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Draft Thurles Renewal Strategy Extended

Ms Sadbh Hanley (Planning, Policy and Projects Unit Tipperary County Council, Civic Offices, Limerick Rd., Nenagh, Co. Tipperary) reports:-

“Please note that the consultation period for the Draft Thurles Renewal Strategy has been extended to facilitate further engagement.
Note: The Draft is available at the link hereunder along with the feedback survey until November 2nd 2020.

Liberty Square, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

LUC and TCC are encouraging all members of the community to complete the survey and would welcome the involvement of schools and students. Submissions are accepted online at the above link and also are available in the Thurles MD office in paper form.

If you would like any further information regarding this project or would like to book a face to face meeting, please contact our partners at LUC via the engagement lead Ms Julie Hyslop Email: julie.hyslop@landuse.co.uk or Tel: 0161 537 5960.”


Tipperary Co. Co. Intent On Destroying Thurles Heritage (Part 2)

The Unanswered 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 almost 175 years and which is the property of the people of Thurles and a national monument?

The Double Ditch Exists

My articles over the last number of weeks have tried to erase any doubt as to the actual existence of a ‘Double Ditch’, at Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary; thus correcting the nonsense statement by Ms Janice Gardiner (Acting District Manager, Thurles, Municipal District) that, quote, “Tipperary County Council has reviewed all documentation relating to the planning aspects of the Thurles Inner Relief Road Project and can find no reference to the existence of the feature/path/monument you describe.”

It is my firm belief that no review ever took place and this reply, in combination with the ongoing silence from elected Councillors, elected Tipperary Politicians and Council Officials on the matter, has done little to reassure myself and others who care about our town that the “Double Ditch” is safe from destruction. Surely it is reasonable to assume that if the answer to the question asked is not NO, then it must be YES?

Furthermore, same previous articles published were and continue to be aimed solely at sounding alarm bells, ensuring that a piece of our rich Thurles heritage is not placed under serious threat; brought about through either genuine ignorance; wanton deliberate destruction; conplacency or greed, by TD’s we elected to protect our interests, namely Mr Jackie Cahill and Mr Michael Lowry.

The maps, aerial and ground videos, together with primary sources, which I have published and shared, following detailed research regarding this famine period, prove beyond doubt, the very existence of this “Double Ditch”, together with its origins and its massive historical significance.

To this end it must now be developed as an attraction, for what it is currently and for what it can be into the future; to the benefit of the local business community, through correctly marketed tourism and job creation.

New Tourism Office:
We now have a second new tourism office in Slievenamon Road, Thurles. We also have a new Thurles logo, “Halt Awhile”.

But, is this new Tourist Office in Thurles to be used to send our visitors to excellent attractions like Kilkenny castle; Trinity College Dublin; The Guinness Store House, Dublin; the Titanic Centre, Cobh, Co Cork etc. or are we going to try to develop already existing historical attractions within our own town and county?

Currently, all that exists in Thurles is what I call “Hobby Tourism“, with limited attractions unable to open on Saturdays or Sundays, or closed because a relative is “expecting a baby in July”.
Indeed I led a walking tour group last year to a visitor centre here in the Thurles area, manned by a reluctant female guide who declared to the visiting group, “I hope ye won’t be long now, my mother is minding my baby”.

But enough of that; time to examine MAP-B shown above and contained in the Archaeological Impact Study on the inner relief road, undertaken by Mr Frank Coyne (BA MIAI, director of Aegis Archaeology), for client Mr Michael Devery, Road Design, (North Tipperary County Council, Civic Offices, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.)

In MAP-B our interests are entirely focused on F1, F2, and F3 (Shown above) described in the Archaeological Impact Study as quote: – “The subject site is a series of fields. For ease of reporting they were numbered in the direction in which they were walked, from east to west, and numbered F1 to F9.

Field 1 is a small field, covered in short grass and grazed by horses.
Field 2 is a large open grassy field, covered in short grass and grazed by horses.
Field 3 is a large open grassy field, covered in short grass and grazed by horses. It is very wet underfoot.

Spear Head & Sacrificial Axe Head.
The afore mentioned Field 3, which is known as the “Well Field”, was where in 1996 the Monakeeba Bronze socketed spearhead was found, as stated in this same Impact Study.

The Monakeeba Bronze socketed spearhead together with the Monakeeba Stone Age Sacrificial Axe Head, latter found earlier, were both handed over to the National Museum by George Willoughby in 1996.
[The Monakeeba Bronze socketed spearhead gets a mention in the Archaeological Impact Study, but for some reason the Stone Age Sacrificial Axe Head found on the Double Ditch was left out].

Please examine the fields again on the above map.

Field (1) bordering the south side of the Famine Double Ditch is small, containing a mere .745 acres. No photograph is taken to provide south to north landscape features, which incorporates the raised Double Ditch.
Field (2) bordering the north side of the Famine Double Ditch contains 4.478 acres. No photograph identifies the raised Double Ditch.
Field (3) Which contains 3.319 acres, “The Well field”; again no photograph taken to provided south to north landscape, which would incorporate the physical feature of this raised Double Ditch.

All photographs contained in the study were taken from an east to west prospective, so how did the road entrance to the ‘Double Ditch’ shown hereunder, sandwiched between field 1 and field 2 go unnoticed by Mr Coyne and remain unseen, even on road photographs provided in this same Archaeological Impact Study.

The Mill Road, Thurles looking west on the roadside entrance to the Double Ditch. Question; how despite being only 5ft (1.5 metres across) did this entrance, sandwiched between field 1 and field 2, get mysteriously ignored by Aegis Archaeology

Now go back to MAP-A above, again used in the survey and note the cartographers Ref. ‘F.P. Double Ditch‘. Then understand that the same Archaeological Impact Study contains an ‘Aerial View Image’ of that site, showing clearly the ‘Double Ditch’ using the website https://www.bing.com/

Again, as with MAP-A, while the ‘Double Ditch’ is clearly visible (both on the map and the ‘Aerial view Image’), its existence on the landscape has been totally disregarded by the Archaeological Impact Study. Mr Coyne should now be recalled to re-examine his Impact Study.

Silence from Councillors, Politicians and Council Officials.

One thing has been learned from all of this; none of our elected representatives, sad to say, have any interest in promoting Mid-Tipperary tourism, except in the glossy brochures produced every 5 years, one month prior to General Elections or indeed Local Elections.

The now long forgotten Tipperary half promoted marketing ploy which yielded nothing!
Pictured some years ago: (Left) Siobhan Ambrose [Former Council Chairperson FF]; (Centre) Former Enterprise Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor (FG) and (Right) Mr Joe MacGrath [Current CE, Tipperary Co. Co.]

When I set out initially to explore what, if any, new impact developments in our town of Thurles could have upon aspects of our rich history, it was never my intention to anger any individual.

My aim was to ask three questions to reassure both myself and others that valuable aspects of our town’s heritage where not placed in danger of being lost or destroyed.

Two of my three questions were eventually and reluctantly answered. My third question, which related to the possible destruction of the ‘Double Ditch’, was not answered, despite repeated enquiries.

The closest thing to an answer came in the form of an official communication (aforementioned) that clearly skirted around the issue, by essentially stating that there was no record of the “Double Ditch” that I referred to in my question. The implication being that if there was no record, then there was no issue.

This reply, in combination with the ongoing silence from Councillors, politicians and officials on the matter, has done little to reassure myself and the Thurles electorate, that the Double Ditch will remain safe from total destruction.

Finally, it is my strong belief that Tipperary County Council, still intend to totally destroy this piece of valuable history, without the consent of the people of Thurles, thus depriving them of their heritage and a major future tourist attraction.

To be continued.

Part 3 of “Tipperary Co. Co. Intent On Destroying Thurles Heritage” will be published in the coming days.


Tipperary Co. Co. Intent On Destroying Thurles Heritage (Part 1)

Firstly, before we begin, it is necessary to carefully digest the following statement.

It is simply astonishing and somewhat unnerving that, in a democracy, after a 10 week period of asking on numerous occassions a simple question; all elected Thurles Municipal District representatives; plus Tipperary County Council officials (lead by Chief Executive Mr Joe McGrath and Ms Janice Gardiner (latter Acting District Administrator, Thurles) and two elected politicians, namely Mr Jackie Cahill TD and Mr Michael Lowry TD, can wilfully withhold information in relation to a planning query by any member of the public.

Let’s be reminded of the question sent to all the aforementioned elected personnel all paid by you from the public purse.

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 almost 175 years and which is the property of the people of Thurles and a national monument?”

The Reply: The only single reply received in the last 10 weeks came we think reluctantly from Ms Janice Gardiner (Acting District Manager Thurles), who wrote: “Tipperary County Council has reviewed all documentation relating to the planning aspects of the Thurles Inner Relief Road Project and can find no reference to the existence of the feature/path/monument you describe.”

An Archaeological Impact Study and documented Impact Statement regarding the development of an inner relief road at Thurles, Co. Tipperary, now confirms that Tipperary County Council officials, aided by elected local councillors, are intending to destroy a valuable piece of Thurles history. This is further confirmed by their attempts at secrecy and verbal denial.

The author of the Archaeological Impact Statement for the development of this proposed relief road (ÆGIS REF : 210 -11) was Mr Frank Coyne (BA MIAI, director of Aegis Archaeology, No.32 Nicholas Street, King’s Island, Limerick.); latter company regularly used by Tipperary County Council. Indeed the same company, who on Friday 11th July 2014, undertook the Archaeological Impact Statement for the now completed new carpark on Liberty Square / Slievenamon Road, area of Thurles, under the Thurles and Environs Development Plan 2009-2015.

The client named in this 2013 Archaeological Impact Statement (for the development of this inner relief road at Thurles, Co. Tipperary), was Mr Michael Devery, Road Design, (North Tipperary County Council, Civic Offices, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.)

Picture shows maps used in this Archaeological Impact Statement by ÆGIS in relation to the development of this proposed inner relief road in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Map A: is the 25 Inch B&W (Same constructed between 1897-1913) and regarded by cartographers as amongst the very finest ever produced.

Map A used in this Archaeological Impact Statement by Mr Frank Coyne, clearly shows “Double Ditch” text by the cartographer, (See small pink arrow in Map A.), yet surprisingly nowhere in this Impact Statement produced does the “Double Ditch” get referenced.

The two letters on the map found before the cartographers text of “Double Ditch” are F.P., which I initially thought represented Famine Project’, however on further research, I discovered same indicated the acknowledgement of a ‘Foot Path’ being in existence.

So we now know that this footpath has been in continuous use for at the last 123 years, according to the map reference itself, (dated 1897), and almost 175 years per page 6 of the original “Minutes of the Thurles & Rahealty Famine Food Committee”, published on website Hidden Tipperary.com. Hence, we have established without doubt that same remains both a “Public Right of Way and as described by other historians, a Mass Path”.

Rights of Way
Note: A right of way can be a laneway, or a mere gap in a hedge that leads to property owned by someone who does not own the same laneway or gap in the hedge, and that has been used over a long period of time by that same ‘someone’.

Initially, we understand that same right was only legal if the period of use by that somebody was over 20 years. However since the Land Law and Conveyancing Act of 2009, a person can claim ‘right of way’ if they can prove continuous use for 12 years.

Roads Act 1993.
Under the Roads Act 1993, it is the responsibility of local authorities to protect the public’s right to access ‘rights of way’ in each local authority area. Where a local authority proposes to extinguish such public rights of way their requirements under legislation can be found clearly stated HERE in our Irish statute books.

The ‘LEAT’

A ‘Leat’ (Same an artificial watercourse or aqueduct. See picture above.), dug into the ground travelling from the area behind today’s St. Patrick’s College to as far as the ‘Lady’s Well’ area, before exiting under the Poulnaneigh River; (same used to remove flood water from the River Suir’s north end and draining it Southward further downstream back into the River Suir) once again, also gets no mention in this Archaeological Impact Statement.

This Leat’ was also built during the Great Famine period 1846 – 47 by the same starving Thurles paupers, and their gargantuan efforts from 175 year ago remain clearly visible to this very day.

Were one to view the 1829 – 1842 Ordnance Survey map, latter the first ever large-scale survey of the entire Irish countryside; the ‘Leat’ and the ‘Double Ditch’ are entirely absent, since both projects were not undertaken until 1846/7.

One further question; are the Co. Council engineers aware of the difficulties associated with the building a relief road on a flood plain?

To be continued.

Part 2 of “Tipperary Co. Co. Intent On Destroying Thurles Heritage” will be published in the coming days.


No Plans To Move ‘Stone Man’ On Liberty Square, Thurles

Councillors, Mr Seamus Hanifin and Mr Sean Ryan (Elected Members Thurles Municipal District Council) have both moved quickly to confirmed that the 1798 Memorial statue, better known locally as the ‘Stone Man’, will not be moved or indeed removed from its current position overlooking Liberty Square, in Thurles town, Co. Tipperary.

1798 Memorial erected on Liberty Square, Thurles in 1901

In an email addressing a number of key questions sent from Thurles.Info, Cllr. Mr Seamus Hanafin stated; “There are no plans to move the monument on Liberty Square, either during or after the works”

Answering this same question, Cllr. Mr Sean Ryan further confirmed this welcome news, stating; “I am informed by the council’s engineering staff that the statues in Liberty square will not be moved during the upgrade of the square”

Fears expressed to Thurles.Info some weeks ago, were based, understandably, on an early drawing of the ‘new look’ sanctioned Liberty square, (Image shown above) which appears to indicate that the statue of Archbishop Thomas William Croke, (First G.A.A. Patron) would be moved to replace the ‘Stone Man’, latter which would be then be moved elsewhere, out of its current streetscape position.

To read more on the history of the 1798 Memorial please view HERE.
To read more on the history of Archbishop Thomas William Croke, First G.A.A. Patron, please view HERE.


Tipperary Heritage Sites Reopen Today

The Chairman of Fáilte Ireland has resigned from his 6 year held post after it emerged he had travelled to Italy with his family on holiday.

The Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Ms Catherine Martin has rightly accepted Mr Michael Cawley’s resignation, after it was confirmed he had indeed been on holiday in Italy, despite the Government’s request to avoid non-essential travel abroad.

Tipperary Heritage Week 2020

Autumn near Cahir Castle, on the river Suir at Cahir, Co. Tipperary.

Heritage Week starts today, Saturday 15th August 2020 and people are encouraged to take this opportunity to visit their local sites.

Fine Gael TD Mr. Patrick O’ Donovan, latter Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, has stated that a visit to any Heritage site is a great day out for all the family. He continued “We have all endured a lot in recent months and I’d encourage everyone to bear in mind that many of the wonderful ancient places around Tipperary, like the Rock of Cashel are open to visitor again and although there are access restrictions in some cases, this is because the OPW has had to make sure that people can stay safe during their visit and enjoy these beautiful places without fear.”

The Minister also confirmed that the OPW sites in Cahir, which have been delayed in reopening, will now be open to visitors again; the grounds of the Swiss Cottage site will be open from today Saturday 15th August and Cahir Castle will reopen from next Thursday next, August 20th.

The Minister has also confirmed that Cahir Castle is about to welcome a major film production which will be shooting there later in September, and some set preparation are happening early next week.
In relation to Cahir Castle, the Minister also stated, “I am happy to confirm that the public will again be able to see the Castle grounds from the 20th onwards and people may also be happy to know that admission will be completely free.”

Note: In the past (1981) Cahir Castle was used as a location for a battle scene in the film Excalibur. The castle was also used as a location for the television series The Tudors and The Green Knight.