15 October-Kilkenny Courthouse

Kilkenny Courthouse is located on Parliament Street in Kilkenny City. Dating from 1210 it was formerly the home of the Grace family and was known as Grace’s Castle. It is described as a building of national significance and one of the oldest buildings in Kilkenny.

In 1566 James Grace, who at the time was Governor of Ireland, leased his castle to the state for use as a gaol. The castle was converted to a courthouse in 1792. Though remodelled and restored on several occasions it has remained a courthouse ever since.

Following its most recent restoration Kilkenny Courthouse was officially opened in the year 2010 On This Day.

Court House, Kilkenny, 1990 by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1990-12-01 11:00:00

Court House, Kilkenny, 1908 by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1908-07-01 00:00:00

09 September-M9 Motorway

The M9 Motorway begins at Junction 11 on the M7 near Kilcullen Co Kildare Ireland. It passes through counties Carlow and Kilkenny and continues to Waterford. Construction of the M9 began in May 2008. When it was completed just over two years later, journey time between Dublin and Waterford was reduced by thirty minutes. It is one of the few motorways in Ireland that is not subject to the payment of a toll.

Up until the early 1700’s, roads in Ireland were mainly those which had been built in medieval times and were of very poor quality. It was one of the drawbacks of, unlike England, not having been invaded by the Romans. The Turnpike Acts, for the first time, introduced a planned system of roadbuilding in Ireland. A turnpike is a type of tollgate described as ‘a gate across the road, opened on payment of a toll. The average length of a turnpike road was 30 miles’. One of the first turnpike roads to be built in Ireland was completed in 1731. It connected Dublin to Kilkenny city via the town of Carlow. This road was eventually extended southwards to Waterford and for over 200 years was the main route of the highway linking Dublin to the southeast.

As the railways developed turnpike roads became unprofitable and they were eventually abolished in 1858. For a time railways became the most popular form of transport. However during the 20th century the use of motor vehicles on roads increased dramatically. Roads were gradually upgraded but as traffic volumes increased built-up areas became congested with through traffic. By May 2008 over 9,000 vehicles were passing through Carlow town every day. Like many other built-up areas around Ireland there was major disruption to local traffic and people were also subjected to traffic noise and pollution.

In order to relieve congestion the Carlow bypass was opened in May 2008. It became the first section of a larger scheme, the M9 Motorway linking the cities of Dublin and Waterford. Following the completion of the Carlow bypass the Kilcullen to Carlow motorway was opened in December 2009. In June 2010 the Knocktopher to Waterford city bypass was opened.

The M9 motorway in southeast Ireland was completed when the final section of the motorway, a 40km link between Carlow and Knocktopher in Co Kilkenny, was opened in the year 2010 On This Day.

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M9 approach, Carlow south

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M9 Looking south

 

03 September-Braun Carlow

In the year 1974 two German manufacturing companies, Braun and Läpple opened production plants in Carlow town, Ireland. Läpple, had been founded in Weinsberg near Heilbronn, Germany in 1919 and Braun had been founded in Frankfurt am Main in 1921. By the time the two companies began operations in Carlow they were both international employers.

In 1921 Max Braun established an engineering business in Frankfurt am Main. He began producing components for radio sets but within a few years he was manufacturing entire radio sets. As time went on the company began producing record players and slide projectors. In 1951 Braun produced an electric shaver which had been designed before World War II in 1938. Over the following years the company began to focus on producing home appliances such a coffee makers and clocks.

As the company grew, Braun established subsidiaries in several European countries. Traditionally Carlow had a strong industrial skill base due to the presence of the Sugar Factory and other manufacturing industries. The presence of this skilled workforce and assistance from the Industrial Development Authority were determining factors in Braun opening a plant in Carlow. The plant was designed to manufacture hair dryers and other personal care products. Described as a huge factory it employed at its peak 1,400 people. It became one of the biggest employers in the Southeast of Ireland. Its round-the-clock manufacturing activity employed people not just from Carlow but also from surrounding counties of Kildare, Laois, Kilkenny and Wicklow.

For almost twenty years Braun continued as a major employer in Carlow. Hair care product manufacture was concentrated at the Carlow plant, where 95% of the company’s output of those products was manufactured. The biggest markets for the product were Germany and the UK. However in January 1993 the company announced that it was experiencing a serious decline in sales due to the recession. As result 300 of its workforce were put on short time. The numbers employed began to decline and by 2002 the workforce had dropped to 805

In February 2002 the company announced plans to lay off 225 workers. The reason given for the reduction in the workforce was that the cost pressures the company was experiencing. This was followed by an industrial dispute over redundancies in September 2004 which led to staff being put on protective notice before the issues were eventually resolved. Following what was described as a global review of the company Braun announced that some of its manufacturing would be switched to Mexico and Eastern Europe. This led to the announcement on September 15th 2006 of loss of 157 jobs in Carlow.

On June 11th 2009 Braun announced that production at its Carlow plant would cease. By that time 260 people were working in the factory. The company decided to phase out some of its products due to a decrease in consumer demand. One hundred employees at the Carlow plant were transferred to the company’s factory in Newbridge, Co Kildare and the remaining 160 employees lost their jobs.

The Braun factory on the O’Brien Road in Carlow closed down in the year 2010 On This Day.

Braun Factory Carlow

Braun Factory, Carlow

Photo: Joe Rattigan

Braun design by hellostanley on 2009-11-03 15:13:41