Kells Archaeological & Historical Society
Johnny is a native of Kells who, notwithstanding a spell at Moynalty, has lived in the town most of his life. Born at Climber Hall and grew up in Maudlin Street. Resides at Blackwater Heights since 1982. Married to Teresa who has passed away. Johnny is a former long-serving member of Kells Urban District Council of which he served a stint as Cathaoirleach
Interview with JOHNNY MAGUIRE (1)
Kells 15 July 2010
DC: This is Danny
Cusack on Thursday 15 July 2010 at 9
JM: Born and reared in the town. Born in Climber Hall. Father a Kells man. Mothers side goes back possibly the oldest family in the town, the Rourkes.
DC: Plenty of Rourkes still in the town.
JM: Plenty of Rourkes and plenty of Maguires. Maguire is originally a Fermanagh name. Rourke then would be into Breiffne and into Roscommon.
DC: Any idea how long the Maguires have been in Kells?
JM: Or around
about it. My grandfather is buried in the graveyard at
the back of
DC: Do you want to say a wee bit about your schooling, your childhood memories in the town?
JM: I was born in Climber Hall and I was around about three, when we got a house down in Maudlin Street and I remember coming down with my mother and at Harry Hamiltons window, there was a bar around it this way and it was a kind of crush against cattle on a fair day and I swinging out of that and my mother in a panic trying to get me down because I think she wasnt rightly in the house in Maudlin until my brother Noel was born. So you can imagine the panic that she was in.
DC: So you spent the rest of your childhood from the age of three in Maudlin. And you went to school from there?
JM: I went to school at three-year-old in the convent and carried on there until I got my first holy communion. Then you had your breakfast in the convent, and then you went up to the Christian Brothers.
DC: Any memory of your
time in the
JM: Ah, well, I found it a happy time playing with the lads there and playing handball and football and trying to do this that and the other. I remember one particular teacher, a Brother ODriscoll and I thought that he was a wonderful teacher and that he had a way with pupils. And one thing he done was when you went back after lunch you went home for a bit of lunch each day you had to do ten subjects and depending how many subjects you got certain high marks, say 90, you didnt have to do exercises for the week if you were successful. But if you dropped back, say to 50, you had to do a whole weeks exercises. Everyone was breaking their butt trying to achieve because it was very disheartening to hear fellows playing in the street and you inside struggling with books.
DC: So you had an incentive to do well.
JM: Thats right, yes.
DC: You went to school to a certain age, then what sort of employment .?
JM: I went to
school until I was a little over 14 and I was in third
year and I left then to start work with my father
training as an apprentice painter. We cycled as far as
within two miles of
DC: People in those days cycled enormous distances just to go to work
JM: Oh yeah, yeah.
DC: So two miles this
JM: No, it would be this side of Kilnacrott.
DC: Its still some distance. But you were young and you were fit and you knew no other.
JM: Well, we used to consider ourselves home when we topped the mountain at Oldcastle. It was falling ground then until the Ball Alley
DC: Then it was downhill all the way. So you started off working as a trainee apprentice for your father. Then did you carry on from that to something else?
JM: You carried on for seven years at that before you were declared a competent painter. But then the job finished up as a direct labour unit and I did a bit of contract work here and there then.
DC: And after that
JM: Well, I carried on at that and then [son] John had his accident and that finished that well, I had bouts of unemployment in and out if you know what I mean.
DC: So you spent your whole working life at painting or some aspect of the building trade
JM: Yes, building and repairs.
DC: Were you always employed or did you employ yourself?
JM: Some of the time I was self-employed.
DC: Is there any particular outstanding memory of your working life? Perhaps people who stood out characters... or influential people...?
JM: Now, thats without working for me?
DC: Yes, yes. It could be anyone.
JM: Oh yes, sure
there were lots of people. A lot of people dont
I think it was in 1934
Own won the Senior Hurling Championship here and two
members of the team played for
DC: It struck me the last time I was in the Handball Club looking at all the photos and letters on the wall that there is a fierce amount of history in the Handbook Club in Kells. It obviously played a major part in the sporting and social life of Kells for years would that be true?
JM: It would, yes. Someone told me that my grandfather beat some Spaniard that was a world champion up there in Toms Alley as they called at the time. Then you had the Salubrian [?] Reilly. All these famous people playing handball. The Starman Bell played handball and football countless people then McCabes played county football. Eamon won an all-Ireland Junior. And then of course we had Kevin Smyth, the famous Meath goalie.
DC: Were you much involved in the handball club and other sporting activities yourself?
JM: Well, I was secretary of the minor footballers and of the handball club.
DC: Any other groups in the town you were involved in?
JM: I was chairman of the Northern Aid Committee, I was chairman of the Tidy Towns, I was chairman and vice-chairman of the Urban Council several times and delegate to municipal authorities. I was chairman of the North Meath Disability Group, Chairman of the [Association for the] Blind and several others too.
DC: So you led a very active community life here in Kells?
JM: A lot of that time I was living out at Moynalty. I was there a good few years. After I got married we lived at Moynalty, from 1955 until I think 1979.
DC: Moynalty of course has gone from strength to strength with its various Tidy Towns awards.
JM: Well, we won
13 category awards here in Kells. We won it 13 times n a
row and I spoke briefly at the presentation below in the
Climber hall. One year we lost marks and we were told
that it was account of a lack of colour in the town
flowers etc. But we won the category award and I
think it was £12 or 13 hundred we got. So we spent it
all on colour the next year and we lost it because we had
too much! Then we lost marks for rubbish at
DC: Any other things in terms of the Kells Community activities, really outstanding events ?
JM: At the moment
Im trying to get a memorial erected to the Kells
men of the Old IRA. Im hoping to get permission to
erect that, hopefully at the Garda barracks because that
was the old RIC barracks. I was trying to get information
but there seems to have been a clampdown on information
regarding the period 191722. Because bridges were
blown, trains were stopped, various other things
happened. Someone from
DC: Youre talking about the early 1920s now
DC: Would I take then that youd be fairly nationalistic and republican minded?
JM: Yes, very
much so. I have two boys just home from Kosovo.
Theyve done several trips to the
DC: I know that you worked most of your life in the building trade. Do you have any strong memories of the businesses and trades that are now gone from Kells?
JM: Well, at one
time there were three bakeries: Kiernans,
Loosebys and Fitzsimons. And James Fitzsimons
founded a brewery and had the first lager in
DC: And it was he who got the meat factory up and running ?
JM: No, no. Ownie Rourke and Ownie Sheevers were the people that had the meat factory. Paddy McKenna came to town to work there.
DC: A lot of these businesses would have helped sustain the farming community in the wider area around Kells.
JM: Yes. On the Carrick there was what they called a loading bank - an elevated thing and a ramp - and the Lorries would back in let the cattle and sheep off and whatever they were killing.
DC: Has that factory been gone long?
JM: Its gone quite a while. First and foremost there was Doyles garage and then you had Breslins.
DC: Are you old enough to remember the fairs at the fair green?
JM: I remember them and the horse fair on the 16th October. Thered be horses from the top of Maudlin across to the railway. Then of course you had the fat stock show. That used to take place in the park. And you had the hunt where it would be coming through the town. They still have a bit of a tradition there
DC: Stephens day.
JM: And of course
you used to have the races in Loyd and any horse fit to
win any race in it was fit to win the national. And then
there was the story about the rivalry between Headfort
and the Napers. Seemingly they used to have wagers on the
horses but on this particular occasion its said
that the Marquess of Headforts horse won. And the Naper
man or whoever he was there said: Ill be down
to see you tomorrow. And when he went down
Im sure they had a drink or something
said: Well, what do you want? and he said
Come, Ill show you and about thirty
yards from his door he drew a circle on the ground and he
said: A mason will be down to build a rim around
that; thats what I want off you. So it must
at least have been irksome for your man to come out and
look at the bit of Headfort ground. Now thats the
story. Then you had the Spire that was built there. That
was built by the first Marquess of Headfort for Baron
Taylor, his father. And when you went up into the dome
and let it back there was a table. And they used to have
picnics whenever they wanted. Well, they looked at the
races of Loyd but someone also said that they could see
the tall ships coming at Carlingford. You see the
Headforts were merchants. In fact Lord Headfort told me a
story about the house that back in the penal days they
used to shelter priests and that they were reported to
the Castle in Dublin and that a captain and a troop of
cavalry left Dublin to search and apprehend all the
Headfort family to see if anything would be found. Now
when you came from
DC: And the Spire of Loyd. And the Paupers Graveyard opened during the Famine.
JM: I thought that I met you on a Famine walk.
DD: Yes, you did, in the early 90s. The Mullagh-Kells walk. I was one of the organisers.
JM: I remember
that time because I said a few words down at it. Joanna
Tall Tree [Oglala Sioux Indian from
DC: Thanks for reminding me of that. I was there that day. It was 1992. Your must have been chairman of the urban council that year.
JM: I remember showing Máire Geoghegan-Quinn the direction of her homeland; the Geoghegans down Westmeath way.
DC: Anything else about Loyd and the Spire?
JM: Well, it was a disgrace the way it ended up. And Aidan Carry is to be congratulated for the work he did. He got very very little help from the urban council; in fact every hindrance that could be put in his way was put there. In fact, even when he set up the safety thing in the Spire, that was condemned and only that he got down a man that was the former chief engineer they have wanted it pulled out of it.
DC: You couldnt have re-opened it without it. It was too much of safety risk.
JM: Yes, the rail in it was gone.
DC: And the Town Crest:
JM: I had the Town vested in a coat of Arms, I done that work with the Chief Herald, and I remember being beyond in London, inquiring about the Crosier, and the Curator came to see us, and I dont know who was the Chairman at the time, I forget and she looked at the medallion and she said to me explain the significance, and she could not. I had to go up and explain the significance of it. Do you know the significance of it!
DC: Tell me.
Looking for Coat of Arms:
JM: We searched for a long time when we went up to see the chief herald, and we a bit of a chat..look he said, that town suffers from an embarrassment of antiquity, and he said we will have a think on it, so we went back again, I had mentioned the Round Tower, High Crosses, High Kings, do ya see, and he came along then and from the angels gospel, another contradiction in the Book of Kells, he said what probably would be ideal, would be the eight rounded cross, eight circle cross.. no one knows anything about it, the significance of it, so we used that as the centre piece, and we agreed to put blood in the centre of them, sangria, the blood of Christ, and gold around, and that white background for the purity of Christ, and we had this shied effect, masonry, to represent our round tower, high crosses and here we have the title granted to the town in the sixth century the Joy of Ireland and that was that.
DC: And thats all
registered with the official crowd in
JM: Ay yea, with the Chief Herald.
JM: I have a
letter there from Frances Shand Kydd. She was a terrific
woman. She bought a place on
Interruption .. and a bit of rambling
For the first time in 400 years the Blessed Sacrament is
DC: Are there any other places around the town that are particularly dear to you?
JM: Well, you
have Colmcilles Well. And of course recently a few
wells have been done away with. The Malthouse Well has
been done away with. I believe it supplied the commandery
DC: So there must have been some kind of pond there...
JM: There was, yeah. The town is sitting on water.
DC: You would have seen big changes during your time. What are two or three whether for good or bad really stand out in your mind?
JM: Well, I did
my best to get the council to buy the Lis lands. 140
acres was bought for £140,000 [by someone else].
Thats on the Navan road opposite the golf links and
they wouldnt do it. And the Marquess told me that
if they had he wouldnt have wanted that [much]. All
he wanted was enough to pay his grandfathers death
duties. Then I tried to get them to buy the Headfort
Estate. And [the Headforts] owned Virginia and Maghera
they owned 1250 acres there. Now it turns out that
its one of the twelve most important heritage sites
in the world and the most important in Europe and
theres a group in
DC: Do you think the loss of the railway was a big blow to the town?
JM: It was the height of madness. Thats all Ill say now. It was the height of madness. And that man was lauded for his accomplishments. And I cant understand why a track wasnt laid along with the new road.
DC: You obviously witnessed economic ups and downs over the years.
JM: Well, what I
remember growing up was that when Fianna Fáil came into
power I dont remember a shilling being taken off
the old age pension which it was during the Cumann na
nGaedhael government. When Fianna Fáil came into power
within a short while they brought in social employment
schemes. And I just speak for the town, married men were
the given the preference of doing I think it was four
days work for, shall we say, the council. And they dug
ditches and grips and all at Loyd. And then on Friday
they went down to the town steward who was Owen Gilsenan
at the time and he gave them a cert. or something of that
nature. And then on Saturday they attended the home
assistance officer. And I remember the queues being way
well, Id only have been small at
the time sitting on the steps of the door
queues went up right up
DC: Growing up were you conscious of extremes of poverty or wealth in Kells? Or class distinction? Or has that improved over the years?
JM: Id say that has improved. There was something here that further back in time they recognised these people that had money. They were the controllers. That has changed a lot, for the better.
DC: Any else before we finish up?
JM: No, not really. We had a happy childhood.
Interview 1 End
Interview 2 with Johnny Maguire
Hello, this is Danny Cusack reporting from Johnny Maguires house here in Kells in Blackwater Heights on Thursday 2nd September 2010 and we are going to take on from where we left off the last day a few weeks ago .thanks Johnny for agreeing to talk to me again .
JM: Youre more than welcome
DC: Before I move on to some new topics Johnny I wonder if I could just run a few things past you to get rough dates now when I say Im looking for a date I dont want year or month just the decade would do 1970s to 1950s or whatever .when you talked about your memory of the fairs and the horse fairs in the 16th of October and the fat stock show .what time did you have in mind
JM: They were all through my whole life right up to possibly twenty years ago...
DC: So from your early childhood
JM: You used to look forward to them and there would be a little gate across the door and we would be looking out at the cattle going up and down the street and in fact one time some one forgot to put up the gate and the next thing was we had a bullock in the kitchen .
DC: You wouldnt forget that in a hurry
JM: Me mother grabbed which ever of them was small .was afraid of her life that we were all going to be killed
DC: And she got rid of the bullock anyway
JM: And the people who owned him came in and got him
DC: And the all live to tell the tale .you still see some of the old shop fronts around Kells or indeed any Irish country town and you know the guards against the metal .you know from the old days the horse fairs were a big thing
JM: They were a big thing on the 16th October I was wondering would it be possible to reintroduce them in some shape or form you know because it was one of the highlights of the year.
DC: Sure look what they have done down in Mullagh they have their annual fair dont they
They have the trashing in Moynalty
.they have various other
..we seem to lag behind here and I dont
think there is enough of a community spirit
my opinion ..In here
.because we have everything that is
needed to make it what it once was
.no one had the joy of
DC: To use the phrase you mentioned the last day an embarrassment to antiquities you quoted your man Slevin .so its all there if only Kells could use it .That s right .that involves people pulling together rather than pulling in different directions
JM: I often inscribable !
DC: Oh right say no more .we will come back to that I just quoted your man Slevin an embarrassing antiquities you had a discussion with him with regard to the coat of arms of Kells
JM: I spent several times above with him in fact it was reported in the chronicle in his letter to the council, he presented the council with the heraldic parchment
DC: And when was that roughly what decade
JM: You would be talking coming into the 80s...79 on to the 80s around that time you know ..
DC: Yes will I can look up the Meath Chronicle on that just to get the reportage .then you mentioned some of the wells around the place that have disappeared like the Malthouse Well.....Hatchie Ducks ..again do you remember them from your childhood or your adulthood
JM: Well I remember them all my life...we used to go to the Malthouse Well to get a bucket of water when we lived in Maudlin and then the other one here Hatchie Ducks Well do you know when you leave Carrick Street opposite where the Motor Cycle
DC: Pitcher lane
JM: Thats where it got its name ..people carrying pitchers of water up there
DC: How recently did those wells disappear?
JM: As soon as the developments started on those houses
DC: That put an end to them they were covered over ..
JM: Well I dont know what they done with them .in fact I told a lady there... what was her name she was doing a history of the town and the poor woman looked at me and said there was no such a well ..but there was such a well .I told her I would bring her up and show it to her at the time and she didnt come .I have a book there that she done .
DC: Not Catherine Simms I know who she is alright .
JM: One of the Simms is right I dont know if the Malthouse well ..was it servicing a Malthouse with the commandery or whatever was down in the colony ..
DC: The monks St Johns brewing ale you suggested the last day .it makes sense anyway .St Colmcille`s well of course is still going strong its just being refurbished.
JM: Then there was a well that seems to have dried up for some reason or something happened it on the Headfort road .we used to call it the Ladys well .that was supposed to be haunted well now I never seen anything out of ordinary there do you know what I mean .I think that might have been feed from coming through the bottoms like a big flow of water comes from the bottoms through the factory . or what was the factory .it was McKeons
DC: ah yes. I know where you mean
JM: Have you ever heard it .if you stand on the forecourt there in McKeons and walk around you will get a fierce flow of water under you...You know in fact thats what broke Cooneys, dont know wither I told you that ..
DC: You didnt no .
JM: Cooneys built that garage where McKeons is it was the old factory .
JM: If you look at it .there is a carpool At each side of the main door that was to assemble I think four cars and they got broke building that garage they couldnt coup with the water. ..and the same applied to the Savoy .as far as I know there is still a pump operating what was the former Savoy cinema .there was a flow of water there this town is built on a hole there is an aqueduct there you see
DC: So there is no surprise the wells were spreading out all over the place
JM: And if you left here I dont know if I said it to you before I dont think the houses should have been built there ..first and foremost about one hundred and twenty people put in an objection and we werent heard or listened to ..and if you stand there just at the little wall there outside .there is three steps there is a step down maybe six or eight foot into the next field and the same again and its quite possible that the river during the ice age or else ...do you see that this is what do they call it they have a name on it a something feature .
DC: A glacial feature whatever the term is
JM: There used to be about 3 or 4 acres of water just in front of those houses there .every winter you see .
DC: And the concern would be if there was mass flooding or whatever happened it could be doomed .
JM: Well you never know what is going to happen looking at the world today with all these strange events there is very very heavy rain in China and winds again I think it was a geomorphic feature was the name of it
DC: Geomorphic that makes sense alright
JM: Planners and all seem to not want to know about these things thats why a lot of people are now in problems .problems with insurance and everything .do you know
DC: I did hear someone comment quite recently on all the building that was done behind where McKeons, is having an effect on the water level which has had a knock on effect on other parts of the town .thats precisely what you are saying as well .
JM: Thats where the cover of the manuscript now called the book of Kells was got .the bottoms..
DC: A very historic document altogether thats interesting .you mentioned one of your regrets was the refusal of the council to purchase Lis lands, And of course the Headfort estate again when was that roughly was that in the 70s or the 80s
JM: Well it was during my period on the council do you see 74 to 99 .it should be in the chronicle do you know what I mean ..I even tried to get them to purchase Butlins
DC: Yes you mentioned that the last day were you on Meath co council as well .
DC: Just on the urban district council you wanted to get the Meath County Council or the Kells Council to purchase Butlins
JM: Actually I wanted the Meath Co. Co.
DC: To purchase Butlins I figured as much ..because Kells wouldnt have been able to ..you told me the last day its all there on the tape what the consequence that was and how .what could have been something was lost ..should we put it that way .
The same with Headfort
.its amazing to think that some, I
dont know who the group are in America about three or four
..I think it was 36 million pounds to spend on 12
most important heritage sites in the world and Headfort was the
most important in
Yeah and it didnt get a
JM: It didnt .no .
DC: Which is a shame cause it has been broken up since for housing and stuff ..
JM: And what I was really annoyed about was as I claimed about in my argument .there was 400 years of written town history in the Headfort Estate ..I think that .the marquees told me that they are in Trinity college .Im not just sure ..
DC: Some are in Trinity college and a lot more are .Ill tell you where they are they are in the manuscripts room of the national library .cause I have looked at a few of them and recently they have started to do up a catalogue or an index of just whats there and its tremendous amount of stuff and if someone could get there hands on them and write them up as you say its a history in its self
JM: Oh yeah .well its genuine
DC: Of course it is yeah.
JM: They really dotted there Is and crossed there Ts all these estates and that ...for the particular period of the time
DC: And you can see the individual names of the tenants over the years they are all recorded and listed
JM: I dont know did I tell you about the Marquees I was pretty great with the Marquees cause my sister Kathleen reared his families children he met me one day and said I see where you were on for getting them to buy the Lis lands and he said if the council had to show an interest it would not have cost 140 thousand pounds would have given them what would have paid my Grandfathers debt duties and boy the boy he said .he knew that I was dipping into history and like that kind of thing .he said I would like the priests hole to be upgraded if possible in the house he told me a story that they used to hide the priests ..during the particular days the then marquees was reported to the castle and a troop of cavalierly and a captain left to come and search Headfort house and apprehend them all if anything was found ..but the Marquees had his man in the castle and he beat them by twenty minuets to Headfort House .now do you know where the roundabout is on the road now
DC: I do yes
JM: Well that was the way into Headfort estate .you came across by the Golf links and out at the gate before you went on to the bridge and across the bridge then that was known as the Dublin gate and when the troop of cavalierly before they got to there the marquees coach was leaving the Drogheda gate which was further up the road towards Ryans you see up Rosmeen direction and his ship was always standing by I think in Drogheda and were whisked away before the others got in to see .its quite a bit of a tale
DC: It is .
JM: You know and then the site now we are celebrating the fifty years in the Church this year this present Church and they presented that site and two hundred and fifty guineas to the clergy .to the people of the parish when that church was being built .do you know ..
DC: And they had there own individual places in the church I believe ..
JM: Thats right .they had there cushions there .well of course a lot of people didnt like that but at the same time if they were .they were kind people I believe were good benefactors and that was rare among their class
DC: Sure sure .and you were glad to have them and glad to do what they did
JM: Yeah well I mean during the famine times that whole wall was built around the estate I think it was a great grandfather of mine for one worked in it .I think it was a penny a day or something like that and they had to be above in the yard in Headfort at daybreak to get a meal of Inga buck, I think they called it
DC: Yes that is what they called it .
And work till sunset they would probably have some to bring with
and then come back again and have another
.. I seen that above
I spoke one time about the
wall and that you know it was needing to be done up and I think
it was Kruger
.that owned the estate at the time
he just sent up a bloody machine and pulled it back into
the field on the back road
..what Im hoping now in
the latter end of my days ya may say
. that we would get
some kind of a group together cause
.I do not agree with
this being termed the Boyne Valley
..I believe that we
should have a Blackwater historical and promotional society and I
always claim that the river Blackwater was more important than
DC: It was
JM: As well as Maghera Bog and the Park Hotel do you know
DC: Sure he had twice as many acres in Cavan as he had in Meath at one time ..
JM: Yes and he had a Hugh land holding ..I think it was 15 or 20 thousand down in Kerry ..
DC: Thats right .phenomenal ..
JM: But I would hope to see that happening and that everything cause I wish to god that I could find out ..its quite possible I believe that if Tony Robinson wanted to come in here to go through this area he wouldnt be let I think there would be an obstruction I dont know for sure ..but I have that feeling and the men here are not prepared to come in and tear that place asunder and find out what went on here .I think I may have said to you before . that Im glad to see that things on Slieve Na Callie are now being promoted because they were in use as a crematoria thousands of years before Tara or before Newgrange
DC: Yeah there certainly a big tourist .
JM: This is a Hugh potential .hugh
DC: Yeah enormous .and its only really being realised in the last few years .they get big number of tourists up there now and they have organised guards and so on
JM: Thats right yeah
DC: Your right there is enormous potential there Just .you mentioned last day briefly the social employment scheme ..(interruption) such as the road building at the Carlanstown road .is that memory from your childhood or would it be the 1930s ..
JM: It could be around on the 40s ..
DC: And of course the allotments you talked a good bit about them the last time .when did the Allotments .it seemed as though a lot of food was growing there and fed people
JM: You were feed during all the war years I think it only tapered off about the sixties or in the Seventies
DC: Yeah that was my next question ..when did it taper off .
JM: I think now they would be able to tell you that in the town hall ..
DC: yes they should .they should and why did they suddenly dry up .the allotments what brought them to an end do you think
JM: I think people were on the verge of this what do ya call it bust .the Celtic tiger .
DC: The supermarket culture
JM: They were afraid to go down to be there .on their own in the fields
DC: I know thats right I know what you mean and probably with more affluent people buying in Supermarkets and so on and now we are gone full circle people are growing their food again out in the allotments which has to be a good thing thats about it all by way of clarifying a few dates Ill just mention a couple of topics and you can say s few words if you want to and if not it doesnt matter Heritage centre for Kells ..we had the town hall of course now thats closed down .now we dont have a heritage centre or a tourist centre
JM: We have one...it was the former courthouse
DC: Thats right and of course thats closed now ..
JM: It is yeah its a disgrace I think that they came along and they started off and they started to sell below in it and it shouldnt have been done in my opinion thats not my interpretation of a tourist centre .I would bring the tours here and there and I would bring them around and show them this that and the other and I would bring them up the town and let them browse around the town after high lightening this that and the other because the people in the town are paying the rates and suddenly here you have them all gathered down here and sure what did they want to see around the town when they could buy this that and the other below there it turned it into a commercial premises
DC: And that to your mind was the downfall.
JM: That to my mind was not what it should be
DC: Its an actual inclination for people to call there first not necessarily go any further if they got everything they wanted there ..which was a problem ..and then we had the problem during heritage week which is just recently finished if people came on Saturday or Sunday when the Council office was closed there was no where for them to go and ask questions or queries or get directions so that has come up in discussion as well ..so there is a problem there as is said Kells has an enormous heritage to trade on it just needs to decide how to do it the best way ..so your time on the Council I think it was twenty five years on the urban district council .you said a little bit the last day .do you want to say a little bit more about it of your experiences of being a Councillor you know the good bad and indifferent .
JM: Well I dont know, I think the managerial act I think in a lot of cases it didnt do any good ..I think it harmed ..it harmed the ability of the elected members and I know that from experience, there is many things that I tried to get done and it was just knocked on the head or wouldnt be done .you see and thats I think against our conception of the democracy
DC: And do you think it was that you just got a bad manager or a bad town clerk if you had a good manager or a good town clerk .
JM: We had one manager here a short while Paddy Donnelly when I went to him to that we needed a new town hall instead of an upstairs room he went to the bank and was refused and he came back to me and we had a chat and then well it worked out anyway that we got the money for the town hall .just like that he was told to shift all the council accounts away from it
DC: Right I see
JM: He was a good man and went on to Kilkenny and he proved his worth in Kilkenny.
DC: There you go .
JM: If you seen the park were you ever in it
DC: I was yes
JM: Did you see the park around the place and all
DC: Its a lovely city .
JM: Well he done all that in there .has viewing galleries and all that .I dont know what the name of it is .is it the castle
DC: Kilkenny castle thats it
JM: And then do you see they came along and the done all this and then across the road from it you can go and get all the various items that are manufactured there locally handcrafts of every shape and form and thats what I could envisage .do you know what I mean.
DC: For Kells ..yeah ..if done the right way .do you have any outstanding memories of your fellow councillors who were particularly easy to work with or those who were difficult to work with those who had strong personalities or stood out you might not want to say anything!
JM: I dont want to say anything like that
DC: Off the record for sure
JM: It was very hard to get them to come and train with anything progressive to a degree ..
DC: You got a lot of resistance did you from your own side as well
JM: Both sides and no one maybe worse than the next ..
DC: You started off as a Fianna Fail Councillor and you became an independent so you went your own way .
DC: Was that over a particular issue.
JM: It was yeah ..it was over a very particular issue .I was secretary of the Fianna Fail Cumann ..now I didnt hold grudges because ..when was it in 1969 I was selected as a Fianna Fail candidate and three councillors left the town and went up to the Chairman of the Fianna Fail in County Meath and said they wouldnt stand with me and I wouldnt get the nomination I stood anyway and I think I lost it by about 9 or 10 votes and then there was a big inquiry into it because ..Basically it wasnt me they wanted to get at ..it was Paddy McKenna that was the Chairman of the Cumann here and a county council Councillor ..they came along anyway when the election was over the Fianna Fail party was met about an hour and a half before the inaugural meeting of the then incoming council and discuss various things and Paddy McKenna was in the town hall at the time it was their in Castle Street waiting for the others and they held a private meeting and only landed on the stroke of the meeting starting and walked in and proposed another man for the chair and the opposition voted Paddy McKenna into it and thats what was going on you see there was one particular .I will not mention any names ..I dont think he had high aspirations .the president would be the ultimate one .but it didnt work out .well anyway there was a big meeting and I was still secretary of the Cumann and then it went on .I think it was 79 and I was still secretary . and a directive came out that where and whenever possible Padraig Pearce was to be honoured in his centenary year of his birth .we were after acquiring the town hall .now thats the time I was tell you about when we got it
DC: Thats right...Yeah
JM: I put down a notice in motion that we would name it Padraig Pearce .that was opposed by the opposition Fine Gael and Labour and two of our own Fianna Fail Councillors ..abstained and it was defeated .and as I told them that night Padraig Pearce was not a political party he wasnt a politician .he was a patriot and his mother was born over there about seven miles .
JM: And she lost her granduncles .two of them were killed in the 78 rebellion ..
DC: Brady was the name from Nobber
JM: So they tried then down the year then ..it was simmering on then for a year and at the end of the year they tried to force me to vote for one of those men and I said I wouldnt and I resigned from the party
DC: And that was the end of that ..you sailed your own canoe after that and went your own way ..Brian Curran has said once that he thinks everyone on Councils should be independents and there shouldnt be party politics do you think thats right or do you think thats unrealistic
JM: I wouldnt agree with that at all because you can go nowhere
DC: This is it its unrealistic the reality is you are going to have parties ..the other the Fine Gael and the Labour Councillors and the other independents you were able to work with reasonable well .you found that across the party lines ..I mean individuals would be different ..of course you might get on with that person and not that person but overall you could work with them ..anything else you want to say about your time in I suppose the political aspect of your life on the council and the law in Fianna Fail or anything in that regard
JM: Ah sure from when I was able to carry a white wash brush .I used to go with my father and the other men around there was no posters or much at the time but you wrote it on the roads ..it would be great to get out and you only about five in the darkness of the night sure it was an adventure to go around the town looking at them writing the slogans you know
DC: Not much of that done these days
JM: NO, none of that done
DC: Its all television and high powered stuff you possibly regret that the loss of that aspect of politics the sort of more personal touch is gone hasnt it .
JM: It has and in one sense I have to admire Brian Lenehan going down to Beal na Blath .its time that wound was healed ..long after time but its time
DC: The Civil war the politics ..
JM: Families were torn asunder with it do you know we here cant .well you just cant know what it was like .no Matter how vivid a imagination you have .you dont know what that was like when houses were split asunder .do you know ..
DC: And you saw examples of that, did you
JM: I seen street fights with the blue shirts as they called them this that and the other .you know what I mean thats when the Brown Harriers were brought in do you know ...and then there was a threat with the guards .mutiny and the like of that
DC: Thats right I have read all about that .The blue shirts were an interesting phenomenon were they very active around Kells...
JM: Oh they were yeah their was a few of them around .do you know .I have seen fist fights in the street .they used to wear the blue shirt the Italians ..do you know
DC: Mussolini the equivalent .there is a museum down in Clonmel and there is a blue shirt on display you know in a glass case .just to show you what it looked like
JM: Did I show you Im trying think Im going to get it permission to put up a monument not a monument but a tablet .to the men and women of Kells Co ..the old IRA
DC: You mentioned that the last day ..you done a lot of work on it
(Johnny shows photographs to Danny)
JM: Im going about this since 2004 ..yeah I didnt find Willie O Dea very simple ..he wrote and told me that wouldnt give me permission in case Id leave someone out ..I never intended to put anyones name in it
DC: The idea is an old IRA memorial isnt it thats basically
JM: A plaque about the inside of the fireplace on the old barracks wall thats McHillards back to you in the photo (Johnny shows Danny another photo)
DC: Oh, the TD
JM: He was Minister for defence and one is Bernard Carolan Benny Carolan he was one of them that was jailed after the raid on the post office and the other is Pat Reilly from Moynalty
DC: I have heard of him
JM: Now he would be Fr Paddy Reilly and Fr. Mattie Reilly Johnny refers to some photographs again)
DC: I can look this all up in the Chronicle
JM: There is dam all in the Chronicles or any of the papers about the whole thing ..well my father was at the taking of the Bailieborough barracks and thats not recorded but this was some chap down in it .he was a Liberian his office below and he said I am after buying a book ..hold on a minute and he went and got me this and that showed it there .my father is in that somewhere I wouldnt know him but do you see this man here ..He was former Paddy Smith
JM: Minister for agriculture and local government
DC: I have heard of him they are great photographs arent they
DC: Please God you will get your approval for it eventually the fruits of your labours
Well I was down with them in
DC: So thats your time on the council ..anything else you wanted to say about your time on the council or the politics or that
JM: I dont know.
DC: You mentioned the blue shirts and the fist fights and they were quite active around Oldcastle too I believe
JM: It was really the 21 or 2 split showing up again .do you know what I mean ..
DC: Its very interesting how conscious you were of the way that was reflected in family , family split down the middle ..political devise right up to the present day
JM: It never healed till today .that intervention of Brian Lenihians might help to cure some of that
DC: The right step in the right direction
DC: We can finish up in a few minuets if you like .just moving on from the politics of the council is there any other little stories or things you would like to mention
JM: I used to have an odd chat with Donacha O Doolin and that, and then with the famine walk
DC: Oh yes you were up in Loyd a few times ..
JM: Yes, it was very interesting there I dont know if you remember it Do you remember a lady called Joanna Tall
Did I tell you or did you know that she left Mullagh and went up
Yes I was at all that
.I remember all that
JM: And then as well as that too I just spoke ..said a few words down at the spire and I thought it was well just on account of she being there it just brought it to mind that one of the Indian chiefs at the singing of the treaty of the Black Hills of Dakota, His name was Setanta .and then we had Setanta .Cuchulainn .I thought it rather strange do you know what I mean I just mentioned it .the few words ..
DC: It was good you made those connections cause it would have made a lot in the context as you say with Joanna Tall being there and the Brazilian fellows as well .
JM: Then you see I was just standing there with the crowd ..the next thing was this man beside me hopped up to speak to the two Brazilians and he was a Fr what was his name from over there beyond .near Killallen and wasnt he a priest down there and he said to me that fellow is from that river and someone is from that river .they have no townland as we have its a river area the name .but seemingly he knew the two of them that was Archbishop Diaz
DC: Thats right I remember him alright .and the priest got up and made that point didnt he .
JM: Yeah Fr Fagan I think was his name..
JM: Now Im not just sure but I think that was his name ..Fr Fagan and he had taught there
DC: its a small world isnt it a very small world..
I did tell you of course that a Patrick Maguire was the first man
ashore from the
DC: You did tell me that the last day ..
Thats recorded in
DC: Should have done ..absolutely Patrick Maguire .thats a great story I have forgotten about Donacha O Doolin being there at Loyd, do you know .you jogged my memory there ..you used to come along to a good few of the famine walks actually and he did some great radio programmes when he started Donacha Sunday .so anything else .
JM: Ah sure lots of things but sure they are just not to mind ..
DC: They just cant come to you like that can they .,.Well I think we might just finish up there Johnny and just to say thank you again for speaking to us again today and its great to have all these memories recorded as part of the history of Kells so thanks a million
JM: Thats the reason I would be liking for going back in time ..
DC: Back to ancient times you mean ..
JM: I dont know .did I tell you I read it somewhere .where they were occupying the coast like pockets and that they were subjected to pirates and they moved inland where there was a warrior named, Nemedias moved into the plain of Misareth, and set up a stronghold if you like at Doon Collis of which is done there from Maudlin Bridge and thats reckon about 4000 years BC .you know and thats way ahead of Tara
DC: Of course it is
JM: And there has to be .there has to be evidence in fact I think the fort is still there inside the wall in Headfort on the look out you know then you come on then to St Patrick well I hope now during the what ya ma call it the Congress I have spoken to Fr. John and Monsignor Hanley about having a mass on the new bridge down there that straddles the Blackwater ..I dont know whether I told you about the Blackwater it been called the Sele
DC: I dont think you did .no
JM: The river Sele, and St Patrick came and erected a church to Mary Magdalene and said that some petty chieftain threw some of his servants into the river and I take it he touched it with the crosier and from now on you will be known as a Abhrainn Dubh ..the Blackwater ..you see when you look at it in the olden days have you ever been to that .where Quinn is what do you call it .what do you call that place where Sean Quinn is ..I can never think of it .but you know where Im talking about
DC: Yeah I do
JM: Well before you go to that .did you ever see a sign pointing to Teemore.
JM: Well in olden days a church was known as a T and then you come along and up there you have Mullaghea and whats the translation Mullagh is the hill of the Church and then you had the walk along the river and I did get on to the thing and they were to put a place way under the bridge ..the national roads authority .the wrote back pretty quick do you believe ..seemingly there were others and they didnt bother with them .Ronnie McGrane was telling me that they couldnt get anything out of them but I got it by return ..if you look at it the parish ends at the river and then you have St. Carnac from Mullaghea and Dulane comes the other side of it so I thought it would be an appropriate place to have a mass and maybe name all the bridges they have now put up around I mean we have a lot to go by ..if you take the one on the Oldcastle Road ..well there you have Oliver Plunkett and you have Brian O Higgins from Crossakeel .and when you go on to the Athboy road you have another O Higgins .its Ambrose .Bernardo
I think he ended up in South America in
JM: I read where he worked on some estate at Athboy ..and then of course you have O Growney and when you go on then across to the one on the Gardenrath road .you have St. Cuthbert cause I think that end of Cortown parish was St Cuthberts, but then its also recorded that St Cuthbert was born on the hill of Loyd .you know
DC: You could have a name for every bridge ..Yeah a name for a lot of them .thats a great idea have you perused it with the council or the National roads Authority
JM: I just spoke to that man .whatever you call him .you know who is over it...
JM: I, thats over it .it would be the Council end .if it works ill get there
DC: Yeah you will please God
JM: I think it will be something to have
DC: It would and it preserving the history in the place names in the Bridge names ..
JM: And then we can start looking up and see what the connection is with Kilmainham and Kilmainham in Dublin with the Knights and of course there is the corner of that Abbey or Commandery .that is still there and nothing being done about it ..and I believe a lot of stones in Headfort Wall the wall around the estate came in from that ..do you know and its time that something was done
DC: Oh of course it was I know a wee bit about that from writing the history of Kilmainhamwood 12 years ago cause thats where my Grandfather was from Kilmainhamwood .Kilmainhamwood was called Kilmainhamwood Kilmainham in the wood to distinguish it from Kilmainham outside Kells to prevent confusion but both places had Monastery which were sort of out .how should we say outhouses of the main Monastery of the Kilmainham in Dublin thats how it happened
JM: They were Commandery
JM: It was the spread around but Ill tell you a good one Moybolgue Is closely associated here do you know.
DC: I know the old Graveyard very well.
And then you have Drumlane
do you know the Monastery
DC: OH sorry I know of it
Well this was the seat of the
DC: I must go and visit the Abbey there I havent been to Drumlane I know of it yeah
JM: If you come down some day please god Ill bring you cause me daughter, she is married to a chap there they have the land and the land is surrounded on three sides by the lake they are not living on that land it was left to them ..but the Abbey is just across the corner beside the lake .so if you come down some day we will drop down .
DC: It would be good yeah.
JM: But its time to tie up all these things
DC: It is I know
JM: Theres a man that wrote to me some time ago and I didnt get back to him yet ..from Mayo about Colmcille and I couldnt find anything Colmcille he is on one of the islands now...What the hell is the ..
JM: No..no in Mayo..
DC: Off Mayo, Didnt know there was a Mayo connection now
JM: I couldnt find it anyway you know but there could be .
DC: There could be a connection .I didnt know there was but incidentally the well had just been refurbished and its open again, I was down there it looks quite well .they done quite a good job .
JM: Well you see I wanted was I wanted to build a kind of a thing there .for the well itself so they could say mass or rosaries and have four seats going down two on each side ..you see you could say a decade a decade, a decade, a decade a seat and build it with mud and wattle .do you know what I mean and thatch roof it and that
DC: It would make it realistic alright
JM: Realistic do you know I have something there if I could get it .
DC: Its a good idea ..
(Irrelevant chat) Johnny shows Danny a photo of his mother and his uncle Paddy
JM: Do you see the grimace thats on him .well Maria has a lad that is the dead ringer well he has a grimace on him cause at that time gawsuns only wore petticoats and when the lad, when that was taken, the chap lifted him up and put him down ..do you know the little bench out on the side of it he put him sitting on a bunch of nettles .
DC: Its no wonder he has a grimace .what year would that be .that, must be about 19
JM Gosh that year would have been 1908 or 1910.
DC: Thats a great photograph
JM: That one there is just in Edinburgh Cathedral with Cardinal Kilpatrick, Brian and Bishop Smith there from Theresa
DC: Great photograph too .
JM: We had a bit of a gathering of the Maguire clan there .a while ago .
DC: You did.
JM: Yeah in Maguires
DC: Oh in the pub no better place.
JM: Well, Not for me .thats a cousin of mine there meeting Pope John .I have to try and raise funds for her because .they lost two priests .six sisters and eight students and their families ..as well as the school for the deaf and as well as their primary and secondary school in Haiti so I told her I would raise a few bob for her and send it please God .No there was a family connection home from Australia and then another from Leeds and then another from the west the brother and sister hadnt met here since 1968 .
DC: 42 years .amazing .so you had a clan gathering
JM: We sort of had a clan gathering
DC: The Maguire clan the Maguires of the pub they are no connection to you
DC: No I didnt think so
JM: Well no you dont know
DC: Well if you went back far enough but they arent a close connection .those Maguires are there for generations their father was there
JM: Id say they came in the 50s or 40s or something like that .it used to be McEnroe`s
DC: Before it was Maguires right
JM: My father was telling me that Hugh McEnroe was one of the first to have a car in the town and they had the football club Whats Wanted ..do you see them all loaded onto the car anyway and I dont know where they were going to play going out the Oldcastle road .you see and they were sitting on mudguards as well as everything else and the car was only shuddering up the hill and Pete Rogers, Lord have Mercy on him said pull over Hugh there is a lad on a bike trying to get by you ..wait to hell till I get over to this side of you
DC: I can believe it.
JM: And, whereabouts did you live at Kilmainhamwood
DC: Well I never actually lived there but my grandfather grew up there a townland called Shancor its a mile outside the village up Lismean hill ..do you Lismean hill do you know Keoghans pub ..Ill tell you now who has the land Gogartys .
JM: The printers ..
DC: His brother Bob .he owns the land that was Hughs
JM: They lived in a cottage above on the top of the hill .
Thats where they grew up in
JM: I painted them houses ..for the Meath Co. Co. ..I used to cycle their night and morning
DC: Its some distance yeah
JM: I used to know nearly everyone there .then there was Maguires further down the hill
DC: There were Maguires!
DC: There was a lot of Cassidys
JM: And then there was
DC: There was Mc Gees as well.
JM: There was Mc Gees and there was another cottage there what the hell was that a nice girl living in that cottage there above Maguires
Tape interrupted . End