Why North Tipperary: A History Lesson

Brian Boru, King of Munster

Brian Boru, King of Munster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a short than usual post this week, I’m going to have a quick look at how the County of Tipperary has got it’s name and furthermore maybe understand why there is a distinction between North Tipperary and South Tipperary. Hey, it must be the Celts in us to always be on the lookout for a bit of rivalry.

Anyway, my research tells me that before the devastating Norman invasion (from which most of our surnames are derived from, although history does state that the Normans became more Irish than the Irish themselves), well anyway, before the Norman invasion, the county of Tipperary was even divided back then, into the old North Munster kingdom of Thomond (includes parts of Clare and North Limerick), and the South Munster kingdom of Desmond. Now there were two clans that dominated this part of the country and these were the O’Brien’s and the McCarthy’s and it seems that Tipperary was where their endless battles would take place. This was, of course, until McCarthy’s were kicked out into Cork and so the McCarthy name became connected to Cork. The O’Brien’s though ruled supreme, with their most famous monarch being Brian Boru, the founder of the O’Brien dynasty and the High King of Ireland (Reigned: 1002 – 1014, , 1,000 year anniversary early next year, sure now there’s another reason to visit North Tipperary: site of original dominions). Now every Irish schoolboy and schoolgirl has heard of Brian Boru, but even if you haven’t, why not pay Brian Boru’s church, or his birthplace in Kincora, a visit at the border of North Tipperary and Clare at Ballina/Killaloe.

The Rock of Cashel.

The Rock of Cashel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking moreso at this regal history of Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel, which is situated in the centre of the county, was the seat of the kings of Munster, but then the Normans arrived and decided to stay for a bit. On their arrival, the south of the county was granted to Philip de Worchester, while most of the north of the county was granted to Theobald Walter, whose family became the Butler’s or appointed servants to the King and so the Butler name was theirs. The Butlers were originally strong in the Nenagh area and indeed Nenagh castle was built by them. They became the Earls of Ormond and were a very strong voice in Irish affairs for three centuries.

Gramscis cousin 11:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Gramscis cousin 11:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The county of Tipperary was created and named after the small town of the same name in 1328 and some names that are connected to this great Irish county are the surnames Ryan, Maher, O’Meara, Gleeson, Hogan, O’Dwyer, Quirke, Macken, Moloney, Tracey, Kelly and of course O’Brien and O’Kennedy. In fact a good note of that last one, because another strong clan on the North Tipperary region and in fact the Nenagh area were the O’Kennedy’s, who would have been the ancestors of the late President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy. And that’s not all when it comes to US presidents, there is also Ronald Reagan, who visited his ancestral home of Ballyporeen as President and also the existing President Barak, who of course hails from Moneygal, which is situated on the border of North Tipperary and Offaly and is just 13 miles from Nenagh town.

Now how about those for a number of reasons to visit North Tipperary. ‘The Well of Ara’, or Tipperary as we all know it today, is so packed with history, and we’re connected to our fair share of leaders through the ages, that all you need to do is take a deep breath and  taste it in the air. See y’all next time!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

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