Why Nenagh – Street Names

Nenagh Court HouseNenagh Court House @ Banba Square

Welcome to this week’s ‘Why Nenagh’ Post, where I’ll have a look at how confusing it can be to tour around Nenagh for a visitor, but as the Nenagh saying goes: ‘Nenagh, it’s a strangers paradise!’ You’ve heard of the classic U2 tune Where the Streets have no name? Well how about the Streets with more than one name? That’s what you’ll find in Nenagh town, where all sorts of arguments can be started about why you live in Silver Street while your next door neighbour lives in Connolly Street. As far as I know, you see the streets in Nenagh were changed after Ireland gained it’s independence back in 1922, however, not all of the name changes stuck and so the confusion began. But then it was decided in 1966 to have some sort of local vote to finally and officially name these streets. In the aftermath of this the official names were erected on the street corners, but alas, the supporters of the losing names still refused to obey the will of the majority, so to this day most streets in Nenagh have more than one name that it is known by.

Silver/Connolly StreetConnolly/Silver Street

Silver Street is one of the four roadways that are connected to the Market Cross in the centre of the town. As far as I can gather it was called Silver Road before Irish Independence since it was the road out of the town that led to the Silvermines Village. Then after independence the street was named after the great patriot James Connolly and so was called Connolly Street. This name didn’t stick for some people who preferred to leave it at the original name. Then in 1966, on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, there was a local vote to decide the issue. From what I can gather, Connolly Street won out, but the supporters of the original name wouldn’t agree, and began calling it Silver Street. Although there was a sign erected by the local Authority that officially named the street Connolly Street, it appears Silver Street has won through. Mind you, there is a large number of locals who still refer to the street as Connolly Street, so now you know if you go looking for Silver Street and you think you are lost because a local says you’re on Connolly Street you know you’re at the right spot.

Castle StreetCastle/Pearse Street

Castle StreetLeading directly from Silver/Connolly Street at the far side of the Market Cross is the main street in Nenagh town, so I suppose this street has actually three names. You see, as well as being known as the Main Street, this street is also named as Castle Street, after I suppose the local Nenagh Castle, and also Pearse Street, after the 1916 Easter Rising leader, Patrick Pearse. This street is well known as a great shopping street with a number of high quality boutiques (More on Nenagh’s boutiques in the coming weeks).

BarrackStreet KenyonStreetTwo Separate views of Kenyon/Barrack Street

Another street that is one of the four connected to the Market Cross, Kenyon Street was named after the Irish patriot Father Kenyon, while it also has the name Barrack Street. The old Garda Barracks used to situated on this street, so this is probably why it got the name Barrack Street. There is as much chance to hear this street being called either name, although the sign erected on the end of the street is Kenyon Street. This is now a very attractive street that has a number of different and high quality businesses, including boutiques, McCarney Antiques, the Peppermill Restaurant and Country Choice, which of course is run by the famous food guru Peter Ward.

Mitchell/Queen StreetMitchell/Queen Street

Mitchell Street or Queen Street is the last of the four streets that is connected to the Market Cross. To this day, again it is a case that both names are widely used. This is the street that Sonny O’Neill, the man who shot Michael Collins, lived until the day he died.

Peter StreetPeter/Kickham Street

Another street with two names is Peter Street, which is also known as Kickham Street. This street leads up towards the Nenagh Court House, the famous Rocky O’Sullivan’s Bar is on the right side, the Nenagh Arts Centre is also on the right, while the local Garda Station is on the left. Right in the centre at the top of the street is a small area called Banba Square. There is currently a statue to Christ the King at this spot, while there are also a number of marble engravings in memory to a number of people, including a marble plaque in memory of the 1981 Hunger Strikers.

Dublin RoadSpout2Spout3Dublin Road/Sprout Road/ McDonagh Street

Another street that has three different names is the road out of Nenagh towards Dublin. For that reason it’s called Dublin Road by a lot of people. This roadway is also called McDonagh Street after the Easter RIsing patriot Thomas McDonagh, who was from the village of Cloughjordan, which could be reached by traveling out the Dublin Road. Another name for this roadway was Spout Road, because of a spout that was situated on the way out of the town.

There are a number of other streets in the town that have more than one name including

1. William Street – Fintan-Lawlor Street

2. Bulfin Crescent – James Connolly Park

3. Pound Street – Sarsfield Street

4. Limerick Road – Clare Street

There are probably quite a number of others that I can’t can’t think of right now, so if anyone likes to remind me of any, please let me know through our Contact Us page. I hope you enjoyed this week’s page, and I hope you check out next week’s post, when I’ll take a special look at the Churches of Nenagh town.

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why Nenagh – Famous Connections

Welcome to this week’s version of Why Nenagh, our look at different reasons to come to Nenagh and the North Tipperary area. Last week I looked at different famous film and television characters who have connections to the Nenagh and North Tipperary area. This week I am going to look at some other people who have connections to Nenagh.

Shane MacGowanShane MacGowan

First up is one of the greatest contemporary song-writers of the 1980s right through to the 90’s and noughties. Shane MacGowan 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.

NPG D9303; John Toler, 1st Earl of Norbury after Unknown artistJohn Toler (1st Earl of Norbury)

Well you have your good characters and bad characters that are connected to any town or parish and Nenagh is no different, so lets have a look at John Toler, the ‘Hanging Judge’. John Toler, the 1st Earl of Norbury, was born on the 3rd December in 1745 in Beechwood, Nenagh. He went onto become one of the most hated figures in power in Ireland during the late seventeen hundreds and the early eighteen hundreds. He was appointed Chief Justice of Ireland in 1800 and his most famous trial was that of Irish nationalist leader and patriot Robert Emmet. Norbury interrupted and abused Emmet throughout the trial before sentencing him to death. Throughout the 27 years he held the post of Chief Justice he was known to joke even when the life of a human being was hanging in the balance; this resulted in Norbury becoming known as ‘The Hanging Judge’. Throughout his life Norbury had a strong belief in the Protestant ascendancy and he had a number of run-ins with the Irish Catholic Leadership, including Daniel O’Connell on several occasions, and also the British establishment after the Napoleonic Wars, when they there was a new aim of establishing a better relationship with the Catholic majority. Norbury died at 85 years in 1831 and was buried at St. Mary’s Church, Mary Street, Dublin.

J. D. BernalJ. D. Bernal

John Desmond Bernal, who was born at Brookwatson Nenagh on May 10th 1901, was one of the foremost scientists of the twentieth century. He was a controversial figure because of his communist beliefs and connections, but the work he produced throughout his lifetime as a scientist is hugely impressive. He is considered a pioneer of X-ray crystallography in molecular biology. In 1924 he determined the structure of graphite and he also did work on the crystal structure of bronze. His strength was in analysis as much as experimental method, and his mathematical and practical treatment of determining crystal structure was widely studied. Later on, he worked for the British War Ministry during World War II, where his main contribution to the Normandy Landings was the detailed mapping of the beaches. After assisting in the preparations for D-Day with work on the structure of the proposed landing sites as well as the bocage countryside beyond, Bernal landed at Normandy on the afternoon of D-Day +1 in the uniform of an instructor-Lieutenant RN to record the effectiveness of the plans. During his lifetime, Bernal was awarded the Royal Medal (1945), Guthrie Lecture (1947), the Stalin Peace Prize (1953), Grotius Gold Medal (1959), the Bakerian Lecture (1962) and he was a Fellow of the Royal Society. John Desmond Bernal died on the 15th September 1971, aged 70 years, and is buried in Battersea Cemetery, Morden, in a grave that is unmarked.

Sonny O'NeillSonny O’Neill’s Headstone

Denis ‘Sonny’ O’Neill wasn’t born in Nenagh town or outside it, but he lived most of his life in a town that became a protector and an adopted home for an individual who actually changed Irish history. So who was Sonny O’Neill? Well, he’s none other than the person who shot the Irish patriot and Leader Michael Collins. The story goes that the anti-treaty forces had set up an ambush at Béal na Bláth on August 22nd 1922 to assassinate Collins. The ambush squad consisted of Tom Hales, Jim Hurley, Dan Holland, Tom Kelleher, Sonny O’Neill, Paddy Walsh, John O’Callaghan, Sonny Donovan, Bill Desmond and Dan Corcoran. Seemingly the squad had decided to disperse and were clearing the road as well as diffusing a roadside bomb, when the convey of vehicles that included Michael Collins came upon them. A gun battle ensued and as the anti-treaty forces retreated, a shot rang out from O’Neill’s weapon that entered Collins forehead and blasted a hole at the back of his head. Michael Collins was dead and Sonny was soon on the run. He eventually made it to North Tipperary and before long he took lodgings in Queens/Mitchell Street in Nenagh town, where he remained for the remainder of his life. His secret was kept safe by those that knew who he was in the town and he was even one of the founding fathers of the Fianna Fail party in North Tipperary. Sonny O’Neill is buried in Tyone Cemetery, Nenagh.

Donal RyanDonal Ryan (Author: The Spinning Heart)

Donal Ryan’s debut novel The Spinning Heart was nominated on the Man-Booker Prize Long-List for 2013. An amazing achievement for a debut novelist, he has being quoted to have said he received approximately 50 rejections from publishers, before he eventually found a publisher who were willing to back him. Ryan’s publisher Transworld Book (Doubleday) tweeted that it was “thrilled” that his “stunning debut” had been longlisted. Donal is a born and bred Nenagh man.

JFK

Not a bad collection that we have linked to the town. Of course there is an actual connection to President John F. Kennedy also. You see back in the Norman times, before they decided they wanted to build the Nenagh castle and plant their own knights here, the land around Nenagh was O’Kennedy country and remained so for several centuries after the Norman conquest. So you see, although John F. Kennedy’s family roots may have been linked to Wexford, his ancient clan’s roots are here in Nenagh and North Tipperary. In fact the ancient treaty that was presented to President Kennedy on a visit to Ireland in 1962 and is now housed in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Massachusetts was signed between the invading Normans and the Kennedy’s in Nenagh Castle. More next week when I will have a look at festivals that are connected to the area.

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee