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Queen Elizabeth’s Relative To Be Dumped By DCC

Fr Theobald Mathew (1790-1856)

When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is being whisked down O’Connell Street, Dublin, this week, she should keep an eye out for one of her relations from Co.Tipperary, who has been standing there, waiting for her visit since 1893, and is now unlikely to be there if she ever visits again.

Her Majesty, according to today’s Independent newspaper will be attending The British Embassy’s ‘little bash ‘ in the €380m National Conference Centre on Dublin’s Spencer Dock. She will be meeting leading Irish peace campaigners, like Amanda Brunker, former presenter of “The Podge and Rodge Show,” and chef Rachel Allen, who appears to be getting the day off from O’Briens Sandwich Bars, where she autographs the plastic wrappers on sandwiches for customers.

But enough about that, lets discuss Her Majesty’s Tipperary relation waiting patiently in Sackville Place, Fr. Theobald Mathew, (1790 -1856) Capuchin Friar and Apostle of Temperance, whose life sized limestone monument is shortly to be dumped, according to the same newspaper, from Dublin’s O’Connell Street, to make way for the latest plans by Dublin’s Luas Light Rail System, to flutter away more of taxpayers money in the Pale.

The statue of Fr. Theobald was erected there in 1893, three years after it’s foundation stone was laid on 18th October 1890, latter the centenary of Fr. Mathew’s birthday and 36 years after John Henry Foley’s sculpture in Cork was unveiled.

The statue of the friar in O’Connell Street, Dublin, his back turned on the adulterous Charles Stewart Parnell, (The separated Mrs Katharine O’Shea Affair) is wearing the costume of a late nineteenth-century priest, attired in a ‘Surtout ‘ or man’s frock coat, belted with a rope and hung with rosary beads, his arms raised in a blessing.

Fr. Theobald’s anti-drink campaign is considered to have been a great social revolution, that saw the establishment of Temperance Societies in just about every parish in the country. At its very peak, his campaign, between 1838-1845, it was estimated that there were almost 4 million people abstaining from drink here in Ireland. His success was aided by the fact that Fr. Mathew appealed to every class, creed and rank in Irish society. In 1843, Fr. Mathew went to England and Scotland, where he had even further success, and later spent over two years in the US, where he handed out the Pledge in over 300 towns.

Today, intoxicated Dubliners can often be seen loitering, under the Tipperary man’s statue, ignoring his past warnings regarding the evils of drink, and I regret to report that as religion continues to decline, he commands less and less respect from those that pass underneath his outstretched arms.

After Dublin Corporation granted permission for the Sackville Street site, (now O’Connell Street) a motion was passed which requested that:- ‘The council approve of the Right Hon. The Lord Mayor publishing a proclamation to the citizens of Dublin for a general public holiday to be kept by them during Monday 13th, for the due celebration of the Father Mathew memorial proceedings upon that day, and especially that all houses licensed of the sale of intoxicating liquors be kept closed.’

This motion as expected was ruled out of order, however as it did not appear on the “Summons of the Meeting,” although, the Lord Mayor did point out that while the council could not compel anyone to close his licenced hostelry, ‘No doubt the expression of opinion in favour of the proposals would have due effect’. With the greatest of respect, a likely story, Lord Mayor.

But how is Fr. Theobald Mathew related to the present Queen of England you ask?

Here in Thurles after the death of “Black Tom ” Butler in 1614, without a male heir, the Earldom of Ormond passed to Sir Walter Butler, son of Black Tom’s third brother, one John Butler of Kilcash.  Earl Walter’s eldest son, Thomas, Viscount Thurles, was probably the first of the family to take up residence here in Thurles Castle.  Thomas was summoned to England in 1619 to answer charges of treason, but the ship that was conveying him to England was wrecked off the coast of Skerries in Dublin, and he was drowned, on the 15th December 1619.  He, up until his death, was married to the celebrated Lady Thurles, one Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Poyntz, Bart., of Acton in Gloucestershire.

By Lady Thurles, Thomas Viscount Thurles begat three sons and four daughters and after his untimely death, his widow, Lady Thurles, married again, as one does, around 1620. Her new husband was Captain George Mathew of Radyr and Llandaff in Glamorganshire.  By him, Lady Thurles went on to have a further two sons and a daughter.  Captain George Mathew would later die at Tenby in Wales in 1636, leaving his widow, Lady Thurles to survive him by some 37 years and die here in Thurles in May 1673, and was interred in St. Mary’s Church in Thurles.

From here we get the connected family line to Fr. Theobald Mathew, born at Thomastown, near Golden, County Tipperary, on October 10, 1790.

Of course the 121.2 metres (398 ft), hollow tube of stainless steel, called the Spike, officially titled the ‘Monument of Light,’ (Irish: An Túr Solais) will continue to remain in place in Dublin’s O’Connell street. The latter described as “Elegant and dynamic simplicity, bridging art and technology,” came at a heavy cost to Irish taxpayers of €5 million to erect, and since then €1.1m to keep it shined, since it was erected just six years ago.

Poor old Fr. Theobald Mathew, on the other hand, has cost taxpayers very little in maintenance over the years, and today sits minus a couple of fingers, wearing a wig of pigeon’s excrement.

Still if Dublin City Council is dumping him, sure Thurles will be only to happy to find a home for him. We will try to have him re-erected on that bare roundabout opposite the Tipperary Institute, in time for when the Queen visits her ‘Real Ancestral Home.’

 

 

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