Council Report for 2010
Honorary Secretary’s Report on behalf of the Council, presented at the Annual General Meeting, 20th November, 2010.
This year saw the beginning of the terms of office of a new President, Mr Con Manning, and a new Vice-President, Mr Hugh Crawford. The year has been a busy one for both of them and for the Society.
Membership figures remained strong with a total of 310 members, made up of 158 ordinary members, 43 joint members, 4 student members, 70 life members, 7 joint life members and 3 honorary life members. There are also 14 subscribing libraries and 11 copyright libraries. Subscription rates are as follows: Single Membership €20, Joint Membership €30, Student membership €10, Life membership (single) €132 after 15 years membership and Life Membership (Joint) €220 after 15 years membership.
The Society was very sorry this year to lose a long-time Council member, Mr Jens Preisler, who died in September at the age of 98. Jens and his wife Mai had been very active members for several years and our condolences and best wishes go to Mai who is not very well at present.
The 2010 Programme of events began in March at the Kilcullen Heritage Centre when Con Manning stepped in at the last moment to replace our scheduled speaker, Mr Noel Dunne. Mr Dunne was to give a talk on archaeological discoveries on the M9 Kilcullen to Carlow motorway but unfortunately, due to an accident, he was unable to do so. Mr Manning spoke instead about a collection of 19th century watercolours of Irish Round Towers. The talk was much enjoyed by all and Con’s article on the topic appeared later in the year in the Irish Arts Review. Mr Dunne has kindly agreed to talk to the Society in March 2011.
In April the Society made a second visit to the Church of Ireland graveyard in Rathangan where, by courtesy of the Rector, Rev. Lynda Peilow, a determined group worked in less than ideal conditions to continue the recording of the gravestones there. Our thanks to Council Member, Mario Corrigan and to Co Heritage Officer, Ms Bridget Loughlin for organising this event for us.
We visited the Glen of Imaal on a beautiful day in May where our President, Con Manning and Vice-President, Hugh Crawford showed us the Kilruddery Stone Circle, the site of Leitrim Barracks, the Redwood tree and the Knickeen Ogham Stone. We are grateful to Mr Pat O’Sullivan, formerly of Coillte, who told us about the redwood and other trees in the area.
There was huge interest in our trip to Carton House in June and, unfortunately, some members had to be disappointed because of a limit to the number of people who could be accommodated. We were pleased that Mr David Griffin of the Irish Architectural Archive agreed to guide our group.
The annual excursion this year was to Co Wexford. Mr and Mrs Peter Pearson made us very welcome at their home, “The Deeps”. We enjoyed our picnic in their lovely garden and this was followed by a tour of the house. A visit to Ferns Cathedral and Castle followed, organised by Con Manning. Supper was at Ballykealy Manor hotel at Ballon. This year many more members opted to travel by coach and expressed themselves happy with the arrangement.
Our Heritage Week event was at Kildare Cathedral on August 29th, courtesy of the Dean, the Very Rev Dr John Marsden and the Cathedral Select Vestry. Ms Heather King, Archaeologist, who had worked on the monuments, was our guide. This was followed by a recital by Mr Peter Maxwell-Brown on the Cathedral’s newly renovated organ.
In September we visited Howth and enjoyed a tour of the area guided by Con Manning.
Our second lecture of the year was in October and was held at Naas Community Centre. The topic was an “Historical survey of the King’s River Valley” and the lecture was delivered by Seamas O’Maitiu, Council Member.
Our final event will take place today following the Annual General Meeting when Mr Patrick Guinness, Council Member, will present his illustrated lecture “Irish History revealed by Genetics.”
A major concern for the Council this year has been the continuing damage being done to the Curragh Plain. The seriousness of the situation had been highlighted at the 2009 AGM when Mr Adrian Mullowney, Member, put forward a motion expressing concern at the decision of the Minister for Defence not to proceed with the establishment of a Curragh Authority as recommended by the Inter-Departmental Task Force, 1999. The motion urged the Minister to “take effective action to address the causes of damage to the Curragh, without further delay.”
Following representations from the Society a meeting took place on May 5th with the Minister for Defence, Mr Tony Killeen and his officials. The Society was represented by Hugh Crawford, Eamon Kane, Maj Gen Paddy Nowlan and Mary Glennon. Mr Crawford presented the Society’s concerns and put forward a proposal for the establishment of an enhanced management structure to be run by the Department of Defence. If this structure were put in place the situation on the Curragh could be vastly improved. The Minister thanked the Society for its presentation and undertook to have some issues clarified and to respond to the Society on these. In June a follow-up letter was sent to the Minister inviting him to walk on the Curragh and view the areas that have been damaged. A reply was received dated 28th July. This reply was unsatisfactory from the Society’s point of view as it did not accept the need for the suggested enhanced management structure and said that the current system of management which had been in place for two decades was working satisfactorily. The Society is continuing its efforts to improve the present situation on the Curragh Plain.
In June, a letter was written to Mr John Gormley requesting that the Curragh of Kildare should be designated a Special Area of Conservation. Also in June the Society addressed a submission to Kildare County Council on its Draft County Development Plan 2011-2017. The Society asked that the importance of the Curragh be given greater recognition in the Development Plan. It also asked that consideration be given to designating the Curragh as an SAC or Special Area of Conservation.
Two Council subcommittees began work during the year. The first was an Accounts subcommittee, set up to look at the accounts and to ensure that the Society’s funds are invested in a way that brings the best return. Chaired by Hugh Crawford, the sub-committee’s other members are Catherine Boylan, Siobhan McNulty and Elizabeth Connelly. Advice will also be sought from the Honorary Auditor, Ms Nicola Gregory.
The formation of a second subcommittee was prompted by the suggestion that something be done to mark the Society’s 120th anniversary in 2011. It was agreed that funding might be offered for a suitable project. The subcommittee formed to consider the matter consists of Con Manning (Chair), Glascott Symes and Eamon Kane. Professor Raymond Gillespie, Honorary Editor, would also be consulted.
There was good news during the year when it was announced that the Historic Monuments Committee had been re-formed and that Council members Eamon Kane and Mario Corrigan had been reappointed.
Mr Eamon Kane has been involved during the year in discussions on the best location for the Kildare Rent Table. Kildare County Council has been given ownership of the table and a final decision on the best home for it will be made in the New Year.
The Society expressed its concern to the County Heritage Officer early in the year on the condition of the graveyard and souterrains at Killashee. The site, including the graveyard and area around the souterrains, has been entered in the Register of Historic Monuments.
The Society’s website continues to attract many users. Plans are underway to re-develop our web pages and we are very grateful to Kildare Web Services for their assistance in this.
There has been considerable interest in the DVD of the Society’s journals. Copies are now available from the Barker & Jones bookshop in Naas. The bookshop has also taken a number of copies of the current issue of the journal and they are selling well.
The Lord Walter FitzGerald Prize for Research will be awarded again in 2011. The closing date for entries was September 30th this year and Professor Gillespie and Mr Kane have reported that the response has been very encouraging again this year.
It is encouraging also that a significant number of papers has been received by the Honorary Editor for inclusion in the next issue of the journal.
The Society would like to express its gratitude to KELT and to Kildare County Council for its support.
Finally, as this is my last meeting as Honorary Secretary, I would like to thank everyone for their support over the last 9 years. I have enjoyed it hugely and I look forward to being an active member of the Society and in supporting it in whatever way I can.
20th November 2010