Historical Project of Castlecomer

The launch of the Castlecomer Historical project was held on Thursday 28th November 2019 in the apt setting of the Avalon House Hotel, itself a building steeped in history, constructed in the late 17th Century by the Garroway Family and later the offices of the Estate and Collieries companies.

Maura Downey

Mags Morrissey (Kilkenny Leader Partnership) introduced the evening and gave the background to the projects.  She spoke about increasing the sense of pride in a community and giving it a sense of its self.

‘To develop  a sense of place we first need to know what we have and where we’ve come from, from our history, our landscape, our community, our skills, our craft. With this knowledge comes a belief in ourselves and an appreciation of our place’

With this in mind, three projects were developed; historical information boards, heritage plaques and historical souvenir packs Information boards were a collaboration between six historians and enthusiasts Errol Delaney, Maire Downey, Seamus Walsh, Christy Ryan, Margaret O’Neill and Margaret McGrath. The boards were beautifully designed and illustrated by Vitamin Creative and describe events, buildings and the characters that have shaped the town. They were installed in four locations in the town and have been very well received by the community and visitors.

The plaques are produced in etched zinc show a sketch (by artist Graham Carew) and some information about the relevant building.  Placing a plaque on a building doesn’t just inform the passer-by of the history of the building, it tells that this building and its heritage is valued and cared for.

The historical Souvenir packs published locally by Pack Publishing are a lovely gift to send to friends and family abroad or take home as a souvenir. Each contains nuggets of information, post cards and a map, all beautifully designed.  Available to buy at a number of local outlets.

Maire Downey local historian spoke beautifully about the 1798 rebellion in Castlecomer and how the Fassadinin Historical Society have commemorated the event with the 1798 monument. The centre stone of the monument is inscribed with the poem Requiem for the Croppies by Seamus Heaney (by kind permission).  Maire read this beautiful and poignant poem and received a well justified round of applause.

On behalf of the community she thanked Kilkenny Leader Partnership for their involvement and support of the projects.  She gave Mags Morrissey, Community Development Officer a special mention and thanked her for the energy she has brought to the projects.

Seamus Walsh (former miner and author of a number of books and poems) gave a powerful recount of the 100s of years of mining in Castlecomer. He finished off with one of his poems and got a well deserved applause of appreciation

Errol Delaney spoke passionately about a painting that has been donated to the community by the Wandesforde family.  It depicts a scene from the 1700s and it most likely the only record of the town before it was burned during the 1798 rebellion.  He also spoke about the importance of the project and its value to local people.  Declan Rice, CEO Kilkenny Leader Partnership concluded the speeches with a very uplifting comment on community projects and Leader’s support for Castlecomer now and into the future.  The launch was a lovely recognition of the immense history of Castlecomer and a testament to the value the community places on its history.

The project was funded by the Town and Village Renewal Scheme operated by Kilkenny Leader Partnership and the Local Enterprise Office

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