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

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: Golf Clubs

In the small district of North Tipperary there are several golf clubs situated in some wonderful scenery. This week I’m going to take a look at a few of them, which might wet your appetite to visit or travel around North Tipperary. There’s more to see in North Tipp than you may have guessed, as the saying of Nenagh town goes: It’s a Strangers Paradise!’.

Nenagh Golf Course SceneNenagh Golf Course Scenery

Nenagh Golf ClubNenagh Golf Club

Situated along the outskirts of Nenagh town, the local golf club, which was originally built in 1929 with its architects being Alister McKenzie, Eddie Hackett and Patrick Merrigan, however, it is a public and modern facility that is open all year round. It has a price range of €15 to €25, while it’s type is described as ‘Parkland’ ;other facilities include a bar, restaurant, practice facilities and a club-house. A very popular golf club, it even has a positive review on it’s profile on the WorldGolf website from Tiger Woods – this was a five-star review and it was posted on the morning on April 18th, 2012 at 9.40am. More information can be found at www.nenaghgolfclub.com.

Roscrea Golf ClubRoscrea Golf Club Scenery

Roscrea Golf Club LogoRoscrea Golf Club

Roscrea Golf Club is situated just outside Roscrea on the Dublin road and this very old golf club is open to the public, while it has a style that is described as ‘Parkland’. The architect of this golf club was one Arthur Spring and the golf club was built in 1892. The price range for week days and weekends is the same ranging from €20 to €45, while it’s other facilities include a club-house, practice facilities and changing rooms. More information can be sourced at www.roscreagolfclub.ie

Thurles Golf CLubThurles Golf Club Scenery

Thurles Golf ClubThurles Golf Club

Thurles Golf Club, which was originally built in 1909 and is situated on the outskirts of the town, is described by one reviewer as being a “great course in pristine condition“. Again, it’s description is ‘Parkland’ and this eighteen hole course is also opened to the public throughout the year. There are quite a number of other facilities including a restaurant, bar, sauna, gym, club-house, banquet facilities and meeting facilities. The rates at this club are from €10 to €45 weekdays and weekends. More information can be sourced at http://www.thurlesgolfclub.com.

Templemore Golf ClubTemplemore Golf Club

Templemore Golf ClubTemplemore Golf Club

The Golf Club that is situated in Templemore was built in 1970 and is open tot he public while it is described as ‘Parkland’. It is open all year round, while its rates range from €15 to €20 and its extra facilities include a Club-house, bar and practice facilities. Other information can be found at http://www.templemoregolfclub.ie.

A golf ball.

A golf ball. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well that’s it for this week, but rest assured I’ll be back in a week’s time with some more good reasons to come and visit or just travel around North Tipperary. And don’t forget, there’s more to Irish scenery and tourist opportunities than Dublin and ‘The West’. This year, why not give ‘North Tipperary’ and the ‘Midwest’ a chance!

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

Why North Tipperary – The Hollywood Connection

Hollywood, Keeper Hill, North Tipperary, IrelandHollywood, Keeper Hill, North Tipperary, Ireland

Did you ever realize how many connections North Tipperary has to Hollywood; it’s true and I’m not just talking about bit-part players or yer wan down the road who just happened to be on some B-Movie set. I’m referring to some major players from the world of Hollywood, who have visited North Tipperary again and again, and some who have made their homes amongst us. So who are they? Well I visited this subject a number of months ago, but since then I’ve added a few names to the previous list. This week I’m going to take another look at some of these world famous names, because you’d never know who’d you meet in and around the highways and byways of North Tipperary.

Rex IngramReginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock

So, first of all I’m going to 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 by the Nenagh Silent Film Festival Committee in February 2013. He died on July 21st 1950.

Gene KellyGene Kelly in ‘Singing in the Rain’

The first of a couple of Hollywood musical greats to be mentioned is the great Gene Kelly – he of Singing in the Rain fame. Gene Kelly loved Ireland and his Irish roots and he especially loved Puckane village. After his wife, Jeannie, passed away in the early 1970’s, Gene Kelly escaped what has been termed as a ‘Hollywood that was buzzing with curiosity and sympathy‘ to Puckane, near the shores of Lough Derg in North Tipperary. That was in 1973 and he spent the best part of a month in the area. There is a wealth of stories about Gene Kelly’s time in his ‘ancestral home’ including one regarding a man named Peter McGrath. Peter walked into Paddy Kennedy’s bar and having stopped momentarily to take in the appearance of the stranger at the end of the bar counter, he then approached him and said: “Did anyone ever tell you that you look a lot like Gene Kelly?” Gene Kelly enjoyed that and jumped up immediately and performed a dance routine to prove his identity.

Bing CrosbyPhotographer unknown – Can anyone educate us on this?

Another musical genius, who had a fondness for North Tipperary was Bing Crosby. The famous crooner was a visitor to Nenagh town during the 1960’s and it is obvious that the town was filled with excitement when word spread around that the Hollywood great was staying within their midst. The full story of this visit is that back in 1961 Bridie Brennan, who was a Borrisokane native that was living and working in Nenagh town, answered an advertisement for a nanny for Bing Crosby and his wife, Kathryn. Over the following years, Bridie became very close to the Crosby’s and even became an adviser and travel companion to Kathryn. A few years after Bridie took up the position, during 1965, Bing Crosby was visiting Ireland to see how a horse named ‘Meadow Court’ of which he had a third share in fared in the Irish Sweeps Derby at the Curragh. Bing stated at the time that he didn’t bet on the horse himself, but he had placed a wager of £2 on the horse for Bridie. Meadow Court was to win the Irish Sweeps Derby that year. While in Ireland, Bing Crosby had decided to travel to Nenagh town in recognition of what Bridie meant to the Crosby’s and he also wanted to see where Bridie had lived. Of course news of his visit to O’Meara’s Hotel spread like wildfire and a number of photos were taken of the visit. Bridie Brennan passed away in the Crosby residence, where she had been greatly cared for, in San Francisco on April 23rd, 1973. Bing Crosby, who regrettably had been unable to attend the obsequies after Bridie’s remains had arrived back to Ireland for burial, arranged through Interflora to have a carpet of flowers delivered to the grave.

MartinSheenMartin Sheen in ‘The West Wing’

So who’s next, well you 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 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 BerginPatrick Bergin

And it doesn’t end there; in fact I’m only starting as there is another famous Hollywood actor who lives within our midst here in North Tipperary. Patrick Bergin lives in a castle that is situated near Cloughjordan. 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 SheenCharlie 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 North Tipperary.

Emilio EstevezEmilio Estevez

Now 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 DeppJohnny Depp

Now 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 graveyard searching for his ancestral roots a few 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, but let me provide you with what is possibly a bit of an exclusive here: I’ve been led to believe, from a very reliable source, that Johnny Depp will again be visiting Nenagh town at some stage over the coming months (October probably). The thing about Johnny Depp’s visits is that he is gone before you’d know he was there, but I’ll keep an eye on that one.

Frank ThorntonFrank Thornton

There is also Frank Thornton, who played Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served? and also other productions like Crooks and Coronets, (1968); Spike Milligan’s The Bed-Sitting Room, (1969); No Sex Please We’re British (1973); The Three Musketeers, (1973); Steptoe and Son, (1974); The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones, (1975); and Gosford Park, (2001). Frank Thornton made his professional debut at the age of 19 in the old Confraternity Hall in Thurles town in a production of Terence Rattigan’s play “French Without Tears”.

George ClooneyGeorge Clooney

There 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. So until the next time …, that’s a wrap!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary – Irish Warriors

Over the centuries Ireland has produced her fair share of heroes and patriots and quite a number of military genius, and of course this can also be said for North Tipperary. At a quick glance at the war records of any number of famous, or even infamous, battles around the globe and you will find find a vast number of North Tipperary names;  its like we to have an ol’ row every now and then. Even still, a more concentrated look at the archives and it soon becomes clear that quite a number of these North Tipperary Warriors went onto become Leaders of men and women. So who are these heroes?

Private Martin O'Meara VCPrivate Martin O’Meara

Private Martin O’Meara was both an Irish and an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross – the Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry n the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Private O’Meara enlisted on August 19th, 1915, and was assigned to the 16th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces, with which he fought with distinction during World War I in the Killing Fields of France. It is reported that Private Martin O’Meara repeatedly went out and brought in wounded officers and men from ‘No-Mans Land‘ under intense artillery and machine-gun fire. This happened between August 9th and and the 12th, 1916 at Monquet Farm, Pozieres, France, during four days of very heavy fighting. Martin was born at Terryglass, Lorrha in North Tipperary on November 6th, 1885 and died on December 20th, 1935.

Col Patrick GuineyColonel Patrick Guiney

Colonel Patrick Guiney of the 9th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers was born in Parkstown, outside Thurles in County Tipperary. Colonel Guiney led his men at a number of battles during the American Civil War and was recommended after a number of incidents of heroism during the course of the war. At the battle of Chickahomiy, or Gaine’s Mill, Virginia, after three successive colour-bearers had been shot down, the colonel himself reportedly seized the flag, threw aside his coat and sword belt, rose white-shirted and conspicuous in the stirrups, inspired a final rally and turned the fortune of the day. Colonel Guiney fought in over thirty engagements, including the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Frederickburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of the Wilderness. On February 21st, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Guiney for the award of the honorary grade of Brevet Brigadier General for gallant and meritorious services during the war. This award was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 10th, 1866. Patrick Guiney died in Boston on March 21st, 1877.

Major General Sir William Bernard HickieMajor General Sir William Bernard Hickie

Sir William Bernard Hickie, who was to rise to the rank of Major General in the British Army and would also become an Irish Nationalist Politician, was born in Terryglass in County Tipperary on May 21st, 1865. During a long military career, Sir William served the Royal Fusiliers at Gibraltar, India, Egypt and the Mediterranean. During World War I, he initially led the 13th Brigade and then the 53rd Brigade, before then receiving a new post as the Major General of the new 16th (Irish) Division. The 16th (Irish) Division earned a reputation for aggression and élan and won many memorials and mentions for bravery in the engagements during the 1916 Battle of Guillemont and the capture of Ginchy, during the Battle of Messines, during the appalling conditions of the Third Battle of Ypres, and in attacks near Bullecourt in the Battle of Cambrai offensive during November 1917. In February 1918, Major General Sir William Bernard Hickie was invalided home on temporary sick leave, but as he was in hospital the German Spring Offensive began, during which his 16th (Irish) Division, which were now commanded by General Hubert Gough were practically wiped out and ceased to exist as a division. After the War Sir William served the Irish Seanad up to 1936. He passed away on November 3rd, 1950 and is buried in Terryglass, County Tipperary.

Comandant Thomas MacDonaghCommandant Thomas MacDonagh

Commandant Thomas MacDonagh, one of the signatories of the Irish Proclamation in 1916 and so one of the Leaders of the 1916 Rising, was born in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary on February 1st 1878. Thomas was known, and is still known, as an Irish Political activist, a poet, a playwright, an educationalist and a volunteer soldier. He was one of the seven leaders of the Easter Rising and as the Commander of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. After attending the inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers with Joseph Plunkett in 1913, he was placed on the Provisional Committee. It is argued that although he was more of a constitutionalist, through his dealings with men such as Pearse, Plunkett and Séan MacDermott, MacDonagh developed stronger republican beliefs and it is also believed that he then joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB – original name of the IRA), probably during the summer of 1915. During the Rising MacDonagh and his men held the massive complex of Jacob’s Biscuit Factory and they held it strongly, until they were ordered by their own leaders to surrender on April 30th. This was despite the fact the entire battalion was fully prepared to continue the engagement. Following the surrender, Thomas MacDonagh was court-martialled by the occupying British Forces and then executed by firing squad on May 3rd, 1916, aged 38.

Potrait of Begam SamruPortrait of Begum Samru

General George Thomas, who was born in Rocsrea, County Tipperary, in 1756, was an Irish mercenary who was active in 18th century India; during the 1790’s he was the most successful General in India. He was the son of a poor Catholic tenant farmer who lived near Roscrea, but who died when George was just a child. As a young man George found himself in Youghal, County Cork, where he worked as a labourer on the docks until he was press-ganged into the Royal Navy. In 1791, he managed to desert the British Navy while in Madras, India. He was still illiterate at this stage, but he still led a group of Pindaris north to Delhi by 1787, where he took service under Begum Samru of Sardhana. After this, however, he was supplanted in her favour by a Frenchman called Le Vassoult, he transferred his allegiance to Appa Rao, a Mahratta chieftain. George Thomas was known as the ‘Irish Raja‘ and he was the most successful General in India during the 1790’s. He was finally defeated and captured by Sindhia’s army under General Pierre Cuillier-Perron and he died on August 22nd, 1802, as he was been led down the Ganges.

Michael Joe CostelloLieutenant General Michael Joe Costello, who was born on July 4th, 1904, in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, came from a very nationalist background – his godfather was the 1916 Easter Rising Leader Thomas MacDonagh. After seeing his father being arrested by the Black and Tans, Michael Joe became involved in the War of Independence between 1919 and 1921. Then, during the Civil War of 1922 and 1923, he joined the Irish National Army and fought on the Pro-Treaty side. Michael Collins had promoted Michael Joe Costello to Colonel-Commandant when he was just 18 years old, and he served as National Army Director of Intelligence from 1924 to 1926. From 1926 to 1927, he attended the U.S. Army’s Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and based on his performance there, he was recommended for the U. S. Army War College. Further to this, Michael Joe predicted the advent of blitzkrieg warfare in a series of articles in the Irish Military Journal An t-Oglach, while he was also appointed Director of Training in 1931 and Commandant of the Irish Military College in 1933. During the Emergency between 1939 and 1945, Michael Joe Costello commanded the Irish Army’s First Division, which was responsible for the defence of the south coast of Ireland. He was promoted to Major General in 1941 and to Lieutenant General in 1945, before retiring from the Army in 1946. Lieutenant General Michael Joe Costello passed away on October 20th, 1986.

Patrick Donohoe

India’s First War of Independence (Indian Mutiny)

Private Patrick Donohoe was born in Nenagh, County Tipperary during 1820 and he was another Tipperary recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC). It is reported that he was approximately 37 years old and a private in the 9th Lancers of the British Army during the ‘Indian Mutiny‘, or India’s First War of Independence, when on September 28th, 1857 he performed the following deed, of which he received the VC. A Despatch from Major General Sir James Hope Grant, K.C.B., dated April 8th, 1858, read that: “For having, at Bolundshahur, on the 28th of September, 1857, gone to the support of Lieutenant Blair, who had been severely wounded, and, with a few other men, brought that officer in safety through a large body of the enemy’s cavalry.” A further note to the life of Patrick Donohoe is that he married Mary Anne Glasscott in Bombay in India, and so becoming the Stepfather of Anna Leonowners. Through her own journals of her life in Siam, Anna became the inspiration for the novel Anna and the King of Siam, which later was turned into a successful musical called The King and I. Patrick Donohoe died in Ashbourne in County Meath on August 16th, 1876.

Sonny O'NeillDenis ‘Sonny’ O’Neill 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 man 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.

irish WarriorIrish Warrior

Now I’m sure there are a number of other warriors from North Tipperary who I have failed to mention here, but if there is someone you’d like to mention to me, please drop me a line and I’ll gather a second collection of North Tipperary warriors together.

 

Why North Tipperary – Tipperary Warriors Map

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why Nenagh – Nenagh Castle

Nenagh CastleNenagh Castle

Did you know that Nenagh Castle had five large towers at one stage, which, back then, were thought to be the largest towers in Ireland and Britain? Or then there is the story of a local stern puritan, Solomon Newsome, who decided he wanted to blow up the castle remains because he reckoned the sparrows and other birds that were living on the ivy which was growing on the walls of the ruins were conspiring daily to steal his growing barley crop? Well, this week I’m going to take a look at Nenagh town’s most prominent building – Nenagh’s Legendary Castle, or the Nenagh Keep – so please join me on this historical trail; Another wonderful reason to visit Nenagh town and North Tipperary.

Butler Arms

First up, Nenagh Castle was built between 1200 and 1220 and this fortress was the main seat of the Butler family until the 14th century. Theobald FitzWalter le Boteler, 1st Baron Butler, was granted the land of the Barony of Ormond Lower by King John of England. The Butler’s were eventually driven out in 1391 to Gowran in Kilkenny, in no small part to pressure from the native O’Kennedy clan and their allies. The Butler’s, however, would later acquire Kilkenny Castle, which would remain their seat of power for the following 500 years.

Above: Butler Coat of Arms

O'Kennedy - Butler TreatyThe Original O’Kennedy Clan – Butler Treaty from 1336

In 1336, when the Butler’s were still in resident in Nenagh Castle, a peace treaty was signed between the O’Kennedy’s and James Butler, 1st Earl of Ormond; Included in the treaty were terms of peace and grants of lands for the O’Kennedy clan. Six hundred and twenty seven years later, this original treaty was presented as a gift to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, while he was on a state visit to Ireland. It can now be seen in the J. F. K. Library in Massachusetts. The terms of the treaty were eventually broke in 1347/8, when the O’Kennedy’s, O’Carroll’s and the O’Brien’s attacked the Castle. In the process the town of Nenagh was burned, but the attack on the Castle was unsuccessful.

Tomb of Richard ButlerDuring the sixteenth century, the first of a number of events occurred which would have historical consequences in relation to Nenagh Castle and Nenagh town. In 1533, the Castle was returned to the Butler’s from the hands of the Mac Ibrien family (the O’Brien clan) under Piers Butler, Earl of Ossory. Then in 1550 the town of Nenagh and the local Friary was burned again; this time by the O’Carroll clan, who must have been peed off about something or another. Onwards to 1641, and the town of Nenagh and it’s Castle was captured by Owen Roe O’Neill and his Irish forces, but this was short-lived, as Murrough O’Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin, retook the town. Then, in 1651 Cromwell’s troops paid Nenagh a visit and battered Nenagh Castle from high grounds to the East; the garrison eventually surrendered to Henry Ireton, who was Cromwell’s Parliamentary Deputy. In the aftermath, Ireton is said to have had the Castle’s Governor hung from the topmost window of the keep that is now known as Nenagh Castle. At the end of the Cromwellian Wars, the Castle was granted to Daniel Abbot, along with extensive lands, in lieu of payment form Cromwell, although the Castle was then returned again to the Butlers after the Restoration in 1660. (Image shows the tomb of Richard Butler, son of Piers Butler, resting in St Canice’s, Kilkenny.)

Nenagh Castle RuinsBut that’s not the end of the troubled times for Nenagh Castle! Following this, there are a couple of reports from different sources. One of them claims that during the Jacobite War, which is said to have initially began in 1688, Anthony O’Carroll took the Castle from James Butler, the 2nd Duke of Ormond, who was supporting William of Orange, but the fortress was retaken yet again in 1690 by General Ginkel, who was later to become the 1st Earl of Athlone. Another report states that during the Williamite Wars, Patrick Sarsfield came this way too and also burned Nenagh castle. What I can gather is that O’Carroll was fighting with Sarsfield and it’s a simple case that what one report is stating is the Jacobite Wars, the other is stating the Williamite Wars. But if that wasn’t enough for poor old Nenagh Castle, following the Williamite Wars, Nenagh Castle was dismantled so that it would not be used again in further conflicts, with William of Orange ordering its destruction so that it would be “rendered indefensible in ill hands“. (Image shows the ruined Nenagh Castle as it once was.)

Nenagh Castle Plan LayoutAnd that brings us to 1750, when a certain Solomon Newsome (he from the O’Newsomes over yonder) decided it would be a good idea to blow up the rest of the Castle because flocks of birds that were nesting in it’s remnants were destroying his barley crop nearby. (had they no scarecrows back then?) Seemingly this genius decided to undermine the Castle by digging a great hole underneath it in the hope that it would fall, but this didn’t work, so instead Newsome came up with an idea of using a barrel of gunpowder. It exploded alright, but all it did was make a great hole in the tower’s side, and so the tower, or the great Keep of the Nenagh Castle remained standing. (Image shows the layoutplans for Nenagh Castle)

Nenagh Castle 1And onto 1860, when Bishop Flannery initiated plans to build a Cathedral in Nenagh town. To do this, a lot of funds were needed and so a number of priests were sent to North America on a fund-raising mission. In the meantime, Bishop Flannery bought the Castle ruins and the surrounding lands, and he then set about restoring the Castle Keep so it could be incorporated in the new Cathedral he was building. Everything was going well until War again intervened; This time the American Civil War and so with funding drying up from the United States, Bishop Flannery’s plans came to an abrupt end. Even still, his endeavours had been a blessing to Nenagh Castle and it’s appearance. Bishop Flannery’s plans saw the uneven top of the tower was raised and dressed with a new parapet wall. There was also an area of land nearby that was known as ‘The Stony Field’ which was cleared up around this time with the building of the Town Hall and the local Court House, but I’ll come to that another day. (Old Photo of Nenagh Castle probably taken during the late 1800’s – the new crown is clearly visible as been newly laid.)

Nenagh Castle

But all of this history brings us right up to today. In recent times Nenagh Castle has been renovated and after being reopened by President Michal D. Higgins in 2012, it is now a museum that is open to the public, whereby you can walk right to the top for a completely unique panoramic view of the town and countryside. When you visit Nenagh town, this is most definitely a major tourist attraction that you do not want to miss. It is filled with history with a mountain of connections to Kings and Kingdoms, Rebels and Rebellions, Tyrants and Arsonists, Irish Clans and Celtic Leaders, and also an American President, and that’s just the start. It’s bloodied history is well behind it now, so come along and share in the experience of Nenagh Castle – another reason to visit Nenagh town! (Image shows Nenagh Castle under a stormy Tipperary Sky, but this Fine Keep has endured a lot more stormier times than just a drop of rain in its time.)

And finally to finish off this week’s post, here are a number of other images taken from Nenagh Castle. If anyone wants to add anything to this post, please leave a comment or contact us at nenaghsilentfilmfestival.wordpress.com, or even if there’s someone out there who might have spotted any inaccuracies in this post – I’m happy to be corrected. As things stand the information here has been gathered from a number of sources including: Hidden Tipperary, eBook Ireland, Tudor Place, JFK LibraryWikipedia and Irish Fireside. See y’all next week so.

Nenagh Castle

Castle Interior 2Castle Interior 2

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Interior Views of the Newly Renovated Nenagh Castle

Interior of Nenagh Castle

Below is a High Definition Scanned Image of Nenagh Castle. Click on Image for more details

Nenagh Castle HD

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee