“Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield, Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield! How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile, The short and simple annals of the poor.”
[Extract from a poem by Thomas Gray – “Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard“]
Tipperary’s new Senior Hurling manager, Michael Ryan, will officially launch the eagerly awaited 2015 Upperchurch-Drombane Historical Journal this Saturday night Nov. 7th in Upperchurch Hall, starting at 8:00pm. This sixth annual publication, in this very successful series, has stories, poems and photographs dealing with many aspects of the history and heritage of the parish and indeed the frequent and continuous demand for back volumes prove the lasting value of each past publication.
Martin Greene, Dooree, Upperchurch, Co. Tipperary, at work.
At this official launch there will be a short talk about the history of local emigration by a regular contributor to the Journal, Eugene Shortt. Same will be followed by discussion and a question and answer session. Stories and accounts from the floor are always much welcomed at such events.
While tales of G.A.A. sports have historically been the most prominent locally, the book this year puts the spotlight on other sports where there were local connections, e.g. American Gerry Britt, a frequent visitor whose ancestors came from the area and who has published an account of his travels in Ireland, writes about the famous baseball player and manager John McGraw, who dominated the game in the USA in the early years of the last century. McGraw’s father had parents who emigrated from the parish.
The victory of locally owned ‘Rugged Lucy’ in the 1981 Galway Plate is recalled by John Ryan (C) while Tom Quinlan writes about the three Irish Senior Soccer Internationals, Shane Long, Seamus McDonagh and Mike Milligan whose ancestors were local. Billy Clancy writes about one of the greatest ever scandals in greyhound racing; which occurred sixty five years ago, involving a greyhound from Upperchurch, which today has a street in England named after it.
Sports including handball and racquet ball also feature in Paddy Dwyer’s reminiscences entitled “Gortahoola Memories”, along with the story of Gortahoola School, latter which operated for only nineteen years. ‘Courting’ (That period in a couple’s relationship which precedes marraige.) might also be considered a type of ‘sport’ by some and in verse Ned Harrington describes the goings on at the Metal Bridge Platform, in more innocent times.
A hundred years ago Ned’s grandfather John wrote a stirring patriotic ode to the green flag of Ireland, which demonstrated an encyclopaedic knowledge of Irish history, and the poem is given in full. Also on a patriotic theme, Thomas Fogarty tells of a few local connections with the 1916 rising, which also includes is the first half of Paddy Kinnane’s statement to the Bureau of Military History concerning his involvement in the War of Independence. The final part of the ‘Eamon an Chnoic‘ play is also in this new publication, as well as a continuation examining the local burial records.
Andy Byrne completes his list of local musicians and reproduces the happenings of a hundred years ago from the newspaper archives. Among the hundreds of religious and missionaries, the parish produced, were seven priests from the O’Rourke family and Joan Ryan gives a short account of each of them.
Nowadays we take for granted and frequently complain about our road networks, failing to appreciate the hardships suffered by our ancestors in putting them there in the first place; using pick, shovel, horse and cart. Eugene Shortt has researched the subject and gives the details of the various roads, fences, bridges and gullets and who put them there and when. There is also an account of the legal case concerning the Mulgrave Bridge at Drombane Creamery, which was built on a disputed land site and the ensuing tragic aftermath.
Like the road networks, it took centuries of work and nurturing to bring our agricultural land to its present state of fertility. One of the big breakthroughs was the introduction of lime from kilns and Frankie Shortt describes the process of burning lime in the various local kilns. Eamonn Ryan also deals with the subject in later years when lime from Killough Quarry became available. He also recounts early drivers and their cars and the impact of Hogan’s bus service together with wartime shortages.
All are welcome to attend this launch on Saturday night and this latest publication will be available from the usual outlets from Sunday onwards. Overseas buyers can of course order online from www.upperchurch.ie.
Wherever you reside today, this latest publication promises to be a truly heart warming read on the long expected winter nights ahead.
Author Liam Ó Donnchú’s long-awaited biography of ‘Tom Semple and The Thurles Blues’ will, I am happy to relate, be launched at the Thurles Sarsfields Centre, (beside Semple Stadium, Thurles), on Saturday June 13th at 8:00 p.m.
Tom Semple, a GAA icon and whose name is immortalised in the name “Semple Stadium” here in Thurles, is synonymous worldwide with the game of hurling, having led the legendary ‘Thurles Blues’ to All-Ireland glory in 1906 and 1908.
The Book’s Contents:
This well researched publication will discuss in great detail these earlier heroes of the ‘camán’ (Irish: Hurl), together with Tom Semple’s training regime and tactics. Readers can follow ‘The Blues’ on their amazing tour in 1910 to Brussels in Belgium and historic Fontenoy in France. They can also learn the fascinating story of the early years of the Thurles Sports field; now Semple Stadium, and how same developed into today’s ‘Field of Legends’. They can observe the role played by Tomas Semple and others in the local War of Independence and which is also detailed in this hardback publication; containing more than 400 truly well researched and fascinating pages.
The book is beautifully illustrated throughout and offers new insights, in many cases erased through time, into the life and times of a yesteryear.
Note: All are welcome to attend this book-launch and books costing €30 will be available from bookshops in Tipperary or signed copies can be ordered by post (€35) from the author: Liam Ó Donnchú, Lár na Páirce, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
The burial place of Tom Semple can be located in the grounds (north side) of St Mary’s Churchyard, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, close to St Mary’s Famine Museum.
Pardoned – Mr Harry Gleeson
The recently pardoned Mr Harry Gleeson, latter wrongfully executed in Mountjoy Jail, Dublin in April 1941 for the murder of unmarried mother, Miss Mary (Foxy Moll) McCarthy, latter found shot dead in New Inn, Tipperary on November 21st 1940, now raises further controversy with the publication of a new book entitled “The Framing Of Harry Gleeson”.
The new publication, by author Kieran Fagan, has caused some disquiet here in Co. Tipperary, as its contents suggest possible names for the fathers of Miss McCarthy illegitimate children.
Unmarried mother Miss McCarthy had six children in total, all born to possibly five different married men and it is the naming of these possible fathers, all now long deceased, that appears to have re-opened old wounds in the village of New Inn, which heretofore believed time had erased its guilty secret.
Children born from these same men’s marriages are understood to be furious over new revelations that their fathers possibly had other children outside of marriage. This in turn has led to some demands to view this publication prior to its recent release on the grounds that it contains names of men, one of whom author Kieran Fagan believes was possibly responsible for Miss McCarthy murder.
The real culprits appear to be local ex-IRA men and this serious travesty of justice appears to have suited the local parish priest, Gardaí and indeed other apparently respectable family members whose sons, brothers and husbands may have fathered Moll’s seven children, one of whom was still in her womb at the time of her death.
Did Mary McCarthy’s daughter Mary, approaching her own death some fifty years later in a Dublin hospital, inform a nurse stating “I saw my own mother shot on the kitchen floor and an innocent man died ?” This publication will attempt to answer such questions, while also naming some of those involved in Harry Gleeson’s framing and details of the possible cover-up of the truth.
Harry Gleeson, who is to be awarded the first posthumous pardon in the history of the Irish State, was acknowledged as being innocent by the Irish Government just last month, following a full review of the case history.
Mr. Charles Lysaght, the biographer of Brendan Bracken, is giving a lecture on Bracken to the Borrisoleigh Historical Society at the Community Centre, Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary at 8pm on Thursday, March 12th 2015.
Brendan Bracken, son of J.K. Bracken of Templemore, one of the founders of the GAA, strayed from his background so far as to became a Tory Member of the House of Commons, Minister of Information in Winston Churchill’s wartime Government and finished up as Viscount Bracken, Chairman of the Financial Times Group of newspapers.
His mother, Hannah Ryan, was born in Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary. Widowed in 1904, when her son Brendan was only three, she moved her family of four children and two step-children, to Dublin.
In 1916, aged just 14, he ran away from a boarding school in Co. Limerick. As a result his mother exiled him for the remainder of his teenage years, to Australia.
On his return Brendan settled in England passing himself off as an Australian and made a mystery of his background. The only connection he maintained with Ireland was with his mother, who had treated him so harshly, but to whom he remained unequivocally devoted.
When she died in 1928, aged 54, he travelled to attend her funeral in Borrisoleigh and was seen weeping beside her grave in Glankeen cemetery. This was to be his last known visit to Ireland.
Brendan died from throat cancer in 1958, aged 57 and not reconciled to his Roman Catholic Church to which his mother had reared him. He left instructions that no funeral or memorial service was to be held and that his ashes should be scattered on Romney Marsh in Kent. He wished to leave, as he had arrived……..without trace.
Charles Lysaght, who has researched Hannah’s family background, including letters her famous son wrote to her, makes the case that she may be the key to a whole strange story.
A cold case review sanctioned by former Justice Minister Alan Shatter in September 2013 on a man hanged for murder almost 74 years ago, is to receive a pardon.
Mr Harry Gleeson was executed for the murder of Miss Mary (Foxy Moll) McCarthy, latter who was found shot dead in Tipperary on November 21st 1940, by the then British hangman Albert Pierrepoint (1905 – 1992) in Mountjoy jail in April 1941. Pierrepoint executed at least 433 men and 17 women during his time as a hangman.
According to a fictional novel, The Dead Eight by Carlo Gebler, Moll McCarthy’s story truly begins with her mother, who was reportedly a woman of ‘ill repute,’ and who sold sex to improve her impoverished lifestyle during a sojourn in Dublin city. Moll, her daughter, lived in a children’s home here in Thurles Co Tipperary for the first sixteen years of life and was never acquainted with her actual father. Carlo Gebler paints Moll, like her mother, as somewhat of a promiscuous woman, even by the then standards of her time, having had numerous relationships with local men, both married and unmarried and also used these encounters to gain basic economic support, e.g. Unexplained Loads of Turf, Bags of Spuds, Groceries paid for at local shop etc..
Minister for Justice Mrs Frances Fitzgerald is due to bring a memo to Cabinet in the coming weeks recommending that Irish President Michael D Higgins now pardon Mr Gleeson.
Senior Counsel Shane Murphy has since reviewed the case on behalf of the Department of Justice; based on new submitted and compelling evidence from the Irish Innocence Project, based at Griffith College in Dublin. New evidence is understood to relate to withheld information by the prosecution which shows a discrepancy in their case in relation to a local gun and ammunition register. Evidence submitted is also understood to show that the then police involved may have encouraged witnesses to submit less than true statements relating to these events.
Mr Harry Gleeson, a neighbour of Ms Mary McCarthy, latter a single mother of seven, had first reported the discovery of her body and some 5 months later was hanged for her murder.
Previously this story was documented by the late broadcaster and journalist Cathal O’Shannon (1928 – 2011) in a TV series entitled “Thou Shalt Not Kill, ” back in 1995. Perhaps it is time to dig into the archives and refresh our memories.