I never really thought about localities as having personalties until a news report last week listed Yorkshire has having the most identifiable in England. How do some of the towns and villages in Kildare measure up? This week’s column casts an irreverent look at the personality of place.
To say this village always felt 'Dublin Light' will no doubt elicit an angry response from the bowels of The Old House. Here, some of Kildare football’s most significant victories have struck the beer garden with bolts of white lightening.
Kill always felt like it had a fierce yet understated pride that spilled over so memorably when local hero Papillon won the Grand National in 2000.
If Clane were a drinker, it would be that auld fella in the corner with the afternoon pint and the paper. The place always felt unhurried and chilled out, which makes perfect sense, of course with the king of cool, Ronnie Wood living just down the road.
Allen always felt like a secret state governed by its own set of rules and a ruling elite of football chiefs.
You knew in your bones that a journey into the boglands to Dag Weld’s nightclub had the potential to be enormous fun, but there was also that nagging concern somewhere deep in your subconscious that you might never come back.
If Kilcullen had to nominate an embassy, I’d lay a bet it would be the site of The Hideout pub.
They’d gladly take that gamble off you too, just make sure to put a price on the docket because Kilcullen always felt like it was plotting some stroke, in the aforementioned and aptly named Hideout most probably.
A nice to place to shop, once upon a time, and it is a billing that helped elevate Naas’s sense of its own importance. The county town often finds the humility to get down off itself after a dethroning by a neighbouring footballing minnow.
Precious by nature, defeat at the hands of Sallins always has the potential to cut the deepest.
Utterly unaffected but with an edgy side would rival the famed Kronk Boxing Gym in Detroit.
Athy could — and without hesitation would — sock it to you if you deserved it. But it always felt like a cavalier place with a cultural depth that pumped out from the Main Square, and not just after dark either.
Down at the southern tip on the Carlow border, with separatist undertones and Republic of Cork like thinking. Still, they’d always too few Mexicans to make a good fight.
It is inevitable that a village with a ‘killing line’ would end up with a spiky side, and the Meat Factory in Sallins has done plenty to help shape the local ID.
Casual and quick witted,nothing could sharpen the blade of Sallins’ focus like the chance of giving Naas a good trimming. Even today.
Serene and at the same time savage, Ballymore Eustace has always felt like a place of great contradiction.
And in the best tradition of mountainous regions on the edge of civilised society, it’s autonomous and unregulated.
The spiritual heart of the ounty, much as it pains me to admit, with it being Naas’ version of North Korea.
On the South Korean side of the demilitarised zone we always knew Newbridge as a one-sided town with two sides to its personality… Moorefield and Sarsfields.
You might say the identity and personality of the place has been shaped by two very important and culturally relevant landmarks — The Tower and Snaffles’ nightclub. It really is a testimony to the town’s visionaries that they were able to build two separate and very important Meccas hundreds of years apart.
But judging by the few foundation-shaking Saturday nights I visted, Snaffles was never built to last.
Two Mile House
It’s a bit like the Hamptons now — New York’s flithy rich weekend getaway punctuated by plush stand-alone estates. Only, unlike New York, the new money influx here never went back home when the weekend was over. A place still struggling to come to terms with the growing bulge in its wallet.
Sometimes the personality of a place is best identified by a person and Robertstown will always be Frank Dowling for me, a man who I worked with in Eircom many years ago. Unflappable and unaffected, nothing could stir the still waters of this sedate canal waterside — and Frank — like a sporting slight, though in truth a Monday session is probably a better example.
Uncompromising but at the same time unsure exactly who it has the bigger beef with — neighbouring Laois or just the rest of Kildare. Ferociously proud and, unlike Kill, lightning quick to celebrate that which sets it apart, Mooney’s pub anyone?
The battle between the way of the Lord, and ‘Lord above, not Rag week again.’ The collision of crusty students and scholars of God in priest school has always shaped the personality of Maynooth. Such a demonstration of tolerance marked it out as an utterly progressive place in a land long before referenda.
This part of the county still feels like Kildare’s version of the Crimea, and just like the Ukraine who have lost the battle for this territory with Russia, there’s a shrug-like acceptance that this part of the county has always been a bit 'other' from the rest, even if the geography states otherwise.
Defined by it's bogland location, this is the last frontier before you reach the Offaly border. In fact it has it's own 'Offaly bypass' which the Faithful county's supporters utilise if they have suffered a loss. However, victorious days merit a drive by celebration down the main street.
Robert Mulhern is a London based journalist contracted to RTE's The Documentary on One. To contact our columnist, email email@example.com