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Is Thurles CCTV System Just A €100,000 Bird Perch?

Thurles residents were informed, back in December 2012, that a new Public Area Surveillance System (a 10 unit Pan, Tilt and Zoom camera CCTV system) would cost in the region of one hundred thousand Euro, with 70% of this cost being funded by Pobal.

Pobal, formerly known as Area Development Management, was first established in 1992 by the Irish Government together with the European Commission, to manage an EU Grant for local development. Same EU grant aid was designed to support local communities and agencies, in achieving social inclusion, reconciliation and equality.

A further 15% of this one hundred thousand Euro costing was to be provided by the former Thurles Town Council, while the final 15% was to be aided by Thurles Chamber of Commerce.

In November 2015 residents of Thurles were informed that the existing Local Authority (Thurles Town Council) was required to assume responsibility for the management and operation of this CCTV system, in compliance with Data Protection legislation, [See pdf link page 3 – Crime Prevention – Installation of CCTV Cameras].

Two years on following its installation, we understand from Town Councillors that this one hundred thousand Euro CCTV system had not properly functioned since early 2017, and while just some of the cameras continue to operate, the actual equipment used to record surveillance footage had ceased to function.

The one question now being asked, by Thurles residents, requires a simple Yes or No answer; “Was any video footage recovered from the camera presently tacked on to the Thurles castle, latter situated on Barry’s Bridge, thus offering possible evidence as to who wilfully decapitated the statue of Archbishop Dr. Patrick Leahy?”

As the video footage hereunder shows, the damage is not confined only to the statues head, but also to the edge of the precisely sculptured short cape, latter known as a ‘mozzetta’, which today is still worn by some ecclesiastics, e.g. His Holiness the Pope and Cardinals.

But what was the legacy granted to the small rural town of Thurles, by Archbishop Dr. Patrick Leahy (1806–1875)?

It has to be of course the priceless tabernacle in our town’s Cathedral of the Assumption. Today it remains one the most beautiful and precious of art objects, to be found openly displayed anywhere here in Ireland.

Archbishop Dr. Patrick Leahy had learned through personal contacts in the city of Rome, (Urbs Aeterna (Latin) The Eternal City), Italy, that a Tabernacle was being disposed of from the high alter of the mother church of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits) called ‘Gesú’, located in Via degli Astalli. The Gesù had been the home of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, until the suppression of that order in 1773.

Leading Italian sculptors, painters, architects and poets of the High Renaissance period, including Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, (more commonly known by his first name Michelangelo), Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, (architect of the Farnese family, latter who could trace their origins back to around AD 984) and Giacomo della Porta would have received Communion from this same tabernacle, in the then Gesù church.

This tabernacle, a work of the sixteenth century, was purchased for £50.00 and transported to Thurles for a similar financial sum, having been somewhat refitted in the workshop of Signor Filippo Leonardi of Rome.

The Tabernacle doorway is adorned with a Corinthian portico which rests on two beautiful pillars of ‘verde antico’ (antique green) marble, two feet ten inches (86.36cm) in high; each pillar with bases and capitals made of bronze.

Jesuit emblem from a former 1586 print

The front door access is made of bronze with a silver host featured in the centre, bearing the letters I.H.S. (ΙΗΣ), (a monogram denoting the first three letters of the Greek name for Jesus), set over three arrows, signifying three nails standing on converging points; same an emblem of the Jesuit community. See Picture left.

Two small bronze statues formerly belonging to this tabernacle, representing St. Peter and St. Paul, occupy niched recesses to be found either side of the front portico.

Initially the tabernacle had rested against the Gesù church wall, so it became necessary to now decorate the back end, since same, positioned out from the wall, could now be viewed from all sides by visiting faithful.

A locking rear door was introduced, made of cream oriental alabaster or onyx marble in which a large cross of blue ‘lapis lazuli’ is inlaid, supposedly by Dr. Leahy own hand. Dr. Leahy after all was the son of a civil engineer and Cork County Surveyor. (Lapis lazuli is a deep blue metamorphic rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense colour).

Unable to acquire two blocks of ‘verde antico’ to match the existing front pillars, he was forced to settled for two pillars manufactured from Galway green marble, which to the uneducated eye, appears to match almost perfectly. A frame of pale reddish marble, called ‘Porta Santa’ or ‘Holy Door’ surrounds the onyx back door slab. Latter marble is named after the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, which was carved from this stone.

Now began the difficult task of building the main alter and lectern to match this most beautiful and priceless of tabernacles, while matching both in a similar design vein as the now existing installed tabernacle.

Some of the marbles used here and on the floor area were presented by Pope Pius IX at the request of Dr. Leahy; same mined, to a large extent, by Christian slaves sent to work in marble quarries by Roman Emperors. Here in Thurles cathedral today we can view at close range these rare and priceless semi-precious stones like the green porphyry and multicoloured agate (mined in Greece), sienna (mined in Italy), green malachite (mined in England), reddish brown rosso, brown giallo antico, black nero antico (Latter all mined in Italy), blue lapis (latter a symbol of royalty, honor, power, spirit, vision and a universal symbol of wisdom and truth), the black, red, beige, white, and grey africano (mined in Turkey), etc.

Other marble was now acquired in Dublin and England and all this marble was cut and inlaid by an Irish workforce under the guidance of Dublin man John Chapman, operating here in Thurles.

It is truly necessary for visitors to examine this tabernacle in closer detail to appreciate fully the sheer perfection and priceless beauty of what is just one small part of the legacy of Dr. Leahy, bestowed on rural Thurles.

One Final Question: The missing head removed from Dr. Leahy’s statue, possibly weighs about 30 – 50 lbs; this being the case has anyone searched around in the immediate vicinity of this statue in the event that the vandals / offender may have thrown it away nearby?

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Policeman Murdered On Liberty Square, Thurles.

It happened 100 years ago on Monday evening June 23rd, 1919.
Remember Ireland’s National Heritage Week 2019 begins August 17th – August 25th.

A centenary commemorative service will be held at 2.30pm on Saturday next, June 22nd 2019, in Passlands Cemetery, Monasterevin, Co Kildare. The service will be held at the graveside of District Inspector Michael Hunt, Royal Irish Constabulary, (55727 D.I., R.I.C.), killed while on duty in Thurles, Co. Tipperary one hundred years ago on Monday evening, June 23rd, 1919.

The Royal Irish Constabulary remained at the front line of the British government’s war against the IRA especially between 1919 and 1921. Policemen were targeted by the IRA while alone or sometimes when off duty. They were by far the highest number of crown force casualties, with more than 400 killed, almost double the number of army fatalities during the same period. The number of R.I.C. officers killed in Tipperary numbered 46 during the War of Independence; with the vast majority of them being Irishmen.

Some of those R.I.C. Officers killed in Tipperary included:-
Toomevara: Constable James Rocke aged 26 and Constable Charles Healy aged 25.
Rearcross / Newport: Constable William Finn aged 22 and Constable Daniel McCarthy aged 27.
Gooldscross / Clonoulty: Sergeant Patrick McDonnell
Tipperary: RIC Constable Michael Horan, Constable Joseph Daly aged 20, Constable Thomas Gallivan aged 20, Head Constable Christopher Davis aged 41, and Constable William Cummings aged 25.
Templemore: District Inspector William Harding Wilson.
Mullinahone: Constable William Campbell.
Ballylooby: District Inspector Gilbert Norman Potter aged 42.
Cloughjordan: Constable John Cantlon and Constable William Walsh, Constable Martin Feeney and Constable James Briggs.
Carrick-on-Suir: Constable Dennis Patrick O’Leary.
Soloheadbeg: Constable James McDonnell aged 50 years and Constable Patrick O’Connell.
Lorrha: Sergeant, Philip Brady
Thurles: Constable Luke Finnegan and District Inspector Michael Hunt.
Inch (The Ragg); Constable John Heany.

The then British Prime Minister David Lloyd George had emphasised that this same Irish conflict was for police to handle, supported by military personnel and not vice versa. It was logical therefore that members of the IRA should target armed police, in order to acquire necessary weapons.

This commemorative event on Saturday afternoon next will be followed by light refreshments; same to be served appropriately in a former R.I.C. Barracks, which today serves as the Monasterevin Local Community Centre.

District Inspector Michael Hunt

Born the son of a Co. Sligo father, Mr Martin Hunt, on September 3rd, 1873, Michael Hunt joined the Royal Irish Constabulary on January 2nd, 1893, serving in Co. Longford, Co. Kerry and later in Co. Tipperary.

He was married on May 16th, 1900, to Ms Kathleen Mary Bell, the daughter of Mr John Bell, Co. Kildare. They parented six children; with their eldest son, Michael John Hunt, going on to receive a commission in the Royal Irish Regiment; quickly to be promoted to the rank of Captain, before later joining the R.I.C. in his own right.

His younger sister Eva Hunt, aged 15 years, had passed away just seven months prior to her father’s murder. Buried in Thurles; her later erected small white marble headstone reads:- “In loving memory of Eva Hunt, daughter of the late Michael Hunt, (55727 D.I., R.I.C.) Thurles, died 27th Nov 1918, aged 15 years.”

It was on Monday June 23rd, 1919, one hundred years ago this coming week, that District Inspector (DI) Michael Hunt was murdered, as he carried out police duties during a Thurles Race meeting and while in the company of at least two other RIC officers.

Uniformed and walking near the top of Main Street, Thurles (Today renamed Liberty Square), at approximately 5.30pm in the evening, he was shot from the rear at very close range, the ammunition used – large calibre, blunt nosed revolver bullets.

Colleagues R.I.C officers Sergeant Joseph Grove and Constable Patrick Murphy, were both walking some yards ahead and on hearing the gun retorts, they rushed back to find Hunt’s prostrate form face down in the street, before lifting him to the safety of the footpath. Race goers and others, on witnessing the action, now in fear scattered in all directions, thus aiding his murderers to escape with ease into their midst.

Thurles doctor, Thomas Barry attended to District Inspector Hunt, however he was declared dead at the scene. His lifeless body was taken to the nearby home of a Mrs Scully. Further investigation showed that three shots had been fired, two of which achieved accuracy, with one shot severing two of the largest blood vessels in his body, directly causing him to bleed to death; while a third shot fired wounded a nearby child, named as Danny Maher, in the left kneecap. According to a local doctor’s statement to police, the injured 12-year-old boy was spotted soon after the initial mayhem had subsided. He was taken to the doctor’s house for treatment, before being allowed to go on his way.

At Monasterevin Railway Station, Hunt’s coffin was met by a party of constabulary colleagues together with his son, the aforementioned Captain Michael John Hunt (Royal Irish Regiment), latter who had journeyed from London to be in attendance.

Grave of
William Harding Wilson in Templemore.

The gun used in the murder had been brought to Thurles town from the area of Loughmore village; transported in a pony and trap and hidden under the clothing being worn by a baby. Some 20 soldiers with fixed bayonets were on duty at the race meeting and persons were being searched entering the town. At least two of the three shots were fired at close range, with the gun being fired through the pocket of an overcoat, possibly touching the District Inspector’s vertebrae.

Two days later at an inquest in Thurles, held on Wednesday, June 25th, 1919, it was revealed by witness Sergeant Joseph Grove, that a crowd had began to again collect around the dead man on the pavement. District Inspector William Harding Wilson asked if they offered assistance, to which the witness replied in the negative, further confirming that some of those who gathered were observed to be laughing and jeering.

The then Foreman of the Jury, after brief consultation with Jury members, stated that their majority verdict, was that Mr Hunt met his death in accordance with the reasons stated in the medical evidence put forward and that the bullet wounds were inflicted by a person or persons unknown.

District Inspector Wilson then enquired if the Jury did not confirm that it was “Wilful Murder”. The Foreman confirmed that the Jury were not unanimous. Inspector Wilson then declared that he couldn’t understand their hesitation regarding this case. In his opinion it was very clear that Mr Hunt had been shot twice in the back, in a position where he could not view his assailant. This to him was a case of wilful murder and he remained at a loss as to what other interpretation could be honestly construed.

Note: District Inspector William Harding Wilson would have a narrow escape himself in June 1920, when his head was grazed by bullets fired at an R.I.C. patrol, as they passed through the village of Templetouhy. On August 16th 1920 an IRA party was dispatched to Templemore to kill Wilson. At 6.45pm as Wilson was about to enter Templemore post office, he was shot once in the head from an adjoining lane way.

The epitaph on his headstone reads “In loving memory of my dear husband William Harding Wilson, District Inspector Royal Irish Constabulary. Died 16th August 1920 aged 56 years. His life for his country, his soul to God”

District Inspector Hunt was buried with full military honours, with his coffin covered in the Union Jack, in Passlands Cemetery, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare on June 26th, 1919. He was interred in the family burial plot of his wife, (nee Bell). Shots were fired over his grave.

On September 9th, of the same year, Hunt was posthumously awarded £5 for excellent police duty in connection with the successful suppression of a Sinn Fein meeting on Sunday May 25th, 1919 in Co Tipperary, latter which resulted in the arrest of the Sinn Fein MP for North Monaghan, Ernest Blythe.

Blythe was found to be in possession of an incriminating document, latter which contained instructions on how to intimidate police through terrorizing their known associates and next of kin. Blythe was convicted by a court-martial in Dublin and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

A Tipperary Court awarded £5,800 to the widow of Hunt, latter who had initiated a compensation claim amounting to £12,000. She successfully appealed against the sum awarded and at the Four Courts, Dublin, in March 1920 his widow and their full siblings were awarded £7,800 in final compensation.

Two first cousins Jim and Tommy Stapleton from Finnahy, Upperchurch and Jim Murphy (Latter known as “The Jennett”), from Curreeney, Kilcommon, would later be named as responsible for the killing of R.I.C. District Inspector Michael Hunt; named in a statement made by James Leahy, Commandant No.2 Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) (Mid) Tipp-Brigade.

Jim Stapleton was also named for the aforementioned killing of District Inspector William Harding Wilson outside Templemore post office.

Unlike other military or civilian cataclysms, to date here in Ireland no single memorial now exists to remember all R.I.C. officers, latter killed in the line of what they saw as their duty. Perhaps Tipperary could now rectify this situation, thus allowing those, mostly young Irishmen who lost their lives, to be remembered by their relatives and indeed the public in general.

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Cannabis Intercepted In Tipperary Bound Mail.

Customs Officers discovered over 3.4kgs worth of herbal cannabis at the Portlaoise Mail Centre, Clonminam Industrial Estate, Portlaoise, Co Laois, yesterday, with an estimated street value of some €68,000.

We understand that the drugs seized were found concealed in parcels labelled as “Herbal Tea” and “Yoga Cushions” and the parcels were destined for addresses in Co. Tipperary and Dublin.

Follow up investigations are expected to lead to prosecutions.

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Tipperary Man Guilty Of Importing Illegal Firearms

Charges under Section 27A of the Firearms Act 1964 and the Criminal Justice Act of 2006, have resulted in a guilty verdict being found against a Tipperary man.

Mr Thomas Bates, No.51 Abbey Street, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, was found guilty of conspiring to possess an explosive substance, a firearm and ammunition. Same was uncovered following a joint operation by the FBI and An Garda Síochána investigating attempts made to access the aforementioned illegal items on the “Darknet”, (Darknet – A portion of the Internet purposefully not open / available to public view).

Following his conviction, Mr Bates has now been remanded in custody and is expected to be sentenced in July after he was convicted by a jury at Clonmel Circuit Court of the three charges between October 24th and November 10th 2017.

While found not guilty of the possession of ammunition on November 10th 2017, the two-week trial heard evidence from an FBI agent and a number of Gardaí which included members of the Special Detective Unit from Harcourt Square, Dublin.

The offences had been detected after an anonymous person with the online persona of Snow4, attempted via the darknet to purchase illegal items, namely a Glock pistol, a hand grenade and several rounds of ammunition. His activity was picked up by the FBI who contacted Gardaí. A delivery was then arranged to the address given by Snow4 and made via a Garda member posing as a postman to the address of Mr Bates under the name “Tim Bates”. Mr Thomas Bates was not Snow4.

Thomas Bates signed for three packages at 12.53pm on November 10th at his home and demonstrated no surprise when receiving the items. The accused informed the Garda / postman, that Tim Bates was his son and was currently hospitalised. There was in fact, in reality, no Tim Bates.

When Gardaí raided the house there was a fire lighting in the back garden and remnants of the packaging used in the delivery were located, while the items contained had been placed in a plastic bag near the gateway.

Messages were found from Snow4 stating “they landed bro, happy days, I’ll have them this evening,” and contained information that had to have come from an individual who had previously viewed the packages.

In Garda interviews following his arrest, Mr Bates had denied taking the delivery of any items or indeed starting a fire to destroy evidence.

One other accused, Mr Nigel Gartland aged 34, with an address at No.4 Knocklofty Heights, Clonmel, Co Tipperary was found not guilty by direction of Mr Justice Thomas Teehan.

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IRA Leader Dies In Prison.

A ‘Real IRA’ leader, Mr Seamus McGrane, latter who plotted an explosion during the State visit of Prince Charles to Ireland, back in 2015, died yesterday in Portlaoise prison.

The 63-year-old Mr McGrane died from a suspected heart attack, while serving an 11-and-a-half year prison sentence for directing terrorism.

In 2015, Mr McGrane had been remanded in custody, to appear before a Saturday sitting of a non-jury Special Criminal Court, together with two other named individuals; Mr Donal Ó Coisdealbha (then aged 23) and Mr Dylan Cahill (then aged 22).

The latter, Mr Dylan Cahill, who held an address at No.102 Lower Irishtown, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, was also charged with membership of an unlawful organisation, latter styling itself the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Oglaigh na hEireann.

Mr Cahill pleaded guilty to the possession of a .380 calibre Colt semi-automatic pistol and four rounds of .380 calibre ammunition at Sradrine, Glefarne, Co Leitrim on May 13th, 2015. He also pleaded guilty at the non-jury Special Criminal Court to the possession of two improvised explosive devices, or pipe-bombs, at the same place and on the same date.

Mr Cahill was sentenced to six years in jail with the final year suspended. A subsequent appeal of this sentence was later dismissed.

The Late Mr McGrane, was convicted of IRA membership back in 2017; becoming the second person, only, to be convicted for directing terrorism within the State; the other person being Mr Michael McKevitt, latter sentenced in 2003, to twenty years imprisonment.

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