Why North Tipperary: The Baronies

Map of the baronies of County Tipperary in Ire...

Map of the baronies of County Tipperary in Ireland; taken from Atlas and cyclopedia of Ireland, p.267 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As has being mentioned many a time on this Blogsite, North Tipperary is a very historic region of the island of Ireland. As well there being the North and South Riding’s, there are also the baronies of either part of the county, but I’m gonna focus on the baronies of North Tipperary.Over all there are six baronies in North Tipperary, but what are baronies? Well a barony is a subdivision of a county, with North Tipperary being subdivided in the baronies of Eliogarty, Ikerrin, Ormond Upper, Ormond Lower, Owney and Arra, plus Slieverdagh, after the Norman conquest. So lets take a closer look at each of these baronies (as is described in Wilkepedia):

Surviving west gable of the 12th-century Roman...

Surviving west gable of the 12th-century Romanesque church in Roscrea. This church was in use until 1812 when most of it was demolished with the exception of this gable. It serves now as gate to the Church of Ireland parish church. (See entry 1843 in Jean Farrelly and Caimin O’Brien: Archaeological Inventory of County Tipperary: Vol. I – North Tipperary, ISBN 0-7557-1264-1.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eliogarty

The chief town is Thurles and the baroney lies between Ikerrin to the north, where the chief town is Roscrea, Kilnamanagh Upper to the west, where the chief town is Borrisoleigh and Middle Third to the south, where the chief town is Cashel. The ancient territory of Éile obtained its name from pre-historic inhabitants called the Eli, about whom little is known beyond what may be gathered from legends and traditions. The extent of Éile varied throughout the centuries with the rise and fall of the tribes in occupation. Before the 5th century A.D. the details of its history which can be gleaned from surviving records and literature are exceedingly meagre, obscure and confusing. During this century however Éile appears to have reached its greatest extent, stretching from Croghan Bri Eli (Croghan Hill in Offaly) to just south of Cashel (in Corca Eathrach Eli). The southern part of this territory embraced the baronies of Eliogarty and Ikerrin, a great part of the modern barony of Middlethird, the territory of Ileagh, and portion of the present barony of Kilnamanagh Upper.

English: Coat of arms of County Tipperary, Ireland

English: Coat of arms of County Tipperary, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the 8th century, the territory of Ancient Éile had broken up into a number of petty kingdoms: the O’Carrolls occupied the northern portion, the O’Spillanes held Ileagh (Ileigh) while the Eóganacht Chaisil had annexed Middlethird. The O’Fogartys held what is now the barony of Eliogarty, while to the north of them, at least some time later, were O’Meaghers of Ikerrin. The River Nore, at its position between Roscrea and Templemore, although just a small stream at this point, is usually taken as the southern limit of Ely O’Carroll territory.

Ikerrin

The cheif town of Ikerrin is Roscrea, while the baroney lies between Eliogarty to the south and Ormond Upper to the west, whose chief town is Toomevara. As a county ‘peninsula’, it is surrounded on three sides by counties Offaly and Laois.

When County Tipperary was split into North and South Ridings in 1836, Ikerrin was allocated to the north riding. However, the neighbouring barony of Kilnamanagh was split into Upper and Lower half-baronies, being allocated to the north and south ridings respectively.

Tipperary shown in Herman Moll's New Map of Ir...

Tipperary shown in Herman Moll’s New Map of Ireland (1714) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ormond Upper

The chief townland of Ormond Upper is Toomevara and this barony lies between Ormond Lower to the north, where the chief town is Nenagh, Kilnamanagh Upper to the south, Owney and Arra to the west, where the chief town is Newport and also Ikerrin to the east. The O’Meara’s had an entensive territory in the barony; the name of their chief residence, Tuaim-ui-Meara, is still retained in the village of Toomavara.

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

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

Ormond Lower

The chief town of Ormond Lower is Nenagh and this barony lies between Ormond Upper to the south-east and Owney and Arra to the south-west. As a ‘peninsula’, it is surrounded on three sides by counties Galway and Offaly.

Owney and Arra

This barony, whose chief town is Newport, lies between Ormond Lower to the north, Kilnamanagh Upper to the south and Ormond Upper to the east. To the west lies the River Shannon, which separates it from County Limerick.

Kilnamanagh Upper

The chief town of Kilnamanagh Upper is Borrisoleigh, while the baroney lies between Ormond Upper, Kilnamanagh Lower of South Tipperary, whose chief town is Dundrum and Eliogarty to the east.

Nave, looking east.

Nave, looking east. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so they are the baronies of North Tipperary. Filled with mountains of ancient history, of legendary heroes, betrayal, murder, beautiful scenery, mystic trails; this and much, much more, but you won’t know for sure until you pay us a visit and taste North Tipperary for yourself. See you soon and bye for now!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

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Why North Tipperary: Paranormal Legends 2

Leap Castle

Welcome back, here’s the second part of the Nenagh Silent Film Festival’s post which looks at North Tipperary Paranormal Legends. This will conclude this post and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together:

Monahinsha AbbeyMonahinsha Abbey

Local Legends
Location: Monahinsha, Roscrea
Timeline: Unknown

Now here’s a strange one. Near Roscrea there’s a ruined church called Inishnameo, which may also be called Monahinsha. The story behind this goes that up to a couple of hundred years ago there was a fine lake at this spot with two islands in the centre of the lake. The larger of these lakes hosted a monastery which was founded by St. Hilary, while the smaller of these islands hosted a smaller chapel, but both islands also had their own legends. For the larger of the islands it was said that no female of any species could set foot on the island and survive, and legend has it that this story was tested with several female dogs and cats, while the the bushes and trees of the island was said to be filled with male birds, but no females who avoided the island as if the plague resided there. With regards the smaller of the islands, it was said that a person couldn’t die on this island no matter how sick they were and if a person on the island had an infliction, they would just waste away until they begged to face death by being taken from the island rather than suffering anymore. The lake around these islands was drained by the landowner about two hundred years ago and he barred all pilgrims from the area henceforth. No-one knows if the curse of these islands still persist to this day, so would you like to visit and find out for yourself?

Phantom CoachPhantom Coach

Night Coach
Location: Timoney Park, Roscrea
Timeline: Unknown

In Timoney Park, Roscrea, there is a legend that a phantom coach is often seen carrying the shades of the Parker-Hutchinson family towards their home, so watch out if you see a coach approaching in this area on late dark evenings, because you’d never know whats inside.

Sopwell CastleSopwell Hall

Haunted Screams
Location: Sopwell Castle
Timeline: Unknown

After Cromwell and his hordes  rampaged throughout the land, he rewarded some of his military leaders with land and castles and here at Sopwell Castle he rewarded the seat to one Thomas Sadleir. Sadleir changed the name of the premises to Sopwell Hall, which is a name that persists to this day. No matter what the name of the premises though, there is still a haunted scream which has being heard regularly within its walls. These screams are followed by the sound of a body being dragged down a staircase, which is thought to be the result of a body being dropped down the stairs. This manifestation is said to be a regular occurance as if is history is repeated again and again of a spirit which refuses to rest. The question is why and what horrible past is hidden within these historical walls?

View from the Devils Bit 2

View from the Devils Bit 2 (Photo credit: Donncha Carroll)

Devil’s Bit
Location: Templemore
Timeline: Since Ancient Times

Legend has it that the devil was being chased from Ireland by St. Patrick, but the devil came across a mountain near where Templemore is now located. For some reason or another the devil then decided to take a chunk from this mountain and hurled it in the air and the same lump of rock finished up where the Rock of Cashel is now situated, while the mountain range has forever since, is seen with a very noticeable large chunk missing out of it. Another version of this story says that after biting into the mountain his tooth fell out and formed the Rock. Of course, the legend has a few flaws, especially, well, its being around a bit longer than when St Patrick was around converting the locals, but there’s another version of this story. It has being well written of how the forming Christian church manipulated ancient legends to suit their own needs. An ancient legend states that an Irish hero was chasing a creature call the Cratnoch from the island. This creature gave birth to a number of other-worldly creatures including the Devil, but had met its match in Fionn Mac Cumhaill (whay-hay, Up our side). This thing was being chased out of Ireland until it came to the mountains near Templemore. Trying to slow down Fionn, it immediately bit a chunk out of the mountain and threw it at the Irish warrior, but this landed where the Rock now lays, while Fionn eventually caught up with the creature in Lough Derg, and supposedly defeated it there. So whatever you believe, or whether you don’t believe at all, the haunting, wonderful scene from the Devil’s Bit is very much well worth a visit.

Victorian PolicemanA Victorian Policeman

Haunting Manifestation
Location: Timoney, Roscrea.
Timeline: Since 1860

There is a story from the townland of Timoney, which is situated near Roscrea, of a local policeman back in the 1860’s named Dyer, who once swore to protect the area he patrolled ‘dead or alive’. After his death in the 1860’s, locals reported his ghost carrying out his promise. Is he still around this spot patrolling the townland from any wrong-doers, well why not visit and see for yourself?

Leap Castle

Leap Castle (Photo credit: AlisonKillilea)

A Collection of Hauntings

Location: Leap Castle.
Timeline: Since 1250

Leap CastleAnd so I’ve left the best till last. Just beyond the North Tipperary border into Offaly there lies the haunting legend of Leap Castle, which is known as the most haunted place in Ireland. Widely considered Ireland’s most haunted castle, Leap Castle in Offaly could teach Tim Burton a thing or two about the macabre. Centuries of odd accidents, strange occurrences and ill-repute can all be traced back to one family: The O’Carrolls.

The O’Carroll clan built Leap Castle around 1250 as their family stronghold and it passed from generation to generation without incident. Until there came a time when two ambitious brothers challenged each other for dominion over the castle and grounds. One brother was a priest, the other a successful military man. The two had never seen eye-to-eye.

Leap castleThe priest was giving mass in the chapel attached to the castle one evening when his brother burst through the doors and plunged his sword into his heart. Brother killing brother is an unspeakable sin, a desecration of the natural order. Since that day a relentless gloom clings to the castle. A mysterious ‘entity’ has ever since stalked the lower levels and dungeons of Leap.

During the 1900s workmen restoring the chapel discovered a hidden wall, concealing a room with a gruesome purpose. Instead of a floor, there was an eight-foot drop onto a wicked spike. The workmen removed layer after layer of human skeletons that were piled atop each other.

These are just a portion of the haunting stories linked to Leap Castle, and to this day locals dare not enter the castle grounds, but you can if you are daring enough… If a strange and ghastly smell should trespass upon your senses, run as fast as you can or you may be another ghastly page in Leap’s history. Hope you enjoyed the second part of a look at North Tipperary’s paranormal legends and I look forward to putting another one together for you next week. Boo for now!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary: Paranormal Legends

Ghostly Scene

Greetings from the Nenagh Silent Film Festival website, Halloween and things that might go bump in the night is drawing closer, so I’m going to take a look at some of the local paranormal legends Here is the first part of two blogs which look at the haunting paranormal legends of North Tipperary. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I have had in putting it together (Ps: I’ll post the second part next week):

graveyard

graveyard (Photo credit: ElitePete)

Friendly Ghost?
Location: Ballingarry, Thurles
Timeline: 1999

Now first up is a recent story regarding two young brothers, who were aged eight and ten years old. As they were passing an old church graveyard in Ballingarry, Thurles, they noticed a man who was peering over the wall towards them. They approached the figure and they noticed that he was wearing a white shirt with dark glasses and that he had curly hair. The two boys also reported that the man looked like he had been crying and he had ignored the children when they tried to speak to him. The two brothers later related this story to their father, who then pointed out that the wall the individual was peering out over was in fact eight feet tall, but on hearing the description of the figure, the father recognised the individual as being a friend of his who had passed away four years previously.

Tipperary Sunrise

Tipperary Sunrise (Photo credit: Insight Imaging: John A Ryan Photography)

Unknown Entity
Location: Cappawhite
Timeline: 1910

During the early part of the last century, deep in the Silvermines Mountains, near the village of Cappagh White, or Cappawhite, along a road that was approaching Ironmiills Bridge, a man by the name of Thomas Fahey stated that a strange black blob landed on the handlebars of his bicycle. On reporting the incident, he went onto say that the strange object proceeded to slow the bicycle down considerably, before it eventually released the handle-bars and moved off in another direction and disappearing along another path.

English: Annagh Castle Ruined Castle in Annagh...

English: Annagh Castle Ruined Castle in Annagh townland on the shore of Lough Derg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Haunting Manifestation
Location: Annagh Castle
Timeline: 1600’s – Present

Of course there are several ghostly legends of spirits that have haunted North Tipperary for hundreds of years. One such spirit is supposedly that of Edmond Roe O’Kennedy. Back in the Sixteenth century, poor auld Edmond was murdered by his enemies, however, Edmond died on that fateful night without telling anyone where he had concealed his hidden treasure. Since his murder, it is said that Edmond’s shade has appeared to visitors at the site of Annagh Castle on the shores of beautiful Lough Derg, with blood flowing from a large slit that was left in his throat.

Black ShuckBlack Shuck

Shuck
Location: Castle Biggs, Terryglass
Timeline: Unknown

Not to be outdone, Castle Biggs, which is situated further north along the banks of Lough Derg near Terryglass, is also supposed to be haunted, but this time by a Shuck, which is a type of a demonic dog. The legend on this this one is that this abomination with cloven hooves protects a hidden hoard of treasure.  So for all you treasure hunters out there, two ancient castles, both along the shores of Lough Derg, both with long lost treasures of supposedly immense wealth, but both also protected by other-worldly beings.

Lough DergLough Derg

Phantasmal Vessel & the Lough Derg Monster
Location: Lough Derg
Timeline: Unknown

To finish off this week’s Why North Tipperary post, I’m going to stay with Lough Derg and tell you about two other ghostly happenings that have being witnessed by a number of terrified individuals. First up is a phantasmal vessel that is regularly witnessed traveling north upon the lake. It appears to travel calmly, but with a gentle, haunting singing emanating from from the mystic decks of the vessel itself.

Ghostly ShipGhostly Ship

Next up dates back to ancient Ireland, when the warrior Finn McCool fought and killed a huge monster beast that was living in the lake; legend says that two hundred men climbed out of the beasts belly once Finn sliced it open. Ancient legends aside, some locals do state that a smaller monster still lives in the lake, which is not too dis-similar to the more famous Lough Ness Monster.

Old irish GraveyardOld Irish Graveyard

And that’s all I have to say for this week, but I promise I’ll be back next week with more haunting stories to entice you to visit North Tipperary at some stage. Till then, I hope you all are getting ready for a Happy and Haunting Halloween, which is of course after all, like St Patrick’s Day, originally an Irish celebration. Watch out for the next post on paranormal legends of North Tipperary when I will look at a local legend based near Roscrea, a night coach sighted at Timoney Park, Roscrea, haunted screams hears at Sopwell Castle, the legend of the Devil’s Bit, a Manifestation – also at Timoney, near Roscrea, and a Collection of Hauntings at Leap Castle. 😀

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary – A Walker’s Paradise

English: Waymarking sign, comprising an image ...

English: Waymarking sign, comprising an image of a walking man and a directional arrow in yellow, used in Ireland to denote a National Waymarked Trail. The design was copied from the symbol used to waymark the Ulster Way in Northern Ireland and has since become the standard waymarking image used for long-distance trails in the Republic of Ireland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello and welcome to this week’s Why North Tipperary, whereby this week, and for the next two weeks we are going to look at the different walking trails around North Tipperary. I have used several sources to accumulate these including Shannon Region Trails, Irish Trails and Trip Visor, so I hope you enjoy viewing some more very good reasons to visit North Tipperary.

English: Lough Derg, West Tipperary

English: Lough Derg, West Tipperary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Slí Eala (the Way of the Swan):
This walk is a National Linear Walk and it is marked out with green arrows. It begins at the beautiful lakeside village of Dromineer along the shores of Lough Derg and following the banks of the Nenagh river to Scott’s Bridge, which is situated 2.5km from the centre of Nenagh town. The length is just over six and a half miles, which can take up to three hours, however, along the way there is an abundant of wildlife including the Mute Swan, Ireland’s largest indigenous bird, which gives the walk its name.
Graves of the LeinstermenGraves of the Leinstermen
Graves of the Leinstermen:
A local tradition states that it is here at the Graves of the Leinstemen that the soldiers of Leinster and their King met their deaths at the hands of Brian Boru’s forces around the year 1000AD. The legend states that the Leinster King had requested to be buried within sight of the Leinster Kingdom and so his followers then placed his body under the ancient stading stones at this spot. This is a walking loop that is 6km in length, which starts at the Graves of the Leinstermen, and moves through the countryside, before turning into the Arra Mountains; the walk continues to the summit, which is called Tountinna, where some spectacular views of Lough Derg and the surrounding countryside are laid out in the canvas of a masterpiece. The walk descends then very quickly and steeply to the trail-head.
English: Panorama view on Tipperary and surrou...

English: Panorama view on Tipperary and surroundings, and at the horizon the Silvermines Mountains. Nederlands: Panoramafoto van Tipperary en omgeving, in de verte de Silvermines Mountains. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kilcommon Pilgrim Loop:
This is a wonderful walk through a section of the Silvermines Mountains, which is aptly called the Kilcommon Pilgrim Loop, since it brings the walker along the old mass paths leading to the church of Kilcommon village. It traverses a number of small minor roadways, forestry paths and it takes in the beauty of the Golden Vale countryside, as well as the lower slopes of Mauherslieve Mountain and open hillside. From this walkway there are some amazing views of County Tipperary and of County Limerick.
Knochnaroe ViewKnockanroe Wood Loop View
Knockanroe Wood Loop:
The Knockanroe Wood Loop is almost three miles in length and it takes in another section of the Silvermines Mountain range, around the village of Silvermines itself. This looped walkway itself explores the Coolyhorney area and it overlaps with the Slieve Felim Way for a short while. Historically, Silvermines village is very important to the area, where the mining of lead, sinc, copper, sulphide and barities have occurred since Roman times, while the highest point in North Tipperary is situated nearby – the top of the mast that is on top of Keeper Hill!
The Golden Vale in winter

The Golden Vale in winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grange Crag Loop:

Both the Crag and the Grange Loops take the same initial routes from the village of Grange. The Crag route though diverges to the left following the turn after the ‘icehouse’. Walkers are then taken up through the mixed forest to the Wellington Monument folly, which is at the summit of Crag Hill. Again, there are some amazing views from some this walk’s highest points at the top of the Slieveardagh Hills of the Kilcooley estate, the central plains of Tipperary and the Golden Vale, and also the hills of the bordering counties of Laois, Cork, Limerick and others. The walk continues along a marked forest path and a winding ridge to view some of the local natural environment of ancient woodlands and flowing streams, before Crag Loop rejoins Grange Loop and circles back to the village of Grange.

Ballyhourigan Woods LoopBallyhourigan Woods Loop
Ballyhourigan Woods Loop:
Now, as previously mentioned, Keeper Hill is the highest point in North Tipperary, and of course there is also a couple of walks connected to this natural landmark. The Ballyhourigan Woods Loop is just over five and a half miles in length and it begins at the village of Toor, which is situated near the townland of Newport. This loop follows a woodland trail and forestry track in an ascent through Aherlow Nature Park and Ballinacourty Woods. The walkway traverses the southern shoulder of Slievenamuck, which offers the walker some magnificent views of the Galtee Mountains. Whilst walking through Ballyhourigan Woods, approximately 3km into the trek, there is an option to turn onto the Keeper Hill Trail which will take the walker up to the summit, however, if you continue along by the loop, you will eventually travel towards the village of Boolatin, before you eventually regain the trail-head. It is said that on a clear day that nine counties can be viewed from the top of Keeper Hill, so why not go for the long Keeper Trail and see how many you can spot!
English: Upperchurch, County Tipperary

English: Upperchurch, County Tipperary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eamonn A Chnoic Loop:

And last, but not least for this week’s Walker’s Trail, the Eamonn A Chnoic Loop, or the Ned of the Hill Loop. This loop is located around the village of Upperchurch and it gets its name from a local character of the 17th/18th century who was a local Robin Hood figure. The story goes that the English took his family’s vast land, but the young Eamonn was sent to France to enter the priesthood, however he returned to his homeland and soon got into trouble by shooting a tax collector. He then had to go on the run, but he didn’t hide and instead Ned of the Hill became one of a number of rapparees, who championed the cause of the poor by harassing the English Planters. Anyway, this walkway begins in Upperchurch village and continues through a wide range of fields and small lane-ways, while it also passes along the long forest boundaries, with the wild sounds of nature filling the air and singing through the mountain breezes. There are a number of tremendous views of the Comeraghs, Knockmealdowns, Galtees, Sleabh na mBán and the Devil’s Bit. This is one wonderful walk you won’t want to miss out on.
Photo of Lough Derg taken on 6/03/05 by Ludram...

Photo of Lough Derg taken on 6/03/05 by Ludraman with a Sony Cybershot DSC-P9. Edited mercilessly afterwards in iPhoto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well I hope you enjoyed that, and just to let you know that I’ll be back next week with the second part of my look at the many, many, picturesque nature-walks through North Tipperary. There is some amazing scenery in our midst, so why not come along and take in the sights and sounds of North Tipperary!

Click to View Map:
Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary – Famous Musicians

Rainy Night in Soho

Rainy Night in Soho (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello again all; welcome back to Why North Tipperary – our weekly look at why it would be a good idea to pay North Tipperary a visit, if you want to do some traveling. This week I’m going to look at some of the world famous musicians who are connected to North Tipperary. You’ll also be able to view one of the major hits connected to each musician, so do enjoy.

Brendan Graham is a very successful Irish novelist and he is also a well renowned songwriter, with the composition of two of Ireland’s winning Eurovision tunes: Rock n’ Roll Kids and The Voice, but his most famous song is You Raise me Up, for which he wrote the lyrics for Rolf Lovland. He was born in 1945 and grew up in Nenagh town.

Shane MacGowan is one of the greatest contemporary song-writers of the 1980s right through to the 90’s and noughties.and his music is world famous with some of his more famous tracks including Fairytale of New York, A Rainy Night in Soho, Summer in Siam and The Sunnyside of the Street. Shane was born in London, but spent his youth in his mother’s family home in Carney, which is just outside of Nenagh. He regularly visits Nenagh each year, as he has a dwelling just outside of the town, so you are very likely to bump into an Irish musical legend  at anytime down in old Nenagh town.

Frank Patterson was an internationally renowned Irish tenor, who was born in Clonmel on October 5th 1938, however, he lived for a time in Borrisoleigh. Frank, who was known as Ireland’s Golden Tenor, is said to have followed in the tradition of famous Irish singers like Count John McCormack and Josef Locke. Frank Patterson passed away June 10th 2000, but his voice lives on – one example in the above Youtube video is of his version of Danny Boy in the film Miller’s Crossing.

Thurles woman Una Theresa Imogene Healy is an Irish singer-songwriter and musician who is best known as a member of the world famous girl group The Saturdays. The group have enjoyed eight top ten hits and have three top ten album hits. Theresa is married to the England rugby union player, Ben Foden.

Boy George was born George Alan O’Dowd in Kent on June 14th 1961, however, his parents, Jeremiah and Dinah O’Dowd, were form Thurles, County Tipperary. Boy George, who formed his own group called Culture Club, was part of the English New Romanticism movement, which emerged in the early mid-1980s.

John Francis Waller, who was born in 1810 and died in 1894, was an Irish poet and editor and also a writer of popular songs. Some of his more famous tunes include Cushla Ma Chree, The Spinning Wheel and Song of Glass. He was born at Limerick, but lived for a long time in Borrisokane.

John McCormack, Irish tenor

John McCormack, Irish tenor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so you have it. A short piece this week, but how many of these world famous musicians did you know had such strong roots to North Tipperary? If anyone can direct me to others, please feel free to drop me a line. Till next week then.

Why North Tipperary – National Monuments 2

Scene of Lough DergScene of Lough Derg

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.

LiathmoreLiathmore

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.

St Ruadhan's ChurchSt Ruadhan’s Church

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.

Roscrea Round TowerRoscrea Round Tower

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.

Monaincha ChurchMonaincha Church

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.

Terryglass CastleTerryglass Castle

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

Nenagh Castle

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 the Castle Crown

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

Why North Tipperary: National Monuments 1

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.

Lackeen CastleLackeen Castle

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?

Ashleypark Burial MoundAshleypark Burial Mound

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 CastleBallynahow Castle

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.

The Timoney StonesThe Timoney Stones
The Timoney Stones, that are located in the Timoney Hills, south-west of Borris-in-Ossery and south-east of Roscrea, are described in The Standing Stone website as: “something of a mystery among scholars and in the Archaeological Inventory of Tipperary the stones are listed separately tot he other standing stones in the county.” In all there are roughly 121 standing stones, while it is estimated that about 90 others have been removed over time. The stones range in size from 30cm to approximately 2m and they are laid out in no identifiable pattern, which has led to discussion. Also, they are in close proximity to the Cullaun Stones and the authors of The Standing Stone website believe that this means that they were probably part of the same complex. There is a complete randomness about the Timoney Stones though, which follows no archaeological pattern and with a lot more suggestions to the the origins of these stones than any plausible answers, the mystery will persist.
 Holy Cross Abbey 1841Holy Cross Abbey 1841
Holycross Abbey is situated near Thurles and it is a restored Cistercian monastery, while the abbey itself takes it’s name from a relic of the True Cross. The story goes that around 1233, a fragment of the True Cross was brought to Ireland by the Plantagent Queen, Isabella of Angouleme. Isabella, who was the widow of King John, bestowed the relic on the original Cistercian Monastery in Thurles and thenceforth it’s name has been Holy Cross Abbey. Holy Cross has a mountain of history connected to it throughout the 800 years of English rule and rebellion against it in Ireland, and this was especially seen during the Reformation and on through to Cromwell’s invasion and it’s aftermath, when the Abbey fell into ruins. Although the Abbey became a scheduled national monument in 1880: “to be preserved and not used as a place of worship“, a Special Legislation in the Dáil on it’s 50th anniversary on January 21st, 1969, enabled Holy Cross Abbey to be restored as a place of Catholic worship. The Sacristan of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican provided an authenticated relic of the Holy Cross, and the emblem of the Jerusalem Cross, or Crusader Cross, has been restored to the Abbey.  …. And so, I think I’ll leave it at that for this week, but I’ll be back next week with Part II of the National Monuments that are dotted all around North Tipperary – some more great reasons to visit North Tipperary.

Why North Tipperary National Monuments Map

 

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee