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Thursday, May 22, 2014


Young Portlaw Lady Gets Buckingham Palace Invitation!
Tara Smith, nee Kelly, daughter of Jack and Bridget Kelly of Coolfin, Portlaw, has been invited to attend The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on June 3rd next.
Tara was educated at the Convent of Mercy, Portlaw, and Greenhill Secondary School, Carrick-on-Suir, following which Coopers & Lybrand sponsored her for studies in Accountancy. Four years later, Tara qualified as a Chartered Accountant from the Regional College, Waterford. Having worked in Ireland for a few years, she then emigrated to Toronto, Canada to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Having met her future husband, Dan Smith, while they were attending a friend’s wedding, Tara later decided to move to Leeds, U.K., to live.
Tara presently holds a senior position as Head of Financial Control & Policy, Dept for Work & Pensions in the U.K., based mostly in Leeds.  For her ‘sterling contribution’ in this field, came the invitation from Buckingham Palace.
This will be a great day out for Tara and Dan, who eagerly look forward to the occasion.
Congratulations, Tara, from all your friends in Portlaw, and to everyone who helped you achieve this great honour!
Tara, however, is not the only person with a Coolfin connection to attend a royal garden party. A few months ago, Emma Verling trod the same path. The connection with Portlaw was that in the 1950s Emma’s family lived at Tom Hickey’s house, Coolfin, at the bottom of Chapel Hill. This house is now the residence of Buddy and Anne Nolan. Emma’s father, Martin, went to school in Portlaw for some time.
Emma, a scientific conservation advisor, was selected to represent her employers and the Irish community in the U.K at the party.  Presumably she had a wonderful time, and now two young Portlaw ladies have put Coolfin back on the map, as history tells us that Coolfin was the location of old Portlaw before the town developed on the other side of the Clódagh River during the cotton-mill era. It is a miracle of chance that two people with a similar connection should be chosen to attend such important functions. A little bit of history has been made in our time!

The Smith family, left to right: Husband - Dan, son - Conor, Tara (nee Kelly), son - Aaron.

-   oooOooo   -

Another Palace Invitation:

Another Palace Invitation!
This time from 1933 to the Mahon family of Strokestown House, County Roscommon,
which I visited on Sunday last, June 8th (2014).
The hour-long guided tour of the house yielded the great history of the house and surrounding area,
thanks to the expert guide - Emma
Photography (without flash only) was allowed,
so I was using widest aperture, a VR lens and highest ISO settings for most pictures, as most rooms were dark.
This invitation was framed and behind glass.
The history of the house and the many people who lived there is quite lengthy and intricate,
so I will not go into that.
It was interesting, however, to note that two members of that family
married ladies with the surname Kelly!!!
I DO have the lengthy family tree. Maybe there are Portlaw connections!!!
The bottom two lines, which may be difficult to read at this size, state:

Ladies:  Court Dress with feathers and trains.
Gentlemen:  Full Court Dress.

Note that the word 'with' was underlined for emphasis.

Further pictures of Strokestown House, Garden and National Famine Museum
will be published on my Flickr site sometime in the future.
There's a link on this site. 

(One left click on the images will show an enlarged version)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


to you out there in
looking in this morning!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Departure of Portlaw's Curate - Fr. Ned Hassett, C.C,

Some images to start.  Text later!

Baylough windmills to new Old Parish turbines,
One tannery town to another.

I’ll miss you Portlaw and your many faces
From early Christian Kilbunny monks’ ruin
Or the Dane-built banks holding back the tide
Mother Brown, Clonegam and all at Curraghmore

I’ll miss you Old Portlaw south of the river
The representative remnant of poor houses under Church
The Coolfinn Brickworks with Kilns and Sawmill
Stately Quay now idle and overgrown

Carved cargo-carrying canal
Past Island English Row
To Waterwheel-powered factory.
First flour, then cotton. Later leather.
Streets point to focal factory

Planned streets, worker housing
Two phases. Now curved roofs
Backing on to gardens
Streets point to focal factory.

During my stay since mid Sept 2006
First closed the Portlaw Bakery
Next Woodlock, residents and nuns
Gone, just like that. HIQA.

Months later Martin Hospital
Followed suit. Shock. Loss.
At least Martin re-opened
Three days a week.

I’ll miss you Portlaw
With your names and nicknames
Your colourful characters
And bolshie outspokenness.

I’ll miss your warmth and welcome
Your history and heritage.
You dare to differ. Don’t change.
Neither town nor country

An enclave. Self-sufficient of old
With your own identity
Community your cat-call
A roundabout in a square

Hold your head high
Keep what you have
Build on the spirit
Keep the faith.

Hand on the torch
Lighten the load
Go mbeirimíd beo...
Go deo na ndeor.

From St. Patrick’s Newsletter of March 16th 2014:

Joy and Sadness
A night to remember, no I am not writing about the Titanic, just a line about Fr. Ned’s farewell on Saturday last in the very nice setting of the Community Centre (well done to the hall committee on the refurbishment) before a large gathering of parishioners.
Fr. Ned’s family was present to hear and see for themselves what he meant to us. Bernie’s speech captured every aspect of his time here. There were a number of presentations made, one on behalf of the people of Portlaw, one on behalf of the people of Ballyduff. Individual and personal gifts of a painting of Fr. Ned on his bicycle at Pride in the Parish in 2011, a collection of poetry by W.B. Yeats were also presented. Fr. Ned himself on taking the microphone thanked everyone for their help during his time here. A special word of thanks to all who helped to make the night special, to Kevin for the amplification those who baked, made tea/coffee and served it with a smile. I can honestly say my sugar levels went up a notch or two. There was also a bit of poetry read so I will end my account of the night with the following:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats on high o’er vales and hills
when all at once I saw a crowd
a host of golden daffodils.
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
 - Wordsworth.  (sent in to the newsletter by Michael)

Some comments on the night heard during the last week:
We’ll miss Fr. Ned…     We’re Ned-less now……
Lovely evening…..     We’re sorry to see him go…
He’ll be very busy in Abbeyside!

. . . and from St. Patrick’s Newsletter of March 23rd 2014:

And in they came until  Portlaw Community Centre was full to capacity, everybody  anxious to do his or her bit to show appreciation of the work completed (and yet to be completed) and relationships formed and forged by Father Ned Hassett during his seven and a half years among us. 
Introductions were made by Bernie Crotty and many a laugh was heard at the anecdotes she related from the annals of the past seven and a half years.  It was also nice to hear from the man himself as he revealed his experiences of his stay here in Portlaw from the other side of the fence.
It was inspiring to observe Father Ned obviously enjoying the experience surrounded by  his own lovely family – mother Margaret, brothers  John & Michael, sister Marcella, brother in law, sister in law, nieces and nephews   Lovely food was in abundance and many a relationship was renewed and strengthened over a “cuppa”.  It was great to meet friends whom we had not seen for some time and many a reminiscence was exchanged, particularly in relation to parish socials and “get togethers” of the far distant past.
Many tributes were paid to Father Ned and presentations were made on behalf of both Portlaw and Ballyduff congregations.   We extend a sincere thank you to him and wish him success and happiness in his new role as Administrator at Abbeyside, and environs. We will miss him. Día is Muire leat!

Some comments on the night heard during the last week:
Our loss, Abbeyside’s gain.
He was great with the children, the way he used to take them up after the gospel and talk to them. Very nice.  He was very upset on Sunday after Mass

Thank you... to all who helped with the Farewell night for Fr. Ned, those who called to the homes and you who supported the collection and share your thoughts. The confectionary just turned up as it always does, amazing spirit as has been the way here in the parish, there are always people to lend a hand. The volunteers who just stepped in on the night to set up the hall, pour tea and serve up, wash up and brush up, thank you. To misquote a quote ‘you can get great help these days’ Thanks to one and all.  


 Thanks:  For all your kindness and generosity, for the depth and sincerity of your goodbye. To all who came and organised the farewell,  I say, Thanks a thousand. You will be always welcome  in Abbeyside, Ballinroad and Garranbane.
Thanks. Ned

(all text reproduced with permission)

(A few further images my be added later!)