|Convent field gate recently refurbished by GAA.|
"These gates appear to have been forgotten but with a little work they will become focal points around the town again," says Ray Kelly, chairman of the Tidy Towns umbrella group KCA.
Apart from controlling access to fields, gardens and homes, gates also have a heritage aspect. The materials they're made from — wood, old blacksmith’s iron, farm-gate tubular steel and back to modern forged iron — represent not just changing technologies and tastes, but also a variety of crafts-working skills.
There have always been generational changes in styles of gates, especially in those used for houses, and the 1939 Nicholastown housing estate shows that very clearly. Built in a time when cars were not in general ownership, original access to each home was through a narrow front gate designed just for people. But in post-WW2 Kilcullen many householders made space on the generously-sized sites for cars, which usually meant opening a secondary wide gate. The opportunity to change the original gates was often taken then, and over the decades the original design has often been cast aside.
There are quite a few other old gates still around. The one into what was the Convent Field is an example, recently cleaned and painted during the excellent clean-up work undertaken by Kilcullen GAA around its training pitch.
It’s nice to see a focus on cleaning and painting some of them. It might seem a small thing, but the heritage we have today is built on thousands of small things created and left to us by very many people who have lived in Kilcullen or who in some cases have only passed through.
It's good not to just replace everything for the sake of modernity, as we ourselves pass through.
(Picture credits: Brian Byrne, Ray Kelly, and Castlemartin gate from Public domain repository burningwell.org.)