Sunday, October 12, 2008


Over the summer the Rocky totters, crawlers, wobblers and toddlers of the Ballymore Early Years toddler group became explorers of the world that is beyond our small but perfectly formed village. First to the Butterfly farm and more recently to Lullymore.

Arriving at Lulymore it’s hard to know what our little angels expectations were but mine were certainly surpassed. I had been before and without the tour had missed half the lovely attractions including the Fairy Village…. Which is definitely NOT to be missed. The tour was given by a very enthusiastic young student (Thanks Oisin!) and really was fab. He brought the whole place to life, entertaining the kiddies with stories about all about the fairies and even had them spotting flying ones as we stood hushed in their fairy sized village. In true Fairy tradition we danced around a Hawthorn bush making wishes. None for money, love, sweets or toys were allowed – I think the kids were confused as they couldn’t think of anything else – of course we wizened adults were wishing for health and happiness, post pregnancy weight loss, breast lifts…. Only joking we know we are fab mammies and daddies……
We visited the little thatched cottage and it was so funny to see the older children amused by the thought of 16 kids being reared in there with no bathroom etc. For me the highlight (I’m obviously more of a child than I thought) were the Wallabies with baby Joey in pouch….. A trip to Australia didn’t afford me that pleasure….. but here in Lullymore were very healthy Wallabies, pot belly pigs, (sometimes used as guard dogs… just some of Oisins really handy titbits of info) Llamas with long fringes you just wanted to get the scissors out for and small horses I can’t remember the name of. There’s more….. we went on a road trip… in the train, saw de bog and generally misbehaved. I think I speak for us all when I say it was a major hit. I haven’t even mentioned the crazy golf which I think the boys in particular have a penchant for… that took about an hour and the next thing we had spent almost four hours there, all subsidised by Early Years.. Yahoo. Tired but delighted with ourselves for making the trip we took ourselves home.

We have started again on Tuesday mornings in the Resource Centre 10.30am. All welcome.

Sian Keary
Committee MemberKildare County Council
Minutes of the Naas Area Committee Meeting
held at 2.00 p.m. on Tuesday, 17 June 2008,
in the Council Chamber, Aras Chill Dara.

Members Present: Councillor W. Callaghan (Cathaoirleach), Councillor M. Glennon, P. MacNamara, B. Hillis, JJ Power and P. Clear (Mayor of Naas Town Council).

Officials Present: C. Talbot, Meetings Administrator, R. Stokes, Committee Secretary, E. O’Sullivan, Director of Corporate and Cultural Affairs, D. Hall, Area Engineer, P. Whelan, Senior Executive Officer, D. Hodgins, Senior Executive Engineer, G. Perry, Senior Executive Engineer.

Allocation of funds from Community and Enterprise
The Community and Enterprise department informed members that the sum of €336,684 represented monies received and receipted by Kildare County Council by way of development contributions which were allocated under community environment enrichment projects for the Naas Area. The sum of €377,000 was allocated to the Community and Enterprise department under the supplementary budget. Members were advised that these monies were still available. Both Councillor Power and Councillor MacNamara requested to know if councillors would have any input into how this money could be spent.

Any other business
Ballymore Eustace KTK funding
Following the proposal of the Cathaoirleach and Councillor Hillis it was agreed that the following grants;
· The Presbytery Ballymore Eustace - €500 for planting of shrubs
· Tidy Towns – Street Naming €2000
would be sent for approval at the June meeting of the full Council.

Possible non-compliance of planning permission in Ballymore Eustace
Councillor Glennon circulated a photograph of a house located directly across from the Thatch pup in Ballymore Eustace which does not seem to be in compliance with planning permission. The Councillor requested that someone from the planning department investigate the matter further.

Planning and Development Act 2000
Planning and Development Regulations 2001 – Part VIII
To consider proposal for development of new Sewerage Scheme
for the village of Ballymore Eustace
The members noted the content of a report from the Deputy County Manager, dated 19 June 2008, in relation to the proposal for development of a new sewerage scheme for the village of Ballymore Eustace.

Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Hillis, seconded by Councillor Dalton, that in accordance with the Planning and Development Act 2000 and Planning and Development Regulations 2001, that the Part VIII proposal for the development of a new sewerage scheme for the village of Ballymore Eustace be approved.

Motion – Councillor McEvoy
Kildare County Council urges the Minister for the Environment to establish a Liffey Valley Authority, or similar body, which would have responsibility for the implementation of agreed policies in relation to the long term protection of the valley’s landscapes and the development of its potential for recreation and tourism. Such a body would have representation from the
four Local Authorities of Kildare, South Dublin, Fingal, Dublin City and other interested parties, including the O.P.W.
The meetings administrator read a report from the Community & Enterprise Department outlining the objectives of the Liffey Valley Strategy and indicating that in principle, the council would have no objection with the establishment of the proposed Authority/Body. It was agreed to circulate a copy of the report to all members. Councillor McEvoy confirmed that a similar Liffey Authority had been established years ago without any real powers and felt the same may happen again. Councillor Griffin expressed his concern that the proposed Authority may supercede decisions made by Kildare County Council and felt that the motion required more consideration. Councillor Hendy requested that this motion be referred to the members of the Mid-East Regional Authority for comment. The meetings administrator advised the members that the establishment of the proposed authority would have financial implications. It was also felt that the ESB would need to be involved due to legislative powers. Councillor McEvoy agreed to amend the wording of the motion from ‘establish’ to ‘propose’.

Committee Reports and Recommendation
Naas Area

To approve the award of grants for environmental projects in Ballymore Eustace.
Report submitted recommending award of grants for environmental projects to The Presbytery Ballymore Eustace for the sum of €500 and the Tidy Towns for the sum of €2,000.
Resolved on the proposal of Councillor Callaghan, seconded by Councillor Hills the awards listed above are awarded.
Matt’s Memories – usual heading

Old Postcards

On Saturday July 19, James was cutting the hedge while I had just finished mowing the lawn. The hedge is located in what we call “Dolan’s Yard” as previously, Mrs. Dolan owned the house attached to it. Subsequently, my father converted part of the house into stables for his horses. Seeing James, Peter McKnight stopped his car and started talking to him. Later, I joined them and Peter showed us some postcards that he bought at a car-boot sale. These included photos of De Valera, Maureen Potter, the last train from Harcourt Street Station in 1958, the remains of Nelson’s Pillar after it had been partially blown up in March 1966 and Ronnie Delaney in action. In days gone by, Peter was a good athlete who was dedicated to his training.

James and I were tidying our graves when a lady joined us. While she looked familiar, initially I did not recognise her. She explained she was previously Anne Grace. Anne nowadays lives in Dunboyne and indicated that her brothers, Michael and Nicholas, were both in good form and Michael had been in the Ballymore Inn that day. Anne was paying her respects to her mother who died 12 years ago and her sister Mary who died in 1974. Both her mother and sister are buried in St Mary’s Cemetery while her father, Seamus, is buried in St John’s. The Grace family previously owned the shop at the Square, now the premises of Gallery and Gifts.

The Sister From Cobh
On Saturday July 26, James’s eldest daughter, Ann-Marie, kindly gave my sister Margaret Perry and myself a lift to Ballymore-Eustace. Margaret was paying me a visit. On the same occasion, we had lunch at The Thatch. While there we saw Jimmy Murphy who was also having lunch and met Kathleen Jordan who had not seen Margaret in a long-time.

On Thursday June 26, James and I were on our way down to Tramore for a few days. We decided to have dinner at The Lord Baganel Inn in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow and there, we met Pat Ryan of Garryhill. For many years, Pat was Secretary of the Garryhill Handball Club – a position he retired from recently. While Pat did not play intercounty handball himself, two of his brothers did. I had a good chat with Pat and he told me he was at Tommy O’Brien’s funeral but was not aware of Paddy Monaghan’s death.
On Saturday June 28, James and I got Mass at Tramore Church. While there we met my old pal Tommy Brennan. Tommy was a good handball player and on many occasions he joined our family for a game in Talbot’s Inch, County Kilkenny. His family lived a few doors from the alley in Queen’s Street in Tramore. His father and brothers, Sean and Paddy, were also keen handball men. In 1953, Sean ran the first handball tournament I ever played in – it was a doubles tournament. The eventual winners beat Lew Kiely and me in the semi-finals. Dec Halligan and Tony Kelly were the winners. Tommy was a former teacher while Sean was a former guard. I believe Paddy now lives in Sydney. In days gone by, Paddy and I backed 5 of the 6 winners at the Tramore races. I supplied the brainpower while Paddy supplied the finance.

I often went to the races in Tramore with my late parents and other members of the family. A few years ago, the racecourse there was revamped and I meant to go there for old time sake but never got around to it. At present, the Racing Authorities are busy preparing a new course at the Back Strand in Tramore, which I saw when James brought me on a trip to Dunmore East. Before the present course was built in the early 1920s, racing took place on a course on the Back Strand.

14th Anniversary
As I was doing my shopping in Churchtown on August 1, I met Patsy Feeney (nee Conway). Patsy told me she was going down to Ballymore-Eustace that day, as it was her late father’s 14th anniversary. At the end of June, my late father’s twentieth anniversary occurred.

Despite saying in my July article that he was placed in Leopardstown on July 18 rather than June 18, ‘Show Blessed’ did me two good turns at Naas on July 9 and again on August 4
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. In both instances, he was my main bet and won both on the flat and over hurdles. ‘Show Blessed’ is partial to left hand courses like Naas.

‘Dbes’t was down the field on the flat on July 21 at Down Royal and on July 31 at Galway. I gather ‘Dbest’ does not like the rain!

© Matt Purcell August 13, 2008.

“At Your Service”, RTE’s new hospitality programme featuring the Brennan Brothers, Francis and John of Park House Hotel Kenmare fame, took a visit recently to Poulaphouca House, “The Falls” as run by Rita and Frank Malone.

Established in 1983, the setting of the hotel is unique – lakeside views, rolling green fields and mature tree lines with the infamous “Puca” bridge only yards away. It oozes character – a positive feature which Francis Brennan immediately recognised and quickly saw the potential for the hotel as a wedding venue – “a photographer’s paradise’.

The bar too was praised for its character and old world charm and the function room got the ‘thumbs up’ albeit in need of a little décor enhancement. It looked like it was all plain sailing until the hotel guru entered the hall and saw the drawing room; his negativity continued on walking the bedrooms, critical on décor and ‘confused themes’ but once again, high in praise of the spaciousness and light.
Brennan saw huge potential in our local hostelry; the high ceilings and light were a plus; the drawing room was wasted, ‘fell between two stools’ with its living room furniture and a pool table and juke box contradicting one another. Out with the pool table and music player – the drawing room was clearly a room to ‘seduce’ potential wedding bookings, a room to invite couples into, to perceive the ambience of the hotel and create the perfect setting for their wedding day.

The restaurant Brennan liked but discounted Rita’s hopes of establishing it as a gourmet house - waste of time and money he felt creating fine foods, with only a handful of people likely to visit on a week night. That was disappointing for Rita but Brennan’s first impression never faltered – the key to success for Poulaphoua House was as a wedding venue, upgrade the function room, convert the drawing room into a tasteful reception area, upgrade accommodation, create a bridal suite, re-launch website and brochures with selective photographs and the business would follow……….

“Ok,” says Rita “I have €5,000 in the budget for décor……….” Aieeeeeee, even when she said it, I was thinking “Two chances”. I’ve never known a building job yet that didn’t double the price before completion.

There was no doubting though by the end of the programme that changes in décor made a huge difference. John Flynn drifted in and out of the picture as he painted and peeled and alas, for Rita and Frank, ‘minor’ jobs turned out to be major ones. Walls were stripped, floor boards up, plumbing and heating problems to be addressed……….Soon, Rita found her budget had quadrupled but the impact was immediate.

The Bridal Suite was transformed; timber furniture painted cream, patterned fabrics discarded and replaced with subtle warm colours, larger lampshades introduced with a few accessories and “Wow” – a whole new bedroom, from B & B décor to a hotel standard Bridal Suite.

Similarly, the drawing room was overhauled into a warm, welcoming and elegant reception room. But Rita saw the potential benefits and decided to upgrade all the bedrooms and to further enhance the function room with cream chair covers and gold bows. Sarah Kelly, Wedding Planner advised her on marketing strategy and doubted Rita’s estimated €2,000 budget would be enough. However, a viewing of the hotel’s new look website looked impressive and would certainly entice new business. John Brennan encouraged Rita to aim for three weddings a week although I think Rita seemed happy to secure 50 weddings plus.

What did the renovations and upgrade cost? At the time of screening, €30,000……….. a far cry from the original €5,000 allowance but boy, what a difference. Some of the work would have been needed anyway so I think the Malones have made a good investment; it may take time and additional marketing to source new enquiries but, as Brennan repeatedly said, the hotel is only an hour from Dublin, has a setting second to none and its old world charm makes it a very appealing wedding venue.

“Bar, Restaurant and Wedding Venue – that’s where your business comes from, forget the rest and concentrate on enhancing the house and securing at least one wedding a week, with the possibility of up to three weekly.”

I’m not sure Rita would want three weddings a week – less golfing time, Rita but let’s hope the airing of RTE’s programme will attract business via the website – it is a gem of a place and it’s still the best port of call for a tasty roast beef dinner – so says Gerry Kelly and he know his roast beef!

The same week Poulaphouca House was aired, local couple Triona and Kevin Phelan were featured in “Looking for a Miracle” when they visited Lourdes along with their two daughters. Triona was recovering from cervical cancer at the time and the programme gave a wonderful insight into their emotions and reactions to this holy place albeit over run with plastic commercialism.

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