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Two Armistice Day Associated Events Happening Here In Thurles

A Soldier Died Today

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt.

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbours, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honour while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

Two Armistice Day Associated Events will be happening here in Thurles over the coming week.

Event No. (1):

For just 1 night only, War Dead Databases will be available for viewing and consultation by the public in The Old Abbey Inn, Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary on Friday 9th November, 2018, from 7.00pm to 9.00pm. Admission to this event will be free.

So, if you have had a relative killed in the Great War, he or she will be recorded in these databases. Same are the most comprehensive roll of WW1 Irish casualties in the World and include 26,000 photographs of serving personnel published in the 26 county newspapers of the period. They cover all the casualties and include over 10,000 that are not listed in Ireland’s Memorial Records.

If you have an item from the war, e.g. medals, uniforms or equipment, do bring them along, where they will be identified.

These War Dead Databases were used to compile 31 WW1 books, including the “Tipperary War Dead” and the “26 County Casualties of the Great War”, and have been kept in Camden Fort Meagher in Crosshaven, Co. Cork. They can be searched by ‘Place’, ‘Name’, ‘Unit’, ‘Date of death’, ‘Burial place’ or ‘Memorial’ and cover all the Allied Armies, Navies, and Air Forces, in the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.

Any voluntary donations to this latter event, on the night, will go to the Suir Haven Cancer Support Centre, situated here in Thurles.

Event No. (2):

“A Nations Tribute” will take place across the world, when pipers from various countries will play the tune, ‘The Battle’s Oer’ at 6.00am on November 11th, 2018; commemorating 100 years since the signing of the Treaty, which ended the Great War.

On Nov. 11th. 2018 (Armistice Day), here in Thurles, Piper John Moloughney together with pipers from the Sean Treacy Pipe Band, representing Moycarkey & Borris, Co. Tipperary, will play at a monument dedicated to John Cunningham, V.C. at his birthplace (Born 28th of October 1890) in Stradavoher, (Hull Street), Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Educated at the Christian Brothers School, (CBS) Thurles, John, before the war, was employed as a farm labourer. John went to France on 19th December 1914, becoming a Corporal in the 2nd. Battalion, the Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians).

On 12th April 1917, at Bois-en-Hache, France, he was in command of a Lewis Gun section on the most exposed flank of the attack. His section came under heavy enfilade fire and suffered severely. Although wounded he succeeded almost alone in reaching his objective with his gun, which he got into action in spite of much opposition. When counter-attacked by a party of some twenty of the enemy, he exhausted his ammunition against them, before standing in full view to throw bombs. He was again wounded and fell, but he picked himself up and continued to fight single-handed with the enemy until his bombs were exhausted. He then made his way back to his lines with a fractured arm and other wounds. Corporal Cunningham died 4 days later in hospital at Barlin from the effects of his wounds, on 16th of April 1917.

He is buried at Berlin Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 39 near Nouex Les -Mines. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for Bravery in action. There is a tablet bearing his name in St. Mary’s cemetery, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

His brother, Pakie (Patrick) Cunningham is also buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Thurles. He also died at home on 4th. June 1915, from wounds received in France. He was a Lance Corporal in the 1st. Leinster Regiment.

Piper John and his companions now intend to play at John & Pakie Cunningham’s birthplace at 6.00am on the morning of November 11th. 2018 and in St. Mary’s Churchyard at 11.00am on the same date.

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Two-Mile-Borris Community Hall Offered For Sale

The Community Hall, which sits in the centre of the picturesque village of Two-Mile-Borris, near Thurles, Co. Tipperary, is being currently offered for sale.
The hall’s closure in recent times had caused many living within the local community, to pause regarding the issue of its closure, while they considering its immediate future.

However in recent weeks a ‘For Sale’ sign has materialised; displayed on its front portals, without, according to some very upset locals, any consultation with the local village population.

Same sale within this tight knit community has generated no little hidden anger, with many viewing this decision as ‘high handed’, according to some individuals with whom we spoke.

In 1995 the hall was placed in the care of the parish, before being later invested in the Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust. A committee had been formed to look after the day-to-day running of this local asset, however a recent lack of maintenance and supervision etc, brought about its temporary closure.

Known History Of Two-Mile-Borris Community Hall
The hall, we understand, originated back in the latter part of the 19th century; around the 1890’s, when the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (IAOS), latter a co-operative movement became established in Ireland. A group of innovative farmers in the area came together to form the Two Mile Borris Agricultural Society; becoming shareholders.
The initial aim of this Society was to purchase seed; fertiliser, and farm machinery, hiring out the latter to aid the local farming community. Part of the building was also used as a dwelling house.

The first secretary of the Society was Mr Tom Fanning from the townsland of Skehana, Two-Mile-Borris.  The Society eventually went out of existence after some years.

Up until 1960 the ‘Society’, as the building was known, was used as a storeroom. Then the Fanning Family, from Skehana granted the use of the premises, including the now vacant dwelling area, to the Legion of Mary. Renovations were undertake by Mr John McGuire, a local building contractor and by local voluntary labour, before the Legion of Mary began to use the hall as a meeting place; a venue for fund-raising and as a tea rooms.

In the 1970’s Two-Mile-Borris Festival Committee used the hall, carrying out further developments in subsequent years. This same Festival Committee also purchased the field beside the school, without financial assistance from any lending agency. Locals were adamant in their praise of these former, hard working, community members, latter who raised the finance for both of these aforementioned two projects.
[We learn that this former committee included names such as: Fr. Bobby Harkin C.C., Mr Richard Ryan, Mr Jimmy Moloughney, Mr Gerry Bowe, Ms Josie Fanning, Mr Thomas Cussen and Mr Sean Cussen, latter all clearly visible to the fore and at the helm of this organisation in the past.]

Interesting to note that some of the community then sought a ‘Vegas’ type hall at that time, but all were ruled out of order.

In 1989 the late Mr Harry Ryan, Galboola, Littleton, then Chairperson of Tipperary Co. Council, for the first time since the halls inception, held a meeting of the Council Authority here in his own native Two-Mile-Borris.

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Six Thousand Year Old Bog-Oak Erected In Littleton, Co Tipp

Two-Mile-Borris /Littleton district correspondent Mr Gerry Bowe reports:-

On Wednesday August 29th 2018 last, cross-roads in Littleton Village, Thurles, Co. Tipperary has gained an original six to seven-thousand-year-old unique, work of art.

Local butcher Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick has presented to Littleton village; a piece of rare bog-oak which he has been restoring and preserving over many months.

Bog-wood, in this case Oak, is a material from trees that have been buried in peat bogs and preserved from decay by the acidic and anaerobic bog conditions, sometimes for thousands of years. The wood is usually stained brown by tannins dissolved in the bog’s acidic water. Bog-wood may come from any tree species naturally growing near or in bogs, including oak; Quercus – “bog oak”; Pine – “Pinus”; Yew – “Taxus”; Swamp Cypress – “Taxodium”, and Kauri, latter regarded as the most exotic wood in the world – “Agathis”.  Such bog preserved timber remains comparable to some of the world’s most expensive tropical hard woods.

Pictured Centre L to R: Mr Tom Ryan, Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick, Mr Dan Fitzpatrick, & Mr John Darmody taking time out to relax having successfully erected the Bog Oak Art piece in Littleton village, Co. Tipperary.

For the past twenty-eight years, Mr Fitzpatrick together with his wife Karen and family, has been providing a quality meat service, which also includes home deliveries, not just to the village itself but also to the surrounding area. But surely his most unique delivery to date, must be the conveyance of a large, ancient, seven-foot-high oak tree trunk with roots attached; same now perfectly preserved with numerous coatings of Danish oil, followed by intense and passionate sandpapering, to extract its ancient, bog preserved, hidden colours.

What was once left to the elements to decay, has now become a visible symbol and a real reminder of the rich, bog-land chronicle that is Tipperary’s biodiversity. This visible symbol must surely challenge us to try to fully comprehend and preserve our local bogs for environmental, recreational and inspirational purposes. The heathers, ferns and fir tree, planted alongside, are but a trivial reminder of this rich variety of rural bog vegetation.

An artistic and wood-working gene is most definitely ingrained within the Fitzpatrick family. Proof, as if proof was needed, can be quickly observed in the ‘butcher’s block’ that was so patiently and lovingly assembled, piece by piece, from maple wood, by Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick’s son Shane; same undertaken as part of his Leaving Cert woodwork project at Colaiste Mhuire here in Thurles. Shane has rightly been granted an award for this work, with the project remaining on display in the school, to further inspire and encourage new incoming students and school visitors alike.

A massive ‘Thank You’ also to Mr John Darmody, Mr Dan Fitzpatrick and Mr Thomas Ryan; all who helped pour the concrete base and secure the bog oak piece with iron stays, having delivered it safely on a tractor loader.

Positive comments are now pouring in from the many who pass through Littleton village on a daily basis and so to from the villagers who are grateful to Mr Fitzpatrick and family for the patient work and generosity in the donating of this artistic creation to further beautify the already picturesque village. With a new Tidy Towns Committee in formation, this feature makes a most excellent beginning to all future work planned.

In his book (P.58), “The Bogs of Ireland” (John Feehan), the author tells us that “bog is an Irish word, derived from the word for soft; ‘bogach’ means in Irish -‘soft ground.’ As roads become busier and life becomes a constant rush, we might recall that another Irish phrase: “Tog go bog è “, means literally “Take it easy”, or “Slow down”, or “Breathe deep”.  So why not“Tog go bog è “, and take a look around and admire this ancient and unique piece of bog-oak art, which has full certified Littleton, Co. Tipperary origins?

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Closing Down Sale At Home Of Dr. William Bradshaw

In 2018, we rightly condemn the closure of rural Post Offices, but take note, some five assorted clothing retail outlets, all situated within the area of Liberty Square, here in Thurles, [e.g. Heatons, Dempsey’s, Joanne’s Boutique, Elverys and First Editions] worryingly have either closed, moved or are about to shut shop, and all within a 12-month period. [Those that claim they rule over us, should perhaps please pay attention.]

Heatons
Established some 70 years ago, one such premises, ‘Heatons’ fast became one of Ireland’s largest group of department stores, providing the latest in men’s, women’s and kid’s fashions; as well as retailing contemporary home wares and home textiles. March 2016 saw the sale of this Irish chain store to Mike Ashley’s ‘Sports Direct’ for a reported €47.5m, following the eventual settlement of a bitter legal dispute.

The Heatons department Store building here in Thurles, which had allowed its outer appearance to greatly deteriorate, has however a rich, past, local, associated history.

Picture [1] – Heatons Liberty Square, Thurles. Picture [2] – Senior Surgeon Sir Anthony Dickson Home. Picture [3] – Assistant-Surgeon Dr. William Bradshaw. Picture [4] – Dr. William Bradshaw’s medal display. Picture [5] – Painting by the VC Artist Louis William Desanges (1822–1906), depicting Surgeon (later Surgeon General) Sir Anthony Dickson Home (1826–1914), VC (Victoria Cross), KCB (Knight Commander of the Bath), and Assistant Surgeon Dr. William Bradshaw (1830–1861), VC (Victoria Cross), Lucknow (Lakhnau), 1857.

The Heatons building once occupied the Medical Hall in Thurles and was the home of Dr. George Bradshaw and his son Dr. William Bradshaw; former who died on the 14th Aug 1867, aged 68 years and who was a member of the Thurles / Rahealty Famine Food committee, (1846/1847), contributing not only his medical skills, but also his family’s finances; and the latter, William, who died on March 9th 1861 aged just 31 years.

An assistant surgeon; Dr. William Bradshaw served in the 50th regiment (West Kents) during the Crimean war. This war was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856, in which the Russian Empire lost to an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia. Dr Bradshaw was a recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), won while serving with the 90th (The Cameronians) Scottish Rifles, at the relief of Lucknow, latter the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

A Victoria Cross remains the highest and most prestigious medal awarded for valour in the face of the enemy granted to British and Commonwealth armed forces of any military rank. The VC was first introduced on the 29th of January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since that day, the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. Only 15 medals, (11 to members of the British Army, and four to the Australian Army), have been awarded since the Second World War. The source of the metal from which the medals were struck / manufactured, was derived from Russian cannon guns captured at the Siege of Sevastopol, an important and historical port on the Black Sea. Metal for most of the medals struck since December 1914 are understood to originate from two Chinese cannon. Owing to its rarity, the Victoria Cross is highly prized, with medals fetching figures in excess of some €600,000 at auction.

An assistant surgeon in 1857 and then just 27 years old, Dr. Bradshaw’s VC was presented two years later by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace, London, England on June 8th 1859. His Victoria Cross today is on display at the Royal Army Medical Corps Museum, Keogh Barracks, Mytchett Place Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hampshire, England.

The London Gazette, the official journal of record of the British government, on June 18th, 1858 stated, “Her Majesty has also been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the Decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers of Her Majesty [Later to be Surgeon General  Sir Anthony Dickson Home (1826-1914) and Assistant-Surgeon Dr William Bradshaw] and of the East India Company’s Armies, who have been recommended to Her Majesty’s Warrant for that Decoration, in accordance with the rules & regulations laid down in Her Majesty’s Warrant before referred to on account of Acts of Bravery performed by them in India.

Citations
 Surgeon General Sir Anthony Dickson Home
“For persevering bravery and admirable conduct in charge of the wounded men left behind the column, when the troops under the late Major-General Havelock, forced their way into the Residency of Lucknow, on the 26th September, 18o7. The escort left with the wounded had, by casualties, been reduced to a few stragglers, and being entirely separated from the column, this small party with the wounded were forced into a house, in which they defended themselves till it was set on fire. They then retreated to a shed a few yards from it, and in this place continued to defend themselves for more than twenty-two hours, till relieved. At last, only six men and Mr. Home remained to fire. Of four officers who were with the party, all were badly wounded, and three are since dead. The conduct of the defence during the latter part of the time devolved therefore on Mr. Home, and to his active exertions previously to being forced into the house, and his good conduct throughout, the safety of any of the wounded, and the successful defence, is mainly to be attributed.”

Assistant-Surgeon William Bradshaw
Date of Act of Bravery, 26th September, 1857
“For intrepidity and good conduct when, ordered with Surgeon Home, 90th Regiment, to remove the wounded men left behind the column that forced its way into the Residency of Lucknow, on the 26th September, 1857. The doolie bearers had left the doolies, (Latter a Hindi word for a ‘litter’ or covered stretcher), but by great exertions, and notwithstanding the close proximity of the sepoys; Surgeon Anthony Dickson Home Home, and Assistant Surgeon Bradshaw got some of the bearers together, and Assistant-Surgeon Bradshaw with about twenty doolies, becoming separated from the rest of the party, succeeded in reaching the Residency in safety by the river bank.”

The British Residency at Lucknow saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the Indian Mutiny (1857–1859). Under siege from July 1857, a relief force fought its way into the city in September 1857, but the siege could not be lifted until November. Surgeon Sir Anthony Dickson Home, and Assistant-Surgeon Dr. William Bradshaw were both part of this relief force.

Sir Anthony Dickson Home gave his own account of the action in ‘Records of the 90th Regiment’: “Here our men fell thickly and all the doolies (covered stretchers) were deserted”.

Some of the doolies did manage to reach safety. William Bradshaw was sent back with Mr Hurst, latter an Apothecary (Chemist), to the rear of the column and after managing to round up some of the doolie bearers, they then succeeded in getting the wounded away from the area and along the river to the Residency.  Bradshaw became wounded in during this evacuation.
The remaining doolies; with their wounded still with them, were scattered about the street and square with the doolie bearers themselves sheltering from grapeshot fire. When the mutineers began to make their entry into the square; fearing for the safety of the wounded left stranded in the doolies, Sir Anthony Dickson Home rushed out into the open and with the help of some of the escort, they dragged the wounded into a doorway. The mutineers now turned their attention on this doorway. Using the bodies of dead mutineers and any other objects available; a barricade was erected against the mutineers increasing fire power. Further attempts continued in the rescuing of the wounded from the doolies, resulting in wounds to both the rescuers and the rescued. When not treating the wounded Sir Anthony Dickson Home found himself involved in the fighting.

Eventually the mutineers gained access to the roof with the intention of setting it alight and burning out the party below. The able bodied rushed to another building, however the mutineers followed followed and again set fire to the roof. Desperate for water and on constantly alert to the fighting in their vicinity, at daybreak the party were finally relieved and were led to safety.

Dr. William Bradshaw died on March 9th 1861 and today his ashes can be found buried in St Mary’s graveyard, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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Omagh One August

Almost twenty years ago this month; on Wednesday 15th August 1998, an act of terrorism known as the ‘Omagh Car Bombing’ took place, in Omagh town, [ Irish Óghmaighan or Ómaigh meaning “The virgin plain” ], in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The bombing was carried out by a group calling themselves the Real Irish Republican Army, (IRA), latter a Provisional IRA break away splinter group, who totally opposed the IRA’s ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement. Latter had been agreed on 10th April 1998, and overwhelmingly further approved in two referendums in both the North and South of Ireland, in May 1998.

The Good Friday Agreement gives prominence to the ‘principle of consent’, which affirmed the legitimacy of an aspiration to a United Ireland, while recognising a current wish for the majority of people living in Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom (UK).

The bombing, on that day, killed 29 people (including a woman pregnant with twins) and injured 220 others. This death toll was higher than any other, one, single incident of terrorism during the period that history records as ‘The Troubles’, (1968-1998).

Omagh One August

By Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

On the eve of the Sabbath in August, they crucified Jesus again,
Bombing the good and the gentle, the women, the children, the men.
Our people are weeping forever, their blood on the streets of shame,
As history and history makers mock with the old refrain.

Oh, more than our tears for the trouble, oh, more than mere words for the dead.
Oh, heaven and pity embrace us and gentleness rule us instead.
What now for the Gentle Seer?  What now for life’s joyful song?
And I long, how I long for the music that is neither right nor wrong.

On the eve of the Sabbath in August, when we the people have died
Innocence bombed to oblivion on the altar of dubious pride.
On the eve of the Sabbath in August, forever in time to be,
The good, the innocent, the gentle will praise humanity.

Will triumph, as triumph they must, when sad, shameful history is done,
When hearts, now fashioned in metal, are loving in unison.
On the eve of the Sabbath in August, whoever, whatever to blame,
Oh, love now where is your grandeur? Oh, history where is your shame?

End

Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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