Final countdown to Newbridge 200

The Newbridge 200 10-day festival to celebrate the town’s bicentenary kicks off in style later this week.The festival will run from Thursday September 6 to Sunday September 16 and promises something for all the family.

The Newbridge 200 10-day festival to celebrate the town’s bicentenary kicks off in style later this week.The festival will run from Thursday September 6 to Sunday September 16 and promises something for all the family.

The highlight of this weekend’s action will be a massive parade through the town, starting at 11am this Saturday.

There will be a strong military theme to the parade, reflecting foundation of the town as a military camp and its links with the Defence Forces Training Centre on the Curragh.

The Parade will start at the Curragh Racecourse car park at 11am. It will feature military displays, including Michael Collins’ Sliabh na Mban car, plus armoured tanks and soldiers mounted on horseback.

Also taking part will be a wide range of classic cars, steam vehicles, vintage tractors and bikes.

The Lions Club, Town Council, Turf Cutters, ONE Pipe Band, Town Band, the Fire Brigade and the Order of Malta are among the large number of groups taking part.

The Newbridge 200 Festival is being spearheaded by the Newbridge Chamber, with the involvement of lots of volunteers from the town.

The official bicentenary of Newbridge falls on September 10 - the date in 1812 when leases for the lands upon which the town’s barracks were built, which became the nucleus of the Newbridge we know today.

On September 10, 1812, Major General John Freeman signed leases with three Newbridge landlords for lands upon which barracks could be built to cater for cavalry regiments close to the city.

The landlords were Eyre Powell - still remembered by the street which bears his name in the town - Ponsonby Moore and Francis Hannon.

The Barracks was built on a 50-acre site over the following two years.

The town grew over the next 40 years with the addition of a primary school, constabulary barracks, post office, railway and the telegraph, and the township of Newbridge was officially constituted in 1854.

The barracks closed in 1922, which initially spelt poverty for the town, before it became a hub of industry with the founding of factories including Irish Ropes and Newbridge Silverware.

Details of the festival have been distributed to every home in the town and many in the surrounding area.

Tickets for many events can be booked at the festival office at Whitewater Shopping Centre, and further information on the festival is available at www.newbridge200.com.

Apart from the parade, other highlights of the event include:

* Two free open air concerts at Whitewater on Friday 7 and Friday 14, from 4pm to 9pm, featuring various local and professional acts.

* A food market in Newbridge College on Saturday, September 8, from 12pm to 3pm.

* The festival ball in Hotel Keadeen, in association with the Rotary Club, on Saturday, September 8. Tickets E75.

* The Moyglare Stud Stakes Family Race Day at the Curragh on Sunday, September 9.

* Historical walking tours, lectures and photo exhibitions in association with Newbridge Local History Group, which will run throught the week.

* A Feile on the River on Saturday, September 15, from 12 midday to 9pm.

* The Anuna Concert in St Conleth’s Church on Saturday, September 15, starting at 8pm, in association with Pfizer. Tickets are E15.

* An exhibition GAA match at 2pm at St Conleth’s GAA Grounds on Sunday, September 16. (Tickets E5, U16 free). This will be followed by the free inale concert (sponsored by Proctor and Gamble) in the GAA car park, starting at 4pm, which will feature Athy’s own Jack L, with a massive foreworks display, sponsored by Bord na Mona, at 8.30pm to end the festival.

- Laura Coates