October 2015
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Thurles – St Mary’s Graveyard Project Update

A project undertaken to reclaim / transform the old late 13th century St. Mary’s graveyard, begun last November (2014) here in Thurles, is progressing very satisfactory. The former part dump and weed infested “Gods Acre” is now 50% complete thanks to Tús operatives, Thurles Municipal District Council and the many local people who have undertaken to support this project.

With three car trailer loads of broken dishes, plastic and glass bottles, bicycle and electrical parts etc now removed, some interesting pieces of old Thurles history were also uncovered. These located surface artefacts included two badly decomposed 19th and 20th century hand guns, some interesting old bottles, a few 19th and 20th century coins and a hand-made, open fire, wire, fish griddle (Great Famine Period); this latter now fully restored by the ingenuity of Littleton resident Mr Michael Bannon.

The part proceeds of a local crime were also uncovered; hidden under a large stone, taking on the form of a 14 year old stolen purse, containing various credit type cards.  (In all cases the appropriate authorities were notified.)

Click HERE to view progress to date in High Definition.

Thurles – Undertaking A Visitor Attraction Project For Themselves

Of course the spring crop of Cherry blossom, Blue Bells, Three Cornered Leeks, Snowdrops and Lent Lilies have all departed for yet another year. So too now fading are the summer crop of Solomon Seal, Lily of the Valley, Primroses, Yellow Loosestrife and Lungworth. However the Common Poppy, Chinese Black Mondo Grass, White Foxgloves, Fleece Flower, Buddleia Bushes, Elephant Ears, African daisy, Marigolds and Feverfew all continue to grant late summer /autumn colour to this most historic of Tipperary graveyards.

The first gravelled footpath, one of four planned to guide visitors around this historic oasis, is also in place, joining the existing Thurles Memorial Garden.

To date this project has cost a minuscule €800.00 in financial funding for the massive work undertaken and a huge ‘Thank You’ must now go to all the volunteer supporters / advisor’s to this project and in particular to the Tús operatives and Thurles Municipal District Council (Administrator Michael Ryan).  A ‘Thank You’ also to Aileen O’Sullivan and family (U.S.A.) who handsomely contributed to the purchase of garden furniture, yet to be installed later this year in this area, (More details will appear regarding this installation later).

Of course if there are any Politicians out there who feel that funding should /can be made available to support / progress this ongoing project more speedily, perhaps they could let us know.

How can you the people of this community further assist in this new project?
(1) Do you have any “Overcrowded Perennials” in your garden drastically in need of thinning? Remember overcrowded perennials often have fewer and smaller flowers than their well-spaced and divided counterparts.

(2) Do you have relatives buried in St Mary’s Graveyard? Perhaps, finance permitting of course, you would like to take this opportunity to have the headstone cleaned, lettering repainted or a grave kerb added, replaced or repaired. Unable to undertake this work yourself, then talk to James Slattery, Tel 0504 – 22219, who specialises in dealing with ancient limestone headstones.

(3) Are you feeling generous? Why not make a small financial contribution to this worthwhile Thurles history / environmental conservation project. Your donation and full details of how your money was spent will be publicly acknowledged here on Thurles.Info in future regular news updates.

Note: Extreme care has been taken to ensure that this historic burial ground is respected in full, firstly, with regards to the rights of the living family members of those deceased, and secondly, in regard to the rules already put in place by the Heritage Council with regard to the Guidance for the Care, Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards.

Common Teasel – A Manna From Heaven

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin and yet I say unto you,
that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
St. Luke – Chapter 12, Verses 28 & 29.


The Common Teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris) plant is just one of many wild flowers recently introduced into St. Mary’s Graveyard here in Thurles Co. Tipperary, as part of restoration work being carried out to convert the latter into a garden and urban wild flower reserve.

Observed by many as just a species of weed, the Common Teasel (Teazel) plant is well worth growing in well managed gardens, if only for use in dried flower arrangements. Teasel is a biennial plant which germinates in its first year; while flowering in its second. In the first year it appears as a rosette of spine-coated leaves, which die in the second year, as it diverts its energy into growing its tall, often up to 2 meter high stems.

Common Teasel is a real nature lover’s plants, protected by thorns the full length of its stem. Its cone shaped flower heads, the seeds of which begin turning brown in winter; gives to the observer the impression of being a giant cotton bud. Prior to seeding, it displays tiny lavender / purple coloured flowers to be found clustered together in the form of separated rings appearing up and down its flower head. These flowers quickly attract bumblebees, butterflies and other flying creatures and the later seeds produced, entice many wild birds, particularly Goldfinches, who arrive in vast numbers to feast.

The many uses attributed to the Common Teasel plant.

The first references to the huge important uses of the Teasel plant began before the 12th century. The Romans called the plant ‘Lavacrum Veneris’, meaning the ‘Basin (or Bath-house) of Venus’. This name refers to the fact that the plant collects little pools of water at the base of its lower stem leaves (See picture no.2 above) providing drinking water for insects. However this water collected also insures that it keeps its own roots watered, when, aided by the wind, it sways to spill this collected water supply unto the soil at its base. Irish Water (Uisce Eireann) activists who today correctly (to my mind) argue that water is more than just a human need; that it is in fact a God given human right, would do well to observe this plant.  Such observation will surely prove that access to safe drinking water should never depend on affordability; but rather that the provision of future clean water to the less well-off, be no longer perceived as charity, but rather as a legal entitlement to be shared by all God’s creatures equally.

During the eighteenth century, the water collected by the leaves of Teasel plants was believed to remove freckles and was also used to soothe sore eyes. The roots have also been used to treat warts, sores and other skin problems, as a stomach aid, as an analgesic for pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory and as a stimulant for the nervous system.  Teasel Root is widely used in conjunction with antibiotics to treat Lyme Disease. It has the ability to pull bacteria from muscle tissue into the blood stream, thus enabling the human immune system to do its work naturally.

Whereas most modern textile processes have been mechanised, the barbs of Teasel plants continue to be used today in the woollen trade, since the spiny heads of this plant are gentler on wool and cloth materials; where stubborn tangles are encountered. In this process some 2,000 to 4,000 dried teasel heads are hand-picked and mounted on rotating drums known as a ‘Gigs’. The Gig then spins rapidly over the stretched surface of woollen cloth, thus separating the surface fibres, “raising the nap”.

Today modern snooker-table cloth surfaces, guardsmen’s tunics and the roof linings of Rolls-Royce cars are all still finished with Teasel heads and no machine has ever been devised that can do the job on cloth better than the Teasel. Indeed the Coat of Arms of the Cloth Workers’ Company, granted first in 1530, still proudly displays a golden Teasel head.

Teasel with its thorny spiked stems, when used in dried flower arranging, soon teaches the florist to wear gloves when cutting or handling the plant. In drying, remember to leave the stems to fully shed their seeds naturally, before cutting and hanging upside down. Properly handled and correctly dried these flowers will last for many years, making a bold statement in any future designed floral display.

Question: Which Irish County Grows The Best Spuds?

 Which Irish county grows the best potatoes?

potatoflowerSupposedly first discovered by the Spaniards back in the 16th Century, and understood to have been eaten by the Peruvians some 2,000 years previously, our humble potato is still, by far, the most popular of all consumed vegetables. This versatile tuber can be boiled, chipped, steamed, baked, roasted and sautéed.

However according to An Bord Bia which held its All Ireland Quality Potato Championships recently, not surprisingly the winning county was identified as; yes you have guessed correctly, Co. Tipperary.

Last weekend at the Tullamore Show in Co Offaly, latter which is attended by some 60,000 people annually, potato grower Mr David Curran from Fethard, Co. Tipperary was crowned All Ireland Champion and quality spud producer.

According to An Bord Bia, this annual competition is designed not just to increase the level of awareness among growers, but to highlight what actually constitutes a top quality potato.

Primula vulgaris ‘Tipperary Purple’


Primula vulgaris ‘Tipperary Purple’

Plants have been chosen in many countries as symbols, representing specific geographic areas, while some countries have a country-wide floral emblem e.g. England (Rose), Scotland (Thistle), Spain (Carnation), and Canada (The Maple Leaf).

Of course the Shamrock (or trefoil) is widely used as an official symbol for Ireland, while the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) has officially and more recently been proclaimed the floral emblem of Australia.

Recently located new species of wild flowers have been named in honour of persons like the brilliant naturalist Sir David Attenborough, e.g. the new species discovered on the Brecon Beacons, now recognised as Attenborough’s Hawkweed (Hieracium attenboroughianum) and the new genus of flowering plant from the custard apple family, Annonaceae, discovered in the jungles of Gabon, now identified as Sirdavidia. One of three newly discovered species of a flowering plant endemic to the area around Mt. Madja, Antique Province, in the Philippines, has been named after Pope Francis.

‘Tipperary Purple’ Primrose
Very few, if any, cities, towns, areas or countries however can boast of a flower bearing its name with the exception of our beloved Co Tipperary.
The ‘Tipperary Purple’ Primrose bears a multitude of very distinct coloured dusky pinkish to purple flowers with sharp white dots at the base of the cleft in each petal, all set against an enlarged green cup-like structure which offers a protective layer around the flowering bud. Hardy to minus 25 degrees Celsius, this plant enjoys full sunshine in the spring but prefers shade in summer, thus being planted underneath deciduous trees or shrubs, in humus rich soil, is ideal.

The passed origins of this most attractive of Primroses (Primula vulgaris) today remains shrouded in mystery, but it is understood that it originated first here in Tipperary and hence the name.

A limited number of ‘Tipperary Purple’ Primroses can to be found today in O’Driscoll’s Garden Centre, Mill Rd, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Tel: (0504) 21636. Believe me O’Driscoll’s Garden Centre is well worth a visit presently, if just to view their magnificent mature wild flower garden, now a ‘must have’ if only to assist in reducing weekly mowing and other constant garden maintenance.

Who knows maybe one day some enterprising Vexillographer (Flag Maker) will manufacturer our Co. Tipperary flag not just bearing those proud blue and gold colours; but also bearing the small flower emblem of the ‘Tipperary Purple’ primrose.

Thurles Sensory Gardens Unveiled

“Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger and will make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large.” (Quote by Mahatma Gandhi)

It all began just one year ago to the very day, when Co Galway native Commandant Michael Walsh (Retd & former aide de camp to H.E. the President of Ireland) returned from his trek having completed his walk along the Ancient Pilgrims Route, known as “The Way of St James,” ending eventually in Santiago de Compostella Galicia in Spain.

“The Way of St. James” you will remember was one of the most important Christian pilgrimage routes taken during medieval times and legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.

Click HERE for HD (High Definition) Video

This walk in the company of fellow fund raiser Yvonne Tyler had started in Holycross, Co Tipperary on Sunday 7th of April 2013 and had finished on July 11th of the same year. The original goal of Michael and Yvonne’s three month trek, was to increase an awareness of Autism not just locally but nationally here in Ireland and highlight not just its effect on family members and persons with Autism, but also to raise much needed funding for two specific Autism related charities, namely the Tús Nua Autism Residential and Resource Centre here in Thurles and Cottage Autism Network based in Co Wexford.

To use a somewhat military phrase, possibly used on occasion by Michael in the past; prior to his retirement from army life was “The mission has been accomplished,” and one year to the day, on July 11th 2014 to mark his safe return, two new ‘Sensory Gardens’ have been opened here in the magnificent Rehab Resource Centre situated at Stradavoher in Thurles.

For those less familiar with the concept of a sensory garden, same is designed with the purpose of stimulating the senses. The stimulation occurs courtesy of plants and the correct use of materials that engage one’s senses of smell, sight, touch and of course sound. These types of gardens are popular with and extremely beneficial to young adults who have sensory issues, including disabilities which include Autism.

Unveiling the gardens to the public for the first time to the Tipperary public, M/s Colleen O’Sullivan (Manager Thurles Resources Centre) pointed out that this wonderful new asset could not have been achieved without the collaboration of wonderful caring people from the backgrounds of business, charitable societies, family, friends, neighbours and her own greatly valued and caring staff members. M/s O’Sullivan was particularly complimentary of students at Thurles Community Training Centre who assisted in the construction of the landscaping and also generously donated a garden bench, latter professionally constructed by the students themselves, during recent woodwork classes.

Colleen’s remarks were once again echoed by Michael Walsh who thanked specifically; Mr Frank Alley and his Dundrum Nursery’s Team, Thurles Rotary Club, Thurles Lions Club, Thurles Community Training Centre, L.I.T Thurles, Lisheen Mines, Colaiste Eile, Upperchurch and Holycross Communities, Sr Eilis Bergin, Trica Treacy, Mary B.Lanigan-Ryan, the Rita and Matty Stapleton Nursery’s, the friends and families of those attending the Resource Centre and the many volunteers who turned up on late evenings to ensure the garden’s transformation from previous waste ground.

A basket containing Prayer Flags (Ribbons) inspired by Sr Eilis Bergin and walking companion Yvonne Tyler was also on hand in true ‘Tibetan’ tradition. Those in attendance were invited to tie a ribbon to espalier training wires, latter bearing sweet smelling Jasmine, as a reminder of the call to prayer for the future welfare of all humans everywhere, working together and thus encouraging the traits of Virtue, Goodness, Healing and Happiness.

The next stage to be progressed in this garden will be a special water feature. Same is currently being specially designed by Tipperary renowned sculptor Philip Quinn, Holycross, Tipperary.

Following the unveiling, visitors were entertained to refreshments specially provided for this truly most special of occasions.

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