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November 2015
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Freedom ? – By Tipperary Born Poet Gerry Cullen.

The winter has well and truly arrived. I state this not because of any strong winds and torrential downpours of rain experienced over the past week.

Rather because that keen environmentalist and green fingered hill poet Mr Gerry Cullen has returned to sit by his fire to reflect, share thoughts; writing rhyme about happenings, as he observes them in his native County of Tipperary.

Here he reflects so accurately on the recent crime wave that has hit our county; the failure of our justice system and the need for proper Garda resources.

Freedom ?

Latest poem courtesy of our resident Tipperary Bard, Mr Gerry Cullen. ©


Poet Gerry Cullen.

“There was ne’er a Guard for ages and then ‘Operation Thor,’
They were on the cross this mornin, to check if me tyres were wore.
Speed checks in the 50 zone and checkpoints, ten a penny,
And all the scum-bags out on bail; all thanks to Enda Kenny.
Now rural crime is handy cash, for all who take their chance.
The dirt-bags and their legal teams, enjoy a merry dance.
They’re laughing at the victims, and laughing at the law.
It’s child’s play for the low-life, there’s a justice systems flaw.
But then the Guards are doin the job, they nab the average Joe,
It’s pointless nabbin dangerous crooks, the Judges let them go.
So no point getting hurt or killed, the guards are plagued by rules.
So they do the handy numbers, in this Island run by ‘Tools.’
Now don’t be fooled by power of vote, to choose a different crew.
No bloody feckin difference, to the likes of me and you.
Promise this and promise that and give the usual spin.
One thing certain, memories fade the minute they get in.
The aim is ‘line their pockets’, ‘look after number one’.
Your vote goes to recycling, once election time is done.
But I think I feel a rumble, like a roaring thunderous wave
But it’s just our Easter heroes, all turning in the grave.”

Nice one Gerry!

Week Long Thurles Halloween Arts Festival

Thurles Halloween Festival

Thurles Halloween Festival 2014

Tipperary Councillor Jim Ryan, Chairperson of the Thurles Halloween Arts Festival 2014 reports.

The 7th annual Thurles week-long Halloween Arts Festival begins in 7 days time from October 24th to October 31st 2014 inclusive.

Once again this year there is a wonderful festival line up, with some of the best national and international acts (All now fully confirmed) performing in our midst this year.

A continued policy of Thurles community participation is very much evident once again and with so many different forms of ‘The Arts’ taking place here in Thurles this year, both local and an anticipated large turnout of visiting public will most definitely find something for each and everyone, in this year’s diverse programme of major events.

Daily Programme of Events for Thurles Halloween Arts Festival 2014

Friday 24th October

ART“Art Exhibition.”  VENUE: Cabragh Wetlands. TIME: Each Day of the Festival period – 10.00am to 5.00pm. ADMISSION: Free of Charge.
Exhibition by Artist Michael Fogarty whose work is mainly inspired by the Irish countryside. Artist will be in residence each afternoon during the festival.

BOOK LAUNCH“Rights of Succession.”  VENUE: Cabragh Wetlands. TIME: 7.00pm. ADMISSION: Free of Charge.
The book, a tale of early 19th century family intrigue by author Michael Fogarty will see the author on hand to sign copies of his new book.

DRAMA“In Acting Shakespeare” – Written by and starring James DeVita. VENUE: Source Arts Centre. TIME: 8.00pm. ADMISSION: €18/€16 (concession).
“In Acting Shakespeare” expect a funny, touching and uplifting story of one man’s discovery of Shakespeare, acting and language. This is a show for anyone interested in Shakespeare or theatre. The show is followed by Q&A session with James DeVita.

Music“Whistle This,”  VENUE: Bowes Pub. TIME: 9.30pm. ADMISSION: Free of Charge.
A night of culture and music with some of the Premier County’s finest singer song writers, poets and musicians in an intimate atmosphere.

Truly one of Ireland’s finest Bluegrass musicians, Clem O’Brien; brings his unique band to Thurles for a special performance not to be missed.


Saturday 25th October

MUSIC, FOOD & CRAFT “SCARE IN THE SQUARE.”  VENUE: Liberty Square. TIME: 12.00 noon to 4.00pm. ADMISSION: Free of Charge.
Come join us for live music, food & craft stalls, Street Entertainment, Funfair Rides and much more, as we transform Liberty square into a Halloween “Scare in the Square,” occasion. Note: This year we will be having a Halloween Scarecrow Trail around Thurles town. With the help of ‘Thurles Mens Shed’; over 25 Scarecrows will be put on display around the streets of Thurles during the duration of this years festival. We hope to grow this into a major event going forward and we hope you enjoy the creative skills of the volunteers who created these pieces of scary art.

LITERATURE“Poetry in the Making.”  VENUE: Source Arts Centre. TIME: 3.00pm to 5.00pm. ADMISSION: €20.00.
This poetry workshop, run by poet Enda Wyley, is suitable for emerging poets. It aims to celebrate the power of poetry and the making of it. Participants will be encouraged to create new work of their own and to enjoy poetry by established poets, including the work of Thurles poet Dennis O’Driscoll. (Limited capacity – early booking advised. Please book directly through the Box Office on 0504/90204.)

LITERATURE“A Public Interview with John Kelly.”  VENUE: Source Arts Centre. TIME: 7.00pm. ADMISSION: €10.00.
In memory of Thurles poet Dennis O’Driscoll. For many years John Kelly has been at the forefront of music and arts broadcasting in Ireland. Having presented ‘The View’ on RTÉ television for 12 seasons, and assorted programmes for BBC NI before that, John now heads up RTÉ Television’s brand new arts show ‘The Works.’ Known for his wide-ranging knowledge of music he has also presented some of the best-loved and most critically acclaimed music programmes on the Irish airwaves. From his shows on the BBC to the legendary ‘Eclectic Ballroom’ on Today FM and the award-winning ‘Mystery Train’ on RTÉ1, he has always put the music first. He currently broadcasts the ‘John Kelly Ensemble’ on RTÉ Lyric FM and ‘Radio Clash’ on RTÉ Digital Radio 2XM.

WORKSHOP“Halloween Art and Craft Workshop.”  VENUE: Bookworm, Parnell Street, Thurles. TIME: 11.00am – 5.00pm. ADMISSION: €5.00 per person.
Get in the Halloween spirit, come and get creative; experience the make construction of some Halloween arts and crafts. Each workshops begin on the hour and last for 50 minutes. Note: Please book in advance – Tel: 0504/22257.

COMEDY“TOM O’ MAHONY & GUESTS.”  VENUE: County Bar, Liberty Square. TIME: 10.00pm sharp. ADMISSION: Free of Charge.
Dubbed by the critics as a ‘Bad-ass of Irish comedy’ Tom starred alongside the legendary and late, great Rik Mayall on RTE’s hit comedy Damo & Ivor in 2013 and made his return in Season 2 (alongside Snatch’s Alan Ford) reprising his role as the intolerable toff ‘Tarquin.’ A finalist in RTE’s 2013 New Comedy Awards, this lad has starred in several TV adverts, (typically playing someone you wouldn’t like). In 2014 Tom played support to Nina Conti at the Cork Opera House and also Police Academy’s Michael Winslow on a nationwide tour. Playing the country’s biggest festivals, Tom supported the brilliant Stewart Francis at this year’s Vodafone Comedy Festival in Dublin. This year saw another sell-out solo show of Tom’s, “Bring on The Apocalypse” in theatres nationwide and at the Edinburgh Fringe. Tom has a weekly radio slot on Spin103.8 entitled “Mantime,” where he discusses the failings of modern blokes and how they can redeem themselves (There are a lot of stanley-knives and hammers).


Sunday 26th October

TOURS & TALKS“Cabragh Wetlands Trust Open Day.”  VENUE: Cabragh Wetlands. TIME: 11.00am to 4.00pm. ADMISSION: Free of Charge.
Cabragh Wetlands invite the public of Thurles and Tipperary to an all day open event. There will be a ‘Walk and Talk’ at 11.30am which will be repeated at 2.30pm, led by volunteers and environmental experts. Find out about their work in conservation and education, and their plans for the future. Take this opportunity to view their exciting new building, have a guided walk around the wetlands or wander around at your own pace, see what they do and join them for a cup of tea. All are welcome.

MUSIC“Flamenco Guitarist John Walsh.”  VENUE: Anner Hotel. TIME: 4.00pm. ADMISSION: €5.00.
John Walsh is Ireland’s leading Flamenco Guitarist and an accomplished musician and composer, performing solo since 2006. Along with performing concerts throughout Ireland together with venues in Spain and the UK, he has performed in one of the most historically important flamenco venue’s ‘El Candela’ in Madrid, as well as being the invited International Artist for the 2014 Flamenco Festival “Flamenco de Consuegra”.


PARTY “FANCY DRESS PARTY.”  VENUE: Thurles Rugby Club. TIME: 10.00pm till Late. ADMISSION: €15.00.
Thurles Rugby Club presents its annual Halloween Fancy Dress Party with live music and disco. This event is one of the highlights of the year in Thurles and we would encourage those attending to purchase your ticket as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Tickets available from Hickey’s Pub or any Rugby Club Member.


Monday 27th October

FAMILY SHOW “Halloween Trick or Treat Party.”  VENUE: Anner Hotel. TIME: 2.30pm to 4.30pm. ADMISSION: €5.00 per child & €2.00 per adult.
This annual children’s party returns with all the usual favourites. Dress up in your favourite Halloween costume and let your child enjoy a wonderful and safe spooky party. Event includes: Party food and drink, Party music & games, Barney, Bob the Builder, Peppa Pig and Friends show, Magic show, Balloon Modelling and Face painting.


Tuesday 28th October

WRITERS“A Writers Covert.”  VENUE: Anner Hotel. TIME: 8.00pm. ADMISSION: Free of Charge
Writers from across Tipperary’s many regular writing groups will get together to read their own compositions and well-known writers works. This event is open to the general public, so do feel free to bring along your own work and join in. Note: Refreshments will be served.

WORKSHOP“Pumpkin Carving and Painting.”  VENUE: Bookworm, Parnell Street, Thurles. TIME: 2.00pm to 3.00pm. ADMISSION: €5 per person. Note: Pumpkins will be provided. Please book in advance – Tel: 0504/22257.

WW1 COMMEMORATION“Ecumenical Thurles WW1 Memorial Service of Remembrance.”  VENUE: St Mary’s Church, Thurles. TIME: 7.30pm. ADMISSION: Free of Charge, however a collection will be made during the Service with proceeds going to the St Mary’s War Museum. (Latter presently under re-construction and due to be reopened as a local tourist attraction on May 1st 2015 next.)
The Great War of 1914-1918 was so terrible and inflicted such large numbers of casualties on all sides that when it was over it was believed by many to be “The War to end all Wars”. Alas, by the end of four years of fighting from August 1914 to November 1918 many thousands of families around the world including some 72 households from Thurles were affected by this tragedy, through the wounding or loss of life of at least one of their family members.
The ceremony will begin with the naming of all 72 known Thurles WW1 soldiers who lost their lives.
Church music for this event is being provided by renowned local pianist M/s Mary Rose McNally, with special guests; music composer and much-loved Folk Singer M/s Nora Fogarty and Retd and former Aide de camp to H.E. the President of Ireland and Co Galway native, Commandant Michael Walsh, latter who will also give the commemorative address.
The remembrance service will be conducted in St Mary’s Church by the Rector Rev. Ian Coulter and will be followed by a rare display of local primary source artefacts pertinent to Tipperary participants in this Great War of 1914-1918 .


Continue reading Week Long Thurles Halloween Arts Festival

Global Warming First Realised In Ballynonty, Thurles, Co Tipperary


Scientists were first awakened to the theory of ‘Global Warming’ for the first time here in Ireland, following the destruction of Ballynonty Bridge, near Thurles, in August of 2008.

Well that is, with ‘Tongue in Cheek’  I might add, according to local Ballynonty poet and historian Gerry Cullen; latter who regularly records such significant district occurrences in rhyme.

In fact if you are looking for someone to write a poem about any topic, be it related to matters humorous or material required of a more serious nature, then look no further than this Ballynonty resident lyricist; Tipperary’s answer to the late great Lancashire born poet Robert Service, (1874 – 1958).

(Pictured left Gerry’s serious poetic reflection on Tipperary road traffic accidents, first published and cut in stone at the wonderful Ballynonty Garden of Remembrance back in 2012.)

Anyway back to the topic of Global Warming; hereunder recorded for future generations, the demise of the bridge in Ballynonty, with a veiled environmental warning to each and every resident of this our planet.

 Global Warming
(From the pencil of Gerry Cullen.)

The weather is gone wallop and the seasons out of whack,
We’re heading for disaster and down a one way track,
We’ll have to face the music or wise up and be smart,
Or the bridge in Ballynonty will only be the start.

Twas like a big tsunami or the floods in New Orleans,
Or back when Noah built the ark to save the human beings,
But nothing ever read or seen has caused the jaw to drop,
Like the bridge in Ballynonty near Alice Perry’s shop.

The clouds grew dark; the deluge came; the rain was strong and fast,
The stream became a torrent and the bridge just couldn’t last.
The flood flowed down Slieveardagh’s slopes and the dark night turned to day,
And then at dawn, in turmoil, the battered road gave way.

For weeks we’ve taken detours and the moods have struck us all,
And we suffer from depression tryin’ to get to Killenaule,
The “Powers that Be” are out in force; no opening day as yet,
(A week, a month, a year or two, I wouldn’t hold my breath.)

And years into the future the people will recall,
How the curse of “Global Warming” damn nearly took us all.
Don’t prod and poke at nature; we have to stop and think,
For living life the way we do, has brought us to the brink.

Sure you never know Gerry might share some more of his poetry with us into the future. There is, I hasten to add, talks of a limited edition book of poetry shortly to be published, which is eagerly awaited by the many lovers of his localised thought-provoking verse.

“Irishmen In The Great War” By Tom Burnell

“To all of the fallen in their silence we offer our own silence, without judgement, and with respect for their ideals, as they knew them,
and for the humanity they expressed towards each other.”

(Extract from the speech by Irish President Michael D Higgins during the dedication of the Cross of Sacrifice at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin this week.)


Dublin born author, Mr Tom Burnell, now resident here in Holycross, Thurles, Co.Tipperary, has penned yet another remarkable factual history book; launched just yesterday entitled “Irishmen In The Great War.”  Many of our regular readers will be familiar with Tom’s other publications including “The Wicklow War Dead,” and “Tipperary Casualties of the Great War,” and of course his valued assistance through this website in tracing military family members lost in two great wars.

Tom has taken over twenty-seven Irish newspapers for the period covering the Great War (1914-1918) and has trawled through each and every publication to deliver the most amazing stories of those years, which as we now realise changed our world for ever.

While the book is not necessarily just about Co Tipperary it nevertheless does have many Tipperary people mentioned in it, most of whom survived World War1. Names like:- Miss M. J. Fitzgibbon, Corporal Michael O’Mara (Carrick-on-Suir), Sapper James O’Donnell (Carrick-on-Suir), Private W. Roberts (Clonmel), Corporal A.S. Dowling (Tipperary), Corporal Edward Jackson, (Roscrea), Private Robert Walsh (Carrick-on-Suir), Miss Mary F. Doheny, (Carrick-on-Suir), Sergeant Major Drought Jackson (Roscrea), Captain W. Gibson (Brittas Cashel), Cyril Triscott, Dr Wetterell (Tipperary) and Lance Corporal George White (Knockanvar, Cappawhite).

Contained between these hard covers are the fascinating accounts of the day-to-day lives of men in the front lines; of torpedoed ships; drunken wives, final farewell letters and requests direct from the trenches. There are also many eye-witness accounts of the slaughter as it was happening; battle reports from officers serving in Irish regiments; quirky snippets; chaplains’ sympathetic letters; P.O.W reports of conditions and war poetry.

Here are the tales of the Leinster’s, Munster’s, Connaught’s and Dublin Fusiliers serving in the Ulster Division, 10th and 16th Irish Divisions. We read of medical breakthroughs, paranormal occurrences and miraculous escapes from death.

After the Irish Rebellion of April, 1916, these type of newspaper articles and lists of casualty slowly began to dwindle as here at home Irish hearts would became politically divided.

A cracking great read compiled for the very first time into one single publication and offering a memorable primary source for true lovers of Irish History.

Cloughjordan Co Tipperary Honours Thomas MacDonagh

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.”

This coming May Bank Holiday Weekend (2nd – 5th May 2014) the town of Cloughjordan [ Map Ref ] here in Co Tipperary invite you to the home of the late great Poet, Writer, Gaelgóir, Dramatist, Patriot and Signatory of the Irish Proclamation, Thomas MacDonagh, (Irish: Tomás Mac Donnchadha; 1st Feb 1878 – 3rd May 1916).


Weekend Programme of Events

(Please do ‘Right Click’ on picture here [Left] to ‘View Image’ of Weekend Programme of events in greater magnification.)

Thomas MacDonagh was born here in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, one of eight children born to parents Joseph MacDonagh, latter a schoolteacher and Mary-Louise neé Parker. It was in this environment that he developed a love of music, poetry and education together with a passion for both English and Irish culture.  He went on to attend Rockwell College near Cashel at the age of fourteen, where he initially aspired to become a priest or brother, spending several years studying, before realising that this life was no longer for him personally. Soon after, while residing in Co Kilkenny, saw the publication of his first book of poems; “Through the Ivory Gate,” (1902), followed one year later by “April and May,” (1903) and “The Golden Joy,” (1904).

MacDonagh’s lament by Francis Ledwidge, shown above, is a metaphor where “the wailing of the rain” represents the obvious grief associated with MacDonagh’s death. The words “when loud March blows thro’ slanting snows represents the poet’s hope that perhaps out of this historic grief may come something better thus conjuring up vivid images of weather, wild daffodils, both the appearance and sensation that is the present Cloughjordan countryside and which visitors will experience, for themselves, this coming weekend. In Ledwidge’s mind “the Dark Cow leaves the moor,” is a metaphor for Ireland as a nation, in the expectation that things will improve eventually for his beloved country and perhaps MacDonagh’s own execution will become acknowledged as not being totally in vain.

This subject I feel sure will be discussed in even greater debate here in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, this May weekend, so teachers do encourage you students to attend.

Cloughjordan May Weekend Programme

The weekend long programme features talks on various aspects of the historic events that shaped our nation. Events extend out into the surrounding countryside, which was a source of inspiration for many of MacDonagh’s poems; a guided walk through Knocknacree Wood, a field trip to sites of heritage interest (Modreeny Medieval Settlement) and numerous exhibitions. Come along and enjoy music and song agus beidh fáilte roimh cách ag an Oíche Ghaelach. ( Latter translation from Irish: and everyone is welcome at the Irish Night.” )

The talks, a painting workshop, exhibitions and evenings of song and story will take place in the Thomas MacDonagh Heritage Centre, Lower Main Street, Cloughjordan and other venues in the town. In this year of commemorations Thomas MacDonagh, World War I and Cumann na mBan (Irish: Women’s Association) receive special attention. The programme invites people of all ages to reflect on our past, which is manifest in the rich heritage of this area.

Volume VIII in the Cloughjordan Heritage series will be launched on Friday at 8;00 pm. The Thomas MacDonagh Summer School begins at 11.00 am on Saturday. On Sunday Prof. Peadar Kirby presents a talk on MacDonagh and later Dr. Mary McCauliffe will speak on Cumann na mBan. Enjoy a family friendly afternoon with Heritage Games and the MacDonagh Pipe Band from Templemore. The programme concludes on Monday with a guided walk in Knocknacree Wood, a CineClub presentation of “War Horse” (based on WWI) agus Oíche Ghaelach le ceol agus caidreamh. ( Latter translation from Irish:and Irish Night music and relationships.” )

This area in North Tipperary, “in calm of middle country” (T. MacDonagh’s own words) is rich in heritage and natural environment. Cloughjordan is now home to the International Award Winning Sustainable Community and visitors are welcome to come on a guided tour of the Eco Village on Sunday at 3.00 pm. Stay in the Eco Hostel and in local B&B accommodation. Enjoy the evenings in a friendly festival atmosphere.

Bí linn ag comóradh Tomás Mhac Donnachadha ina bhaile dhúchais. ( Latter translation from Irish: Join us in commemorating Thomas MacDonagh in his home town.” )

Further information on “Cloughjordan Honours Thomas MacDonagh,” can be found by clicking Here and Here.

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