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Thurles – Linking Past History

His headstone in St Mary’s Graveyard Thurles, reads: “O holy cross under thy shadow I will rest.”  In loving memory of John O’Brien, 19 Main St, Thurles [Co.Tipperary].  Died 30th June 1917, aged 62 years. R I P. “An upright man fearing God and avoiding evil”.  [Grave Ref: 349].

Pic (1) Gravestone of J. O’Brien, No 19, Main St. (Liberty Square) Thurles.  Pic (2) A 100-year-old Whisky Glass with the O’Brien name from No 19, Liberty Square (Main St.) Thurles.  Pic (3) First Editions today (June 2017) also situated at No 19, Liberty Square (Main St.) Thurles.

For the many years that I have been a resident of this town, ‘First Editions’ situated at No 19 Liberty Square, Thurles, (Previously Main Street) has been retailing not just the ‘crème de la crème’  in lady’s fashion and design, but also providing effective fashion guidance; advising ladies of all ages in “what to wear, what to bare, and what to keep under wraps”.

However, No 19 Main Street, Thurles, was not always the home of ‘Haute Couture’ for devoted followers of high fashion. Previously it had been a Licensed Hostelry (Pub, Watering Hole supplying ‘Special Malt’ whiskey) and occupied by Mr John O’Brien. Prior to Mr O’Brien’s tenancy it was occupied by one Mr Adam Cooke, who according to research, possibly ran a Delph and Hardware business before 1843.

Today, following his death almost 100 years ago this month, when we examine his place of burial, we can fairly assume that Mr John O’Brien, was a man of some substance. Born just after the Great Famine and passing away shortly before Thurles became fully involved in the fight for Irish freedom, his headstone epitaph is possibly the only headstone in St Mary graveyard with hammered smooth, lead lettering.

So why letters made using Lead (Symbol Pb, Atomic No 82) ?
Lead lettering on signs and headstones was up to 50 years ago a technique that had been in use for at least the previous three to four hundred years. In our dimmer past, the highlighting of lettering on any type of sign was difficult, due to the absence of long lasting exterior paints, with latter being unfit to endure Irish weathering and thus unable to remain clearly visible to the eye for any great period of time. Lead lettering, therefore, while highly skilled and labour intensive, was the only other option, depending on ones available finances.

Seldom seen today, except in graveyards; this lead lettering would be sketched out on the surface of the stone initially in pencil. The intended inscription would then be incised or scored into the stone using a hammer and different sized sharp chisels, producing a V style cut into the surface. Except for the surface outlines, the stone cutter was not required to finish the carved-out letter shapes cleanly.

Now using a hand driven band drill and a steel bit, the stone mason could drill a series of tiny holes internally into each incised letter. Soft malleable type lead, supplied in sheets and twisted into the shapes of each letter, would then be hammered into each incised letter cutting, using a wooden mallet. The lead would then be sanded down so as to be level with the stone surface. Together with the rough finish and drilled holes the stone mason was assured that the lead would grip tightly for decades and in the case of the O’Brien gravestone, one hundred years this month.

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“All Hands Together” – Exhibition – Thurles Library

Thurles Library’s “All Hands Together” Exhibition

As part of the Bealtaine Festival, Thurles Library (The Source, Cathedral Street, Thurles) are currently and kindly hosting an amazing exhibition in the Source Library & Arts Centre Gallery.

Ms Phyl Dwyer, Turtulla, Thurles, demonstrates the ancient art of  ‘Quilting’.

This exhibition, featuring the skills of the ‘Spike Quilters of Littleton’ and entitled “All Hands Together”, is open free to the public until Tuesday May 30th next; to be viewed in conjunction with the opening hours of Thurles Library.

The Spike Quilters of Littleton.
‘Spike Quilters’ are a group of compatible and inclined women aged between 15 years & 90 years, who meet together on a monthly basis to undertake and learn the ancient art of patchwork. With their monthly meeting place in The Muintir na Tíre Hall, Littleton, Thurles, Co. Tipperary; here the elderly share the considerable knowledge they have acquired in the art of ‘Quilting’ with their younger counterparts. Meetings are held in the hall from 10.30am to 4.00pm on the appointed day, (Usually second Sunday of every month), with each individual working on their own project, be it a ‘Wall-Hanging’ or a ‘Quilt’. Here colours are discussed, ideas are exchanged, progress encouraged and all over numerous cups of tea and chat. Guest teachers are a regular feature of these workshops, initiating new ideas and up skilling.

The Patchwork Quilt.
A patchwork quilt is a multi-layered textile in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design. Originally, this was to make full use of accumulated left-over or salvaged scraps of fabric.

As stated, the quilt is usually formed of three individual layers; the patchwork quilt top; a layer of insulation wadding (batting), and a layer of backing material. Same may be used as throws, wall hangings, table runners or even tablecloths.

  • The art of quilting has a long history, first evidence of which appears back in the 35th century BC, with an ivory carving, found in the Temple of Osiris, at Abydos near the modern Egyptian towns of el-‘Araba el Madfuna and al-Balyana, during 1903 and currently in the collection of the British Museum. This carving features the king of the Egyptian First Dynasty wearing a cloak which appears to be quilted.
  • Attributed to the 1st century BC2nd century AD, we have a textile in the form of a quilted linen carpet found in a Mongolian cave tomb which today is housed in the collection of the Leningrad Department of the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of the Sciences of the Union of the Soviet Republic.
  • Made circa 1400 AD, we have a Milanese ivory carving of the Holy Family depicting the ‘Flight into Egypt’, showing Joseph wearing a coat quilted in a diamond pattern. Same is housed in the collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, United Kingdom.
  • In 1547, the Inventory of King Henry VIII of England lists “Quyltes” and “Coverpointes” among the bed linen. The inventory describes the quilts as made of “holland cloth” (linen or cotton), “bockeram” (cotton),” or various types of silk including “sarceonett”, “tapheta,” and “lynnen.” Some of these quilts would have been given to lesser members of Court, either as a sign of favour or as a gift. Indeed, the young 16 year old Catherine Howard, fifth queen (for three months only) of Henry VIII, was given a gift of two dozen quilts, sometime before being beheaded, on the grounds of treason, and for supposedly committing adultery, while married to Henry.

Now thankfully, due to the ‘Spike Quilters of Littleton’ and Thurles Library; in 2017, the craft of quilting can be seen to continue, with this exhibition showcasing work to most impressive effect.

When shopping in Thurles over the next 10 days, please do take a coffee break and go visit this exhibition of splendour and truly talented aptitude.

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Junk Kouture National Contest

Ursuline Convent’s fabulous ‘Junk Kouture’ design ‘Kamuro’.

Junk Kouture is all about creating fashion from recyclable materials of every sort.  Its purpose is to encourage young future designers, in second level education, to create striking couture designs and impressive works of wearable art, from everyday junk that would normally find its way into our rubbish dumps.

This year a number of young designers from Transition Year at the Ursuline Convent here in Thurles are taking part in the ‘National Junk Kouture Competition’, sponsored by Bank of Ireland (BOI).

It is no secret that the annual National Junk Kouture competition aims to inspire and ignite passion in young teenagers, while at the same time subtly educating them about the importance of recycling and the reusing of waste materials.

Over the last six years, Bank of Ireland’s Junk Kouture has established itself as the premier recycled fashion competition for teenagers throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland and in 2015 extended its creative platform, further afield, to the shores of Scotland.

This year the Ursuline Convent’s very imaginative, chosen, dress design, entitled “Kamuro”, was initially inspired by fireworks going off in our Thurles night sky. The firework explosion formation known as ‘Kamuro’, (Japanese for ‘boy’s haircut’) creates a tight cluster of silver or gold stars, with attendant glittery, cloudy trails, leaving the viewer hard-pressed not to see what appears to be a ‘haircut’ in the sky.

The dress, affected totally from recycled materials only, was contrived and manufactured over a seven month period by student designer’s M/s Winona Ryan, M/s Sarah Ryan and M/s Roisin Heffernan.

These Ursuline students would really appreciate if you could vote for their dress design in this national final. Voting was launched on Monday last 3rd April 2017 @ 9am and closes at midnight on Friday 14th April 2017.

You can greatly assist their efforts in this competition simply by clicking HERE and picking out their dress called KAMURO, then click on it to vote. See flashing “Click here to vote” at top of web page. (Above last year’s winner’s head.)  Do not forget “Hit that share button also”.

Do remember you can vote once every 24 hours and every vote counts!

The Grand Final of Bank of Ireland Junk Kouture, for which tickets are available, takes place at the 3Arena, North Wall Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1, on Thursday 27th of April 2017, beginning at 7.00pm (19:00hrs) sharp.

Amongst the many valued prizes up for grabs on the night, the winning school can picks up €2,500 in cash and takes home the valued Junk Kouture Trophy.

Congratulations!         “Super design and best of luck to all students taking part.”

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‘The Jockser Cooke’ Regains His Memory

Well known Thurles local ‘The Jockser Cooke’  hadn’t seen the inside of a church since the day of his confirmation.

Imagine then, the pleasant surprise, even mild shock, that greeted the Rev. Peter Wheatfield, when he looked down into his congregation to find ‘Our Jockser’, standing completely cold sober, at the back of the parish church, for the first time in well over 30 years.

After the service, Rev. Peter took up his long established Sunday custom of greeting each of his worshippers as they exited his chapel.

Jockser’s Cotton Hat

Stretching out his hand to Jockser, he pulled him aside, to wait until all the other parishioners had left.  This achieved, Rev. Peter said, “I am so glad you decided to come to our Sunday Holy Communion service this morning Mr Cooke. What, may I dare to ask, changed your mind after all these years?”

“Well to be totally honest with ya Reverend, sure a while back, didn’t I misplaced me cotton hat and sure God knows I really and truly loved that ould hat.  Now didn’t I became aware that one of your other parishioners, Willie Hall, has a hat just like mine. I then learned that every man who enters the church every Sunday has to remove his hat during the Service. So I tell you no lie Reverend, I figured when he would go up for Communion sure I would steal the hat from his pew and leave without anyone even becoming aware it was missing,” said Jockser.

Rev. Peter smiled, “Well Jockser I am happy to note that you didn’t steal Mr Hall’s hat after all. What changed your mind?”

Jockser lowered his voice, “Well, after I heard yar sermon on them 10 Commandments, I decided that I didn’t need to steal Willie Hall’s hat after all.”

With a tear in his eye Rev. Peter gave Jockser a big smile, “Yes I did talk in detail about the 8th commandment handed down by Moses and that moral imperative so often nowadays forgotten ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’.  So am I to understand that based on my simple sermon you decided you would rather do without Mr Hall’s hat, thus saving yourself from being eternally tortured in Hell Fire?”  Rev. Peter asked.

Jockser slowly shook his head. “Ah no, no, it wasn’t like that Reverend, after ya talked about the 9th commandment, Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery’, sure then didn’t I remembered where I had left me hat.”

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Niamh Kennedy Tipperary Takes Title “Miss Ireland”

miss-ireland-winners

The very lovely Miss Niamh Kennedy, Portroe, Nenagh representing Miss Tipperary, has taken the coveted title of “Miss Ireland,” surpassing 33 other beauty queens from around the country.

The event which took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, Dublin, last night saw the classically trained 20-year-old ballerina who currently enjoys works as a waitress, go forward to represent Ireland at the Miss World Pageant in Washington D.C. on December 19th next.

On left, pictured L-R; Miss Aoife McGrane (First Runner Up); Miss Niamh Kennedy chosen “Miss Ireland 2016” and Miss Leanne Gray (Second Runner Up), at the Miss Ireland 2016 final last night. (Picture Courtesy Mr Brian McEvoy).

Part of her prize last night, included a modelling contract and a professional photo-shoot. This year’s pageant saw for the first time no exhibition featuring swimwear; instead a talent section was introduced into proceedings, which saw Miss Kennedy showcase a very fine singing voice.

TV3’s Elaine Crowley and pageant organiser and stylist Brendan Marc Scully hosted last night’s event, with singer Karl Day providing the entertainment.  Judges in attendance on the night included Julian Benson, Bellamianta Tan CEO Linda Mc Namee, Stylist Sonja Mohlich, Miss Ireland organiser Sean Montague, together with former winners Jessica Hayes and Anne Marie Gannon.

Every success Niamh from all here in Co. Tipperary, we will be watching your progress with immense pride.

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