People of Killeigh & Beyond

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We Can and We Will

“Growing up as a teenager in a small village I couldn’t wait to escape Killeigh and all its quietness, or so I thought. However, now, as an adult, there is nowhere else I would rather be. Born and bred in Killeigh, the furthest I had ever moved was to Tullamore, but I could never settle in the town and ten years ago, when the chance came to move back to Killeigh, I jumped at it.


I am the middle child of five, three brothers and one sister - and yes before you ask, middle child syndrome does exist, it is a thing and it is where I get all my issues from - all joking aside though, apart from being the middle child, growing up in our house was great; sure there were times when we wanted to murder each other and we came close on more than one occasion, but we held back (or more so we were restrained).


Primary school began for me when I was just four years old in 1985 in the old school in Killeigh (Now The Gaa Club). We then moved across the road to the new school in 1988, then on to The Sacred Heart in Tullamore for secondary school. It’s amazing to be able to say that some of the girls I met on that very first day in Junior infants 35 years ago are still some of my closest friends. We have shared so much together: from the innocent games of rounders and red rover in the school playground, to camping up in the fields at the back of a certain person’s house (Girls, I know you all remember the night I’m on about. Our first night sneaking off to drink cans … 7UP if I remember correctly), our first night out in the infamous Harriers nightclub and now, here we are, all grown up with kids of our own and yet still sharing a connection to the village we grew up in.
 

Friday nights as teenagers were spent at the Youth club in the Macra Hall (Now the site for our New Community Centre). We did everything from basketball, unihoc and debating to day trips and weekends away. Anyone who was lucky enough to attend will tell you it was mighty craic. Remembering our days in Killeigh’s one-time youth club makes me sure that a proper community centre is something sorely lacking in our village.
 

Anyone who knows me more than likely knows me as the tall one from the shop that never stops talking (I’ve heard it many a time and, in fairness, it’s true), but, away from the shop counter, I’m not one for being in the limelight at all. Despite that, in 2018 I decided to totally step out of my comfort zone and put myself forward to take part in
‘Strictly Jigs and Reels’. What I was thinking I don’t know - have two left feet and I dance like an elephant - All joking aside, however, it was undoubtedly one of the best decisions of my life. What I gained from those few months I’ll never be able to put into words. One thing is for sure, I met the most amazing group of people EVER. We laughed, we sneered, we almost cried at times, we sweated buckets and, believe it or not, we even learned a step or two. After taking part in Strictly and seeing so many people from the community come together, work together, perform together and just have a brilliant time, all in support of a good cause, that only strengthened my belief that we need
a community centre in Killeigh”

 

“We can and we will”
 

 -Ciara O Brien

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"No Better Place To Live"

I was born 90 years ago on the 20 th February 1931 and delivered by a midwife, whose name I can’t remember in a surgery where Dr Lee’s house is now in Tullamore. It was different back then no fancy hospitals. I was the 2nd eldest
of 9 children, my sister Betty being the older one, 4 boys and 5 girls and lived just outside Killeigh Village.

 

Walking back and fro to school from Derrybeg to Killeigh, at that time the school was where Spollen’s house is now just across from the new School. Bare feet in the Summer and shoes on our feet in the Winter months but everyone was the same so we never took heed. I remember one day going to school with my sister Betty and she found a shilling on the road near Elliotts house, we couldn’t believe our luck, off we headed to Buckley’s shop (now Gorman’s) and handed in the shilling to buys some sweets. Mrs Buckley the shopkeeper at the time was not impressed she gave us 1p’s worth of sweets and put the change in a brown envelope with my Mother’s name on, it would be given to her the next time she was to call. I suppose she didn’t believe us when we told her we found it on the road on our way to school.
 

I stayed in school until I was 14 years old but due to my Father always being in bad health, I looked after the farm, and also worked part time in Condron Concrete. Ned my younger brother then came on board to give me a hand which we worked well together sharing the load. Ned then decided to go to England and I was back doing the job of 2 which was difficult.
 

I done this for a few years and then one night I went to a dance up in the hall at Gurteen Bridge (no longer there) and met a young las called Essie Young from Clonaslee. We courted as they say for a while and then we both decided to head off over to England before we would settle down and get married and have a family. We went over to my brother Ned who was in Blackburn at the time. We stayed there for a while and then headed down to London and got a better job that was better paid £9.50 per week doing painting, sure it was great money back then. Essie got a job in Walls Food Factory. One evening a knock came to the door and who was it only Jimmy Fogarty from Killurn, wanting me to join the GAA club in New Eltham. It was a bit of a track every Sunday morning from Harston, 2 hours or so on a bus but they were great times and I have great memories of playing hurling and football and meeting some of the boys from home. I never worried about getting around London but could never get around Dublin I’d always get lost.
 

We both returned back home as we had never planned to stay anyway and got married in 1962 in Clonaslee and will be 59 years married this year. We were very fortunate at the time when looking for a place to live that is now our home for the past 59 years in Killeigh village. This house originally owned by Mrs Allen came up for sale just after we were married and I purchased it back then for £520 and we are living here ever since. I was lucky enough to get my job back in Condron Concrete and made long- time friends there over the years.
 

Both me and Essie were blessed with 4 sons, Ray, Brian, Philip & Aidan and count ourselves very lucky to have settled in the village with good friends and neighbours down through the years, there is no other place I would rather be.
 

I love all village life but my true love was the Gaa, playing for many years under the “Black and Amber” of Killeigh with fine men from Killurn as team mates. Clodiagh Gaels takes bit of getting use too but we have to go with the times with some fine players now wearing the jersey for their parish and long may it continue. Many a match I watched in Killeigh but the local derbys were always the best. Everything was left on the pitch and after a pint or 2 consumed in Coughlan’s (later Doyles and now Grennans on the Green) where most often every puck or every kick was played out again.
 

Throughout my years I have been involved with many things in the village, tidy towns, the GAA, the Killeigh Golf Society and the Old Macra hall to name a few. We had great times especially the Carnival days trying to raise money to build the Macra hall. I remember the night my Father died and was going to the church, it was a terrible evening of wind and the rain, and as we passed by the Carnival on the way to the church, the marque was on the ground so that was the end of that. Many a fine band played in it and many a marriage started there, so hopefully things will come again with the new hall.
 

In these testing times there is no better place to live in than the village of Killeigh. We miss stepping across the road to daily mass and the chat afterwards, but we still get mass every day on the television. Faith has always been important throughout my life and now is no different. Both myself and Essie want for nothing and there is always a neighbour or friend calling to help us and do what’s needed, for that we are truly blessed.

- Phil Deering

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"Killeigh is steeped in history"

My mother was a Hanley from Claremorris and met my father, a builder from Ballycroy, when she starting working in his local post office. They moved to Dublin in 1938; where my father continued in the building trade while my mother bought and ran a post office/drapery shop at No. 6 Botanic Road in Glasnevin. While the drapery shop is long gone, I believe there’s still a post office there.
 

With World War II escalating, my parents bought a farm in Athleague, Co. Roscommon and moved there shortly after I was born in 1940. Sadly, my mother fell ill with cancer and passed away in 1946. Soon after my father and I moved back to Dublin, he returned to building while I attended school at Passion Convent and then Marino School in Clontarf. My favourite subjects were History, Geography
and English and to this day, reading remains one of my greatest passions. I love nothing more than rambling around book shops looking for a good read, and a bargain!

 

In 1952 my father left the building trade and bought a farm in Straffan. I attained my primary certificate (junior cert) in 1956, then started working the farm with my father. I spent a short time in Wales working on farms in 1963 before returning to Kildare to continue working on the home farm. Dublin in the mid 1960’s had a more appealing social scene than Kildare, so my friends and I would often go to the dances held in the city. It was at one of these nights out that I met my wife Marie
who was training to be a nurse at the time.

 

We were married in 1970 and settled for a while in Kildare. However, I suppose wanting to start out on my own, I saw a farm for sale in the Irish Independent in 1971. We went to view the farm and were shown around by a local, Peter Nolan who lived just down the road. As soon as I saw the farmhouse in Newtown, with its farm buildings and fields around it, I feel in love with the place. Some of the land needed work but I was a fit and healthy 32-year-old, who was up for a challenge
and I knew I could turn it into good grazing land. The house needed a lot of work and while we thought about building a new house, I’m glad we didn’t and it became the home where we raised our five children.

 

Moving to Killeigh in 1972, my first impression of the village was that it was a quiet place but had good facilities including a primary school; a recently constructed church; two shops; a pub; post office; and, a Macra Hall. It strikes me now that Killeigh Village had more facilities back then than it does today.
 

Despite having not played hurling for a few years due to a bad knee, I found myself travelling one evening with Pat Spollen for a training session in Killurin. With the pressure of getting the farm up and running, I only played junior hurling for one year (1973) with Killeigh. David Lawlor was the trainer, I think that year and I remember training on the Green under the street lights. While it was only one year, I got to know many of the locals including John Cox who would help me out on the
farm from time to time; he was a great man. As time went on, I became more involved in the local community and was persuaded by my neighbour, Dinny Plunkett to get involved with the local NFA (now IFA). I was Chairman of the Killeigh branch for a couple of years and got to know a lot of the local farmers.

 

Having attend a large meeting in the Macra Hall sometime in the late 1970’s, I became involved in the fundraising efforts for a new school in the village. Given the state of the economy in the 80’s, it was a long hard effort but driven on by an energetic Chairperson (Father Byrne) and a determined committee, the local community really got behind us. We had a monthly payment scheme, very much like the current Patron Scheme for the new community centre. I remember money was so tight, there was no raffle or anything like that, we just put all the money towards the school. We also held massive ‘sales of works’; two I think, in the Macra Hall and we finally reached our total which was 1/10 th of the overall cost. Built on a site donated by the Parish, it was such a proud day for the whole community when the new school opened in 1988.

I continued being involved with the community doing a couple of years on the Parish Council. I also was part of the committee that came together to upgrade Graigue Bog; the plots firstly and then the access laneway. John Brady of Fenter was Chairman. It was tough work but many of the locals came together and there was great comradery. Despite not having a plot at Graigue, I remember Mick
O’Rourke getting involved, and sure being Mick, he brought great energy and  laughter to the work, along with a good deal on some gravel! To be honest, it was probably a nice distraction from the farm as the late 1980’s were tough times for farming. Back then, a lot of farmers in the area grew beet; we use to bring the loads of beet to Ard Station near Geashill. I remember there was a huge meeting of concerned beet growers in the Macra Hall when the industry was in trouble during the late 80’s. It was the biggest crowd I had ever seen in the hall.

 

Having been approached by David Lawlor, I joined the committee of the local Group Water Scheme in 1989. Back then, we use to have our meetings in the supper room of the Macra Hall and still to this day, I can feel the chill sitting in that room, you nearly needed an extra overcoat to put when you went in! As the condition of the Macra Hall deteriorated, we eventually had to stop using it and
held our meetings in the Little Hall beside the old graveyard which wasn’t ideal but was certainly a lot warmer.

 

At that time, I was involved with the GAA and part of the fundraising efforts to purchase the field where the pitch is today. As I had the equipment, I sowed the grass seeds for the pitch. One of the most memorable events during my time as chairperson was a trip to Ballycroy in Mayo with the Junior football team. The further west we drove, the worse the weather got! It was so bad that shortly after leaving Claremorris after abit of grub, the windscreen wipers broke off Billy Byrne’s bus but sure the wind coming from the west was so strong, that it kept the rain off the windscreen so we made it to the Mulranny Railway Hotel in one piece.

We may have only stayed one night but I think that was enough to leave a lasting memory of Killeigh GAA with the locals! I somehow managed to round everyone up and onto the bus the next morning for mass. We were late but they delayed the mass for us! Despite about a third of the pitch being under water, we won the match and had a presentation of medals in the Ballycroy Community Centre which had just opened. Ballycroy made a return trip to Killeigh to 1991 and levelled the score. That match was played in Heffernan’s field at the back of the national school and was followed by a mighty night in the local pub which was owned by Joe Malone at the time.
 

I suppose as I’ve gotten older, my involvement in the community has reduced. I remain a member of local Group Water Scheme and after 32 years, it would nice to have our meetings again in the Macra Hall, hopefully soon to be the Killeigh Community Centre.
 

I keep myself busy with jobs around the farm and continue to read; there’s still plenty of books that I’ve picked up over the years which I haven’t read. I enjoy learning about local history and have attended a couple of talks in the Mucklagh Community Centre about their area. Killeigh is steeped in history and it’d be lovely to have similar talks like that in the village.
 

In recent years, I have gone to the Christmas Party for the Killeigh Senior Citizens held in the Bridge House; they use to be held for many years in the Macra Hall. I have thoroughly enjoyed those events and it was nice to meet people that I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. I see other communities with active retirement groups or similar being held in their local community centres and if there was a group like that in Killeigh, I think it would be something I would enjoy being part of. It’s hard to believe its nearly 50 years since we moved to Killeigh and while I may not have grown up in the village, I’m glad to call it home.

- Pat McCafferkey

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"Killeigh is always in my heart..."

Probably my first or earliest memory of Killeigh was my first day of School, where the GAA Dressing rooms are now, Mrs Staplelton class, and looking around, as a child of 4. I was immediately met with noises of screaming with some unhappy faces and some simply weren't that bothered to be in school, or comprehend what was going on.

A line of mothers just wistfully watching, I suppose if it were today, it would be a facebook post marque type of moment, or maybe just the pure delight of getting some rest.  

 

My Mother was Pauline Byrne from Clontarf Rd, Tullamore, and my Father, Jimmy Farrell  was from Springfield in Cappincur, (Out near Daingean Road)

They met at a Carnival, where the old Dunnes Stores car park is now on Church Road.

From legend, it wasn't love at first sight, it was more like a scene out of the movie “Grease”, and my Father was like one of those greasy T-birds chaps as you could image, just general harassment on my poor mother. He begged and she eventually caved in, and they started courting, got married two years later at Catholic Church of Assumption in Tullamore in August 1966.

 

I have two brothers Alan and Just and one sister Sylvia, and then finally with a six year gap, I popped out and upset everyone. We all lived at number 8 Hillview Crescent, a stone’s throw from the centre of the Village. 

There were 22 houses in all eventually in Hillview Crescent and it is was a brilliant place for a kid to ramble about. A lot of the houses if not all, had young families, and all had decent age groups to pal around and play.

The adventures in the surrounding fields were the stuff of legends, we would get lost for hours pretending to be James Bond, or some other lovable cowboy.

I am still friends with a lot of them today, probably the best of friends.

 

My Father was known locally to be a skilled carpenter, and looking back at him and his crafted works, some are still visible and hanging on the wall in the local pub in Killeigh to this day.

He was a bit of a creative maverick, nearly everyone in locally had a dolls house made by my Father, or something else like a toy truck or a dolls cot.

The lead up to Christmas, most families would have the smell of pine or candles maybe, but for our household we had a constant smell of varnish for about 5 weeks consecutively. High on fumes, high on life, but they were extremely happy times, when we were all one family together under one roof.

 

Probably the first real acknowledgement of the community spirit of Killeigh village was that the locals really responded with encouragement, and support for my Fathers toy creations. I had noticed very early on that someone would call to the house, and pick up their toy.

Killeigh really did get behind that sort of Community backing, an endorsement if you like of what happened more recently with a young man from Killeigh, who was on the Late Late Toy show for his wood creations, my father would have applauded him. 

It's the exact same community encouragement that my father received and now this young man has the same backing for being inventive, innovative and giving people some happiness in the process.

I always found that to be the case that if you have a passion, a drive or simply evoke an interest that's positive and with the sporting teams also, you'll be backed in Killeigh 100% 


With me eventually getting involved with music, it was the same encouragement.

Little by little I gathered my own momentum and with a lot of help along the way and it started with getting involved at a youth club which took place on Thursday nights in The Macra Hall.

We were privileged to have the Youth Club in my teens, and so many activities that took place there.

Before Youth Club, The Macra Hall was the focal point for the community, whether it be discos or GAA awards, Art Competitions, Auctions, and loads of other stuff, I remember I seen a circus there also, and E.T (who was massive at the time) literally came out of nowhere and shook every child's hand in the hall that day, complete madness but memories that last a lifetime. 

 

I played my first ever Music Live performance in The Macra Hall on January 24th 1997, as a youth club band night, and felt invigorated by it and knew that I'd want this forever. It was organised by the youth club, and it was videotaped also, who has the tape is still a mystery.

 

The very first time I held a microphone was in the youth club on a music night - open mike jam session. No one would get up to sing, so I eventually did pluck up some courage and started to sing while other lads were playing guitars, and It felt really like the electrics just turned on in my head, THIS IS AMAZING!!!

I had been the only one who got up first, and everyone was watching with interest, some with sneery heads on, but I just didn't care, I was on cloud nine.   

 

I have always thought about this, music has taken me absolutely everywhere, it’s given me a lot of satisfaction and financially been pretty good. It placed me in wonderful situations I will never forget.

In 2011, I left Killeigh and moved to the Canary Islands to do a residency at various venues, and eventually met my now wife Jessica, and we have a beautiful baby boy called Shea and now reside in Sheffield in Yorkshire, where I continue to work in music and media.

 

But in thinking? What if I hadn't been involved at that youth club Jam night? Would I have pursued music further? Would I have had the opportunity elsewhere, probably not? Who Knows? What if? 

 

The point is, and this is the bottom line, 

We have the spirit, we have the enthusiasm and the community backing, unfortunately we don't have the centre or facilities, and that in this day and age for a village like Killeigh is very sad indeed.

I feel sorry for the kids that don't have what we had, like the youth club for example.

That is just one aspect, what about the commercial value for instance. Hosting auctions, food and craft fairs, and even an amateur dramatics or musical group in Killeigh, I mean I don’t think there has ever been one, but the opportunities are endless, and with imagination comes the planning. The aspiration becomes reality, and that's what is needed. Killeigh deserve a centre that they can be proud of, it's well past overdue.

The Hall has the best of cherished memories for me and has given me and lots of people extreme happiness down the years. I've laughed, and I have cried in that hall and both were equally as important to me in life.

I have a vision to visit Killeigh with the new Centre in place with my son, and show him what a wonderful place Killeigh has been for me. And to be proud.

 

 Killeigh is always in my heart, it never left me…

 

- Damian Farrell

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"Killeigh deserves a community centre"

I was born in Fankfurt am Main in the German state of Hessien.  We stayed there only a couple of years. Due to my father’s work commitments we moved every 5 to 7 years. When I was 4 years of age my sister was born. In time to start Primary school at the age of 7 we had landed in Bavaria. 

Moving every few years of course brought with it a lot of upheaval. Changing schools and leaving friends behind caused some heartbreak. During my teenage years we were living in a small village similar to the size of Killeigh. Unfortunately there wasn’t much on offer for us kids, like sport clubs never mind a community centre but I was a member of the youth voluntary fire brigade. But in some way it feels as we had more freedom. After homework the kids would meet in a field to play soccer or other ball games, or hang out outside the local shop.

Wherever we lived the woods played a big part. Going for family walks, picking wild berries and mushrooms or playing with my friends. A ‘club house’ in the woods provided great freedom for us teenagers to try the first cigarette or an innocent little kiss.

Sunday roast was a great tradition in our house. My favourite was and still is roast pork with Sauerkraut and potatoes dumplings and I’m always looking forward to it when I visit my parents.

After my school education I tried my hands on different things, never really sure which career to pursue. Working 8 hours in an office wasn’t for me. I loved physical work and was never afraid of getting my hands dirty and loved to be creative. My greatest passion in life is to work with people and animals. Maybe that’s why my life took a different path and I’m here in Ireland now. I loved coming here on holidays and I remember the first time descending into Shannon airport I was overwhelmed by the feeling of coming home.

I’m here 20 years now. I have settled down with the two dearest men in my life, my partner and our son and plenty of life stock and pets. I met so many lovely people over the years and struck some friendships that I value very much. For many years I worked as a volunteer in a charity shop which helped me to integrate and as of late I am a volunteer for Meals on Wheels in our area.

I travelled every corner of this country and what really struck me passing through villages was that you find a community centre everywhere. Killeigh has a fabulous soccer club and GAA facilities which is so much more than I had as a child. But there is a need to have a focal point to bring the whole community together and to offer something for everyone. Killeigh deserves a community centre and I’m very passionate about that. I’m also very grateful to be part of this hardworking group of people who do their very best to make it happen. I’m looking forward to us having a Youth club again. Listening to all the stories from people involved years ago proves my belief that kids won’t remember how many times they won playing video games, but they will remember day’s outings and other special activities they took part in. 

- Annette Kloeckner

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"Long live the village shop!"

My mother Maura Buckley came to Killeigh village in 1924, aged 2, with her brother Paddy, sister Kathleen and parents Andrew & Mary Buckley (Mary Hayes from Ogonnelloe, Co Clare) They had bought a house in Killeigh village and they opened a small grocery shop there. The shop has continued to trade to this day almost a 100 years later. 

 

In 1950 Maura took ownership of the premises and ran it until her retirement in 1972. During that time she married Jim Mahon and had 4 daughters, myself, Geraldine, Mary and Catriona all of whom worked in the shop intermittently and sometimes reluctantly!   

 

Being situated on the main road and having petrol pumps and an air compressor we had a passing trade as well as our regular customers. Most of the shopping was done with daily and weekly orders placed for groceries. Milk in particular was on order as we didn't have a fridge or cold room for storage. It was also only available in glass bottles. 

Bread was delivered to the shop unwrapped and unsliced so had to be parcelled with brown paper and tied with twine for the customer. A big part of the shopkeepers work was the weighing and packing of loose goods for sale. Tea, sugar, biscuits and sweets to name but a few. 

 

In the store room there were big wooden containers for storing Bran, Pollard, Flour and Pigmeal. These were also weighed and packed ready for the customer. 

Each Thursday a full side of bacon was delivered by Midland Butter & Bacon Co. to be cut and divided into various pieces ready for existing customer orders. 

Travelling Salesmen called every few weeks, where products required were placed on order for delivery to the shop for sale. This was done prior to the opening of Cash & Carry and Wholesale Stores. Credit facilities were very much part of this era for both shopkeeper and customers, with very few cash sales.    

 

Even though shop life was busy there was a much slower pace of life with people congregating for chats. The busiest times in the shop were Sunday morning after both Masses. Also each evening after football and hurling on the green (opposite the shop) and handball in the ball alley with a big rush for sales of ice cream and minerals. 

Occasionally Mammy had to treat some casualties of these games. Having been a former member of the Red Cross Organisation she was very capable of administering first aid to those in need of patching up! 

 

Of course the highlight of the business calendar was the annual August Monday Sports and the Macra na Feirme Carnival with both of these occasions attracting people from all the surrounding areas and where many a romance began.........sales of petrol and fancy sweets bought in especially were very high. These occasions were known to us as "our harvest"!     

 

Now after almost 50 years since the shop was sold to Dan & Mary Coughlan and subsequently to The McEnroe Family and the present owners Frank & Liz Gorman a lot of changes have occurred in the way people shop. There are many more choices for the shopper now with the opening of supermarkets and with the big increase of cars on the road, people have access to the various supermarkets.   

 

Fortunately for my family it is lovely to see, what was our home and business still up and running very successfully by the current owners”   

 

Long live the Village Shop!   

 

- Rita O Rourke

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Rita O Rourke Story photo 3 - Andrew Buc

"I remember the carnival days in Killeigh..."

Born on the 21st September 1932 born and lived all my life here in Ballinvalley where I am now , there were 3 of us in the family ,myself and  2 more sisters , Mary Langton who passed away a few years ago and my other sister Christina Condron who lives down in Derrybeg.. My mother was Sarah Young from Kilcaven and married my father Con.

 

I went to school in Killurn, where Paddy Fay lives now, it closed up when the school was built in Killeigh and all the children went there then. The Meelaghan’s school was sold at the same time.  Everyone walked to school back then, except for Doris Green now Doris Murray she had a tricycle I think. I remember going to school also with Jim Murray, Tom Kelly, the Meehan lads and the Hickeys that use to live beside me, and a good few more from Gurteen and Killurn area. There were 2 classrooms and 2 teachers. I didn’t stay as long as I should of in school, for the few days I went I think I managed to get to about 14 years old. I had a good bit of work to do on the farm and was quite happy doing that. School wasn’t really for me but I stayed as long as I had to. Back then everyone lived on a few acres and grew their own vegetables. Working the land with the horse was hard work but if you had a good horse and you looked after him it was half the battle. 

Got me first tractor in the early 70’s, a TVR Grey Ferguson, an Uncle of mine by the name of Chris Young from Derrybeg, he died after a road accident, he was on a bicycle and got hit by a car coming from town in 1971. I never drove a car, never needed one, I had the tractor but the ones back then are not as good as the ones now. Alot of woman never drove either even though their husband might of owned one. It was unusual to see a woman drive, but you would always see them cycling to the shop for the messages.  

 

Over the years I worked with the Council, on the roads, they were great days travelling around the county meeting different people. You’d never be idle, there was always work to be done, the bit of farming and cutting the turf and if you had all yours done, you’d be willing to give the neighbours a hand out.

 

 The hall in Gurteen, was built for the local labour and was a great meeting place, an open fire was lit in the evenings where everyone took their turn to bringing a few sods. We would play cards and tell stories till the early hours of the morning, it was a great meeting place and wasn’t far from home. In my younger days there were two shops, but I only remember the Horseshoe Shop. One didn’t need to go to Tullamore often, the local shop nearly had everything you wanted. I never really went to pubs, I couldn’t afford to drink when I should have been drinking, so I never drank.

I remember the Carnival days in Killeigh, people would be trying to save a few bob coming up to it. It use to go for 7 or 8 nights and finish on the Sports day on the Green. People from all over came to the village and it was great craic. 

I remember in 1956, the electricity coming, back then people were afraid to take it, for fear of a fire starting if you had a thatched roof, or that a mouse would get in and eat the wires. Ah yeh the electricity lit up places that you would never have seen before, and plenty of dust and dirt could now be seen. Water was carried up the road from the drain, you wouldn’t be using it for drinking water and was great to finally get the water from a tap, and sure we didn’t know ourselves when we had both.

There was also another house down from me, the Horan’s, a Micheal Horan from Fenter was one of them, he had a brother by the name of Con Horan, anyway he died in the 1940’s and when he died the priest prayed for the wrong Con at first mass but was corrected at the second mass. There was rumours at the time who told the parish priest the wrong information but I best leave it there, needless to say that person wasn’t a reliable source of information after that especially with regard the parish priest.

       

I played a bit of hurling but very little, I wasn’t very good at it, but loved going to the matches, I also got to Croke Park a few times when Offaly would be playing, it was a great day out and you’d be looking forward to it. We would get the train from Tullamore but all the jobs were done before we went in case we got delayed coming back.

Ah it’s great to  be able to tell a story, like Phil Deering and myself  and a few of the others that are still around at our age , aren’t we very lucky not too suffer from Alzimers. Once we can remember back to the old days and be able to tell a story or two and get looked after what more do we want. For me I’m very fortunate to have the careers calling in daily and the Meals and Wheels volunteers, someone different every day. It’s great to have these services in Killeigh and I love nothing more than an ol chat .I always lived the simple life and never cared for much more. Someone rang me once looking for me to go to the Day Care Centre in Tullamore a few days a week, seemingly you would be collected from the door and be dropped home after but sure I had no interest, aren’t I grand the way I am. 

 

- Mattie Poland

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"I look back at my childhood in Killeigh and know just how lucky I was to have grown up there"

What is my story and what are my connections to the village of Killeigh? Surely, I'm a blow in only moving into Hillview Crescent at the age of 6 months with my father John and mother Goretta Walton (nee Gallagher).

 

My father came to Killeigh from Ballinagar via Ballymahon, Co. Longford, but long before this his grandfather and grandmother, Joe and Mary Walton arrived in the village. Their arrival was shortly after the marriage of their daughter Mary Anne, in 1920 to a local man William Brady. They all lived in Graigue, before moving to Fenter after Joe’s death. My mother a Ballinagar native also had previous family links to Killeigh on her mother's side the Dunnes and the Kirwans from Newtown.

My Family was well known in the village, my father was like doctor Dolittle and our garden was on par with a petting zoo. Daddy was seen as the local vet and anyone who had an injured animal would take them to him. We had all sorts of animals but were known for birds and Jack Russell's. Many a person in the parish and in the surrounding areas owned a pup or a canary that originated at our house. 

Mammy worked in Tullamore and is remembered for her time in Colm McCabe's and Texas Department Store. She carried many a person into town and home again. In the late 80’s early 90s there was no public transport into Tullamore, and many had no transport of their own. Over those years half the village had taken a lift with her. A popular thumbing place for town goers was at the end the church lane on the corner of Mathew’s farmyard.  Anyone who cut the village out coming from Ballinvalley drove past, it was the ideal spot to catch lift. A rare sight these days with the town link and nearly all with their own mode of transport.

Christened Constance, I go by the name Connie many of you may already know me but for those that do not, I grew up in Hill View crescent, Killeigh, with my younger sister Victoria or Vicky for short. I am an Art Teacher and I teach at Coláiste Naomh Cormac, in Kilcormac and also in the Art Department at Abbeyleix Further Education Centre, Laois. Though I no longer live in Killeigh, I continue to play camogie with St. Sinchills and I like to support the community in any way I can.

I have so many happy memories of growing up in Killeigh, Saturday mornings the village came alive. The place was bustling with cars and people, the soccer pitch was full of players and spectators alike. The green was busy with walkers and talkers, the symphony of those sounds echoed in the Ball Alley and across the village itself.

We were spoiled for activities to do, Music, Irish Dancing, Soccer, GAA, Camogie and of course the legendary Youth Club and not to forget the Christmas parties and Soccer Club Discos. I took part in all the activities and as my father would say ‘You’re in everything but the crib’. The clubs and lessons took place in various buildings around the village, the GAA rooms, the Old School or the Macra Hall, all but the later were too small to host the growing numbers of the parish. It was a sad day when the Macra Hall closed its doors to the people of the village. As a teenager I joined a group hoping to reopen it to the public; we cleared out a lot of the rubbish and did a general tidy on the place but there were no funds available to complete the necessary repair work that was needed and with time all enthusiasm fell away, and the committee dissolved.

Some of my happiest memories within the community were taking art classes firstly in the GAA rooms with Mark O’Neil and then the old school hall with local Edel O’Connell. There were children of all ages in the class and a huge amount of talent came from our small and humble little village. During my time at the National College of Art & Design four villagers passed through its door. This is quiet astounding as only 150 students were selected per year. 

On completion of Art College, I began to teach in a school in North Dublin, to my surprise I was not the only person from Killeigh ever to teach there, as a previous art teacher was a Miss. McCafferkey from Newtown. What a coincidence two art teachers from the same rural village had taught in the same school in Dublin. Even though I was far away from the village the village was never far from me.

Its only now, in my adult years, do I look back at my childhood in Killeigh and know just how lucky I was to have grown up there. I left home at 17 for the big smoke but continued to come home at weekends and meet up with friends and talk about how exciting life was, or at least seemed to be, outside of the village.

Now when we meet up and chat we talk about the good old days and the adventures we had; like the walks from the estate to the village and how dark it was at night, the street lights only started at O’Rourke’s and we would sprint from ‘The Rock’ (the entrance stone to the Hillview Crescent) down to the light, not stopping for love nor money; or if we were late for something in the Macra Hall we could have taken the short cut via the church lane, but that decision was never taken lightly. The church lane was a lovely walk during the day, but once night started to fall only the brave used it. Legend had it that the Banshee was seen hovering over a tree or the lamp post some argue. There were many ghost stories and urban legends about the church lane and the Lords Lane that runs alongside Hillview; headless cats, black magic and wicked witches, underground tunnels that ran from Killeigh to Gurteen or where the other six wells of the ‘Seven Blessed Wells’ were located.

The memories we shared of the youth club, the trips away, of Sports Days, Wheel of Fortune and of the Rocking Boats. We laugh at the memories of certain people screaming to get off, and others making it a competition to try completing a full 360. Those days brought many outsiders to the village and the atmosphere was electric. August Bank Holiday weekend was hugely anticipated by all every year.

Looking back on the village I call Home, I am so grateful for the friends I made, the community that raised me and for the general craic we were lucky to have. Many younger generations of villagers never got to experience what we had. Hopefully, this will all change with the completion of the Community Centre and a new generation will continue to tell the ghost stories and the legends will live on, and they too will have their own stories to tell; and just like me they might find out that they are far from blow ins and they too have several stories linking them to ‘Killeigh and Beyond”

- Connie Walton

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"I always say "Keep them in sport & out of Court""

I suppose it’s kind of apt with my name being Seanchail, after the patron Saint of Killeigh. I am very proud of my connections to the area. My parents were Brendan Kelly from Gurteen & Elizabeth O'Brien from Cappenlug, near Kilcavan. They married in 1952 and had 8 children, Finbar, Mary, Colette, Geraldine, Dolores, Teresa, myself & Bernadette. They lived opposite the green in Killeigh for 5 years in what most people would know as Dick Coltons house. Bridge Colton was Daddy's sister. After 4 children were born they moved to Kilcavan. My father was a calf man and needed more shed space for livestock. Their intentions were to build in Gurteen, but they settled there and another 4 of us were born by 1968. When my Ma was expecting me in the winter of 1964 my sister Geraldine developed a strange rash on her arm and chest. They were referred to a cancer hospital in Dublin as they didn't know what it was in Tullamore. Daddy had an Uncle by the name of Chris Young, and he told Ma to visit St. Seanchail's Wells first. She promised if Geraldine got cured and I was a boy she would call me Seanchail. As you can see this all came to pass as the rash disappeared.

 

 I went to Clonaghadoo NS and secondary school in Mountmellick .  I served an apprenticeship with Barney Glennons but my passion was to join An Garda Siochana and that is what I did. I went to the border in May 1985, a place called Omeath, Co Louth and 3 years later transferred to Athboy, Co. Meath. Having visited New York where my 3 sisters resided Dolores, Teresa and Bernadette, I got the bug for The Big Apple and in June 1990, having failed to secure a career break, I resigned from the force and moved to The Bronx myself. It was a decision I am sorry I had to make, but not one I'm sorry I took. I'd regret it forever if I'd have taken the safe option & stayed in a job I loved rather than taking a chance in life. 

 

Unfortunately it didn't work out, as shortly after I went to New York my poor Ma got Motor Neoron Disease. As she was failing and my sister's had returned home in turns, I returned home too. Ma attended my sister Teresa's wedding after Christmas, but died 3 months later aged 66. 

In the meantime with intentions of returning to New York, I had got a bread van job with O'Donohues Bakery. “2 weeks I'll give you” said Cathal for the Christmas rush. I was with him 4 years on. I done various jobs in between until I started my own Taxi business, in 2003. I kept it going until March 2020 when Covid 19 darkened our land. However a career change came about and have been working with Noonans Security in Naas & Tullamore Hospitals ever since. After 30 years I was back in uniform and am loving the job. Married Marie Guckian in December 2000 and we have 3 great children. Cormac 19, Sharona 16 and Seanchail 14. 

 

My great loves growing up were sport and music. I've always been a huge U2 fan and first seen them in 1981 at the first Slane concert. £8 for the ticket and Thin Lizzy was the support band, fond memories I will treasure.

I played Gaelic football for Kilcavan of course, and Tullamore. I also played soccer for numerous clubs. In 1997 I was delighted to be back in Killeigh once again and myself and my then brother in law Gerry Crowe founded Killeigh Utd Soccor Club. I was very proud as a player manager just 2 years later to win the Division 4 Counties League with a great bunch of lads, most of them local and a few from Tullamore. I got 2 Leinster medals whilst in the Guards for soccer & Gaelic football, but the medal I treasure most was an U14B hurling medal with Killeigh in 1978. 

 

I'd grown up admiring all the hurling medals my father had won for his beloved Killeigh. My Ma had made a wall plaque with them hanging on it and she'd shine them every so often. I'd be picking strawberries for Sean Condron in the summertime and staying in Martin Dunnes, Scrubb. Finbar was married to Betty Dunne and I'd go to hurling training with Timmy. One night Mick O'Rourke RIP asked me to join in and I found myself on the panel thereafter. The men that looked after us chaps had a great sense of pride in their area. They wanted to win no matter what age group. It was for the Community around them. I remember going to a disco in the hall in 1982, and it's a pity to see it fall into disrepair over the years. It would be great to see it fully developed again, so that future underage county champions would have a place to go for medal presentations etc. The underage soccer is also thriving and if these kids have a place to share their glory with their parents and mentors it drives them on.

 

I always say "Keep them in sport & out of Court" and it’s true. I wish the hard working Development Committee the best of luck in their endeavours going forward. These stories will be great reading I feel in years to come for people to know about the people of Killeigh & Beyond.  

 

- Seanchail Kelly

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"It’s a special place and it is full of great memories"

I was born and reared where I am now, I never left Killuirn, there was never a need.  It was completely different that time than now. My father was James Howell a Wexford man, from Enniscorthy and he met and married my mother Mary Cruise from here. My mother was 25 years younger than my father and yet he lived 3 years longer than her. He came from a tillage farm in Wexford so we were always self-sufficient growing our own vegetables and rearing animals. Ducks and hens were always rambling around the yard.  We had to buy in very little. We had a small farm growing up, we had enough to eat and we never went to school hungry. There were 7 of us, 3 boys and 4 girls and I was the eldest. My siblings all moved away to different parts of the country, Westmeath, Cork, Roscommon, Dublin and Daingean.

 

We always had work to do before school, pulping turnips and the likes. When we were very young my Mother and Father would bring us to school on the pony and trap. Our nearest school was Killurin School, where Paddy and Breda Fay live now. When we got a bit older we used to cross the fields to school and we had to pass Mrs Kelly’s house on the way, as we passed her house each day we would ask her the time and her reply every morning was “half pass cups and saucers'', we always knew what she was going to say but we asked anyway.    

     

School was a lot different that time, you would bring bottles of tea, let it be porter bottles or glass bottles and we would leave them beside the open fire to keep them warm. We brought a few slices of homemade bread and jam for lunch. My mother was a great baker. Everyone baked that time and I remember seeing all the white soda bread in the windows cooling on my way home from school. I remember having some great days in school and some lovely teachers. There were 2 classrooms and 2 teachers in Killurin school. Each classroom had an open fire and the locals would supply the turf. A partition divided the 2 classrooms so if one teacher was out sick the other would teach all the children. When I was going to school, there were around 70 children in 2 classrooms. My Mother had told me that in her time there was 108 on the roll call.  Just after my time, the numbers dwindled a bit and then Killeigh school was built. My younger siblings had to go to Killeigh school as it was hard to get teachers and so Killurn school had to close.

 

I remember the teacher Tom Cullen , he was a great man, he cycled from Mountmellick every day. When Tom left Killurn school, he went to the Rock in Montmellick to teach. He used to tog out with us at lunch time to play football and hurling with us and as a child we would always be trying to get a crack at him. He was always understanding if you were late for school because of farm jobs, there was never a problem, he understood country living. Mr Culliton was hard but fair and Ms Thompson also was lovely teacher.

 

After Tom, a Master Power came along from Limerick, he wasn’t a county lad. He didn’t understand why we would stay at home for the likes of the Threshing. Back then the thrashing was a big occasion. I didn’t have much time for Master Power as he gave me a hard time. He had a large stick. I remember Frank Garry and myself got into bit of trouble one time, Frank broke the master's stick and I stuck it down my rubber boot to try to get it out of the school. The next morning he started looking for his stick and a young lad who wasn’t  from Killurin landed us in it. He wasn’t from the area and he didn’t know the score about not telling tales, that everyone got a slap if nobody told. Anyway this fella didn’t know the score and he told Master Power that Frank broke the stick and that I hid it in the ditch. He sent the young fellow out to get a hazel stick with the knots still in it and he gave us 6 slaps on each hand before the 10 o'clock tea break. He came out again in the hurling field at break and gave us the same again.

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You’d take your punishment then because you knew you deserved it. I remember my sister used to come home and say to my mother, that Master will kill John, she was terrified, but I never wanted to worry my Mother so I never told. After leaving school, we had to teach ourselves all the changes, like money changing from shilling to pounds and then to euros, changes to weights from lbs and stone to now grams and kg, but over the years I taught myself and it never held me back.

My father was 54 when I was born, by the time I came to 14 he was nearly 70. At 14 I had to leave school, to take care of the farm as my youngest sister would have been 12 years younger than me, she was only starting school when I finished.


 

Threshing was like Christmas, 30 men or so and plenty of drink and food. The threshing moved from farm to farm. When we would be on the way home from school, my father would be working around at the Threshing and we would be sure to go around Deerings and Kidneys and others and we were always sure to get lemonade or something even stronger at times. I remember Matthews farm and Bill Mathews would let us into the dairy and the barrel of porter would be there and he never minded us having a sip, he didn’t mind but my Mother might not have been happy if she knew. 

     

When I was 16 or so we used to go to Gurteen hall, I remember the singer Ray Lynam coming to Gurteen hall to play music on a push bike with his guitar under his arm, himself and Joe Plunkett – they were first cousins, and Ray became famous after that. I also remember kicking football in Joe Condrons field. 

I remember great devilment, harmless fun on the way home from dances, I remember one particular night we took underwear from a clothes line and threw them into Joe Condrons hayshed at Gurteen bridge, the next morning there was great rumours, Joe Condron went over to Lena and John Casey in the shop and told them “there were women's garments in the hayshed, whatever was going on?’. Harmless fun really. Gurteen bridge was always a great meeting point. We went down at the bridge 4-5 nights a week for a chat and a bit of banter. I often remember 30 or 40 lads down at the bridge.  

 

Going to Killeigh one would pass 3 shops, a little shop where the McCanns live now and at Gurteen bridge there were two shops, the old horseshoe shop and Kellys . Head on to Killeigh, you had Connollys where Micheal Elliott lives now, a small shop but a good shop. 

 

I joined Macra Na Feirme around 1965.  Willie Rourke, Billy Mitchel and  the two Michael Dunnes were all involved at the time. Gurteen hall was still open at the time. It was used for plays and dances. 

 

Tom Kelly said one night that now Killeigh hall was up and running there was no future for Gurteen hall so we gathered up all the chairs and tables and dropped them off at Killeigh and that was the end of Gurteen hall. Christy Murray brought them all down in a van. He was a great man.   

 

We got the electricity in 1952 and got the phone in 1980 and now everyone has a mobile phone.  When I built this house in 1971 I didn’t even get a mortgage, I had a few pounds saved up and did it bit by bit. I had a few cattle and borrowed a few pounds the house cost £4050. From 1980, the cost of building houses went up and up. At that time there was also a grant of £900 less the cost of the water scheme from the Local Authority, but if you're building a house today you have to give your local authority 2 or 3 thousand to build. It was a great incentive to build houses back then because some people were living in very poor conditions.  I remember people had no running water only a well or some people used to carry buckets of water to their houses. That was of course until Fr Kenneddy helped set up Killeigh water scheme, it’s great for everyone in the parish, it’s the biggest group water scheme in Ireland.

 

I remember our first tractor, my father bought a grey ferguson, a diesel 20 when I was about 8 year old, anything bigger would have been too big, he worked along with it and in 1963 he bought a new 35 x reg CIR41, and I know to this day where it is and it’s still going. After 4 years we bought a135 Massy, a better one, made life a bit easier. I often brought the tractor to a dance, there were no cars back then, we didn’t get a car until about 1968. Back then you’d probably plough 4 acres a day with the grey ferguson and you’d be cold after it, as it didn’t have a cab, now they can do 20 acres or more in a day.

 

They were good times and hard at times but everyone was in the same boat, nobody had fancy machinery or cars back then. The harvest was very important and if you had a good one you were set up for the year. 

 

I had met Patty at a dance in Killeigh but then met up again at a carnival in Killeigh, in 1968 we started going out.  I used to cycle to her house in Rathville near Edenderry and then we would head to town to the pictures or a dance. Before I would leave home, the rosary would be said with my parents and then when I got to Pattys, they would be in the middle of the rosary too, so many a night I got 2 rosaries in before we headed to Town, At that time Patty had a honda 50, she had a better way of travelling than me. We married in 1972 and Shane came along in 1974 and then the girls Mary, Treasa, Patrice and Catriona, they are all reared and gone now but they all live near us and we have 19 grandchildren.  

 

We did a bit of travelling in the last few years, we went to Australia and met up with a great friend John Mahon from Killurin and his wife Louise who now live in Sydney, I always liked meeting people from the local area when we travelled so we could compare stories. We stayed in Tullamore in Daybora near Brisbane with Cruises. They were great to learn about their family tree. I went to visit cousins in Chicago, Marie-Ann and Margaret and Con Deering in 2018. I was the first Irish cousin to visit them in Chicago and I got a great reception. We plan to return again post Covid. Both Marie-Ann and Margaret came to stay with us here in 2019. We enjoyed showing them around Killurin and Killeigh and they caught up with other relatives in Killeigh and Gurteen also.    


 

So my main business was growing potatoes and vegetables. It was hard work but rewarding as all of the kids helped out and we spent many evenings singing and laughing in the field. They were great really and it gave them all a good sense of hard work. We sold the produce to Peter Phelans shops in Tullamore. He was a gentleman and I dealt with him for over 40 years. We travelled to Claire and Limerick selling turnips and many a morning we left home before 6am.  

 

It’s a great community around here really and we have great connections. It’s fantastic to see everyone coming together to get the community centre going again. I remember helping to raise money for the new school in Killeigh also, Tom Flynn a Mountmellick man was principal at the time, of course I was delighted when Damien White took up the job, another farming background and one of the first local principals. I remember a time when there was no GAA pitch or soccer pitches in Killeigh or Killurin and now with the help of the community there are 2 pitches and soccer pitches also.  Lots of great local people have died in the last few years and they all played their part in creating memories of our great Parish of Killeigh. It’s a special place and it is full of great memories. Everyone can agree on that and I’m very proud to be part of it.

 

 

- John Howell

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"I feel so lucky and grateful to have grown up in Killeigh"

I was born in 1974 to Josephine and Michael McEnroe the local publicans of the only pub in the village, Grennans being the current proprietors.  It was my grandmother, Ellen Corcoran who was left the pub as she was the eldest of four girls and my grandfather, Michael McEnroe married into the pub life.  He was originally from Maudbawn, Cotehill, County Cavan and was a travelling salesman for P. & H. Egan.  He would spend many days away travelling while my grandmother looked after the business. They had nine children, Máirín, John, Nancy, Pat, Sheila, Eileen, Peg, Owen and my dad, Michael.  My Dad eventually took over the running of the pub as all his siblings had fled the nest except for his sister Eileen who would always encourage her lovely friend to call in on her home from Edenderry where she worked. This lady eventually became my mother, Josephine Culliton who hailed from Rearymore, Rosenallis, Co. Laois.

Growing up in Killeigh, I always remember drinking copious amounts of britvic orange and eating the best 99 cones from Walsh’s shop, bejewelled with an assortment of penny sweets and presented like a work of art.  I lived in the pub for nine years and then we moved one hundred yards down the road to the shop which was previously owned by the Coughlan family.  I thought all my Christmases and birthdays had come together to be living in a grocery shop full of sweets.  

The days seemed sunnier then and the craic was ninety.  At that particular time, there appeared to be lots of young people growing up in the village and we all hung out together.  I always remember spending hours outdoors whether playing soccer on the green, camogie in the GAA pitch or tennis in the ball alley (more like squash with tennis rackets and a tennis ball).  I remember cycling to Gurteen Bridge to see the pinkeens in the Clodiagh River.  Playing kerbs outside O’Connell’s house, perilously close to their front sitting room window and on the rare occasion the football accidently flying through the window pane.  

I have great memories of nativity plays, discos, céilí dances, karate and gymnastic lessons, badminton and even a circus which all took place in the Macra hall.  I vividly recall attending the circus when a lady appeared with a very large snake around her neck.  As I stared up at this huge creature, my little mind doing somersaults, imagining the chaos that would ensue if that boa-constrictor took it upon itself to escape down the centre aisle of the hall.  So for me, the Macra hall was a hive of activity and where fond memories were created.  It was the epi-centre of the village.  

My parents passed away when I was very young and I was literally raised by the village.  I feel so lucky and grateful to have grown up in Killeigh.  I felt like I didn’t just have one family but several and their door was always open to me.  The community spirit was wonderful and instilled in me a sense of belonging.  Myself and my two sisters, Marie-Louise and Michelle moved from Killeigh to Tullamore when I was about 17 years old.  After sitting my Leaving Cert I moved around a bit, overseas and back again.  I made fantastic friends and even though we have gone in many different directions over the years it’s still always a pleasure and a joy to meet them and it instantly draws me back to the connection I have with Killeigh village.  

I realise now how important it is to have a facility like a community hall, (which I took for granted in my youth) to help connect people with their local community, to give all generations the opportunity to come together and create a healthy and vibrant place to live”  

 

- Clare McEnroe

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"The Community of Killeigh was always important to us and to our family"

I was born in Portlaoise on the 4th of September 1932. I am the eldest of three children, my sister Lily and my brother Mattie were both after me but unfortunately gone before me. My father Joseph Dunne was a butcher and done a bit of part time farming as well. My mother was a Delaney from Mountrath and worked inside the home. I went to school in the Presentation Convent in Portlaoise. The year before I did my Leaving Certificate my family moved to Tullamore. I stayed in Portlaoise with an Aunt and Uncle of mine in Portlaoise to complete my Leaving Cert and then moved to Clara Road, Tullamore when I was 18.

I worked in the office with my Dad who had a butcher shop situated just off O’Connor square, where the new Post office in now. My future brother in law (Paddy Cleary) worked with us in the butchers and it was through Paddy how I would have met Jack, my husband to be in 1950. 

I married Jack in July 1954 in Dun Laoghaire and we went to France on our honeymoon. We visited Jack’s sister Judy who was a nun in France at the time. 

When we came back from our honeymoon I moved out to Newtown, Killeigh and lived in the farm house where one of my sons and his family now live. Jack’s mother and brother, Joe lived in the house as well at the time. Jack was a beef farmer then. It was not long after this that Jack and I took over the running of a shop on the Clara Road in Tullamore from Mrs Delaney (where Dolan’s shop is now situated). I worked in the shop for a couple of years until we sold it.

13 of my 14 children were born in the farmhouse. We built a new house beside the farmhouse where my son Mark and his family live now and he was the born there. Life was busy for me rearing and looking after the family and thank God they were all healthy and well able to look after each other. Dinner time would be a hectic time with up to 20 mouths to feed; the workmen and older members of the family (1pm) and the younger ones when they came home from school. Particular times of the year would have been busier when silage had to be cut etc, when there would be another 5 or 6 workers to feed.  

Jack ventured into dairy farming during the 70’s and built a milking parlour. He was milking up to 200 cows per day and milk was collected by the local creamery lorry. This continued until the late 70’s and Jack explored the option of adding value to the milk that was produced on the farm rather than selling it straight to the creamery. Both of us explored and research the setting up of our own creamery to pasteurise and pack milk from our farm. We built a milk processing factory in Newtown (Tullamore Dairies) which supplied bottles of milk and cartons in the Offaly area.

Jack was heading into his 60’s and I wasn’t too far behind but still we continued to invest in the business and in the mid 80’s we decided to research other opportunities available to us so that we could provide employment for our family and utilise the resources that we had.

Both Jack and I travelled the length and breadth of Europe looking at new ideas and opportunities and came back to develop a plan of building a yogurt and cheese factory. Glenisk (who name came from the Irish word – glean uisce – the stream flowing through the woods – which is a small woodland located on the family farm) was built. We started to make yogurt and cheesecakes where we sold locally first and then we were fortunate to get listings with the supermarkets where we began to sell nationwide. Life was tough! In addition to rearing a family and managing a farm, Jack and I were now running both Tullamore Dairies and Glenisk. All the tasks of getting a business going had to be learned and we had no manual or no internet to fall back. We had to learn the hard way – from canvassing customers, producing quality products, dealing with the accounts and everything in between that needed to be completed. With the help of our family, we all put our shoulders to the wheels and got them up and going.

Both Jack & I were attending the Leinster Final of 1995 between Offaly & Kilkenny. Some of you might recall this match as there was a heavy downpour of rain just before the match. About 10 minutes into the excitement of the game, Jack collapsed beside me with a heart attack. Luckily, we were surrounded by first responders in Croke Park and he was rushed to the nearby Mater hospital. He spent three weeks there and then came home but sadly took another turn and passed away. Jack’s passing left a massive void.  

My family continued to manage and run the business after that. I am proud that my family has continued with Jack’s legacy of developing and growing the businesses where it is now moving into the 3rd generation.

The Community of Killeigh was always important to us and to our family as a whole down through the years. We got to know many of the families in the community, either through the business or the different organisations. When I had time on my hands in my later years, I got involved in the Parish Council and we are so fortunate to have priests like Fr John Stapleton and Msr Tom Coonan who always supported the families when needed and I admired how they look to the future and go with the times we live in. In these testing times of course I am like many others, miss going to daily mass and the bit of a chat afterwards, but thanks to modern technology and facebook in which one of my sons set up for me I now get daily mass in the comfort of my armchair. 

In Killiegh parish there are many clubs and organisations still going strong for all ages and it’s great to see the next Cleary generation playing their part in some way. The long standing Tullamore show, the soccer club, local GAA club and of course the development of the community centre to name a few. Growing up now in Killeigh a child has many options and hobbies they can enjoy and be involved in. I always enjoyed going to the old folk’s party over the last few years in the hotel in Tullamore, but wouldn’t it be great to have it in the new community centre when it’s developed.       

Today, I enjoy the simple pleasures in life and reflect with fond memories of the life that I have lived and the people that I have shared my journey with. My 14 children are all grown up now and they have their own families (35 grandchildren) and 11 great grandchildren but thankfully many of them still live near me”

- Mary Cleary

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"Faith has always been part of our lives and always will"

We came to Killeigh more than 30 years ago in the 90’s .We were originally from Tipperay, my Mother Ellen was from Nenagh and my Father Patrick was from Templemore. I was born myself in Nenagh most of us were born there however 3 of my sisters were born in Portlaoise and my 2nd youngest brother and younger sister born in Limerick. Our family was 12 girls Mary, Ellen, Bridget, Theresa, Winnifred, Ann, Elizabeth, Kathleen, Geraldine, Phyllis, Margaret and myself and there were 4 boys Patrick, Terrance, Micheal and John. My sister Margaret passed away at birth and sadly John took his own life a few year ago leaving a wife and 9 children behind him.

After my eldest brother got married to a girl from Birr, we decided as a family to come down to Offaly and we stayed. However myself and my siblings would go to Ballinasloe in the Summer and come back here in the Winter. We lived on the side of the road for many years. We had no relations in Balliansloe but loved going back there every summer and travelling around, we always did it from the early days and loved it. We got use to the people down there and they got use to us, some great memories. 

 We settled quite quickly in Killeigh, we have very good neighbours. The opportunity came when we were living in a caravan on the side of the road for some time. We had been looking to buy a permanent site in Killeigh but there was nothing available. I guess people were anxious on who would use the site but we wanted only for our family the Mc Inerneys and it was hard to tell people this. My Father had always down through the year’s only mixed with his own family connections and that’s where we are today. We were always brought up on our own, we went into Tullamore for a while after our Mother died, but we didn’t like it so we moved back to our site in Killeigh . This house where we are living now came up for sale and the council brought if for us through a Travellers grant and we were delighted. The only sad thing is my mother never got to see it, she would have loved it but never got the chance to enjoy it.  She died at 61 years of age from lung cancer. I love living now in the house, it was a big transition from moving around. We feel very fortunate to have this house, I know a lot of my relations live in houses in estates but for us living in Killeigh on our own in the countryside is so much better. 6 of my sisters are married and 3 of us are living here or around Tullamore. We love the area and the people are very nice, we don’t bother with them and they don’t bother with us so it all works well. We keep to ourselves. 

When Jimmy fell off the bike on the main road and passed away, the local neighbours rallied around us and helped us whatever way they could. Jimmy lived with us as he was a cousin of my Father’s. Mick his other brother also came to live with us and still does, his wife only passed away a year ago, they had no family and his wife had been in a home in Kilkenny for some years.

There is only myself, my Dad and my sister that lives here now along with Mick. Dad will turn 87 years old in June. I am a carer for my Dad and wouldn’t have it any other way. I got used to it as before my Mother passed away she cared for them all. We always helped her growing up and she was our teacher in the home, and taught us everything we know from cooking and cleaning to sewing. 

We don’t travel anymore in the summer, I still long to go as we loved it over the years. My Dad is too old now to travel but a  few years ago he’d be gone, he loved nothing more but to head off for a few weeks but now due to the Covid , it is impossible to go and his health is failing somewhat and his eyesight . His balance is not great and my brother’s death took its toll on him and of course the loss of my Mother. He also misses his cousin Jimmy as they both would head away together for a few weeks every Summer. 

My Father never knew how to read or write, but we all got the opportunity to learn, my Mother always made sure no matter where we were located we went to school .In fairness to my parents we never lacked education but we just didn’t stay long enough in the one location to stay in the one school. It never held us back and they were the best parents anyone could wish for. We learned to have our own independence more so than the children growing up now. We know how to gather firework, light a fire, feed ourselves and we learned that from a very young age. I myself stayed in school until 6th class and went to Scoil Mhuire in Tullamore. After my confirmation I left and went to Ballinasloe. Ann my sister went in to Fas and continued her education but I didn’t. My younger siblings got better opportunity’s than I did. Nowadays most children would go on to secondary level education.

We still keep the traveller customs going as regards looking after the horses and the likes. We still have the OTM pride week in Charleville Castle, although it hasn’t been on the last couple of years due to the current pandemic. Both my sisters Ann and Mary are heavily involved in the organising of the event. It’s such a great event. It goes back to traveller’s roots where we light fires and the kettle and the pots, the bakers and make the bread. When we were young, I still remember my mother lighting the fire to cook the bread and cook the meat in the griddle baker. Boil the onions and make the mash and we would still have them traditions. We also loved the horse fairs down through the years, my father never drove but loved the horse drawn carriages. Its dying out now but the younger generation will not have what we had. We wouldn’t think twice of preparing my Dad’s cart and heading off, we would know how to put the tackle on the cart and the cart on the horse, build a tent and survive. Most of the younger generation would have no idea how to do this now. At the Pride event however you would see all this and some of the younger age would get involved or the horse fairs in Ballinasloe maybe.  One of my brother’s kids love all that, he has 3 girls and 3 boys and one of the boys is training to be a Farrier which is great to see. That’s what we did when we were young, helped my Father with the horses as there was more girls than boys in the family so we all helped out and loved it, it’s no different than living on a farm I guess, everyone helps out with whatever jobs need seeing to .

Faith has always been part of our lives and always will, I was very fortunate to get to Medjugorje and Lourdes and Knock over the years but there is something special about Lourdes, it is my favourite and I hope to get back there sometime again. My Father up to last year loved going to Killeigh mass on a Saturday evening but hopefully we will be able to bring him soon again. He misses it terribly. Putting up the May bush was also a tradition and would always be decorated on the 1st day of May. 

A community centre would be great for the area of Killeigh and I look forward to getting involved in the activities and hopefully get to know more of the local people. I would love nothing more than perhaps joining a knitting or sewing group. Another memory of my Mother was sewing aprons and sewing swags out of a bag and who knows maybe I could teach someone that someday. Growing up you learn survival skills and you learn to survive and that’s the most important.       

                     

- Joanna Mc Inerney

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