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Visit To Thurles Co. Tipperary By Asenath Nicholson. [Part 1]

“Let the passer-by inscribe my epitaph upon this stone, ‘FANATIC’, what then?
It shall only be a memento that one, in a foreign land, lived and pitied Ireland and did what she could to seek out its condition.”

Introducing Mrs Asenath Hatch-Nicholson.

Mrs Asenath [pronounced A-se-nath] Hatch-Nicholson walked through Thurles, Co. Tipperary and indeed the greater Irish countryside, between the years 1844 and 1848, singing hymns, reading the Bible; while distributing Bibles and religious printed tracts, to the few who could read.

She was 52 years old, at the time of her arrival in Ireland, before commencing to walk the highways and byways of nearly every county in Ireland.

She took to the Irish roads wearing Indian rubber boots; a polka coat; underneath which she carried two filled bags of Bibles; same attached to her waist by a stout cord. The Bibles had been supplied by the Hibernian Bible Society, (founded in Dublin, Ireland in 1806; their aim to encourage a wider circulation of the Bible in Ireland). `

She is also recorded as wearing a large bonnet; a black bearskin muff; silver rimmed spectacles and carried an umbrella.
A number of doctors had generously offered to remove a large wart from her face, of which she recorded, with some indignation, that same was possibly the reason that people were inclined to stare at her.

The poet W.B. Yeats would later refer to her, stating, “one of its missionaries who travelled Ireland has written her life, has described meeting in peasant cottages where everybody engaged in religious discussion, has said that she was everywhere opposed and slandered by the powerful and wealthy, because she was on the side of the poor”.

Asenath Hatch Nicholson (1792 – 1855).
Above drawing attributed to Anna Maria Howitt.

In a rare book, [edited with an introduction by Alfred Tresidder Sheppard, (London 1871-1947)], entitled “The Bible in Ireland” (Ireland’s welcome to the stranger or excursions through Ireland in 1844 and 1845 for the purpose of personally investigating the conditions of the poor), written by Asenath Nicholson; we learn of her visit to Thurles, Co. Tipperary and other nearby villages, including Gortnahoe, Urlingford and Holycross.

Born the daughter of Michael and Martha Hatch in Chelsea, latter a village in the White River Valley of eastern Vermont, New England, United States; Asenath Hatch (February 24th, 1792 – May 15, 1855), grew up to became a teacher, a reforming journalist, a social observer and philanthropist, and a committed practising vegan.

Regarding the latter, her family had become interested in a diet recommended by Rev. Sylvester Graham, latter an American Presbyterian Minister and a dietary reformer, known for his emphasis on vegetarianism.
At the age of 39, Asenath married her husband Norman Nicholson (Merchant c.1790–1841); latter a widower (c.1790–1841), with three children, in 1831, before moving with him, to live in New York.
In the 1840s she ran boarding houses at No.118 Williams Street, New York and at No. 21 Beekman Street, Saratoga Springs, New York and at Wall Street, which offered a strict vegetarian menu and she would go on to publish what is regarded as the first Sylvester Graham Recipes, entitled “NATURE’S OWN BOOK: VEGETABLE DIET. FACTS AND EXPERIMENTS OF MANY YEARS PRACTISE.”
Asenath Nicholson’s diet advocated that; “good bread, pure water, ripe fruit and vegetables are my meat and drink exclusively.” Her published book did use some recipes containing dairy products, but for the most part advocated against their use.

Her family belonged to the Protestant Congregational Church (Protestant churches in the Calvinist tradition), where she was Christened with the name Asenath‘, latter the biblical name of an Egyptian , [daughter of Poti-pherah, priest of the ancient Egyptian Town of On], whom the Pharaoh gave to Joseph son of Jacob, to be his wife; as a gift for his interpreting of the Pharaoh’s dream, [ See Genesis 41:45, 50 and Genesis 46:20. ], and after naming him ‘Zaphenath-Paneah’ possibly Egyptian meaning, “the revealer of secrets”.

Asenath’s Arrival In Ireland

It was in the cold attics and underground cellars, portrayed in the 2002 American epic historical drama film, “Gangs of New York“, (Five Points, area of Manhattan), that Asenath Nicholson first became acquainted with the extreme poverty of the Irish peasantry, and it was there that she identified that they were indeed a suffering people.

Following her husband’s possible separation and eventual death; in May 1844, Asenath left New York for Ireland, aboard the passenger packet vessel ‘Brooklyn to begin for the next 15 months, her journey around the country, visiting almost every county. During her travels she rebuked people regarding their hygiene habits and their use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, tea and coffee, which she argued was capable of giving its users “delirium tremens“, latter a severe mental or nervous system change.

Her parents in America had instilled in Asenath, from an early age, that idleness was both a sin and disgraceful. As she travelled, she noted that many people lacked employment, and relied almost entirely on their crop of ‘Lumper’ variety potatoes, to avoid starvation. In relation to employment Asenath Nicholson saw employment conditions in Ireland different to the then insensitive Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan*, (latter head of the British civil service), who regarded the Irish people as being lazy.

* In a letter to an Irish peer, the same Sir Charles Trevelyan wrote; “the judgement of God sent the calamity (i.e. the Great Famine), to teach the Irish a lesson”.

Asenath Nicholson identified and denounced many of the existing Protestant Irish landlords, for failing to grant employment to their tenants; then necessary in an effort to stave off hunger and extreme poverty being experienced by the latter. She declared that her own did not have a place for her and were it only that the Catholics took her in, she would have been without shelter.
As a teacher, she visited Protestanted schools to learn that they are not being thought to read maps, since the children are conceived as being from the “lower orders”. Asking the same question, when visiting a Presentation Sisters Roman Catholic school, she learned that, though they are children of the poor, they are taught everything, as the nuns “do not know what God will expect of their assembled pupils”.

Regarding the Potato; she noted that on visiting the village of Roundstone in Co. Galway, a man described the potatoes to her as being; “The greatest curse that ever was sent on Ireland; and I never sit down, see, use, or eat one, but I wish every divil of ’em was out of the island. The blackguard of a Raleigh, (Refers to Sir Walter Raleigh 1552 – 1618), who brought ’em here, entailed a curse upon the labourer that has broke his heart. Because the landholder sees we can live and work hard on ’em, he grinds us down in our wages, and then despises us because we are ignorant and ragged.”
Asenath would record, “This is a pithy truth, one which I had never seen in so vivid a light as now”.

Asenath noted seeing a woman with her daughters carding and knitting, which gave rise to her following comment; “This was an unusual sight for seldom had I seen, in Ireland, a whole family employed among the peasantry. Ages of poverty have taken everything out of their hands, but preparing and eating the potato, and then sit listlessly on a stool, to lie in their straw or saunter upon the street, because no one hires them”.
She became loud in praise of the few resident landlords, who provided employment for their tenants and derided those who had abandoned the poverty stricken.

With her strong interest in the need for employment, there is little doubt that Asenath Hatch Nicholson would have left the Thurles area, before first visiting the work sites established by the Thurles/Rahealty Famine food committee, including the Great Famine Double Ditch; same sadly, recently, deliberately and knowingly, destroyed by Tipperary County Council, aided and abetted by self-serving local councillors, Thurles Municipal District officials and the town’s two resident politicians, namely J. Cahill & M. Lowry.

Asenath became enraged that grain was being diverted from food into alcohol. She was furious that grain was being used for distilling, which could feed the Irish pauper. It has often been charged that the government had allowed food to be exported while the inhabitants, remaining in Ireland, were left to starve. Nicholson looked at this issue of diverted food sources from another angle; charging that grain used for distilling alcohol could have fed the Irish poor. In 1847, with grain prices high, the consumption of legal spirits fell only about 25%, from approximately 8,000,000 gallons to about 6,000,000 gallons, and it took 30,000 tons of grain to distil 6,000,000 gallons of eighty proof spirits, which could have provided more than 300,000,000 servings of grain-based cereal.
Irish Catholic priest and teetotalist reformer, Rev. Fr. Theobald Mathew, latter born in Thomastown, near Golden, County Tipperary, had earlier complained to the aforenamed Sir Charles Trevelyan, and also to judges in Thurles District Court, latter whom issued liquor licences, that “Pestiferous Erections” (make-shift public houses) were being erected at some relief work sites, including in the area of Upperchurch, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. [Same would account for the large number of pubs that once existed between Thurles and Kilcommon, Co. Tipperary].
In at least one case, a publican who was a member of a local relief committee, had recommended men get work, only on condition that they spent part of their wages on alcohol.

It was the same Tipperary born Fr. Theobald Mathew who accompanied Asenath Nicholson to the golden jubilee of Mother Clare Callaghan, at the South Presentation Convent, Cork.
[As our readers will remember, Father Theobald Mathew, was related to Mother Nano Nangle, latter the foundress of the Presentation order.]

As soon as Asenath Nicholson arrived in Dublin on 7th December 1846, she wrote to the readers of the New York Tribune, [founded and published by Horace Greeley (1811-1872)]  and another American Congregationalist minister; abolitionist, emancipator and former lawyer, Rev. Joshua Leavitt (1794-1873), in which she described conditions in Dublin city, and asking for assistance for the Irish poor.
Asenath did not have the means to finance relief efforts herself and despaired that she had to witness a famine, without the necessary means to relieve the hungry.
A letter duly arrived from Horace Greeley with money from his newspaper’s readers, which she regarded as something of a sign indicating divine intervention. Other friends also sent food, clothing and money to be distributed by her or to be sent by her to other trusted friends for similar distribution.

During July 1847 New Yorkers sent Asenath Nicholson five barrels of Indian corn aboard the United States frigate “Macedonia”. Using the funding she had acquired, she walked through areas of Dublin each morning, often distributing slices of bread from a large basket. She went on to open her own soup kitchen in The Liberties, in Dublin; an area she had selected because of its recognised extreme poverty.

Note: As early as 1789, the Republic of Vermont, the town where Asenath was born, had forbade the sale of slaves. Not herself being of the Quaker faith; it was not surprising that she befriended Quakers, who opposed slavery. In the autumn of 1848, like so many others, believing the Great Famine was over, Asenath Nicholson left Dublin for London. She was seen off to the boat, probably by her great friend the abolitionist Quaker and printer Richard Davis Webb one of the founder members of the Hibernian Antislavery Association.
Webb, a friend of the Young Irelander member Thomas Davis and sympathetic to Irish nationalism; was one of the few Irish delegates who attended at the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention in London, which also included Daniel O’Connell, (The Liberator).

Over the coming days – “Visit To Thurles Co. Tipperary By Asenath Nicholson. [Part 2],” which will convey Asenath Nicholson’s own remarks on her visit to the Thurles area.


Death Of Elizabeth Johnston, Formerly Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death yesterday, Thursday 26th January 2023, of Mrs Elizabeth Johnston, Kilmacud, Co. Dublin and formerly of Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Pre-deceased by her husband Charles; Mrs Johnston passed away peacefully, while in the care of staff at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin 4.

Her passing is most deeply regretted and sadly missed by her three children Garrett, Colm and Cormac.

Requiescat in Pace.

Funeral Arrangements.

The earthly remains of Mrs Johnston will repose at Fanagan’s Funeral Home, No.5-6 Lower Main Street, Dundrum, Dublin 14 on Sunday afternoon, January 29th, from 3:00pm to 5:00pm.
Her remains will be received into the Church of St. Laurence O’Toole, Lower Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, on Monday morning, to arrive for Requiem Mass at 11:30am, followed by cremation at Mount Jerome Crematorium, 158 Harold’s Cross Rd, Harold’s Cross, Dublin.

For those of you who are unable to attend the funeral service for Mrs Johnston, same can be viewed, streamed live online HERE.

The extended Johnston family wish to express their appreciation for your understanding at this difficult time and have made arrangements for those persons wishing to send messages of condolence, to use the link shown HERE.

Suaimhneas síoraí dá h-anam dílis.


EPA Awards €10.7 Million For Research To Support Environmental Protection In Ireland.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today announced €10.7 million of research funding for 42 research projects addressing climate change and other emerging, complex environmental problems. This funding will contribute to the delivery of high-quality research, evidence-based policy development and further build Irish environmental research capacity.
The funding is an important element of the EPA 2030 Research Strategy which delivers essential scientific support for environmental policy development, implementation and broader decision making across four thematic areas:-

  • Addressing climate change evidence needs,
  • Facilitating a green and circular economy,
  • Delivering a healthy environment,
  • Protecting and restoring our natural environment.

This funding will support more than 200 researchers across the higher education sector.
University of Galway had the highest success rate and was awarded more than €2.3 million of funding for projects related to greenhouse gas emissions, ozone levels, radon, human bio-monitoring and earth observation. University College Dublin followed with €1.9 million of funding in the areas of Strategic Environmental Assessment, extreme climatic events, peatlands, DNA-based assessment, and soil quality.

Announcing the awards, Ms Laura Burke, EPA Director General said: “EPA-funded research delivers trusted scientific evidence to address key knowledge gaps and support environmental policy development and implementation. Environmental challenges such as climate change are complex and require an integrated, cross-sectoral approach and we are delighted to be working in partnership with a number of organisations, including the Geological Survey Ireland; the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Met Éireann, to co-fund environmental research.”

The EPA places a high priority on promoting the uptake of funded research to inform policy development and implementation and to maximise the impact of research and innovation. To this end, the EPA supports and fosters linkages between the public research system and policymakers to address key environmental challenges.

Professor Jim Livesey, Vice-President Research and Innovation at University of Galway, said: “This investment by the EPA is a testament to the success of research across higher education in Ireland. It is a huge bonus to see such a high level of achievement for our researchers in University of Galway, where we lead eight of the EPA-backed projects and partner on another four. The focus of this funding on environmental research further demonstrates the drive among our researchers to collaborate for the public good and the ambition to respond to the challenges facing humanity and society, now and in the years ahead.”

The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. The EPA has been funding research in Ireland since 1994 and is currently funding more than 200 on-going research projects. EPA Research Calls are designed to support the development and implementation of environmental policies in Ireland. The EPA’s 2023 Research Call will open in April 2023. Details will be made available on the EPA website.
Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office Tel. No. 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie


Death Of Rev. Fr. John Egan, Formerly Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death on Wednesday last, 25th January 2023, of Rev. Fr. John Egan, Lattin, Co. Tipperary and formerly of Lisheen Moyne, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Pre-deceased by his parents Daniel and Alice, sisters Lena (O’Connor), Nano (Quinlan), brother-in-law Dermot and sister-in-law Mary; Fr. Egan passed away peacefully at the Bons Secours University Hospital, College Road, Cork.

His passing is most deeply regretted by his loving brothers Tom and Pat, sisters Mary (Earley), Anna (Bulfin), Margaret (O’Brien) and Bridget (Wall), brothers-in-law Michael, Liam, Pat and Michael, sister-in-law Peggy, nephews, nieces, grandnephews, grandnieces, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, fellow priests of the diocese, parishioners, neighbours and friends.

Requiescat in Pace.

Funeral Arrangements.

The earthly remains of Fr. Egan will repose in St. Patrick’s Church, Moneamore, Cullen, Co.Tipperary on tomorrow afternoon, Saturday January 28th 2023, from 3:00pm until 6:00pm sharp.
His remains will be received into the Church of the Assumption, Ballynadruckilly, Lattin, Co. Tipperary on Sunday afternoon, January 29th, at 2:00pm, to further repose for Requiem Mass, followed by interment immediately afterwards in the nearby Church graveyard.

The extended Egan family wish to express their appreciation for your understanding at this difficult time and have made arrangements for those persons wishing to send messages of condolence, to use the link shown HERE.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.


Appeal, By Tipperary Drug Dealer Importing Cannabis In Nappies, Rejected.

The Court of Appeal have rejected the re-examination of a case by 39 year old Tipperary resident, Mr Damien Cahill, latter with an address, at Railway Close, Kilsheelan, Co. Tipperary.
Mr Cahill was appealing against a prison sentence doled out for his part in what was described as a sophisticated drug dealing operation in which cannabis was imported into Ireland, disguised as packets of nappies.

In delivering judgement today, Justice Mr Patrick McCarthy said that the court had found no error in the original sentence handed out, which was three years in prison, with the final 18 months suspended and in so dismissing the appeal, declared that the Court did not find any error in the original sentence.

Mr Cahill had been convicted at Clonmel Courthouse, South Tipperary on July 13th, 2021, of having cannabis for sale or supply, at Slievenamon Road, Ivowen, Kilsheelan, Co. Tipperary, on September 22nd, 2017.

Cannabis Offence Committed In Order To Discharge Drug Debt.

The appellant had informed Gardaí that he had previously been involved in supplying Cocaine, and he had committed the Cannabis offence only in order to discharge an existing drug debt.

Customs officers had located the drugs hidden in baby nappies and Gardaí subsequently had obtained a search warrant for the address to which the goods were to be delivered.
The appellant had made admissions, during the Garda search, that he was expecting the drugs and had been involved in the sale of cocaine in the past. The appellant was required to hand the drugs over to an unnamed male in order to clear a drug debt of up to €6,000.