Why Nenagh – Church Architecture

Old Church of IrelandOld Church of Ireland

Welcome back to my weekly post: Why Nenagh! This week is going to be a predominantly a picture Posting, because quite simply I think these pictures can tell their own story. I’m looking at the two main churches of Nenagh town, because I reckon the buildings themselves are fantastic and to be able to visit them and to take in their surroundings is another reason to visit Nenagh town. First up is the old Church of Ireland. It is situated at the end of Kenyon/Barrack Street, with the square tower dominating that area of the town. According to the Ormond Historical Society, there are records of a church on this site going back to 1615. This square tower was added to an existing building in 1760 and a new church was added in 1809. This remained the Church of Ireland place of worship until a brand new building was erected in 1860 on a new site at what is now known as Church Road. (Since we have already discussed about Nenagh being a town where the streets have more names, does anyone know of another name for this road?)

Old Pic of Nenagh COI Exterior of Nenagh COI Interior towards altar of Nenagh COI Interior towards rear of Nenagh COI Interior commenorations in Nenagh COI

The existing Church of Ireland rests nicely along Church Road, with the Nenagh Castle and the Roman Catholic Church situated alongside.

And so to St Mary of the Rosary Church in Nenagh town. Although there exists a second Roman Catholic Church in the town that is situated behind the hospital, there really is no comparison with regards their standard of architecture. St Mary’s was built in 1895 and the architect was Walter G Doolin.

Old Church Interior13 Old Church Exterior1Old Church Interior12  Church Interior10 Church Interior5 Church Interior7 Church Interior8 Church Interior9 Church Interior3 Church Interior2 Church Interior2 Church Exterior 1 Church Interior1 Design3 Design2 Design1  Church DoorwayChurch Tower2Church Tower

It was constructed by John Sisk and he used Lahorna stone and Portroe slate with the Portland stone of the arches being the only imported material that was used. Some examples of the designs that are found around the buildings itself can be seen in the some of the images that appear here. According to the Buildings of Ireland website, this church is a ‘detached cruciform-plan‘ church and it comprises of a gabled entrance front with corner turret and flanked by five-stage tower with spire to the south. The Buildings of Ireland report goes on to say that: ‘this church is an excellent example of large scale Gothic Revival architecture of the late-nineteenth century in Ireland. The exterior is notable for the finely-carved ashlar dressings, gargoyles and elaborate west-front doorway. The interior of the nave revives the quatrefoil columns found in some thirteenth-century Irish and English west country Gothic parish churches and its columns and pointed arches are of Portland stone. A series of fine mosaics executed by Oppenheim in 1911 culminate in the chancel of the church.”

ArdcroneyCOIArdcroney Church of Ireland

I couldn’t finish this post, without commenting on the fact that back in the 1990’s the Ardcroney Church of Ireland was taken apart brick by brick and rebuilt in Bunratty Folk Park – since seemingly this was done by numbering the bricks, I suppose this would have been some sort of a very intricate jig-saw puzzle. Anyways, if you do travel to Bunratty in the County of Clare, which is well worth a visit at any time of the year and it is about 45 minutes drive from Nenagh town, don’t forget when you view the small Church of Ireland, that it is an architectural delight from North Tipperary! Till next week so, when I will be looking at some of the fine draperies in Nenagh town.

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

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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 – Film & Television Connections

Mystery PersonThere are many talented people associated with Nenagh town and it’s environs and none moreso than in the area of film and television. In fact, there are people living are connected to the vicinity of North Tipperary itself that would surprise you. This week I’m going to take a look at some of these world famous names, because you’d never know who’d you meet along any of Nenagh’s historic streets.

Rex IngramSo why not start with the big man himself. Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock, later to become known as Rex Ingram, was born in Rathmines in Dublin. As a young man his family moved to North Tipperary, whereby his father was employed as a verger in the Borrisokane Church of Ireland and also the Nenagh Church of Ireland. He lived for approximately eighteen months in Nenagh and it was here where he viewed his first moving picture. That was in 1901 at a traveling circus. The experience obviously stuck with him, because as we all know, Rex went on to become one of the great pioneers of Hollywood in the silent era. A plaque in his honour was erected in the town at the house where he lived amongst us by the Nenagh Silent Film Festival Committee in February 2013. He died on July 21st 1950, which was 63 years ago this very week.

MartinSheenYou see, there’s more than one president connected to North Tipperary (see President Barack Obama of Moneygall, which is on the border of County Tipperary and County Offaly and is just 12 miles from Nenagh town) and also (President Ronald Reagan of Ballyporeen, County Tipperary). The world renowned Hollywood actor and star of The West Wing, Martin Sheen, has very strong connections to North Tipperary. His family roots are from the Borrisokane area, which is just ten miles from Nenagh town, and it was from here where his mother emigrated to the United States. Martin is a proud son of North Tipperary and is a regular visitor to the area.

Patrick BerginHere’s another famous Hollywood actor who lives within our midst here in North Tipperary. Patrick Bergin lives in a castle that is situated near Cloughjordan and this town-land is just a ten minute drive from Nenagh town. Patrick has plenty of form as an actor including Sleeping with the Enemy, in which he wouldn’t leave poor Julia Roberts alone, and of course Robin Hood along with a number of very impressive titles. He is regularly seen in Nenagh town and other North Tipperary parishes.

Charlie Sheen

And then there’s Charlie! Charlie Sheen, son of aforementioned Martin Sheen has, through his father and then of course his grand-mother, strong connections to the North Tipperary locality. Martin is very well known as a major Hollywood actor and American television star. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’ll never know who you might meet around about Nenagh-way.

Emilio EstevezNow I couldn’t leave it at that about the Sheen clan. There’s also Martin‘s other son Emilio. He may have taken the name his father was christened with, but like his brother and of course his father, there is still North Tipperary blood running through his veins. Another major Hollywood connection for North Tipperary. Emilio has a wonderful career in his own right with some wonderful productions behind him like Young Guns, St Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club to name just a few. He also has a career as a director, screenwriter and a producer.

Johnny DeppNow Johnny Depp hasn’t being able to find roots to North Tipperary as of yet, that I know of, but he was reported to be in the Toomevara (village 5 miles from Nenagh town) graveyard searching for his roots a couple of years back. But Johnny is no stranger to Nenagh town and the North Tipperary countryside. He’s a very close friend of Shane MacGowan, who is from and lives a few miles from Nenagh and he’s a regular visitor to the area. We’ll just have to dig a little deeper and I’m sure before long we’ll find his true Irish roots in the heartland of North Tipperary. (More on Shane McGowan next week)

George ClooneyThere are quite a number of other connections to the world of film and television and this is something we are very proud about. To name just a few more, there’s George Clooney who has been reported to have visited North Tipperary in the recent past in search of his own roots. Then there’s Brigie de Courcy (Executive Producer of Fair City and formally Producer on Eastenders), who is married to Nenagh man Kevin McGee (Award-Winning Playwright, Director, Producer, Irish television script-writer). And there is Kevin’s brother Noel, who is also an Irish television script-writer. There are countless others and if you want to remind me of them please leave a comment in the Comment box below. Next week I’ll take a look at some famous names throughout history who have called Nenagh town their home.

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee