Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary, Co. Tipperary

Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary comprises of several counties, cities, boroughs, parish and villages – with historical and statistical descriptions – of Ireland. Here are From-Ireland.net’s records for Co. Tipperary.


  • Place
    Cashel Town
  • County
    Tipperary
  • Parish
    Cashel
  • Content
    CASHEL, a city (being the seat of an archbishoprick and diocese), borough, market and post-town, in the barony of MIDDLETHIRD, county of TIPPERARY, and province of MUNSTER, 12 miles (N.N.W.) of Clonmel, and 75 miles (S.W.) from Dublin city; containing, within the corporate lands, 12,582 inhabitants, of which number, 6971 are in the city.

    This place was the residence of the kings of Munster; and a synod was held in it by St. Patrick, St. Ailbe, and St. Declan, in the reign of Aengus, who, after his conversion to the Christian faith by St. Patrick, is said to have founded a church here. It is uncertain at what period Cashel first became the head of a bishoprick; indeed, its early history is involved in much obscurity, and has been a fertile source of hypothetical inquiry. Some writers assert that Cormac Mac-Culinan, King and Bishop of Cashel, who was killed in his retreat from battle in 908, either founded or restored the cathedral, by building on the rock of Cashel an edifice now called Cormac's Chapel, one of the most interesting architectural remains in the kingdom; but its erection is with greater probability, ascribed by others to Cormac MacCarthy, the pious King of Desmond. In 990, this place was fortified by Brian Boru, who rebuilt thirteen royal houses and palaces in Munster, one of which is still pointed out at the corner of Old Chapel-Lane, in this town. Until the year 1101, the buildings on the rock of Cashel were merely such as composed the dun, or royal residence, or the carsoil, or habitation on the rock of the Kings of Munster; the cathedral probably occupied some other site. In that year, according to the Annals of Innisfallen, Murtogh O'Brien convened a great Assembly of the clergy and people of Cashel, in which he assigned over to the bishops that "hitherto royal seat" of the Kings of Munster, and dedicated it to God, St. Patrick and St. Ailbe. The same annals record that, in 1127, Cormac MacCarthy, King of Desmond, erected a church here (the chapel above noticed), called from him Teampul Chormaic, which in 1134 was consecrated by the archbishop and bishops of Munster, in the presence of the nobility and clergy. A new church was built in 1169, on the site of the present cathedral, by Donald O'Brien, King of Limerick, who endowed it with lands, and converted the church founded by Cormac into a chapel or chapter-house on the south side of the choir of the new edifice.

    Henry II, at landing at Waterford in 1172, marched to Cashel, where e received the homage of the above named Donald O'Brien; and in November of that year he summoned a general synod of the Irish clergy, which was also attended by those Irish lords who submitted to his sway, and at which Christian, Bishop of Lismore, the pope's legate, presided. This assembly acknowledged the sovereignty of Henry; and of the ordinances enacted by it, one exempted the persons of the clergy from the jurisdiction of the civil courts in criminal cases, and their lands from all secular taxes; and another enjoined a perfect conformity of the church of Ireland with that of England. Henry, during his stay here, bestowed on the Archbishop and chapter the city of Cashel, with a large tract of the adjoining country. After his departure, Richard Strongbow led an army to this place against the native princes of the west, and encamped here, awaiting the arrival of reinforcements from Dublin, which being defeated at Thurles, he was compelled to retreat precipitately to Waterford. In 1179 the town was burnt; after its restoration, Donat or Donchad O'Lonargan, who succeeded to the see in 1216, erected it into a borough. Henry III, in 1228, remitted to Archbishop Marian and his successors the new town of Cashel, to be held of him and his heirs in free, pure and perpetual alms, discharged from all extractions and secular services. Sir David le Latimer, seneschal to Archbishop Marian, founded an hospital for sick and infirm poor, in honour of St. Nicholas, which was afterwards given to a society of Cistercians introduced by Archbishop David Mac Carvill. In 1243 a Dominican friary was founded by Archbishop David MacKelly, which being destroyed by an accidental fire, was rebuilt by Archbishop Cantwell, who was constituted both patron and founder by an instrument dated at Limerick about the year 1480; and in 1250 Archbishop Hacket founded the Franciscan friary. Hore Abbey, called also "St.Mary's Abbey of the Rock of Cashel," was originally founded for Benedictines; but Archbishop Mac Carvill, having dreamt that the monks had made an attempt to cut off his head, forcibly dispossessed them of their house and lands, and gave the whole of their possessions to a body of Cistercian monks, whom he brought from the Abbey of Mellifont, in the county of Louth.

    In 1316, on Palm-Sunday, Edward Bruce came hither with his army from Limerick, and proceeded to Nenagh; and in 1372, a parliament was held at this place. In 1495, during the baronial feuds, Gerald, Earl of Kildare, influenced by hostile feelings towards David Creaghe, then archbishop, set fire to the cathedral, and in the presence of the king subsequently defended this outrage, in answer to the accusations of his persecutors, on the ground that he would not have destroyed the building had he not thought that the archbishop was in it at the time. On the termination of the insurrection headed by the Earl of Tyrone, this place, with others, surrendered with discretion, in 1603, to the Lord-Deputy Mountjoy. Lord Inchiquin advanced against it from the siege of Cahir, in 1647,; the inhabitants took refuge in their church on the rock, which was well fortified and garrisoned. Inchiquin proposed to leave them unmolested, on condition of their contributing 3000 pounds and a month's pay for his army; this offer being rejected, he took the place by storm, with great slaughter both of the soldiery and citizens, among whom 20 of the Roman Catholic clergy were involved; and after having secured the immense booty of which he obtained possession, dispersed his forces into garrison. In 1690 the adherents of King William who had been wounded in the attack on Limerick were hospitably received by the inhabitants of Cashel, whose humane attention induced the King, on the bridge of Golden, about 4 miles distant, to renew their charter by letter, which is still in the possession of the corporation.

    The town is situated on the mail coach road from Dublin to Cork, about two miles from the river Suir, in a fine open country; it consists of one principal street from which several others diverge irregularly, and contains 1059 houses. The inhabitants are very inadequately supplied with water, partly by pumps, which in summer afford only a scanty supply of hard water unfit for many culinary and domestic purposes, and partly with soft water conveyed by pipes from a distance of two miles. A small stream from the same source was brought into the town some years since, through the exertions of Archdeacon Cotton, at an expense of above 200, which was defrayed by subscription and an annual grant of £50 pounds from the grand jury of the county, under the authority of an act of parliament called Lee's Act; but in a very short time it proved useless. Subsequently, W.B. Upton, Esq., an inhabitant, suggested a plan for bringing such a supply from a distance of 17 miles as would admit of the passage of boats also, by which turf from the Bog of Allen, about 4.50 miles distant, and coal from the Killenaule collieries, about 14 miles distant, might be conveyed to the town: the estimated cost was £9000, to advance which sum an application was made to Government, but the plan failed in obtaining the sanction of Government, and no steps have been since taken towards accomplishing so desirable an object.

    The archbishop's palace was formerly situated at Cammas, about two miles distant: the present, which stands within the city and was erected about the middle of the last century, is a large and well-built mansion, with extensive gardens attached, from which the ruins of the cathedral on the rock appear strikingly grand and conspicuous. Attached to the palace is a building in which is deposited a library of nearly 9000 volumes, chiefly bequeathed by Archbishop Bolton in 1741, for the use of the clergy of the diocese, and preserved by the Archbishop, but there is no special fund for its support; some of the clergy have of late contributed to its augmentation by subscriptions for the purchase of a few valuable modern works. The infantry barracks are a handsome range of building, occupying three sides of a quadrangle, and are adapted to the accommodation of one field officer, six other officers, and 146 non-commissioned officers and privates, with stabling for three horses and an hospital for 21 patients. The markets are on Wednesday and Saturday: the market-house, situated in the centre of the main-street, is not now open for the use of the public, except for the purpose of weighing butter and other articles. Fairs are held on March 26th and Aug 7th: and in 1826 a grant of a fair on the third Tuesday in every month was made to Richard Pennefather, Esq., with a court of piepoudre. This is the residence of the chief magistrate of police (Capt. Nangle), and a chief constabulary police station for the district.

    The town, as previously noticed, was erected into a borough about 1216, by Archbishop Donat, who gave burgage tenements to the burgesses, and is said to have also conferred on them the same privileges as were enjoyed by the burgesses of Bristol, reserving to the see a yearly rent of 12d out of each burgage. Archbishop Marian, in 1230, granted the town to the provost and twelve burgesses, except only the shambles, then situated behind the present shambles, and the great bake-house in John-Street, subsequently called Cunningham's Hall; he also granted them free pasture in all his lands (except meadows, corn and manors), and empowered them to hold a hundred court and a court baron for hearing and determining please, reserving out of these grants only chief-rents. Richard II, in 1378, confirmed all the privileges of the corporation; and other charters, chiefly confirmatory, were granted by Archbishop Roland in 1557, and by Queen Elizabeth, in reward of their dutiful conduct, in 1584. Charles I, in 1637, granted a new charter, ordaining that the town or borough should be called the "City of Cashel;" and two years after, another, which is now the governing charter. James II seized the franchise into his own hands, pursuant to a degree of the exchequer, and subsequently granted a charter which is now considered void; their ancient rights and privileges were restored to the corporation by King William, as before stated. In the "New Rules" of the 25th of Charles II, for regulating corporations in Ireland, it was ordained that the appointment of the mayor, recorder, and town clerk should be subject to the approbation of the lord-lieutenant and privy council. The corporation, under the style of the "Mayor, Aldermen, Bailiffs, Citizens, and Commons of the City of Cashel," consists of a mayor, aldermen (limited by the charter to 17 in number), two bailiffs, and an unlimited number of commons, aided by a recorder, town-clerk, two serjeants-at-mace, a swordbearer,and a crier; a treasurer is also appointed. The mayor is elected annually on June 29th, by the court of common hall, and is one of three persons nominated by the aldermen from among themselves, but the choice may be extended to the citizens and commons, at the discretion of the aldermen; he is sworn into office on Sept 29th , and, with the concurrence of three aldermen, has power to appoint a deputy during illness or absence. The aldermen, on vacancies occurring, are chosen from among the freemen by the remaining aldermen and hold office for life. The recorder, according to practice, is elected by the mayor and aldermen, but the charter gives the power to the entire body; he holds his office during good behaviour, and may appoint a deputy. The bailiffs, by the charter, are eligible from among the citizens, one by the mayor and aldermen and one by the corporation at large; according to practice they are elected annually on June 29th in the common hall from among the freemen, on the recommendation of the aldermen. The town-clerk is elected annually with the mayor and the bailiffs; the sword-bearer is eligible by the whole body, and holds his office during good behaviour; and the serjeant-at-mace and the crier are appointed by the mayor. The freedom is obtained only by gift of the mayor and aldermen, who are the ruling body of the corporation, and have the entire management of its affairs. The city returned two members to the Irish Parliament until the Union, since which it has sent one to the Imperial parliament. The right of election was vested solely in the corporation, but by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap 88, has been extended to the 10 pound householders of an enlarged district, comprising an area of 3974 acres, which has been constituted the new electoral borough, and the limits of which are minutely described in the Appendix: the number of electors registered at the close of 1835 was 277, of whom 8 were freemen; the mayor is the returning officer.

    The mayor, deputy mayor, and recorder are justices of the peace for the city of Cashel and the county of Tipperary; and they are judges of the Tholsel court, the attachments and other process of which are executed by the bailiffs. This court, which by the charter is to be held weekly, and of which Thursday is the court day, has jurisdiction (not exclusive) in causes not exceeding the amount of £20 late currency; arising within the ancient bounds of the city and its liberties; and suits may be commenced in it either by action or attachment, on affidavit made before the mayor or his deputy of the amount and cause of action. Very few causes are now tried in this court, attributable to the expense of the proceedings,, and to the facility of the recovering debts afforded by the assistant barrister's court. In addition to this jurisdiction, the charter gives it a further jurisdiction to the extent of 40s in causes arising without the city and liberties; but this power is in some degree limited by the 36th of George III, cap. 39, which requires that the cause of action shall have arisen, or that the defendant be resident, within the city and liberties. The charter granted a court baron to be held before the mayor every three weeks; and a court leet with view of frankpledge, to be held within a month after Easter and Michaelmas, before the mayor and recorder, or before one of them and the deputy of the other. Quarter sessions for the county are held here in January and July, and generally continue ten days; petty sessions for the division are held every Wednesday by the county magistrates; and similar sessions are held for the city, at which both the county and city magistrates preside. The county court-house and prison, erected in 1818, on the south side of the city fronting the green, form a neat and substantial pile of building of stone: the former is sufficiently adapted to the transaction of business; and the latter, to which the city magistrates also commit prisoners, contains eight cells, three day-rooms, and two airing-yards. The corporation estates comprise 2024 Irish acres, let on lease for 99 years to various tenants, and producing an income of about £220 per annum.

    The city is comprised within the parishes of St. John the Baptist and St. Patrick's Rock; the former containing 5207, and the latter 9454, statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The living of St. John's is a rectory entire, united time immemorially to the entire rectory of Balliclerihan and the rectory and vicarage of Coleman, together constituting the corps of the deanery of Cashel, in the diocese of Cashel, and in the patronage of the Crown. The tithes of the parish amount to £341.5s.10d., and of the union to £483.9s.4d. ; the glebe comprises 100 acres at Deansgrove, and there is also a glebe of 11 acres at Ballyclerihan, but no deanery or glebe-house. Besides several tenements, the lands belonging to the dean comprise 203 1/2 acres, let on lease at a rent of £58 and annual renewal fines of £40 ; the gross annual revenue of the deanery, including tithes and lands, as returned by the Commissioners, amounts to £625. The church, erected on the site of a former edifice and completed in the year 1783, is a handsome and spacious structure of stone, with a lofty spire of good proportions, and serves both for the cathedral and the parochial church; the result of a survey made by Archbishop Agar having proved the old cathedral church to be incapable of restoration, the two were consolidated by act of council in 1749, and a portion of the economy fund of the cathedral was appropriated to the erection of this church, and lately towards keeping it in repair; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have also recently made a grant of £138.18s.6d., for repairing it. The living of St. Patrick's Rock is a rectory and vicarage, the rectory appropriate to the economy fund of the cathedral church, and the vicarage to that of the vicar's choral; the tithes amount to £701. 5s. 9d., of which £362. 5s. 8d., belongs to the former, and £339. 0s. 1d., to the latter.

    In the Roman Catholic divisions the two parishes form a union or district called Cashel, which is the union or parish of the Dean. The chapel of St. John's, situated in Friar-street, is a spacious and elegant structure, now undergoing extensive alteration and repair, including the erection of a spire; it is faced with hewn stone, and, when completed, will be very ornamental to the city, behind it is a convent of nuns of the order of the Presentation; and there is another chapel at Rosegreen, in the parish of St. Patrick's Rock.

    There is a place of worship for Wesleyan methodists, a neat building situated in the Main-street, and erected by subscription on a site granted at a nominal rent by W. Pennefather, Esq., in which part of the old prison built by Edward I was incorporated; it was opened for divine service on the 2nd of July, 1833.

    At the entrance to the city from Dublin are the buildings of the charter school, founded in 1751, and towards the support of which Archbishop Price contributed £50 per annum during his lifetime, and at his death bequeathed £300; it was also endowed with £600 by Archbishop Palliser, and, in 1746, with a lease for 99 years of 27 acres of land by the corporation: for many years 83 boys were supported and educated in this establishment, but since the withdrawal of parliamentary aid from the society at Dublin, the school has been discontinued. a parochial school is supported by annual grants of £21 from the archbishop and £10 late currency from the dean, in addition to which the dean and chapter provide a school-house and books. A national school was established by the late Rev. Dr. Wright, parish priest, which is aided by a grant of £25 per annum from the Board of Education, and by collections at the Roman Catholic chapel: the school-house is a good slated building erected by Dr. Wright at an expense of 332. A national school is also conducted by the Presentation nuns, and is aided by an annual grant of £32 from the Board, and a donation of £60 per annum from the parish priest: there is also a Sunday school well attended. The total number of children on the books of the day schools, which are in the parish of St. John, is 584, of whom 206 are boys and 378 girls; and in the different pay schools there are, in the same parish, 400 boys and 180 girls, and in that of St. Patrick's Rock, 65 boys and 55 girls.

    The county infirmary is a handsome and commodious building, situated on the green: it contains 40 beds, and is now being enlarged for the reception of a greater number of patients: in 1835, the number admitted into the house was 325, and of out-patients 4386; the total expenditure for that year amounted to £1043. 14s. 9.50d. A charitable loan society has been recently established for advancing sums of money on security for necessitous tradesmen, who repay it by weekly installments in the proportion of 1 shilling in the guinea.

    The principal gentlemen's seats in the immediate vicinity are Newpark, the residence of M. Pennefather, Esq, D.L., Richmond, of R. Butler H. Lowe, Esq. D.L., Longfield, of R. Long, D.L., Esq.; Rockview, of S. Cooper, Esq., Dualla, of J. Scully, Esq., Ballinamona, of W. Murphy, Esq., Deer Park, of J. Hare, Esq., and Race-Course Lodge, of Avary Jordan, Esq.

    The Rock of Cashel is an extraordinary mass rising on every side with a precipitous and rugged elevation, and consisting of concentric strata of limestone; the remains of the ancient structures by which it is crowned have an imposing and highly romantic appearance. Among these, Cormac's Chapel, standing in a line parallel with the south side of the choir of the cathedral, is one of the best preserved buildings of that age in the kingdom; the walls and roof are of stone, the latter finely groined. The entrance doorway is a Norman arch richly moulded and ornamented with zig-zag and bead-work; above it is a device in bas relief of a centaur shooting at an animal with a bow and arrow; the groining of the roof springs from low pillars with capitals variously ornamented. At the eastern end is a large recess, separated from the western part by a circular arch highly enriched and ornamented with grotesque heads of men and animals: within this recess is another of smaller dimensions, probably intended for the altar. The walls of each portion of the building are relieved with blank arches, and the pilasters from which they spring have been richly ornamented with various devices. A window has been recently opened by the Rev. Archdeacon Cotton, which has rendered visible some very ancient painting in fresco in the recesses of the walls; fourteen stone figures, representing the twelve apostles and others, have also been discovered. The exterior walls of the chapel are, on the south side, ornamented with blank arches supported by pillars with grotesque heads; and attached to the building is a square tower, strengthened with bands of masonry and similarly ornamented.

    The ancient cathedral, now in ruins, was a spacious cruciform structure, with a central tower supported on pointed arches, and generally in the early English style of architecture; it is in several parts embattled, and with other features of a military character presents a venerable and singularly picturesque appearance. But it is more striking as a grand and well-broken mass, than remarkable either for the elegance or richness of its details. The only monument worthy of notice is that of Archbishop Magrath, who is represented in a recumbant posture; it bears the date 1621, and was erected by himself about one year before his death. One the south side of the cathedral is the vicar's hall; and at the eastern angle of the north transcept is an ancient round tower, in a very perfect state of preservation, its stone roof being still entire; the several stages were lighted by windows, of which the ledges are still remaining; the original doorway has been walled up, and another opened leading into the cathedral. The Dominican friary, situated in Moorlane, was, after its dissolution, granted in perpetuity by Henry VIII to Walter Fleming, in capite, at the annual rent of 2s.6d.: this was one of the noblest buildings of the order in Ireland, and considerable remains of its spacious cruciform church may yet be seen between the rock and the Main-Street. At a short distance from the town are the remains of Hore Abbey, which are noticed in the description of the parish of that name. At the back of Friar-street formerly were the remains of the Franciscan monastery, the site of which is partly occupied by the R.C. chapel; after its dissolution it was granted , in the 31st of Henry VIII, to Edmund Butler, Archbishop of Cashel, to be held by him in capite at an annual rent of 2s.10d. On the ascent to the cathedral is a stone, on which, according to tradition, the Kings of Munster were annually inaugurated. This place gives the titles of Viscount and Earl to the family of Moore, Earls of Mountcashel.