The sun shone for us when we met at the local church to begin our walk. Seamus Kelly, local historian, guided us with his expert knowledge of the route, making the stops along the way come alive with his storytelling.
Approximately 60 Transition Year students, accompanied by their teachers Ms Power, Ms Barry and Ms Ni Fhearraigh and around 8 senior citizens made for a wonderful coming together of young and old in the Confey community. Everyone enjoyed the history, the chat and getting to know each other.
Seamus led us down Distillery Lane to see the old Linen Mills and Ironworks with a history from as far back as the mid 1700’s. Further along the route, on the banks of the River Rye, we came to what is now The Scout’s Den but was formerly the local National School. Seamus talked us through the whole history of the school but then we were treated to something really special! Three of the members of our group; Tom Malone, Jimmy Pegley and Joe Dempsey actually went to the very same school and were not only able to verify all that Seamus said but gave us a whole new, real life insight into what it was like to go to school here. Our Transition Year student’s found it hard to believe but Tom, Jimmy and Joe explained that in order to go to the loo, which was situated outside at the back of the school you had to bring a big stick with you to beat the rats away! And like all schools back then it was heated by just one open fire, which the teacher usually hogged the heat from, and was kept going all day. But it was the very same sticks in the fire basket that the teacher used to hit them with, believe it or not, so the students had a trick they used to avoid this. When they were allowed their couple of minutes a day to heat themselves somebody would take the opportunity to (accidentally on purpose) knock the basket of sticks into the fire!
We had hoped to visit Leixlip Castle but unfortunately, there was a private Falconry display on but we did have the pleasure of bumping into the Hon. Desmond Guinness at the gates of his home while he was on the way for a stroll down the town.
Next stop was St Mary’s Church on Main Street. The tower of St. Mary’s, dating from the mid fifteenth century, is a fine example of a western residential tower, built to be used as a residence for the priest.
We then had the pleasure of meeting John Colgan another revered local historian, who resides in the former Toll House on the Leixlip Bridge built c. 1740. We had the pleasure of hearing him speak about the history of the Toll House from his front garden.
The bridge of Leixlip built 1732-4 by the Dublin to Kinnegad Turnpike Commissioners and the Bridge or Toll House from the same period. It is the only Irish bridge pre-railway era known to have stonemasons’ marks on it.
Our tour culminated in us gathering together for tea, sambo’s and home-made cake in the parish church…..and just in the nick of time before the April showers came tumbling down.
It was, without a doubt, an extremely pleasurable and informative morning enjoyed by all who attended.
Thanks to Seamus Kelly, and the organiser’s Derek Christian, Marion Lyons of Confey Parish Pastoral Council and Ms Rosaleen Power, Transition Year Co-ordinator of Confey College.
Seamus Kelly’s book A Walking Tour of Leixlip is available from Spar on the Main Street in Leixlip, Co Kildare.
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Category: 30th Anniversary Confey Parish
, Confey Parish
, Transition Year