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New Coins To Commemorate 1916

Coin1916The Central Bank are poised to issue a total of 4.5 million coins including a new €2 coin to commemorate the ‘1916 Easter Rising’. Contrary to newspaper reports, this is not the first occasion that Ireland has issued commemorative currency into circulation.

It is interesting to note that the Irish Central Bank issued 2,000,000 coins to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966. Unfortunately they were not popular with the Irish public and did not circulate widely; the Irish government actually put them into the pay packets of civil service in their efforts to distribute them.

It is reputed that the Irish Central Bank later, just some six years later, around 1971, melted down about 1,250,000 of same, with the advent of decimalisation. Many more are reckoned to have entered into the melting pot due to another popular ‘Irish Rising’, that being the rising of the price of silver to record heights in 1980/81.

Emmet Mullins, the designer of the new coinage, was chosen following a competition that saw 52 Irish and international designers submit proposals, based on ‘The Proclamation of the Irish Republic’.

The new coinage features a representation of the statue of Hibernia which presently sits, centre, on top of the General Post Office (GPO Ard-Oifig an Phoistis), the headquarters of the Irish Post Office. The name ‘Hibernia’ is the classical Latin name for the island of Ireland. The Roman historian Tacitus, in his book Agricola (c. 98 AD), possibly first used the name ‘Hibernia’, which is rarely used today with regard to Ireland. In 1642 the motto of the Irish Confederates, a Catholic-landlord administration that ruled much of Ireland until 1650 was: “Pro Deo, Rege et Patria, Hibernia Unanimis”, which when translated is ‘For God, King and Fatherland, Ireland is United’.

The GPO is one of Ireland’s most famous buildings and was the last of the great Georgian public buildings erected in Sackville Street (today named O’Connell Street) in Dublin. The building was opened for business on January 6th 1818, with the structure having been completed in the space of just three years for the sum of £50,000. (Faster and cheaper than we can provide houses for our Irish homeless today).

During the Easter Rising of 1916, the GPO served as the headquarters of most of the uprising’s leaders. It was destroyed by fire in the course of this rebellion and was not restored until the Irish Free State government, some years later, identified the task.

Interestingly, particularly from a Sinn Féin point of view, despite its fame as an iconic place of Irish freedom, ground rent for the GPO continued to be paid to British and American landlords; right up until the 1980’s.

The hand-rendered lettering featuring the centenary dates and the name ‘Hibernia’ are reportedly influenced by the Book of Kells, which according to the Central Bank, An Post and all Bank branches are expected to get into general circulation as soon as is possible.

Later this year other gold and silver proof coins designed by Welsh artist, engraver and graphic designer Michael Guilfoyle, also commemorating 1916, will be released for sale. Guilfoyle’s designs also feature the name ‘Hibernia’, along with an arrangement of other key words and phrases taken from the 1916 Proclamation.


“Those That History Forgot” – Borrisoleigh Historical Society

BorrisoleighThe next welcome guest speaker at the Borrisoleigh Historical Society’s monthly series of lectures will be Borrisoleigh native, Mr Gerry Kearney.

Gerry will lecture those in attendance on some of the personalities of our past history, who for various reasons are now conveniently erased. History is generally written by the victors, and narratives are mostly handed down from their perspectives, thus the input and contributions made by many are often never fully recognised or worse still, deliberately and conveniently excluded.

From War of Independence, the Civil War and many other momentous and defining events that have happened since then, people, whose contributions were more more than significant, are either totally unknown or alas, largely forgotten in the fading mists of time.

Gerry, who is a senior civil servant, based in Dublin, has for many years studied these, now, somewhat hazy events and the people involved. He will identify to those assembled who these forgotten people are; the reasons for their often exclusion; the politics and petty jealousies that caused this event to happen and shine a light on the lesser known, yet hugely significant happenings that have contributed enormously towards the making of our country.

The lecture will commence at 8.00pm sharp, on Monday next January 25th in the Community Centre, Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

M/s Delia Ryan, representing Borrisoleigh Historical Society, contacted us here on Thurles.Info this morning.

She is sorry to have to relate to our readers that the societies monthly ‘Lecture Series’, which this month was to feature, Mr Gerry Kearney, has to be temporally postponed.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the event, which was fixed for Monday night January 25th 2016 in the Community Hall Borrisoleigh, will now instead take place on February 22nd, 2016.

Delia apologises to all our readers for any inconvenience this cancellation may have caused.


It Happened 100 Years Ago This Week (1916) In Tipperary

Hospital Depot For wounded WWI Soldiers
On January 6th 1916 Tipperary was chosen to be the first depot in Ireland for wounded soldiers in a post-hospital stage of recovery. In announcing the establishment of this depot during World War One it was initially stated that the depot would accommodate 4,000 such individuals. This statement possibly relates to the Barracks already in existence in Tipperary Town.


During the First World War, the Tipperary Town Military Barracks played two decidedly different roles. In 1914-15, it was the headquarters for the 49th Brigade 16th. Irish Division and 7th. & 8th. Battalions, Royal Irish Fusiliers, who were all trained here for service, before being dispatched to the Western Front. From 1916 however this same Barracks became more a place where efforts were made to undo damage caused by war, when for several years the Barracks appears to have become more a centre for the recuperation and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

Continue reading It Happened 100 Years Ago This Week (1916) In Tipperary


Mr Harry Gleeson Officially Pardoned


Mr Harry Gleeson

President Michael D. Higgins has officially granted Ireland’s first posthumous pardon to a man from Co. Tipperary; hanged for murder over 74 years ago.

Mr Harry Gleeson was hanged having being wrongfully convicted of the murder of a mother of seven, namely Miss Mary ” Foxy Moll” McCarthy, in New Inn, Co. Tipperary. Mr Gleeson was executed by the then British hangman Albert Pierrepoint (1905 – 1992) in Mountjoy jail in April of 1941.

A recent review of the case found that then Gardaí and the Prosecution had withheld crucial information and fabricated evidence against Mr Gleeson, thus securing his execution.

The granting of this posthumous pardon yesterday by the Irish President, completely clears Mr Gleeson’s name and it is hoped that same, however late, will  serve as a tribute to his memory.

It is understood that the government through the Department of Justice have expressed sympathy to Mr Gleeson’s family and indicated their intention to hold a commemorative event for family members, early in the New Year, when a more detailed explanation of the pardon will be forthcoming.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.


Next Borrisoleigh Historical Society Lecture – 7th Dec. 2015

Monday night, 7th December 2015 – Lecture by Seán Hogan – “Seamus Burke – Tipperary TD, 1918 – 1938”

Seán Hogan, author of best-selling book “The Black and Tans in North Tipperary” will be the welcome guest speaker at Borrisoleigh Historical Society’s lecture on Monday night next, December 7th 2015.  His lecture will feature the life of a neglected figure from recent Tipperary history and a man with deep Borrisoleigh connections. Séamus Burke (1893 – 1967) was a TD for Tipperary from 1918 to 1938. The elements of privilege, tragedy, loss, achievement, celebrity and controversy will be found in Hogan’s telling of the story of Burke’s life.

Lovers of history here in Thurles will be particularly interested in travelling to this lecture. Back in March 1919 it was reported that the tone of speeches made by Séamus Burke; a recently elected Sinn Féin members of Parliament, showed increasing hostility towards the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC).  One such speech was indeed given by the same Seamus Bourke, asserted that the correct way to deal with RIC officers was not to shoot them, as this was being irresponsible, “but (instead) to make their life unbearable, treat them as outcasts of society, as we cannot be in any place that some of these ‘vipers‘ are not in our midst.”

Séamus Bourke was duly prosecuted by the RIC for these apparent inflammatory remarks. His arresting officer was none other than District Inspector Michael Hunt from Thurles, who was later shot dead by first cousins Jim and Tommy Stapleton from Finnahy, Upperchurch and Jim Murphy (Latter known as “The Jennett”) from Curreeney, Kilcommon, on June 23rd 1919, as the former entered Liberty Square. The RIC County Inspector believed then that his involvement with the case against Séamus Bourke was the main reason why District Inspector Hunt had been targeted for assassination.

Séamus Aloysius Burke – Sinn Féin Teachta Dála, Irish Cumann na nGaedheal founder member and later Fine Gael politician.

Séamus Burke’s parents were originally from Borrisoleigh and his family gained a considerable fortune in America, enabling them to live amongst the existing social elite. His early life was blighted by the deaths, from ‘Scarlatina’ (Scarlet Fever), of his two elder brothers. Séamus (James) went on to be educated by the Jesuits in both Fordham College, New York and Clongowes Wood; qualifying as a barrister in 1916.


Seamus A. Burke (Identified by red frame in picture of 1st First Dáil – January 21st 1919,)standing beside school friend Kevin O’Higgins, (on his right), latter who was assassinated on Sunday July 10th 1927 in revenge for his part in the executions of IRA men during the civil war.

Burke’s story encompasses a critical period in Irish politics, in which he was a significant player on the national scene. On December 14th 1918, at the age of 25, he was returned as Sinn Féin Teachta Dála (TD) for mid-Tipperary. One of his roles during the turbulent years of the War of Independence was raising funds in America for the underground Irish Republican movement. However, he was the only Tipperary TD to support the Treaty in 1922 and during the Civil War which followed, his home at Rockforest House was burned after Anti-Treaty IRA men; Frederick Burke (Ileigh), Martin O’Shea (Borrisoleigh), Pat Russell (Thurles) and Patrick McNamara, (Ballina), were executed in Roscrea on January 15th 1923.

Burke headed the poll in Tipperary in subsequent elections and became Minister for Local Government and Public Health in W.T. Cosgrave’s Government of 1923 – 27. His was a very significant contribution to the development of the new State during difficult years, going on to become a founder-member of Cumann na nGaedheal. Although largely absent in the standard texts of the period, Burke’s political contribution was of the same order as his well-known Ministerial colleague and school friend from Clongowes, Kevin O’Higgins, who would be assassinated in 1927.

Burke’s married in 1929; his wife none other than Zenaide Bashkiroff, further adds to the intrigue surrounding his life and times. Zenaide was the niece of Prince Felix Youssopoff, who assassinated Grigori Rasputin, the Russian peasant, faith healer, advisor and trusted friend of the family of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia. Zenaide supported Séamus Burke well in his political endeavours, writing a memoir of their lives entitled “Views from a Window.” (Note if anyone has a copy I would love to read it.) During the 1930’s he was active in debates about the merits of Fascism and Communism in Europe. He was a trenchant critic of Eamonn De Valera and eventually lost his seat in 1938. He retired from politics after narrowly failing to take the last seat in the 1943 election. He later moved to England where he died in 1967.

In his meticulous style as a Tipperary historian, Seán Hogan has now researched extensively on matters relating to Burke’s life. He is a public servant in the Department of Environment, which is the successor in title to the one in which Burke laboured to create for the new State in the very challenging 1920’s, impacting in many ways on the future lives of Irish citizens.

This well-illustrated lecture promises to be yet another memorable event for Borrisoleigh Historical Society; in the societies endeavours to promote Tipperary history.