Naas Local History Group remember first Kildare County Council in 1899


Paul O'Meara


Paul O'Meara


Naas Local History Group remember first Kildare County Council in 1899

Rose McCabe (NLHG), Mayor Sean Power, Liam Kenny (guest speaker) and Ger McCarthy (NLHG)

Naas, the county town, enjoys a long history of being the seat of local government in County Kildare.

And so it was appropriate that the Naas Local History Group would host an evening to recall that the people of the county went to the polls to elect the first Kildare County Council in April 1899.

Liam Kenny gave a talk recalling the excitement across the county, as voting rights were extended to all heads of household for the first time, including women.

“The newly enfranchised electors gathered at public meetings to hear the candidates make their pitches. Sometimes the meetings became very heated indeed. In Monasterevin there was a clash between two candidates — a Mr Dowling and a Mr Cassidy who owned the big distillery in the town,” he said.

A newspaper reporter described the melee as being "the first genuine Irish row to be seen in Monasterevin in many years.

The talk was introduced by Cllr Sean Power, who himself is making local government history being one half of a unique father and son current membership of Kildare County Council — with his son Rob being an elected member for the Naas area. Also among the attendance were current Kildare County Council member Cllr Anne Breen and former member Paddy Behan.

Both were also members of the Naas Town Council which was abolished in 2014 and replaced by an enlarged county council made up of municipal districts.

These now take responsibility for large towns like Naas and surrounding areas, including Sallins, Kill and Johnstown.

Pressure is mounting for town councils to be restored, after an absence of five years, to enhance local democracy.

Labour party leader Brendan Howlin has called on people in towns across Ireland to support the restoration of town councils as an issue in the upcoming local elections.