Bypassed – but Kill looks to future
By Brigid Maguire
A decade or so ago the village of Kill now by-passed by the dual carriageway from Naas to Dublin was small and insignificant. A few houses, a couple of pubs, two churches, a post office. An old low ceilinged schoolhouse was dismally clamouring for demolition.
Then gravel was discovered and a company was formed. The Castle Sand Company, later to become Roadstone, sent dumpers and trucks along to ruffle the quiet of the village.
Houses to hold workers and a new school were built, the chapel under the wing of the popular sagart pharóiste was built doubling its floor space. A posh hotel was built.
Now a further addition — a project to set up a new bloodstock sales emporium strikes the imagination as being the right thing in the right place. For is Kildare not the home of the horse? If the reality is as planned this project will not only rival all existing sales’ arenas but will far outdistance them. As well as catering for sale of horses, the grounds promise to be on a par with other beauty spots in the county, and there are many. The shell house in Carton, the lovely view of the Liffey from the bridge at Straffan, the Japanese grdens in Tully. These are just a few of them. So Kill has its work cut out to compete. The introductory brochure is optimistic it will.
It tells us that there will be landscaping and planting of gardens. An elegant canopied gateway will lead to lovely lawns with ornamental pools. On the diagonal a glass and steel facility building will be erected and beside it will be the most important spot in the whole complex, the circular sales ring.
This sales parade will be ten feet below ground level and will have seating to hold 750 patrons with we hope, nicely padded cheque books. This in fact is the allure behind it all.
Into the sales compound the horses will come via a low gradient ramp. A prospective buyer yet undecided which horse to invest in can come to a holding paddock underground and take a good long look at every animal before be comes under the auctioneers’ baton. There will be no restrictions on people who can move about freely and not disturb the equine equanimity of the animals leaving or entering the sellers ring.
Much has been made of the foolishness of moving a blood- stock sales’ agency from the aristocratic precincts of the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge. There is no need for a second agency for these elusively valuable animals whose value is on a downward slope, say the experts who know it all.Idiotic to erect this projected enterprise which will run into millions at a time of shortages which are worldwide.
The answer to this loaded question is the oft heard platitude that the proper place to find one’s coat is where it was lost. Also it can be admitted that bravery carries its own reward; and indeed Goff’s must have a major share of the still upper lip in their composition else they would take a falling market lying down, fold up, and sell hotcross buns instead. But they have shown faith in Irish bloodstock by appealing to the small breeder, the farmer who chances his arm to turn out an Arkle or Nijinsky from his own brood mare. Where better to demonstrate this than in an area where horses have been bred, born and put through their paces on the surrounding racetracks?
The appreciation of these people has been their fine response to the buying of shares recently on offer. An invitation to “small” people like myself and my kind to come into the game has been made, Dublin-barrelled names like the wind on the bog will always be associated with racing. Plain Joe Soap should now be able to come from the other end of the buyers’ ladder and perhaps meet the elite half way.
It is for this Messrs. Goff and Company have bought this eighty acre scoup of rich Kildare land to prove that the prestige of our horses can be recaptured and brought back before it is too late to do anything to arrest its passing.
A horse bought at the Kill stadium has a multiplicity of racecourses to choose from. When ready to face the tapes Naas, the nearest, is only a stone’s throw away. Punchestown is equidistant on the fields’ side. The Curragh since the days of Finn and the Fenians has been a racing place and will continue to be so. Point-to-point meetings at the Hill of Kill, at Windgates and at Newcastle are capable of being revived. [Text missing]
On the periphery of the sales ground in Kill that goddess of racing ponies, Miss Iris Kellett, has her establishment. Palmerstown stud is adjacent, while across the road lives Ted Walshe, the premier amateur jockey of the day. Scarcely a field in the parish but has had a race-horse over its surface from times immemorial.
There could be a rival in the sales line too. Five or six miles to the north east as the crow flies, Ned Cash, one of the biggest buyers and sellers of hunters, has a sales arena some 160 feet long and half as wide with jumps to show off his charges prowess, let it be raining or sunny outside. Ned’s sons veritable Clark Gables in their own right are no strangers to tough cross country riding. Nor do they balk at the danger of Bechers in Aintree nor at the up banks of local race venues, and dangerous stints on horseback when cliffs loom darkly and death seems imminent hold no terrors for them when engaged in the making of films.
Already from the stables of Kildare farmers in the district have come many winners. I can recall the names Martin and Ten Per Cent winning locally. Boston Road has been bred near at hand. Lady Aylmer hit the frame by chalking up two wins and a placing. Seamus Buggle’s Waddi Halfa has obliged. The progeny of Nas na Riogh recalls the “affair” of Dean Swift with the dauntless Vanessa by lending her name to a winning line.
Millhouse, whose sire was owned by the late Joe MacDonnell of Naas, was worthy of his boast of being the owner of “the best horse in the world. He beat Arkle fair and square’, which he did. And for the bob- each-way folk horse racing is a very legitimate and profitable pastime. On her death-bed an old lady gambler was heard to say pleadingly: “Bury me near the gate in St. Corban’s Cemetery ‘where I can hear the horses coming up the straight in Naas. Then I’ll raise me oul’ head and cheer the winner home.”
These are some of the facts and fantasies of the Kildare Paddocks where Messrs. Goffs have come to buy and sell our bloodstock to the world. They will find nothing but goodwill and kindred spirits when they have settled in. What. could be better?
Already emissaries from the company have been making contact with bloodstock representatives in places as far flung as Australia and U.S.A., South Africa, Iran and, of course, every capital in Europe. So let us hope that when buyers come they will be falling backwards to buy our horses.
The period of eclipse when the progeny of great sires like the Telrarch and Nasrullah may have fallen into temporary decline but there are other days coming. It surely is a challenge to the farmers of the short grass and beyond it to give that small blood transfusion to their horses of today to bring them to the standard when practically every stable held a possible winner, nay even a classic co[unreadable]. Then once again could Irish bloodstock be the envy of the world. Their first sale will be next September.
An article from the Irish Press of April 1, 1975 sent to us by Eoghan Corry. It is about the proposed building of a new "bloodstock sales emporium" at Kill by Messers. Goff and Company.