Category Archives: Tipperary

The Old Friary Bell (at Clonmel) by P. O’H. Peters


Written on hearing it at Clonmel a few days ago

Air- “Aileen Mavourneen.”

WHAT mystical music resounds on my ear,
Remarkably tender, melodious and clear;
Proclaiming its mission thro’ valley and dell?
‘Tis the beautiful chime of the old Fri’ry bell.

How softly it floats on the swet-scented air,
Inviting the faithful to service and prayer ;
Saint Mary’s itself couldn’t really excel
The beautiful chime of the old Fri’ry bell.

For many a year has it echoed along
The clear-winding river majestic and strong,
Outliving both Ireton and Cromwell as well,
The beautiful chime of the old Fri’ry bell.

Tho’ seasons unnumbered have silently flown,
Since first I rejoiced in its magical tone;
Yet deeply I’ll cherish, wherever I dwell,
The beautiful chime of the old Fri’ry bell.

Taken from My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 ; Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford ; 1907 ; No. ISBN

The Defence of Clonmel by D. A. McCArthy

WHEN Oliver Cromwell – whose name is still remembered with horror in Ireland – besieged Clonmel, the garrison of fifteen hundred men, commanded by Hugh Duff O’Neill, and aided by the townspeople, resisted most bravely. At length, finding further struggle against overwhelming odds hopeless, O’Neill decided to evacuate the town ; buy before taking this step, he planned and executed a stroke which for the time being, almost demoralised the enemy and filled them with such a wholesome respect for the prowess of the town’s defenders that, when Clonmel surrendered, its people received favourable terms from Cromwell. General Sir William Butler, KC.B., writing of this event, says: “No opposition appeared until the leading troops entered the breach. The column anticipated an easy victory, but there was terrible slaughter, and they were repulsed. An hour after nightfall O’Neill withdrew his forces, and the town was surrendered.”

“Ho, chosen warriors of the Lord,
Gird up your loins to-day!
Yon breach within, the sons of sin
Stand desp’rately at bay.
Draw, draw your swords, your pieces prime,
Let drum and trumpet swell !
This charge must tout the Papists out”
Cried Cromwell at Clonmel.

E’en at his word the army stirred,
Grim veterans all were they,
Whose swords had flashed, whose cannon crashed
In many a fiery fray.
At Naseby field and Marston Moor
Full well they’d fleshed their spears,
When fast before their charge had fled
The haughty Cavaliers.

The eyes beneath each morion glowed
With strange, fanatic light;
They deemed themselves the saints of God,
His instruments of might.
No doubt this firm conviction vexed,
But fierce, ferocious, calm,
Their war-cry was a Scripture text,
Their battle-song a psalm.

Across the land their march had been
A devastating flood;
Where’er it twined it left behind
A crimson stain of blood.
Not e’en the piteous plea of age
Their fury could disarm,
And vain the wile of childhood’s smile
Their murderous mood to charm.

And now, behold, against Clonmel
They vainly fling their bands!
Battered and bayed but undismayed
The town defiant stands.
Battered and bayed but undismayed
It meets each fresh attack;
With soldiers few and faint but true
It hurls the foemen back.

Hugh Duff O’Neill commands the town,
And marks, with looks that lower,
Cromwellian cannon batter down
His forts from hour to hour.
He marks the famine-stricken few
That hold the crumbling wall,
And knows that vain is all their pain –
Clonmel at last must fall.

The up he speaks unto his chiefs ;
“Ere yet this town we leave,
We’ll make a stand for fatherland
Will cause the foe to grieve.
The breach that yeawns so widely now
Wil serve our purpose well ;
Before we go we’ll make the foe
Remember ‘Rare Clonmel’!”

Within the breach’s ywning mouth
A lane of stone he rears;
He lines the walls on either side
With all his musketeers,
across the end another wall
With cannon furnished fit –
“I have a mind,” quoth he, “they’ll find
This breach the devil’s pit”

The trap is made, but scarcely laid,
When Cromwell’s voice rings out;
With eager cry his troops reply,
In one wild charging shout.
Then, like the thundering wave that roars
Along the sounding beach,
The rushing Roundhead army pours
Its thousands through the breach!

Clonmel, Clonmel, thy fate is sealed!
Thy sun is sunk in gloom!
No strength thy puny arm may wield
Can save thee from thy doom –
The doom that fell on Drogheda
And Wexford town as well –
Slaughter and flame, defeat and shame,
Are thine today, Clonmel!

But see! But see! Who can these be
From out the breach that run ?
What panic-stricken wretches flee
With broken blade and gun?
Can these be Cromwell’s chosen troops,
Erewhile so fierce and fell,
That stagger out, a broken rout,
From dauntless old Clonmel ?

Yes, yes! Thank God for cannoneers,
Who mowed them down in ranks!
Thank God for ready musketeers
Whose volleys swept their flanks!
Thank God for gallant soldiers all,
Who charged and broke and slew
In one brief hour the very flower
Of Cromwell’s canting crew!

Yes, yes! Thank God for Irish hearts,
Unconquerable still !
Of war’s red cost the Roundhead host
To-day have had their fill.
Honour to these who held the town,
And let the future tell
How Irish swords beat back the hordes
Of Cromwell at Clonmel !

Taken from My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 ; Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford ; 1907 ; No. ISBN

The Moon at Clonmel by C.J. Boland

by C. J. BOLAND.

It was ten o’clock at night when I reached my station on the Kerry line, after a lonely drive over the mountains from the Black Valley, and the mail train was not due for a full hour to come. But Nature had provided a lavish compensation, for the scene before me was one to linger over at the time, and to recall with delight in after years. The moon was shining in the heavens with a bridal radiance, bathing mountain and sea in floods of liquid silver. Above me the bare faces of the rocks high up the mountain side, still wet from the day’s rain, were gleaming like burnished shields. Beeneath slumbered a little hamlet, with its coastguard station snowy white beside the yellow strand. In front the sea was shimmering in an ecstasy under the moonnbeams. Beyond it lay the dark blue promontory, with the narrow mouths of two harbours plainly visible; while the lovely Blasquet Islands, as they stood clear-cut in the silver sea, for once lost their aspect of gloom and desolation. I was leaning on the low parapet of the station wall drinking in the beauty of the SCENE – one of those that are said to call up tears tears to the eye of the beholder. Silence deep and perfect save for the occasional sobbing of the surf as broke against the cliffs far below, only served to lend added charm to the somewhat ghostly beauty of the night.

Suddenly, not without irritation, I heard footsteps approaching along the rough gravel of the platform.

The thought of being interrupted in my visual feast did not appeal to me, but when the stationmaster – for it was he – also leaned silently on the coping in contemplation of the scene, I unconsciously admitted him a partner in my feelings. Perhaps the fact that we were both smoking aided our tacit companionship, and it was some time before words were spoken on either side.

“A lovely moon,” I said at length; “I don’t rememember ever having seen it so perfect.”

“Then,” said the stationmaster, as he took the pipe from his mouth, “then you have never seen the moon at Clonmel,”

I said nothing ; accent alone betrayed him a townsman of mine, but I did not then nor afterwards acknowledge it. Later on, I was glad of my reticence; I’ll for I found him to be a man living a memory long since grown into a crystal, which contact with reality would have hopelessly shivered. I looked at him, and saw a far off reminescent look in his bright old eyes as theY gazed over the prospect, and as I felt an intuition I that he would continue to speak I remained a listener. I wonder it did not strike me at the time that his language was superior to what might be looked for in one at his position; but I fancy he must have read much in the necessarily long intervals from duty at his small hillside station.

“I’m certain of it,” he continued, “and if you are ever there, and such a night as this comes out of the heavens, you will recall my words.

“Twenty years ago I left Clonmel, where I did night duty at the railway station for five years. Winter and summer, in snow and rain, wet nights and fine, I was porter at the night mail; but the only nights I remember now are the moonlight ones. The train was due about two o’clock in the morning – I say about two, for it was oftener nearer to three when she’d whistle at Patrick’s Well. When she was gone, and I had turned out all the lamps, I used to walk home to Irishtown by Gallowshill. Moon or no moon, Gallosshill was dark. Heavy trees overhang it at Prior Park, and maybe it was the trees, or it might be the thought of the hangings in the bad times which gave it its name, that made my heart sink as I walked along in the early morning before dawn, with the silence of death around me. Sleep didn’t come easily to me in those days, perhaps because I was a new hand at the night work; so I was in the habit of taking a walk to tire myself before going to bed in the small hours. I am glad of it now, for the look of Clonmel on a night like this is in my eyes and in my heart for ever. At that hour there wouldn’t be a soul in Johnson Street or Duncan Street except the watchman; but the sleepy cry of him as he droned out, “Past three and a fine night,” wouldn’t have disturbed a weasel. And then I came on the river. The mournful swish-swish of the water, when the river was low, making its way through the weeds, and the dark outlines of the lighters, covered with tarpaulins, made me feel as if I were alone in the world. To stand on the Old Bridge, on such a night as this, is an experience not to be forgotten. If you go there, look across at the mountain, framed by the high buildings like a slender picture; the fences are as clear as on a map, and Pelissier’s Castle and the flagstaff as plain as print. Or lean on the parapet of the bridge, and look down the river at the dark, deserted corn-stores and Grubb’s Island, with the branches of the big sally-trees kissing the water, and the river bubbling along happy and careless. Or turn your eyes up the stream, over the weir, towards the Boathouse; there are trees fringing each bank, and one tall poplar in the distance to finish off the view.

“Then, maybe, I’d go on by Spring Gardens, walk then by the tan-yards, and across the fields towards ‘Little Hell.’ The river is heavy and sluggish there, and you might think it a trifle gloomy, but you will change your mind when you pass the Thirteenth Hole, and stand on the Convent Bridge. Take the view down the river now. Irishtown is asleep on your left, and on the other side lie level fields, with big briar fences between the river and the mountain. You see the mountain again, only more of it, soft and sheltering, with the rugged ridge of the Reeks in the distance, and Slievenamon calmly watching over all. If you can tear yourself from that picture, look up the river once more along the sallies of Purcell’s Island, and along the deep shadow thrown on the water by the Convent wall, and I’m mistaken if the moon won’t pick out the Gravel Island for you, and Newbolds, where the Clonmel schoolboys make their first attempts at swimming.

“At first I used to go straight home from there.

But after my little daughter died–”

There was trouble with the stationmaster’s pipe at this point, and I became deeply interested in the proogress of a fishing corrach which had shot into the line of light, propelled by oars that struck a phosphorescent flash from the sea at every dip. The stationmaster, meanwhile, had overcome the difficulty with his pipe, and resumed.

“I don’t say that others can feel in the same way as I do towards the old churchyard of St. Stephen’s. Because I have a special reason. I lost my little daughter, and there she lies. She would be three twenty now if she had lived. But God’s will be done!
He took her when she was only two, with her laughing face and her wavy black hair like her mother’s.

“From the time she went, I took in the old grave-yard on my moonlight rambles. Goodness knows ’tis a lonely spot. The tall poplars stand around its sides like ghostly sentinels, but the light comes freely between them, and somehow I never could think it a gloomy place. The ruined chapel loses a few centuries in the softness of the moonbeams, and the tombstones leaning this way and that from age gave me the idea that they were human in their weakness, and that they too longed to lie down and be at rest. I never could bring myself to look on them as mere limestone and granite; while others forgot and slept they kept watch, and to me in the moonlight they seemed to feel a sympathy with the lives and the loves of the people they covered. There I could sit by the hour, and maybe it wasn’t good for me, for the thought of my little girl would come so strongly over me, that I could fancy I saw her stumbling towards me across the graves, with her bright eyes laughing and her pretty hands stretched out to me to catch her before she’d fall.”

The stationmaster paused, and then, as if to himself, said, in a softer voice-

“And when it comes my own turn to go, I like to think I’ll feel her little hands in mine, and that they’ll help me.

“Sometimes,” he continued, “sometimes I feel the wish to go back to the old town again, but perhaps I would be sorely disappointed. ‘Tis hard to believe what I’m told, that in twenty years there is scarcely a name on a sign-board in the Main Street which hasn’t been changed. And then, I know I’d miss the old street characters that were as familiar as the face of the clock at the Main Guard. But though all these have changed, I am certain that the moon at Clonmel is shining to-night on the town and river and hill with the same beauty as twenty golden years ago.

“And what wouldn’t I give to see it? ”

A long, shrill whistle from the approaching mail, the gleam of the engine’s fire, and my train drew up at the station.

I shook hands with the old stationmaster, as warmly I hope as I felt towards him, and told him I hoped to be in Clonmel before long.

“Give it my love,” he cried, as the train steamed out; and at the turn of the cutting the station, and the kind, loving soul that brightened it more than the moonbeams, were lost to me, perhaps for ever.

Taken from My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 ; Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford ; 1907 ; No. ISBN

The Wreck of the Gwendoline by C.J. Boland


FROM the day I was nine, the wish was mine
A sailor bold to be ;
I began to pine for the stormy brine,
And a life on the deep blue sea.
And so one day on the old Bridge Quay,
I kissed my blue-eyed Nell,
And I shipped with joy as a cabin-boy
To a boatman of Clonmel.

‘Tis a dreadful shock to leave Poulslough
When the hearts young and bright,
The street called Hawke, and the Grave Walk,
And Duckett Street by night.
My sweet abode on Kerry Road
Is shrined in memory’s cell.
Ah, cruel fate! Good-bye, West Gate,
And Shambles Lane – farewell.

The morn was still; near Hughes’ mill
The Gwendoline was moored.
We laid in grog, and a terrier dog,
And a cargo of oats – insured.
So we poled away at break of day
And waved all friends adieu;
And a loud farewell rang the friary bell
As the brewery hove in view.

At the word “Avast” we manned each mast,
And we cheered for Murphy’s stout,
As the cheer arose, we frightened the crows
On the Waterford bow with the shout.
But the day grew dark, and our bounding barque
Was struck by a sudden squall ;
The captain grew pale in the driving gale,
As we swept by the gashouse wall.

Her timber creaks, and now she leaks;
With a shovel we try to bale,
But not even that, nor the captain’s hat,
Nor an old top-boot avail.
We neared the bank and threw a plank
To the Tipperary shore;
One whirl it gave, then in the wave
It sunk, to rise no more.

I cried “Farewell” to my blue-eyed Nell,
And I brushed away a tear,
But my heart gave a bound as we ran aground
On the wall of Dudley’s weir;
Then we walked ashore, half dead or more,
The dog, and myself, and the tar,
And we shouted” Ahoy” to a creamery boy,
And went home in an ass’s car.

And the captain cried, as we homeward hied,
That his luck for ever was gone,
For a gipsy foretold in the days of old,
He’d be wrecked at “Kilnawan.”
“What harm,” said he, ” if it chanced to be
Where Kilsheelan’s billows foam ?
ut the Board of Trade will me degrade,
For it’s half a mile from home.”

She was stuck in weeds, but some twenty steeds
That were chargers in their day,
They towed her back, on the sternward track,
To her berth beside the quay.
And other boats with Tartary oats,
May sail to Carrick Green,
But never more, by sea or shore,
Will sail the Gwendoline.

Taken from My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 ; Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford ; 1907 ; No. ISBN

An Old Murder “Trial”, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, 1821

from “The Nationalist” Newspaper

In the year 1821 the times in Ireland, particularly in the county of Tipperary, were very disturbed, several murders (including landlords) having taken place. This gruesome year, with the object of carrying out some Government business of importance, I was ordered to visit the south of Ireland. I arrived about one o’clock on the 24th March at Clonmel, and having engaged my bed and ordered dinner, decided on going into the court-house, which was close at hand. It occurred to me that I would see how business was conducted in an Irish court-house, and that perhaps I might be fortunate enough to be present at the hearing of a “sensational case. On going into the court-house I found the hall, which is a large one, crowded by military and police. Observing a smart-looking police sergeant, I addressed him, telling who I was, and expressing a wish to be accommodated with a seat in court. “The court, sir,” he said, “is just now very much crowded,” as a murder case of great importance is being called ; but as the grand jury are now discharged, I will be able to procure you a seat in their gallery.” With the sergeant I entered the gallery by a large winding stair. Here I was afforded a full view of the court and all that was passing. The court itself I found not a large one. It had a fine judicial seat, occupied by the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, Toler (Lord Norbury). There were other galleries, one in front of the bench, the others at each side, with a large dock in the centre, having a large iron railing around it.

Just as I took my seat, the case of the King against James Driscoll, for the murder of Charles Baker, a large landed proprietor residing near Cappawhite, was beginning. After several jurors were ordered to stand aside, and others challenged by the prisoner’s attorney, the jury was sworn, and the prisoner given them in charge. The prisoner was a smart-looking fellow, some twenty-eight years of age, with a determined look. He pleaded “Not guilty.” The court itself was over-crowded. Great excitement was visible everywhere.

The counsel for the Crown, Mr. Scott, stated the case, giving an alarming picture of the state of the country. There were, he said, murders – awful murders – of frequent occurrence, and the present case was one of the worst. Unless the strong arm of the law was able to meet and crush such fearful deeds, juries and judges doing their part, there would be no living in the country, as law and order were unhinged.

The first witness called merely proved the finding of the dead body. The next witness proved seeing the prisoner and a person named Jack Crowe together on the evening of the murder, close to Mr. Baker’s residence.

A great scene was then witnessed in court. A witness was presented who proved too many for judge and counsel. I never before or since saw or read of such a clever fellow: These Tipperary people are, no doubt, a strong and active race.

John Crowe, the prisoner’s former friend, was called to the witness table, having turned king’s evidence. He came forward amidst intense excitement. After being duly sworn, and having given his name, he was ordered to sit down. At this moment the court was as still as the grave .

Mr. Scott, Crown Counsel. – Witness, your name is John Crowe.
Witness made no reply.
Counsel.- Why don’t you answer my question?
Court. – Answer counsel’s question, sir.
Witness. – My lord, he has put me no question. He appears to know my name. He says it is John Crowe, and so it is.
Counsel (a little confused).- You are living close to the prisoner at the bar.
Witness made no reply.
Counsel.–Why don’t you answer my question?
Judge (sharply) – Why don’t you answer counsel’s question
Witness – Counsel put no question. He says I am living close to the prisoner in the dock, and so I am, as every one in court can see. (There was great excitement in the court at this answering.)
Court – Don’t you know sir, that counsel means when you are at home?
Witness – I don’t know what is passing through his mind. I only know what is passing through his lips, and he has addressed me in the present tense. (Sensation in Court)
Counsel – What is the prisoner?
Witness – He is a man.
Counsel – Does he earn his bread by the sweat of his brow?
Witness – that is a queer question – Does he earn his bread by the sweat of his brow? I suppose the sweat on his brow was produced by the use of bread r other food (Great commotion in court, and cries of “Bravo, Crowe”)
Counsel.- Does he earn his bread as a farm labourer?
Witness .- I don’t believe he earns any bread. But I will tell you what I believe and know – he earns potatoes and milk, the common food of the country, three times a day. (Court awfully disturbed.)
Counsel.- You are, I believe, a friend of the prisoner?
Witness.- So you say.
Counsel.- Do you remember 20th January last?
Witness.- I do.
Counsel. – Were you in his company that night ?
Witness. – For a time.
Counsel. – Near Mr. Baker’s house?
Witness. – So you say.
Counsel. – Was the night a bright night?
Witness. – Well, at this distance of time I can’t positively say. After the occurrence, and while the matter was fresh in my memory, I stated it all truly and honestly in an information, which I swore before Mr. Jordan, and if you read that I will swear to every word in it.
Counsel.- I am reading, sir, from your information.
Witness.- No, sir, you are not – you are reading from a brief, made of my information by some clerk. I don’t know what he has written in your brief, I want my information.
Court (to the clerk of the Crown).- Get the information.
Clerk of the Crown. – We can’t find the document in court.
judge. – Let a search be made for it in the Crown office. I will return to court in half-an-hour.

After the adjournment, the judge addressed the clerk of the Crown. – Have you found the missing information ? Clerk of the Crown. – After a most careful search, it is not forthcoming, and no one can account for its missing .

Judge (horrified). – Here is a nice business! So great a miscarriage of justice I never witnessed or heard of.

Crown Counsel. – I will ask your lordship to withdraw this case from the jury in order that it may be again be brought on. There is some foul play .

Judge – I can’t do that; the jury have been regularly empanelled. The prisoner has been put to plead ,and given in charge, and several witnesses examined. Owing to some misconduct in the Crown office the prosecution has fallen through. This is the most remarkable case I have ever had before me. The approver or Crown witness have made a laughing-stock of the court. Let the prisoner be discharged. (Great applause in Court.)

Judge (to Witness) – Where did you go to school? You are the smartest chap I have ever had before me.
Witness: As for school, my lord, I might say I never went to school. At school all I learnt was my letters. I got an old spelling-book, and after much trouble I came on in spelling words, and then I got an old grammar and stUdied it, so as that I got to know some of its meaning.

Here the court broke up in confusion, and I left with a vivid memory of a most notable official fiasco, on the first muRder “trial” I witnessed in the capital of gallant Tipperary.

Taken from My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 ; Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford ; 1907 ; No. ISBN

St. Mary’s Church, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

The Church of St. Mary’s is a very ancient and highly picturesque structure. In its present re-edified state it is, perhaps, the most beautiful of the parochial churches of Ireland; and it is to be regretted that while its original foundation seems completely buried in obscurity, so little is known of its after-history down to comparatively recent times. And yet that old church was the scene of some remarkable events – perhaps the most remarkable being the visit of the famous Dr. Brown, Archbishop of Dublin, who came in 1593, and preached before the Archbishops of Cashel and Tuam, and eight of the Bishops, and also in the presence of an immense popular audience, a sermon “advancing the King’s supremacy.” Then there was, in the following century, the enthronement of the famous Bishop Gore, whose valuable bequest in aid of “ruinated churches” was lately rescued from an adverse possession, and secured to this diocese for all time, mainly through the zealous and persistent efforts of the present Rector of Dunmore, the Rev. Thos. Gimlette, D.D.; and latest of all, the very first episcopal election after the passing of the Church Disestablishment Act was held within those walls, when the present Lord Bishop of Cashel, Maurice Fitzgerald Day, was elected.

St. Mary’s occupies what may be termed the north-western angle of the ancient borough; and stands in the centre of an extensive and beautiful enclosure, now overcrowded with “the habitations of the dead.” The churchyard, with its shady avenues of venerable trees, is enclosed on the north and west sides by the remains of the ancient town walls; the recessed arches in these walls are filled in with granite or marble monuments – while with their parapets are connected three of the old watch-towers belonging to the original fortifications. They are rather quadrangular in shape, and are pierced with narrow windows, evidently of great antiquity.

As to the church itself, its age can only be approximately arrived at from a careful inspection of its older parts. Probably it should be ascribed to the twelfth century ; and it is said that St. Mary’s was built just two-and-thirty years before the Abbey of Holycross.

The church was re-edified in 1805, partly by subscription, when the style was totally changed, the chancel, amongst other alterations, having been considerably diminished in length ; while the Corporation Gallery, emblazoned in front with the Clonmel arms, in oak, and erected on the north side, was then swept away.

In 1857 the church was all but entirely rebuilt in pointed style of the thirteenth century, and a new transept was afterwards added, on the north side.

“On entering the interior of the church itself, one is immediately struck with the elegant simplicity of the structure. The architecture is pointed, and, unlike the interior of the old church, the style is strictly carried out in the pillars, arches, and all the mouldings and omaments of the building. The light and elegant proportions of the pillars and arches, with the absence of side galleries, and the height of the open roof, give an effect of simple grandeur that is most impressive. Seven pillars divide the nave from the lateral aisles – which, with the wall of the tower and the terminal walls of the building, support nine arches, a tenth forming the entrance to a small southern transept; which has been opened in the tower. The pillars are of white sand-stone – the mouldings, the shields, and corbels supporting the principals and spandrils of the roof, being all in character. The chancel has not been altered; it is nearly as wide as the nave, but not so lofty, the roof of the latter being 56 feet 6 inches from the floor. The beautiful arches at either side, enriched with chevron ornaments, foliated capitals, and corbelled out with grotesques and sculptured heads; the groined roof, with diagonal and central ogives, and the exquisite tracery of the eastern stained-glass window, form a picture in this building not to be surpassed by any parish church in the country.” – Abbeys, Castles, and Scenery of Clonmel: Hemphill.

Some further improvements have since been made n the body of the church, including a beautiful pulpit, of Caen stone, resting upon a group of dwarf red Galway marble pillars, which has been erected as a memorial of the Rev. F. T. Brady, rector of the parish, who died in 1874.

Of the original architecture now remaining, the most prominent feature is the great eastern window, with its fine Gothic tracery, filled in with stained glass. A strange story is told about this same window. When, early in the present century, they set about pulling down and re-modelling the chancel-cutting off about thirty feet at the eastern end, and taking in at the opposite end that portion of the nave which had been screened off as useless – it became necessary, in the course of these changes, to take down the great old window; but alas! the person to whom this important work was entrusted forgot to make provision for its re-erection; and when the numerous blocks of stone mullions were strewn about, it was found impossible to place them together again in their former position. A timber window was substituted; while the old sculptured tracery lay scattered in all directions, half hidden amongst the graves by the long grass and rank vegetation. Some few years after an English tourist happened to visit our ancient churchyard, and, being struck with admiration at the beauty of these fragments of the old window, procured a skilled architect, who had them collected together, and the window itself restored according to the original design. It was filled in with stained glass during the churchwardenship of Messrs. Robert Romley and Samuel Morton Tuckey.

The steeple at the south-eastern angle of the church consists of a square basement of great antiquity, with a narrow spiral stone staircase in the walls, leading to a second storey: and an octagonal superstructure some sixty or seventy feet high, pierced in the upper part with eight louvred openings, in the form of Gothic windows, to allow free transmission for the chiming of the bells hung within. Five of these bells, supposed to have been cast in Clonmel, were placed in the steeple nearly two centuries ago; one of them, however, either fell or was taken down, and sold some time since as old metal – so that but four are now in position. Around each bell a legend is traced in raised but now rust-eaten letters. The names of the donors and the date (1697) are given in the inscription.

AI the north-east angle of the church was the Lady’s chapel, but so altered as to represent a massive embattled structure. At the south-west corner there formerly stood a small building, in correct style, known the private chapel of the White family. It cannot be more than seventy or eighty years since the removal of this chapel, after it had become unroofed, and had fallen into complete decay. The appearance it presented in its ruined stage was described by one,now some years deceased, who remembered to have looked, when a boy, through its broken windows. He saw the long grass and rank vegetation that choked up the interior, hiding partly from view the richly sculptured tombs and tablets which, in silent language, seemed to tell the old, old story – “Sic transit gloria mundi!” Some of these monuments were carried off to enrich other buildings, while the western window in the present porch of St. Mary’s once lighted the ancient chapel of the Whites. Three inscribed monuments belonging to this family, which are supposed to have originally belonged to this chapel, are now laid in the centre aisle of the church, near the chancel. They date from A.D. 1583. Two others were removed eighty or ninety years ago to decorate the little ruined chaple near St. Patrick’s Well. A sixth tablet, containing, the arms and insignia of a “Mayor of Clonmel” (1608), found its way, we are informed, to the Roman Catholic churchyard, Irishtown, long since, where for five-and-twenty years it served as a doorstep; fortunately it lay in a reversed position, with its face downwards, and this kept the inscription and armorial bearings free from becoming obliterated. It is now carefully preserved from injury.

Returning to St. Mary’s Church, there is in the south aisle a finely sculptured slab of fine grey limestone, now partly covered by the flooring of a pew. It bears this inscription :-

” Hic jacet Joannes Stritche burgensis huius oppidi qui obiit 25 Maii, 1622 ; et Margareta Daniel alias Smithe uxor eius qUae hoe monumentum superstes in memoriam dicti Joanis fieri fecit Ao. Dm. 1625 qUae obiit — quoru. animabus propitietur Deus.”

“Here lies John Stritche, a burgess of this walled-in town, who died the 25th May 1622; and Margaret Daniel, alias Smith, his wife, who, surviving, caused this monument to be erected in memory of the said John; who died — : to whose souls may God be propitious.”

The devoted wife left nothing to be added to this inscription but the date of her own death, for which a blank was left: that space has never been filled in.

In excavating the flooring of the church during the course of some improvement works about forty years ago, the entrance to a vault was discovered at the east end of the south aisle, immediately near Stritche’s tomb. Upon further search a skeleton was found enncased in armour, a portion of which was secretly removed. The then rector of the parish, the Rev. J. P. Rhoades, having learned of this sacrilegious act, had the stolen armour returned and replaced in the vault, which was then closed up; the place has not since been opened. We are assured of the truth of this singular discovery by a gentleman (Mr. B. P. Phelan, J.P.), who remembers to have seen the mail-clad skeleton. There are, besides these memorials of the past several beautiful white marble monuments erected within the church – the principal are those of Dr. Jos. Moore, for sixty-six years rector of the parish; and of several members of the Bagwell family of Marlfield.

The parish of Innislonagh, Marlfield, has been added to the Diocesan Synod to St. Mary’s, to form the Parochial Union of Clonmel.

Author : WILLIAM CLARKE. Published in In” Clonmel Chronicle.”
Taken from My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 ; Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford ; 1907 ; No. ISBN

The Franciscan Friary, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

The Franciscan Friary was founded in 1269, either by the townsmen, by Otto de Grandison, or by the Desmond Geraldines. The convent was reformed by the Observants in 1536, and surrendered by Robert Travers, the last guardian, 3rd March, 31 Hen. VIII. The property was given, half to the Earl of Ormond and half to the townsmen, who maintained the church, which the Provincial, Father Mooney, found in good order at his visitation to it in 1615. The Tudor iconoclasts had even failed to destroy a miraculous image of St. Francis, on which witnesses used to be sworn “it having been observed that perjurers had often been punished and confounded when they had had the audacity to swear against the truth, calling St. Francis to witness” (Alemand).

The Rev. C. P. Meehan has given us further particulars about the condition of the place when Mooney saw it. The conventual buildings were gone. But in the church the altars were standing, and also a magnificent monument to the Baron of Caher, and many others. The zealous Provincial was much “scandalised by the conduct of some Jesuits and other ecclesiastics, who, in the absence of the Franciscans, allowed the remains of the Protestant sovereign of Clonmel to be interred close by Lord Caher’s monument in the choir, and that he caused the body to be exhumed in the night time, and buried elsewhere. This, he informs us, he did with the permission of the Archbishop of Cashel.” The Archbishop was David Kearney. The Jesuits, if they showed less zeal than this distinguished Franciscan, certainly showed more policy. Mooney succeeded in rescuing the church altogether from the disciples of Loyola; but the lands, in spite of all his efforts, remained with the Earl of Ormond. These were but a few acres of land, partly situated at “New town, near Anner’s Bridge.” A long narrow pasture-field by the riverside, and lately added to the Osborne estate at Newtown Anner, is called, to this day, Inch-na; braher, or Friar’s Field. There were also some houses, one or more mills, and a fishing-pool and weir in Clonmel. The Earl of Ormond and the townsfolk respectively paid twelve pence rent to the Crown for their moiety or halfindel.

Cromwell is said to have stabled his troopers in the church, and the place fell gradually to decay.  After other strange vicissitudes, the building passed once more into the possession of the Franciscan Order. In 1827 the Friary was restored, and it is to be regretted that this was accomplished in a manner calculated, in a great measure, to destroy many traces of its original architecture then in existence. From the remains of the east window of the choir, which can now only be seen between the present ceiling and the outer roof, it was evidently a pure specimen of the Early English style, similar to the cathedral on the Rock of Cashel. The tower is the only part left in its original state – its parapet and pinnacles are, however, of modern erection. The present resident guardian, the Rev. James Walsh, O.S.F., has done much in beautifying the interior of the church, and has also shown a most praiseworthy interest in protecting from further injury the few fragmentary remains of the ancient sculptured monuments which once adorned the abbey. The covering slab of a remarkably fine tomb, belonging to the Butlers, and bearing the effigies of a Knight Templar and his wife, of the House of Ormond, has been carefully set up inside the church, immediately opposite the main entrance. We learn from the inscription it bears that this tomb was originally erected the memory of “James Galdie Butler,” and other members of the family, who died during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Author : WILLIAM CLARKE. Published in In “Clonmel Chronicle.”
Taken from My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 ; Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford ; 1907 ; No. ISBN

The Siege of Clonmel by Oliver Cromwell

Clonmel acquired much importance during the civil wars of the seventeenth century. It was one of the first places seized by Colonel Richard Butler of Kilcash, and the Lords of the Pale, when they resolved to take up arms and make common cause with the northern insurgents. Its citizens insisted strongly upon their allegiance to the royal cause, avowing that their only purpose was to defend themselves against a Parliament equally hostile to the sovereign and to themselves. They acted with singular magnanimity, for we read that their leaders granted a safe-conduct to such of the Protestant townsmen as were unwilling to join their ranks. It should also be mentioned to the credit of our town, that when cromwell’s commissioners afterwards made inquisition to the massacres of 1641, and following years, it was discovered that Clonmel had remained free from crime, and that not a single outrage had been perpetrated here. Life was found to have been held sacred within our walls. In the year 1650 Clonmel earned for itself a proud distinction, winning from Cromwell himself the highest tribute of admiration. The Parliamentarian general was sweeping with fiery haste through the southern counties of Ireland, and at last resolved to summon the garrison of Clonmel. The Earl of Ormond had already poured into the town some 1500 Ulstermen for its defence, entrusting the command to Hugh O’Neill, a kinsman of the great northern chieftain.  Fethard had been quietly surrendered ; Cashel garrisoned with a Parliamentary force ; Caher and Kilkenny were also safe in their hands ; and now, Cromwell with his ‘Ironsides.’ turns towards Clonmel, where the death agony of a terrible war is to be experienced.

For more than a month the lieutenant-general lay encamped before Clonmel, and siege operations were carried on with great difficulty and daily hazard. Day after day wore on, and still the enemy held out until about the 8th of May, when Cromwell resolved to push matters to the extremeties, for events in England were demanding his speedy return. A formidable battery was erected, and the guns opened fire upon the devoted walls : a breach was effected at about three o’clock in the afternoon of the 9th of May – it is supposed near the northern gate – and the besieging forces were thus enabled to dislodge the “flankers,” who had annoyed them with an unceasing cross-fire.

Cromwell lost many of his men in attempting to enter through the breach which his guns had made. The lot fell upon one Colonel Cullen, who was chosen to lead the advance with both infantry and cavalry. Where the wall had been battered down, was at the end of a great street-so the despatch of Mr. Secretary Cliffe runs – on either side of which were old houses, with wide bay windows, filled with armed men, who maintained a galling fire upon the assailants. Every effort was made to force a passage into the town, and beyond the counterscarp which O’Neill had thrown across; but a deadly storm rained thick upon the devoted band, and they were thrown into disorder. A precipitate flight ensued; and the ranks of the invaders were reduced to a skeleton. Cromwell had met with, indeed, “the stoutest enemy” he had ever encountered since his landing in Ireland. Those who survived that fatal hour had literally to be dragged up by hand over the debris of the broken ramparts. Cullen and several of his bravest companions were killed in the attack.(1)

Oliver next issued directions to have heavier guns brought up from the battery, and placed that night nearer the ramparts, ready for the morrow’s work. That night, Hugh O’Neill and his Ulstermen held a council of war with the civic authorities, which had been hastily summoned to consider the question of an immediate flight or further resistance. The latter was found imopssible, for the very plate of the richer in habitants had been melted down for the purpose of casting bullets ; and now these were all expended, and the powder supply totally exhausted. It was decided that the general and his brave army should make good their escape under the cover of night; this they were enabled to do through a clever stratagem.

At about twelve o’clock that night some of the officers stationed on the breach came to the camp, escorting two of the townspeople, with word from the mayor and the governor that they were ready to treat for surrender of the town, their lives and properties being guaranteed. Cromwell entered into treaty with them, and the articles of capitulation were actually drawn up. Nothing remained to be done, except their formal signature. It was not long before the silence was broken by a shrill alarum ; the troops rushed from their tents only to learn that O’Neill and his officers had escaped. Cromwell though outwitted, kept his word with the townspeople of Clonmel. This was all the more remarkable as he had lost 2500 people in that seige alone. He traced his great burly “Oliver” at the foot of the articles of surrender, and sent immediately a force of cavalry in pursuit of the fugitive army. The next morning, Cromwell marched into Clonmel: a new garrison was appointed, and Colonel Sankey was placed as Governor of the town.

From the bed of the river, near the old Manor Mills, several cannon-balls have been taken. Terrible reminders these, of that pitiless storm of iron hail which rained so furiously over Clonmel!

(1). It was in the course of this disastrous affair that Captain Langley, who was one of the first to volunteer for service with the storming party, had his left hand cut off by a blow of a scythe as he was attempting to mount the breach. Ever after he wore an iron hand, which curious and interesting memento is, we are informed, still preserved in a glass case at Coalbrook, the residence of that brave officer’s lineal descendant, Geo. Langley, Esq., D.L. Another relic is to be found at Coolmore, the residence of the late Captain Sankey, R.N.-namely, a pair of military gauntlets presented by Cromwell himself to an ancestor of his, who also was at the siege of Clonmel.

Taken from :
My Clonmel Scrapbook
Compiled & Edited James White
Second 1000 Published E. Downey & Co., Waterford 1907 No. ISBN

Monumental Inscriptions, Uskane, Co. Tipperary

Transcribed by Revd. Wallace Clare, F.R.S.A., F.I.G.R.S.
Published in The Irish Genealogist, 1957, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 74-75

Connors: Pray for the soul of James Connors, Birr, who died 31st January, 1876, aged 56 years. Erected by his wife Bridget.

Other surnames in this transcription:


Emigration and Education Statistics, 1931, Co. Tipperary

Description from Thoms’ 1931 Directory

Tipperary an inland county is the province of Munster is bounded on the north by Galway and Offaly (King’s county), on the east by Offaly, Laois (Queen’s county) and Kilkenny, on the south by Waterford, and on the west by Cork, Limerick, Clare and Galway. Length from the corner of the Araglin river on the boundary south-west of Clogheen to where the Little Brosna river enters the Shannon is 74 miles; breadth from the western boundary between Hospital and Emly and Carrickdoon Hill on the eastern boundary is 45 miles.

Name & Former Divisions

The ancient sub-kingdom of Thomond or North Munster, included portions of North Tipperary and Ormond, or East Munster, included in the middle and southern parts of the county. The ancient district of Muskerry Tire, part of Thomond, corresponds with the barony called Lower Ormond, and part of that called Upper Ormond both erroneously named. The Galtee mountains were originally called Crotta Cliach, or Slieve Grod, a name which survives in Dungrod, an old castle near Galbally. In ancient times there were four royal residences in Tipperary, one at Cashel which was the ancient capital, and is still the Ecclesiastical capital of Munster; a second at Cahir (Caher), on a rock in the Suir; another at Dungrod Castle; and another at Knockgraffon, the residence in the 3rd century of Fiacha Mullehan, King of Munster.

Physical Features

There was an extensive coalfield in Tipperary; it extended about 20 miles by 6 between Freshford, Co. Kilkenny, to near Cashel, and was about 6 miles broad. North east of Killaloe, in the Arra Mountains are the Killaloe slate quarries. Mines of lead with a mixture of silver were worked in the 18th century, in the Silvermine mountains near Kilboy.

The chief Mountain Ranges are Knockmealdown, the Galtees and Slievenaman in the south, the group of which Keepherhill is the principle in the west and the Slievedaragh Hills in the east. The Knockmealdown, the highest summit of which is Knockmealdown or Slievecua (2,609′) run east and west. The Galtees are separated from the Knockmealdown by a valley about 7 miles wide. The highest summits are Galteymore (3,015′) and Slievenamuck (1,215′). Slievenaman (2,364′) stands in the south east of the county, and is surrounded by several smaller peaks, the chief of which are Carrickabrock (1,859′), Sheegouna (1,822′) and Knocknahunna(1,654′). Knockshigowna (701′) near Cloughjordan, is associated with many fairy legends. The range of which Keeperhill (2,278′) is the chief, are situated in the west of the county. Mauherslieve (1,783′), Knocktiege (1,312′) and Knocknasceggan (1,296′) are the principle; a smaller group lies to the south east of these from which they are separated by the valley of the Bilboa river; the chief peaks are Knockalough (1,407′) and Laghtseefin (1,426′). The Silvermine mountains lie north of Keeperhill and are separated from it by the Mulkear river. North west of these are the Arra mountains (1,517′), rising over the Lough Derg opposite Killaloe. South of the town of Roscrea, the group known as the Devil’s Bit (1,583′) begins and runs south west. This mountain has a remarkable gap in its outline, from which it was formerly called Barnane Ely; the other peaks in the range are Kilduff (1,462′), Borrisnoe (1,471′), Benduff (1,399′), Knockanora (1,429′) and Latteragh (1,257′)

(NOTE: The directory does not explain that the Devil was on his way to Cork or that direction anyhow, and he felt a bit hungry, took a bite out of a mountain. Didn’t like the taste and spit it out. That’s how we have the Rock of Cashel :)

The middle of the county is occupied by a fine plain through which runs the River Suir. The “Golden Vale”, well known as containing some of the richest land in the country, is a branch of this plain; it runs west from Fethard into Limerick and is bounded by Slievenamuck on the south and Slievefelim on the north, and from this stretches towards Kilmallock and Bruree in Co. Limerick.

The chief rivers are the Shannon, the Suir and the Nore with their tributaries. The Shannon and Lough Derg form the north western boundary; the tributaries of the Shannon are the Little Brosna, the Ballyfinboy, the Nenagh (with its tributaries, the Ollatrim and Ballintotty), the Newtown river, the Kilmastulla river, the Newport river, the Clare river, the Bilboa river (with its tributaries the Gortnageragh, the Cahernahallia and the Dead river). The Nore rises in the Devils Bit Mountains, flows east-north-east for about 9 ½ miles through Tipperary, forms the boundary with Laois (Queen’s county), for about two miles and then enters Laois. The King’s river rises in Tipperary, near Ballingarry and flows first southward and then eastwards and enters county Kilkenny near Callan. The Munster river forms the boundary for about 8 miles between Tipperary and Kilkenny, entering Kilkenny where it joins the King’s river. The Suir rises at the foot of the Benduff Mountain near Moneygall, it flows eastward for about 5 miles, and then south for about 55 miles when it touches county Waterford and turns in a south east direction and after about 5 miles turns east again and forms the boundary between Tipperary and Watrford for about 1 ½ miles. It’s chief tributaries are the Drish (with its tributary the Black river), the Anner (with its tributaries, the Honor, the Clashawley and the Moyle) and the Lingaun on the left bank; the Clodiagh (with its tributaries the Cromoge and the Owenbeg), the Multeen (with a tributary also called Multeen), the Ara (with tributary the Aherlow), the Thonoge, the Tar (with tributaries, the Duag and the Burncourt) on the right bank.


Year Males Females Total Pop.
1821 172,468 174,428 346,896
1831 197,713 204,850 402,563
1841 216,650 218,903 435,553
1851 160,024 171,543 331,567
1861 122,483 126,623 249,106
1871 106,499 110,214 216,713
1881 98,755 100,857 199,612
1891 86,807 86,381 173,188
1901 81,399 78,833 160,232
1911 78,584 73,849 152,433
1926 72,867 68,079 141,015

Families and Houses in 1926

The number of families in the county was 30,403, the average number in each family being 4.5. The number of inhabited houses was 29,425 showing an average of 4.7 persons to each house. The special inmates of public institutions are omitted from these calculations.

There were in the county 19,081 Occupiers or Heads of Families who were in occupation of less than five rooms, being 62.7% of the total for the county; of these, 1,004, or 3.3% of the families in the county occupied one room; 4,148, or 13.6% , 2 rooms; 5,856 or 19.2%, 3 rooms; and 8, 073 or 26.5%, occupied 4 rooms.

There were in the county 356 tenements in which the room had only one occupant; 450 cases where the room had 2-4 occupants; 163 cases in which there were 5-7 occupants and 35 cases where the occupants f one room exceeded 7 in number, including 4 cases where 10 persons and 2 cases where 12 or more persons occupied the same room.

Birthplace of Inhabitants

Of the population in 1926, 87.23% were born in the county, 11.22 % in other counties in Saorstat Eireann. 0.26% in Northern Ireland, 0.88% in Great Britain, and 0.41% were born abroad.


In 1911 there were in the county 126,545 persons aged 9 years and upwards; of these 115,062 or 90.9% could read and write; 3,250 or 2.6% could read only; and 8,233 or 6.5% were illiterate. As this is the first census where the age was raised from 5 to 9 it is not possible to compare figures for earlier censuses. However, the report states that the percentage of those of 5 years and upwards who were unable to read and write was 15.1% in 1891, 10.9% in 1901 and had fallen to 8.9% in 1901.

IRISH SPEAKING (1861-1911)

of people
1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911

Irish only
680 675 248 68 15 3

Irish & English
36,621 21,245 23,558 12,244 9,720 10,017

Irish Total
37,301 21,920 23,806 12,312 9,735 10,020
% of
19.6 10.1 11.9 7.1 6.1 6.6

RELIGIONS, 1871-1926 (% of population)

1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1926

Roman Catholic
93.8 94.2 94.0 93.82 94.57 96.86

Church of Ireland
5.4 5.1 5.3 5.43 4.74 2.64

0.3 0.3 0.3 0.35 0.29 0.16

0.3 0.3 0.3 0.29 0.28 0.12

0.2 0.1 0.1 0.11 0.12 0.22

EMIGRATION (1861-1911)






81,068 47,269 26,465 32,762 19,050 12,307