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Slievenamon Road Upgrade – Final Nail In Thurles Town Centre’s Coffin.

It has become perfectly obvious that urban city planning ideas are now being mandatory enforced on rural, agricultural towns like Thurles, Co. Tipperary with disastrous consequences, forcing trading retail businesses to either close or fold their tents to move elsewhere.

Anyone who visited Dublin City recently will know that only public transport, cyclists and pedestrians can now get into and around its increasingly menacing streets, with any degree of efficiently.

The busy prosperous Liberty Square of the 1960’s.

That is all well and good in Dublin with its network of buses, trams and taxis. Here in rural Thurles such public transport is very limited. There isn’t a Dart tram line to be found running from rural Upperchurch or indeed Two-mile-Borris or Littleton villages every 15 minutes. Indeed there is not one single bus shelter to be found in Thurles, to protect a prospective bus passenger from our inclement weather.

For those who wish to view what exactly will be forced on the residents and businesses of this once prosperous midland town, take a look here: N62-Slievenamon-Road-Phase-2.pdf

NOTE Page 6 of the above pdf: “Some of the key interventions that this strategy will deliver include significant investment in the provision of safe, segregated infrastructure to protect those walking and cycling on our roads, and initiatives to promote modal shift from motor vehicle travel to support environmental, safety and health objectives.”

The picturesque Liberty Square, midday in 2023, asks a Question: Where are the town centre consumers; where are the cyclists; the walker, and the vehicle parking spaces.
Answer: Driven out with the businesses. Gone to support German international discount retailers on the outskirts of Thurles, who offer very little local employment, while selling a considerable amount of German processed produce.

See also what is planned in the Draft Discussion maps for Slievenamon Road, shown here: N62-Slievenamon-Road-Map.pdf.

Question: Where are the Cycle Paths either on a half upgraded Liberty Square, town centre or on this newly designed, still to be revamped, Slievenamon Road plan?
Answer: Non existent.

This October 2022 plan will most certainly drive home that final nail in our town centre’s coffin. However, the local electorate, (now remaining surprisingly silent), can express their anger, during local elections, expected to be held possible next March.

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Thurles Council Use Consultant To Decide Paint Colour For Liberty Square Businesses.

* Changes To Disabled or Invalid Parking In Liberty Square, Thurles.

* Thurles Municipal District Council Use Consultant To Decide Paint Colour For Liberty Square Businesses.

Picture shown above, indicate recent changes to Disabled or Invalid Parking in Liberty Square, Thurles. Initially sign posts identifying these parking areas [See Pic. I] were erected facing away from traffic [See Pic. 2] the wrong way. Now the same erected signs have been removed altogether [See pic. 3] and their postholes filled in with tarmac, [See Pic. 4].

Disabled or Invalided drivers, not familiar with the area, can now no longer find the spaces, shielded by parked cars.

But not to worry; once again it’s only taxpayers money.

On another matter; local press reports that Fianna Fáil Councillor Mr Seamus Hanafin has been informed by District Administrator Ms Sharon Scully (Templemore Thurles Municipal District Council) of a proposed Liberty Square painting scheme.

From the report we understand that Ms Scully informed council members that a consultant had drawn up a “pallet of colours”, which would be used and she was asking for expressions of interest by property owners on the half upgraded Liberty Square area of the town.

It is all about Liberty Square.

Meanwhile, local press makes no public mention of the stench of sewage being experienced by shop owners on the money side of Liberty Square (distinct from the ‘Sunny side’).
We understand, however, that a representative of Thurles Municipal District Council has called to the shops in question, [latter stretching from Emmet Street to Slievenamon Road], following complaints having been received by said council. According to two shop owners, they were informed to forward any further complaints to “Irish Water”.

We further understand, that at least one premises has contacted their landlord, regarding the issue.

One shop owner informed us that an Irish Water representative has since called, but couldn’t get any smell.
Perhaps his olfactory sensory neurons, which are found normally in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose and connected directly to his brain, were out of action at the time. Or perhaps the prevailing wind, blowing from a westerly direction, had failed to materialise on that given day.

Meanwhile, regardless of this stench; same akin to sewage, (according to my chemosensory system), Fianna Fail Councillor Mr Hanafin, [again according to Local Press] has stated that dereliction is a major problem in town centres across Co. Tipperary and the only way he could see out of it, was by the council issuing ‘Compulsory Purchase Orders’ on these properties, or else charging a ‘dereliction levy’ on property owners.

Cllr Hanafin, did not elaborate on what all the properties would be then used for, once ‘compulsory purchase’ had been undertaken by the council, using of course good old taxpayers money.

A listen, sure you have to be saying something when elected to a position of power within your community.

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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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Newly Constructed Drain On Liberty Square Thurles Suffers Set Back.

Tipperary County Council values as we are well aware are, as William Shakespeare once stated; “More honoured in the breach than the observance”, especially when it comes to issues like ‘partnership’, ‘collaboration’ and the development of ‘inclusive community’, not to mention their solemn promise, (try not to laugh), ‘To protect and enhance the unique identity of built, historic and natural environment of Tipperary for future generations’.

While the final drawings for the Liberty Square €9million upgrade remain ‘kept tightly under wraps’, by Tipperary County Council official’s from even the business people who depend on their future livelihoods in this area; today we notice that one small problem has raised its ugly head.

It would appear that at least one newly designed drain, responsible for extricating water from the street area is today fully blocked. Unless of course same was placed in that area as ornamentation.

Alas, time and the prevailing elements forbade us from checking out the area fully. However the shore blocked can be located directly opposite the vacant, once licenced public house, known as T. Morris, situated on the “money side” of lower Liberty Square.

Still not to worry, as builder Mr O’ Reilly said to Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, “If the good Lord ment us to worry, he would have given us something to worry about”.

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Engineers Sow Crop Of Potatoes On Liberty Square.

Thurles Mid-Week Humour

“Well if it isn’t yourself”, said I to Mikey Ryan, “Sure I haven’t seen you since before Christmas”.

I met Mikey yesterday evening admiring the new upgrade being undertaken in the centre of Liberty Square, Thurles.

“Well where have you been hiding yourself. How did you get over the Xmas?”, said I.

“Oh, we got over the Xmas OK” said Mikey, “since our extended family, as you know is big, and because of the Covid-19 restrictions allowing only 6 people into a house for the Xmas dinner, instead we held a funeral for the turkey which legally permitted 25 mourners to be in attendance.”

“Right”, said I somewhat confused, “but where have you been hiding out since Xmas?”.

“I have been over in University Hospital Limerick for the past 3 months,” said Mikey. “Sure I was in a coma for 6 whole weeks”.

“Really”, said I, trying to sound surprised. Well, to be honest I had heard the rumours from one of the neighbours, but no one knew the full story, even though the Guards had visited the house uninvited on a couple of occasions.

“Between ourselves” said Mikey “I was sanitising my hands and happened to say to the kids that I couldn’t find the thingy that peels the potatoes and carrots. No sooner spoken than I felt a sharp pain to the left side of my head and that’s all I remember till I woke up 6 weeks later. The consultant said my injuries were akin to blunt force trauma to the head, possibly caused by having come into contact with a heavy cast iron frying pan. Herself indoors is as puzzled as I am, as to how it happened”.

“Jasus Mikey, talking of potato peelers” said I startled, “I’m thinking this new Liberty Square upgrade won’t be finished until 2025. It looks like they have planted a few drills of potatoes in the Square, sure they won’t be harvested until next September at the earliest.”

“That reminds me”, said Mikey “My father used to say to me “Son, back in my day, I could walk in any store with just a halfpenny in my pocket and come home with a bag of potato chips, two ‘Peggy’s Leg” toffee bars and a two bags of Liquorice Allsorts. Well I suppose times have changed; you couldn’t do that now with all those bloody CCTV cameras stuck everywhere”.

“Do you remember”, continued Mikey smiling “when I was a coal delivery man”.

“I do indeed; that was before you became self-employed” said I.

“Spot on,” said Mikey; a grin on his face, “well it was my last day on the job after dragging, for over 15 years, hundredweight after hundredweight bags of coal on my back in hail rain and snow, around the town of Thurles. When I arrived at one house on the Kickham Street route that day, I was greeted by the woman in one house who congratulated me on my retirement and sent me on my way with a stone of red Rooster potatoes as a gift.
At a second house in Mitchel Street, the family presented me with a packet of 20 Carroll’s, filter tipped, cigarettes”.

“But”, continued Mikey, “it was the gift from a third house situated in the area of Friar Street, that I will never forget.

It was at that house; I was greeted at the door by a beautiful blonde woman in a revealing negligee. Ignoring the black coal dust, she took me by the hand, and led me up the stairs to her bedroom, where without going into the intimate details, she blew my mind with the most passionate lovemaking that I have ever experienced, either since or before.

She then took me downstairs to the kitchen, where she had fixed, in advance, a giant fry-up; eggs, sauté potatoes, rashers, sausages, black pudding; all kept warm at Mark 2 in her gas cooker. This she then served with a tall glass of cold, freshly squeezed orange juice.
When I had eaten my fill, she poured me a cup of steaming hot tea with two sugars. It was as she was pouring the tea that I noticed the green, one pound note sticking out from under the saucer. What’s this pound here for? says I”.
‟Well,” said she, ‟Last night, I told my husband that today would be your last day on the job, and that we should do something special for you; to mark the occasion. I asked him what he thought I should give you. He said, “Screw him. Give him a pound”.
But pet, it is important that you remember that the full breakfast was solely my idea.”

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