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New Thurles Town Park – A Positive Step Into Our Future

Thurles-Town-Park

Construction begins on the new Thurles Town Park.

Perhaps it comes from that occasional light tap I received on the back of my head from a loving Grandmother as a young boy; her occasional reminder that I had failed to convey an appropriate “Thank You” at a required point in time.  Perhaps, maybe it is my own inquisitive nature in attempting to acquire true historical facts, or indeed maybe it’s both. Whichever, this week I found myself rummaging amongst the publicly accessible records, held currently behind the attractive red brick exterior of the Thurles Town Council office.

As many of our local readers will be well aware, an exciting new project, which has the backing of both Thurles residents and businesses; obtained through a process of full consultation, has now been initiated here in Thurles; the end positive result of which will be the emergence of a much needed Town Park amenity.

For the benefit of our many absent readers, latter formally natives of the town, but now for one reason or another are resident abroad; the construction of this soon to be realised Town Park is on property, formally farmland, owned by St Patricks College and positioned to the rear of The Source Complex, immediately east of the river Suir.

Chosen for the overseeing construction of this new park is SIAC Construction, a large multi-disciplined construction group with significant operations across Ireland and further afield, established and renowned for providing turnkey solutions to the Irish Building and Civil Engineering industry.

A Town Park For Thurles

From my research possibly the first public mention ever of a Town Park for Thurles, (according to notes examined), was back in 1910. The suggested site was, believe it or not, on hallowed turf known today as “Semple Stadium.” Back then different views and ideas were being tossed about as to whether the present Semple Stadium site should be used, not to build the second largest Stadium in Ireland, but for use as a Graveyard or as a Town Park. Lack of any real decision making, resulted in an umbrella group being formed by some residents of Thurles, latter seeking a ‘Sports Field,’ which same eventually and through personal private / donations was successfully purchased for a sum reported to be between £1,100 and £1,700.

However today’s now sanctioned Thurles Town Park project was initially the brainchild of visionary Mr Tomas (Tom) Barry, latter recently retired Chief Executive of Carlow Co Council, but who was Thurles Town Manager in 2002.

Following discussions with his Council Administrative Staff, Mr Barry decided to include a proposal to Thurles Councillors to increase the towns overall ‘Commercial Rate’ by 25%, in the upcoming 2003 Budget estimates, bringing it into line with other Irish towns of similar size.  His forward looking plan was that some 15% of this 25% increase would be ‘ring fenced,’ to meet local contributions required for a possible number of future Capital Projects within the town. It was anticipated back then that this 15% would yield some €200,000.00 per annum.

The Visionary Future For Thurles

Mr Barry in his five point visionary plan unveiled a possible, yet attainable dream for Thurles, details of which are listed hereunder:-
(1) A Leisure Centre.   (2) Regional Arts Centre.   (3) Thurles Town Centre Enhancement.   (4) Thurles Town Park / River Walk.   (5) Upgrading / Extension to Thurles Council Offices (Latter then grossly overcrowded and unfit for day to day business transactions.)

Mr Barry, in his report on this proposed budget, had stated to his elected Councillors that a Leisure Centre, Regional Arts Centre and a Town Park should be visualised for the future, as being all major practical additions to any town’s recreational facilities, while a Town Enhancement Scheme would dramatically augment an overall appearance of the Thurles town centre.
Having shared his vision with Town Councillors, Mr Barry’s proposals were considered at the 2003 Budget Meeting which was held on Thursday, December 19th 2002. This aforementioned Budget, which including this 25% Commercial Rate increase, was formally adopted by a 5 votes to 2 majority, with two other councillors unavoidably absent from that meeting.

Who Shared In Tom Barry’s Thurles Town Vision?

Those who shared Mr Tom Barry’s future vision, thus voting Forthe adoption of this proposed 2003 Budget increase were; Elected Councillors Mr John Kenehan (Now retired former Thurles Mayor), the Late Mr Paddy Durack (RIP), Mr John Kennedy (Now an outgoing Councillor), Mrs Mae Quin (Now retired), and Mr Martin Ryan (Now retired).

Those who voted ‘AgainstMr Tom Barry’s future vision for the town and thus against the adoption of this same 2003 Budget were; then elected Town Councillor Mr Paddy Barry (Now retired) and Mr Jim Ryan (Recently re-elected Co Councillor).

Those who ‘Abstained, through being unavoidably absent from this Budget meeting were; Elected Councillors M/s Frances Boyle (Now retired) and the Late M/s Ann Mernagh (RIP).

This new Budget, then formally adopted in December 2002, saw the immediate ring fencing of some 15% of annual town revenues generated, which in turn were wisely invested by an ever shrewd Town Clerk, Mr Michael Ryan, latter now presently Thurles District’s Administrator.  Mr Ryan’s superb money management, through selective investments, would later lead Councillor John Kenehan to be entered into the final Minute Book of Thurles Town Council, using wording to the effect. “I would like to thank in particular Town Clerk Mr Michael Ryan, who kept Thurles Town Council always so strongly and clearly financially focused along a straight and narrow path .”

Work has now begun to put this long awaited amenity in place with great care being taken to preserve and restore all existing important historical architecture and stonework identified with this site, including the restoration of the arched entranced Victorian farm shed, once associated possibly with the storing of horse drawn machinery.

To all persons past and present, who through their vision and business acumen, or in any way, shape or form, contributed to this now, soon to be realised, Thurles Town Park, the people of Thurles say “Thank You” for your successful planning, management and overall foresight, as we watch this dream now become a reality.

Tipperary’s Canon Stephen Neill Relocates His Own Roots

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Tipperary’s Canon Stephen Neill with US President Barack Obama.

Church of Ireland Rector, Canon Stephen Neill, the man who confirmed US President Barack Obama’s ancestral roots with Moneygall, has decided to pull up and relocate his own roots.

The 45 year old has announced he is leaving his Cloughjordan and the Borrisokane Group of parishes to become Rector of Celbridge and Straffan with Newcastle–Lyons. His Service of Institution as Incumbent of the latter parishes will take place on Thursday, February 12th, 2015 next at 8.00pm in Christ Church, Celbridge, Co Kildare.

Canon Neill has ministered to Cloughjordan residents for the past seventeen years and as part of his move, he now relinquishes his Church of Ireland “Canon” status; laughingly admitting “I will be getting €50 less a month in salary, so I’m not going for the money.”

In explaining his desire to uproot, Canon Neill explains that he now seeks new challenges and fears becoming “too comfortable,” latter which has caused “an itch that needs to be scratched.”

Canon Neill admits that leaving the Cloughjordan and Borrisokane Group of parishes won’t be easy for himself, or for his wife Nicola and their teenage son Aaron. He feels a sense of guilt and regret walking away, after such a long time, having secured strong bonds of proven loyalty and tested friendships with those within his community; all of whom have stood together with him, through thick and thin.

The Dublin born Canon, who is also Precentor of the joint chapter of St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick and St Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, made headlines around the world after his research led to the confirmation that US President Barack Obama’s great-great-grandfather Joseph Kearney had been baptised in the parish of Moneygall. Indeed his personal contribution, within the wider midland regions of Ireland to encourage tourism alone, have far surpassed Fáilte Ireland’s derisory attempts at marketing and highlighting this area.

Canon Neill himself is a very keen reader, blogger and writer, contributing opinion pieces on his website and on local and national newspapers. Previously Curate Assistant in Monkstown, Dublin and in Limerick City Parish, he is a committed ecumenist, believing that the future of our Churches is in gaining closer bonds between all Christians of all traditions, while at the same time discovering where God is at work outside the walls of churches.

Rev Ruth Gill, latter who is already familiar with the Cloughjordan & Borrisokane Group of parishes will now serve as interim Priest-In-Charge for the time being.

In a recent Blog Canon Neill wrote:-

“As I write these notes I am conscious that there is still an occasion to come when I will have a chance to say a formal farewell to you my friends in this group of parishes. But for those of you who may not be able to be present may I thank you on behalf of myself, Nicola & Aaron, for the warmth and generosity you have shown us since our arrival in August 1998. It has been a privilege to be your rector and fellow companion on the journey of life. We will always consider this place very special and it is you the parishioners who have made our time here a happy one. We leave with good memories and not a little sadness. May God bless each and every one of you as you have blessed us.”

Moneygall Development Association made a presentation last Monday night in Ollie’s Bar to acknowledge Canon Neill’s contribution to their community; described him as being selfless and having strengthened bonds between faiths which will remain a lasting legacy. Using President Obama’s quote, “We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it” the association whole heartedly agreed that Canon Neill’s presence in their community had definitely shaped a brighter future for the area.

North Tipperary’s loss is most definitely a gain for the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough and so we wish Canon Stephen every success in his new journey and in the words of the old Irish Toast; “May you have warm words on a cool evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.”

Ó Meachair (Maher) – The Story Of A Clan – Gabrielle Ní Mheachair

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Gabrielle Ní Mheachair – Author,

Over a twenty-two year period, Gabrielle Ní Mheachair has researched and recently published a detailed history of the Maher/Meagher/ O’Meachair Clan, thus providing for the very first time a well researched history of the Clan. Same publication now provides a valuable asset to any library and more importantly a convenient research tool for any person wishing to research the Maher Clan.

Ó Meachair -The Story of a Clan” is the most thorough history of the Maher/Meagher Clan possibly ever written. Appreciate the role your Maher/Meagher ancestors played in all the major events of Irish history from the coming of the Celts to National Independence in 1922.

This book is not only a history of the Maher/Meagher Clan but also a simple history of Ireland written for an audience versed or unversed in Irish History.

Gabrielle Ní Mheachair – The Author

Author Gabrielle Ní Mheachair spent the first twenty years of her life residing on a rural farm just outside Templemore, Co. Tipperary, here in Ireland. After four years of teaching in Co. Donegal, she travelled to the United States on an adventure that has kept her resident there ever since.

A renowned historian, folklorist and genealogist, Gabrielle is also the author of several children’s books in the Irish language, together with three genealogical works and is a former columnist for the Mid West Irish Focus, Jefferson City, Missouri; latter which focuses primarily on Irish-Americans in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  She lectures and writes for various genealogical organizations and historical journals throughout the United States and currently resides with her husband and three children in Saint Louis, Missouri. The Tipp FM, Arts and Entertainment Award, was awarded to Gabrielle in 2009, for her valuable contribution to the arts through her various writings.

Irish authors, like Gabrielle, spent years of their lives researching history at tremendous personal expense. They invest thousands of Euros into the travel, research, and self-publication of their works for the benefit of future generations, knowing they can never ever recoup their expenditure. As a result, they rely on the help of our historical societies to promote their work, not for profit, but for educational value and for posterity.

This book is a ‘must have,’ for anyone who bears the Maher/Meagher name.

Thurles Born Actor Peter O’Meara Stars In ‘Charlie’

 First RTÉ drama ever commissioned about a political figure includes portrayal by Thurles born actor.

Peter-OMeara-as-Brian-Lenihan

Thurles born Peter O’Meara as Brian Lenihan in ‘Charlie’.

Episode one (Duration: 1hr – 12mins) of the feature-length drama ‘Charlie’; exploring the real events and the emergence of modern Ireland through the rise and fall of Charles J. Haughey, was broadcast last night (Sunday, January 4th) at 9.30pm for the first time.  It should be noted that this RTÉ One slot was previously occupied by ‘Love/Hate’ and will continue to air this month for the next two Sunday nights.

The first Episode of ‘Charlie’ seen last night, began with the Fianna Fáil leadership heave of 1979 in which Mr Charles J. Haughey (September 1925 –  June 2006), ousted the then sitting Taoiseach Mr Jack Lynch (August 1917 –  October 1999) and ended with the formers 1981 narrow election defeat.

This new historical drama stars Aidan Gillen, formally drug trafficker ‘John Boy Power’ in the aforementioned ‘Love/Hate’ drama, as Charlie J Haughey, while Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, formally ‘Nidge‘ in ‘Love/Hate’, plays Mr Haughey’s press secretary P.J. Mara in ‘Charlie’.

However from a Thurles viewing perspective all eyes were on the outstanding performance, once again, by Tipperary and Thurles native, actor Peter O’Meara, who played the part of a young ‘Brian Lenihan TD’ in ‘Charlie’, having been formally cast as ‘Andrew’, latter the dentist who fleeced his clients to fund his love of champagne and low-rent prostitutes, also in the popular ‘Love/Hate’ series.

The Thurles, Co Tipperary 5ft 9in award-winning Irish actor, producer and television host (born Peter Emmanuel O’Meara on October 27th, 1969) is no stranger to stage and screen. Hailed for his work on the London stage he came to the screen in the ground-breaking HBO series ‘Band of Brothers’ playing 1st Lt. Norman Dike. He acquired an impressive following on the US TV series ‘Peacemakers’ as detective Larimer Finch latter bringing the science of the future to the ‘Old West,’ opposite Tom Berenger playing Marshall Jared Stone, and received the Western Heritage ‘Bronze Wrangler’ award.

Peter O’Meara later went on to star on season 4 of ‘Alias’ as the International arms dealer Martin Bishop opposite Jennifer Garner and guest starred on ‘CSI: NY’ with Gary Sinise, and in ‘Without A Trace’ with Anthony La Paglia and of course ‘The Forgotten’ with Christian Slater.  He recently returned to the Sky/Cinemax action series ‘Strike Back’ as Major Brian Donoghue.

Peter has appeared in the independent feature films; ‘Haven’ with Orlando Bloom, ‘Resident Evil: Extinction’ with Milla Jovovich and the acclaimed British World War I drama ‘My Boy Jack’ with Daniel Radcliffe and Carey Mulligan.

In relation to comedy roles Peter is friend to Justin Long in the New Line Cinema hit romantic comedy ‘He’s Just Not That into You’ playing Bill opposite Ginnifer Goodwin. He has also taken minor roles in the comedy‘The Grand’ with Ray Romano and the movie ‘Leap Year’ opposite Amy Adams and John Lithgow.

Peter, who is married to comedy and drama writer Kayla Alpert, are both parents to twin 7-year-old boys, Myles and Clive and often take low profile trips home here to Thurles to visit his parents, now living in active retirement.

For those of you who may have missed episode one of this historical drama, his excellent and most believable portrayal of the late Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Brian Lenihan TD (November 1930 – November 1995), can be viewed by clicking HERE, anytime over the next 14 day.

Sainsbury’s Xmas Ad – Four Degrees Of Separation From Tipperary

This year’s Christmas video advert from Sainsbury’s, the third largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, titled “Christmas is for sharing” was made in partnership with The Royal British Legion. It commemorates the extraordinary events of Christmas Day, 1914, when artillery guns fell silent and two armies met in no-man’s land, to share gifts and play football together.

Many people may not be aware that the director of this fine video advert, Mr Ringan Ledwidge, is just ‘four degrees of separation’ from our county of Tipperary. Ringan Ledwidge admits he was intimidated by the sensitivity of this his video subject; indeed his own great-uncle and Slane, Co Meath born Irish war poet, Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge, died at the Battle of Passchendaele in July 1917, aged just 29, and his paternal grandfather had fought in both world wars.

Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge was dismayed by the news of the Easter 1916 Rising, and was court-martialled and demoted for overstaying his home leave and also for being drunk in uniform. However on his return to the front, he received back his Lance Corporal’s stripe in January 1917; when he was posted to the Western Front, joining the 29th Division, 1st Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

On July 31st 1917, a number of soldiers, including Ledwidge, were involved in road-laying in preparation for an upcoming assault during the Third Battle of Ypres, close the village of Boezinge, northwest of Ypres. While Ledwidge was drinking tea in a mud crater with his comrades, a shell exploded, killing the poet and five others.  Rev. Francis Charles Devas, (S.J., D.S.O. 1917; O.B.E. 1919) latter a chaplain who knew him, recorded “Ledwidge killed, blown to bits.”

Francis Ledwidge – His Tipperary Connection

It was Francis Ledwidge, latter also a friend of W.B. Yeats, who wrote the ” Lament for Thomas MacDonagh.”  Thomas MacDonagh, as we are aware, was born here in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary and educated at Rockwell College near Cashel. MacDonagh had grown up in a household filled with music, poetry and learning and was instilled by both his parents, (both teachers), with his love for both English and Irish culture from a young age and became a signatory of the Irish Proclamation.

Lament for Thomas MacDonagh – by Francis Ledwidge

“He shall not hear the bittern cry in the wild sky, where he is lain,
Nor voices of the sweeter birds above the wailing of the rain.
Nor shall he know when loud March blows thro’ slanting snows her fanfare shrill,
Blowing to flame the golden cup of many an upset daffodil.
But when the Dark Cow leaves the moor and pastures poor with greedy weeds,
Perhaps he’ll hear her low at morn, lifting her horn in pleasant meads.”

A small section of this Christmas Day, 1914 happening will be recreated during the Carols By Candlelight,” service in St Mary’s Church, Thurles, on December 14th next at 8.00pm. (But more on that upcoming Thurles Christmas event very soon.)

While our present government currently continues to ignore Co Tipperary’s economy and history, one wonders will the memory of Thomas MacDonagh be included in any proposed future 1916 commemorations, since after all, we do reside outside of Dublin.

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