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Note On Tipperary’s Fr. P. Ryan Released Under State Archive Rule

A secret ‘briefing note’, now released as part of the 1988 Irish State Archive 30-year rule, (Period for which Irish confidential government documents are restricted from public viewing by taxpayers), sheds new light on the non-extradition to Britain of a Tipperary born Irish Roman Catholic priest, accused by British intelligence of being an IRA volunteer.

This refused extradition to Britain was to spark an angry stand-off between the then Irish government led by An Taoiseach Mr Charles J. (C.J.) Haughey and the British government, then led by the now Late Mrs Margaret (Maggie) Thatcher.

Fr. Patrick (Paddy) Ryan.

Fr. Ryan contested the European Parliamentary Elections in 1989, as a Sinn Féin supported Independent, however, he failed to be elected, but received over 30,000 votes.

The priest in question was Fr. Patrick (Paddy) Ryan, born on June 26th, 1930, in Rossmore, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, and one of six children born to a rural farming family.

Paddy Ryan attended the local Christian Brothers School (CBS) here in Thurles and later the Pallottine College, Thurles, going on to train in the priesthood at St. Patrick’s College, Thurles, before being ordained on June 6th, 1954.

As a member of the Pallottine Order, he went to work on the missions in the diocese of Mbulu, one of the six districts of the Manyara Region of Tanzania and then later in America and later still in the city of London.

Fr. Ryan had shown no great interest in politics beyond a hatred for past and present British rule on the island of Ireland, however the Catholic Church and the Pallottine Order would formally suspend him from priestly duties after he refused a transfer to a parish church in England.  Later during a trip to Rome in the summer of that year, he is reported to have informed Italian priests that he hoped that the IRA would bomb the centre of London.

By the Autumn of 1973, he was shuttling back and forth between Dublin and Geneva, opening bank accounts and transferring funding (over £1,000,000) reportedly granted by his newly acquired contacts within Libyan Military Intelligence in Tripoli.

Continue reading Note On Tipperary’s Fr. P. Ryan Released Under State Archive Rule


Soloheadbeg Ambush – A Centenary Perspective

“Soloheadbeg Ambush – A Centenary Perspective”

The year was 1919 and almost one hundred years ago to the present date, (January 21st 1919), two Irish born Roman Catholic Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Constables, named as Mr James Alec McDonnell and Mr Patrick O’Connell, were both escorting a horse drawn cart carrying blasting gelignite from the Tipperary town Military Barracks to the local Soloheadbeg quarry works.  The driver of the cart was Mr James Godfrey, accompanied by a Co. Council worker, named as Mr Patrick Flynn.

James McDonnell & Anastasia (nee Doyle) (Sepia Tone Pic.) – His son Christopher McDonnell & Bridget (nee McGrath) (Black & White Pic.). Pictures are published courtesy of the Sweeney Family.

Constable James McDonnell, a native of Belmullet, (a coastal Gaeltacht town) in Co. Mayo and the father of seven children, together with his comrade Constable Patrick O’Connell, latter a native of Coachford, Co. Cork and unmarried, were both in charge of guarding this cargo of explosives.

The driver and Co. Council worker were both left unharmed, when some eight armed and masked men, members of the then Irish Volunteers from the South Tipperary Brigade, opened fire on both Constables, killing both the men. Tipperary Volunteer GHQ had not officially sanctioned this ambush, however the shots fired at this ambush would now be the first bullets fired in the war for Irish independence from Britain, which followed.

Library researcher Mrs Mary Guinan-Darmody, (Tipperary Studies), in Tipperary Co. Council Library Services here in Thurles, now reports:-

“Just days before the centenary of the Solohead Ambush, the “Tipperary People and Places Series” welcome Dr. Des Marnane to give a very timely talk, in The Source, Thurles. His subject will be ‘The Soloheadbeg Ambush – A Centenary Perspective’.

With the help of Mr Cathal O’Donoghue; latter well known for his stage performances across the county; Dr. Marnane will base his lecture around a series of readings of original documentary sources, some not used before, providing differing perspectives on this seminal event.

So, do join us in ‘The Source’ at 7.30pm on Tuesday January 15th next. Also, being shown at this venue is a short film, showing an enactment of the ambush, produced and directed by the pupils of the Monastery School, Tipperary town.”

Note Please: As is usual with such Thurles Library events, all are welcome to attend and admission, on that evening (Tuesday January 15th), is free.

For further details please contact Tel No. – 076 1066123 or www.tipperarystudies.ie

Other Brief History of the Soloheadbeg Area.

Sologheadbeg (Irish – Sulchóid Bheag) is a townland and a civil parish in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, lying to the northwest of Tipperary town, with a population in the year 1911 of just 2857 inhabitants; same reduced by the Great Famine, (1845-1849); continuous forced emigration and migration, from a total of 6673 known residents, in the year 1841.

Year 968: Same townland, in the year 968, saw the stand-off for the Battle of Sulcoit, where the Dalcassian (Dál gCais were a 10 century Gaelic Irish tribe) Brian Ború and his illegitimate brother King Mahon of Thomond, defeat the Viking King Ivar.; latter the last King of the city-state of Limerick.

Year 1603: Back in 1603, it was a stopping-point for Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare, during his epic march from Dunboy Castle in west Cork to O’Rourke’s Castle in Leitrim.

Year 1864: In April 1864, nearby, at Barronstown, Solohead, was born Sir Michael Francis O’Dwyer GCIE KCSI (1864 – 1940) who would go on to become Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab (1912 – 1919), the land of “five rivers”, in India.  O’Dwyer was the sixth son in a family of fourteen children born in this same area of Co. Tipperary to John and Margaret (née Quirke) O’Dwyer, of Toem, Co. Tipperary.  O’Dwyer aged in his 75th year, would be eventually assassinated; shot dead by a Punjabi revolutionary, named Udham Singh, on March 13th 1940, at a joint meeting of the East India Association and the Central Asian Society in Caxton Hall, London.


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.


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.


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?