Great Storm of 1903
the night of the 26th March 1903 a severe storm caused havoc
in parts of County Kildare and West Wicklow.
While it was not as severe as the which ravaged the west
north and midlands in January 1839, and when it was reported
that 300 lives had been lost ( another estimate was 90 fatalities,
37 of them at sea), only one death was recorded in 1903,
but the damage to property was extensive.
In Moyvalley 500 trees fell in the More OFarrell estate,
with 100 Scotch spruce blocking the drive.
But there was far greater destruction on the La Touche property
at Harristown where 1400 trees fell, and at the OConnor
Henchy estate at Stonebrook where fully 1500
A window was blown in at the Catholic Church in Celbridge,
and there was also damage to the Workhouse.
At Naas, almost every building in the town suffered.
The open space in front of the Town Hall was strewn with
slates and the remains of broken panes, and many portions
of the street were littered with debris, and the Workhouse
severely damaged. The door was blown off the Water Tower.
Lord Mayos greenhouse at Palmerstown suffered.
The noise of the wind at Athy was compared to that of artillery,
and in that district the RIC Barracks and many dwellings
were unroofed, or damaged by falling trees.
In Kilcock a shoemaker was imprisoned in the debris of his
house, but when rescuers reached him he cheerfully said
that he was quite comfortable where he was!
A curious result of the storm could be observed in
the woods where thousands of dead birds: crows, wood pigeons,
starlings and others were laying in heaps, some of them
decapitated, the most bruised beyond recognition.
The only human fatality was at Downings where the collapse
of a roof killed the five year old son of a labourer living
in the gate lodge: at about 3am the second child called
his father saying Tom was killed. When the father
lit the candle he found the bedroom in ruins and a huge
tree stretched across it, and the child almost covered by
a fallen wall and roof.
Another topic, which was much discussed that month, was
the celebration of St. Patricks Day, which was that
year declared a bank holiday.
The Leinster Leader was to be closed on March 17th, thus
co-operating in ensuring the success of the movement initiated
by the Gaelic League.
In an editorial on the proposal of celebrating the National
Holiday it observed. that the proposal achieved the
sympathy and support of every section of Irishmen, with
one notable exception. The Licensed Traders have arrived
at a decision which, in our opinion is both injudicious
and unpatriotic. They have refused to sanction the universal
closing of the public houses on St. Patricks Day.
The publican pleaded concern for the convenience of the
public, and the existence of shebeens. The Leader did not
agree that the publican was a man sacrificing himself
and his over worked employees on the altar of public accommodation.
No one expects such virtue from a human being in business,
and to allege it as an adequate reason for selling drink
on the first great National Holiday is to trifle with public
At the Spring Assizes two soldiers from the Curragh were
charged with theft from the shop of Mr. H.W. Church at Ballysax
of a large quantity of pipes, tobacco pouches, brooches,
sliver cigarette cases, watch stands, 69 sliver rings ,
They were sentenced to 12 months hard labour.
Christopher Rourke pleaded not guilty to a charge of stealing
a 57 lbs. lump of coal; value seven and a half pence, from
the Great Southern & Western Railway at Naas.
In his defence it was stated that Rourke was an old
man and it was not reasonable to think that he could have
gone through all the acrobatic performances described
(climbing over various obstacles to get to the rail wagon).
The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
Courtesy of the Leinster Leader
By Con Costello