Tuesday, November 27, 2012

IN the 1950 Urban District Council Bill Callaghan was elected for the first time and subsequently was continuously elected at every other election until he passed away in 1988. The vacant seat was filled by his son Willie who has continuously filled the seat to date – thus setting a record of continuous service by two members of the same family of  62 years on the Naas UDC.

Willie is currently the Mayor of Naas. Bill Callaghan was chairman of the council on four occasions in 1962, 1969, 1974 and1982. His son Willie held the office on four occasions, two of these as Mayor. In 2001 the system of administration of the affairs of Naas council changed from an Urban District Council to a Town Council with the position of chairperson becoming that of Mayor.

It is interesting to note that during the period 1985-1987 the UDC was suspended for failing to strike a rate for the town. This was unique as Naas was the only council to be suspended in this way. During this period of time the powers of the council were placed in the hands of a commissioner appointed by the government. This was a man named Daniel Turpin. In 1988 the UDC was restored being made up of members appointed by Mr Turpin. It is interesting to note that a former minister of State Conor Lenehan sat around the meeting table in the council chamber as a news reporter for the *******Leinster Leader*********. The McCormack family, who celebrated 100 years of trading at number 37 South Main Street in 2012, having previously traded at North Main Street in the 1880s, were represented on the UDC on two occasions. In 1914 William McCormack was the first member of his family to become a member of the council. Over 60 years later in 1977 his grandson Antony was elected. Another prominent Naas family belonged to the political dynasties, namely the Grehan family.

Jack Grehan, a prominent Naas trader, was co-opted to the council in 1922 and his son Gerard was elected to office in 1967. He was a very prominent member of the GAA holding the post of chairman of the county board for a number of years. We should not forget the ladies in our deliberations. It took 34 years for the voters in Naas to elect a women councillor. Elected in 1934 Mary Higgins who ran a newspaper and stationery business at North Main Street (now McIntyre’s Jewellers) opposite the town hall was a councillor for over20 years. In 1967 another Mary was elected, this being Mary Healy who incidentally was also from North Main Street. The third lady to be elected was Evelyn Bracken in 1979. Since then another eight ladies have been elected including Ríoghnagh Bracken in 2009. The Brackens are the last dynasty of Naas politicians. In 1985 the two ladies elected were Patsy Lawlor and Mary French, Mary French being elected as chairperson on one occasion. In 2009 four ladies were elected, Pat Clear, for a second time, Emer Mc Daid, Rioghnagh Bracken and Anne Breen giving the biggest female representation ever on the Naas local authority. Other ladies to be elected were Teresa Scanlon 1994 and Mary Glennon 1999. If the present government does abolish the town councils, Anne Breen will be the last lady councillor to have been elected to a Naaslocal authority.  The attached picture shows the Roll of Honour which hangs today on the wall of the old ballroom in the town hall depicting all the past chairpersons in the history of the Naas UDC.

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By Mick Mulvey
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