NATIONAL HISTORY FEDERATIONS VISIT TO NAAS: 3 JULY 2010
by Larry Breen, FLHS
Historians from the Federation of Local History Societies in the South and the Federation for Ulster Local Studies in the North recently visited Naas as part of their “Urban Experience” exchange programme. The Federations who represent local history societies from all over the island of Ireland engage annually in this joint activity to interact with each other, share experiences and develop friendships.
The day started when over seventy visitors were given a civic reception by the newly elected Mayor of Naas, Cllr. Seamie Moore in the beautiful setting of the old town hall chamber. Larry Breen, Chairman of the Federation of Local History Societies and the organiser of the visit introduced the Mayor, Cllr. Moore to the visitors. In welcoming the group the Mayor said, “this type of cross border activity is to be welcomed and it is very important in helping promote a mutual respect and understanding between all the traditions on the island.” He said it was a pleasure to welcome the visitors to his home town of Naas and he wished them well for the rest of their day.
The afternoon saw the group leave for what turned out to be a memorable visit to Palmerstown House, the ancestral home of Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th. Earl of Mayo and known locally as the “Pickled Earl”. This latter title arose because after his assassination in India, he was apparently returned home for burial in Johnstown in a barrel of rum. Now owned by businessman Jim Mansfield the house presented a unique opportunity to go back into the now bygone days of the Big House and all its splendour. Beautifully restored and maintained it proved an overwhelming experience for the local historians who found it difficult to leave the place. Hostess for Palmerstowm House, Rita Keogh, welcomed everyone and gave a contemporary history of the house and how it had been restored to its former glory. Local historian and Chairman of the Kill Historical Society, Brian McCabe, gave a most interesting and riveting account on the history of the house, the family and many stories associated with the Bourke family as landlords of the local community.