Celbridge Excursion by County Kildare Archaeological Society l September 17th 1896 (report in the Kildare Archaeological Journal)
The Sixth Excursion Meeting was fixed for Celbridge, Leixlip, and that district, and took place on Thursday, September 17th.
The various morning trains brought the company to Hazelhatch Station, which was the starting point, although a few living at the northern end of the County landed at Leixlip Station, and joined the Meeting there.
A start was made from Hazelhatch about half-past ten for st Wolstan’s, a distance of one and a half miles, where, dismounting at the gate-lodge, the company walked to the Abbey ruins. Here Mr William Kirkpatrick read a Paper on the ruins, and gave a short history of the former owners of the Abbey.
Prior to the reading of the Paper, Mr George Mansfield, in the absence of the President of the Society (the Earl of Mayo), moved a vote of condolence to the relatives of the Rev Denis Murphy, only recently elected Vice-President of the Society, and whose death the Society deplored: the terms of this resolution will be found in the Proceedings.
The Society then proceeded through the demesne to the other gate-lodge, where the carriages were in waiting to take them on to Leixlip. On the way the river Liffey was crossed by the oldest bridge in this part of Ireland, still called New Bridge although built in 1308 by John Decer, Mayor of Dublin, and the curious cone-shaped tower, with external circular stair-case, built by the Conolly family in 1743, was sighted from the road.
On arrival at Leixlip the celebrated Salmon Leap was inspected. Owing to the recent rains the volume of water passing over the rocks heightened the effect.
Some of those present then entered Leixlip Castle, which had been kindly thrown open for inspection by Mr William Mooney. The interior is now fitted up as a modern residence; but the room in which King John in said to have slept is still pointed out, and is known as the “King’s room.” Notes on the Castle were read by Lord Frederick FitzGerald, after which Leixlip Parish Church was visited, and the many interesting monuments it contains, and the registers and church plate, attracted much attention.
A pleasant drive to Lucan, through the demesne of Lucan House, passing the famous Spa, brought the company to Lucan Spa Hotel, where luncheon was served.
Some delay in making a start after luncheon somewhat shortened the time apportioned to the remaining places to be visited, and it was already late when the Society arrived at Castletown, where they were received by the Lord Chief Justice and Lady O’Brien. The Members and their friends having assembled in the hall, Lord Walter FitzGerald read an interesting Paper on Castletown House and the Conolly family, and the Rev C Graham followed with notes on the past history of Celbridge; after which, by the kind permission of the Lord Chief Justice, the company were permitted to inspect the interior of the house.
It was late when Donacomper Churchyard, which was the next place on the day’s programme to be visited, was reached. Here some notes on the place were read by Mr WL Kirkpatrick after which the members of the society and their visitors were received at Donacomper House by Mrs Kirkpatrick, who had kindly invited everyone to tea. Owing to the lateness of the hour, and many having to catch the evening trains at Hazelhatch, but little opportunity was afforded for a proper inspection of Donacomper, and the many objects of antiquarian and artistic interest which it contains. This brought the Meeting to a close, and the company dispersed, after having spent a most enjoyable day in a district full of interest. Unfortunately the weather at the commencement was not altogether propitious, and this somewhat tended to delay the programme set out for the day, but fortunately the rain did not last
The arrangements for the Meeting were under the personal control of Lord Walter FitzGerald, and were excellently carried out, assisted by Mr H. O. Blake, as his co-hon Secretary. Sir Arthur Vicars (Ulster), owing to indisposition, was unable to be present.
The following Members and Visitors took part in the excursion: — The Earl and Countess of Drogheda; Mr George Mansfield; Mr W Grove White; Mr N J Synnott; Mr and Mrs R F Rynd; Mr J Loch CI RIC; Miss Diipr^ Wilson; Dr R L Woollcombe LLD MRIA; Mrs Woolcombe; Mr Kerry Supple DI RIC; the Right Rev Monsignor Gargan President of Maynooth College; Mr L J Dunne; Rev P O’Leary; Mr Thomas Greene LLB; Mrs and Miss Ghreene; Mr and Mrs Sweetman; Rev Thomas O’Dea DD VicePresident of Maynooth College; Mr Wm Mooney; Rev B C and Mrs Davidson Houston; Mr Austin Danier Cooper; Mr FM and Miss Carroll; Mr Wm RJ Molloy; Mr W A Murphy; Lord Walter Fitz Gerald Hon Secretary; Sir Peter O’Brien Bart Lord Chief Justice; Lady and the Misses O’Brien; Lady Eva FitzGerald; Lady Mabel Fitz Gerald; Mr H C Blake; Major and the Hon Mrs* Barton; Lord George FitzGerald; Lord and Lady Henry Fitz Gerald; the Countess of Mayo; Mr and Mrs Vipond Barry; Mr B Cooper; Miss Margaret Stokes Hon Member KAS; Lord Frederick FitzGerald; the Duke of Leinster; Lord Desmond FitzGerald; Mrs Somers; Mr Chas Daly; Dr Thos E O’Kelly; Rev CJ Graham; Mr George CA Colley; Dr Norman; Mrs Clarke; Rev M Devitt SJ; Captain A Weldon; Mr William Kirkpatrick; Mrs Cane; Mr J B Hall; Mr AP Delany; Rev E O’Leary PP; Miss Aylmer