1.1 EXTENT AND LOCATION
OF STUDY AREA
Monasterevin is a
town in West Kildare, on the border of both Laois and
Offaly. The town has developed on the banks of the
River Barrow, just south of its confluence with its
tributary the Figile. The main N7 road passes
through the town as does the railway and the Grand
Canal. Monasterevin is situated thirty-eight miles
south-west of Dublin, six from Kildare Town and twelve
from Portlaoise. The population according to the
1996 Census is 2,842 which demonstrates a 2.8% increase
from the 1991 census. The parish of Monasterevin is
the largest in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and
has a population of 5,200.
1.2 MONASTEREVIN, A
SHORT HISTORY OF ITS DEVELOPMENT
section will give a brief outline of the development of
The towns name is known to derive from its first
settlement, a monastery founded by St. Evin during the
sixth century. Evin settled in a townland on the east
bank of the River Barrow known as Ros Glas meaning the
Green Wood. During the Viking raids it was plundered and
1.2.2 The Cistercians
St. Evins Monastery lay in ruins
until the 12th century when Dermot
ODempsey founded the Cistercian Abbey of Ros Glas.
It was founded in 1189 and was called De Rosea Valle or
the Valley of the Roses. The last Abbot of Rosglas was
Hugh ODempsey who surrendered the house to King
Henry at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasterevin.
1.2.3 Moore Abbey Estate
The settlement of the Earls of Drogheda
in Monasterevin was crucial to the future development of
the town from a small monastic centre to a substantial
manor town . During the time of Sir Henry Moore,
Monasterevin underwent extensive planning and
development. The town had previously consisted of a
single long street. It was developed into a rectangular
street pattern, with the Main Street widened and
straightened. The building of Monasterevin occupied the
period from 1790 to 1860.
1.2.4 Cassidy's Distillery
The emergence of Cassidy's Distillery saw
a further growth in the town. Established by John Cassidy
in 1784 and further developed by his son Robert, the
distillery was of prime economic importance to the town.
The business continued until the firm closed down in 1921
after one hundred and thirty seven years in business.
1.2.5 Monasterevin Today
When the distillery closed down there
were three main sources of employment in the town.
1. An engineering
works founded in 1903 by Samuel Holmes
2. A bakery founded in 1867
3. A maltings founded in Ballykelly
For about twenty years they were the main sources of
non-agricultural employment in the town. In 1954 the
establishment of a knitwear factory by W.A. Tynan
introduced a great source of local employment. This began
a tradition of this industry in Monasterevin. Today there
are five knitwear factories in the town.
Other sources of local employment include the Hazel
Hotel, Coole Engineering, Kildangan Stud and Moore Abbey.
Moore Abbey provides a wide range of residential, day and
clinical services to people with a disability and
provides employment for over 200 people.
1.2.6 Monasterevin, Present
and Future Population Projections
In the period 91-96 Census
figures shows that the area along the N7, for a distance
of 5 miles south -west of Monasterevin experienced a
population increase of 7%. The area adjoining
Monasterevin to the north-east had an increase of 9.25%.
The town of Monasterevin had an increase of 2.8%, which
is low by comparison.
This reflects difficulties in obtaining planning
permission owing to the following factors: an uncertainty
as to the route of the proposed By-pass of the town and
restrictions imposed by services such as the water supply
and sewerage system.
These factors no longer apply.
The By-pass is now well into the planning stage and will
be completed by
A contract has been placed for the upgrading of the water
supply, to be carried out in 1999 and the sewerage system
upgrade is planned for 2000.
This will result in a major expansion of the town and its
environs. At present 60 housing units are being
constructed by developers. Planning permission has also
been granted for 128 units. The total figure of 188 units
multipled by 4 (the average number of persons per housing
unit) makes a total of 752 persons, an increase of 26.4%.
There are also reports that another 200 units are being
considered by developers at present, multipled by 4 = 800
people. This indicates that the population within the
town boundary will increase by approximately 1,500.
TRANSPORT IN MONASTEREVIN
Monasterevin, Co. Kildare stands at a natural crosswords
of the canal, river, railway and road. The intricate
lay-out of bridges facilitated for the overlap and
development of each form of communication. All of these
forms of transport have contributed to the growth and
development of Monasterevin.
1.3.1 The Venice of
Ireland, The Grand Canal and The Barrow
The most important inland waterway development was the
Grand Canal. The canal reached Monasterevin in 1786.
Before the Aqueduct was built in 1829 barges had to
descend by lock into the Barrow to continue its journey.
The arrival of the railway in Monasterevin signalled the
end of the golden age of the canals. By 1852 all the
passenger boats had been withdrawn. In 1986 the Grand
Canal was transferred to the Office of Public Works
(O.P.W.) to be developed as a public amenity. In the
development plan of the O.P.W. Monasterevin is proposed
as one of the towns for a major boating centre to be
1.3.2 The River Barrow
The Barrow River is an important natural amenity to the
town. The town was built up on the east bank of the
river. Main Street runs parallel with the river, with the
gardens sloping to the banks of the Barrow. At the end of
Main Street where the Aqueduct carries the canal over the
Barrow, the Community Council has developed the Riverside
Park. This area of the town has been revitalised. There
are major plans to develop the bell yard and the canal
harbour. Should the railway station re-open it would
significantly contribute to this areas development.
1.4 A HISTORY OF THE RAILWAY
The introduction of the railway to Ireland broke
down all barriers to mobility. Within a decade a new
system of transport had developed which revolutionised
travelling in the country and had major affects on the
economy and social life of the population (Nolan 1980).
For most of the country the most important railway line
was the Great Southern and Western. This line linked
Dublin to the South and West of the country. The
Monasterevin railway station is located on this line.
1.4.1 The Railway in
The railway came to Monasterevin during
Irelands darkest period, the Great Famine. Its
construction was one of the principal public famine
relief works. Sancton Wood, the G.S. & W.R. architect
designed the station. "The buildings were compact,
built of grey limestone, often cleverly planned so that
they show a single storey to the platform, but have an
impressive two-storied stationmasters residence towards
the road. (Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society).
The opening of the 18-mile section from Cherryville
Junction to Portlaoise took place on the 26th
June 1847. The railway line was built through the
townlands of Hybla, Borraderra, through the town to
Coolnaferagh. The lattice-girder bridge over the River
Barrow, was built in 1847 and replaced in 1927 by the
The Railway Station alongside the Grand Canal was the
centre of economic activities in the town. Before C.I.E.
closed the station, three trains each way halted daily.
If a train was not due to stop then the mail was thrown
out into a leather pouch on the side of the platform. The
Guinness train came once a week bringing a cargo of feed
grain for the local farmers. During the time of Cassidy
Distillery, as many as fourteen men worked at the
The Railway Station closed in 1976. According to
the Journal of the Irish Railway Record Society
1975/1976, the reason given for its closure was to
"allow for some speeding up of the 18.10 train to
Galway (Monasterevin)". C.I.E. closed the station in
Monasterevin during a time when a larger number of
stations and routes were being marked off. Over twenty
years later the station remains closed despite the
economic boom in Ireland and the rapid growth in
population in Co. Kildare.
1.5 THE CURRENT TRANSPORT
SITUATION IN MONASTEREVIN
The public transport system serving Monasterevin is of
poor quality. Located on the N7, traffic congestion is
chronic inhibiting people from travelling either to or
from Monasterevin. When the proposed by-pass is completed
Monasterevin will no longer be on the national route,
leaving a commuter town stranded from public transport.
1.6 THE NEED FOR A RAIL
The rail service is needed in Monasterevin for the
economic, social and environmental development of the
Economically, the future development of the town
within the commuter belt depends on a large investment in
infrastructure. Population growth is inhibited at present
due to this, as is the growth in industry. Tourism is
also inhibited. 90% of visitors to the annual Manley
Hopkins Summer School are from overseas and depend on
public transport to visit Monasterevin.
Socially, many sectors of the present population in
Monasterevin are immobile due to the lack of a decent
public transport service. Those who are socially excluded
at present include old age pensioners, disabled people
and Moore Abbey residents.
"Moore Abbey is the Headquaters of the Sisters
of Charity of Jesus and Mary Services in Ireland. We
provide a wide range of residential, day and clinical
services to men and women with intellectual disability
and learning difficulties. Our area of operation is South
Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Meath, with a
staff of 350+ we provide services to 400 people. At our
Headquaters in Moore Abbey we have a staff of 200+".
Mr. J. Kelly, CEO Moore Abbey
1.7 THE MONASTEREVIN RAILWAY
STATION ACTION GROUP
The Monasterevin Railway Station Action Group was
formed in 1995, to campaign for the re-opening of the
towns' railway station. Efforts have included
lobbying Iarnród Éireann, M.E.P.'s and local
politicians. In July 1998, A.S.K. (Action South Kildare
Ltd.) agreed to sponsor and conduct an independent survey
in the town, in co-operation with the Action Group, to
assess the demand for the re-opening of the station. The
findings of this survey have been very positive and
indicate that it would be viable to re-open the station.
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