Seasonal Greetings From Thurles In Co Tipperary

A Christmas Card For You

At this season of Christmas, Thurles.Info would like to wish our growing readership, both at home and abroad, a very healthy, happy, prosperous and holy Christmas.

At this time each year the crib always reminds me of the actions of my now long deceased grandmother. Each year she would visit the local crib and having placed a six penny piece in the poor box, she would remove a piece of straw from the crib and place it in her purse, where it would remain until the following Christmas.   This action she assured me would guarantee that regardless of prevailing economic conditions, God would supply all her needs. Strangely, I must admit that despite living in lowly impoverished circumstances all of her life, for her it always appeared to work.

Cathedral of The Assumption – (In Irish-Ard Eaglais na Deastógála.)

Our brief slide show features the interior of the very beautiful Italianate Romanesque, Thurles Cathedral of The Assumption, latter which stands on a site with ecclesiastical associations going back to the beginning of the 14th century, when a Carmelite Priory was then first established in Thurles.

Around 1730 a humble thatched chapel (Thatched- a roof covered in dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, or rushes, so as to shed water away from the inner roof) was erected in the vicinity of this former priory, courtesy of the then ruling local Mathew family. For the next eighty years this simple structure alone would serve the needs of an impoverished Thurles Catholic peasant community.

During the years 1804 -1807, Archbishop Thomas Bray replaced this thatched chapel with a more impressive building costing over £10,000.00, and which became known locally as “The Big Chapel.”  This new building would serve as the mother church to the archdiocese of Cashel & Emly until Dr Patrick Leahy, Archbishop of the diocese made a decision to renovate and upgrade the building to almost a wholly new edifice.

This new building today known as the Cathedral of The Assumption is an imposing combination of local limestone, latter quarried at Leugh, Turtulla and the Green, Holycross here in Co Tipperary, with Cork and Galway marble, Aberdeen granite and Portland stone also incorporated. Pope Pius IX also donated some ancient marble to the building.  The magnificent tabernacle was designed by Giacomo Della Porta (1537-1603), latter a pupil of Michelangelo and was purchased from the Gesu church in Rome. A matching altar was erected to accommodate the tabernacle.  A statue of Archbishop Leahy was later appropriately erected in the Cathedral’s front yard area, in 1911.

Thurles Cathedral has many other notable features which immediately capture the attention and admiration of both regular worshipper and curious visiting tourist. The partially detached baptistery, built in the Byzantine style, resembles that of Pisa. The campanile (bell tower,) standing at 120 feet high and 25 feet square, can be observed  from all areas leading into Thurles, majestically guarding  the surrounding hinterland. The Rose Window, designed and erected by Messrs Mayer & Co, of Munich, remains the outstanding stained glass feature in this beautiful cathedral. Two ornate and matching side altars with statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady, the work of noted Italian neoclassical sculptor, Giovanni Maria Benzoni, are also much admired. In the sanctuary ceiling there is a beautiful painting of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven.

Eight tower bells, three Roman arched doorways, an organ dating back to 1826, holy water fonts; latter fonts saved from the aforementioned Big Chapel, together with numerous impressive outdoor statues are all noteworthy feature of this cherished building.


8 comments to Seasonal Greetings From Thurles In Co Tipperary

  • Eileen Leen

    Thanks for a lovely memory George. My years in America at Christmas time was complete when the brown envelope arrived with the bit of straw from the Thurles Crib sent to me yearly by Nora O Connor MRS DARE. You know I still hold onto the last envelope containing the Straw. I use some every Christmas and share a lovely memory of the Straw and my Cousin Nora. It’s my little bit of Thurles in my American Home. Eileen Leen USA. Thanks George

  • George Willoughby

    Hi Eileen,
    “A very happy & healthy Christmas wish to you & yours.” You are possibly aware that, according to my grandmother, you must carry the straw in your purse. In that way our creator will be aware of each persons personal daily financial dealings. If left in the envelope your money transactions can not be easily monitored by him.
    (I have one worry – With the current state of the Irish economy, the baby Jesus could be left lying on the bare floor by Christmas day, if enough people read this article.)
    Merry Christmas.

  • Michael

    A Lovely clip, thanks.

  • Eileen Leen

    Merry Christmas everybody, Michael Gleeson born in Innisfallen Ave, now Wicklow, takes out a subscription to Ireland’s Own for us it gets read from cover to cover and shared,t he Christmas Annual has a great memory of Peter Gleeson’s Dad, Joe Gleeson Thurles Mailman at Christmas time it would make you laugh and cry. We go back a long time so memories mean a lot to us now with family gone so it’s lovely to remember the simple life and very happy times. Michael also sends us THE IRISH BREAKFAST. We make it last forever it’s a great memory of Home in Thurles, the smell alone would bring you to your knees. Plots of Irish Immigrants go crazy for it, as you can only guess as you walk to Mass on Christmas Morning and look into the Crib a lot of us immigrants are walking and standing behind you, Merry Christmas To everybody, from the Sunny Carolina’s,USA.

  • George Willoughby

    Eileen, heavy hail showers are falling and it is bitterly cold as I write this comment. Wish you could box & send some of your Sunny Carolina over here. Merry Christmas.

  • Eileen Leen

    Georgie would trade my 69 degrees at 9am, for just an hour where you are, but that’s life isn’t it! Thank you for Katie’s email address and a very Merry Christmas to You Yours and Thurles People in General. Eileen L

  • Katie.

    George. A very Merry Christmas and New Year to you and all your readers. We are having very hot weather here on the coast. Gathering the clan for a Christmas BBQ and swimming. Its 32Deg. for the last week and going to continue right through the holidays. George I am not so sure about this question someone asked me yesterday. Its suppose to be an old Irish tradition. If a member of one’s family dies through the year, one does not send Christmas cards that year. Its new to me. What do you think.

  • Eileen, a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you and yours. Yes as a general rule people do not send Christmas cards as a mark of respect to the deceased. But these days less & less people are sending cards each year anyway.

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