Hello again and welcome to Why North Tipperary, where it is my goal to give you a reason to visit North Tipperary and why this part of Ireland is just as rich in heritage and scenery as any other part of the Emerald Isle, and even on a higher scale than most. This week I’m going to provide you with the first part of a list for a number of the National Monuments that are situated in the North Tipperary region, and it may surprise you to learn about the amount of history that is squeezed into the wonderful landscape of North Tipperary.
First up is Lackeen Castle, which is situated in the townland of Abbeyville, near the village of Lorrha. Lackeen Castle was built in the 12th century and is a fine example of an Irish Tower House. The description of this ancient building in the Abandoned Ireland website is that that it is: “Standing in a bawn, four stories high and featuring fine fireplaces. A straight stair runs up to the first floor and a spiral staircase runs to higher levels, the third storey is vaulted.” Lakeen belonged to Brian Ua Cinneide Fionn, who was cheiftain of Ormond and who died in 1588. His son Donnachadh inherited the Castle, but he was the last Ua Cinneide Chief of Lower Ormond and he ended up surrendering to Cromwell in 1653. The name Cinneide was anglicized to ‘Kennedy’ and these were the same clan as the great American political O’Kennedy clan. Indeed, the O’Kennedy’s ancestors ruled the lands of North Tipperary at one stage and they have castle ruins dotted all over the landscape. One piece of folklore about Lackeen Castle tells the tale that O’Kennedy from Lackeen Castle at one stage managed to catch a Pooka, who had being sent by a bunch of old hags to protect them as they went about the morbid act of robbing from the dead. A Pooka is a type of fairy that can shape shift and is capable of assuming a variety of terrifying forms. After O’Kennedy caught it he managed to bind it up an was about to bring it into Lackeen Castle, even though the Pooka was cursing him to the high heavens that it would burn the O’Kennedy with all it’s breath, but O’Kennedy was then persuaded by a servant called Tim O’Meara to let the Pooka go. O’Kennedy did, but only after receiving a promise from the Pooka that it would harm no breed, seed or generation of the O’Kennedy family. Can you imagine what might be lurking around Lackeen Castle, even to this day?
In Ashleypark, which is situated to the West of Ardcroney and to the North Of Nenagh town on the N52, lies a Neolithic tomb that is estimated to be about 5,000 years old. This burial mound was undisturbed in that length of time until a local farmer tried to bulldoze the mound and discovered the tomb about 30 years ago. There is no definite chamber beyond the widening of the passage, while the entire site is 90cm metres in diameter. The ditches surrounding the burial mound are in good condition, the mound itself is 26cm in diameter and the passage is off-centre – Some archaeologicalists who have viewed this site believe that this could mean there is a second passage in the mound somewhere. Amongst the cairn material there was found animal bones and the remains of an infant, while the remains of an adult male and another infant were found in the chamber itself. These remains were dated to 3350BC. More information can be found at www.thestandingstone.ie.
Ballynahow Castle, which is situated to the north-west of Thurles, is one of the few round tower houses in Ireland. This building was built by the Purcells in the 16th century and it’s initial use was to provide shelter to the local people against attacks from intruders. The castle is five stories high at 50 feet and it possesses four evenly-spaced machicolations, a mural staircase that is situated on the left of the building and two internal vaults, which cover two floors each. There is also a murder hole that is leading from a small chamber on the first floor, while on the upper floors there are a number of small musket holes that can be found near some of the principal windows. Also the top of the building at one stage had a conical timber roof.
Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee