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Thurles, Co. Tipperary Christmas 2020.

May we here at Thurles.Info take this opportunity to wish everyone at home and abroad a very happy Christmas, especially those, who for one reason or another, have been unable to travel due to the present Covid-19 pandemic.

Our slideshow will hopefully carry a reminder of previous Christmas’s spent amongst us, and we look forward to welcoming you all back in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, Please Do Stay Safe.


Figgy Pudding:

“Oh, bring us some figgy pudding” is one of the traditional lines in the lyrics associated with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, our second song used in our video slideshow shown above.

Figgy pudding possibly first originated in the 14th-century, (referred to in 1390), as a way principally to preserve food and was initially served as a fasting meal in preparation for the Christmas season.

Beef and mutton were mixed with raisins and prunes, wines and spices and sometimes with eggs. When grains were finally added it gained the look of porridge, bearing the names “Frumenty, Frumentee, Furmity, Fromity, or Fermenty.”

In the early 15th century, the ingredients mutated into “Plum Pottage”. A mix of meats, grains, vegetables, fats, spices and fruits, most notably raisins and currants, and same were packaged like huge sausages inside animal stomachs and intestines, (some similarities with Haggis traditionally of Scottish origin and going back to 1430), to be stored until it was served as part of the traditional Celtic Christmas meal usually on Christmas Eve.

“Plum Pottage” was not always associated with Christmas, but was also connected with Mothering Sunday, (i.e. in late spring), and with sheep-shearing (i.e. held in June).

This Christmas styled dessert was banned in the mid-16th century. by Puritans (English Protestants), under Oliver Cromwell, but was reinstated as a Christmas pudding by King George I, in the early 18th century. Many Puritans objected to the Popish associations of Christmas and to the excesses of enjoyment associated, such as lavish eating, play-acting, gambling and dancing.

Figs have never actually been an official ingredient of ‘figgy pudding‘, but may have been briefly included from time to time, thus inspiring the name.

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Tomorrows ‘Irish Mail On Sunday’ Highlights Thurles Great Famine Double Ditch

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots”.

Quote by Marcus Mosiah Garvey, (Latter a Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator, greatly influenced by the Irish 1916 rising.)

“The land between the Mill Road and the river to the north and south of the relief road corridor is low laying, criss-crossed by field drains and provides poor grazing.
This area was wet and soft underfoot during my site inspection and it is likely that, at least in part, it was the flood plain for the Suir.”

Quote by Inspector Mr Hugh Mannion (An Bord Pleanála, Ref.: PL79.JP0024), regarding the Development named: Thurles Relief Road, Thurles, County Tipperary.

It is on this River Suir flood plain that Tipperary Co. Council are now building 26 houses, flooding the north side area of the ‘Double Ditch’. See the two images shown hereunder, as impacted earth floods the soggy building site, forcing the builders to run 2 permanent drains into the North side of the Double Ditch, carrying silt and flooding this local historical site.

Builders draining part of the flood plain for the River Suir, are now destroying the Great Famine ‘Double Ditch’, here in Thurles, with the permission of Tipperary Co. Council. Photo: G. Willoughby.

In tomorrow’s Irish Mail on Sunday, investigative journalist, Valerie Hanley, brings national attention to the plight of the Thurles ‘Double Ditch’, as well as the international descendants connected to its rich local history and the concern for its threatened future.

It is not surprising that the story of the Great Famine ‘Double Ditch’ has now garnered the attention of individuals far beyond the town of Thurles. The story of the Knaggs family and their noble efforts during the Great Famine, is indeed a captivating tale forever immortalised by this Thurles Double Ditch walkway here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

What is surprising, as highlighted by tomorrows article, is that despite local, national and international pleas for conservation, it remains unclear if local Tipperary councillors and politicians like Mr Michael Lowry and Mr Jackie Cahill, are willing to acknowledge its historic value and attempt to safeguard its future for future generations of Thurles people.

Builders draining part of the flood plain for the River Suir, are now destroying the Great Famine ‘Double Ditch’, here in Thurles, with the permission of Tipperary Co. Council. Photo: G. Willoughby.

Here’s hoping tomorrow’s article in the Irish Mail on Sunday and our ongoing campaign here on Thurles.Info will help to raise more awareness, thus helping to save this Double Ditch as part of our town’s rich historic culture.

To refresh our memories regarding the historic origins of the Double Ditch and this ‘Great Famine Walkway’ see all links shown hereunder: –

May 30th, 2019
http://www.thurles.info/2019/05/30/what-do-we-know-about-the-thurles-knaggs-family/
October 28th, 2019
http://www.thurles.info/2019/10/28/thurles-double-ditch/
May 24th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/05/24/thurles-heritage-in-grave-danger/
August 21st, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/08/21/contemplative-thurles-elected-reps-fail-to-answer-basic-questions/
September 7th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/07/non-productive-tds-councillors-commanding-large-salaries-for-no-work/
September 9th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/09/update-on-failure-by-thurles-councillors-to-reply-to-local-queries/
September 11th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/11/update-on-answers-to-questions-from-elected-thurles-representatives/
September 16th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/16/more-news-on-efforts-to-destroy-thurles-heritage/
September 17th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/17/even-more-news-on-efforts-to-destroy-thurles-heritage-by-tipperary-co-co/
September 20th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/20/some-thurles-elected-councillors-faithless-treacherous-and-deceitful/
September 25th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/25/update-on-destruction-of-thurles-heritage-by-tipperary-co-council/
September 27th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/09/27/thurles-double-ditch-tipperary-county-council-continue-in-their-silence/
October 10th, 2020
http://www.thurles.info/2020/10/10/further-correspondence-in-relation-to-thurles-famine-double-ditch/

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“Last Duel” Begins Filming In Cahir Castle, Tipperary

Pictured L-R: Ben Affeck, Matt Damon, Jodie Comer & Adam Driver.

Yesterday, actors Matt Damon and Ben Affeck began filming their new movie in Cahir Castle here in Co. Tipperary.

The famous Hollywood actors are filming “The Last Duel”, directed by Ridley Scott, using several locations across Ireland, in Dublin, Wicklow, Meath and Tipperary.
Cahir Castle currently remains ‘out of bounds’ for tourists; having been booked by the filming company for the next few weeks.

Based on the book ‘The Last Duel’ by Eric Jager; the film is set in Medieval France, and its story is of an epic tale of betrayal and justice. with King Charles VI declaring that Knight Jean de Carrouges settle his dispute with his squire by challenging him to a duel.

Obviously, people visiting the town of Cahir will be hoping to catch a glimpse of the actors in the days ahead.

The “Last Duel” also stars the lovely Ms Jodie Comer, who holds the lead role in “Killing Eve”. Ms Comer also played the role of Ivy Bolton in the television presentation of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”.
Also featuring in this production is acclaimed actor Adam Driver of “Star Wars” fame. Latter you will remember played the role of the villain ‘Kylo Ren’ in “The Rise of Skywalker”.

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One Valuable Vintage Picture Postcards Of Thurles.

Perhaps one of the most valuable vintage picture postcards of Thurles, Co. Tipperary, currently owned or sought by collectors, is the picture featured here below. Same is usually entitled/labelled “Ursuline Convent, Castle and Cathedral Thurles, Tipperary, Ireland”.

So why is this vintage postcard so highly prized by collectors, I hear you ask? Take a look at it again, and see if you can guess.

Yes, in reality this image of course does not actually exist. See existing picture hereunder, taken just yesterday 19th August, 2020.

Picture courtesy G. Willoughby

This monochrome vintage picture postcard, photographed around possibly the beginning of the 20th century is indeed a photomontage made up of a series of 2 or perhaps 3 photographs, unless of course our wonderful picturesque Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary building, is slowly slipping eastward, sitting as it does on the edge of the townsland known as “Monacocka”, [Irish – ‘The Shitty Bog’.]

The pictures are indeed the work of a skilled photographer and with the dexterity of an even more experienced photographic printer, sometime later.

From close examination the picture is probably made up of 3 pictures using 3 separate negative of; (1) The River Bed, (2) The Castle, and (3) The Ursuline Convent and Thurles Cathedral, latter one of the few now remaining tourist attractions in Thurles town.

Assuming that the image was printed at the beginning of the 20th century, the printer would have exposed in full, each of the images first, before cutting out masks to cover off and montage each separate image into just one picture.
In the days before the computer editing programme ‘Adobe Photoshop’, same would not have been an easy task to undertake, as each of the 3 images montaged together, would have required different exposure times and precise masking.

Gelatin-coated silver bromide printing paper was coming on stream from 1886, therefore it is most likely that one of the modern upright type photo enlargers, which came into production around 1921, (before ceasing in 2005), was used.

Whatever the time and date of the photographs manufacture, the Cathedral of the Assumption clock informs us that the photographs were taken close to 3:00pm in the afternoon.

Associated Historic Nonsence
The finished historic picture which shows buildings stretched / existing between the 15th century castle and the river however, does make a total nonsense of the claim that “Chieftains would drop fishing lines into the river Suir below. Whoever caught the biggest fish would lay claim to the favourite Wench of the castle.”

This nonsense information exists, suggested to visitors, on a misleading stone plaque erected in 2002, attached to the castle wall. The plaque is long regarded as being totally disrespectful of women, suggesting that rape and / or indeed prostitution was accepted as the ‘order of the day’, during the 15th, 16th and 17th century, or even that women were present in the castle building, itself designed to collect tolls and if necessary defend the river crossing against attack.

This plaque should now be removed, while Liberty Square is being upgraded. Other information on this plaque is also totally misleading to the very few tourists left grinning, that actually do find their way into the Premier County and into Thurles.

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Thurles Hospital Of The Assumption Graveyard Remembered 2010

May I first ask our readers to again refresh your memory in relation to the case of Mary Ellen Morris, Thurles, Co. Tipperary; the story of which can be located HERE.

Back in June 8th 2020 last, we asked if any of our readers could shed further light on those named in that story or indeed were any of you in anyway possibly related to either of these families named?

We still would love to hear from you, as indeed would family relatives living currently today, and who are actively tracing their Irish roots.

Back 10 years ago, in early September, the somewhat forgotten burial ground, which can be found to the rear of the Community Hospital of the Assumption, (once the Thurles Workhouse); had sad memories rekindled with the erection of a memorial headstone placed in this cemetery.

I recently unearthed my photographs of that same event, having been contacted by Morris family relatives, which I have now refreshed as a slide show to possibly aid further recollection. Alas, some of the congregation which can be seen back then have since passed on, but thankfully many others are still with us.

This monument was kindly erected by the local Sisters of Mercy Order of Nuns at a special Mass and blessing ten years ago in September 2010.

Sr. Mary Barry back then stated: “On behalf of the Sisters of Mercy, and the Staff of the Community Hospital of the Assumption, I extend a warm welcome to you all. Today, as we gather in the graveyard, we remember and pray for all those who are laid to rest here, down through the years. We trust that this headstone will now become a focal point where we can visit, pray and remember.”

The original old Thurles Union Workhouse, which many Thurles residents will well remember, had been originally built in 1840 under plans designed by British Architect, George Wilkinson. The building, designed to accommodate 700 paupers, like all such workhouses then erected, had the appearance of being a grim institution, with conditions inside and out, designed to discourage all but the destitute from attempting to seek refuge within. Nevertheless, it did made some contribution down through the years, especially to the saving of lives from starvation during that period of Irish history known as the Great Famine years, (1845-1849).

Over 15,000 persons were assisted with Indian meal (Ground Maize) in just one week, in 1848 and as many as 3,732 were housed here and in other associated rented buildings in the area back in 1850.

To give us some understanding as to the hardship then being experienced, we must look at primary sources still available. In the minutes of the Thurles and Rahealty Famine Food Committee book, 1846-1847; we can read a report dated 11th February 1847, sent to the British Association for the Relief of Extreme Distress in Ireland and Scotland, shown here as follows:

“Of the population of the united parishes of Thurles and Rahealty 8,000 are on the relief list. The majority obtain very inadequate relief by employment on Public Works. There are about 300 destitute families having no person to work, to whom gratuitous relief must be given; there are other families varying from 10 to 12 having only one member able to work, whose wages 10 pence a day, would not be adequate to the support of two persons at the present famine prices of food. The poor house (Hospital of The Assumption) built to accommodate 700 has now stowed within 940 and there cannot be any more admissions and groups, who cannot be admitted, are to be seen shivering in the cold and wet, anxiously expecting the fragments of cold stirabout, that remains after the inmate pauper meal. We have lived to see the poor sitting at the pauper’s gate, among the crumbs that fall from the paupers table. We have not had any deaths from actual starvation but numerous deaths have occurred from severe and long continual privation. The weekly average of deaths has increased fivefold.”

It was not until November 5th 1877, however, that four nuns from the Sisters of Mercy, set out from Doon, Co Limerick for Thurles town Co. Tipperary, to begin what was to become a long and beneficial association with this once workhouse. They came not to take charge, but to work under the Master and Matron of the Workhouse, Mr and Mrs Pat Russell until 1922, when the Order’s Sister Ita became the first nun to be appointed Matron. These newly arrived Doon Nuns were soon to raise hygiene standards by cleanliness through the scrubbing of floors etc. and bringing about other major change for good through leadership by example and through their rolls as both workers and carers.

Under the management of Sister Ita, the name of the workhouse was changed to “The County Home” and came under the jurisdiction of Tipperary Co. Council. In 1954 the name was again changed, this time to the ‘Hospital of the Assumption‘. Flower beds were introduced to enhance its still grim, grey looking facade, by Sister Baptist and her ‘men’, as she referred to them, latter her resident patients. Occupational Therapy for patients was also undertaken by Sister Bonaventure.

In 1960 the Health board under Mr P.J. Flynn, took on the responsible for the removal of the very high walls, which were in being, simply to keep inmates within the grounds. These were then replaced with railings possibly showing the true building facade to many outsiders for the first time.

Mr Larry Moloney Clerical officer, latter who died in 1970, was remembered at this event, 10 years ago, as being of tremendous help to the Mercy order. Mrs Betty Moore would be the first secular matron to be later appointed.

In February 2006 the old hospital building was replaced with the new present state of the art Community Hospital, which contains accommodation space for up to 72 patient beds.

The celebration Mass for the memorial ceremony 10 years ago was conducted by celebrant Rev. Fr. Jimmy Donnelly, ably assisted by Rev. Fr. Gerard Hennessey, then both in charge of Bohernanave Parish Church.

Music and song for the event was originally supplied by the wonderful Thurles Tenor, Mr Michael Molumby; Mrs Antonette Ruth; with the magical fingers of Mrs Mary Rose McNally on keyboard and violin.
Alas, no sound recording was taken on that day. However, thanks to the courtesy and generosity of The Cullinane Gospel Band, (Telephone 087 6729242), we have been permitted to use sound from a recent charity CD produced by them.

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