Passing of West Kildare Historian
John Larkin, St Mochua (Timahoe) Local History Society
John Larkin, of Coill Dubh, passed away on 28 October 2020 after a long illness and was buried at Staplestown Cemetery. John, a friend to all, will be greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure to know him.
Below is a tribute to John by well-known Kildare historian, Liam Kenny.
I was very sad to learn of the sudden death earlier this week of John Larkin, proud chronicler of Coill Dubh, and stalwart of the St Mochua (Timahoe) Local History Society.
I will always picture John sitting in his customary seat inside the door of Ger Kelly’s lounge – another gone too soon – with his stack of St Mochua Journals and a broad welcome for the faithful membership from the Timahoe, Staplestown and Cooleragh areas.
John was an expert on the history of that great social experiment of the 1950s, the Bord na Mona village at Coill Dubh, and knew the residents of every house. He delighted in sharing surprising nuggets on some of the eclectic characters who passed through Bord na Mona at Timahoe including an electrician who had been a German spy and, most unlikely, Ronnie Biggs, of great train robbery fame!
He also did serious work analysing the records of personnel who worked at Bord na Mona and showed that – somewhat contrary to popular belief – while many of the workers did come from the west of Ireland there was also a strong contingent of local men employed in the mechanisation of turf cutting.
John was editor, compiler and promoter, with colleagues, of the Timahoe History Journal, latterly titled “The Bridge” and produced a number of videos about the folklore of the Bog of Allen.
He was also a member for a number of years of the County Council’s Historic Monuments Advisory Committee.
John was an amiable and knowledgeable man who kept the history flag flying in a rural part of the county on the heather-scented fringes of the Bog of Allen.
May his gentle soul rest in peace.