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Is The Purchase By Government Of The Thurles ‘Black Castle’ Justified?

At Kilshane House, Co. Tipperary recently, attended by over 200 guests from the Multi-National and Indigenous Sectors, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, as well as high profile figures drawn from the world of Sport and Entertainment were LR; Tipperary Co. Council Chairperson Siobhan Ambrose, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mitchell O’Connor with the very able Tipperary County Council Chief Executive (CE) Joseph MacGrath.

Here in Co. Tipperary we respectfully ask the questions:
(1) Is Thurles Co. Tipperary ‘THE PLACE, ‘THE TIME’ for to encourage the government to “join other leading organisations”, to couple with our “rich culture of heritage?
(2) “Is a purchase, by Government, of the ‘Black Castle’ here in Thurles justified, given our present economic situation nationally?
(3) Should the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, M/s Heather Humphreys or Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation M/s Mitchell O’Connor be asked, by our local politicians, to bring this ‘Black Castle’ purchase matter before Cabinet, recommending its purchase?

History of the Black Castle
For those not familiar with the historic Black Castle in Thurles, do please read on; remembering that same building has now come up for sale as part of a commercial lot, having been previously in private ownership.

The sale of the Black Castle, which is located on the west side of Liberty Square, presents an ideal opportunity for the present government to now, through the Office of Public Works (OPW) who maintain the State’s property portfolio, bring this historic castle into public ownership.

The castle was once the home of Elizabeth Poyntz, formerly of Acton Court, Iron Acton, Gloucestershire, England,[A]  known as Lady Viscountess Thurles, following her marriage to Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, in 1608. Thomas Butler was son of Walter Butler “Walter of the Rosaries,” latter probably the first of the Butler family to take up residence in Thurles Castle.[B]   Viscount Thurles was summoned from Tipperary, to England in 1619 to answer charges of treason, but the ship, conveying him, was wrecked off the coast of Wales, in an area known as The Skerries and he was drowned on 15th December 1619. His wife Elizabeth Butler (Poyntz), the celebrated Lady Thurles was now a widow and the lone parent of three sons and four daughters.

After the death of Viscount Thurles, Lady Thurles, married again, about 1620, Captain George Mathew of Radyr and Llandaff in Glamorganshire, Wales, by whom Lady Thurles had a further two sons and a daughter.

Captain George Mathew died at Tenby in Wales in 1636. A period portrait, oil on canvas, of Lady Viscountess Thurles is in the possession of the Tipperary County Library, situated in the Source building, Cathedral Street, Thurles.

Memorial Plaque marking the burial place of Elizabeth Butler in St. Mary’s Church Thurles. Note Elizabeth Butler (Poyntz) was also progenitor (ancestor) to Honora “Nano” Nagle (1718-1784) the “Lady with the Lantern”, founder of the “Presentation Sisters” and a pioneer of Catholic education in Ireland. The Presentation Sisters here in Thurles this year celebrate 200 years of being resident in the town (1817-2017). Nano Nagle was declared venerable in the Roman Catholic Church on 31st October 2013 by Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio).

Elizabeth and Thomas Butler (Lord & Lady Thurles), through their first son James FitzThomas Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, is a direct progenitor (ancestor) to Charles Prince of Wales, who is the eldest child and heir apparent of the present Queen Elizabeth II.

The late Princess Diana is also connected to the history of the castle and through the daughter of Lord and Lady Thurles, (Mary Butler), and her ancestors the Hamiltons, descendants of whom married into the Spencer family. Indeed the late Princess Diana was the 12th cousin, twice removed, of Lady Viscountess Thurles.

Despite a visit from Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army during the period 1658 to 1660, Lady Thurles and her children resided in the castle for a great deal of her life. Following her death in 1673 she was buried, at her own earlier request, in Thurles, inside the earlier pre 1820 ‘Little Chapel of St.Mary’, now St. Mary’s C of I Church. A commemorative polished limestone plaque, within the church building, recalls this historic period.

Does Rural Ireland Receive its Fair Share of Government Funding?

Here in the Thurles half of our Templemore / Thurles Municipal District of Tipperary, our appointed fiscal executives at both Municipal District and County Council level, correctly and carefully count the cost of administration, prioritising our spend.  Thurles after all is part of a forgotten rural Ireland; which the present Fine Gael government fully agree has been totally neglected for at least the past 15 years.

According to our recent 2016 Census returns, between 2011 and 2016 the Thurles Urban Electoral Division population actually dropped by 115 persons (From 6,929 to 6,814), while Thurles Rural Electoral Division increased only by 14 persons (From 2,300 to 2,314 – a miserable .61% increase). Of course the figures posted in these 2016 Census returns are not in fact actually true; instead these figures reflect the numbers of persons forced to migrate or emigrate elsewhere in order to find work; with all employment prospects in the town completely absent.

On April 27th last, we posted details of Fáilte Ireland’s recently announced €11.5m funding, to be invested in the refurbishment of ten key OPW sites in Dublin, within Ireland’s Ancient East Region. I pointed out that within a 33 miles radios of Dublin’s popular O’Connell street, went the majority of funding; yes over €8m in total. This included €3m towards a new museum and viewing platform in ‘The Record Tower,’ at Dublin Castle; €300,000 towards a Phoenix Park tourism and amenity study.  While twenty-five miles’ away the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre got €2.58m; and thirty three miles away Newgrange got €1m with Knowth a further €1.4m.

Continue reading Is The Purchase By Government Of The Thurles ‘Black Castle’ Justified?

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€40m Investment For MSD In Co. Tipperary

Global US drug manufacturers MSD are to invest €40m in their Biotechnology facility at Kilsheelan House, Ballydine, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary this year; installing new technology which it intends to use to further improve a number of its products.

The MSD plant has been in operation for over 40 years, and currently exports to some 30 countries, including destinations in Europe, Japan and the USA.

The site at Ballydine, Co Tipperary, which currently employs 600 people, (some 1,800 people employed by the company in Ireland), develops and supplies the active ingredients for a range of its medical products.

This promised investment brings MSD’s total investment; spent over a three-year period, to €75m, in upgrading this Tipperary facility.

The new technology to be installed, under the current €40m investment promised, includes a spray drying facility, which is used in the production of a number of new products; increasing their solubility and improving how they are absorbed into the human body by patients.

Mr Ger Carmody, Associate Vice President, and Plant Manager at MSD Ballydine, has stated that this current investment truly reflects the growing importance of MSD in Ireland and its overall operations in the group’s global network.

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Michael Lowry Welcomes €4m Energy Efficiency Funding

County Tipperary T.D, Mr Michael Lowry has welcomed the Government’s latest funding injection of over €4 million for Energy Efficiency Upgrades in Co. Tipperary.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Lowry said; “I heartily welcome an allocation of funding from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Mr Denis Naughten, which will see €26 million being approved for some 44 community energy projects across Ireland; over €4 million of which, I am happy to state, will be received for identified projects here in Co. Tipperary”.

The funding is being released under this year’s ‘Better Energy Communities Schemes’ which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, on behalf of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Deputy Lowry further stated, “The Better Energy Communities Schemes is intended to assist private and public buildings achieve energy efficiency upgrading. The identified Tipperary projects will see the installation and/or upgrading of energy efficient heating systems; energy efficient lighting, and solar heating. These successful projects in Tipperary will see the inclusion of energy upgrades to over 250 homes, along with works carried out to Public, Commercial and Retail Buildings. I also welcome the works to be carried out on Schools, Community Halls and GAA sport facilities, right across our county”.

Lowry continued, “Today’s total grant announcement heralds a very welcome and an important phase in the continued development of those at risk of energy poverty. This funding will continue to also assist in the development of the industry, both sustaining and developing employment in our local economy”.

Projects in Tipperary receiving funding will include:-

BEC/00633: This proposal is a collective one on behalf of a range of Eco-Merit member companies and organisations. These are a mix of commercial, public and not-for-profit entities, including registered charities with a common goal of improving their sustainability and energy efficiency. The non-domestic buildings involved in the project include: Waterford and South Tipperary Community Youth Services (WSTCYS). WSTCYS will share a grant offer of €170,586, along with other qualified projects in this section.

Continue reading Michael Lowry Welcomes €4m Energy Efficiency Funding

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Wanton Destruction Of Rural Unique History & Culture

Fáilte Ireland announced that €11.5m is to be invested in the refurbishment of ten key OPW sites in Dublin and within Ireland’s Ancient East region. But then of course the OPW Heritage Services work in partnership with this same Fáilte Ireland, so no great surprises here. It was simply a case of tourism revenues earned by the OPW, being given back to the OPW.

It is not really the distribution of funding that actually bothers me, after all Co Tipperary got a share; Ormond Castle were granted €585,000, while the Rock of Cashel were granted €1.78m.

Gobán Saor’s cat rapidly eroding.

Of course, the area within a 33 miles radios of Dublin’s popular O’Connell street, as usual, got the majority of funding; yes over €8m in total.  This included €3m towards a new museum and viewing platform in ‘The Record Tower’ at Dublin Castle; €300,000 towards a Phoenix Park tourism and amenity study. Twenty-five miles’ away the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre got €2.58m; and thirty three miles away Newgrange got €1m and Knowth €1.4m.

This Fáilte Ireland funding announced earlier this month, when truly examined, certainly represents a true strategic partnership with the OPW, if you know what I mean. Plus, as Fáilte Ireland point out, our Irish tourism sector after all currently sustains 220,000 (minimum wage) jobs, while generating an estimated €6bn in economic value per year to the State.

As already stated, it is not really this unequal distribution of funding that actually bothers me, no my fear centres around the wanton destruction of our local unique history and culture, which provides that strong incentive in bringing people to our shores. To get to the crux of this matter perhaps I need to explain further.

Tourists who visit Ireland are not exactly attracted by our weather, rather a huge percentage of foreign visitors are incentivised to holiday on our island, because of our wild, unspoilt, scenic beauty and remarkable ancient history. While most of our history is protected in museums, much more remains totally unprotected.

Archer Tomb Date 1520. Present condition in 2017.

Here in Thurles town Co. Tipperary, alone, numerous pieces of our rich heritage lie unprotected from weather erosion. Year by year, with the passing of each season; rain, wind, frost, snow and even sunshine, all ploy and conspire to shorten and destroy the future life of centuries old rare historical artefacts. Private funding offered, to protect this heritage, are resolutely refused, however funding is being (alas to late), provided to carry out photogrammetry surveys. See HERE and HERE.

The world was outraged in May 2015 when ISIS militants destroyed some of the historic buildings in the ancient city of Palmyra, located in war-torn Syria; which in the past flourished as a Roman trading outpost around A.D. 200. While this similarity is perhaps extreme, the same situation is being allowed to happen to valuable history in rural Ireland.

Dublin not only get the employment opportunities now-a-days it would appear, but into the future, only within a 50 mile radius of our capital city, will limited history survive, courtesy of Fáilte Ireland’s neglect of rural Ireland.

We rightly worry about the disappearance of Banks, Post Offices, Garda Stations, Hospitals and Public Transport from rural Ireland, now our politicians can add tourist attractions to this ever-growing list; while into the future the actual visitor.

Incidentally, those of you who reside abroad and continue to retain close links with Thurles, Co. Tipperary, you can purchase a cast, (at reasonable cost), of the Thurles Goban Saor’s cat with two tails, shown above, from HERE. Same will ensures one hell of a talking point for visitors to your home, when hanging on your sitting-room wall.

We will be talking about this Gobán Saor’s cat in the coming days.

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“Dishonest, Deceitful & Corrupt”

I confess I have very little understanding of the workings of our legal system. However a basic understanding of right and wrong was instilled in me from an early age; the substance of which I committed to memory. I refer of course to the learning of the Ten Commandments, as recorded in the Old Testament Bible books of Exodus (Israelites coming out of slavery) and Deuteronomy (The second statement of Law).

No longer imparted to students in our today’s educational institutions with the same conviction; these same Ten Commandments included one particular strong directive; Commandment No. 8, if my memory serves me correctly, containing just four words “Thou shalt not steal”.

Today a former Bank of Ireland employee has been jailed for one year (12 Months) for stealing €144,000 from her place of employment between the years 2004 and 2012, (which surely says something about banking checks and balances). Note the total amount stolen was just over €144,000. We are informed that the female employee in question paid back everything she stole, however she has lost her job and has been forced to sell her house.

Passing judgement on the case, Judge M/s Melanie Greally correctly stated that activity of this kind, committed by persons in her position, should be marked by an appropriate jail sentence, which she felt was 12 months in prison.

Compare this case to the “Green Jersey” Agenda Court Case.

Now let us look at the comparisons. Three senior Irish bankers, one of whom was from Co. Tipperary, were jailed in 2016 for their role in the collapse of a bank. Their jail sentence was for up to three and a half years for conspiring to defraud investors arising from the 2008 banking crisis.  They were the first senior bankers in Ireland to be jailed, following a 74 day criminal trial (Ireland’s longest ever at the tax payers expense).  Actual crime committed; conspiring together and with others to mislead investors, depositors and lenders, by setting up a 7.2 billion Euro circular transaction scheme between March and September of 2008, to bolster Anglo Irish Bank’s balance sheet.  Judge Mr Martin Nolan, passing judgement, described this conspiracy as a “very serious crime”.

Did our three senior Irish bankers sell their homes or make any restitution, to the same degree, as did our Bank of Ireland employee?

The ‘Banking Crash’ pushed Ireland into three years of a sovereign bailout in 2010 and during our sojourn on this earth it will still take at least another 10 years for us, as a nation, to recover all funding pumped into presently operating banks.

Remember we had to stump up some 64 billion Euro; that is almost 40% of our annual economic output, after our property collapse forced the biggest state bank rescue in the Euro zone.

We are led to believe that, “Justice is blind”. This expression literally means that justice is both impartial and objective. Lady justice, also known as Iustitia, the statue that appears on the exterior of certain ‘Halls of Justice’; she who wears the blindfold (representing impartiality), holds a scales or balance (representing the measuring of the strengths of both sides of any case), and a sword (representing authority), all lead us to believe that justice must not treat close acquaintances differently to total strangers, or indeed rich people better than those penniless.

So, my question, taking into account my failure to fully understand the current principals of the Irish Justice system and the forgetfulness of bankers to remember the ‘Eighth Commandment’, is; “Is the justice metered out here, in both these court cases, fully proportional and equally balanced?”

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