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Tom Semple – The Thurles Blues – Book Launch


Author Liam Ó Donnchú’s long-awaited biography of ‘Tom Semple and The Thurles Blues’  will, I am happy to relate, be launched at the Thurles Sarsfields Centre, (beside Semple Stadium, Thurles), on Saturday June 13th at 8:00 p.m.

Tom Semple, a GAA icon and whose name is immortalised in the name “Semple Stadium” here in Thurles, is synonymous worldwide with the game of hurling, having led the legendary ‘Thurles Blues’ to All-Ireland glory in 1906 and 1908.

The Book’s Contents:
This well researched publication will discuss in great detail these earlier heroes of the ‘camán’ (Irish: Hurl), together with Tom Semple’s training regime and tactics. Readers can follow ‘The Blues’ on their amazing tour in 1910 to Brussels in Belgium and historic Fontenoy in France. They can also learn the fascinating story of the early years of the Thurles Sports field; now Semple Stadium, and how same developed into today’s ‘Field of Legends’. They can observe the role played by Tomas Semple and others in the local War of Independence and which is also detailed in this hardback publication; containing more than 400 truly well researched and fascinating pages.

The book is beautifully illustrated throughout and offers new insights, in many cases erased through time, into the life and times of a yesteryear.

Note: All are welcome to attend this book-launch and books costing €30 will be available from bookshops in Tipperary or signed copies can be ordered by post (€35) from the author: Liam Ó Donnchú, Lár na Páirce, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The burial place of Tom Semple can be located in the grounds (north side) of St Mary’s Churchyard, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, close to St Mary’s Famine Museum.


1915 -1916 Secret Police Files Released Online

Untitled-1Secret pivotal period Irish history files recorded by the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) dating from 1915 and 1916 have been made available today, online, for the very first time. Those involved in the compilation of this series of historic reports state that the information provided gives a fascinating insight into the events leading up to the 1916 Rising.

(Click on image on left for larger magnification.)

These reports begin in June 1915, and continue on, up to April 1916, just four days before the beginning of the 1916 Rising. The reports include details of intelligence material and reports by then detectives, concerned in the movement of more than 230 pro-independence suspects.

The full documentation when uploaded is expected to give details of the surveillance of people like tobacconist and Proclamation signatory Thomas J.Clarke, latter the person most responsible for the 1916 Easter Rising, also Cornelius “Con” Colbert, latter Thomas Clarke’s bodyguard, shot by a firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, on the 8th May 1916. There are also references to the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, latter returned to the British House of Commons for the Tipperary constituency, in which he defeated the Liberal Catholic Denis Caulfield Heron by 1054 to 898 votes. The election was declared invalid because Rossa had been an imprisoned felon.

A report of 1st June 1915, the first in this weekly series online today, traces the movements and associations of a number of individuals, including Professor Eoin MacNeill and Thomas Clarke with Thomas Byrne, Thomas MacDonagh (Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary), Frank Fahy, George Irvine and Seán T.Ó Ceallaigh. It also notes the movements of Ernest Blythe, Bulmer Hobson and Darrell Figgis and the meeting of J. J. Walsh with Frank B.Dineen, L. J. O’Toole and Michael McCartan. A description is provided of the assembly of ‘about 34 Sinn Féin Volunteers without rifles’ in Rutland Square, under the leadership of Joseph McGuinness.

An issue of the Republican Irish newspaper ‘Ná Bac Leis’ (Never Mind Him) from 29th May 1915 is also included, with translations of the leading paragraphs, for the authorities in Dublin Castle.

Despite all this surveillance by the DMP, the 1916 Rising, when it eventually happened, was regarded as a massive failure of intelligence, with the long-serving Chief Secretary to Ireland, Mr Augustine Burrell (1907 to 1916) resigning shortly after the Rising, having been criticized for not having foreseen this unexpected rebellion.

“The Chief Secretary’s Office, Crime Branch: Movement of Extremists Collection”, is being made available online on a weekly basis in chronological order according to what happened on each day 100 years ago, as part of the National Archives 2016 centenary programme and can be accessed here on the National Archives website.


Importance Of Employment To A Rural Tipperary Town

A ‘Census’ is a procedure for systematically recording information about any given population; while providing all governing bodies with a comprehensive pictures of the social and living conditions of its people. This in turn provides vital information necessary for all future planning. Here in Ireland, in more recent years, our Census is usually taken in any year which ends in 1 or 6. The last Census undertaken was 2011 with 2016 expected to be the next such event.

A Census however must also take into account the current prevailing issues being experienced by any country; issues such as war for example or other unplanned catastrophes, e.g. the census in Ireland planned for April 2001 was postponed until 2002, due to the then prevailing ‘Foot and Mouth’ epidemic.

Ireland has been conducting a census of its population since 1821. The first major census, using a household form, was the ‘Great Census of 1841’ and same was taken every 10 years prior to the year 1951, after which time they were undertaken at five yearly intervals.
It is of course necessary that the fieldwork involved in a such an operation be completed over a relatively short period of time and provide the essential tools to implement effective future policy, planning and decision making, e.g. supporting our Health Care needs through our Health Boards, our Regional Authorities, our Schools, our Heritage, our Migration Patterns, our required necessary New Development and most importantly identifying Employment Needs.

Same fieldwork undertaken should automatically indicate the number of births and deaths that have occurred.  Indeed Article 16.2 of the Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) lays down that the total membership of Dáil Éireann depends on the population as measured by a census (i.e. 1 TD per 20,000 to 30,000 persons).

Like most parishes in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly, the population of Thurles declined catastrophically in the decades during and following the Great Famine. This drop in the famine decade 1841-1851 (shown in graph above) is actually steeper than that indicated, as some 2,761 (over 23%) of the population of Thurles in 1851 remained inmates of the Thurles Workhouse (Hospital of the Assumption) and many of these inmates ordinarily would not have been naturalised Thurles residents.

Unlike most of the rural parishes in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly, the decline in population here in Thurles was reversed prior to 1936, due largely to the increase in employment brought by the Thurles Sugar Factory in 1934. However the Irish Sugar Company, which had already closed the sugar factory at Tuam, in Co. Galway, was to turn its attention on the factory here at Thurles; closing it completely in 1989.

The closure of Thurles Sugar Factory in 1989, then one of the largest employers in Thurles, was to now instigate a continuous downward spiral with regard to employment, which in turn would spell the death knell to other smaller retailers also within the town. Add to this now downward employment spiral, one textile factory (Phoenix Yarns), two bakeries (Sweeney’s in Mitchel Street and Crotty’s in Friar Street), the Premier Foods take over and immediate closure of Erin Foods. Continue to add to this the loss of the Jobst Medical Products factory, the GMX Moulinex factory (Electronic Engineers Electrical Components Manufacturer). With these factory’s now closed Transport Companies wholly dependent on formers business were quickly soon to follow.

The above video was taken two years ago, but little if anything has changed from a Thurles employment perspective.

In opposition government during November 2007, Fine Gael Deputy Noel Coonan expressed grave concerns about these confirmed closures declaring, “This latest news (Erin Foods closure) has sent shock waves through the area. The present Government has failed the people of Thurles and at the eleventh hour made no effort to intervene and reverse this decision. Government policies are having a devastating effect on rural constituencies like Tipperary North. A total review of Government policy is urgently required”, he stated.

Also in opposition during November 2007, Labour’s then Senator Alan Kelly stated, “Thurles has taken a severe hit over the last number of years since the closure of the Sugar Factory. It is now clear that we need direct Government intervention to address this problem and to safeguard the economic future of Thurles. It is fair to say that the manufacturing sector has been decimated in Thurles.” he stated.

Both above named politicians, Deputy Coonan and the now new Minister Alan Kelly, while now in government for the last 4 years, have done absolutely nothing to improve employment here in Thurles.

This is 2015 and last Friday night Fine Gael selected outgoing Deputy Noel Coonan, to contest the 2016 General Election, in our new five-seat constituency of Tipperary. Deputy Coonan together with Minister of State Tom Hayes were both chosen, without a contest, at a selection convention in the Anner Hotel, Thurles, chaired by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

No doubt Labours Minister Kelly will also be selected to contest this same 2016 General Election and thus my simple question is this; “With an estimated almost 600,000 people having been forced to emigrate from Ireland and Tipperary in recent years, in search of work; will the Tipperary electorate continue to vote for “more of the same neglect” at the ballot box, come the next General Election?”

Lest we forget that while employment rates may have risen in the eastern half the country over the first three months of 2015, five areas in Ireland including the Midland and Western regions recorded an increase in the rate of unemployment for this very same period.

Current Government Ministers maybe jubilant over claims they have finally broken below the psychological 10% unemployment barrier nationally, but the figures, published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), demonstrate that the task faced by this Government, to spread the effects of economic recovery evenly across our land, have not yet materialised here in Co. Tipperary.

Thurles needs new, fresh, imaginative political leadership.


Invitation From Tipperary County Council

TippM/s Ann Marie Brophy, Executive Librarian, Library Service, Tipperary County Council reports as follows:-

An Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Mr Michael FitzGerald and Chief Executive Officer Mr Joe MacGrath of Tipperary County Council are inviting you, the public, to take part in one of their “Ireland 2016 Workshop and Public Consultations”  to be held on the 25th May 2015, at the Abbey Court Hotel Nenagh (beginning sharp at 7.00pm) or on the 26th May 2016, at the Hotel Minella Clonmel, (also at 7.00pm sharp).

“Our plans to commemorate 1916 will include a very wide and exciting range of cultural and community activities, involving especially our young people. As well as formal and informal commemorative events directly related to the Rising, we will be working with artists, poets, musicians, Irish language bodies, festivals – in fact everyone in our community – to ensure that 2016 is a truly memorable year,” said An Cathaoirleach Cllr. FitzGerald.

“We are asking you to become involved by attending a public workshop to allow everyone who is interested to offer their own suggestions and listen to the ideas of others. Your ideas will then be brought forward to our 2016 committee,” said Chief Executive Mr MacGrath.

Remember: To secure your place you in these discussions you must register now at either of the two venues named above via heritage@tipperarycoco.ie or contact M/s Mary Quigley on Telephone 0761 06 5000 on or before 3.00pm on Friday 22nd May 2015.


St Mary’s Graveyard Project Under Way In Thurles

Death the Leveller

[Extract from the poem by James Shirley. (1596–1666)]

“The glories of our blood and state, are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against Fate; death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and Crown must tumble down and in the dust be equal made
With the poor crookèd scythe and spade.”

On April 2nd last year (2014) here on Thurles.Info we featured a Video Blog, asking the question “Are we Neglecting Tipperary’s National Heritage?”.  We highlighted in that particular feature, the neglect of St Mary’s Graveyard here in Thurles, in which numerous individuals of national and county historical importance have, in the past, been laid to rest.

Now one year later, following planning and debate, work has finally begun, using voluntary labour and the valued assistance of Tús Community Work Placement Initiative members, led by supervisors Mr Tony Lanigan, Mr Maurice Leahy and Mr Michael Carey.

This project, now ongoing, together with those involved, have been extremely careful to ensure that this historic burial ground is respected in full, firstly, with regards to the rights of living family members of those deceased, and secondly, the rules already put in place by the Heritage Council with regard to the Guidance for the Care, Conservation and Recording of Historic Graveyards.

A partial planting programme began last November (2014) with the support and supervision of North Tipperary Co Council officials, Mr Michael Ryan (Administrator) and Mr Seamus Hanafin (Co.Councillor), under the direction of Dr Aine Lynch, latter a Conservation Ranger with the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

Note: You can view details of many of those persons currently laid to rest within St Mary’s Graveyard simply by clicking HERE.

Click on ‘Vimeo’ (Bottom Right of this Video Clip) to view progress to date in HD.

Aims and future aspirations of this St Mary’s Graveyard Conservation Project.

Very few tourists, if any, visit St.Mary’s Graveyard in Thurles for its own merits presently, with those who do arrive intent only on viewing the Famine and War Museum, latter situated centre on this site. Imagine their delight when, weather permitting, they are taken into the surrounding ancient graveyard area, to view the final resting places of some of Tipperary’s greatest citizens.

Continue reading St Mary’s Graveyard Project Under Way In Thurles