History articles are courtesy of Paddy Behan of the Naas Local History Group.
Naas History (134 AD - 1900)
Naas has a long and colourful history. In Annals and records the name appears in three forms, namely, An Nas meaning "The place of Assembly", Nas Laighean meaning " The Place of Assembly of Leinstermen", the and "Nas-Na-Riogh" meaning " The Place of Assembly of the Kings", The latter is the Irish form of the name now used.
Bardic History relates that it was founded by Lewy of the Long Hand, and according to ancient tradition the original founders commenced the building of the of the town somewhere in the townland of Broadfield. Naas was the capital of the district anciently called Airthear Life and was on the border between Ui Faolain- the O'Byrne Kingdom, and the Ui Muiri - the O'Toole Kingdom. The Dun or Fort was considered almost unpregnable in ancient times. It was almost certainly built on the site of the North Moat, which is still intact, and commands the town from a central position, behind the town hall. The South Moat has disappeared as such, and its site is now a large low hillock which is the Fair Green.
The Dun of Naas existed at a very early period. It is mentioned in connection with the legendary origin of the Boroma Laighain or Leinster Tribute in the reign of the High King of Ireland Tuathail Teachtmhar in the second century. Tuthail had two beautiful daughters, Fithir and Darina. The King of Leinster at that time was Eochy Aincheaun, married Darina and carried her off to his Palace at Naas. Eochy was also determined to get his hands on her sister Fithir, as his second wife. so he shut up Darina in a room in his palace, and sent out a report that she was dead. He then went to Tara, in a great appearance of grief and informed Tuathail that his daughter was dead, and asked for her sister. Tuthail consented, and Eochy returned home to Naas with his new wife. Soon afterwards, however, Darina, escaping from her prison, unexpectedly met her husband and her sister. Her sister fell dead before her face, and the young Queen Darina soon died of a broken heart.
Tuthail, at the head of a powerful force, avenged the insult to his daughter by conquering and beheading Eochy. And O'Flaherty's Ogygia informs us that Naas was destroyed and the inhabitants massacred. He levied a Leinster Tribute of 6000 ounces of Silver, 6000 richly woven mantles, and 6000 cows, hogs, and sheep, every two years. this was abolished in 680 AD by King Finachtach. It was however revived 300 years later by Brian Boro, King of Munster, hence his name Boroime.
The Dun of Naas built by Luighdech Eithlenn King of Leinster, was burnt by Cormac Mac Art, a powerful High King of Ireland, whose laws remained in force throughout the middle ages. To avenge the massacre by Dunlang, King of Leinster, of thirty royal maidens, with a large number of their attendants.
432 - 469 AD
During the years of St Patrick's ministry he paid several visits to Naas . The site of his Pupal or tent was on the green of the fort,.
now St David's Churchyard; his Well, where he in 448 baptised Dubhlang's two sons, Oillill and Illann, Oillill two daughters, Moaghain and Fiedelm, is in the Elder Grove at Oldtown. He also baptised at Sunday's Well, where a annual Patron Sunday was held in olden times.
St Fechin of Fore visited Naas, He founded the Monastery of Tulach-Fobhair, close to the site of Sunday's Well, at Millbrook, which was built upon land given by the King of Naas. Ware says the Monastery was dependent upon "Foure", hence the name Tulach Fobhair (Tulach means hillock). During his visit to Naas in 660 AD, he obtained the release of certain captives, in memory of which the Market Cross was erected, it stood in the Market place until the mid eighteenth century.
The Masters tell us that King Congal, son of Fergus of Fanat, while making a hosting against the Leinsterman, devastated Naas and carried away hostages, probably for the payment of "Tribute", or some such debt.
Muireghan, son of Diarmead, Lord of Naas and Airther Life was slain by Norsemen.
Cearbhall, the last King to be recognised as King of Leinster was tragically killed, some say by accident at Kildare Town when he fell from his horse, and was accidentally killed by his own sword, others say he was killed in battle. He was a very brave man, and by all accounts, avenged the death of his father Muireghan, by defeating the Norse men at the battle of Dublin in 880, He also played a prominent part in the defeat of the powerful Cormac Mac Cuileannain, King and Archbishop of Cashel, at the Battle of Bealach Mughna in 903. he was buried at Cill Corban as were eight previous Kings of Leinster before him. With his death, we come to the end of the Brehon Laws, and a glorious era in the history of our town.
The Normans; King Dermot McMurragh, of Leinster, carried off Dervorgilla the wife of Tiernan O'Rourke, King of Breifne. The revenge battles that ensued resulted in Dermot having to flee to Wales, and seek succour from Richard deClare, Earl of Strigul, Richard known to the Irish as Strongbow, was married to Dermot's Daughter Aoife. Strongbow, with a contingent of 300 Welshmen, assisted by Robert FitzStephen (half brother of the bishop of St David's, and of Maurice FitzGerald), and Myler FitzDavid, son of the Bishop, crossed to Ireland in 1170. Strongbow soon stamped Norman authority on Leinster, and granted the prosperous towns and fertile lands to his supporters. Maurice FitzGerald. was granted the barony of Naas.
The grant was reconfirmed to Maurice FitzGerald's son, William FitzMaurice, by Henry II, it was also confirmed by Prince John, This Anglo Norman possession was followed by the settlement of a colony from the St David's area of Pembrokeshire in Wales.and these colonists made many changes, the Parish Church originally dedicated to St Patrick or St Corban, was rebuilt and rededicated to the Welsh Patron St David. A report in 1767 describes the steeple as being in such a ruinous state that it was resolved to pull it down and build another. The new steeple was never completed.
William FitzMaurice founded a Priory under the invocation of St John the Baptist, for Canons Regular of the Order of St Augustine. St John's Abbey was situated on a Site behind where the present Parish Priest's House stands.
King John visited the town. The State Papers of the time tell us that "At the Nace to the Earl of Salisbury 10 marks pd, to Robin deCamera, Where the King lay in a tent". It appears the Castle was not yet built.
King John again visited Naas and held a Parliament here. This assembly would probably have been held in the newly built Naas Castle. It was about this time that Kildare became a separate County, prior to this, it would have been considered a suburb of Dublin by the Normans. And that decision could have been made at the Naas Meeting.
Henry III granted an annual Fair to the town.
Edward Bruce and his Scots burned Naas and plundered the Church and St John's Abbey, and pillaged the tombs in search of treasure.
A Dominican Friary dedicated to St Eustachius was founded by the Eustace family, it was sited in the area near the junction of Basin Street / Abbey Street or Back Street. Excavations in that area in recent times uncovered some skeletons, possibly the Monks Burial Ground.
The Augustinian Friary for Friars Ermites of the Order of St Augustine was founded . The site of this Monastery was located in the the old grave yard west of the North Mote. A tower and side wall of this building was still standing in 1835 A 1793 Grose drawing of this ruin is in existance. It was known as the "Monastery of the Mote".
An Inquisition held on the complaint that William deWyndesore, that the Lord Lieutenant, had at Tameline (Timolin) imposed a talliage on the Commons of Meath of a crannock (16 bushels) of wheat, on each of 520 Carrucates of land, and carried it to Naas, where it was valued at 2s. 8d. less than its value in Meath, the difference appropriated to the Lord Lieutenant's own use.
King Henry IV granted to Naas its first charter as a Corporation. consisting of Portreeves, Burgesses, and Commonalty. and a few years later, in 1413 King Henry V granted the corporation power to collect tolls at all the entrances to the town, the money to go towards fortifying the town with walls and gates. A number of Castles or fortifies houses were were also built around this time, perhaps King Johns Castle was rebuilt on the original site, and incorporated into the town wall structure. The vaulted rooms of the old building still exist in the castle. It is one of a line of castles and houses to the North and East of Naas, which with its own defences, became the chief southern outpost of the "Pale" fence ordered by the "Poynings" Parliament of 1494.
Parliaments were held in Naas in 1419, 1457, 1471, 1472, 1473 and 1477. and it was probable that that the decision was taken to insist that " every Irishman that dwells betwixt Englishmen in Dublin, Myeth, Ureill, and Kildare. shall go like one Englishman in apparel and showing of the beard above the mouth--and shall take to him an English Surname, or name of a town such as Sutton, Chester, or colour as White, Black, or Brown. art or science as Smith, Carter, or Carpenter. or trade or office as Butler, Cook, or Baker. and that his issue shall use this name , under pain of forfeiting of his goods yearly".
Henry VIII is made King of Ireland, by an Irish Act of Parliament, prior to 1542 English Monarch's were Lords of Ireland. And as King he commenced the suppression of the Irish Monasteries, starting with Kilmainham, Naas and the rest of the country followed. and so commenced 300 years of Roman Catholic Persecution in Ireland. Henry VIII excuted 72,000 catholics and confiscated over 1,000 catholic religious houses in Britain and Ireland . Charles Dickens called him a "corpulent brute, a disgrace to human nature - and a blot of blood and grease on the history of England".
Lord Deputy Skeffington reoccupied Naas which had been held by Lord (Silken Thomas) FitzGerald, then in open rebellion.
Naas had two representatives in Parliament up to the time of the Union. That was reduced to one after 1800, and ceased altogether in 1840, when Naas was no longer a borough. .
Queen Elizabeth grants a new charter to Naas Corporation. creating the position of Sovereign of the town.
Rori Og O'More and Cormack MacCormack O'Connor with 140 men and boys on the 3rd of March burned between 700 and 800 thatched houses in Naas. They ran through the town like " haggs and furies of hell, with flakes of fire fastened on poles and were not half an hour in the town". There was about 500 men asleep in their beds after the celebration of St David's Day.
Naas was garrisoned by 500 men under Lord Gormanstown. who were responsible for the murder of a number of Spanish survivors of the Smerwick Massacre, in that year, at a spot in Naas, still known as the " Fod Spainneach"
The Lattin Alms-house, founded by William Latton and Anne Lutterell,
in Poplar Square. It was rebuilt in 1702 by Patrick Lattin, it was moved and rebuilt in 1787 due to street widening . in 1798 during the Rebellion it was again demolished, to enable the British Artillery to position their guns. It was rebuilt in its present position on the Dublin Road in 1919. And the Monumental slabs bearing the inscriptions as to its founders, was set in the front wall. It is still in use and is looked after by the St Vincent De Paul Society. It is now believed to be the oldest Charitable Institution in Ireland.
Robert Ashe, Sovereign of Naas, reported on oath that Queen Elizabeth's charter of the town had been accidentally burned.
King James I granted a replacement of the Elizabeth Charter, but also
grants power to the Sovereign to appoint a Sergeant-at-Mace to carry the Mace before him within the limits of the borough.
A further charter of King James I gives further powers to the Corporation to make bylaws provided they are consistent with general Laws in the Kingdom. The Sovereign to be a Justice of the Peace.
Thomas Wentworth (Black Tom) Earl of Strafford, and Lord Deputy of Ireland Builds his Great House at Jigginstown, it would be an Irish Residence for Charles I, but alas Wentworth is recalled to London, and loses his head before the roof goes on his great house.
Naas occupied by the insurgents but was taken over by the Earl of Ormonde who plundered it, and left a Garrison there . Naas Dominican Priest Fr Peter Higgins was arrested and taken to Dublin and executed by the " Cruel and Bloody" Sir Charles Coote, Governor of Dublin Confederate and Cromwellian wars rage in Ireland for a further ten years. Naas taken and plundered many times.
King Charles II grants a new charter. It takes notice of the changes that has taken place since the Charters of Elizabeth and James, which are made doubtful by the recent wars and Disturbance in the Kingdom..
Corbans Gate, and the North or Dublin Gate were pulled down to repair the Church, There were gates at all entrances to the Town , Corbans Gate was in Corbans Lane. the Green Gate on Fairgreen Street, West Gate on New Row, Water Gate on Friary Road. Yeagogs Gate was on the Sallins Road.
Edward Sherlock was appointed Town Clerk at £12 per annum. .
Dublin Philosophical Society describes Naas as "very thinly inhabited" and "totally neglected, it has a commodious sessions house, in the centre of the town, built at the charge of the county, most of it new, and advanced on pillars,". He was referring to the Tholsel.
Englishman John Dunton noted Naas to be " a good handsome town ".
Thomas Burg Surveyor General of Ireland purchased some land in Naas, around 1700 and proceeded to build himself a residence at Oldtown, He planned a building similar to Russboro in Blessington, but never managed to complete. He was the first of a long line of De Burgh's to reside in Naas. Since then ten generations of De Burghs have resided here. The Family has been in Ireland since 1170.
The Dublin Gazette of February 24th reported that "On Saturday last John Caghee, formerly of the Naas, was executed near St Stephens Green, for stealing a mare from Thomas Neyle, carter, at the Naas.
Rev Stephen Radcliffe , Vicar of Naas, in his return to the House of Lords , on Popery, stated that "in Naas Mass is said within the ruins of an old abbey, in other places, in some cabin, or under a shed at the back of a ditch....a reputed popish priest officiates at Naas, but unregistered and unlawful".
Naas to gets its first post Penal Church Fr Denis Dempsey, Parish Priest obtained the lease of a site to build a new Catholic Church , near the where the Moat Hall now stands, at a yearly rent of five shillings.
Dublin Castle issued a Decree that Naas should have a posthorse and horseman to bring post regularly to the town.
According to a House of Lords report, the "number of Protestant inhabitants was 280. There was 2,570 Popish inhabitants. There was one popish priest and two friars".
New jail built on the site of the old Whites Castle. The present Town Hall Building.
A new era of transport comes to Naas, The County of Kildare Canal is completed to Naas at a cost of £12300 . for the next 170 years the towns needs would come by canal. It was completed as far as Corbally in 1810 at a further cost of £20,000. In 1911 the Canal Bridges were raised to allow passenger boats to ply between Naas and Dublin. While a new Market House was built in the Harbour by Lord Mayo in 1813.
Rebellion and Michael Reynolds, a farmer from Johnstown, and group of around a 1000 United Irishmen attack Naas and were repulsed with a loss of around 150 men, by Lord Gosford, Commanding a force composed of the Armagh Militia and local yoemanry.
Naas Courthouse constructed to a design by Richard Morrison., The pillared front was added later in 1859.
Work commences in August 1810, on the Naas Infantry Barracks. which would accommodate 18 officers and 300 Privates, or double that in time of war. the cost of construction was £17900. It was opened in 1813.
The New Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St David , was opened on the 15th August 1827 on a site donated by the De Burgh Family. It would replace the smaller Post Penal Church built in 1755. The Parish Priest at the time was Fr Gerard Doyle P.P. Who lived to see the spire erected in 1858. The last payment was made on the church in 1949, when the Church was dedicated by Bishop Thomas Keogh.
Building of Naas Jail completed at a cost of £14000. The main wing of the building had 96 cells and there was also underground punishment cells a treadmill. Dining Halls, Wash Houses, School, and Quarters for the Governor and Warders.Many Prisoners were transported to Australia from Naas Jail, and it was used a lot during Land League days. It ceased to be a jail in 1896.
A report in "Paddy Kelly's Budget" a somewhat scurriluos publication of the time describes the first recorded Race Meeting at Jigginstown, in that year. The writer reports;
"The course has been considerably improved since last year.'Tis situated about half a mile outside the town at the back of Jigginstown, a little off the Newbridge Road,'Tis about a mile and quarter in circumference and from the central elevation of the ground even the pedestrian could see a race all round. There were however, a couple of ill constructed stands erected on which we did not choose to risk our precious carcasses, and there was one continuous line of tent's stretched from east to west of the course in which many a rustic couple figured away in reels. jigs, and hornpipes to the well known airs of "Shiver the Quilt", "Father Jack Walsh" "My Duck's in the House", " The Night of Fun" ete ete. to the astonishment and delight of the inebriated natives".
The Sisters of Mercy come to Naas, and started a Primary School. within a month of their arrival. In addition to this work they also cared for the poor and elderly in the Old Naas Workhouse. A duty which they continued until the early part of the 1920s.
The Municipal Reform Act 1840, spelled the end for the Old Naas Corporation, it was dissolved , and replaced by a Grand Jury until 1854.
May 26th 1841, the contractor handed over officially to the Board of Guardians the key of Naas Workhouse.
The Famous writer William Thackeray visited Naas, and remarked
" that it looks poor, mean, and yet somehow cheerful ?... a few cars were jingling along the broadest street...I saw the fine courthouse where the assizes of Kildare are held"
Monday April 1st 1850 is the date of the first recorded official Race Meeting at the Punchestown Racecourse. Royalty would visit there later in 1867 and 1904.
The New Naas Town Commissioners takes over administration of the town, from the Grand Jury which had governed the town since the dissolution of the old Corporation.
The Leinster Express, Saturday 12th October 1861, reported a great boon has been opened to the inhabitants of Naas, and the several small towns, from it to Dublin. In the shape of an excellent Omnibus service suited to all grades of society , having first, second and third classes, which leaves Naas every morning , and returns every evening. The fare is reasonable.
The Town Hall Clock was installed and paid for by public subscription. The mechanism was made by John Chancellor of Dublin. The Bell bears the inscription " Sheridan, 1866" it also bears a harp with the inscription " Erin go Bragh".
The New Presbyterian Church was opened , it is built on the site of the old Naas Tholsel. The foundation stone was laid by John La Touche of Harristown. The Architect was Mr Duncan Ferguson..
A Royal visit to Punchestown by the Prince of Wales.
Naas get a New Baronial style Royal Irish Constabulary Barrack in the Main Street, Beside the Courthouse.
The Christian Brothers come to Naas, and taught school, and lived in the upper storey of the Moat School, until they moved to the monastery on Friary Road.
The Green School opens its doors, in the building which was later St John's Hall, Naas Headquarters of the Order of Malta Ambulance Brigade.
The building is now occupied by Pat Goulding's Hardware Store.
The Kildare Observer is Published for the first time, It would be the voice of Unionist Kildare and surrounding counties until 1934.
The Leinster Leader was first published at Naas in mid - August, The aim of its promoters was " to strenuoously and faithfully maintain, the great principles of Irish Nationality, and liberal progress" . The paper would reflect the true feelings of the people of the central counties of Ireland.
On the 2nd August 1880 a meeting of the Naas and County Cricket Club was held in the the Pavillion at Oldtown, at the request of Colonel DeBurgh who wished " to organise a County Club for Cricket, Football, Polo, Pigeon Shootinn, Lawn Tennis, and Archery". The proposal was accepted by the Cricket Club and thus the County Kildare Club came into being on the 1st day of January 1881, and retained its name until the 26th October 1977 when it was altered to that of " Naas Lawn Tennis Club".
Another milestone in the transport history of the Naas , when the Naas/Tullow Branch of The Great Southern and Western Railway came to the town. It last for almost eighty years.
The first Gaelic Football Match under the G.A.A. rules to be played in Co Kildare, was played at Naas on February 15th 1885 between Sallins and Naas. The Gaelic Athletic Association had only been founded just three months before in Hayes's Hotel in Thurles, where Naas was represented by the Editor of the Leinster Leader, Mr John Wyse-Power.
St Corbans New Cemetery on the Dublin Road was opened, it being necessesary to close the Old Abbey Graveyard near the Moate.
The Naas John Dillons G.A.A. Club was founded in the Naas Town Hall Ballroom on the 16th October 1887. Just over twenty attended the inaugral meeting which was chaired by Naas Curate Rev. E. Walsh.
Maudlins Cemetery extended. In 1882 a high wall had been erected to prevent the the scurrilous practice of " Body Snatching".
The new St David's National School on the Dublin Road was opened, The teacher was Mr Shepherd A.England, The school had previously been situated in North Main Street on the site of the present Superquinns.and was opened in 1840
On Saturday April 25th 1891 a group of people assembled at Palmerstown
House, near Naas, the home of the Earl of Mayo, to consider the establishment of the "Co Kildare Archaeological Society" among the attendance was a Duke, an Earl, a Lord, and two Ladies, a General, a Bishop, a variety of clergy, including a Jesuit, an Archdeacon and a Canon.
The first qualified nurse to be appointed by the Board of Guardians, to Naas Hospital, arrived in February 1898, she was Miss McCann from Glascow, and her salery was £25 per year, with rations- Bread, Butter, and Beef. Things were beginning to look up at the end of the nineteenth century.
The First Meeting of Kildare Co Council, a new system of democratic Local Government established by the 1898 Local Government Act, was held in the County Courthouse, in Naas. One of the first motions passed by the new body carried the message;- " That we affirm the right of the Irish Nation to a full measure of Self-Government . We accept the Local Government Act of 1898 as a first instalment of the same, and call on the Imperial Parliament to proceed with the further restitution of our rights"
The opening of a new National School by the Sisters of Mercy was another milestone in the educational history of our town.
The New Century brought a new system of Local Administration to Naas, when the new Urban District Council, established by the Local Government of Ireland Act 1898. Succeeded the Town Commissioners, who in 1854 had replaced the Ancient Corporation as the Administrators of the town They held their first meeting on Tuesday 3rd April 1900 with Mr William Staples, in the chair. A whole new century of business lay ahead.
The end of two thousand years of the history of
Naas History (1900-1938)
The New Century brought a new system of Local Administration to Naas, when the new Urban District Council, established by the Local Government of Ireland Act 1898. Succeeded the Town Commissioners, who in 1854 had replaced the Grand Jury who ran the affairs of the town during one of the most difficult periods in our history. 1840 - 1854, which included the infamous famine years. Prior to that the Old Corporation had governed the town 1409. The sitting members of the Town Commission in 1900 were promoted to Urban Council status, and continued in office until the next elections in 1902.
The first meeting of Naas Urban District was held on Tuesday 3rd April 1900 with Mr William Staples, a prominent Naas merchant of the time in the chair. The other members of the council were; Mr Stephen J.Brown, Solicitor and founder of the present firm of solicitors Brown & McCann, who have been the Legal Advisors to the Council for the best part of its first century. Shopkeepers were well represented by Mr Joseph O'Neill, Mr Nicholas Flanagan, Mr James Conway and Mr William Masterson. The other members of the council were Mr William Quinn, Baker. Mr Henry J. Farrell, Publican & Merchant. Mr Richard Sargent, Undertaker completed the line up of the first Naas Urban District Council. The Town Clerk was Mr Michael Gogarty, whose family are still in business in the town 100 years later. The Town Surveyor was Mr John J.Inglis.
The first motion placed on the placed on the agenda for the next meeting to be held on the 17th April by Cllr Henry J. Farrell read:-
1) "That he would move at the next meeting, that all meetings of the Council called for "fair days" be held at 4 oclock in the afternoon, instead of 11 oclock AM."
2) " That the Hibernian Bank Ltd, be appointed treasurers to the Naas Urban District Council".
Both Motions were passed, the Hibernian Bank Ltd, were the forerunners of the Bank of Ireland who are still the councils treasurers 100 years later.
1900 was also became a milestone year in the
educational history of the town, when a new national
school was opened by the Sisters of Mercy, which would
serve for the next three quarters of a century, until
a new modern building was
opened in 1975.
The clock was an important part of the town day and night, but the inhabitants could not see its face at night, they complained to their councillors. And Town Clerk Mr Gogarty got one of "SUGGS" patent gas burners erected . It proved most satisfactory, and the councillors were delighted, and directed him to procure a pendant and two of the burners for the offices.
Naas Carpet Factory established in a classroom at the new convent school, with the aid of the local Gaelic League. The prime movers were Fr. D. Gorry and Stephen J.Brown, who later became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kildare Carpet Company Ltd. With the support of Lady Geraldine Mayo, of Palmerstown, the venture grew from strength to strength, and in 1904 moved to a new premises at Corbins Mill, Millbrook, where carpet was made to any size, shape, colour, shape or design. Customers own designs were catered for. The Directors in 1910 were, Geraldine, Countess of Mayo, Lord Frederick FitzGerald, John Edward Fottrell,Esq, Rev Edward Norris PP, Edward Glover, Esq, M..Imst.C.E., Stephen J.Brown, Esq, MA, JP, chairman, Robert M. Martin, Esq, Managing Director, Martin Salmon, Secretary, and Manager William S. Wild. In 1911 THE Kildare Carpet Company made four carpets for the RMS "Olympic" and the ill fated RMS "Titanic" that were owned by the Cunard Shipping Company at least two of these carpets were made at Naas. The factory ran into difficulty in 1912 due to lack of materials and finance, and it ceased operations in 1913 when it became a depot for some years, it was bought by the Maguire family in the 1920s and was later to gain fame as the one and only Mrs Lawlors Ballroom.
The members of Naas Urban District Council heard Town Clerk, Mr Michael Gogarty, read a letter from the secretary of the Automobile Club in London, seeking support for the holding of the Gordon Bennet Motor Club Race in Co Kildare in July 1903. It was received favourably by the members.
In August 1901 the Christian Brothers purchased one acre and thirteen perches on the Friary Road, on the 12th May 1903 the foundation stone was laid and on the 23rd April 1903 the community took up residence in their new home. On the occasion of the opening Father Murphy CC presented a beautiful picture of the Last Supper to the community. A large number of shrubs was got from the gardens ofCaptain Lambe to beautify the surroundings. The crosses on the roof of the monastery are tile and were brought from Scotland. The Intermediate School was transferred from the lower to the upper storey, vacated by the Brothers and during October a new Science Laboratory was erected.
A royal visit to Naas and Punchestown, on the 26th and 27th of April the town was decorated with bunting, flags and flowers, bands played as thousands cheering public converged on the townto catch a glimpse of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The fledgling Urban Council prepared an address of welcome, to be delivered by the Chairman Cllr William Staples, but alas the royal entourage swept past - presumably more anxious to get to the races than to hear yet another speech from a small town dignitary.
Was the year that Naas Town Hall got a facelift when local builder Jack Eacret renovated the building which had been damaged by fire some years previous. The façade as we know it today was built and the clock got its two faces. Plans used in that reconstruction were handed over to the council in 1993 by Sheila and Reggie Redmond from Terenure, Dublin. Mrs Redmond is the daughter of Mr Alma Kingsley Sargent who was an engineer in Naas in the 1940s and came into possession of the plans that were drawn for the renovation carried out in 1904.The Sargent Family had strong Naas Connections and lived on the Dublin Road, their house was demolished to make way for the Railway Bridge in the 1880s. Mrs Redmonds Grandfather, Richard Sargent was a member, and Chairman of the Urban District Council in the early 1900s, His brother George was a coffin maker on the Fairgreen.
Naas Urban District Council became one of the first councils to establish its own lending public library, availing of a grant of £500 from the Scottish based Carnegi Foundation. The newly refurbished Town Hall became its home for the next seven decades.
Naas G.A.A. leased a sportsfield from the U.D.C. The entrance to this field was from the Tipper Road along what was known locally as "Spooners Lane". The committee appealed to the Gaels of the town " to now come and join them, and throw in their lot and help foster our national games".
On the morning of June 28th 1914, the heir to the Austo-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinard and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo by a young Bosnian Student. The assassination was to be the opening shots in one of the fiercest and bloodiest wars the world has ever known, over six million would die including over 49,000 Irishmen, many of them from Naas and Co Kildare.
Naas Town Hall was the venue on Tuesday 18th May, when Mr Percy French, just back from his successful American tour, gave a Humorous Song and Art Recital which included many new war songs, stories, with an exhibition of his most delightful paintings thrown in, all for the admission charge of one shilling, or two shillings if you reserved your seat in advance.
The "Co Kildare Tennis Club" at its Annual General Meeting decided to admit ladies to the club by ballot on payment of a ten shillings fee. Mna na hEireann and Naas enters the twentieth century.
Naas won their first Co Kildare Senior Football Championship title, they went on to win three-in-a-row, in 22' 23,and 24. And seven senior championships, and five Leinster Leader Cups between 1920 and 1932. They also formed the nucleus of the great Kildare team that won six Leinster Championships and two All-Ireland's between 1926 and 1931The year 1920 also saw the founding of the Naas Harriers, by Mr P. Berney. They started with a mixed pack, Their home for the next eighty years would be at Jigginstown where they would contribute much to the sporting life of Co Kildare. The last meet of the hounds from Jigginstown took place from their old Kennels at .Jigginstown in January 2000. They will in future be based at Punchestown.
1921 saw the first moves in the formation of the Naas Racecourse Co, In January 1921 the Leinster Leader reported "that moves were afoot to establish a racecourse for the town. Thirty businessmen and farmers formed a syndicate and put up £200 each to buy land at Tipper, a lot of difficulties were encountered before the project became a reality, when the first race meeting was held on the 19th June 1924.Improvements were carried out in the 1950s, a new tote building, changes to the enclosure buildings, improved stand facilities, and a new entrance from the Dublin Road.
February, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers evacuated their barracks in Naas. They sang ~' The Wearing of the Green" as they marched through the town, on their way to the Naas Railway Station. Their destination was Borden in Hampshire, to join the 1st Battalion.
Sunday 16th April 1922 a great Leinster Rally was held in Naas in support of the Free State. The main speaker was Mr Michael Collins T.D. other speakers Mr Joseph McGrath TD, Alderman M.J. Staines,TD. and Mr Kevin O'Higgins, TD. The Kildare Observer reported that they were entertained with dinner in the Town Hall on Sunday Evening. Rev Fr Doyle CC. Presided, and the dinner having concluded, said he need not say how proud he was to propose a toast to Mr Collins. He had the proud privilege of claiming Mr Collins, as a personal friend.
The Irish Independent of February 1st 1923 reported that at 9.30 on Monday night, Palmerstown, the Irish residence of Senator, The Earl of Mayo, and the Countess of Mayo was entered by armed men who set the massive building on fire, destroying it and its contents. Lord and Lady Mayo had just finished dinner when two young men knocked at the door, the butler opened the door, the men stated they were "Orderly's" and Officers of the Irish Republican Army, under orders to clear the house and destroy it.
Naas Athletic Club founded. The major event in their annual calendar is the cross-country race for the Millbrook Cup at Punchestown on "Walking Sunday".
Local Election year, but it was not necessary to hold ballot as only ten candidates went forward for election, and just before the nomination closing date Mr D.J. Purcell withdrew leaving just nine, who were elected without a contest.
On August 11th 1927 the Electricity Supply Board was formed under the Electricity (Supply) Act of 1927. The ESB had a wide obligation to generate, sell, distribute and promote the use of electricity. The immediate task was the electrification of 86 towns within easy reach of the power lines from the Shannon scheme. Naas changed over from gas to electricity in the homes. The change had already been made on the streets by a Mr Peter Foy who converted the old gas lights to electricity generated by a machine at the back of the town hall. Mr Foy also showed pictures in the Town Hall Assembly Room using the same source of power.Radio Eireann or 2RN as it was known in those days commenced to broadcast in 1926. Naas Choral Society made their first broadcast in 1927. Mr Foy picked up the signal on his crystal radio set and rebroadcast the programme through loudspeakers to the crowds who were assembled both inside and outside the town Hall.
Naas G.A.A. moved to their new grounds on the 1)ublin Road the move was initiated by Fr Owen Brennan who unfortunately did not live to see his dream come to reality, The club had previously played at Spooners Lane, Tipper, and before that down by the canal at the Knocks.
The new Republic did not have any need for a Conservative and Unionist orientated newspaper, yes, the old "Kildare Observer" had to give way' to its rival Nationalist competitor "The Leinster Leader" after a half century of publication, the Observer closed down in 1934.
Also in 1934 the Leinster Leader reported The goings on at a Co Kildare V.E.C. Meeting. The C.E.O. Mr Mullowney was reading a letter in Irish from a Mr Sean Og O'Ceallig, Secretary of the Gaelic League, but Mr Henderson retorted that's a waste of time reading a letter in Irish, when we don't know what you are reading". Mr Mullowney, explained that the letter was requesting the Committee to protect the public against the broadcasting of "Jazz" on 2RN Radio Eireann, "because it was immoral, against christianity, learning, and against the national spirit".But Mr Henderson retorted ~' Who wrote that stuff, it's all bosh, I can't do it, but if the young people want it, they will have it".
The Sisters of Mercy opened their first Secondary School In Naas. They transferred this school to a thatched" building in Abbeyfield It again moved in the l960s to the present St Marys College which has been extended in the l980s and again in the 1990s.,
The Naas Cotton Mills first phase was commenced in late I938. The Industrial Revolution had come to Naas The jobs, the status, the social outings gave a new sense of independence to many young Naas People during the war years and right up to its closure in 1970. Many more industries would come and go, Kingswear, Woolcraft, Concrete Pipe Factory, A Car Mirror Factory, And then they began to come in groups, Industrial Estates they called them
Mr Sean T.O'Kelly, Minister for Local Government and Public Health, formally opened the New St Mary's Fever Hospital in Naas There was a large attendance including members of the Kildare Co Council. Kildare Board of Health, and prominent people in the commercial life of the county.
History of the Town
Naas has had a long and colourful history. In annals and records the name appears in three forms, namely, An Nas meaning " the Place of Assembly" Nas Laighean meaning "Place of assembly of the Leinster Men, and Nas na Riogh meaning "Place of Assembly of the Kings". The latter is the Irish form of the name now used.
Naas was founded, according to Bardic tradition, by Lewy of the Long Hand, and from the earliest times was an important centre. It was for almost seven centuries the seat of the Kings of Leinster. The last King to reside here was Cearbhall who died in AD904, St Patrick visited Naas in AD448 and baptised King Dunling's children at the well at Oldtown, near the town.
In 1170 the Normans arrived and the Barony of Naas was granted by Strongbow to Maurice FitzGerald. The grant was confirmed to his son, William FitzMaurice. by Henry II in 1177, Under the Anglo-Normans many changes was made. The parish church, originally dedicated to St Patrick or the local St Corban, was rebuilt and re-dedicated to St David, the Welsh patron saint.
King Henry IV granted Naas its first charter as a Corporation in 1409. Four years later, in 1413 King Henry V granted the corporation power to collect tolls at all the entrances to the town. A new charter was granted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1568, adding a Sovereign to the Corporation. Naas was granted further charters by James I in 1609 Charles I in 1628, and by Charles II in 1671. The town was governed by these charters until 1840 when the Corporation was dissolved by Act of Parliament.
Between 1840 the town was controlled by a Grand Jury; it had Town Commissioners from 1854 to 1900 and since then has been under the administration of the Urban District Council.
The Dun or Mote
The ancient Dun or Fort of Naas consisted of two Motes, the North Mote and the South Mote. The North Mote is ten metres high, has a diameter of almost one hundred metres at the base, and was built in Viking or early Norman times on the site of the Dun of the Kings of Leinster. It is still in a good state of preservation, and is almost certainly the oldest man-made structure in the town. The 18th century house on the summit was used first as a guard room for the jail, and later as a look-out post and heliograph signal station by the British Army, who were stationed on the Curragh during the 19th century.
The South Mote which is now only discernable as a low hillock, was situated on the site of the present Fairgreen, and shows no indisputable trace of fortifications, apart from the stone wall which is all that remains of an eighteenth century military barracks which existed on the site and was attacked during the 1798 rebellion. It was later replaced by the Naas Infantry Barracks on the Newbridge Road in 1810.
St. Davids Church
St David's Church was built on the site of an earlier Irish Celtic Church dedicated to the local St Corban or St Patrick. The Norman Barons who settled in the Naas area rebuilt the church and dedicated it to St David, the Patron Saint of Wales. The first historical reference to St David's occurs in 1212 when it was listed as one of the possessions of the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem. It was the parish church of Naas, well endowed and a place of ecclesiastical importance. For the next 400 years it continued to flourish, and by 1606, when St David's featured in the inquisition of James I, it had grown to contain three chantries - the Holy Trinity, St Mary, and St Catherine.
In 1767 the original church Steeple was in a ruinous state and it was decided to pull it down. Some time later Lord Mayo decided to replace it. But the new tower was never completed. A plaque on the inside wall of the tower states "I found a ruin and left a steeple, Mayo 1783".The bell dates from 1674 and originally hung in the old steeple. The Baptismal Font is a relic of the early Irish Christian Church and most probably was in use in the pre-Norman church of Saint Corban.
King John's Castle
King John's Castle dates from the early Norman era, perhaps as early as 1200. King John visited Naas in 1206. He visited again in 1210, when he held a form of Parliament in the town. About this time Kildare became a separate County. This assembly would appear to have been held in the newly built Naas Castle.
During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the town became a Norman stronghold. In 1409 Henry IV granted to Naas its first charter as a Corporation and a few years later it was given power to collect tolls at all the entrances to the town, the moneys to go towards fortifying the town with walls and gates. King John's Castle was rebuilt and incorporated into the town wall structure. The vaulted rooms of the old building still exist in the castle. There is a line of castles and houses to the north and east of Naas, which with its own defences, became the chief southern outpost of the "Pale" fence, ordered by "Poyning's" parliament in 1494.
King John's Castle is the last surviving example of the many fortified houses in the town of Naas, It is a large building of three stories, it comprises a tower, with a winding stone staircase, a dungeon, a Dining room on the ground floor, and an equally large Drawing room on the first floor. There is a variety of large and smaller rooms throughout the castle. An underground tunnel leads from the castle in the direction of the North Moat
The Catholic ChurchesThe Roman Catholic Parish Church is also dedicated to Our Lady and St David. The main body of the church dates from 1827. The 60 metre spire was added in 1858. Most recent renovations, carried out in 1985, incorporated the directives of the 2nd Vatican Council, by removing the high altar, side altars, altar rails, Pulpit, and beautiful Mosaic Floor. The new Blessed Sacrament Altar, is a circle, with the Tabernacle as its pivotal point, denoting Christ as the Centre of the Universe. A new church dedicated to the Irish Martyrs was blessed and opened in Ballycane, on the East side of the town in 1997. One of the martyrs to whom the church is dedicated is a seventeenth century Naas Dominican Friar Fr Peter Higgins, who was executed in Dublin on 23 March 1642.
The Town HallThe Town Hall was originally built as a Jail in 1796 by the old Naas Corporation. That was abolished in 1840. The jail building lay empty and was acquired by their successors, the Naas Town Commission in 1854 as their new Municipal building. In 1900 the new Urban District Council took over the running of the town. In 1904 they renovated the Town Hall, and gave it the new facade including the twin-faced clock, that we know to this present day.
The CourthouseNaas Courthouse was constructed in 1807 to a design by Architect Richard Morrisson, It was extended in 1860 when the four columned portico was positioned as it is today. The Naas Courthouse was the original meeting place of The Poor Law Guardians who held their monthly meetings there, as did their successors Kildare County Council, from 1899 until the building was badly damaged by fire in the 1950s, which caused them to move to St Mary's. The Criminal Courtroom was the setting for many films, due to its remarkable resemblance to the Old Bailey in London.
Naas Local History GroupNaas Local History Group was founded in 1984 with a mission; to record and present the rich and colourful story of our town. We are determined to make its history available and accessible to everybody. For, ultimately, our history is not a dry collection of facts and details but the warm, lively and essentially human story of the personalities and events from which the fabric of our town is woven.
Each year we arrange a programme of history talks at 8pm, on the first Monday of each month, from September to April in Naas Library. (by Kind Permission of Kildare Co Librarian). During the Summer the group organises local Naas town walks and outings to places of historical interest throughout the island of Ireland.
Naas Local History Group is very proud of the fact that it compiled and published Nas na Riogh, From Poorhouse Road to the Fairyflax … an illustrated history of Naas, the first ever book to be devoted exclusively to the history of Naas, which puts our commitment to making history accessible into permanent form. First published in 1990, the book has been revised and republished, (with an additional chapter on the history of Naas Urban District Council) in 2001.
Since it foundation, the group has mounted a number of Historical Exhibitions, and instigated a number of projects. The Leinster Leader Indexation Project, the Famine Graveyard Memorial Park at St Mary's, The Famine Memorial in Naas General Hospital. And the publication in November 1998 of the group's second book A History of Naas Hospital… from Workhouse to Hospital, which charts the progression of the Workhouse from an institution built in the nineteenth century to house the destitute to a modern General Hospital of the twenty first century.
During 1998 the group undertook a project to photograph Naas and its people at the end of the century and the millennium. The project included just about everything that caught the attention of Stan Hickey and his camera during the period from mid 1998 to 2000. The results went on display in Naas library in February 2000, and later in book form under the title Nas na Riogh Da Mhile- Sin mar a bhi…Naas 2000… the way we were; a snapshot of Naas and its people at the end of the Millennium. All three books are available in Naas Bookshops.
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