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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Willie White


Willie White has given a life time of service to Clonegal village

Wednesday March 07 2001

Willie White was born in 1923 and has lived in the village of Clonegal for most of his life.

Renowned throughout the length and breadth of the county not only for his talent as a writer and historian, Willie is also famed for the massive amount of voluntary work he does. Simply put, if there's anything happening in Clonegal, Willie will be involved.

His community involvement down through the years included being PRO and Secretary for practically every organisation in the area, St. Brigids under age GAA club, South Leinster Minor Football League, the Raparees, Carlow Soc, Clonegal Development Association, Clonegal Village Fair Committee, Civil Defence, Chairman of the 1798 bicentenary committee and he is currently chairman of the Clonegal Heritage Committee.

What is your abiding memory of growing up in Clonegal?

I was lucky in the fact that I went to school and grew up with as fine a group of boys and girls as you would wish to meet. We were lucky too, to have one of the finest teachers for the senior classes as was to be found in any school and I include secondary teachers in that statement. In those early days the people seemed different.

There was more respect for the older people and we often helped with different tasks about each otherís homes. If we were in luck we might get 3d. for some work done and that made you a millionaire.

Almost every boy and girl loved sport and many a summer's day was spent in the old football field near the castle. We were thought the value of money, because we seldom had any and I think this served us well in later life.

There was no such thing as a locked door and we could call on a neighbour at any time. I remember the sad days too. How we felt so sorry for one of our friends when a father, mother or relation died, it was a blow to all of us.

Some of the older characters in the village often gave us advice and I have found that it still stands in the present day.

How has Clonegal changed since then?

The Clonegal I knew as a boy was a dusty, rustic village. The streets were made of God's pure earth although after some heavy rain I'm not too sure if they were called pure.

In summer the dust often blew up in clouds and if the window was open there was a lot of dusting to be done. There were no greens as such, just areas of grass and waste ground. Flower beds were rare except in the gardens of some of the houses. There was no electric light and in the shops a couple of wall lamps served for lighting, this also applied in the houses.

The village consisted of the main street, the Watch House and High Street with the Chapel Lane which could be scarcely called a street at the at time.

The only water supply was to give pumps, one in the High Street, three in the Main Street and one in the Watch House. When this system went dry as it often did in the summer, the people had to depend on the old wells in the village.

Now new buildings, housing estates, lights and the work of the Tidy Town's Committee over the past 30 years have transformed the rustic village into one of the beauty spots of Carlow.

What is your favourite place in Carlow and why?

Nowadays Carlow is one of the most enchanting counties in Ireland and if I were asked what was my favourite place in it I would have no hesitation in saying Clonegal.

The village is in a magnificent natural setting, with the Blackstairs Mountains to the south-west and the Wicklow Mountains to the North East with the less imposing but majestic Monaughrim Hill to the North West.

The wooded slopes of the surrounding hills, the silver sheen of the rivers Slaney and Derry and the sweep of the river valleys has had Clonegal called 'The Switzerland of Ireland,' on more than one occasion.

It has a community who have grown proud of their village and who work to make it a place of beauty. In days gone by it was an important town and the beautiful Huntington castle is known world-wide. The village represented Ireland in the recent Nations in Bloom competition in Washington. Why should I choose anywhere else?

If you were promoting Clonegal to a tourist, how would you sell it as a place to come and visit?

As a tourist attraction, Clonegal has everything to offer. Wild beauty, hill climbing, fishing, walks which give you fantastic views, the Wicklow Way, one of the most challenging and scenic walks in Ireland ends in Clonegal and the entertainment factor is high.

The area can trace its history back over 3,000 years and the true Irish hospitality that abounds in the area will make the visitor feel at home.

What are the three best things you enjoy about Clonegal?

The three best things about Clonegal are: the fact that it is Clonegal, its beauty and the feelings of friendship that exudes from its people and the fact that it has held on to its old world charm when so many places have been turned into something they were never meant to be.

What are the three worst things about living in Clonegal?

The three worst things about living in Clonegal are very hard to find. Here goes - I suppose the fact that there is no public transport service in the village, maybe it's a blessing!

Litter on the streets, (the tidy towns patrol make sure it is not there long) and the lack of belief in themselves by some of the people, (God loves a trier.)

What would your ultimate wish be for the county for the year 2001?

My ultimate wish would be that Carlow gets the credit it now so richly deserves. For some years now it has been claiming to be the Celtic capital of Ireland and this is just a claim.

Now along with this claim it can also claim to be Ireland's cleanest county. I think the litter laws in the county will go a long way towards copper fastening this claim.

The council are doing a good job on promoting the cleaning of the towns and villages but I feel that more could be done regarding the drawing of the attention of the tourist to the county.

Would it be possible to erect a 'Carlow Calling' sign on the way up from Rosslare or other points of entry? It is amazing how many people pass through the county without knowing that it exists. I feel there is great potential if the towns and villages also threw their weight behind such a scheme.

I would also like to see Carlow get some of the crumbs from the table of the masters in the line of some of the Government departments and the increase in employment. Carlow's allowance of funds for the upgrading of needy works was to say the least, not even big crumbs.

All in all my wish for Carlow for the coming year is that those at the helm of the ship may steer a course through whatever stormy waters they encounter to the harbour of success.

Source: Carlow People 2001


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