History group honour for Naas cobbler

LOCAL cobbler and Naas shoemaker, Bill Glennon declared: “I am really chuffed about getting this award” when he was presented with the Naas Local History Group’s annual Heritage Cup and illuminated Scroll recently.

LOCAL cobbler and Naas shoemaker, Bill Glennon declared: “I am really chuffed about getting this award” when he was presented with the Naas Local History Group’s annual Heritage Cup and illuminated Scroll recently.

The award was made in recognition of his long contribution to the craft heritage of Naas. Bill is the third generation of his family to carry on the cobbler-shoemaker craft and the last of many crafts to have flourished in the New Row area of the town over the past two centuries.

Making the presentation at the AGM, Chairperson Ger McCarthy recalled all the crafts people in the area. Ger grew up across the street from Glennons in New Row and still gets his shoes repaired there.

“When I call into Bill to get a pair of shoes soled or healed, Bill keeps talking and working away with the tools of his craft: the Last, cobblers hammer, leather knife, awl, pliers, pincers, rasp and all the other tools of his craft.”

Ger, on behalf of the group, wished him many more years to use them.

In his presentation citation Paddy Behan history group PRO recalled that Glennon’s bootmakers go back over a hundred and fifty years and is one of the oldest surviving businesses in Naas. Bill’s grandfather William started the business, handed it on to Bill’s father, named William also, and then he in turn passed it on to Bill who has carried on the business for almost fifty years.

Bil, in a short film made a few years ago (by Sallins based photographer Daniel Balteanu, which was shown on the night,) recalls his life and memories of the trade, the journey men who were part and parcel of the scene and who were employed on a temporary basis.

They were continually on the move and would often leave in the middle of making a new pair of shoes. Business picked up during of the Celtic Tiger years and continues to hold its own in the aftermath. But Bill is sad at the fact that the art of the cobbler is unlikely to survive as there is no one left to carry it on. Bill’s other great interest is horseracing and everyone is familiar with the “back in five minutes” note on the door as he nips around to the bookies. The group wish Bill and his family many years of good health and prosperity.