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Name The New Thurles Town Park!


Picture shows the foundations for the well advanced pedestrian bridge, over the river Suir, joining the new and as yet unnamed Thurles town park, latter to be seen in the background.

Major decisions came before both our national parliament and our local Templemore – Thurles Municipal District legislature this week.

Nationally our Dublin orientated Fine Gael / Labour government, after no real debate, rushed through a decision to sell-off  possibly our only remaining Irish owned piece of family silver, namely Air Lingus, without the permission of the owners, the Irish people.

Here locally our Sinn Fein and Non Party Councillors, representing the Templemore – Thurles Municipal District, were calling for our new Thurles Town Park to be named after the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. Thankfully, from a local decision making perspective, none of the proposers knew the names of the signatories written on this important document and probably just as well; as the name ‘MacDonagh MacDiarmada Plunkett Clarke Pearse Ceannt Connolly Park’, would have contained more letters than the existing village known as Llanfairpwllgwyngyl (pronounced: ɬanˌvairpuɬˈɡwɨ̞nɡɨ̞ɬ) situated on the island of Anglesey off the north-west coast of Wales.

Earlier of course they had discussed whether or not it should be named after one of themselves. However it was agreed that since none of them had, as yet, either died for their country or indeed (with the exception of Thurles Councillor Seamus Hanafan it must be said) had succeeded in achieving any one, real, single, positive contribution to this same Templemore – Thurles Municipal District since elected; same should be placed in temporary abeyance for perhaps a more opportune occasion into the future.

From a Fine Gael perspective it was felt that perhaps this New Park should be named after the now EU deported Minister Phil Hogan, due to the fact that same park is situated in close proximity to water and the fact also that his UISCE Eireann (Irish Water) company is currently being popularised by Alan Kelly, latter a Tipperary Labour Minister in government.

All Joking Aside
OK, joke over folks as it would appear that Thurles people and their elected representatives have very short memories. As my Grandmother, God bless her, used to say; “Eaten bread is soon forgotten”, meaning that great deeds are often forgotten by beneficiaries, once same have been delivered.

Cast your minds back to the decade prior to 2008 and to a man who left a massive positive imprint on Thurles his adopted town. Yes I refer to the late, great Wilbert Houben, affectionately known to us all here in Thurles as the “The Dutch Man”.

Next let’s ask ourselves who designed and contributed greatly to the building of ‘Pheasant Island’? Ask ourselves who built, without any remuneration, the limestone lined river bank, the fish friendly weir in the River Suir and who was it that introduced the now resident and pleasing duck population into the River Suir. Let’s ask ourselves who was one of the first people to suggest the purchase of land from St Patrick’s College with the aim of providing a Thurles Town Park? Who was it that fought so vocally to encourage our then Town Council to refrain from allowing sewage to flow unabated into the river Suir?

Not surprisingly you will find the answer to all of the above questions was Wilbert Houben.

As a community activist, Wilbert’s contribution to voluntary community groups in Thurles was endless; e.g. Thurles Lions Club, the once successful Thurles Tidy Towns Committee, Thurles Gun Club, the current Cabragh Wet Lands project, the once Thurles John Player Tops entertainment group and St. Mary’s Restoration Committee, just to name but a few.

Wilbert’s endless environmental knowledge, his personality, his generosity were only ever superseded by his gifted pair of hands which could, so perfectly, design and manufacture anything from “a needle to an anchor”, as any local farmer, small business or factory in Tipperary, to this very day can strongly attest.

Thurles poet Mr Gerry Cullen best summed up our feelings back in 2008, in his wonderful poem which he penned following Wilbert’s unexpected and sudden passing.

Tranen Voor Wilbert. (Tears for Wilbert.)
There’s terror on the Wetlands, the mighty guardian’s gone.
The Mink will get the edge again, and nature’s war is on.
The shadows chase the Moor-hen, and Magpies wait and see,
No form along the walkways, no Eco-referee.
Now winter’s at its darkest, and spirits weighted low,
And minds are left in why-land, where answers never go.
But spring will come in ripples with light all fresh and new,
Then clouds above the wildness will rain the tears for you.

Of course there is an alternative name we could call our new town park. Perhaps Sinn Fein would see this proposed name as being in the interests of unemployment, good neighbourliness, foreign direct investment, tourism, symbolic normalisation and even further clarification that the Good Friday Agreement is being put into full effect. Let’s call this park the “Queen Elizabeth 11 Park” and invite Her Majesty to officially do the honours, sure even the elusive President Michael D. Higgins would attend. This would be an immense boost for Tipperary tourism and would highlight to the world the fact that Her Majesty is a native of Thurles.

After all let us not forget that we currently have a fine residential area known as Windsor Grove, so how is that not ‘national symbolic normalisation’ being demonstrated by a forgotten Irish rural town.

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Thurles CBS Annual Awards Night Ceremony

Thurles Christian Brothers School (CBS) held their ‘Annual Awards Night Ceremony’ on Thursday night last, in the school’s splendid James O’Donoghue Sports Hall: and indeed what a year of Academic and Sporting excellence this year (2015) turned out to be.

With Master of Ceremonies for the evening Mr Theo Lloyd and with standing room only available, a wide spectrum of achievements were quickly introduced and recognised by teaching staff and parents at the night’s event, with awards ranging from ‘Full Attendance’, ‘Academic Excellence’, ‘Sport’, ‘Music’, ‘Construction’, ‘Culture’ to individual ‘Artistic Accomplishment’.


Pictured above are Mr Donal Scannell (CEO Thurles Credit Union) Eoin Corbett (CBS Student of the Year 2015) with parents Michael & Eithne, His Grace Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly (Cashel & Emly Diocese) and  Mr Tiernan O’Donnell (Thurles CBS Principal).

The guest speaker for the evening was past pupil, Mr. Aidan Fogarty, who spoke fondly of his own time spent in Thurles CBS, while also outlining, for all pupils and parents in attendance, the importance of hard work and continued real determination. Also in attendance on the night was special guest, His Grace Kieran O’Reilly, (Archbishop of Cashel & Emly Diocese).

In ‘Athletics’, Daniel Ryan and Fred Crowley both picked up awards; while David Ryan was named ‘Basketball Player of the Year’. The Ronaynes Junior Certificate Materials Technology Award’, latter which recognises the best Junior Certificate project, went to Darragh Taylor; while Eric Fanning won the A.I.B. Construction Studies Award’.

James Ryan won the ‘Junior Hurler of the Year’ award while the ‘Senior Hurler of the Year’ award went to Chris McCullough. Niall Heffernan won the ‘Harty Cup Hurler of the Year’ and Keith Ryan picked up the prize for best ‘First Year Hurler’. There were also hurling awards for Darren Flood, Jack Fallon, Jack Taylor, Michael Purcell and Conor Stakelum. Fred Crowley picked up the award for ‘Junior Footballer of the year’. The overall prize for ‘Sportsperson of the Year’ went to Billy McCarthy.

The award for the ‘Best Junior Certificate 2014′ went to Mark Fortune with Peter Carragher taking the award for ‘Best Leaving Certificate 2014′.

The George Willoughby sponsored ‘Cultural Award’  was presented to Diarmaid Meagher, while there were awards in ‘Music’ for Micheal Bourke and Christopher Carew. In ‘Art’, there were awards for David Conway and John Shanahan while other Cultural awards went to Adam O’Dwyer and Eoin Corbett.

The Parent’s Council sponsored ‘Creative Writing Awards’ went to Brian O’Callaghan, Brendan Atkins and Adam O’Dwyer. Daniel Ryan was named as ‘Junior Student of the Year’.

Student of the Year 2015 Award
The highlight and most coveted accolade of the night, as is usual in Thurles CBS, was the award for ‘Student of the Year’, sponsored annually by Thurles Credit Union. Introducing this year’s winner, School Principal Mr Tiernan O’Donnell described the winner as; “He is caring, demonstrates friendly attitudes to fellow students and strives to help others. These attributes are the sign of an outstanding person. He has friendly relationships with his peers and a positive relationship when coming into contact with all staff. Various people in his surroundings characterize this student as being pleasant, caring and an attractive person.

As a school Principal I can emphasize character features which are especially important for studying; his strength of will and diligence. This student always tries hard, works a lot and never gives up.

Aristotle once stated “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit”. This student does not strive for recognition: he focuses on the real and true values and the overall contributions he himself can make.

I therefore believe that Eoin Corbett is worthy of the Thurles Credit Union 2015 sponsored Student of the Year Award.”

Thurles Credit Union’s Mr Michael Harty (Business & Strategy Manager) stated; “This evening, we recognise the achievements and accomplishments of the very talented students on their progression through second level education and ultimately on to third level. I want to congratulate the recipient of the Student of the Year – he is a worthy winner of this award. I would also like to acknowledge the huge efforts of all teaching staff , together with the parents of students at Thurles CBS, who both invest hugely in terms of their time, money and effort. 

This much coveted ‘Student of the Year Award’ was presented by Mr Donal Scannell (CEO Thurles Credit Union).

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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.

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Stabbing Incident At Thurles Pub

corbettA man, understood to be aged in his early 30’s, was rushed to hospital last night, following a stabbing incident at a local pub premises in Cathedral Street, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Gardaí were called to this incident, at a normally quiet area of the town, at around 10:00pm last evening, where a man was located suffering from several stab wounds to his head and neck.

The victim was immediately rushed to Clonmel Hospital, where we understand today his condition is not believed to be life threatening and he remains in a stable condition.

Given the double header of Championship Hurling Matches held at Semple Stadium in the town earlier that day, Thurles Gardaí are hopful that some person or persons, attending same, may have witnessed the full circumstances which lead to this vicious assault.

There were no known witnesses to this knife attack, however Gardaí in Thurles have launched a full investigation and are continuing to examine CCTV footage from around the town, as part of their ongoing investigations.

Persons with any information are being asked to contact Thurles Garda station on Tel: 0504-25100, or the Garda Confidential Line on Tel: 1800-666-111, or indeed any Garda station.

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Ban Ki-moon Accepts Tipperary International Peace Award

Ban-Ki-moonThe Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, accepted the Tipperary International Peace Award at the Ballykisteen Hotel, in Limerick Junction, Co Tipperary, yesterday.

Speaking at the event, Mr Ban Ki-moon stated that the Tipperary peace award pays tribute not only to himself, but also pays tribute to the great work being undertaken now and in the past by the United Nations.

In his acceptance speech he also stated that he would be happy to give an award to Ireland for its global citizenship, its commitment to human rights and its role in peace keeping and development.

This event was the first of the UN chief’s engagements here in Ireland over the next two days. He will deliver a keynote address in Dublin tonight touching in particular on Ireland’s role in International peacekeeping and the migrant and refugee crisis currently being experienced in Syria and the Mediterranean.

Mr Martin Quinn, latter honorary secretary of the Tipperary International Peace Award, stated that Mr Ban Ki-moon was being honoured for his work on climate change, a new development agenda and his led response to conflicts and natural disasters.

In addressing the UN Secretary General Mr Quinn stated; “At a moment of division, you have sought to be a bridge-builder; in a period of economic upheaval, you have strived to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people and in a world of deepening interconnectedness, you have pursued wide-ranging efforts to adapt the United Nations to face a new generation of challenges and threats.”

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