by ehistoryadmin on March 14, 2014




 The first meeting of the Athy Urban District Council was held on Monday at 12 o’clock, Mr. M. J. Minch, M.P., Chairman, presided. The other members present were ― Messrs J. A. Duncan, J.P.; W. P. St. John, Thomas Plewman, J.P.; Thomas Hickey, V.C.; Michael Doyle, Thomas Whelan, Michael Malone, Daniel Carbery, J. B. Deegan, Patrick Knowles, John F. Orford, J. J. M’Hugh.


The Town Clerk announced that they would be in debt at the close of the financial year to the amount of £173 11s. 8d. Fines to the amount of £10 4s. had been lodged for last month.

Chairman ― How do we stand financially compared to last year? ― Town Clerk: There was £230 6s. 8d. debit last year. ― Chairman: We are met today in a new position. We are now the Urban Council for Athy, with full power in the management of the town. So long as we conform to the rules and regulations of the Local Government Board we will have to make certain bye-laws, which the magistrates sitting at Petty Sessions would be bound to enforce. With regard to our position here to-day as the sanitary authority of the town, I am not quite sure what are our relations to the officers of the late sanitary authority, that is to say the sanitary officer, the consulting sanitary officer, and sub-sanitary officer. The executive sanitary officer is the clerk of the union, the sanitary officer is Dr Kilbride, the consulting sanitary officer is Dr O’Neill, and the sub-sanitary officer is Mr Clandillon. Whether these officers are transferred to us under the Act of Parliament I am not quite sure, but the Local Government Board in a few days are about to issue some rules and regulations with regard to the matter. Also with regard to our rate collector I am not quite sure whether Mr Murphy is transferred to us. If we have to make a new appointment no person in the retail trade can be appointed ― Mr Plewman: So then our present collector is not qualified? ― Chairman: Our present collector would not be qualified in the event of a new election unless he is transferred to us. There is a provision in the Act with regard to those officers who are transferred either by the Grand Jury or Board of Guardians, and in the case of those transferred officers the Local Government Board would not raise any such point as this. There are also transferred to us the duties of the burial board. We are now the burial board of the town of Athy, and the care of the two burial grounds at St. John’s and St. Michael’s, is under our authority, together with the officer in charge. The reason why the difficulty as to the transferring of these officers arises is this. Originally under the Act all these officers were transferred to the new bodies for one year, and it was open at the end of nine months for these gentlemen to retire as existing officers by giving three months’ notice, and vice versa on the part of the new bodies to dispense with their services and make a new election, but at the end of that period if neither gave notice the officers became permanent ones, subject to good behaviour. That year has elapsed, and I am not quite sure whether any or all of these officers have been transferred to us. ― Mr Plewman: If they were it would obviate any trouble with them in connection with these appointments or in regard to new elections. How are we to know whether they have been transferred or not? ― Chairman: The Local Government Board are about to issue some rules and regulations which will make the matter clear. They have already sent a memorandum on the subject, which I will ask the Town Clerk to read. ― The Town Clerk then read the memorandum, the substance of which is given as follows.

A memorandum dealing with the duties of Urban District Councillors and matters of finance and adjustment was read. The Chairman and members would remain in office as Urban District Councillors until the annual election, and Rural District Councillors representing the Urban Council would cease to be members of the Rural District Council but would remain in office as guardians for those divisions. The Urban District Council should make arrangements with the Rural and County Councils in reference to adjustment of property liabilities, and should ascertain from the County Secretary the proportion of the Agricultural Grant payable in respect of land in the urban district and make arrangements as to how this grant is to be applied in relief from rates of land so included. The Urban Council should also obtain information relative to whether poor rates on the area within the town had been struck, and if so the Urban Council should arrange for the collection of such rates. If no rate were struck it would be the duty of the Urban Council, on receipt of the demand of the County Council, to make a rate. From and after 1st April, 1900, the district roads in the urban area to be under the control of the Urban District Council. Current contracts for the portions of the roads coming under control of the Urban District Council would continue in force until the contracts expired. The Urban District Council rules provide for the appointment of a competent surveyor by the Urban District Council, and the Council should as soon as possible proceed to such appointment. The Local Government Board would issue early in April a sanitary order prescribing the officers to be appointed and defining their duties. ― Mr Plewman: I think until we get the sanitary order we cannot move in the matter.

Chairman ― We will have to meet either fortnightly or weekly until we get into working order. Town Clerk: The first thing I want is an order for the necessary books. ― Ordered, on the motion of Mr Doyle, seconded by Mr Hickey, that the Town Clerk procure all necessary books, documents, etc. Mr Plewman asked would these special meetings be held in the night time or in the day. ― Chairman: The ordinary meetings once a month can be held in the day time and the special meetings at night. Whether I am empowered as Chairman of the Urban Council to call special meetings I cannot say, but if you empower me to call a special meeting I will do so and suit the convenience of the commissioners. ― On the motion of Mr Plewman, seconded by Mr Doyle, the Chairman was empowered to call special meetings when he would see fit. ― It was also decided that the first special meeting should be held on the following Friday night at eight o’clock.


 The Local Government Board wrote forwarding copy of a copy received by them from the Secretary of Kildare County Council relative to the application of the Agricultural Grant in connection with the Urban Council of Athy. They also forwarded the reply of the Local Government Board of the County Council. The following are the letters referred to: ―

                                                                  “County Council Office, Naas,

 “22nd Mar., 1900.

“SIR ― Having regard to the fact that the towns of Naas and Athy will be Urban Districts from the 1st April, I would feel obliged by your letting me know what could course I should adopt respecting the Agricultural Grant for this county in preparing the annual estimate under Form 24. I do not find any directions on the subject in the orders constituting these towns into Urban Sanitary Districts. If convenient I would feel obliged for a reply in the course of post, as the question of our estimate will be under consideration by our Finance Committee on Saturday morning. ― Your obedient servant,

                                                                              “G. DE L. WILLIS, Sec.”

                                                                   “Dublin, 23rd March, 1900.

“SIR ― I am directed by the Local Government Board for Ireland to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd instant relative to the course you should adopt in preparing the estimate for the County of Kildare in connection with the Agricultural Grant, in view of the constitution of the towns of Athy and Naas as Urban Sanitary Districts under the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898; and I am to state that as these towns become Urban Districts from the 1st April you should exclude from Column 15 of Form 24 of the County Councils Order the apportioned share of Agricultural Grant belonging to these Urban Districts. With reference to the application of the Grant in connection with these new Urban Districts, I am to refer you to the terms of Article 30 of the board’s orders of the 13th and 14th November last, and to state that this matter is one which must be determined by the new Urban District Councils and the County Council in the manner provided by Article 30 of the Schedule to the Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order in Council. The proper course, therefore, will be for each Urban District Council when duly constituted to convene a special meeting for the consideration of this subject, and they should inform the County Council of the mode in which they propose to deal with the share of the Agricultural Grant apportioned to the Urban District, and request them to assent thereto. ― Your obedient servant,

                                                                              “H. M. SWAINE, Sec.”

Chairman ― We are entitled to that money in hard cash, or at least against against any claim the County Council may have against us. A very important question arises in regard to the appointment of a competent surveyor, because it is suggested in that letter that the County or Assistant Surveyor are not transferred officers. When their salaries were being fixed they had the duty of attending to the main streets of the towns of Athy and Naas. Now have we to appoint these gentlemen again and pay them additionally for work which they are performing at a fixed rate? I don’t see any way out of it, and I would be sorry to loose Mr Glover until we got into working order, at all events. ― Mr Hickey: We can make application to the County Council to give us the services of these officers, and they can reduce their salaries and give us the balance to enable us to pay them (laughter). Mr Plewman: They cannot reduce them this year, at all events. ― Chairman: My idea about the Agricultural Grant is that it should be at least in proportion to our maintenance of the main roads. This is the question to be decided at the special meeting. I stated here the other night that the County Council had appointed six of their body to confer with the representatives of Naas and Athy Urban. When you appoint your two delegates to represent you on the 9th April you can instruct them how these apportionments are to be made. ― Mr Malone: On what principle did the County Council select six of their body and two Town Commissioners? ― Chairman: Two from Naas and two from Athy will make four, and they wished to have two ahead. However, it does not matter to us if there were ten. Our representatives are only going up there to consult, and they will have then to report to the Urban Council, which is bound to nothing, and can disagree with any arrangement, in which event they could have a local inquiry. ― After some further discussion, the Chairman said that he had no doubt if they had been made an Urban Council on the 1st of last April all these officers would be transferred, but he could not say how they stood at present. ― Mr Carbery suggested that they procure a map showing the boundary of the Urban District ― On the motion of Mr Duncan, seconded by Mr Carbery, it was decided that they procure one. ― Mr Malone: Naas Urban extends two miles into the country, and I don’t see why Athy should not do the same ― Mr Plewman: Naas is valued at £3,000 or £4,000 more than we. If we could get Fortbarrington and around by Mr Lumley’s it would be all right. ― Mr Deegan: Have we the power? ― Chairman: No; we would have to hold a local inquiry and the consent of the rural occupiers who would like to become citizens.


 Mr Plewman said he had been looking at the footpath along by the nuna schools and it is very well done. ― Mr Knowles said in his opinion it was botched work. It was in an incomplete state. ― Mr Doyle said it was only by great exertions that he and Mr Plewman had got it so far, and there could be no objection if Mr Knowles extended it further. ― Mr Plewman said that Mr Knowles stated that this was botched work. He should be asked to withdraw that as it was not fair to the contractor. ― Mr Knowles said he did not mean that this work was botched so far as the workmanship was concerned, but it should be extended further. It was only half done. ― Mr Plewman said he had been also asked to bring before the meeting the fact that there was a good deal of ball playing going on at the entrance to the Roman Catholic Church, and that the Inspectors be given instructions to have this ball playing discontinued. ― Mr Orford: Why not ask to stop it? ― It was decided to do so.


 A letter was read from the Grand Canal Company stating that they would raise no objection to the Urban District Council placing a protection at the Quay at the place where it was stated to be dangerous. ― Mr Knowles: We will have new power shortly, and if that place is unsafe we may be able to compel them.


 A letter was read from D J O’Neill resigning his position as a member of the Urban District Council. ― The Chairman said he would be glad to see him on the Council, and would be inclined to move a resolution that he be asked to reconsider his decision were it not for the fact that Dr O’Neill had fully made up his mind to resign. ― Mr Deegan proposed and Mr Orford seconded that his resignation be accepted with regret; they being fully satisfied that there would be no use in asking him to reconsider his decision. ― Mr Knowles: Have we the power to accept his resignation? ― Chairman: Yes. ― Mr Knowles: I thought we might steer clear of any shoals and quick sands in the future (laughter).


 Attention was drawn to the large number of public lamps which were smashed. ― Mr Hickey said there were five entirely. ― Mr Thomas Whelan said some of these were broken during the snow balling time. ― Mr Knowles: Many in town felt the effects of this snow balling. ― Mr Malone: A great practice has arisen lately of boys throwing stones in the streets and the police should be asked to prosecute. ― It was decided to call the attention of the police to this matter and also to offer a reward of £2 to any person giving information that would lead to the knowledge of an offender in this respect.


 Mr St John moved the resolution of which he had given notice to the effect that some preliminary steps be taken relative to the sanitation of the town. He said ― It become my duty to bring forward the subject of the sanitation of the town of Athy and its defective state. Last year when I brought forward a similar motion it was the board of guardians who should move in the matter. They pursued a policy of do nothing, and an attitude of indifference. I don’t know whether that the Local Government Board has done anything to alleviate this disagreeable and unhealthy condition of affairs. It is a very serious matter because it affects the health of the town; the comfort of its inhabitants, and also its prosperity. The danger to health arises from the defective construction of sewers. In these sewers there are large collections of organic deposits, feeding deposits from disease organisms, which no doubt are carried by volatile gases into the air and inhaled by the inhabitants generally. Again in the winter time the town was in a very water logged condition which is due to water gathering without any means of taking it off. Again there are many houses in the town unsuitable for habitation with bad roofs and damp floors (hear, hear). Those were hardly calculated to produce a healthy condition of affairs. As long as these matters came under the care and responsibility of the guardians; the town commissioners had no voice in the matter, but now when it comes under our control, we should reorganise this system of sewerage and drainage. This state of things affects the prosperity of the town, and the question is how are we to meet it. Well, I should say to meet it in the progressive spirit of the 20th century. Look abroad and see what is to be done; have the town as perfect in this respect as we can with due regard to economy. I would suggest that a committee of the whole Council be formed including the guardians representing the urban divisions of the town, who are acquainted with the state of affairs, and consider the whole matter and report for a future meeting.

Mr Duncan ― My intention today was to ask for a special meeting to consider the matter and give notice of motion. I had overlooked Mr St John’s resolution on the subject, and I am willing to second his resolution so far as it goes. I don’t often inflict a speech on this Council, but I am afraid the Council must listen to me a little to-day. I have plenty of papers to occupy me a good while. Some two or three years ago an outbreak of diptheria occurred, and on the report of the Sanitary Officer being received I moved at the guardians that a committee be appointed to consider the sanitary state of the town. The Chairman with his usual wisdom suggested that the committee be extended outside the guardians, and as a result there was a strong and representative committee formed. At the first meeting Mr Minch was in the chair and therh were a full attendance, Dr Kilbride being also present. I was appointed secretary. The committee held some eight or ten meetings, and went to a good deal of trouble in connection with the matter. The board of guardians empowered us to get expert advice relative to the sanitary condition of the town, and Mr G M Ross who had a good deal of experience in matters of the kind was asked to report on the drainage of the town. We said in our instructions that what we wanted was economy. We did not want to go into large fancy schemes. Mr Ross spent some time here. He examined the town, took levels, and sent in a report which I have here and which I propose to lay on the table for the information of any gentleman who want to read it. We asked Mr Ross amongst other things to report on the probability of the proper drainage of the town without water works and with waterworks, and he has dealt with the matter in both aspects. I may say a good many members of the committee were wholly apposed to the idea of a waterworks scheme until we came to deal with the question of drainage. We cross-examined Mr Ross in various ways as to dealing with the drainage without waterworks. There were certain portions of the town which could be drained simply enough, and others which would be very hard to drain, without waterworks. Another means suggested was to impound the sewerage and suddenly let it flow, and then trust to that to flush the drains. That was the only other way to deal with it, and it was not likely to prove satisfactory for many reasons. Mr Ross went into the matter very fully, and whilst giving us a scheme without waterworks he expressed the opinion that it would never be efficient until we got the waterworks, and he furthermore expressed the opinion that the pumps and springs of the town could hardly remain long pure in the present system of the drainage. We sent in the report to the guardians and they offered a prize for the best scheme of waterworks. We had nine different schemes from a number of leading engineers ― from Mr Kaye-Parry down. We went into them and weeded them down to two. We came to the conclusion that no pumping scheme was possible and as we could not face the annual expenditure of maintaining it which would come to £10 or £200 we gave the prize to Mr Reade for his scheme. Some of the drains have been cleaned out and show no amount of filth alarming in some cases. ― Mr Carbery: It was ten inches deep in some instances. ― Mr Duncan: The Board of Guardians watching every penny spent on the town and intensely jealous if a single thing extra was asked for, yet have been obliged to spend during the past year a sum of £34. That charge will come to considerably more on us now that we have taken over the sanitary works of the town. I don’t know what the mind of the board is, but I would make an appeal to its members and to others outside that no distinct opposition should be started without very careful inquiry. We will without doubt have to carry out a big drainage scheme, and if we do it unanimously it will be on less expense. If an inquiry is held and opposition offered to it it will be much more expensive than if unanimous evidence was given in its favour. Therefore, I would venture to make an appeal to any inclined to oppose that they would very carefully inquire into the matter before they venture to oppose it, so that bye-and-bye they may not have to say that they opposed the scheme because they did not understand it.

Chairman ― I cannot follow Mr St John in his charge against the late sanitary authority in regard to their indifference about the sanitation of the town. It is quite evident that they took all steps as far as they thought necessary to remedy the existing sanitary condition of Athy. They appointed this committee of investigation. We empowered them to call in expert evidence to consider the advisability of the water supply and offered a prize for the best scheme. Their hands were more or less bound, because they did not consider that they were the proper people to undertake such an elaborate scheme as the drainage and water supply. The town of Athy is beyond yea or nay in a most unsanitary state, and whether we like it or not we will have to re-construct our sanitary arrangements. I may tell you that the Local Government Board will compel us. If I were to consult my own views I would be opposed to this scheme. I am outside the affected area, and have a pure supply of water, but I consider it desirable for the health and well-being of the town, and not only the town but the surrounding localities. We have to take the people of Athy into our confidence and to take into consideration in the most economical way a water supply for the town.

Mr Malone ― What was the estimated cost of Mr Reade’s water supply? ― Mr Duncan: Mr Reade’s estimate was about £5,000 or £6,000. ― Mr Malone: That would come to nearly the end of our borrowing powers, which are very small at present. I think the limit is £9,000. ― Mr Duncan said Dr MWeeney went very carefully into an analysis of this water and pronounced it prime. He might also say that on the 15th of August, after a very dry summer, he (Mr Duncan) went to the source and found as big a flow there as during a wet season. ― Chairman: Dr MWeeney said the supply was most favourable, and had not the slightest doubt about its quality. ― Mr Plewman said it was not without much difficulty that he was made a convert to a water supply for Athy. He was appointed on this committee, and they were unanimous as far as the question of sewerage was concerned. With regard to the water, their first impulse was to find a means of getting rid of it, as they had too much water (laughter). He heard that the water of Athy was as good as any other water in Ireland, but now they wanted a waterworks was because it was shown to them that without it they would be unable to carry out any flushing scheme properly. That was the strongest argument to his mind at all events. Another reason was that the money utilised in drainage would be utilised to a large extent in providing a water supply. ― Mr Malone said he thought they would have to dismiss all idea of getting in this scheme, as it was too expensive. They could not get a sewerage scheme if they brought in the water according to this plan. ― Mr Duncan said there were two ways of looking at it. No scheme could be approved which would involve the town in a large annual outlay, but in this scheme there would be no annual cost except a sum of £10 to the caretaker, estimated by the engineer, and which they had doubled. ― Mr Knowles: What is the limit of our borrowing powers? ― Chairman: That is a question I am not prepared to answer. ― Mr Carbery: I would suggest that you have a special meeting to consider this subject. ― Chairman: The reason I have allowed this discussion to proceed so far is in order that we might have an interchange of views. We can do nothing to-day.

Mr Deegan said that considering the large sum this would involve he did not think they would have the electors with them in the outlay of such a huge sum as that. ― Chairman: Electors or non-electors we will have to a carry out a reconstruction of the sanitary condition of the town. If not the Local Government Board will come down and carry it out in spite of us.

The matter was deferred to a special meeting to be held on Friday evening at 8 o’clock.


 Mr J F Orford gave notice ― “I beg to give notice that I will at the next meeting of the council propose that we do take some steps towards organising an amateur fire brigade.”


The following notice, which stood in the name of Mr Malone, was seconded by Mr Deegan and unanimously adopted ― “I beg to give notice that at the next meeting of the Urban Council I will move that the Council of the Athy Urban District is prepared to undertake from and after April 1st, 1900, the entire maintenance of all roads in the Urban District, the expenses of the maintenance of which are leviable partly off the county at large, upon such terms as may be hereafter agreed upon, between the Urban Council and the County Council of Kildare, or in default of agreement be fixed by an order of the Local Government Board.”


Mr Malone’s notice relative to the Town Clerk’s hours in his office was adjourned pending receipt of directions from the Local Government Board.

Mr C Pelly, Auditor, reported that he had audited the accounts of the Town Commissioners of Athy for the period ending 30th September last, and forwarded an abstract thereof showing the receipts and expenditure of the township since the previous audit, all of which appeared regularly brought to account and properly vouched. The accounts of the township continued to be rendered for audit in a very efficient manner by the Town Clerk.


Note: Transcribed by Chris Holzgräwe, 10 March 2014. All mistakes remain as in original.

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