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Lady Thurles & Oliver Cromwell – “To Hell Or Connaught”

On Monday morning last (February 5th), we first broke the exciting news that the former ‘Black Castle’, west of Liberty Square, overlooking the Parnell car-park, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary; once home of Lord Viscount Thomas Butler & his wife, Lady Viscountess Elizabeth Butler (alias Poyntz), has been sold.

The vendor of this hugely historical building; namely the Kenny family; latter relatives of the late Mr Billy Maher; was sold through the professional offices of Mr Sean Spain Auctioneers & Valuers, No. 21 Fianna Rd, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

The purchasers; Sir Timothy Maher (Knight of Innisfallen & Chairman & Chief Financial Officer (CFO), of Timothy Maher Finance) & his lady wife American born Dr. Phyllis Maher (Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Timothy Maher Finance), have since employed the successful firm of DHRyan Architects, No.1 Liberty Square, Thurles, to undertake a feasibility study of the site and its associated buildings, and to prepare a development brief for the new purchasers.  Solicitor Mr James J. Meagher (Thomas F. Griffin Parnell St, Thurles), has been retained to deal with all aspects of the site transfer.

However, this welcome news has now raised a massive inquisitiveness from those living both at home and overseas who have emailed us here at Thurles. Info, seeking further information on Lady Elizabeth and her interaction with Oliver Cromwell, who even in our modern Ireland, still evokes extremely strong emotions, some 360 years after his death in 1658.

In Ireland, though he only spent nine months of his reign here (August 1649 to May 1650), Cromwell stands accused of war crimes, religious persecution and the ethnic cleansing of Irish people on an unparalleled scale. The phrase ‘the curse of Cromwell on you and your house’, just 50 years ago, to elderly people, still evoke fear.

The Cromwellian administration was to find that Lady Viscountess Elizabeth Butler (Lady Thurles), was an extremely tough and feisty lady to deal with, and unlike many, she was never known to kowtow to Cromwell or his “Adventurers”, latter those who had financed his cause here in Ireland and Co. Tipperary, for their personal financial gain.

On 15th August 1649 Oliver Cromwell had landed at Ringsend, Dublin, and with him had come his Parliamentarian cavalry; an army of some 3,000 battle-hardened “Ironsides”, (Title “Old Ironsides”, was one of Cromwell’s nicknames). The civil war in England had ended, and King Charles I had been executed some seven months earlier.

Lady Viscountess Elizabeth Butler (Lady Thurles) and later Lady Elizabeth Mathew, (following her second marriage).

Here in Ireland, however, Roman Catholics had been in revolt since 1641 and were in possession and control of much of the country. Many had seen in England’s recent turmoil, an opportunity to restore Irish independence.

Cromwell a fanatical Protestant, would offer no quarter to papist rebels who had massacred English and Scottish settlers. Now in Ireland, he could also use confiscated rebel land to pay off the debts his loyal troops and the “Adventurers” who had financed his cause.

According to a Cromwellian edict, no Catholic who lived in the “Irish Quarters” before 1649, could be exempted from confiscation of property and transplantation; hence
“To hell or Connaught”  was the quote and the choice, that Cromwell now offered the Irish. They would either be killed or go to Connaught, which meant their eventual death, because they all could not possibly have survived in a small ruggedly inhospitable province, not fully conducive to agriculture.

An Inquisition found that Lady Thurles held a life interest, in the right of her jointure, (an estate settled on a wife for the period during which she survives her husband), in lien (the right to keep possession of property) of a dower 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.

Lady Thurles also owned 80 head of cattle, and 800 sheep and lambs; all of which ought to have been forfeited to Oliver Cromwell the then declared ‘Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England’.

The Cromwellian financiers of his cause known as the “Adventurers” (as distinct from his soldiers) had, among the lands allotted to them, the Baronies of Eliogarty and Clanwilliam, and therefore now clamoured for the eviction of Lady Elizabeth, out of Thurles Castle and lands.  Two thousand acres, calculated to return her an income of £200 a year, were set out for her in Connaught, but by various stratagems the astute Lady Thurles managed to delay her immediate removal.

She succeeded in winning over to her side to plead her cause, among others, such deep-dyed Puritans as the regicides or “King killers”, Sir Hardress Waller (latter condemned to death for his part in the regicide of Charles I. However his life was spared owing to the efforts of his friends and instead he was condemned to life imprisonment) and Colonel Robert Phaire (Governor of Cork, who avoided a similar fate through having married the daughter of Sir Thomas Herbert); also Colonel Hierome Sankey, (latter who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1654 and 1659. He also served in the Parliamentary army during the English Civil War and later served in Ireland as Governor of the Tipperary  Precinct of Clonmel), a man whose reputation for savagery in dealing with the Irish was scarcely less than that of Cromwell himself.

Petitions By Lady Thurles Sympathisers
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 total, 60 persons, and in particular Mr. Bullock and family, Joane Harris and family and Mr. Price, a protestant minister and his family.
  • The report also stated, that after the fall of Archerstown Castle, Lady Thurles received the wounded Major Peisley, and others of his company, into her home, entertained them for several weeks until they were recovered, and then gave them money and other necessaries, before they betook themselves to the English garrison at Doneraile, Co. Cork.
  • When Sir Charles Vavasour, who had raised a regiment of 500 men for service in Ireland from Cheshire, England, lay wounded and a prisoner of the Irish rebels at Clonmel, she had on several occassions sent him money, and later when he was very ill and weak, she had procured with great difficulty his liberty to come to her house where he was nursed to health, and was furnished with money on his departure.
  • That in the years 1643-46, she gave considerable sums of money for the relief of the English, £500, £300, and divers other sums.
  • That Lord Inchiquin, when he marched into Co. Tipperary, regarded Lady Thurles as English and of English interest and affection, and ordered that she and her tenants were not to be molested.
  • That the Irish looked on her as an enemy, and several times pillaged and plundered her — in all, of 1500 sheep, 60 cows, and a great number of horses and colts; they broke down her weirs, and threatened to burn down her house if she did not hand over the poor English to their fury, but she refused to do so.
  • That Owen Roe O’Neill, marching by her house, looked on her as an enemy and commanded her to furnish him with 200 beeves. She refused to pass them over, and notified Lord Inchiquin, who came to her relief and repulsed O’Neill.
  • She was also instrumental in the rendition of Cahir Castle to Cromwell by her son, George Mathew.
  • She also refused admission to Thurles Lieut. Colonel Brian O’Neill, and sent a messenger to Cromwell at Fethard, Co Tipperary to request him to send a garrison to Thurles, which he immediately did, under the command of Major Bolton, and for which, Cromwell promised her gratification, and this was seconded by the certificates of Colonel Sankey, Major Greene [later who settled at Killoghy, Mullinahone] and Colonel William Moore.

The Commission found her to be a very deserving person, but owing to legal and other difficulties, they now decided to submit her case for the decision of the Lord Deputy.

Continue reading Lady Thurles & Oliver Cromwell – “To Hell Or Connaught”


Death Of John Troy, Drom, Borrisoleigh

It was with great sadness we learned of the death yesterday, Tuesday 6th February 2018, of Mr John Troy, Drom, Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Mr Troy passed away while in the loving care of the staff at Padre Pio Nursing Home, Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Pre-deceased by his wife Sally, sisters Anna, Mary, Sr. Mairead and brother Tobias; his passing is most deeply regretted by his sister Patricia; brother-in-law John Daly; nieces; nephews; extended relatives; neighbours and friends.

Funeral Arrangements
The earthly remains of Mr Troy will repose at Kennedy’s Funeral Home, Borrisoleigh today, Wednesday, from 5.30pm with removal at 7.00pm, to arrive at St. Mary’s Church, Drom, Co. Tipperary, at 7.30pm.

Requiem Mass will take place on Thursday morning at 11.30am, followed by interment in the adjoining cemetery.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.


Avian Influenza Subtype H5N6 Strikes Co. Tipperary

White-tailed Eagle

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine today confirmed that a virus identified as avian influenza (subtype H5N6) has been found in a white-tailed sea eagle, found dead in Co. Tipperary, on January 31st last.

The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSE-HPSC) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) have both advised that the risk to public health from this avian influenza strain is very low and that the disease poses no food safety risk for consumers.

However, this finding could warrant an increased risk to poultry and therefore strict bio-security measures, irrespective of actual bird-flock size, are now necessary to further prevent the disease. Poultry owners are advised to feed and water their birds inside and under cover where wild birds are less likely to access.

This find in Co. Tipperary comes as no great surprise; since this virus has already been detected in wild birds in several locations across Great Britain from the start of 2018, and indeed in other more eastern European countries prior to the end of 2017.

Warning: In particular inform your children. If you do find dead or sickly wild birds, e.g. wild ducks, wild geese, swans, gulls or birds of prey, do not handle, but immediately report the findings.

A list of Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine offices and their contact details are available HERE.

The results of further comparative tests on this virus are expected to become available in the coming days.


Death Of John O’Dwyer, Killenaule, Thurles

It was with great sadness we learned of the death yesterday, Monday 5th February 2018, of Mr John Francis (Tipp) O’Dwyer, Henry Laffan Heights, Killenaule, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Mr O’Dwyer passed away peacefully at South Tipperary General Hospital, surrounded by his loving family.

His passing is most deeply regretted by his loving daughter Joanne; grandchildren Katie and Jude; Janet; brothers Jim, Anthony & Joe; sisters Mary (Whiting), Sarah (Cummins), Bridget (Dwyer), Margaret (Fallon), Kathleen (Tierney), Philomena (Barry) and Ann (Nevin); son-in-law Mark; brothers-in-law; sisters-in-law; nephews; nieces; extended relatives and friends.

Funeral Arrangements
The earthly remains of Mr O’Dwyer will repose at his home on tomorrow, Wednesday February 7th 2018, from 4.00pm to 8.00pm.

Removal will take place on Thursday morning to the Church of St. Joseph The Worker, Moyglass, Fethard.  A Funeral Mass will be held at 11.30am, followed by interment in the adjoining cemetery.

Note Please: House private on Thursday morning.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis


Grenade Located In Rosemount Area Of Thurles


An Explosive Army Ordnance Disposal unit carried out a controlled explosion on a device found in a shed wall near the Slievnamon / Turtulla Road (N62) in Thurles, at around 4.30pm yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public had contacted Thurles Garda station, informing them that they had discovered the device in the Rosemount area of the town.

Thurles Gardaí having responded quickly to the call; observed what appeared to be a grenade at the location.  The area was then quickly cordoned off and a number of houses in the vicinity were evacuated, as a matter of standard safety protocol.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team were dispatched to the incident arriving, at approximately 6.30pm.  Traffic was halted and rerouted temporarily, while the device was made safe using a controlled explosion.

It is understood that the device may have gone undiscovered at the location for many years.