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101st Anniversary Commemoration Of Seán Treacy.

An Taoiseach Mr Micheál Martin, has remembered the life of Seán Treacy, latter one of the leaders of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, during the Irish War of Independence; describing the Tipperary man as one of the great patriots of our revolution.

Mr Martin was speaking at the 101st Anniversary Commemoration of his death at his grave in Kilfeacle, Co. Tipperary.

Speech by An Taoiseach, Mr Micheál Martin TD, on the occasion of the 101st Anniversary Commemoration of the death of Seán Treacy, on Sunday 17th October 2021

“It is a great honour to stand with you in this place today, to remember the life of Seán Treacy, one of the great patriots of our revolution.

When the 3rd Tipperary Brigade Old IRA Commemoration Committee was formed 100 years ago those they sought to remember had only just left us. Their voices still resonated in the houses and hillsides of Tipperary – a tremendous source of pride and also of sadness about young lives cut short.
Their friends, families and colleagues were determined that they would not be forgotten – that generations to come would learn of their names, their sacrifices and their dramatic achievements.
They faced-down the military of the greatest empire the modern world would ever see – and they did this in the cause of inclusive republicanism.
The roll of honour of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade includes people from throughout this area and reflects the determination of the people of Tipp to take a lead.

Picture shows aftermath of the shooting of Seán Treacy and Lieutenant Arthur Gilbert Price on Talbot Street in Dublin, on 14 October, 1920.

Seán Treacy, who regularly deferred to others when appointments were being made, would be embarrassed to know that his name stands above those of his comrades. But this is inevitable because of how many roles he filled not just in 1919-1920, but in the organisations leading the national revival in the following years.
In a short 25 years he lived many lives – and it is no exaggeration to say that he reflected each of the elements which came together in the success of our revolution. The revolutionary generation was one inspired by language and culture – and dedicated to using education to achieve renewal.

Less than a lifetime after the national catastrophe and humiliation of the Famine, a new vision was being formed of a country with strong communities, a strong national culture and a belief in an Ireland which took its place amongst the nations of the world.

Treacy had the great fortune to be taught here in Tipperary by an exceptional personality, Cormac Breathnach – who was also known as Charlie Walsh. Into his class came Seán Treacy, Dinny Lacey, Dan Breen and Seán Hogan – leaving an indelible mark on them and in the future of our country.

Breathnach later became president of Conradh na Gaeilge, President of the INTO, Chairman of the Fianna Fáil Árd Comháirle, a TD and then Lord Mayor of Dublin. But even after holding all of these important roles, he always said that his proudest achievement was teaching these young men in Tipperary.

Treacy became an activist in Conradh na Gaeilge, joined the Volunteers and, at only 16, joined the IRB.
Everyone who met him saw him as a man of determination and action. It was only a coincidence that the action in Soloheadbeg took place on the same day as the first meeting of Dáil Éireann – but it was remarkably symbolic.

Alone of the many revolutions which Europe saw in those years, the Irish one not just military, it was also democratic, administrative and legal. Popular legitimacy was sought and repeatedly retained.
Fundamentally it was not a revolution about just repeating the methods of the past, it was about creating new realities and new possibilities for the Irish people.

In 1919 and 1920, the deeds of Seán Treacy inspired people throughout our island and abroad. The audacity of the rescue of Seán Hogan at Knocklong. The exploits of the Brigade’s flying column. The attempted ambush of Lord French and the escape from Fernside in Dublin, these and many more incidents made Seán Treacy and Co. Tipperary famous throughout the world, as symbols of a rising nation.

His tragic death in Talbot Street on 14th October 1920 cost us one of our finest, leaving us to wonder how much more he would have achieved had he lived.
Perhaps the most striking thing is that even while he was under almost inhuman pressure as the Crown Forces hunted him through Dublin, his focus was still on the future.

May Quigley
May Quigley was so saddened by the death of Sean Treacy that she left Ireland to start a new life in Australia.

Seán Treacy was due to marry May Quigley only days (11 days) after his shooting. We can only imagine how she felt, as their plans for building a life together in a new Ireland were shattered irrevocably. In his short 25 years on this earth Seán Treacy was a restless and determined figure. Improving himself, participating in a great cultural revival and then dedicating his life to his community and his country.

There is something wonderful and poignant about the commemoration which is held on Talbot Street every time Tipperary gets to the All-Ireland Final. On a festive day for the whole community, time is made to honour Treacy and what he represents. A community passionate about its sporting heroes of today, stops to remember its greatest hero of the past.

A modern community, at the forefront of many new technologies as well as innovative traditional industries, having the self-confidence required to pay respects to the giants on whose shoulders we all stand. I have always believed that it is up to each person to find their own connection with and understanding of our revolution. We owe it to them to those who sacrificed so much for us to understand their times and to continually renew the traditions which they personified. They both represented major international intellectual and cultural movements – and established our own distinct identity. They were not little-islanders as some have tried to say.

The state which we live in today is one of the oldest continuously democratic countries in the world. The national movement which Seán Treacy and the people of Tipperary played a leading role, was deeply international – and it was republican to its very core. The founding document of our revolution, the Proclamation of 1916, inspired so many because of the vision it presented of a diverse and inclusive nation. Ours was the only European revolution of that time which demanded that women play a full part in the political nation – and the only revolution which said that different traditions all form part of Irish identity.

Tipperary’s own Thomas MacDonagh was, just like so many others, inspired by the language movement – but his greatest work of literary criticism, one which is still taught in our universities today, insists on the unique Irish voice of literature written by Irish people in English.

The message of our revolution was of a people who wanted to work with other nations in a spirit of friendship. That is why in 1937, at a dark moment in world history the Irish people, led by the most senior survivor of the Rising, adopted in a free referendum a constitution which honoured international law and rejected the growth of extreme ideologies of the right and left.

If we want to know why Ireland is one of a handful of European countries to have avoided these violent extremes, all you have to do is look at our great revolutionary generation. With legitimacy from the communities they never lost touch with, and a commitment to a generous republicanism, they gave us a priceless inheritance. And of course, the final action of our great revolutionary generation was to set on the course for membership of what is now the European Union.

Like Treacy, Seán Lemass was only a teenager when he began to risk his all for his country – and as he headed towards retirement, he devoted his great energy to the cause of reconciliation on this island and securing our place as part of a powerful community of nations. And it is because we are positive Europeans that Europe has stood so steadfastly at our side as we all try to manage the impact of Brexit.

What we’ve seen in recent months and years is a remarkable willingness to engage with and respond to the views of the Irish people on all parts of our island. In 1998 we saw the triumph of a democratic republican vision of working for lasting reconciliation and peace on our island. For the first time in our history we created a shared vision of how to work together and how to deal with problems. From the very first moment the European Union has been a fully committed partner for peace. The Union has supported peace financially and it has shown a unique flexibility at every moment in terms of trying to protect and promote the Good Friday Agreement. Indeed, if you look at the text of the Agreement, you will find Europe mentioned repeatedly in terms of both North/South engagement and the operation of Northern Institutions.

Europe is in the DNA of the Agreement – a binding treaty which was ratified by two referendums and two sovereign parliaments. But equally, we have all accepted the reality of the decision of Brexit referendum, even though it was rejected by the people of Northern Ireland. This week the European Commission responded to the concerns of people in Northern Ireland in a comprehensive and ambitious way.
The package they have proposed manifestly provides the basis for concluding negotiations and getting back to the work of co-operation and development. The Irish people and the Irish government have demonstrated good faith at every stage. The European Commission has gone to exceptional lengths to demonstrate its good faith in responding to issues which were not of its making. If everyone demonstrates this good faith, then we can deal with this quickly and move on.

The people of this island have shown remarkable resilience and growth over the last century.
We have achieved incredible things, while always demanding of ourselves that we must do better. We have been able to do this because of a generation of men and women who committed themselves to renewal and a republican commitment to building a state which seeks to serve its people and build partnerships with others. Twenty five years were not enough to show us everything which Seán Treacy could achieve for the people he was so passionate about – but they were enough to mark him as a great Irishman and a great republican.
Some 101 years after he was shot down on a Dublin Street it is right that we continue to come to this place to honour him. To honour his comrades and to honour everything which they achieved for the Irish people”.

Speech Ends

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Liberty Square Thurles – Recollections Of A Violinist -1914

Violinist & Author M. W. Quirke, Bristol, England.

The year was 1914; the visiting English tourist to Thurles was Mr M. W. Quirke. Details of his experience as a tourist here in Thurles is contained in a book entitled “Recollections Of A Violinist”, with same dedicated to his seven sons, Conal, Dathy, Brian, Frank, Terence, Raymond and Septimus.

Those responsible for marketing our ‘Tourism Product’, take note.

With the chat locally nowadays mostly about the supposed 9 – 12 million upgrade to Liberty Square in Thurles, this unabridged passage from Mr Quirke’s published travel book reads as follows:-

Thurles

“I continue walking along the dusty road, and after a long weary plodding, I come to two rows of houses facing each other. On the whitewash walls of each facing me is an advertisement running thus:-

Mary Doolin
Entertainment for man and beast,
To be drunk on the premises.

and a curious drawing of two pipes crossed. I have now arrived at Thurles and on entering one of those houses I asked if I can have lunch.

I am received with a look of curiosity mixed with surprise and asked if I didn’t know it was Friday, as of course there is no meat in the house.
I thank the good woman and enquire if there’s anywhere else I might find accommodation and start for a place indicated, but history repeats itself, only this time I am informed that “Friday is the day the Lord died, there would be no use at all, at all cooking mate, as no dacent-minded Catholic would ate it”.

After this second defeat, which, by the way, did not appease my hunger in the least, I proceed through the city in quest of an hotel, and arrive at a kind of square in the centre of which stands a large haystack.
This looks strangely incongruous with shops around it. But, welcome sight, an Inn occupies a corner and not far off is a Cathedral with beautiful stained windows. Albeit a somewhat small building to be so termed, it contains paintings and a sculpture of a high order.

I now direct my steps to the hotel, which I find is Mr Michael Ryan’s Inn. This establishment is reached by mounting three stone steps, but as the second one has, for some reason been removed, or fallen out, I find it necessary to jump from the bottom step to the top, holding on to the half-door meanwhile.

I am soon in a small space, presumably the bar, behind which stands a young woman, to whom I address myself and ask if I can have lunch.
With a look of surprise she says “Why sir today is Friday”. I acknowledge I have been reminded of that fact several times before. She continues, “I don’t think we have anything in the house, but will you please ask Mr Ryan”, pointing to the yard where I can see but one man who looks like an ostler [Latter a man employed to look after the horses of people staying at an Inn], with a sponge in one hand and a bucket in the other.

Approaching, I enquire if he is Mr Ryan, and ask if I can have some food, as I have a long journey before me, being on my way to Dublin. He scratches his head and says, “You see, Sir no respectable Catholic would be seen doing business with a butcher on the day the Lord died, but I don’t like to be beaten for I know you won’t have another chance of getting a meal until you get to Dublin. Could you put up with a salmon?”
My reply is “Certainly and only too happy to be so well provided for”.

“Well so just take a walk over to the Cathedral, if you have never been inside of it before. If you have time ask Timm Cassidy, the cobbler whom you will observe sitting near the haystack, why the people allows such a disfigurement to exist in the heart of the city. Be here in half an hour’s time and we will have something for you. Don’t worry about the train” he adds, “as it will be time to leave here when it is supposed to leave the junction, for goodness knows what time you may get away”. I assure Mr Ryan I am quite content to place myself in his hands and went my way to the Cathedral.

Passing the haystack I am again struck with the absurdity of its position, as with the loose hay lying about in the vicinity, it gives a most untidy appearance to what would otherwise be a nice little Square. But here I observe a man sitting at one end of the stack, sewing with waxed thread, a shoe held between his knees; and every time he draws the thread through his hands he makes a peculiar noise by breathing hard through his teeth. This interests me, so I draw near to him and one or two other idlers who seem to be also interested.

Remembering the hotel keeper’s hint, I asked him, “Why do the people allow this haystack to stand here?”
I am at once treated to a heated denunciation of the family who persist in their old claim to have a haystack in the heart of the town, which at every election or other gathering is sure to get burnt down. And the people of the Square pay for it’s resurrection, as they have done hundreds of times before.

A peculiar hissing noise made whilst the wax thread is being used and the quick spasmodic tones of the speaker, add a most grotesque accompaniment to his tale.

I now remember the Cathedral and quicken my pace for I have used a good deal of my half hour. After making a fairly good jump I land on the other side of a large lock and in one step am just outside the building.

How shall I describe the view that meets my eye? Here is wealth, beauty and art; splendid marbles, superb paintings and every indication of culture, taste and comfort, all provided by subscriptions from the poor hard-working peasantry. Lost in reflection on a museum of such refinement existing in the midst of the deepest poverty, I retrace my steps and again jump the small swamp which separates all this grandeur from the real hard life around it.

Soon I am comfortably seated before a fine salmon weighing 7 or 8 pounds; a large dish full of floury potatoes; two or three tiny bottles of the Claret one meets with in the cafés on the other side of the Channel; and a large rhubarb tart.

I soon make a good meal off the salmon’s shoulder and after a most satisfying lunch seek the proprietor to thank him for his courtesy and settle my bill. I cannot help noticing a merry twinkle in his eye as I approach him. And now occurs a scene which I venture to say could not have been enacted anywhere but in Old Ireland.

Inquiring the amount of my indebtedness, Mr Ryan, taking two steps back, explains, “Do you think, Sir, I could charge anybody for a little bit of salmon after the treatment you have received in the city? I should be ashamed if you went to England and told them what a mean lot we were over here. Tis a nice opinion they would have of us. I am only sorry you did not have any good solid food, only I had none in the house and I am ashamed to own it”.

“Mr Ryan”, I reply, “I cannot allow myself to leave Thurles without discharging my obligations. I assure you I heartily appreciate your extreme kindness in the treatment I have received, but beg of you to be kind enough to allow me to pay”.

Here he burst into a fit of laughter and says, “I suppose you will be by asking next for me to make a special charge for the Claret, for drinking which, heaven knows, the Humane Society should award a medal”.

Seeing I have no chance of settling what I have had, I now boldly invite him to have some of the best whiskey in the house with me. He responds he will do so with pleasure and adds “I have an old drop my mother gave me years ago and it is the real John Jameson”.

Together we repair to an inner room, passing on to which I overheard Mr Ryan instructing his assistant to say that if anyone wishes to see him he is very particularly engaged. Then he opens a box of Havana cigars and ere I can possibly prevent him, forces nearly a dozen into my overcoat pocket. He also put two more on the table to be smoked with the whisky.

What amazing intelligence did I find in this man! How comprehensive was his query “Did I form any opinion as to how much of the money spent on the Cathedral might have been devoted to relieving the poverty round it?

To conclude he put a horse into a trap and drove me himself to the train, leaving me sore from kindness and with plenty of time to ruminate over one of my experiences in this remarkable country.
Nor can I easily forget his last words as turning away from me with an air of impatience, when I tried to thank him for his generous conduct, he said “Goodbye come again any day but Friday and we will try to redeem our characters for the shabby treatment we’ve given you and remember you can’t lose your train, for ’tis always most conveniently late.”

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Lest We Forget A Woman From Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Tipperary County Council officials & councillors, since the foundation of the Irish State, have managed successfully to destroy/eradicate a massive amount of local Thurles history e.g. the Thurles Workhouse, Larry Hickey’s pub (Griffin’s newsagents Liberty Square), the Thurles Moat on Parnell Car Park, Bridget Fitzpatrick’s family home at the Turnpike, Two-Mile-Borris, Moat Lane on Parnell Street and soon (if they get their way), the 175 year old Great Famine Double Ditch on Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

If Thurles town centre is to be preserved as a thriving place for business, its history must now be heavily underscored; brightly highlighted and marketed properly, as a tourist attraction incorporating the other villages and towns, part of the Thurles town hinterland.

[Note: In this factual piece of text hereunder, three hamlets and one town, namely Two-Mile-Borris, Littleton, Upperchurch, and Templemore, in Co. Tipperary, are important to those lovers of heritage wishing to visit within Tipperary and Thurles area.]

A special thanks to Mr Gerry Bowe and Mr Michael Dempsey, both of whom provided historical facts. To Mr Dempsey also, our thanks for allowing us use pictures taken by his own family, some of which are included in the video slide-show hereunder.

Mr Gerry Bowe & Mr Michael Dempsey.

So how important historically is Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary? I will allow our 2 thousand to 8 thousand daily readers to decide.

Bridget Fitzpatrick (1892 – 1977)

After the Easter Rising of 1916, Bridget Fitzpatrick admits her political sympathies were wholeheartedly aligned with the Irish Volunteers and with Sinn Fein. At that particular time, Bridget was employed, holding a clerical post at the premises of Mr. Bernard Fitzpatrick on Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. A working colleague also employed at that premises was Mr. John McCormack, who later became the Quartermaster of the Irish Republican Army’s 2nd Mid-Tipperary Brigade.

Máire Aoife (Mary Eve) Comerford (1893-1982), an Irish republican born in Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow and who resided for some time at an address in Courtown, Gorey, County Wexford, came to Thurles from Dublin in 1918; her purpose, to organise “Cumann na mBan” [latter translated from Irish as “The Women’s Council”], in the Thurles area.

Miss Comerford had volunteered to aid Constance Georgine Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) in St. Stephen’s Green, and was put to use carrying despatches for the General Post Office (G.P.O.) garrison. She would later return to Gorey, Co. Wexford, following the 1916 rising and worked alongside Sinn Féin politician Sean Etchingham [latter who died in prison in 1923 from natural causes].

Bridget Fitzpatrick was instructed to help and assist her locally, becoming herself a member of the local Cumann na mBan branch. In 1918 Bridget was named as the Executive and Courier for Richard Mulcahy and Michael Collins, entrusted with the responsibility of receiving undercover communications in Thurles. Immediately she began receiving a steady stream of dispatches from General Head Quarters (G.H.Q.), same to be distributed to Volunteer Officers for the major portion of the south of Ireland.

The chief central headquarters for dispatches was another business premises, situated on the southside of Liberty Square, Thurles, with all activities being directed by an employee Mr. James (Jimmy) Leahy and Michael (Mixie) O’Connell; latter the proprietor of that establishment. Thurles would now become a dispatch centre for a major portion of the south of Ireland.

It was in a storage room at the back of Mixie O’Connell’s shop on Liberty Square, that crudely manufactured mines were made, packed with gelignite and concealed in boxes which had contained cart wheels. Same explosives were used to attack the R.I.C. Barracks on the Holycross-Cashel road.

Dispatches from G.H.Q., Dublin, were sent by post to Miss Fitzpatrick, and she in turn handed them over to Mixie O’Connell who, in turn, arranged to have them forwarded to their intended destinations. Dispatches were being carried at night as the volunteers involved could not be observed as being missing from their daytime employment. Later this work would be undertaken by members of Cumann na mBan.

The dispatches were invariably from Michael Collins. Those pertinent to local Volunteer Officers were delivered by Miss Fitzpatrick herself, while those which had to be sent some distance, were handed over to John McCormack at her place of work or taken directly to Mixie O’Connell, latter who arranged to forward them to their ultimate destination.

Miss Fitzpatrick lived indoor on her employer’s premises, so post addressed to ‘Miss B. Fitzpatrick’, could have easily been opened in error by her boss, Bernard Fitzpatrick, whose political views were known to be different from those of Sinn Féin.

Later, Miss Leslie Price (who later married Mr. Tom Barry of Cork) came to organise other dispatch centres and lines of communication, and Miss Fitzpatrick became associated with her also in this work, while the former resided in the Thurles area.

On the morning of 19th May 1919, Miss Fitzpatrick received a postal dispatch from Michael Collins with a covering note addressed to her personally. The note informed her that the dispatch she had received was extremely urgent and requesting her to have it forwarded to its destination immediately.

This dispatch concerned the arrest of Sean Treacy. She learned that Sean Hogan, who was wanted by the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C.) in connection with the Soloheadbeg ambush, had been arrested in the early hours of that morning at Maher’s of Annfield, Thurles and that Sean Hogan was a prisoner in the R.I.C. Barracks in Friar Street, Thurles. She learned from John McCormack that it was expected that Hogan would be sent to Cork Prison, under escort on the train during the day, and that arrangements must be made to watch the barracks.

If Sean Hogan was being sent to Cork it had been decided that Mixie O’Connell would send a coded telegram with the wording, “Greyhound on train”, giving the time of the departure of the train to brothers Tom and Mick Shanahan at the Coal Stores, in Knocklong, Co. Limerick.

John McCormack sought permission to use Bridget Fitzpatrick’s name as the sender of this coded telegram, which she willingly gave.

Throughout that day the barracks in Friar Street Thurles was constantly watched by an elderly lady named Mrs. McCarthy, her daughter Margaret and a Miss Maher of Annfield (later Mrs. Frank McGrath of Nenagh) at whose house Sean Hogan had been arrested and who had followed the police into Thurles.

These women had made several efforts to secure a visit to the prisoner, but without success. Mrs. McCarthy at different times during the day brought fruit, tea and fresh socks to the barracks for the prisoner, each time pleading to be allowed to see him for a few minutes, but was refused by the R.I.C. .These visits, however, provided Mrs. McCarthy with the excuse which she needed to remain in the immediate vicinity for long intervals. Eventually, that evening Mrs. McCarthy due to her persistence, secured information from an R.I.C. officer that Hogan was being taken to Cork by a train, which left Thurles around about 6:00pm. This information was immediately reported to Mixie O’Connell, who would send the coded telegram, “Greyhound on train”.

While the rescue of Sean Hogan on that evening, May 19th 1919, was a success, Bridget Fitzpatrick was informed by Mr. O’Carroll, (latter a Supervisor at Thurles Post Office), that the R.I. C., in the course of their investigations, had taken possession of the original copy of the telegram to Tom and Mick Shanahan, which bore her name as the sender.

About three weeks later, the aforementioned Tom and Mick Shanahan; Patrick Maher; Edmond Foley; (all of whom were from the Knocklong district), together with another man named Murphy, latter a porter at Knocklong Railway station; and Mixie O’Connell from Thurles were all arrested by the R.I.C. on suspicion of being involved in the rescue of Sean Hogan.

On the morning of Mixie O’Connell’s arrest, Bridget Fitzpatrick was also honoured by a visit from the R.I.C., led by District Inspector Michael Hunt, who interrogated her, taking a statement.

Inspector Hunt questioned her about the telegram, of which she denied having any knowledge. He then proceeded to question her about Mixie O’Connell and what she knew about his Sinn Féin and Volunteer activities. She informed Inspector Hunt that she knew him only as a neighbour in business, but beyond that she had no idea of his other activities or interests. Meanwhile, the six prisoners arrested by the R.I.C. were taken to Limerick Prison.

Within a few weeks of his taking that statement from Bridget, District Inspector Michael Hunt, (son of a Co. Sligo father, Mr. Martin Hunt), was murdered; shot dead on Liberty Square, Thurles on Monday evening, June 23rd, 1919. Two first cousins “Big Jim” and Tommy Stapleton from Finnahy, Upperchurch, Thurles and Jim Murphy (latter known as “The Jennett”), from Curreeney, Kilcommon, Thurles would later be named as responsible for the killing of R.I.C. District Inspector Michael Hunt; [Note: all three assassins are named in a statement made by James Leahy, Commandant, No.2, Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) (Mid) Tipp-Brigade. Jim Stapleton was also named for the killing of District Inspector William Harding Wilson outside Templemore post office, leading to the newspaper headlines, “Night of Terror” and “Templemore Attacked by Police & Military”.]

Acts of savagery country-wide, would now continue on both sides. Note one gruesome picture in the attached slide-show refers to the brothers Pat and Harry Loughnane, Co. Galway who were arrested, beaten, tied to the tailgate of a lorry, dragged along country roads, then further assaulted, wrists and legs broken, letters `’I.V.’ cut in their flesh, before being shot, hand grenades put in their mouths and exploded, and finally set on fire, before being dumped in a pond because they didn’t burn.

The Knocklong incident appeared to be a closed book, until the following January (1920), when Bridget Fitzpatrick was notified by the R.I.C. that she was obliged to appear as a witness in the case, at the trial of the prisoners in Limerick. The R.I.C. spoke about sending transport for her but she informed them that she would find her own way as she would be publicly ostracised by the Thurles Community, if observed in their company.

Bridget Fitzpatrick went to the railway station to take the train bound for Limerick on the day of the trial, to find a number of R.I.C. personnel were already in place; entering into the same carriage with her. On arriving in Limerick, they escorted her to William Street, R.I.C. barracks. There she was taken to a room to be further interrogated by three British Military officers who took a fresh statement from her. She had already been well briefed in advance by James (Jimmy) Leahy and by working colleague John McCormack; told to say exactly what she had told Inspector Hunt.

With a new statement given, she was taken to another room, the occupants of which were R.I.C. men and here she waited to be called into the Courtroom to give evidence.

In being escorted into the Courtroom by the R.I.C., she had to pass close to the six prisoners. As she passed, she remarked to Mixie O’Connell “Poor show from Ballyhooly”, which was his favourite saying. Same led to some laughter and excitement and orders were shouted not to allow Miss Fitzpatrick to speak to the prisoners. Giving evidence she stuck to her story adding that she knew none of the prisoners except Mixie O’Connell with whom she only knew as a business man residing in Thurles.

The final decision of the Court was to remand all six prisoners in custody for trial at a later Court. Miss Fitzgerald was held at William Street Barracks until 6:00pm that evening, until she insisted that she had to call to see a friend in Limerick. The R.I.C. then allowed her to leave, on the undertaking that she would be back at Limerick Railway Station, in time to catch the 7:00pm train back to Thurles.

She returned to the station in time to catch the 9:00pm train, in the vain hope that the R.I.C. would have left by an earlier train, but they had awaited her return and she had to endure their company back to Thurles, which was reached about midnight.

Meanwhile, Bridget had an interesting visitor in Thurles in the person of Mrs. Ethel Snowden (née Annakin), socialist, human rights activist, and feminist, the wife of Sir Philip Snowden, who later in 1924, became Chancellor of the Exchequer in a British Labour Governments. She had come to Ireland as a member of the British Labour Party’s Fact Finding Commission and when she arrived in Thurles, she had a letter of introduction to Bridget from Cumann na mBan Headquarters in Dublin. On the night prior to her visit, the R.I.C. and Black and Tans had run amok in Thurles and had done considerable damage to business premises. She showed Ethel around and let her see the havoc wrought by the Crown forces and she took her to visit the relatives of James McCarthy. [James McCarthy, Thurles, Co. Tipperary had been shot dead by an R.I.C. murder gang, after they had sent him a death threat on Dáil notepaper in an effort to incriminate Sinn Féin]. Bridget reported that Ethel Snowden appeared to be most sympathetic, making notes of all she had seen and heard.

The next trial date for the six Knocklong prisoners took place at Armagh Assizes in July of 1920 and the R.I.C. now served Bridget with a summons to attend as a witness. To avoid travelling with an R.I.C. escort she left Thurles a few days in advance of the trial, travelling to Armagh via Dublin and Dundalk.

In accordance with the instructions on the Summons, she called to the Courthouse in Armagh on the day before the trial opened and after waiting for some hours, she was interviewed by an official who just took her name and address. Accommodation was provided for her in a hotel with other witnesses.
The trial lasted for two days in front of a Judge and Jury with Bridget conveying similar evidence as imparted in Limerick and in the statements taken by D.I. Hunt. Cross-examination lasted about 15 or 20 minutes by the Counsel for the Prosecution. The two Shanahans and Murphy were found not guilty and acquitted, but the Jury disagreed in the case of Mixie O’Connell, Foley and Maher, with the latter three remanded in custody to Mountjoy Prison, to await a new trial.

Mixie O’Connell secured his release by going on hunger strike. He returned to Thurles but was only a few minutes back in his house, when he learned that he was likely to be re-arrested. He then left Thurles and went on the run. Edmund Foley and Patrick Maher did not take part in the hunger strike with O’Connell. Being innocent of the charges which had been preferred against them, they felt confident that they would not be found guilty when their next trial took place.

In January 1921, Commandant Jerry Ryan (later who would become Bridget Fitzpatrick’s husband) was arrested in Thurles by the R.I.C. and taken to Limerick Prison. In a letter to Bridget, which was smuggled out of the prison, he told her to warn Commandant Small not to carry out two planned ambushes at two points, which were marked on a map found on his clothing by the R.I.C.. Having warned Small she tore up that portion of the letter but retained the remainder of it, as it contained some instructions regarding money matters which Jerry Ryan wanted fixed up between the Quartermaster and the battalions Vice-Commandant.

Shortly afterwards, Bridget travelled to Limerick to visit Jerry Ryan and on her way back she was met at Oola railway station (Limerick/Tipperary border) by Miss McCarthy (daughter of the Mrs McCarthy previously referred to), latter a teacher in Oola. Miss McCarthy had received instructions from Bridget’s fellow worker, Mr John McCormack, to meet Bridget to prevent her from returning to Thurles, as the R.I.C, were searching for her. During her absence the R.I.C. had raided her accommodation in Fitzpatrick’s and had found in her trunk the portion of the letter from Jerry Ryan which she had retained. She stayed that night in Oola with Miss McCarthy and then went on the run, staying with friends in various places until after the ‘Truce’ in the following July.

In February 1921, the two remaining members of the Knocklong prisoners, namely Edmund Foley and Patrick Maher, were put on trial again, this time by court martial in Dublin. Before going on her visit to Limerick Prison, Bridget had received the usual notice from the R.I.C. to appear as a witness, but as she was on the run when the court-martial took place, she did not appear. Both men were found guilty and sentenced to death with both being executed by hanging in Mountjoy Prison on 30th May 1921.

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“Tipperary Scutchers” Where Are They Gone?

Back in the late 18th-century spinning wheels were supplied, by the then Irish Linen Board, to Tipperary individuals, in an ambitious scheme undertaken to encourage the growing/farming of Flax.

Nationally, some 60,000 linen workers, became involved, which in turn assisted the development of a vibrant Irish linen industry. Irish Damask linen, developed in the 18th century, would go on to grace the dining tables of Royalty and the lesser landed gentry across the world, thus providing employment at a local level here in Co. Tipperary and nationally for centuries.

Since ancient times, Flax, also known as Linseed, from which linen is manufactured, had been growing in Ireland. Proof of flax curing has been uncovered in Irish bogs, dating back over two thousand years.

Early Irish Brehon Laws dictated that every farmer had to learn and practice the cultivation of Flax. In Tudor times, between 1485 and 1603, the production of linen was so great in Ireland that a law had to be passed banning the practise of ‘leaching’ and ‘water retting’ in rivers, to protect against the poisoning of fish stocks.

[Leaching and Retting: A process employed to facilitate the controlled rotting of cellular tissues, on Flax, thus separating the fibre from the stem of the plant.]

Labourers offloaded their flax plants into ponds, rivers, or retting dams and let it ‘ret’ for up to two weeks. Those farming then set up what were called flax ‘chapels’, rather like ‘stooked’ grain sheaves; latter supporting each other to be dried by the prevailing wind.

Flax sheaves being ‘stooked’

Back in 1796, the Board of Trustees of the Linen and Hempen Manufactures of Ireland (1711-1823) wished to encourage more farmers to grow flax and hemp seed to meet a ready demand. Spinning wheels, and looms, were awarded in proportion to the acreage sown. This incentive, encouraged small farmers to allocate part of their land to flax and hemp crops. County inspectors were appointed to receive claims from the growers and county lists were published as official documents of the Board.

A quarter-acre of flax grown would have qualified for one spinning wheel and for those who grew over five acres, a loom to the value of fifty shillings was granted.

Named Flax Growers of County Tipperary, 1796

NAME Town/VillageCounty
Archer William, Drom,Co. Tipperary.
Brien Patrick,Templebredon,Co. Tipperary.
Brook William, Caher,Co. Tipperary.
Burke Patrick, Nenagh,Co. Tipperary.
Burne Darby, Emly,Co. Tipperary.
Conners James, Nenagh,Co. Tipperary.
Doherty William, Doon,Co. Tipperary.
Henecy John, Cloneen,Co. Tipperary.
Hurley Timothy, Drom,Co. Tipperary.
Keesse David,Emly,Co. Tipperary.
Kinkade Richard, Emly,Co. Tipperary.
Long Robert, Knockgraffon,Co. Tipperary.
M’Donnel Arthur, Nenagh,Co. Tipperary.
M’Donnell Charles, Drom,Co. Tipperary.
Marnane John,Lattin,Co. Tipperary.
Marnane Thomas, Solloghodbeg,Co. Tipperary.
Meagher Daniel,Templebredon,Co. Tipperary.
Murphy Cornelius, Emly,Co. Tipperary.
Parker Roger,Nenagh,Co. Tipperary.
Parker William,Kilmurry,Co. Tipperary.
Parkinson William,Drom,Co. Tipperary.
Ryan James,Capagh,Co. Tipperary.
Ryan Samuel,Nenagh,Co. Tipperary.
Saunders Adam,Doon,Co. Tipperary.
Stokes Mary,Nenagh,Co. Tipperary.
White James,Knockgraffon,Co. Tipperary.

Small cottage industries thrived across Ireland until large factory-type production began in the 1830s, providing water-powered scutching (beating), washing and beetling mills (beetling the pounding of linen or cotton fabric to give a flat, lustrous sheen was achieved). Irish industrialised linen production occupied both men, women and children, latter who worked to steep, scutch, spin, weave and bleach, latter stage using lime.

In the Census of Ireland in 1911 there where 456 people nationally whose occupations are recorded as ‘Flax Scutchers’.

Are there any persons occupied as ‘Scutchersin Co. Tipperary today?

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Alfred Capel-Cure – Pioneer Of Early Tipperary Photography.

On this Sunday evening, August 29th 2021, with almost all of us whinging and moaning about having to cocoon within our warm, comfortable homes; with our fully stocked refrigerator; our arses firmly planted on soft couches; watching repeats of “Love Island” on our 50 inch big screen TV’s; that bottle of Dry Sauvignon Blanc cooling in the icebox and the Crottin de Chavignol, waiting to be consumed on our cheese boards; then watch this slide show immediately hereunder and thank our God, whom ever we conceive Him to be, for having been given birth during this current generation.

Note: The images contained in this slide show, hereunder, were photographed between the years 1852 and 1856. They show, as well as the dereliction, the filth, hunger and poverty then being experienced by Tipperary local, landless inhabitants, in a God forsaken country, under British rule, just four to five years after the Great Famine (1845-1849) here in Ireland.

The man responsible for the images in the slide show above, you may have gathered, was photographer, Colonel Alfred Capel-Cure, an English soldier and a pioneer of early photography.
He was born on December 8th 1826 and died 70 years later, on July 29th 1896, the second son to parents Alfred Capel-Cure (High Sheriff of Essex), and Frederica Cure (Nee Cheney). He had at least three brothers named as Robert Capel-Cure; Reverend Edward Capel-Cure, M.A.; Reverend Laurence George Capel-Cure, and two sisters Rosamund Harriet Cure and Emmeline Cure. There possibly may have been two further children in the family unit, bringing the number of children in total to eight.

The family motto was: “Fais que doit arrive que pourra”, loosely translated from the French, “Do your duty, come what may”. We know little about him, but the limited information available is gathered together hereunder.

Alfred Capel-Cure joined the British army at the age of 18 years, rising through the ranks in active service to the level of Major in 1855. He served here in Ireland almost 150 years ago; having been possibly stationed in army barracks at Athlone, Co. Westmeath, Roscrea and Templemore, Co. Tipperary,
Capel-Cure was commissioned into the 55th Foot, but later transferred to the Grenadier Guards. He would be promoted a Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in 1858 and Colonel in 1863.

Note: A ‘Brevet’ rank was an honorary promotion given to an officer (or occasionally, an enlisted man) in recognition of gallant conduct or other meritorious service, but may not have conferred the authority, precedence, or even the pay of the real true rank.

Firstly, we need to remember that the world’s first photograph made; using a camera, was taken in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Ni épce. That photograph was taken from the upstairs windows of Niépce’s own estate, in the Burgundy region of France.

Alfred Capel-Cure was first introduced to photography by his uncle, latter the watercolour painter and photographer Robert Henry Cheney. In 1852 he started taking photographs in his own right, emerging as a distinct talent from among the first generation of amateur photographers.

His early photographs are calotypes, a process invented by William Henry Fox Talbot. This less sharp process used a paper negative to make a print, thus making it possible to turn out multiple copies.

While many of the landed gentry in the early to mid-1800’s became involved in this new art of photography, [The word ‘photograph’ derives from the Greek word ‘photo’, meaning light and ‘graph’, meaning to draw, hence ‘drawing with light’] the photographs produced by them rarely contained images of the labouring, working classes.

Alfred Capel-Cure through his photography, made studies of everything; his beloved dogs “Pharaoh”, “Jet” and “Peter” (1854-1860), still life images, trees, horses, castles, antiquities, army recruits (including those later killed in battle), landscapes, his country houses at Blake Hall and Badger Hall, churches, cathedrals and abbeys, historic ruins, his family, visiting gentry, and portraits of those regarded as lower class individuals.

Back in the early days of photography exposure was down to light levels and sensitivity of the medium used to capture the image, be it a glass plate or treated paper. For this reason in those days subject matter had to keep still, while having their photo taken, resulting in the reason that few if any persons are seen to smile in old photographs, due to the length of each exposure.

After leaving Templemore, Alfred Capel-Cure served in the Crimean War and was wounded at Redan, in a fight between his own British force and a Russia force, on September 8th 1855. Same battle ground was part of the Siege of Sevastopol, the fall of which would lead to Russian defeat in that same war.

His last photo appears to date as 1860 and it is believed he simply quit photography, coinciding with the same time his aging uncle also abandoned the art.

A plaque on the wall of Badger Church, states that, “He succeeded his Uncle Edward Cheney at Badger Hall and for many years devoted himself to the welfare of his tenants, his neighbours and those dependent upon him.”

In 1867, Alfred Capel-Cure bought himself out of the army, as was permitted in the latter half of the 1800’s, at no little cost to himself.

Twenty Nine years later, aged 70 years, Alfred Capel-Cure died on July 29th, 1896, in an accidental explosion, while attempting to dynamite tree roots in his park at Badger Hall.

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