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Times They Are A-Changin’ In Cathedral Street Thurles

The location of the top photo, as indeed all identical three pictures, can be found immediately east of Barry’s Bridge in Thurles, Co. Tipperary and was taken possibly sometime in the very late 1800’s

This street is known today as Cathedral Street, but back then, was identified as east Main Street; same being a continuation of Liberty Square, which was then west Main Street.

Barry’s Castle & Barry’s Bridge

But, firstly let us deal with the nearby Barry’s Bridge and Barry’s Castle, here in Thurles and how both acquired their names.

The names Barry’s Bridge & Barry’s Castle came about because of a major error made by an Ordinance Survey officer, latter involved in changing the names of certain Thurles streets and lanes; operating on behalf of the then Thurles Urban District Council.
A local resident, named Thomas Barry, latter who was occupied as a ‘Nailor’, then resided at No. 92, just two doors up from the east side of the bridge; residing in a small building attached to and fronting unto today’s St Angela’s Academy of Music.

This Castle, referred to today as Barry’s Castle, has dominated the Thurles skyline since 1453, and was built possibly by the Norman invader McRickard Butler, of whom history records that he erected two castles at Thurles, around the aforementioned year.
The bridge referred to as Barry’s Bridge was built two hundred years later, circa 1650 and was partially reconstructed again, circa 1820.

Perhaps it is time again to rededicate both these ancient structures, naming them Butler’s Bridge and Butler’s Castle, after our Liberty Square eventually gets upgraded. Same should be undertaken in an effort to encourage neglected tourism, and the rapidly fading town centre footfall.

Despite constant promises made by individuals, who put themselves forward for both local and national elections, proper tourism marketing plans have been strongly resisted, and only lip service, not backed by deeds are being offered; in the case of a town, whose past history should be the envy of Europe.

Cathedral Street, Thurles

While many will look at the top picture and state that little has changed over the years, this of course is not the true case.

Reading the picture from left to right note the changes: –

The Ursuline Convent brick wall was moved back and replaced by today’s visable stone. The front side gate, once positioned immediately to the left, has also been removed and the wall moved back.

The two, one-story houses immediately east of the Cathedral’s main gateway are also gone. The first house, at No. 87 Main Street, was once occupied by Mathew Cahill, a Baker by trade, while next door, No. 86, was a Public House, once occupied by Daniel Maher. Both houses today are gone, replaced by the front lawn of the current Archbishop’s residence.

Unseen in the picture, but eastward again, beside these latter two named houses, once existed Chapel Lane, leading up to the rear of the Archbishop’s Palace. Here in this lane was erected at the top was the Archbichop’s stables; with a school for girls at No. 2. Andrew Cahill, the Archbishops servant, resided at No. 4; Thomas Dowling resided at No.5 and Widow Ryan resided in a thatched residence at No. 6. These tiny dwellings have today been erased and form the present driveway to the back door of the Archbishops Palace.

The next major change to this street is the removal of the high wall and arched entrance in front of the Presentation Convent, the pavement outside displaying just one Gas Light. During the “Night of the Big Wind” (Oiche na Gaoithe Moire, feast of the Epiphany, 1839) the once thatched roofed row of six terraced houses, numbered 80 to 85, caught fire, when thatch was blown down one of the chimneys. These six ruined dwellings, which included No. 85 – Ryan’s Bakery; No. 84 – Ms Lucy Dohan’s home; No. 83 – Tierney’s Hucksters Shop; No. 82 – Clear’s Grocery and Bakery; No. 81 – Ryan’s Grocery, Spirits & Candle business and No. 80 – Headon’s Shoemaker’s premises, were later acquired by the Presentation Convent, who in 1862 would replace them, to build their Secondary School Boarding House, and the faintly pictured, yet visible high wall; latter no longer evident today and replaced by a lower wall and railings.

Obviously, missing today, centre of the picture and positioned at the junction of Quarry Street [today Mitchel Street], between Church Lane and Pike Street [today Kickham Street], was O’Keeffe’s Brewery; later to become Ryan’s Brewery Stores. Same residence, large buildings together with enclosed yard have now been replaced by shops and the Circle K petrol station.

Occupation ‘Nailor‘: A nailor, as the name suggests, was occupied making iron nails by hand and / or also occupied maintained the teeth on carding machines, latter used to separate and straighten wool & cotton before weaving.
Names such as ‘rose’; ‘diamond’; ‘clasp’; ‘pearl’ and ‘sunken’; identified to any consumer the shape of the nail head, while their points were identified as ‘flat’; ‘sharp’; ‘needle’ or ‘spear’. The names; ‘bastard’; ‘strong’ and ‘fine’, readily described the thickness of any nail required.

Occupation ‘Huckster: A ‘Huckster’ was a person who sold small articles, either travelling door-to-door or from a market stall or small store; todays ‘Hawker’ or ‘Peddler’. The word today, when expressed, is usually spoken in derogatory terms, thus expressing negative connotation.

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