The late Charlie Choiseul
Where the words ‘Golden Wonder’ are said, thoughts will usually turn to the most perfect potato in existence.
In the Naas area, however, we immediately think of Charlie Choiseul, respected elder of the Kildare farming community, spud producer non-pareil, and one of life’s true gentlemen.
Born in Co Offaly in 1926, the youngest of three boys, Charlie spent all of his long life in the Two Mile House area of Co Kildare.
It was here, growing up on the family farm at Mylerstown, that he developed the passion for living things, plant and animal, which was to decide his future career.
He was educated by the ‘Brothers’ in Naas (located then in the building which now houses the Moat Theatre); played GAA for Two Mile House and was a sometime rugby player.
His great friend Sean Fitzsimons once recounted that Charlie was instantly recognisable on the rugby field by being the only player sporting a beret — and possibly a cigarette.
An innate farmer, he attended Warrenstown Agricultural College in the early 1940s, where he further honed his craft.
In 1951, following a competitive selection process, Charlie was afforded the opportunity, under the Marshall Plan, to spend a period in America studying progressive farming practices.
He sailed into New York harbour aboard The Britannic, where he spent three days exploring the city before moving on to live and work on a number of host farms in rural America.
He milked cows in Minnesota, fed hogs in Ohio and tilled the fields of West Virginia; but when asked to name his favourite part of the experience, he would always reply “New York City!”
After establishing his own farm at Walterstown in Two Mile House, Charlie went on to meet a young Dublin woman at a Co Wicklow dance.
Bernadette Doyle from Drumcondra, smitten by a combination of dark good looks and charm, forsook the city, married him and went on to spend the rest of her life in Two Mile House where, together, they raised their seven children.
Bernie often joked that, as the family unit extended, Charlie suspiciously found more work needing to be done outdoors.
Sadly, in 2002, much colour drained from Charlie’s life with the passing of his beloved Bernie.
But, his love of life, people and farming, not to mention a large and ever-extending family, in which he took great joy, sustained him and helped fill the void.
Charlie, left, pictured with his brothers Jimmy and Willie, with Bonzo the dog, in Mylerstown in 1940
A keen gardener, a lover of poetry and cats, a natural farmer who would not stand to see an animal suffer when he could intervene with a home rememdy, if not a call to the local vet, Michael Roe.
A hopeful harmonica player, who warned that his rendition of Boolavogue could “cause hairs to stand on your head, turn grey and fall out”.
Aged 91, having lamented the passing of family and many friends, Charlie too crossed the river and our lives are truly less rich for his passing.
Charles Choiseul, March 1, 1926 — December 3, 2017, RIP.
— by Paul Choiseul