I come from Co. Tipperary, which is a county in the south of Ireland, in the provence of Munster. I was born and raised near the village of Rosegreen, which in turn is near the ancient town of Cashel. Let me tell you a little more about them...
Munster is the most southern of the provinces, consisting of counties Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. Its name derives from a pre-Christian goddess, Muma. Like the other provinces of Leinster and Ulster, the full English name incorporates the original Gaelic, together with the Norman suffix "-ster", which is related to the modern French terre, meaning "land".
In the divisions used before the arrival of the Normans, the province was divided into two, the northern kingdom of Thomond and the southern kingdom of Desmond, with the border running through the Slieve Luachra mountains. For centuries the Munster Eoghanachta dynasties - later to acquire such surnames as McCarthy, O'Sullivan and O'Connell - fought intermittent wars with the high kings based in Leinster, and with the O'Briens. After the coming of the Normans their power waned and the Butler and Fitzgerald families dominated the north and south of the province respectively.
Apart from the large towns of Cork, Waterford and Limerick, in the nineteenth century Munster was still a predominantly rural region, with a wide variation in prosperity, from the relatively fertile and wealthy areas of south Tipperary and east Cork, to the bare subsistence levels along the Atlantic coast in south Kerry and west Cork. It was these latter areas that suffered most in the Famine itself and in the great emigrant depopulation which followed.
IN GENERAL: A county fashioned by the Galtee Mountains, The River Suir and lush green landscape, Tipperary is where the visitor is king. Angling, golf mountain walking and caving are all at hand and there's the Rock of Cashel, castles, abbeys and forts to explore.
For centuries people have been singing the praises of Tipperary. And no wonder, because in Tipperary the visitor is king and that king will find a unique combination of history, hospitality, scenery, sport and entertainment.
The history of Tipperary is as old as it is fascinating - the famous Rock of Cashel dates back a thousand years before St. Patrick was born, and throughout the county are countless reminders of an equally ancient heritage that are as much a part of Tipperary today as they were centuries ago.
The Glen of Aherlow ranks proudly as one of Ireland's most scenic regions with sixteen miles of unspoilt and breathtaking countryside. Those who are looking for a more active holiday will find an abundance of things to enjoy, from forest and hill walking to challenging championship golf courses, angling in gently flowing rivers or pony trekking, hunting and horse racing.
HISTORY & GEOGRAPHY: Tipperary, Ireland’s largest inland county, comprises a flat central plain surrounded by hills and mountains. To the south west of the county lie the Knockmealdown and Galtee mountain ranges. Sliabh na mBan (Slievenamon) is in the south east, the Silvermines and Arra mountains in the west and Keeper Hill is the highest point among the hills to the north. The central plain is bisected by the River Suir.
There is some evidence of prehistoric habitation in the county, and according to one Ptolemy translation it was anciently inhabited by the Coriondi. In the 5th century the south of the county was known as Magh Femin, afterwards North Desie, with the chiefs centered at Cashel. However, it wasn’t until the Early Christian period that Tipperary became an important centre. St Patrick made Cashel – that most spectacular of Ireland’s monuments – into a bishopric and there are other important sites throughout the county at Ahenny, Derrynaflan, Liathmore, Monaincha and Roscrea. Cashel, the seat of the Kings of Munster, was the most important centre in Munster right up to medieval times.
Before the Norman invasion, the county was divided between the old north Munster kingdom of Thomond - which also included parts of Clare and north Limerick - and the south Munster kingdom of Desmond. These were dominated by, respectively, the O'Briens and the McCarthys, and Tipperary was the front line of the endless battles between the two, ending only with the expulsion of the McCarthys from Tipperary into Cork. For most of the period Cashel, in the south of the county, was the seat of the kings of Munster. On the arrival of the Normans, the south of the county was granted to Philip de Worcester and most of the north to Theobald Walter, progenitor of the Butler family, who later became earls of Ormond, and played a large role in Irish politics over three centuries.
Tipperary was dominated by the Butler family from 1185 to 1715 and they have left important castles at Nenagh, Carrick-on-Suir and Cahir. The Butler family were Earls of Ormonde and owned much of the county from the 13th century.
The county was created and named after the town in 1328, making it one of the earliest of the Irish counties, and in the 13th Century extended as far north as Birr in County Offaly. It embraced this larger territory until l605 when the O'Carroll areas of Ballybritt and Clonlisk were separated and annexed to Offaly by King James. The Butlers' power and influence meant that the county was relatively peaceful, with only the Cromwellian plantations having a major effect. However, in the 18th century the county gained a reputation for lawlessness and rebelliousness and in 1838 it was divided administratively into a North Riding and a South Riding; this division is still in place today.
Clonmel is the county’s largest town and it is the capital of the South Riding. A Norman town, splendidly situated on the banks of the Suir, Clonmel still retains portions of its 14th century walls. It became a focal point of transportation in Ireland when Charles Bianconi established his first car service between Clonmel and Cahir in 1815. Nenagh, the capital of the North Riding, was an important Anglo-Norman centre. The castle was built in the early 13th century by Theobald Walter Butler the first of the great Butlers of Ormonde. Thurles, in the centre of the county, was of great strategic importance in the Middle Ages. In modern times it has been closely associated with the GAA, Ireland's largest sporting organisation, which was founded here in 1884.
In more recent times, Tipperary was the scene of frequent action during the War of Independance (1919 - 1921). The first shots were fired on the 21st of Janurary 1919 (the same day the first Dáil, or Irish parliament, met) near the village of Sologheadbeg, which in turn is near Tipperary town. Seán Treacy, Dan Breen, Seamus Robinson and Seán Hogan, are some of the more famous rebel names associated with the county.
Surnames strongly associated with the county include Ryan, Maher, O'Meara, Gleeson, Hogan, O'Dwyer, Quirke, Macken, Moloney, Tracy and Kelly.
Cashel, set in the midst of the rolling greenery of Ireland’s GOLDEN VALE, has a living history spanning almost three millennia. For more than a thousand years before Columbus sailed to America, Cashel was an epicentre of history, crowning kings, acting as a Christian focus and as a centre for learning and intellectual pursuits.
There is no town of comparative size elsewhere in Ireland that has contributed as much to western European Culture as Cashel has.
Take a tour of Historic Cashel of the Kings - all of the places of interest described here are within easy walking distance of the town centre. Click here for more on the towns' history.
The Rock of Cashel
Folklore would have us believe that the devil bit a large chunk of rock out of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, and, upon seeing St. Patrick making arrangements to build a great church on the plains of Tipperary, spat it out. Hence, it is suggested, the origin of the impressive limestone outcrop known as the Rock of Cashel.
Legend has it that Corc Mac Lorsa founded Cashel. In 450 AD. St. Patrick baptised King Aengus at the Rock of Cashel. The scholarly King Bishop Cormac Mac Cuilleanain lived there in the 10th Century and is reputed to have been the author of Leabhar Na gCeart (The Book of Rights) and the Psalter of Cashel. In 977 Brian Boru was crowned High King of Munster at Cashel. King Cormac McCarthy founded Cormac’s Chapel, a gem of Romanesque architecture, on the Rock in 1127. Forty two years later King Donal O’Brien founded the Cathedral on the Rock. In 1583, during the Reformation, Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley of Cashel was tortured and executed in Dublin. Lord Inchiquin and his Cromwellian troops burned Cashel in 1647, killing 3,000 men, women and children, in the Massacre of Cashel.
The buildings on the Rock of Cashel include a 10th Century Round Tower, Cormac’s Chapel, the Cathedral, the Hall of the Vicars Choral and St. Patrick’s Cross. Cormac’s Chapel reflects a richness of architectural influences rarely preserved elsewhere.
The influence of the craftsmen sent by the Abbott of Ratisbon in Germany (an Irishman) is clearly seen. Elaborate, wall carvings and a stone sarcophagus are part of the fascinating heritage of this chapel. The elaborate carving on Cormac’s coffin date from the 11th Century . When found, Cormac’s coffin contained the Cormac Crozier , now in the National Museum in Dublin.
The Cathedral is a cruciform building with central Tower and at its western end a massive residential castle. The high set lancet windows are of 13th Century origin. In the South wall of the choir are the piscina and sedilia recesses. The central tower of the Cathedral is approached by winding stairs 127 steps to the summit.
This was built at the end of the 14th Century and was used as a residence by the Archbishop.
The Hall of the Vicar’s Choral:
The 15th Century Hall of the Vicar’s Choral building housed lay men or minor Canons appointed to assist in chanting the Cathedral services.
St. Patrick’s Cross:
This is a unique form of Irish cross. On both faces of the cross are high relief figures, on the West Christ crucified, and on the East, St. Patrick.
The cross was carved from one large block of sand-stone. It was built in the Twelfth Century to celebrate the visit of St. Patrick and for the Baptism of King Aengus in the year 450AD.
The Round Tower:
The 10th Century Round Tower is 92 feet tall, built mainly of sandstone. It is seventeen feet in diameter at the base, tapering gradually towards the top. The doorway is twelve feet above ground level, for security purposes.
The City Wall:
Erected under Charter from King Edward II between 1319 and 1324 as a defensive rampart, the walling of Cashel has been attributed to the English archbishop Walter FitzJohn, who held the see from 1317 to 1326. When completed, the walls reached a perimeter length of 1,550 metres and enclosed an area of 15.5 hectares (some 30 acres). There is evidence of mural towers (gun towers) at the North, West and SouthEast angles and there were at least five gates. The four upright stone coffin lids of Sir William Hackett (circa 1260) and his family, that have been incorporated into the walls, are particularly interesting reminders of medieval burial practices amongst the nobility. The Hackett Effigies may be seen at the rear of the Bolton – GPA Library. Learn more about the Town Wall by clicking here.
Built near the base of the Rock, it was founded in 1243 by Archbishop Mac Kelly, who became its first prior. The beautiful 13th Century East window is a special feature.
Hore Abbey was founded by the Cistercian Order in 1266. It stands on the site of an earlier Benedictine Abbey, just over a mile from the Rock.
The Church is well preserved and consists of an Nave, Choir and Central Tower, which is supported by lofty arches. The vaulting of the Tower is richly groined, and the detail work is fine.
Cashel Palace Hotel:
The Cashel Palace Hotel, which resides in magnificent settings just off the main street of the town, was built by Archbishop Bolton in 1730 AD as the residence of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel.
It was designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, in an architectural style placed between Queen Anne and early Georgian architecture.
The foundations of the new Cathedral on the site of the medieval parish church of St. John the Baptist were laid in 1749 . However the building was not completed until 1784 when Archbishop Agar came to the See. The Cathedral organ was built by Samuel Green who built organs for George Frederick Handel.
The present Cathedral still keeps some links with the old Cathedral on the Rock. Its 17th Century communion vessels , the verge of Kilkenny silver and the litany desk are still in use. The desk was made of oak from the roof beams of the old Cathedral. There are some seals of Medieval dignitaries, and some portraits of Archbishops and Deans in the Cathedral also.
The G.P.A. Bolton Library:
The Library was founded in 1744 by Theophilus Bolton, Archbishop of Cashel who also built the Cashel Palace, and brought the first water supply to the town. He housed his book collection in the Palace until they were moved to their present location in John St in 1836.
The Bolton collection consists of 12,000 historic titles, including early manuscripts and texts from the dawn of printing, and a with a subject range encompassing architecture , science , medicine, mathematics , history and literature.
The oldest manuscript dating from the 12th Century, covers music, mathematics, calendrical tables and fables. Two other volumes of manuscripts predate the advent of the printing presses.
Some 20 titles predate the 1500s, including the Speculum Historical by Vincent of Beauvais (1473) and the Nurenburg Chronicle (1493). Over 200 volumes of bound pamphlets make a fascinating collection, covering such subjects as politics, controversies and music.
Fascinating Liturgical texts abound, pre and post-Reformation, drawn from Ireland, England and continental Europe.
Approximately 2/3 of the books were printed in the British and Irish Isles. Approximately 25% originated from presses in the Low Countries, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. English is the dominant language of the texts, followed by Latin and French, and some twelve other languages.
The Library also houses a collection of historical church silver.
The Brú Boru is the centre for Irish traditional music, song and dance.
It hosts excellent live entertainment and shows, and the Brú Boru Group of Musicians and Dancers has travelled world wide with it’s shows and performances. It’s facilities include and excellent folk theatre, restaurant and craft centre. It is also has a genealogy suite for people who wish to trace their ancestors. This building is adjacent to the Rock of Cashel.
The City Hall or Town Hall was originally a market building. It occupies a prominent position in the Main Street.
The Town Hall presently houses the Cashel Heritage Centre.
Cashel Heritage Centre.
The Heritage Centre, located in the Town Hall, in the centre of the Main Street, offers the visitor an exciting insight into the town and it’s long history. It has a large scale model of the town in the mid 17th Century, with audio visual effects and commentary in a variety of European languages. Its exhibitions include Royal Heirlooms from the era of the McCarthy Mor, and it explores the Guinness connection. It houses an excellent craft shop and tourist information centre.
Kearney’s Castle, on the main street of the town, is a 15th Century Castle, consisting of a balanced battlement that was common in Ireland during the 15th Century.
On close examination, animal heads and gargoyles can be seen high up on the castle walls.
The Fountain Main Street Cashel:
This was erected by the citizens of Cashel and some friends in 1904 in recognition of the services given by Rev Dean Kinane, who helped to extend the Railway Line from Gooldscross to Cashel.
St. John the Baptist Church:
This classical church, which stands in Friar Street, was erected during the latter part of the 18th Century.
It occupies a position close to the site of the 13th Century Franciscan Friary.
The Bothán Scór is a peasant cottage. Known locally as “Hanley’s Cottage”, it has a history traceable to 1623. Located on the Clonmel Road, on the outskirts of Cashel, it was one of 10 peasant cottages on the estate of the then landlord, Lawler. Four of the cottages were made of stone, and the rest of mud and wattles. The stone cottages were more expensive to rent. One cottage was windowless, as no Window Tax was collected for it. It is thought that at one time the Bothán Scór was used as a school, and was exempt from window tax after 1625.
Among the families recorded as living in the Bothán Scór (records are incomplete) are:- O’Maoladh (O’Malley) 1623, O’Duibhir (O’Dwyer) 1647, O’Riain (Ryan) 1684, O’Duibhir (O’Dwyer) 1714, Hanleys and descendants 1717, Albert Carrie 1972, Chez Hans 1975, Michael Gleason 1976 and Christy Hewitt 1978.
Two of the cottages were “pool-side” cottages, one of which was the Bothán Scór. The Ducking Pool, which is across the road opposite the Bothán Scór, was used to publically “duck” ladies engaging in “unsociable behaviour” as a means of punishment.
The Cottage and the Ducking Pool were restored in the 1980s by the Cashel Heritage Society.
Famine Wall in Our Lady’s Well Street.
This wall was built during the Great Famine 1845-1850. Persons employed on this Famine Relief Scheme were given food and sustenance in return for their labour.
The Folk Village was the home of the famous ecclesiastical scholar the Rev Dr. John Lanigan D.D., church man, librarian to the Royal Dublin Society (RDS), author of the Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, and Professor of Hebrew, Ecclesiastical History and Divinity at the University of Pavia Italy.
The Folk Village was opened in 1984 and contains many interesting compartments i.e. The Widow Breen’s Kitchen, The Wild Rover Pub, Joe Noonan’s Butcher Stall, The Republican Museum, Delaney’s Forge, Tinkers Caravan , The Penal Chapel and an assortment of old tools and memorabilia.
Rosegreen is a small village situated on a crossroads in county Tipperary in the southern midlands of Ireland. It is located on the Cashel to Clonmel road, four miles from Cashel, within the parish of Cashel and Rosegreen.
Rosegreen in Irish is Faiche Ró, which translates as 'Roe's Green' in English. It is named after the landlord Andrew Roe, who died in 1722, and whose tomb can still be seen in the village cemetry. The townland lies on ground which rises to 500 feet. Nearby to the south-east are the ruins of Coman Abbey.
Rosegreen is home to the world renowned Ballydoyle Racing Stables.
Ballydoyle has a tradition, which stretches back almost 50 years, as a nursery of classic excellence.
Over that time the legendary Vincent O'Brien nurtured at Ballydoyle the careers of a legion of superlative racehorses, among them Ballymoss, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky II, The Minstrel, Alleged, Storm Bird, El Gran Senor and Coolmore's record-breaking Champion Sadler's Wells. Recent years have seen new chapters written in Ballydoyle's storied history, as Aidan O'Brien begins to carve out his own legend.