Leslie's favourite image from the book is this one of Bailieborough Castle from James A. Coleman's collection. The book tells that "in 1918 while the Marist brothers were running their juniorate the castle was accidentally destroyed by fire".

Centuries of life in Bailieboro documented in new book

Last year, a Bailieborough builder with an interest in history and photography put out a call for old photos of the town, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year. Lord Eames, former Primate Of All Ireland, will launch the resulting book, 'Bailieborough, A Pictorial Past' by Leslie McKeague, this Friday. "Whenever I'm away, for example, I look in bookshops for books about the place's history," says Leslie McKeague who has long had an interest in local history and photography. A builder by trade, he says the undertaking was "something totally different" and the downturn in construction has offered him the time for this huge task. The project "grew as it went along", and the product is 192 pages in length and contains 400-plus photos. Photos are divided into eight chapters: Street Scenes And Buildings, Shopkeepers And Shops, Religion And Education, People, Organisations And Events, Sport, and Industry And Farming. Two further sections are titled Poetry And Song and Authors With A Bailieborough Connection. Contributors to the former include Charlie McGettigan and Kevin Connell. Bailieboro And Me, a song McGettigan entered in the local song category of the Cavan Song Contest and subsequently recorded, is printed alongside a narrative by the songwriter. Kevin Connell, from Curkish, wrote a poem, Bailieborough, with his memories and thoughts on his home town especially for the book. Leslie also found the section about authors with a connection to the town very interesting. Among those referenced are: Brother Potamian, Francis Sheehy Skeffington, Patrick Shaffrey, Tom MacIntyre, Captain James Kelly, Phil Tierney, Norma MacMaster, John B. Cosgrave, Peter McConnell, Anna Sexton, Alan McElwaine, Eugene Markey, Clare Lynch and others. Photos came from collections of local photographers and from many individuals. James A. Coleman set up a photographic studio on Main Street in 1904. "For that reason, the town is well documented by old photos," says Leslie, who is grateful to Mr. Coleman's grandson, Garnet Coleman, for allowing some of the collection to be reproduced in the book. The author also thanks photographers Alex Coleman, Ian McCabe, Brian Mulligan and Brian Reynolds who supplied many of the photos. "The oldest photos were copied from glass plate negatives, which was then the method of storing images," he explains. After putting out the appeal, Leslie was brought into many homes where people offered him precious photos, cups of tea and memories. The oldest photo in the book dates back to the late 1800s, though McKeague admits "it's hard to determine the exact dates". These historic images are placed alongside snapshots of present-day life in the town, so many different eras are documented. Tellingly, Leslie points to old photos of a woollen mill, foundries, a shoe factory and saw mills and notes: "There was more industry in Bailieborough then than there is now". With the range of categories there should be something to interest everyone. From the karate and badminton clubs to Mk. 2 Escorts, GAA and soccer hero Cillian Sheridan, diverse sports are represented; a Blueshirts demonstration in Bailieborough in the early 1930s is there, as is an eclipse of the sun in 1921 photographed at Bailieborough by James A. Coleman; old and recent photos of gardaí and the courthouse; scouts; the Girls Friendly Society; Bailieborough School Of Music; Bailieborough Arts and Cultural Centre; the county Fleadh Cheoil in 1964; the canvassing trail in 2009; and President Robinson's visit in 1991 and President McAleese's in 2008 are just a sample of the images. Favourite The author has a favourite image - "one I had never seen before of Bailieborough Castle after it was destroyed by fire". The caption tells that "in 1918 while the Marist brothers were running their juniorate the castle was accidentally destroyed by fire". The image shows the damaged castle, the Marist brothers working in the gardens and boating on the river and students of the juniorate employed in various tasks on the castle grounds. • The launch, funded by Peace III in association with Cavan County Council, takes place in Bailieborough Business Centre this Friday, May 28, at 8pm sharp. The launch is part of the ongoing Bailieborough 400 celebrations.