Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee
Hello and welcome to the second part of my look at the National Monuments of North Tipperary. Altogether I have looked at approximately 15 monuments in total, however, there are a few more, but any of the tourism offices of North Tipperary will gladly direct you to these. For now, read on and discover a number of good reasons to visit North Tipperary.
Near Thurles and close to Twomileborris lies the townland of Leigh or Leighmore, or even more correctly Liathmore. This townland is situated six miles of Thurles and is also close to Twomileborris and within this townland is a building of renowned antiquity and even some celebrity: an early monastery which was founded by the seventh century monk Mochoemóg. Mochoemóg was a nephew of St. Ita and he was also a friend of St. Fursey. There are two churches and the footings of a Round Tower situated here. It should also be mentioned that a Sheela na Gig is set into a door of one of the churches which is facing the remains of the Round Tower.
In Lorrha village lies St. Ruadhan’s Church, which is dated from the 15th century. According to the Irish Antiquities website it has good east and west windows and a richly decorated west doorway. Irish Antiquities then goes onto state that a little further south the Church of Ireland building occupies part of an older church. This older section has a 15th century doorway decorated with floral designs and a pelican feeding her young with drops of her blood. In the graveyard is the decorated base of a High Cross and part of the shaft on another.
There are a number of heritage sites in Roscrea town that are well worth visiting. There is the castle some people believe was built by King John of England in 1213, although some claim it was built in the mid-13th century. In the grounds of the castle there stands a building called Damer House, which is an 18th century building that according to the Discover Ireland website ‘exemplifies pre-Palladian architecture. Very close by to Roscrea Castle is St. Cronan’s Church and Round Tower. This is a Romanesque church with only the west facade remaining. Also nearby to these two buildings is the Franciscan friary which was founded in the 15th century. So you see there are plenty of reasons to visit Roscrea town.
Not far from Roscrea is a place-name called Monaincha, which is from the Irish ‘Mainister Inse na mBeo‘ meaning ‘Island of the Living’. Back in the 8th century there was a small island here where a monastery was founded by St. Elair, but the land around the monastery was drained on the 18th century, which has left the monastery as a mound in a boggy field. The Celi De monks moved onto the existing island around the year 80 and brought with them a much stricter way of life. There is a church here at Monaincha which is dated to the 12th century, which according to the www.megalithicireland.com website contains a finely decorated romanesque west doorway and chancel arch. It goes onto state that at the end of the 12th century the monastery became Augustinian. There are the fragments of two crosses mounted together in front of the church which has some very weathered Celtic designs on the underside of the ring and north face. The base of the cross dates to the 9th century and although it is very weathered, it still bears carved horsemen.
In Terryglass village there stands a 13th century square castle, which is believed to be one of only four of its kind in Ireland. There are round turrets at each corner, while according to the www.geograph.ie website the NE turret was originally accessible only by outside stairs. It goes onto state that the NW turret has circular stairs which are now blocked by a steel-pipe door. A dividing wall separates the ground floor in two and the castle looks down on Lough Derg.
Nenagh Castle is a unique Norman Keep that was built around 1200 by Theobald Walter, who was the 1st Baron Butler, while the fortress was completed by his son Theobald le Botiller around 1220. The Butlers were eventually declared the Earls of Ormond by the Norman invaders and Nenagh Castle was their principal seat until they moved to Kilkenny Castle in 1391. The family name went onto become the Marquis of Ormond, but James Butler, the last Marquess, died in 1997. There is a crown on top of the Nenagh castle that was added in 1861 by Bishop Michael Flannery, which he had hopped would become the bell tower of a Pugin designed cathedral, however this project was never completed. The Nenagh Castle has now become a major tourist destination on the mid-west region, with the development of the interior, which is now open to the public.
Interior of Nenagh Castle Crown
Well, that’s all I have for you this week, but tune back this way in seven days and view a number of new reasons on ‘Why North Tipperary’ should be your holiday destination.Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee