 1929 the Council agreed to acquire the following :-
1. The Gaol Field on the Carlow Road.
2. Dr. J. O’Neill’s field on the Carlow Road.
3. McHugh’s Malt store on Woodstock Street.
4. P.P. Doyle’s field in Barrack Street.

Councillors P. Dooley, F.R. Jackson, Tom Carbery and Bridget Darby were appointed to interview the various owners and negotiate the purchase of the relevant sites.

The following January Mr. Strahan, a housing inspector with the Department of Local Government, visited Athy and accompanied by the Town Clerk did a house to house inspection and found 316 houses in the town unfit for human habitation and 27 houses considerably below normal standards but which might be made fit. Soon thereafter the house plans prepared by D. Heaney, Architect for the various sites already ear marked but not yet acquired by the Council were approved by the Urban Council. At the same time Messrs Stanton Limited advised the Council that following their Engineer’s evaluation of the town’s water supply scheme it was clear that “the present supply is totally inadequate to meet the demands of businesses in Athy.” Undaunted the Council pressed ahead with it’s housing plans and on 2nd March, 1930 passed a Motion proposed by Michael Malone and seconded by Tom Carbery :-

“When advertising for the building of houses in Athy that local labour be employed and local housing labours wages be paid and also that all doors, windows and window frames and cement blocks be made in Athy.”

In April 1930 Athy Urban District Council advertised for tenders to build 36 houses in the Gaol field on the Carlow Road, 14 houses in Rigney’s field at Blackparks and 9 houses on McHugh’s site at Woodstock Street. The tender of D. & J. Carbery of Athy was accepted for all of the houses and duly approved by the Department of Local Government which agreed to pay a Grant of £72.00 to the Urban District Council for each of the 59 houses. The Council’s third housing scheme commenced on June 30th with Captain H.B. Foy of 7 Percy Place, Dublin as Clerk of Works at a salary of five guineas a week. Legal problems were encountered with the McHughs and Rigneys sites and Carberys Building Contractors continued only with the building work on the Gaol field house site. On 29th July the Rigneys site was abandoned due to the title problems and a decision was made to acquire McHugh’s site by compulsory Purchase Order.

By October 1930 the Council Minute Book records the Architect’s Report on the progress of the houses under construction in “St. Patrick’s Avenue, Carlow Road.” Strangely this was the first and only reference to the naming of the Gaol field housing site after the country’s patron Saint and no record exists of the Council’s decision to use that name. While the houses were still in the course of construction the Council agreed to have electric lights and liffey ranges installed. The local electrician, J. Hutchinson of Leinster Street, successfully tendered to install electric lights in the 36 houses for which he was to receive £175. The possible installation of baths in 12 of the houses was also considered but deferred until tenants were appointed and their views canvassed on the issue.

Thursday, March 15, 2001

Women in Local History

The contribution of women in Irish society was in times past rarely viewed as being equal to that of their male counterparts. I was prompted to reflect on this when I was asked to give a talk to members of the local ICA guild. The audience was exclusively female and so I felt it appropriate to speak of those female achievers or pioneers of previous generations in our local society who in some way or other helped to change society’s attitude towards women in general.

One of the most important professions today is that of nursing but it was not always so. Up to the middle of the 19th century our own local hospital which was then a workhouse was staffed during the day by a Workhouse Master and a number of helpers, none of whom had any medical qualifications. At night time the workhouse inmates were locked in and elderly women inmates were delegated the task of looking after the sick until day break arrived. The Crimean War of 1854 was the catalyst for change which resulted in nursing becoming a reputable reputation and Florence Nightingale was the instigator of this change. She applied to the English War Office for permission to travel to the Crimea to nurse the soldiers who were dying in their thousands because of lack of adequate medical care. She was assisted in this work by several young women including Sisters of Mercy from Irish Convents including Carlow and Kinsale. As a result of their work the very first training school for nurses was set up in England at the conclusion of the Crimean War. It was soon afterwards that the Sisters of Mercy in Athy Convent began to visit the patients in the local workhouse and before long they were invited to take over responsibility for all nursing care in the workhouse hospital. In this the Sisters of Mercy, who had been trained as teachers, were pioneers and innovators of their generation.

Another female pioneer or achiever was the Ballitore based Quaker writer and post mistress Mary Leadbetter who is today remembered for her published works. The most memorable of those, “The Leadbetter Papers” incorporating “The Annals of Ballitore” were published long after she died. During her own lifetime she published several books ranging from poems to letters of her parents Richard and Elizabeth Shackleton. Her “Cottage Dialogues” and “Cottage Biographies” are perhaps her best known works, apart from the “Ballitore Annals”. Mary Leadbetter was a pioneer in terms of her literary achievements, whose published works added enormously to the importance and relevance of female writers of our time and her time.

Several generations after Mary Leadbetter came Ann O’Neill-Barna, pen-name of Ann Raleigh, the American-born wife of an Irishman who lived for a number of years in the 1950’s at Kilberry, just a few miles outside Athy. Her contribution to the literary wealth of the area is to be found in her book “Himself and I” published in 1958. She gave an amusing account of life in Kilberry and Athy of the 1950’s dealing with different aspects of country and town life in a delightful and at all times comical way. Do you remember her account of Mary from Dublin, a well-known character from our past who each week manned a fish and fruit stall in Emily Square.

“The one elaborate stall which had place of honour in front of the Square was run by Mary from Dublin …. She was a scrawny dark little thing with snapping black eyes, lank black hair and a toothy but engaging smile. She wore a shapeless overcoat and an ancient cloche hat … She controlled everything with a loud sharp voice …. Chanting ‘cahbages and tomahtoes, ahpricocks, ripe bahnanhnas ….. ‘Never mind the green dearie it is only the outside. I’ll peel one for you.’ She took up a banana and held it high and with dramatic gestures peeled four strips until it was half done. The banana was unripe and hard as a rock. ‘I’m sorry it is not ripe enough’ I said feeling very embarrassed at the wretched banana which looked so exposed and at the silent crowd watching all this with bated breath. Mary snorted ‘not ripe sez she’ to the crowd in a voice that carried for miles, ‘not ripe! after me stripping me bahnahna for her”.

Ann Raleigh was an achiever and a pioneer as indeed was the stallholder Mary herself whom the Kilberry-based writer so vividly captured in her book “Himself and I”.

A different kind of pioneering spirit is attributable to another local woman Brigid Darby, the first woman elected as a public representative to Athy’s Town Council. She was so elected in 1928 and served as an Urban Councillor until 1942 when she stood down. In the meantime she served her local community as a member of Kildare County Council, the Vocational Education Committee and the County Committee of Agriculture. A teacher in Churchtown National School and later its Principal she first came to prominence when during the influenza epidemic of 1918/19 she helped to organise a committee of local women to provide food and assistance for the poor families of the area. Brigid was also secretary of the Gaelic League in Athy and throughout her time as a public representative played an enormously important part in improving the stock of Council houses in the town. Her close relationship with the various members of the Fianna Fail government first elected in 1932 and especially the Minister for Local Government Sean T. O’Callaigh was to Athy’s advantage when funding for Slum Clearance Programmes and new house programmes were being allocated in the 1930’s. She was an achiever and a pioneer in terms of her public representative role and as a community activist.

Another group of pioneers in the very real sense of the word were the young girls who between 1849/51 left Athy Workhouse to travel to Plymouth from where they journeyed to Australia as part of an Orphan Emigration Scheme. They were all local girls whose parents had died or had abandoned them in the Workhouse. As such they were regarded as a financial burden on the landowners who paid rates to fund the operation of Athy Workhouse. The Orphan Emigration Scheme was seen as an opportunity to off load from Irish Workhouses young unfortunate females while at the same time providing a much needed counterbalance to the largely male convict population of Australia. Those young girls who left Athy Workhouse as part of the Orphan Emigration Scheme to travel to Australia were truly of pioneering stock.

The ladies of the local ICA Guild whom I addressed on the changing attitudes to women in our society themselves played no small part in pioneering the breakthrough for Irish women. But theirs is a story for another day.

Thursday, March 8, 2001

Athy G.F.C.

Eoghan Corry in his centenary history of the GAA in County Kildare stated that “Athy, a town of British Soldiers and public houses was an unlikely venue for a Gaelic revival. It happened in the 1920’s”. The revival Corry referred to was due in large measure to a teacher in the Christian Brothers School, Athy by the name of Seamus Malone. He served as club secretary for Athy GFC for a number of years before leaving for a teaching post in Waterford in or about 1928. The Athy Gaelic Football Club had enjoyed little success in its early years and following a defeat in the Junior Final of 1913 the Club’s fortunes began to wane. Recruitment for regiments fighting in World War I also played a significant part in the demise of Gaelic football in Athy during the War years. Indeed Corry claimed that “Athy provided more British Army recruits, two thousand in all, for the first World War than any other town in the 26 counties.” In that he was incorrect, although Athy’s contribution to the War was proportionately greater than other Irish towns when comparisons are made on a population basis.

Seamus Malone’s importance to Gaelic football in Athy was his part in establishing a minor club known as “The Young Emmets Gaelic Football Club” which catered for under-18 footballers, there being insufficient Senior players left in Athy at that stage. The Young Emmets rented a playing field from the South Kildare Agricultural Society and this was later to be purchased by the local club and developed as Geraldine Park. As the Young Emmet players grew in years the Club assumed senior status and was re-graded as such in 1921.

Over the years the Athy Club known at different times as Geraldine Football Club, The Young Emmets Gaelic Football Club and since December 1945 as Geraldine Hurling and Gaelic Football Club has been served by dedicated administrators. In the early years Seamus Malone and the J.A. Lawlor Town Clerk were to the forefront of the club’s affairs, while Bill Mahon of Sawyerswood served as Club Chairman from 1928 to 1945. Another whose name is synonymous with the GAA in Athy is Fintan Brennan, District Court Clerk and one-time Chairman of the Leinster Council. John W. Kehoe, Publican of Offaly Street, Joe Murphy, Railway company employee of Offaly Street and Andy Smith, Publican of Leinster Street were other long-serving members of the GAA Club in Athy. There are many others who made a major contribution to Gaelic football in the town, many of whom are now dead and in many cases forgotten by the present generation.

A couple of Sundays past the current members of Athy Gaelic Football Club came together to pay a tribute to two members of the Club who between them have 134 years of involvement with Gaelic football in Athy. Both of the men have many things in common. Neither are from the town of Athy or even from the County of Kildare. One is from Baileboro, Co. Cavan, the other from Tullamore near Listowel in Co. Kerry. Both Tim O’Sullivan and Barney Dunne have served the Athy Gaelic Football Club as players, Committee Members and as Club Secretaries in the past.

Tim O’Sullivan first came to Athy in the week before Christmas 1937 to work as a Chemist’s assistant with J.J. Collins in Duke Street. As expected of somebody from the Kingdom he joined Athy Gaelic Football Club and togged out on a few occasions but without much success. Tim played junior football for Athy for several years and was a sub on the senior team when it played the first round of the 1942 championship. Unfortunately when Athy won that championship in a replay against Carbery later in the year Tim was not on the panel. His forte was on the administrative side of club affairs and he served as a committee member for some years from 1945 and in 1953 was appointed Club Secretary. He held that position for the following four years which were lean years for the club both in terms of finance and success on the football field. This was nothing new for the Athy Gaelic Football Club as borne out by a reference in the Club minutes of January 1946 when the then Club Secretary reported that he had managed to buy a football cover and then went on to report to his fellow committee members “that there was every chance of getting a bladder”. Tim was appointed to the Geraldine Park Grounds Committee in or about 1951 and served as Chairman of that Committee from 1961-1963. He is currently the President of Athy Gaelic Football Club and is justifiably proud of the fact that he has attended every Annual General Meeting of Athy Gaelic Football Club since 1938.

Barney Dunne came to Athy from Baileboro in County Cavan in November 1931 to work as a barman in Mrs. Margaret O’Meara’s pub in Leinster Street. Bar Manager there at the time was the earlier-mentioned Andy Smith, another Co. Cavan man who was later to open up his own public house in Leinster Street. As a fit and big young man from the footballing county of Cavan Barney was a great acquisition for the local Club and he was soon togging out for Athy alongside the legendary Paul Matthews, the Ardee County Louth man who came to Athy in 1925.

Barney was a member of the first Athy team to win a senior championship in 1933 when Athy defeated Rathdangan by 2-6 to 1-4. That first success was achieved after Athy’s senior teams had been defeated in three previous county finals, 1923, 1926 and 1927. The 1933 victory was followed by a second championship win the following year to give Barney Dunne his second senior medal. A third championship medal was won by Barney and his team-mates when Athy defeated Sarsfield in the 1937 final played in Naas on 17th July, 1938.

Athy suffered defeat in the 1941 senior championship final against Carbery but by then Barney Dunne was working in Dublin from where he was to return in time to play in the 1942 championship which ended with the Athy Club winning its fourth senior final in nine years. Barney also won two Leinster Leader Cup medals in 1937 and 1942 and played inter-county football for Kildare, winning a Leinster medal in 1935. He was a sub on the all-Ireland losing team of that year when Cavan unexpectedly defeated the hot favourites Kildare.

Barney retired from football in 1945 and was later a committee member of the Club and for a short period its joint Hon. Secretary with the legendary footballer, the later Tommy Mulhall. Barney is one of our last links with Athy’s great footballing years of the 1930’s and holds the unique record of four Senior Championship medals, a record which is unlikely to be bettered.

Congratulations to Tim and Barney on receiving the recent Club Award and to both of them goes our appreciation for years of dedicated service to Gaelic games in Athy.

Thursday, March 1, 2001

Athy G.F.C.

Twelve years ago I interviewed Tom Forrestal of Castledermot who at 92 years of age was then the sole surviving member of Athy’s Senior Football team which lost the 1923 County Final to Naas. That final, played in Newbridge on 4th May 1924, was the first contested by an Athy team and resulted in a victory for Naas on the score of 2-5 to 0-0. The scoreline probably justified the report of a local newspaper which noted :- “The performance of the Athy Jazz Band which paraded in fancy dress before the match was more memorable than that of the injury hit Athy football team”.

Tom Forrestal was one of two Castledermot men on that team, the other being Paddy Hayden. Also players with Athy were Rheban brothers Tom and John Moore, while the “townies” included Eddie “Sapper” O’Neill, Chris Lawler, Dan “Comprey” Nolan, Jim Clancy, “Little” Johnny Kelly, Pat Brogan, Tom “Golly” Germaine, George Dowling, Mick Grant, Mick Mahon and Mick Byrne.

The Senior team of 1923 was not the first of Athy’s footballing heroes. That honour went to the Athy Junior Football team which won the 1907 final when it was re-played on 14th February, 1909. The Junior Cup was the first piece of silverware won by the Athy Gaelic Football Club but even in victory the junior players were to be disappointed when told that the County Board finances did not extend to the purchase of medals. That omission was finally corrected in 1927 when the Kildare County Board gave the outstanding medals to the Athy Club. They were later presented to the members of the 1907 final team at a function in the Urban District Council Offices in the local Town Hall. The team captain, John Lawler of St. Martin’s Terrace, was the first to receive his medal and he was then followed by those of his team mates who had survived the Great War, the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. Robert McWilliams was not there. He had enlisted in the Leinster Regiment during World War I and was killed in action in France on 9th September, 1916. Jim May had died as a result of a fall from a roof and his eight year old son Tom received his medal. Christy Farrell was also dead, while Mick Gibbons had emigrated to America. Mick “Major” Toomey stepped forward to receive his medal and was visibly affected by the occasion. Everyone in the room that night could not but be moved by the sight of the man who since his days of glory on the football field had lost a leg in a World War I battlefield. Now he walked with the aid of two wooden crutches.

I have attempted for years to positively identify the members of that successful 1907 Athy Junior Team and while I have collected the following names I cannot be confident that the list is accurate. Maybe my readers can help in confirming the composition of Athy’s first successful Gaelic football team from the names which I have noted as Ned Harkins, Jim May, John Lawler, Ned Lawler, Jack Kelly, Michael Malone, Christy Walsh, Dan Harkins, Mick Gibbons, Jim McArdle, Willie Mahon, Mert Hayden, Christy Farrell, Robert McWilliams and Mick Toomey.

Another presentation was made on a Friday night in October 1927 when Athy Gaelic Football Club members gathered to honour a prominent club member who was emigrating to America the following day. Mick Mahon was an outstanding minor footballer who had few equals on the field of play. He progressed to the senior team and played for Athy when it lost the 1923 senior championship final. He also played on the losing Athy team in the 1926 senior final and just a week before he emigrated to America he again featured on the Athy team which lost the 1927 senior final to Kildare town. Mick Mahon later played for New York and with him on that team was another former Athy player Eddie “Sapper” O’Neill. Mahon subsequently returned to Ireland and played for the senior county team, winning a Leinster final medal in 1931. It has been suggested that he was the first Athy club player to win an All-Ireland medal, but I have been unable as yet to confirm that fact.

Emigration took a heavy toll on Athy Gaelic football teams during the 1920’s and apart from Mick Mahon and Eddie “Sapper” O’Neill, other fine players to emigrate included Paddy Farrell, Myra Grant, George Dowling, Tom Blanchfield and Frank Lambe. I recall the late Ned Cranny recounting the “send off” given to Eddie “Sapper” O’Neill and Myra Grant in 1924 as they started the long journey to America. Eddie and Myra were star players for the local club and as they set out from home hundreds of local people turned out to wish them well as they paraded behind the local band which played them to the railway station. Eddie O’Neill would later return to Ireland but Myra Grant I understand lived out the rest of his life in America. Another former club player who never returned to Ireland was Frank Lambe whom I believe emigrated in 1923. Last week his daughter Anna Marie Lynch from New York called on me with her son Sean and daughter Colleen to check on her late father’s family. With her she brought an old silver medal which had been her father’s treasured possession . On the reverse side of the medal was an inscription “Senior Tournament Athy G.F.C. Frank Lambe”. This was a medal won by Frank as a member of Athy senior team in a club tournament held before 1923. It was the oldest local GAA medal I have yet seen and I had the pleasure of showing it at a recent club presentation to the two oldest members of Athy Gaelic Football Club.

More about those two men, one a remarkably successful Club player, the other a Club administrator for over 60 years in next weeks Eye on the Past. Incidentally I would like to hear from anyone who can give me background information on Frank Lambe and his family.