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Thurles – Looking Back

In 1845 this building, hereunder shown, situated on the left hand side of Mitchel Street, (then known as Quarry Street) Thurles, Co. Tipperary, [as you travel eastward closer to theMoyne Road area] was the then Thurles local Dispensary.
Same is easily identified by its flat arch doorway, with its rare, detailed, ornamental relief surround; all be it in miniature form, reminiscent of what surrounds the bronze gates of Saint Isaac’s Orthodox Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

In more recent years, residents will remember it was part of Ryan’s galvanized roof public house. Today is stands, like so many other buildings within the town of Thurles, vacant, boarded-up and decaying, long before the COVID-19 epidemic.

As you face the building today, note the premises on the left side of this Dispensary (formerly Ryan’s Pub) was John Mullany’s corn store in 1845, latter who also sold candles and soap, etc..

Continuing left and westward, the building next door, today currently occupied by Thurles Municipal District / Co. Councillor Mr Jim Ryan, was then the home of Denis Mullany.

On the right, again while facing the Dispensary building; previously in 1845, existed a right-of-way / lane-way, which has long since been built across. Next travelling east of this former lane was the home of James Kerwick, who was neighboured by John Carroll, latter a shoemaker.

In 1845 and right through the Great Famine years, in this dispensary the poor and dying came, seeking medicine and medical treatment, which was offered free of charge.

The treatments being offered here in 1847 is today a matter of public record, which saw patients being sent from here to the Thurles Fever Hospital, latter then run by Dr. George Bradshaw Esq M.D.. [Latter was the father of Dr. William Bradshaw V.C.]

Who was the doctor in the Thurles local Dispensary in Quarry Street, I hear you ask?


I suspect some of you may have already guessed. Yes, it was Dr. Robert Charles Knaggs, the same man who identified the project known as the “Double Ditch” which in turn gave employment to a large number of men 175 years ago, in 1846, putting bread into the mouths of starving Thurles families.

If you believe that Ireland in 2021 has too few ‘Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds; read about our towns problems in March of 1847, transcribed from a meeting attended by the same Dr. Robert Charles Knaggs, who described conditions at the Thurles fever hospital; quote “Destitution and sickness are on the increase. The Fever Hospital is full. In the female ward there are two patients in every bed. The funds are nearly exhausted and it is with the deepest regret that we have to announce that the Hospital must be closed on the 13th April (1847) from want of funds.”

Then in 1845, as indeed now in 2021, little has changed; we the electorate, are still unable to get support from our elected politicians.

Perhaps now Thurles elected Co. Councillor Mr Jim Ryan, with his known established associations with this same building, together with all the other local lazy councillors and self-promoting politicians, might decide to answer the question, “Will the planned Thurles inner relief road impinge, in a negative way, on the 1846 Thurles “Double Ditch”, which has been a right of way and a Mass Path for 175 years and which is the property of the people of Thurles and a national monument?

By the way, when you our elected councillors and politicians; of all political groupings, assume a particular position for photographers; (anxious that latter photographic captured material be used to build your delusionary public profiles), while you lay wreaths at 1916 commemorative events; realise it was the Great Famine (1845-1849), which truly engendered the 1916 rising, undertaken by unselfish individuals “the latchet of whose shoes you are not worthy to unloose,” [Apologies to St. Luke Ch.3: V.16.], and who eventually, at their great personal expense, brought about the freedom we all enjoy today; free from our colonial enslaving neighbours.

We promise you more startling news on the ‘Double Ditch’, coming very soon.

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2 comments to Thurles – Looking Back

  • Catherine Fogarty

    Well said George.Thanks for all your work on this. Extraordinary that our public representatives are not in full support of your work to save, enhance and benefit from the Double Ditch. We should know of and respect this Famine era Relief Development. The council should also engage to retify their proposed Inner Relief Road route. The council do not have all the land, nor the funding to proceed with a bridge at Clongour and the road construction. Right now they should amend the proposed route, work to enhance the walk between the Mill Road and Kickham St and secure National Monument Status for the Double Ditch.

  • Michael

    I LOVE LOOKING BACK GEORGE. I LOVE THE ‘Double Ditch’.

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