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Wanton Destruction Of Rural Unique History & Culture

Fáilte Ireland announced that €11.5m is to be invested in the refurbishment of ten key OPW sites in Dublin and within Ireland’s Ancient East region. But then of course the OPW Heritage Services work in partnership with this same Fáilte Ireland, so no great surprises here. It was simply a case of tourism revenues earned by the OPW, being given back to the OPW.

It is not really the distribution of funding that actually bothers me, after all Co Tipperary got a share; Ormond Castle were granted €585,000, while the Rock of Cashel were granted €1.78m.

Gobán Saor’s cat rapidly eroding.

Of course, the area within a 33 miles radios of Dublin’s popular O’Connell street, as usual, got the majority of funding; yes over €8m in total.  This included €3m towards a new museum and viewing platform in ‘The Record Tower’ at Dublin Castle; €300,000 towards a Phoenix Park tourism and amenity study. Twenty-five miles’ away the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre got €2.58m; and thirty three miles away Newgrange got €1m and Knowth €1.4m.

This Fáilte Ireland funding announced earlier this month, when truly examined, certainly represents a true strategic partnership with the OPW, if you know what I mean. Plus, as Fáilte Ireland point out, our Irish tourism sector after all currently sustains 220,000 (minimum wage) jobs, while generating an estimated €6bn in economic value per year to the State.

As already stated, it is not really this unequal distribution of funding that actually bothers me, no my fear centres around the wanton destruction of our local unique history and culture, which provides that strong incentive in bringing people to our shores. To get to the crux of this matter perhaps I need to explain further.

Tourists who visit Ireland are not exactly attracted by our weather, rather a huge percentage of foreign visitors are incentivised to holiday on our island, because of our wild, unspoilt, scenic beauty and remarkable ancient history. While most of our history is protected in museums, much more remains totally unprotected.

Archer Tomb Date 1520. Present condition in 2017.

Here in Thurles town Co. Tipperary, alone, numerous pieces of our rich heritage lie unprotected from weather erosion. Year by year, with the passing of each season; rain, wind, frost, snow and even sunshine, all ploy and conspire to shorten and destroy the future life of centuries old rare historical artefacts. Private funding offered, to protect this heritage, are resolutely refused, however funding is being (alas to late), provided to carry out photogrammetry surveys. See HERE and HERE.

The world was outraged in May 2015 when ISIS militants destroyed some of the historic buildings in the ancient city of Palmyra, located in war-torn Syria; which in the past flourished as a Roman trading outpost around A.D. 200. While this similarity is perhaps extreme, the same situation is being allowed to happen to valuable history in rural Ireland.

Dublin not only get the employment opportunities now-a-days it would appear, but into the future, only within a 50 mile radius of our capital city, will limited history survive, courtesy of Fáilte Ireland’s neglect of rural Ireland.

We rightly worry about the disappearance of Banks, Post Offices, Garda Stations, Hospitals and Public Transport from rural Ireland, now our politicians can add tourist attractions to this ever-growing list; while into the future the actual visitor.

Incidentally, those of you who reside abroad and continue to retain close links with Thurles, Co. Tipperary, you can purchase a cast, (at reasonable cost), of the Thurles Goban Saor’s cat with two tails, shown above, from HERE. Same will ensures one hell of a talking point for visitors to your home, when hanging on your sitting-room wall.

We will be talking about this Gobán Saor’s cat in the coming days.


Will John Cusack Visit Ballingarry, Thurles, To Film ‘Thomas Francis Meagher’?

Ballingarry (SR), Thurles, Co. Tipperary, to play host to National Famine Commemorations

We understand that the village of Ballingarry (SR), Thurles, Co. Tipperary, will play host to the National Famine Commemoration this year, 2017.  This will be the first occasion on which the commemoration will be hosted in Co. Tipperary, since the establishment of the National Famine Commemoration Committee came into being in 2008.

The event will be held on September 30th, 2017 in the Famine Warhouse, (Also referred to as “The Widow McCormack’s House” or the British derogatory title of “The Widow McCormack’s Cabbage Patch.”), situated a short distance outside the village.

Will the Hollywood Actor / Producer, Mr John Cusack, be visiting the Widow McCormack’s Cabbage Patch?

The signatures of Thomas Francis Meagher & Patrick O’Donoghue, both present at the ‘Ballingarry Uprising of 1848’. These signatures are written on the inside cover of a book found in Richmond prison, Tasmania. The book is entitled “Wreath of Friendship,” and both signatures are dated 26th February 1849.

We now ask the question; Will this also be the year that Hollywood actor and producer Mr John Cusack begins to shoot a major film on the life of Thomas Francis Meagher, the Irish-born Fenian leader?  Latter was involved in a skirmish known as the Ballingarry Uprising of 1848, as well as leading the famous Union Armies’ Fighting 69th Regiment into battle during the American civil war.  Indeed Meagher, known as “Meagher of the Sword” (Following his speech on the right of the Irish nation to fight for its freedom and which was given at his trial), was first to fly the Irish Tricolour (Green White & Orange) at this same Ballingarry rebellion.

Mr Cusack informed Irish television’s, “Today Show”, at the Belfast Film Festival, that a film on the life of Thomas Francis Meagher (Inspired by the best selling biographical book “The Immortal Irishman” by New York Times columnist Timothy Egan), would feature a major international cast and be filmed all over Ireland.

Meagher who was found guilty of treason, following this skirmish, and sentenced to death; found his sentence later commuted to transportation from Ireland to Richmond Prison in Tasmania, Australia, from which he later escaped, to eventually end up in New York.

Following the American Civil War, he was appointed Governor of Montana State, but died soon afterwards under mysterious circumstances, aged 43 years.


Fascinating Story Of Tipperary’s Paddy McCarthy

Tipp Mid West Radio’s Tom Hurley Reports On ‘The Cashel Pioneer.’

In 1900, an Irishman named Paddy McCarthy arrived in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. After initially working in the port, he obtained a position as a physical education teacher in a school, but also boxed and became involved in football as a player, coach and referee.

In fact, he competed in what’s considered the country’s first ever professional boxing match and his name is also associated with the foundation of Boca Juniors football club, with some even crediting him for assigning them their trademark blue and gold jerseys, which they still wear today.

Later through his work with the Sports Municipal Committee of Buenos Aires, Paddy McCarthy did much to promote sport especially among the young but is purported to have gone to his grave in 1963 at the age of 92, having revealed little about himself or indeed his time in Ireland. Interestingly however, it is written that he was born on the 17th of March 1871 in Cashel, Co. Tipperary and attended the Christian Brothers School. It has also been suggested that he had the Premier County’s GAA colours very much in mind, when selecting a kit for Boca Juniors.

McCarthy’s fascinating story will now be the subject of a 4-part documentary to be aired on Tipp Mid West Radio, which uncovers more about his time in Argentina and investigates his links to the historic town of Cashel.

It emerges that from around 1850 until the end of the century, Argentina had been a popular destination for Irish emigrants especially from the Midlands, with numerous people from Cashel continuing to make the voyage well into the 1920’s. As a consequence, hurling was one of the sports introduced from abroad, which became increasingly popular.

The documentary has uncovered a lot of new information on Paddy McCarthy and the high regard in which he was held in his adopted homeland. For example, he had the distinction of refereeing the first ever Superclásico, latter the name given to the football derby played between Boca Juniors and River Plate. Boxers he regarded as friends included Babe Herman and Gene Tunney, whilst he is also photographed with the president of Argentina, the Duke of Kent and the Prince of Wales when they visited Buenos Aires in 1931. He was also the recipient of a gift from Theodore Roosevelt.

Interviewees for the programme include Cashel residents Albert Carrie, Seamus King, John O’Connor and Tom Wood.  Noel Blanchfield from Ballyneale who resides in Yonkers, New York outlines how he became intrigued by McCarthy’s story, having first come across his name in the United States. Among the other contributors is academic and historian Edmundo Murray from Buenos Aires, who has conducted the most extensive research on McCarthy to date.

The revealing 4-part documentary entitled ‘The Cashel Pioneer’ by Tom Hurley will be aired over four Wednesdays at 11.05am on Tipp Mid West Radio, beginning on April 19th next. The programmes can be heard outside the county on www.tippmidwestradio.com.


Walk Thurles – Holycross Pilgrim Path On Saturday Next

Bringing our communities together.  Thurles – Holycross Annual Pilgrim Path Solidarity Walk.

HolyCross Abbey, Thurles, Co Tipperary on Vimeo.

The annual “Thurles-Holycross Pilgrim Path Solidarity Walk” will take place on Saturday next April 15th, 2017.
Those wishing to participate can register at Thurles Cathedral of The Assumption, at 10.00am. The walk will depart Thurles Town Park beginning sharp at 10.30am.

Note, a €10.00 fee will be charged to cover the cost of refreshments and a guided history tour of Holycross Abbey.
As with all walking events; please do remember to outfit yourselves in suitable footwear and clothing for the 7.1km (4.5ml) journey.

For further details and any other information required; please feel free to contact Telephone No – 087-7962177.


Francis Grose Visits Thurles & Sheela na gig’s

The address “Westgate”, (Irish – An Geata Thiar), here in the town of Thurles, refers today to that area which remains the small expanse one visits, as you exit Liberty Square unto Friar Street in the town.

Pictured Left to Right(A) Drawing of Francis Grose (1731-1791). (B) Grose’s Antiquities, Vol. I, showing an engraving of the “Black Castle” at the West end of Liberty Square as it appeared in 1790.  (C) Thurles Castle today (March 2017) viewed from the side facing north.

Picture (A) above show us a drawing of a one-time visitor to Thurles back in the late 18th century (1790 / 1791); his name Francis Grose.(1)

His engraving, (picture (B) above), give us a valuable insight into an earlier view of this same “Westgate” area, portrayed by him for his famous and historical publication “Antiquities of Ireland.” Same work was posthumously published on his behalf by Samuel Hooper and portrays, through this ‘west gateway’, a long-forgotten view of Thurles Castle, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

This former vista through Westgate shows the “Black Castle” viewed through an archway flanked by two towers. This archway once led into a quadrangular courtyard, at the far end of which was the castle and other, now not known, imposing buildings.

While a castle still survives, alas, the Westgate itself of 1791 no longer exists, but back then it represented the entrance to the home of Elizabeth Poyntz (1587-1673), daughter of Sir John Poyntz of Iron Acton in Gloucestershire, whom, in 1608 became Lady Thurles, following her marriage to Thomas Butler, (Viscount Thurles), son of Walter, 11th Earl of Ormond.

Prince Charles Mountbatten-Windsor, the current heir to the British throne, is a direct descendant of Viscount and Lady Thurles, through their eldest son the Duke of Ormond. The Duke’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl Chesterfield, and their daughter Elizabeth Stanhope married John Lyon, 4th Earl Strathmore. Later in direct line was the 14th Earl Strathmore whose daughter, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married the future King George VI; the grandparents of Prince Charles.

Lady Viscountess Thurles was a staunch Catholic Royalist. During a short period between 1658-1660, while under the rule of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) and after the triumph of the Parliamentary army, the Cromwellian administration was to find that Lady Thurles was indeed a most difficult woman with which to deal. According to a Cromwellian edict, no Catholic who lived in the “Irish Quarters” before 1649, could be exempted from confiscation of their property followed by transplantation, “To Hell or To Connaught”.(2)   An inquisition found that Lady Thurles held a life interest, in the right of her jointures in the Castle, town and lands of Thurles, Leugh, Killinan, Athlummon, Clobanna, Lahardan, Derryfadda, Longfordpass, and Garranroe, in the Barony of Eliogarty; and Kilshane, Cleghile, and Lagganstown in the Barony of Clanwilliam: also she had 80 head of cattle, and 800 sheep and lambs, all of which ought to be then forfeited to the Lord Protector and Commonwealth.

The Cromwellian “Adventurers”, as distinct from the soldiers, had, among the lands allotted to them, the Baronies of Eliogarty and Clanwilliam, and clamoured for the immediate removal of Lady Thurles. Two thousand acres, calculated to return her an income of £200 a year, were set out for her in Connaught, but by various stratagems she managed to delay her removal. She succeeded in winning over to her side, to plead her cause, among others, deep-dyed Puritans as the ‘regicides’, (Name given to Cromwell’s supporters who signed the death warrant of Charles I) Sir Hardress Waller and Colonel Robert Phaire, Governor of Cork; also Colonel Hierome Sankey, Governor of the Clonmel Precinct, a man whose reputation for savagery in dealing with the Irish was scarcely less than that of Cromwell himself.

In July 1656, the Cromwellian Council transmitted the petitions of these men on behalf of Lady Thurles to the Commissioners adjudicating on the Irish in Co. Cork, for their report on it. Their report, on 13th August, shows that they were also under the spell of Lady Thurles. It stated that the good lady had several times in 1641 harboured, entertained, and preserved from murder and famine divers English families whom the Irish had plundered, robbed, and attempted to murder; in all, 60 persons, and in particular Mr. Bullock and family, Joane Harris and family, and a minister, Mr. Price, and his family.

That also, after the fall of Archerstown Castle, Thurles, she received the wounded Major Peisley, and others of his company, into her home, entertained them for several weeks until they were cured, and then gave them money and other necessaries when they betook themselves to the English garrison at Doneraile.

This appears to have settled the matter in favour of the Adventurers, and the Council was powerless to refuse their claims. But although Lady Thurles lost her lands, it would seem that she was never ejected from her castle in Thurles.

That was in in 1658; however, the Adventurers did not long enjoy their newly acquired lands. Two years later, in 1660, Charles II was recalled to the throne, and James the son of Lady Thurles, returned to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant. He immediately ran the planters off his own lands, and those lands of his mother and their friends.

Sheela na gig
Of course, this West gateway had also another name, that of “Geata na gCailleach”, which translated from the Irish means “Hags Gate” or the “Gate of the Old Woman.”  This gate most likely got its name from the fact that a carved stone ‘Sheela na gig’ made up part of this west gateway’s rock construction.

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