A small town fighting back against decline
My local town of Kilcock no doubt mirrors hundreds of similar towns throughout Ireland which were formerly prosperous and then began to fall in to a long, slow and seemingly inevitable decline.
I remember from my childhood when people would travel from miles around to shop in Kilcock. They were happy times and in those days a threepenny ice cream from Baxter's shop was so big it was almost more than a small boy could finish. We had Cotts mail order store, the first in the country and which even advertised its services on Radio Eireann. Kelly's bakery was a great employer and their bread vans delivered to every corner of the country.
On fair days, the town would be bustling with people and cattle and despite the streets being awash with cow dung, there was that air of good business that is almost tangible.
Of course times were hard then compared to now but you don't miss what you never had and the pubs all did a roaring trade. Cars were few but then we had both the Grand Canal and a railway line and with Kilcock still on the main road route to Dublin from the west, traffic was constant.
The drivers of the cattle lorries and other commercial vehicles all stopped in Kilcock for a rest and a feed and no man could feel hungry after enjoying the mixed grill in Corscadden's hotel which like so many other older buildings, now lies derelict and empty.
I am not sure when or indeed quite why things began to go downhill but I took a walk around the town a few weeks ago and came to the conclusion that at least one third of the built area was either lying idle or for sale. Kelly's bakery is long gone. For a while we had the Leaf chewing gum factory but even it has ceased business.
All the life of the town seemed to then head towards Maynooth and from there to Dublin. The rapidly expanding university brought more people and activity but this didn't extend the few miles down the road to Kilcock which continued to put up ever more for sale or to let signs.