Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I had only come across Anne Enright’s work relatively recently when the Independent were promoting The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch as part of the women’s writer series. I have to admit I could ‘t really get on with it and eventually gave up. So, when a friend gave me “The Gathering” (Hardback: Jonathan Cape: 18 euro), for my birthday, I was unsure as to whether I would enjoy it, particularly give my reactions to the last Irish writer who won the Booker Prize- John Banville. To my surprise I was gripped from the first few page and I found it to be a riveting novel. It tell the story of a large family coming together for the funeral of Liam, its black sheep son, and is narrated by his sister Veronica.

Veronica’s depiction of the family spans several generation as she fantasises on the meeting of her grandparents and goes on, with lucid poignancy to describe the summer that she and some of her siblings spend at her grandparent’s house. Her narrative weaves between scenes from the past and from the unsettled present where Liam’s death has left her slightly unhinged and grappling with the general unhappiness of her own family home. Anne Enright portrays some fascinating perspectives on motherhood, which although sombre do not make the book depressing. I had heard it was very “dark”, but I did not find it dispiriting in the way that Banville’s and more recently Patrick McCabe’s work made me feel. The author shows a wry and very wise sense of humour in her family observations, which I am sure, will touch a chord with many readers. Also, and very interestingly, she is not judgemental in her depiction of events in her childhood; she merely lays them out for us to see in as clear a light as possible. I though this was a deeply moving and brilliantly conceived novel- highly recommended.

Festive Gems
Now to some more frivolous Christmas present ideas………I had a chat to Janet in the Blessington bookstore and she came up with some great recommendations for presents for bookworms….Helen Mirren’s autobiography, “In the Frame”
(Hardback:Orion: 31 euro) is a great retrospective on the actress’s life crammed with lots of good photos- a great book to dip in and out of. For any friends or family who love their cooking, this year’s must buy is “The Butler’s Pantry” Eileen Bergin (Hardback: O’Brien Press: 24.99) from the chain of shops of the same name. The recipes sound delicious and the illustrations are sumptuous- I have a copy for a couple of my foodie friends (if you read this you know who you are, so do not buy it!) Janet recommended a good one called “The funniest thing you ever said”, Rosemary Jarski (Paperback: Ebury press: 11.80), which is jammed with hilarious witticisms. For nature lovers I also spotted a cracking read: “BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year” (Hardback: BBC Books: 37.00) The photographs are absolutely spectacular and guaranteed to please all readers, but for those who love the outdoors, it’s a must.

Children’s Books
In terms of children’s books the Blessington Bookstore has a fantastic selection. Predictably the Harry Potter collection is now out in a boxed hardback set. At 167.25, it’s very pricey, but it is a lovely collection for a family who haven’t read any of the novels yet, and it will last forever. One of the big hits at the cinema at the moment is “Beowulf”, the Middle-English epic. Michael Morpurgo (the children’s laureate in the UK and author of such classics as Kensuke’s Kingdom) has adapted the tale for a modern audience, whilst retaining the linguistic richness of the original
(Hardback: Walker Books: 15.99). The illustrations by Michael Foreman are vivid and original and will give any child from about 8 onwards quite a scare! Although there are lots of different versions of the book around this Christmas I found “The Dangerous Book for Boys” (Hardback: 30.30 euro) to be great fun last year. It’s a really old fashioned compendium of fun stuff to do like making tree houses and kids love it.

A final lovely children’s book for this time of year is one that a friend recommended last year, as he read it to his son every December- it is “The Christmas Mystery” by Jostein Gaardner (paperback: Phoenix: 10.50). It follows the story of a little boy’s advent calendar and there is a chapter for each day of December, and it is quite enchanting. There are so many wonderful children’s books around it is difficult to single any others out- go and have a look whenever you get time – books make lovely and often unusual presents for children.

Enjoy your reading time over the Christmas season!


on passing by- again

Councillor Billy Hillis was more than scathing at the CDA AGM in relation to the KTK levy and the Community Liaison Committee. From what I understand Billy is of the opinion that the committee is not currently properly constituted and all decisions to date are null and void. This despite numerous reports on the councils own website detailing all the meetings that discussed and passed the set up of the committee. If it now transpires that there was an error surely the councillors, including our local councillor Mr Hillis, have been extremely remiss and have not acted in our best interests.
That is if that is actually the case. Despite Billy’s comments other councillors appear to be of the opinion that the committee as it currently stands is perfectly legal. How do we know this? Quite simply because two of the projects approved at our only proper meeting have now received their cheques, and councillor Willie Callaghan has said that Kildare County Council will re advertise the scheme in the new year. What is even more intriguing, or maybe more worrying, is that the cheques appeared to have been processed by council employee and member of the committee George Perry.
Can this be the same George Perry , council employee and member of the committee, that Billy gave us to believe was unable to handle applications or paperwork due to time constraints. Curious.
Then again, if the committee is illegal/void why would Mr Perry be working on applications at all. More curious.
Having previously asked Billy questions on this page and received no reply I am obviously not going to hold out for a proper reply to the current questions. Why is Billy telling us one thing and other councillors telling us something else.? Why is Billy telling us George Perry cannot attend to us and yet George does appear to attending to us. When did Billy find out we were null and void and when was he going to tell the rest of us.?
In my opinion there is another agenda at work here and it is not for the enrichment of the people of Ballymore Eustace. Perhaps it is time that we stopped asking questions of local councillors and started asking them at a higher level. The KTK levy was established for the good of the local community and if it means appealing to higher authorities to ensure that his happens then lets start now.

Well as Father Jack used to say, “feck, feck feck”. I had the whole column nearly finished and Bertie goes and ruins it all.
I was finding it really strange that despite all the bombast and bluster the Minister for Finance, Mr Brian Cowen, is as likely as any T.D. to be economical with the truth. Defending the proposed pay rises for members of the Dail Mr Cowen repeatedly insisted in paper, radio and television interviews that the rises were nothing to be getting aerated about and sure wasn’t it seven years since their last increase. The current salary for the Taoiseach is around 272,000 euro and for the Tanaiste 233,000, yet the governments own website shows that in 2005 the respective figures were 238,000 and 205,000. How can this be if the lads have not had a rise since 2000?.
Once again we have Ministers engaging in sophistry. What Mr Cowen actually meant to say was that they have not had a rise under The Review Body on Higher Remuneration for seven years, but sure I suppose it is a simple mistake to make, and one which Mr Cowen will correct if someone brings it to his attention. Perhaps they could also bring to his attention the speech he gave in April of this year and which he said that we “ should not award ourselves pay increases that the country clearly cannot afford”. Ah but sure I forgot they didn’t award it to themselves, someone else suggested it , and it would be insulting in the extreme not to partake of even more largesse at the trough.
So then what happens?. Bertie in his infinite wisdom decides that in the present financial circumstances it might be better to defer the payments for a year. Defer?. Contrast this with the now infamous “smokes and daggers” speech on November 5th when Bertie stridently asserted that there was absolutely no reason to defer the increase. “its goin to be paid and its better to be up front on it”. He then had the brass neck to opine that “ the rule the trade union movement fought for in 1913 and has stood by since is that when an independent body makes a decision on an increase the government of the day should pay it”. You can almost hear Jim Larkin spinning in the grave.
Then came the u turn, although as they are going to get it anyway its hardly even a u turn, just another attempt to treat the electorate as fools. And Bertie confidently announces that deferring the cash is “ a good example of our goodwill”. As Father Jack would say, arse.
The evening news then treated us to the embarrassing site of an obviously uncomfortable Minister Hanafin giving two minute answers to questions she hadn’t even been asked and trotting out almost the same drivel in each answer.
Just to compound the total idiocy of the situation we then have Fine Gael issuing a statement to say that future rises should be performance related. That’s a handy one to subscribe to when you are in opposition but how are they going to measure it?. Is there really such a huge difference between incompetent, more incompetent and most incompetent?.

I suppose that by now most people are aware that Tony Hanlon is no longer operating the bookmakers. Tony has very kindly sponsored the crossword for the past eighteen months. Myself and Tony will continue to set the crossword and have gratefully accepted an offer from Tom O’Keeffe of Naas Insurance and Mortgage Brokers to sponsor it into the future.

Just have to say I thought Dick’s article last month was probably one of the best items that has ever graced the Bugle. If we could read this type of succinct insight in our national papers I would forecast a massive rise in their sales. Keep it up, its sorely needed.

I would just like to finish by offering Tim, Rose, my fellow contributors and all our readers a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
All for now. Mike Edmonds.

Community Development Association A.G.M.
A large number of people turned up the C.D.A. annual general meeting last month, with local security, the lack of progress on the K.T.K. Levy Funds, new sewerage treatment plant and the local area plan being uppermost on the agenda. Sergeant Philip Farrell of Blessington Garda Station attended and reassured the audience that a dangerous gang who carried out several burglaries in the area recently had been caught; one suspect is already serving time and another awaiting trial pending test results. Several people voiced their concerns about the lack of a serious Garda presence in the village but Sgt. Farrell said the new area divisions whereby Ballymore would no longer be in the Carlow-Kildare division would mean we could be within the remit of Naas Garda Station in the near future and that he was unable to make comment on a full time Garda being appointed to Ballymore as yet.
Basically, we will just have to wait until the new area divisions are set in place and see how that works………Sgt. Farrell made a note of anti-social behaviour being a concern of many at the meeting and would investigate ways of addressing that.

If people were anxious to hear the K.T.K. Community Levy Committee had made any advancement with regard to funds being allocated and dispersed to the clubs who applied in April, they were in for a disappointment. As the CDA representative on the liaison committee, I voiced my annoyance at the lack of communication – and basic manners - from Kildare County Council regarding the scheme since July last. The last communications were relating to May’s meeting being deferred to June and an acknowledgement thereafter that the next meeting would be held the first week in September.

All correspondences I made since then have been ignored; Cllr Billy Hillis then delivered the bad news that, as no secretary had been properly appointed by the Council to record the minutes and thereafter continue correspondence, file applications etc, the committee and their work to date, was effectively null and void! Jeez, I thought I was in the middle of Hall’s Pictorial Weekly for a minute…….We – meaning the CDA – didn’t set up the terms and formation of this committee, Kildare County Council did; Kevin Keenan representing KTK didn’t dictate terms either, he merely insisted the funds be directed to the local community here (unlike Kilcullen where K.T.K. distribute the levy funds directly to the community without this bureaucratic bull).. I find the lack of correspondence from KCC staff relating to this project for over five months an indication perhaps that the lack of an appointed secretary must surely have been raised within Council Chambers or the halls of administration in KCC before now?

*Cllr Hillis promised to raise the matter that week (AGM held on November 27th) and I asked specifically for confirmation and update in writing for this edition of The Bugle. To clarify, Cllr Hillis pointed out that neither Council staff members appointed to the committee were in a position to carry out the necessary paperwork due to time constraints and heavy workload. The majority of spectators at the meeting though, felt the management and commitment of Kildare County Council to this scheme was pathetic – and I, for one, think that’s putting it mildly.

The access to information and services provided at Aras Chill Dara (KCC) is excellent; the offices and staff within provide a fantastic facility in relation to planning, motor taxation, grants, adult education etc. Let’s not tar all the Council with the same black brush. We have availed of many grants over the past few years, the monies put to good effect in Ballymore Eustace; the road around the school and out the Naas Road has now been properly surfaced and much safer to drive on (despite some idiot parents incapable of parking legally); the finished footpaths around the town are attractive and cleaner looking and when the foot path around Headon’s is eventually finished, that will be another positive job carried out by KCC. Speed ramps, traffic signs, repaired bridges are other beneficial works carried out by KCC in the locality.

Amongst the various presentations made that night was a brief from Steve Deegan on the C.D.A. sub committee which consists of CDA representatives, Concerned Residents Association, A.B.C.D. and 2 other representatives from the community. This combined group offers the first planning group to represent diverse opinions on the future development of our village and that is a positive step – the broader opinions expressed within this forum will lead to greater common ground and compromise. Well, another shock was in store when the local area plan was discussed; Cllr Billy Hillis said that, due to a legal ‘glitch’ in the wording of the County Development Plan, Ballymore Eustace would not be listed amongst the next towns or villages to have their local area plan addressed.

*Cllr Hillis said it was now a legal matter and currently being looked into and that he would pursue the matters with Kildare County Council. It will likely be 2011 (or later) before a local area plan for Ballymore Eustace would be formulated. No comment necessary here; but last year, when I enquired about Ballymore’s Local Area Plan, I was told that two junior planners were currently amassing the information in preparation for a Ballymore Plan – and the year before that and the year before that, ditto - we were “always next up” and now, we’re not because there’s a ‘legal glitch’. Pity it was only noticed at this stage. I do hope this can be sorted sooner rather than later - whatever your opinion on development in Ballymore Eustace, total stagnation is not healthy for anyone.

Billy further spoke of the new sewerage treatment plant to be located at Kimmeens which required Part 8 and would probably take a year or so for the scheme to be finalised.

*Regarding the above issues, I have received a brief from Billy but the information is insufficient so this will have to hold over until next month’s edition.

We are aware that George Perry, KCC has forwarded cheques to the value of €2,000 each to Liffey Heights Association and Tidy Towns Committee from the KTK Levy Fund so that, at least, is a step in the right direction. (George being the person I thought unable to act as secretary due to work overload?).

C.D.A. Projects
After the CDA Secretary’s and Treasurer’s Reports given by Kay Nolan and Margaret McDonald, Fiona Breslin made an excellent presentation on the ‘Library Project’, plans for a parish office, information centre combined with Tidy Towns Storage Unit have been submitted to KCC and are currently on file for further information – one objection was received with 11 signatures from neighbouring residents. Eric Firth paid tribute to the Tidy Towns Association whose small committee do Trojan work and increased their overall points by 18 in this year’s national competition; Percy Donnelly spoke on the Community Alert Scheme with smoke alarms and security alarms being installed by the committee but Percy stressed the real key to the security of your home is vigilance and communication amongst neighbours; Tim Hempenstall Ryan spoke on the success of the Ballymore Bugle whose sales and advertising are flying – Tim thanked all regulator columnists and our ‘folding’ friends! Other speakers on Meals on Wheels, Bingo, The Friendship Club and The Resource Centre gave brief updates on their respective committees.

It is a shame, Readers to be focusing so much in this article on planning/ KCC related matters and not on the excellent, largely unrecognised work by all the sub committees of the C.D.A. As outgoing chairperson of the Community Development Association, I would like to wholeheartedly pay tribute to CDA ‘Lifers’, Kay and Margaret; dependable thorough Eric; Fiona, a powder keg of energy and network; Patricia and Mary who contribute and support everything and Maurice who has been instrumental in getting the planning sub-group up and running – you are a great bunch of people and it has been my pleasure to serve with you over the past three years.

A new chairperson will be selected at the CDA’s committee meeting in January. Many thanks to all who attended the A.G.M – great to see such a good turnout.

Rose B O Donohgue, Outgoing Chairperson of the Ballymore Eustace Community Development Association.

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