Early Days in Moore Park, 1950s

Memories of Growing Up in Moore Park in its early days:


 Moore Park


 The Beginnings.

            The fact that there was little uniformity in the style of houses built in this estate in the early 1950s set it apart from the rest of the town and gave it a certain cachet. Moore Park was considered to be the ‘Toney’ part of town. It was often the butt of jokes in the local panto, and anyone putting on a ‘grand’ accent was accused of having gone to Moore Park to Con O’Sullivan for ‘electromacution’ lessons. (Michael Nolan)

The residents set up their own association to regulate the development, called the Newbridge Public Utility Society, and involved some of the early residents of Moore Park. On 20 April, 1950, the AGM of this Public Utility Society was held in the New Hall. A large attendance was present as it involved people concerned about the acute housing shortage in the locality. It was noted that some progress had been made by providing sites for those wishing to build their own houses. The Housing Officer, J J Miley, was in attendance. Comdt Hugh Lalor and Capt Tommy Roche proposed G Hickey, of Hickey & O’Reilly, to become the Society’s solicitor, while Capt Con O’Sullivan and Capt Brendan Houlihan proposed R E Noonan as the Engineer for the Society. The AGM also nominated Lt. Col. Hugh Collins, Comdt Hugh Lalor and Comdt Charles Heuston to serve on the committee. Matty Nolan was appointed secretary and Comdt. Tony Swan the chairman. The vice-chairman was Paddy Hensey, and others noted in attendance were: Seamus O’Muire; Capt Sean Barrett; Capt Art Magennis; Capt Phil Eager; Capt John White; Capt Dan Kennedy; Capt  Pat Sweeney; Tom Ryan; Paddy O’Flynn; Joe Breen (treasurer); JJ Dowling; P Kennefick; W Keogh; J McLellan; Paddy Harkins; J Brogan; M McInerney; M Gerraghty and J Cummins.

Mary Fitzsimons (nee Nolan) went to live in Moore Park when she was 10. Her father was Matty Nolan, who taught in Newbridge College. Daddy used to cycle three times a week to Naas to speak with the County Council officials, and he got planning permission for all the houses.


At the time it was considered a unique opportunity for private builders to acquire a site without having to incur exorbitant charges. While the County Council provided the sites, it was left to the individual to buy the site, by taking a loan, and then building their own house. Most bought their sites and then hired a builder. As a result, the houses were not of a uniform design. They maintained a building line, and all were slightly different. One specification was that bungalows had to go upon one side, up along by Hanley’s, and two-storey after that. (Colm Feeney) When they were being built, everyone helped each other and shared the same draughtsmen, bricklayers, and helped dig all the foundations. It was difficult to get decent materials, and probably everything had to be replaced after ten years or so. (Mary Fitzsimons)


Quite quickly, Moore Park became the preserve of teachers and Army officers; the majority of the latter were stationed at the nearby Curragh Camp. Over the years, a number of Army officers would serve at a very high level: one of the first to do so was Brendan Houlihan, who became Junior Aide-de-Camp to Eamonn de Valera when he became President in 1958. Both Carl O’Sullivan and Jim Parker would become Chiefs-of-Staff in the 1970s and 1990s respectively. Col Con Burke would be in charge of the Military College and Brigadier-General Kevin Nunan would be General Officer Commanding (GOC) Curragh Command for a stint; he also served as GOC Southern Command and was decorated for bravery during his Congo service in the 1960s. Brigadier-General Tommy Hartigan, an earlier resident of Moore Park, later became GOC Western Command.

Some of the teachers (Seamus O’Muire, Tom Ryan and Matty Nolan) taught in Newbridge College. Paddy Harkin, Paddy O’Flynn and Sean Feeney taught in the VEC system; Sean Feeney was principal in Newbridge VEC during this time. Mrs Mary O’Brien and Mrs Peggy Lalor taught in the National School on the Curragh Camp.



Fun and games.

When I was about ten years old we moved to Moore Park. It was strange at first being so far from town. New location meant new friends. (Mary Arrigan) Growing up in Moore Park, like almost every other area of the town at the time, had its own pattern and peculiarities. The cemented road had thin strips of tar dividing up each section and served as goal lines for the football matches that were played all the year round. Down on the large green area that fronted the main road epic games of soccer and Gaelic were played out all summer long, replicating important League fixtures and Cup matches that football fans read and dreamed about. When the long grass was cut in mid-summer, labyrinthine grass huts would be built by the older boys and girls. While they lasted, these grass huts gave endless enjoyment for those who dared to crawl into their narrow, dark compartments.

Down near the main road there was a triangular patch of grass that over the years was cultivated and maintained by Capt Tommy Roche. He landscaped it with plants and shrubs and kept the grass neat and ‘manicured. He could often be seen on hoary nights running down with papers and sacking to protect his charges from the hard frosty weather. Since Tommy was a ‘Munster’ man, the local wags duly christened this spot ‘Roches Point’! (Michael Nolan)

Another aspect about living in Moore Park was the ‘Jungle’, the land out the back in Hanley’s demesne. It was the run-down estate of Lady McCalmont. The huge garden had grown wild, and became an excellent adventure ground. (Mary Arrigan) It had everything for an adventurous youth – trees to climb, paths to explore, a hazel nut grove that was handy round Halloween, an orchard during the late summer. From time to time there was also the chance of being chased off the land by Mr Hanley, who farmed in the area and lived in the big house. The chase gave our adventures an extra edge – especially when the pear trees bore fruit. (Mary Arrigan)

One of the benefits of having so many army officers living in the estate was the chance to get an official pass to swim in the Curragh swimming pool. It was a haven for us youngsters. Sergeant Madden gave swimming lessons with true military discipline. No dipping the toe and retreating. When he blew his whistle everyone jumped in. (Mary Arrigan)

Moore Park, when it was built, was quite a distance out from town. But when Jack Scanlon’s shop opened just beyond the Crescent, shopping for sweets and emergencies was made much easier. There, Jack Scanlon supplied a great range of items, and all goods were served with an ample helping of Jack’s good humour and banter. (Michael Nolan)


Going to school.
            There was one privilege that school children from Moore Park enjoyed, and that was being able to travel to and from school by bus. But more particularly - and much to the chagrin of those who lived in other parts of the town and were ineligible to partake – they were able to leave 10 minutes before the start of the lunch hour in order to catch the bus home for lunch.

The bus drivers – Tommy and Jimmy – developed a strong rapport among the travelling scholars. They knew them so well that they’d even wait if someone was late, and the regular ‘last-minuters’ were never forgotten. As children got older, they might forego the bus and either cycle or walk to school.