Mohammad Ali and the O’Loughlin family

We were all saddened by Mohammad Ali’s death. everyone had their own special memories of him – my sister however relates how personal the memory was to our family:

Ali's Autograph

On the road back from Wexford August 1972, Dad and Mam, 6 kids and 2 dogs and luggage from 6 weeks summer holidays. Everything including kitchen sink in a blue Opel estate car. This journey took at least 4 hours in those days as you had to go through every town on the way back to Dublin and had to make numerous stops because occupants got travel sick. John sitting on my mothers knee in passenger seat of car and no seat belts in those days. Probably not needed as maybe only going 20 miles an hour. Anyway Driving along road from Enniskerry near hotel where Breda got married some years later we spotted a figure out jogging with 3 or 4 guys in black suits. Dad said that’s Mohammad Ali. So he stopped the car and found an piece of cardboard in the car and a pen … Needle in a haystack stuff…. And got one of the lads , Ger or Jim , to run over to get his autograph. Dad was an ardent fan and stay up the whole night to watch Ali’s fights live … because of time difference. Probably on a black and white telly and trying to balance an aerial somewhere to get some kind of reception from BBC. Dad was so thrilled to get this autograph. So Mam gave it to me a good few years ago and it’s been in my safe keeping ever since. What a momento to have of this great guy. Both in and out of the ring . So that’s my story …. Good memories of great times


Attachments area

Kilcock – a lay of

My parents were from Wicklow and Wexford so all our travels to visit relatives were down in that direction. That is where we went on holidays too.


We knew little about the road to the west

West was wherevour next door neighbours hailed frome, Sligo to be exact – they often asked my mother (famed for her recitations) to say “The Lake Isle of Inisfree”;

West was where my grandmother went on an annual pilgrimage – Knock sometimes taking me her eldest grandchild with her;

West was the road through Kilock which featured in the story of my mother’s return from Australia and her conscription in the Presentation Convent Wexford to recite “The Lay of Kilcock” at the Feis Maitiú. The poem remained hidden in her repertoire until I became a teacher in Kilcock and was then introduced to the poem. The same poem was also in the repertoire of one of my teaching colleagues and how wonderful when she recited it for me after supper in Shalom on my last week as Príomhoide.



Pat Dunn

Was admittedly one

Who came from a very old stock,

From where In the County Kildare,

Stands the famous old town of Kilcock.

A place

So devoid of all grace,

And wholly addicted to evil,

It was said

Of the living and dead,

All save he had gone straight to the Devil.

But he

Never went on the spree,

And in virtue stood firm as a rock,


He preserved a pure tone

In that wicked town of Kilcock.

At last

To eternity passed

From the troubles and sorrows of life

Poor Pat,

Who left, just think of that,

Twelve children and only one wife!

Well, well,

They tolled out his death.knell,

And things went on the same as before,

While he,

With all speed that might be,

Presented himself at Heaven’s door.

A knock

Brought a turn of the lock,

And the Prince of Apostles came out;

“Pray who,”

Said Saint Peter, ” are you

And what business have you come about?”

“In troth,”

For Saint Peter looked wroth,

Said poor Pat, like a prisoner in dock

“My name Is Pat Dunn from the town of Kilcock.”


Said the saint, takin’ stock,

And he shook his head, doubting the story.

Poor Dunn

Too soon thought he had won

His reward in the kingdom of glory.


Said the sturdy old rock,

“There’s a town of that name in no nation.”

Says Pat,

“Sir, be aisy in that,

‘Tis a Midland Great Western station.”

” I’11 look,”

Said the saint. ” in my hook.”

And he turned back the key in the lock;

But there,

In the County Kildare,

Sure enough he discovered Kilcock.

“I see

You’ve the better 0f me,

Tho’ I thought you were trying to mock;

Come in,”

Said the saint with a grin,

“You’re the first that ~ come here from Kilcock.”

Remembering friends

Sorting and throwing out – amazing the pieces of literature that one finds. Here is the article that appeared on the Kandle site on the death of Fr PJ:


Born      10 March 1946

Ordained: 20 June 1971

His home place was Tinryland, Co. Carlow.


St. Mary’s College, Knockbeg, Carlow (1959-1964)

St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (1964-1971)

Appointments with Dates: 

Diocesan Appointment Primary School Catechetics 1971-1972
CC Rathvilly 1972-1973
Watford Herts Emigrants Chaplain 1973-1977
Secretary Bishop’s Commission for Emigrants 1977-1986
CC Portlaoise 1986-1993
CC Portarlington 1993-1999
PP Kilcock and Newtown 1999-2016

Rev. Fr. Patrick Joseph (P.J.) Byrne

Funeral Details

Funeral arrangements for Fr PJ Byrne are as follows:
Removal to St Coca’s Church, Kilcock Thursday evening at 7pm where he will repose allowing parishioners to pay their respects. Night prayer at 10pm. Funeral Mass at 12 noon. Burial in Tinryland. May he rest in peace


The powerful Latin phrase “Duc in altum”, coming from the fourth verse of Luke’s gospel, translates as the instruction to “put out into the deep[1]. It was the instruction Simon Peter was given by Jesus to pull out from the safety of the shallow waters into the depths of the sea. It was, and remains a call to authentic discipleship. Luke’s gospel ends with Simon and his colleagues leaving behind their boats and following Jesus.

It was the call that P.J. answered when he left Knockbeg in 1964 and entered the seminary at Maynooth. It was the call that saw P.J. in a priesthood that spanned 45 years, ministering for a brief year in Primary Catechetics, as curate in Rathvilly before taking up a post in emigrant chaplaincy, and later becoming secretary for nine years, of the Episcopal Commission for Emigrants. After that appointment he was curate in Portlaoise for eight years and Portarlington for six years, before coming here as Parish Priest of Kilcock and Newtown, succeeding the much revered Fr. McWey.

Luke’s gospel was the last scripture passage he read at his 10.30am Mass last Sunday morning in Newtown. He was a priest who didn’t do; he would have started preparing his homily a full week before delivery. Short periods of reflection and prayer were followed by being out and about living that gospel among the people. He talked to me about his homiletic method on one of my visits to him. Even on Sunday night last, when I called into a stunned parochial house, next Sunday’s text was already underlined – the work had begun. But for P.J. his parting words in the Church of the Nativity of Our Lady in Newtown were: “Kildare & Offaly; Ireland & Wales – Do not be afraid!” His focus was on the tenth verse of Luke’s text.

The Book of Wisdom reassures us “the souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God … their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us annihilation, but they are in peace[2]. It’s a huge comfort for family and friends in the aftermath of the suddenness of death. And it’s amazing that when someone we know and respect and love dies, we all feel we were close to them. P.J. had that capacity to stay in contact through the sending of snippets and articles. He kept ‘An Post’ going; he made you feel special. I don’t know where he got the time to do all the reading he did – The Furrow, The Tablet, The Pastoral Review, Ireland’s Own, The Daily Papers, the Kildare Nationalist, the Leinster Leader and of course The Carlow Nationalist to keep tabs on Tinryland! His distinctive handwriting was on the envelope. In an age of twitter, Instagram and Snapchat – P.J. was a straightforward plain envelope man! I’m not sure he even liked texting, but he never had any problem talking!

The letter to the Romans included the instruction for those who work in service of the Lord “work not halfheartedly but with conscientiousness and an eager spirit[3]. P.J.’s contribution to the Irish diaspora is a legacy for which many beyond these shores will be eternally grateful. Patricia Kennedy in her recent publication, entitled ‘Welcoming the Stranger’, celebrating Irish Migrant Welfare in Britain since 1957, speaks glowingly of Fr. P.J.’s contribution alongside Bishop Eamonn Casey in helping formulate a Christian response to the Northern Ireland problem. It was the time of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four – it was not an easy time to be Irish in England. P.J. helped Fr. Bobby Gilmore establish the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, the ICPO. A friendship with former President Mary McAleese developed through this work, was a friendship that never waned. His earlier work in the emigrant chaplaincy in Westminster Diocese prepared him for his later sterling work on the emigrant commission.

Be joyful in hope, persevere in hardship … look for opportunities to be hospitable[4]. It’s as if this abridged verse from the letter to the Romans was written with Fr. P.J. Byrne in mind. Articles that caught his eye might include ones around keeping a balance in ministry, having a sense of self and nourishing a deep appreciation of the spiritual. Balance was important in P.J.’s life. He treasured his little breaks; he had a passion around the GAA and he loved to entertain. Sometimes he managed to strategically combine all three around All-Ireland Final dates! Even the appointment of the new school boards of management to Scoil Chóca Naofa, St. Josephs and Scoil Uí Riada necessitated an evening meal, such was his time for the local schools – primary and secondary. Returning to the GAA; he once togged out for Carlow and let everyone know it; it was against the wee county Louth. The result escapes me, but fair to say, that when driving with I think it was, Jimmy Doyle, one day through County Cork, he pleaded with Jimmy to stop the car because he had to call in to see an old Cork friend. The car was stopped, P.J. bounced out and stormed into the house as he was accustomed to do, only to return to the car thirty seconds later – the wrong house!

It was here among you the people of Kilcock and Newtown that P.J. spent the last sixteen years of his life. He deeply appreciated your support for him in the parish, in the schools, in the clubs, in the committees and in the associations. P.J., like most of us, didn’t want conflict, he was a great compromiser, who saw the middle ground. He deeply appreciated the role of women in the church and in the life of the parish. He loved Confirmation Day – the Holy Spirit sometimes mightn’t even get a look in! While he was very aware of his own calling, he also had a great insight in identifying the gifts of women and men in the parish. He had a great respect for young people and they for him, as evidenced by the rapport he enjoyed up the way in Scoil Dara. While he was a Carlovian at heart, it seems very appropriate that he will later this afternoon be laid to rest in his native Tinryland. Writing about November in a 2010 edition of Intercom, Fr. P.J. wrote poignantly: “all of us face the mystery of death. Occasionally I wonder what will my own death be like. What happens to us after death?[5]

Among the clippings I received in last Monday morning’s post with P.J.’s infamous style of block print on the envelope were snippets about the Slane poet, Francis Ledwidge. The early lines of Ledwidge’s memorable elegy to the 1916 hero Thomas McDonagh seem very appropriate this day:

He shall not hear the bittern cry

In the wild sky where he is lain,

Nor voices of the sweeter birds

Above the wailing of the rain.

Nor shall he know when loud

March blows …[6]

On March 10th next P.J. would have turned 70 – there was a party planned for family then and a marquee booked for friends in June. We know that event will now be an eternal one, and no doubt P.J. will most likely sing ‘The Bog Down in the Valley-o’ – all 9 verses, with a couple of spare ones thrown in for good measure! May he rest in peace. Amen.

[1] Lk. 5:4

[2] Is. 3:1,3.

[3] Rom. 12:11

[4] Rom, 12:12,13

[5] Byrne, Fr. P.J., ‘In November We Remember – Life will never be the same again’, Intercom Magazine, November 2010.

[6] Ledwidge, Francis, ‘The Complete Poems’, Goldsmith, 1997, pg. 175.

See also Fr Dream (You Tube)

Published on Oct 8, 2012

A short promo video for the ”One Night Music Festival” in Kilcock’s parish church.
This event will take place in November 2012. Its on Friday 9th at 8pm.


Less ME more US – Thank you for the music Mr C.

Sean Creamer understood the power of choirs

(Article by Una Mullally, Irish Times, June 30, 2016)

Last weekend, a man died who had an impact on tens of thousands of Irish young people. Often, the good people in Irish education go unsung, but notes Seán Creamer summoned will be sung for decades more. In the mid-1980s, Creamer, a music inspector for the Department of Education, had the idea of starting the National Children’s Choir. Year after year, teachers nationwide organised rehearsals in their own schools before children came together from all over the country to perform large concerts under the stewardship of Creamer. He introduced countless children to choral music, instilling a love that for many became lifelong.

Choirs bring us together. They are not about the individual. In fact, you know a choir hasn’t achieved what it is meant to if the individual and not the collective is heard. “When you sing with a group of people,” Brian Eno once wrote, “you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings – to stop being ‘me’ for a little while and to become ‘us’. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.” Music in schools, underfunded, perhaps under-appreciated, is a great calming and creative influence, teaching discipline and showing the value of collaboration. In an addled world where mindfulness is a product, choirs are wonderfully meditative.

Creamer’s large-scale performances with children and teenagers in concert halls also illustrated the remarkable work music and choir teachers do in schools around the country. The repertoire would be taught and learned satellite-like at individual schools, before coming together for rehearsals with hundreds of other pupils. There, the patchwork would form into a seamless piece of cloth. Creamer was a genius conductor. His skill was pure alchemy. He set tasks that seemed on paper unachievable – getting thousands and thousands of young children to learn and perform often incredibly complex choral works. But he knew that if the music was in you, it would come out, and it would come out together. And so he would stand in the National Concert Hall, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, pulling the notes out of us and weaving them together. With the slightest movement of his hand, harmonies formed like murmurations of starlings, and he shaped them beautifully, conjuring transcendent moments for singers and audiences alike.

All of this was done without ever saying a harsh word to anyone. Despite the mammoth task of organising, rehearsing and delivering, he was always calm and upbeat, a look of concentration overtaking his face until the piece was finished, and then the curl of a smile forming on his lips. If it was especially good, those brilliant eyes would twinkle.

Speaking to the Irish Times in 1999 about the National Children’s Choir performances, Creamer said, “People say to me – you must be delighted when the whole thing is over. But I feel really lonely when it’s finished, and I miss the kids. I adore that age group and their enthusiasm, and the way in which if they really catch on to something, they’ll really go for it.” What he was looking for was beauty. What he achieved was so much more than that, instilling a love and deep understanding of music for countless people across several generations.

Creamer had a wonderful, magnetic personality, but he never sought acclaim or praise. While applause is exhilarating for performers, I often thought it made him bashful. The achievement was in the process. What he wanted was in the moment, a fleeting one-off beauty. At a funeral of a friend’s mother recently in Trim, the church choir of which she was a member soared throughout the service, a vacant space left in the balcony for where she once sit. Anyone who ever encountered Creamer knows now there is a part missing from all the harmonies we hear. His family has lost him, and his wife Doirín, who died less than a fortnight before him. As terrible as those losses are, they must know that his impact is immeasurable and his smile forever memorable.


You’re Only Old Once!

 Dr. Seuss is known for his peerless work in books for children. Since my first teaching days, I’ve read Seuss with children of all ages and abilities, enjoying the rhymes, the mythical creatures and the signature “Seuss” illustrations.
But  now I’ve treated myself to a Seuss with a difference, a comical look at what it’s like to get older, an ideal read for an avid Seuss fans of advancing years, or as Seuss himself says “a book for obsolete children.”

It’s a classic picture book ode on a visit to “the Golden Years Clinic on Century Square for Spleen Readjustment and Muffler Repair.” It laughs with familiar horror at the poking and prodding and testing and ogling that go hand in hand with the dreaded appellation of “senior citizen.”

I’ll still keep my Dr Seuss Classic Treasury with “The Cat in the Hat”, “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back”, “Green Eggs and Ham”, “Fox in Socks” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” because inside I’m still young at heart!

Charlotte Sehmisch Felting Feedback

Because I was a working person – I missed doing Charlotte Sehmisch’s 3 day masterclass on her architecturally based felting techniques. So I joined the group for coffee and feedback in Phoenix Park this Sunday morning.

Charlotte Sehmisch is an award winning and internationally acclaimed felt artist and textile designer from Weimar, the home of Bauhaus, in Germany.

She has exhibited her work worldwide, in Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Austria, USA and Australia, and is regularly invited to run workshops and masterclasses across Europe and the USA.

Student technique samples

Her masterclass in Kilruddery sounded very exciting BUT very difficult …..we examined some samples done by participants and although closely linked to Maths and I THOUGHT maths was one of my strong point …. I was soon addled. Might make more sense of it at Play date that will be organised where we can do “HANDS ON”. The following are some images from Google that I particularly like – isn’t the sheep one amazing!!!!!

We also looked at some amazing photos of 3D work done on the Hungarian trip – little and BIG houses – lovely reports about the friendliness and sharing of the Hungarian participants.


Particularly liked the little motifs that they make to hang above their doors and in their houses … kinda good fortune items … liked the sample shown this morning that included leaves and lavender felted behind gauze.


Fagus sylvatica f purpurea for you from me



I’ve received such beautiful pressies and wondered how to return a sign of what you all mean to me. So  here it is arriving in the yard and being planted.

It’s a purple beech (Fagus sylvatica f purpurea). Hopefully it will stand in the playground of Scoil Choca representing strong friendships when I’m only a distant memory.

In Celtic mythology, Fagus was the god of beech trees. The tree was thought to have medicinal properties: the leaves were often used to relieve swelling.

Like common beech, copper beech timber is used for a variety of purposes, including fuel, furniture, cooking utensils, tool handles and sports equipment. The wood burns well and was traditionally used to smoke herring. The edible nuts, or masts, were once used to feed pigs, and in France they are still sometimes roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

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Fleadh Cheoil Laighin 8th July 2016

Off to the Watershed in Kilkenny very early in the morning to see Eve and Ellen sa Ghrúpa Cheoil… missed you in Maynooth last year but will be there to cheer you on this year! Loch Garman abú.

12-15 year olds played brilliantly but unfortunately didn’t make the cut … Eadestown CCÉ played in same comp – also played excellent stuff.

Sunday Jubilations- John and clan off to Ennis with the Over 15s in both Céilí Band and Grúpa Cheoil, with 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Comhghárdas.

Wexford’s win over Cork in qualifiers pales into insignificance!!!!! No need for a back door for Tuaisceart musicians.