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Local & Regional Museums To Get Grant Aid

famine-minuteThe government has announced that they are to allocate almost €135,000 of taxpayers money into local and regional museums around the country.

A series of small grants with maximum funding of €15,000, have been made available under the Local and Regional Museums Funding Scheme 2017.

This money can be used for everything from the purchasing of purpose built display cabinets, to the designing new websites.

A total of twenty-three projects are presently to be undertaken nationwide.

One such project here in Co. Tipperary will involve the Tipperary County Museum, and will sees an allocation of some €8.000 used for the setting up of an exhibition called “A message in time”.

The Tipperary County Museum is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00am4.45pm, (Closed Sundays, Mondays and Public holidays) and admission is free.


Arrests Made In Thurles District

Only known image of Brady’s Mill, once situated in Archerstown, near Thurles. (Courtesy Michael Bannon.)

The more elderly members of our Thurles community still refer to Brady’s Mill as a general landmark, but of course, alas, Brady’s Mill today has long vanished from our Thurles district landscape. The limestone from its original walls I understand was moved to repair walls at Farney Castle.

Brady’s Mill once stood on the bank of the stream known as the Breagagh river,101 metres above sea level at Archerstown, Thurles. (Latitude: 52° 41′ 10″ (52.6861°) north, Longitude: 7° 45′ 53″ (7.7647°) west)

According to the Bureau of Military History (1913-21), it was sometime between mid-summer and mid autumn of 1918, that Brady’s Mill entered the spotlight in our town’s rich history. Around that time a meeting was convened to organise three formed Irish Republican Army (IRA) Battalions into a Brigade, which would be known as the 2nd (or Mid-Tipperary) Brigade of the IRA, during the Irish War of Independence.

This meeting consisted of officers of the 1st (Thurles), 2nd (Templemore) and 3rd (Upperchurch) Battalions and was presided over by Senator Michael Staines[1] (1st May 1885 – 26th October 1955), who travelled from Dublin for the occasion. At that meeting James Leahy, Thurles, was elected Brigade Commandant;  Edmond McGrath of Loughmore, was elected, Vice-Commandant; Michael Kennedy of Thurles, as Adjutant; and lastly John McCormack of Thurles, as Quartermaster.

[1] Michael Staines served as Quartermaster General in the GPO during the 1916 Easter Rising. Following ‘The Rising’ he was interned with fellow GPO insurgents at Frongoch internment camp, Merionethshire, in Wales; held under the Defence of the Realm Act 1914, which stated that he was “suspected of having honoured, promoted or assisted an armed insurrection against His Majesty.”  Staines was later elected Commandant at Frongoch, after the former Commandant Jeremiah Joseph (J.J. ‘Ginger’) O’Connell was sent to Reading Gaol, Berkshire, England, on June 30th of that year.

Staines is possibly remembered best as the first commissioner of An Garda Síochána, of which he once stated, “The Garda Síochána will succeed not by force of arms or numbers, but on their moral authority as servants of the people.”

J.J. (Ginger) O’Connell, whom Staines replaced as Commandant at Frongoch, would be kidnapped in Dublin on June 27th 1922, by anti-treaty IRA forces from the Four Courts garrison. Same was in reaction to the arrest of Leo Henderson, following his raid on the car dealership of Harry Ferguson in Baggot St, Dublin, and became one of the reasons that led to the decision by Michael Collin to attack the Four Courts, the first act in the Irish civil war.

When next we hear of Brady’s Mill, same is contained in an article printed in the ‘Clonmel Chronicle’ on January 29th, 1921. (Place of publication of the ‘Clonmel Chronicle’ was Clonmel, in Co. Tipperary, from 1848 – 1935. The paper was published twice weekly at a cost of fourpence and published by S. Collins, Clonmel.)

This Report Reads:-

“On Thursday (27th January 1921), a large party (about eighty) of military, in two companies, followed by ten or twelve police all armed and marching in open formation, were seen turning down into Bank Street, (today known as Slievenamon Road, Thurles).

In the centre of the force attracting a good deal of attention, by a jennet (A small Spanish horse regarded as useful for war.) or pony; the owner walking at the animal’s head, and in the car were two or three machine guns. The appearance of such a formidable force attracted a good deal of attention, and there was a lot of speculation as to the reason for their appearance.

The forces marched along the Turtalla Road, and then to Archerstown, a townsland a couple of miles out from the town. Here they spread themselves out and made a search of the district.

At Brady’s Mill the police state they found some ammunition buried in the garden attached to the Mill and Mrs Brady’s son (Daniel) was arrested and and brought into the R.I.C. barracks. The forces returned in batches, and as the last party of police arrived at the River Bridge on their way back to Barracks they came upon Jeremiah Ryan of Liskeeveen, who is said to have been “on the run” for some time and James K. O’Dwyer, late of Molloy, Thurles. The men ran, on the approach of the police, who pursued them into a vacant house nearby and captured them. They also were lodged in the RIC barracks.

It is stated that the reason for the visit to Archerstown was that word was conveyed to the police that an ambush was being prepared near the place, but nothing definite can be ascertained as to this, and it is also stated that there was some skirmishing about the place. One of the police returning was seen to be bandaged, and another carried a broken rifle in addition to his own.

The whole affair has caused a great deal of excitement in town.”

Brady’s Mill, yet another piece of valuable history that has been allowed to vanish from the Thurles area.


Kids Under 12 Years To Gain Free Admission To OPW Heritage

The Swiss Cottage in Cahir, Co. Tipperary.

With effect from Saturday next, July 1st 2017, children under the age of 12 years are to be given free admission to all heritage sites managed and operated by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

This welcome initiative is expected to encourage children to further experience, in full, the many cultural and heritage sites available throughout Ireland, up until the end of the current year.

Children under six years had already gained free entry to OPW heritage sites, while the OPW also offers free access to schoolchildren under the Free Schools Visits scheme.

Also keep in mind that all OPW managed Heritage Sites in Tipperary will continue to offer free admission to individuals, on the first Wednesday of every month, for the duration of each sites particular opening season.

The list of participating sites in Tipperary include: Cahir Castle, Rock of Cashel, Roscrea Heritage (Castle and Damer House) and the Blackmills, and the Swiss Cottage.

So please, those who enjoy free travel, do take advantage and use this opportunity “To see old Ireland free.”


Poem “The Battle Of Thurles”

Michael Hogan (1828 – 1899), was an Irish poet, known as the “Bard of Thomond”.  He was born in Thomondgate, Co. Limerick to a father whose occupation was that of a wheelwright.  Same father was also an accomplished musician, who made his own flutes and fiddles.

Indeed, a life-size bronze memorial statue, by sculptor Mr Jim Connolly, of Michael Hogan can be observed on your next visit to Limerick city; same erected back in 2005, at King John’s Castle, Plaza.

Hogan’s circulated work appeared in such publications of the period as:-  the Anglo-Celt; the Irishman; the Nation; the Munster News, and the Limerick Leader.

His first volume of works, Lays and Legends of Thomond, was published in Limerick in 1861  and in Dublin in 1867. A further series of satirical publications, lampooning prominent city figures caused a great sensation at the time, enjoying a large circulation.

A new version of his “Lays and Legends” was published in Dublin in 1880 and six years later he undertook a visited to the United States, where he stayed for some three years.

Possibly best remembered for his epic long poem, ‘Drunken Thady and the Bishops Lady’, a little known poem entitled “The Battle of Thurles” is also attributed to Michael Hogan’s penmanship.

The Battle of Thurles – 1174.

King Henry II of England feared that the Normans intended to throw off their allegiance to him and set up an independent state in Ireland. One of those who took the oath of fealty to the British King Henry, was Dónal Mór O’Brien, king of Limerick or Thomond, a territory that embraced Co. Clare and the greater part of counties Tipperary and Limerick. Dónal Mór O’Brien leader of the warrior race of the Dalcassians soon learned that this submission to Henry afforded him little or no protection from incursions into his territory by the land-hungry invaders, and he was determined to resist.

Indeed the Norman invader Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, (better known as ‘Strongbow’) decided to chastise him, and with his lieutenant, Hervé de Marisco, led a strong force from Waterford towards Co. Tipperary, plundering the countryside on the way, including the monastery of Lismore. He further summoned assistance form Dublin, and a well-armed force of Ostmen (persons of mixed Gaelic and Norse ancestry), led by experienced knights set out to join him. While awaiting their arrival, Strongbow encamped at Cashel. Dónal Mór O’Brien had intelligence of their approach and led his army from Limerick to meet them. A fierce engagement took place at Thurles in which the Normans were routed, suffering their first major defeat, while leaving four of their commanders and over 700 of their men dead on the fields of Laghtagalla, (Irish “Hollow of Blood”).

A now chastened Strongbow force fled in confusion to Waterford. Finding the news of the Thurles defeat had long preceded him, and the Waterford populace had risen up and killed the Constable of the town and some 200 of the garrison; he was forced to shut himself up, with the remnants of his forces, on the 420 acre ‘Little Island’, in the River Suir, on the eastern outskirts of Waterford City. He remained confined there for a month until Raymond FitzGerald le Gros (nicknamed Le Gros “the Fat”) arrived from Wales with about 450 men, to relieve him from a most perilous of situation.

The rank and file of the Normans attributed this defeat to sheer inept leadership. Their most experienced commander, Raymond le Gros, had previously withdrawn to Wales because of disputes with Strongbow. Raymond had demanded from Strongbow the Constableship of Leinster and the hand of his illegitimate daughter, Basilia (widow of Robert de Quincy), in marriage, but both requests had been refused. Strongbow now had to swallow his pride and send a messenger to beg Raymond to return, promising to accede to his requests. Raymond came over, landed at Wexford, then proceeded to Waterford and rescued Strongbow, whom he conveyed to Wexford where the marriage with Basilia was celebrated.

“The Battle of Thurles”  by Michael Hogan, ‘Bard of Thomond’.

The war-fires light gleamed red all night, along the mountain gloom.
King Dónal’s men are up again, from Limerick to Slieve Bloom.
From glen and wood, the bone and blood of his fierce and fearless clan,
In wild array, at dawn of day, o’er Ormond’s plains swept on.

From Waterford the Norman hoarde to the plains of Ikerrin came.
In vengeful haste the land to waste with sword and destroying flame.
Left and right with sweeping might, the headlong hosts engaged
And life ne’er bled, in a strife so red, while that combat of bloodhounds raged.

But as the heave of the mad sea wave is barred by the crag filled shore,
So that iron tide, on Durlas’s side, was stopped by King Donald Mór.
There’s revelry high and boisterous joy from Cashel to Shannon’s shore,
And Luimneach waits to open the gates, for her conquering Donald Mór.

Archdeacon and historian Giraldus Cambrensis wrote at that time, that all Ireland was so heartened by the news of O’Brien’s victory that there was a general uprising against the invaders whose castles and strongholds were burned and destroyed, right up to the confines of Dublin. However this unity of purpose was short-lived. Disunion made its appearance again and soon the sad spectacle of petty Irish chiefs could be observed assisting the invaders against their Irish fellow-countrymen. The Normans took advantage of this disunity, and in the very next year 1175 Raymond Le Gros seized and occupied O’Brien’s town of Limerick, but again, in the following year, O’Brien expelled this garrison burning the town to the ground.

It is believed that in 1179, Raymond le Gros took possession of Thurles, while O’Brien was away ingloriously fighting his countrymen, the MacCarthy clan. If the town was fortified and garrisoned at this time, the Norman hold on it must have been exceedingly tenuous for shortly afterwards O’Brien and his entourage are found traversing this territory, without obstruction or impediment from these same foreigners.


Humanitarian Priest Fr Jack Finucane Passes Away

The humanitarian priest, and valuer of human life, Fr. Jack Finucane, passed away today at the age of 80.

Ordained in 1963; Fr. Jack was a brother to the late Fr. Aengus Finucane, latter a former Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide, and earlier a former teacher at Rockwell College, secondary school close to New Inn, Cashel, here in Co. Tipperary.

The brothers were both natives and ‘Freemen’ of Limerick; being aptly recognised in 2005 for their inspirational and tireless work with the starving of Africa and Asia. Fr. Jack, with his brother Fr. Aengus, tended to some of the poorest people in the world; from Biafra in Nigeria to Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

Fr. Jack would later became an adviser to Sir Bob Geldof and his Live Aid team, and in 1985, escort a young Bono (U2 fame) on his first trip to Ethiopia, greatly influencing latters future thinking.

This staunch belief by both men; based on the view that all human beings deserve respect and dignity and therefore should be treated as such, would lead to the formation of the organisation known as Concern Worldwide in 1968.

Fr. Jack and Fr. Aengus had been sent to Nigeria by the Holy Ghost Fathers and were at the ‘coalface’ in the distribution of aid, flown into Biafra by Concern and other relief organisations. Both Finucane priests had become involved in the distribution of this humanitarian aid, following the Nigerian government’s blocking of food supplies to the breakaway state of Biafra (Biafran War or Nigerian Civil War carried on from July 6th 1967 to January 15th 1970 with the loss of over 1 million lives).  This food blockade caused massive starvation and continued despite receiving, back then, worldwide condemnation. The Finucane priests organized food to be sent through makeshift airstrips, including one at Uli, Anambra.

Frederick Forsyth CBE, with Fr. Jack Finucane, latter who passed away today. 

The Royal Air Force pilot, novelist (70 million books), political commentator and spy, Mr Frederick Forsyth CBE, (Works include ‘The Day of The Jackal,’ ‘The Odessa File,’ ‘The Dogs of War’, ‘The Fourth Protocol,’ ‘The Biafra Story‘ and ‘Cry of the Innocent,’ latter film made here in Ireland), who was then a journalist covering the Biafran war, knew both Fr. Jack and Fr. Aengus; indeed Mr Forsyth regularly dined with both men close to Umuchima village, Uli, at the airstrip code named ‘Annabel Airport’, during his stay of some 2 years.

Both religious brothers were involved in using old Douglas DC6s and DC7s from the 50’s, together with old worn out Lockheed Constellations planes from a similar era, in their efforts to get sick children out and food provisions in, and while dodging Nigerian MiG-19 jets supplied by East Germany and manned by East German pilots.

Frederick Forsyth, wrote of the children airlifted out of Biafra, stating that these children were a “living, breathing monument”  to the work of Fr. Aengus Finucane and his colleagues.

Irish President Mr Michael D. Higgins stated today;  “His (Fr. Jack Finucane) commitment to the ethical basis for, as well as the practical application of humanitarian principles was exemplary.  Jack Finucane’s lifelong commitment to protecting the dignity of some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people will stand not only as a lasting tribute to all that is good about mankind, but is exemplary in its invitation not to avert our gaze from our current challenges of global hunger and poverty.”

Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.