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The Picturesque Stannix Homes In Thurles

Initial design drawing of the ‘Stannix Homes’ produced before building in 1889. (Photo colour toning G. Willoughby.)

The Stannix family appear to have spent comparatively little time here in Co. Tipperary.  We are aware they were of the Protestant faith and left us a legacy which involved the setting up of the charitable almshouses known today here in Thurles as ‘The Stannwix Homes’.

In the mid 1870s the representatives of Jeremiah Stannix held 2,054 acres in county Tipperary. What we can reliably ascertain is that Emma Stannix held at least 11 townlands in the parish of Moycarkey, Thurles in barony of Eliogarty, Co. Tipperary. There is a reference to the provisions of the will of Miss Emma Stannix in a letter in the papers of Archbishop Thomas William Croke of Thurles, dated 1st December 1886. There are references to the representatives of Emma Stannix holding untenanted lands at Ashhill and Knocknanuss, in the parish of Moycarkey, in 1906.

We believe that Emma herself showed some talent as an artist and spent much of her time overseas in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. Tipperary press reports appear to constantly conflict with the spelling of her name; e.g. Stannix and Stanwix.

Stannix Homes September 2016

However Ema’s philanthropic soul passed away in 1857; and her will makes provision for the Stanwix Almshouses to be financed and subsidised by her deceased estate. She is also understood to have made generous provision for the remaining tenants on her various Moycarkey agricultural properties.

Here in Thurles the Emma Stannix Charity left a sum of money to build alms-houses for what were referred to as “reduced female widows aged over sixty years”.  The site was provided on ground (Thurles Townparks) to the south east of Thurles with frontages overlooking and facing west towards the town.

The terrace of two-bay single and two-storey former almshouses, were built 1889, and featured open gable-fronted porches. The central house is a higher two-bay gabled erection, while the two storey director’s house attached to the north side of the terrace features a small spire with roundels on a turret.

The pitched slate roofs have rendered chimney stacks while the buildings themselves are constructed of red brick, with half-timbered gables and verandas. Each resident was then provided with two rooms, a yard and sanitary accommodation. Gate piers with alternating bands of brick and stone, together with wrought-iron gates and cast-iron railings are features of the boundary surrounding the site.

The building work was initially carried out by Mr. J. Kiernan, of Talbot-street, at a cost of about £2,500, using the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. Albert E. Murray[1], F.R.I.B.A., architect, Dawson-street.

Albert Edward Murray (1849-1924)[1]. Interesting to note that when Queen Victoria (1819-1901) visited Dublin in 1900, Mr. Albert E. Murray was responsible for the decorations in Sackville Street, now O’Connell Street, Dublin and also for those in Clyde Road, Ballsbridge where he then resided.

Ceremonial gateways had been erected on Queen Victoria’s route into Dublin from Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire). It was on the occasion of this same trip by Queen Victoria that it was reported that the Irish Times supposedly printed a typo stating, “a large crowd cheered as Queen Victoria pissed over Carlisle Bridge.” (Now O’Connell Bridge).  Even though they had only gotten one letter wrong the entire type room staff were supposedly sacked.

Albert Murray would also decorate Sackville Street (O’Connell Street) for the visit by Queen Victoria’s eldest son Edward VII (1841-1910), during his visit to Dublin in 1907.

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