THE parish hall beside the Church of Our Lady’s Nativity was packed on Saturday, 14 April, for 50th birthday celebration of one of Leixlip’s oldest organisations.
Many of the founding members of Leixlip Tidy Town Association have now passed on but two of them were present on the Saturday along with other members of the community.
Desmond Guinness and church sacristan, Paddy Kennedy, who happens to be father in law of former rugby international, Trevor Brennan, were present.
Long time member, Conor O’Brien, outlined how the association was formed when a notice appeared in a shop window in the town early in 1963.
It was for a public meeting to be held in Doran’s Hall on Thursday, 28 March that year.
The minute book record that the following were at the first meeting of LTTA: Roughan Banim, Desmond Guinness, Gerald Burke (Salmon Leap Inn and Tara Co-Op), John Rowley, Thomas Shackleton, Louis Eiffe, Michael Keating, Frank McGivern, Michael Casey, Joseph Dowdall, Dominic Hickey, Niall McNeill, James Farrell, Paddy Kennedy, George Hynes and Tom Hannigan.
Most were from Main Street and Mr. O’Brien noted that early work parties “aroused some curiosity and a little criticism.”
That year, Leixlip won the new entrant award in the Tidy Town competition and chairman, Roughan Banim, from Main Street, travelled to Rathvilly to collect the award.
In 1968, the LTTA successfully fought against a Kildare County Council plan to located a dump at the Spa and aqueduct area, with the aid of Col. Niall McNeill, its secretary and a a retired Director of the Ordnance Survey.
His hobby was entomology, including a study on the dragon fly, and took to his pen. The Council found a site in Clane instead and a Council official was heard to say that they had “an ideal spot in Leixlip but some old chap discovered a rare dragon fly in it.”
Following the history, Carmel Lennon described the work the TTA currently, including plenty which could possibly be done by the local authority if it had the funds.
This year, she said, work plans include clearing an area close to the scout den and work at the Silleachain stream in conjunction with Kildare County Council.
The meeting also heard appeals for new members and help in any form, however small.
It was also noted that in the past it held a door to door collection in the town but this was postponed due to the recession and the TTA is using a church gate collection instead.
Desmond Guinness told the meeting, among other things, that the saving of and work at the Spa was “an extraordinary achievement.”
The owner of Leixlip Castle said he did not recall too much about the initial meeting and early days of the TTA in 1963 but he wished it well.
Leixlip Town Council chairperson, Joe Neville, praised the vision of the 16 members who came together 50 years. “Leixlip has changed but the spirit of the people of Leixlip lives on,” he said. “People who came from all over Ireland to live in Leixlip did all this to build up their community.”
For more photos, see this week’s Leinster Leader, out now