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The First National School in Redwood published by Redwood National School, Co. Tipperary, in connection with the 75th anniversary of the school, June 2014

The First National School in Redwood

Redwood National School ed. Michelle Hogan, published by Redwood National School, Co. Tipperary, in connection with the 75th anniversary of the school, June 2014

 

There was a letter to the Education Office (the predecessor to the Department of Education) in Dublin from Rev. James Meagher, P.P. on September 8, 1879, reporting the opening on that day of a new school of Redwood, in Redwood House, which was situated beside Redwood Castle.
The letter stated that the school had been 'so nobly given for that purpose by Mr. Henry Trench of Cangort Park, Roscrea.' The letter continued: 'I have appointed Miss Winifrid Carroll, former assistant in the female school in Lorrha, as teacher and respectfully request the sanction of the appointment. There is no school within four miles of it. The attendance (today) was over 50.
He looked for a 'free stock' (of books) and 'all the help in your power for the new school'.
There was an earlier letter to the Office from Henry Trench, dated June 18, 1879, in which he requested the setting up of a National School 'in a portion of my house in Redwood.'
He added that he believed the house was suitable and that the P.P. was willing to act as manager, under him as patron.

(There were historical reasons why the location was a suitable place of a school. The Normans had built a timber structure in Redwood shortly after their arrival. It was burned down by the O'Briens in 1207 and the Normans replaced it with a strong stone fortress. In spite of its strength the O'Kennedys ousted the Normans in 1350 and installed the MacEgans, who were Brehons and Ollaves to that family, as other branches of the MacEgans held similar positions with many of the leading families in the country. 

When the MacEgans were installed they enlarged the Castle considerably, so that it could function as a school. The fame of the school spread and it was helped by its location close to the banks of the River Shannon, which was one of the main thoroughfares in the country at the time. The fact that Michael O'Clery, travelled from Donegal to be educated there, as did Donald MacFirbis from Sligo, is an indication of the fame of the of the MacEgans as teachers.
In the early 1600s the building appears to have suffered fire damage, and in the Civil Survey, which was carried out in 1640 the description given was 'an old ruined castle, the walls only standing.')

There was difficulty later about Henry Trench's role as patron. He died in March 1881 and the agent of his successor, Henry Bloomfield Trench, wrote to the Office in June requesting that he be recognised as patron. In the course of the letter of June 5, 1882 he stated that the original Mr. Trench was patron of the school. He was the owner of the adjoining land and of the house in which the school was held and in which the schoolmistress resided and that he had given this accommodation without charge.
The Office replied that there was no documentation to attest that the original Mr.Trench was patron. The matter appears to have rested at that.

 

Application Accepted

As a result of Fr. Meagher's request for recognition of the new school the premises had to be inspected and Form A 121 completed. The inspection of the school was carried out on October 8, 1879 between 11.40 am and 3 pm. It involved answering a list of 82 queries and this was completed by a Mr. Dugan, District Inspector of National Schools, and returned to the Office on October 24, 1879.

The information contained in the document is of great interest at this remove. We are told the school was situated in one of the 15 rooms of the two-storey Redwood House. It was a large room, 30'' x 18'' x 11'', and was 'fitted up as a schoolroom.' On the privy situation there was one for the girls but the boys' wasn't yet ready. There was a separate play area for the girls.
The school was to be kept in repair with the manager's and local funds. The schoolmistress occupied two rooms in the house, Mr. Trench's steward occupied three and the remaining nine were locked up.

There was no teacher's desk on the day of the inspection but it was being made by a carpenter.. The teacher was Winifrid Carroll. She was a Roman Catholic. and was aged 22 years. She was trained in 1874 and had been assistant in the female school in Lorrha.
The school was classed as being in the First Division of Third Class. Salary levels varied according to Class and Division. A male teacher in the First Division of Class 1 was paid £52 while the lowest Division in Class 3 was paid £18.

The document tells us, in answer to the question on what amount of Local Funds was paid to the teacher, that her free residence was worth the equivalent of £5 and that school fees amounted to £12.

In answer to another question it was stated that virtually all the children paid fees. Apparently the manager had the right to absolve some children from paying.

Religious Instruction was given for 3 to 31/2 hours per week in the summer and 21/2 to 3 hours in the winter. The school day commenced at 9.30 am and finished at 3.30 pm in the summer and 3 pm in the winter. Thirty-five children, 15 males and 20 females, were in attendance on the day of inspection but there were forty-two altogether on the rolls.

We are informed that only three of the children had been in another school before the opening of Redwood. There was big support for the school from among the neighbouring farmers.

In conclusion the inspector stated that the 'school is much required' with the nearest schools about four miles distant. However, he recommended a three-month trial period in order to ensure that 'the attendance keeps up'.

At the end of the report it is stated that Winifrid Carroll was granted a salary of £25 plus whatever would accrue to her from results. The salary would be paid on condition that an attendance of thirty pupils was maintained.

 

The Results System
 

The Results System in National Schools was introduced in 1872. While it meant a significant increase in teachers' incomes there was always an element of uncertainty about it. As it depended entirely on the answering of the pupils and the number present at the examination, the amount could vary from year to year. At the end of every school year every pupil in the school, who had attended on at least 100 days was examined individually by the Board's inspector and was awarded a mark, 1 or 2 denoting a pass, or 0 denoting a failure. Each subject carried its own pass value, which ranged from one shilling for spelling to five shillings for agriculture. Result fees were paid annually in one lump sum.)

As well a free stock of books to the value of £4 was agreed on condition that a sale stock to the value of £1-5-0 was purchased.

Following the death of Fr. Meagher on the 19th March, 1881, Rev. R. Kennedy was recognised as manager.

 

Redwood House
 

According to the inspector's report, nine rooms in this house were vacant. It appears that they were later occupied by the two Kennedy families and the O'Sullivan family. The heads of these families worked on the Trench estate. Jack Kennedy, for instance worked as a herd. Later with the division of the estate in the thirties, they got divides of land and houses.

Redwood House and the surrounding estate were originally owned by the Bloomfield family, who originated in Eyrecourt, Co. Galway. It appears they acquired the estate in Redwood during the eighteenth century. It is uncertain when the house was built but it would appear to have been constructed early in the 19th century.

The house was occupied by Major Bloomfield in 1837. In 1840 the Ordnance Survey Name Books mention that Redwood was 'a commodious house at present occupied by a party of the constabulary and also the residence of Mr. Ryan, under-agent to Major Bloomfield.'
The house is marked as a police station on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map. At the time of the Griffith Valuation (1847-1864), Phillip Crawley held the property from Lord Bloomfield and the house was valued at £15.

The estate of 1977 acres was put up for sale in 1851 and purchased for almost £13,000 by William Hort and George Armstrong.

The Trench connection commenced in 1836, when Henry Trench of Cangort Park, Shinrone, married Georgina Mary Amelia Bloomfield of Redwood. Sometime after 1864 Redwood House became a Trench home and it was valued at £18-15-00 in 1906.

 

Early Pupils

The names of some of the first pupils in the school are as follows. The following boys were in infants: Larry Guinan, Redwood, Thomas Quinlan, Moatfield, John J. Loughmane, Killycross, Michael Lambe, Redwood, Willie Lambe, Redwood, John Sammon, Moatfield.

Tom Lambe recalls being told that Willie Lambe attended a hedge school in Hickey's field at the back of Tom Quinlan's old house, above Redwood Chapel before Redwood School was started. Some information on that school is available in the accommpanying piece on 'Old Schools' from the Folklore Collection. The master was Brian  Carroll, who was related to the first two teachers in the school at Redwood Castle, Winifrid Carroll (1879-1889) and Ellen Carroll (1889-1923).

According to the report English, Reading and Writing were taught. The school was held at night for the men and during the day for boys and girls.

The following girls are listed: Bridget Crean, Fort Alice, Anne Loughmane, Killycross, Mary Sammon, Moatfield, Julia Sammon, Moatfield, Mary Elizabeth Donoghue, Moatfield, Bridget Carroll, Ballea..

The occupations of the parents are also given in the Roll Book and they include labourer, blacksmith, farmer, orphan, herd, gamekeeper, coachman, pensioned policeman.

 

School Inspections
 

One way in which we learn of the progress of the school is through school inspections.One of the first recorded is to be found in the District Inspector's Observation Book in which he wrote his report after each visit. In his report of a visit on October 10, 1881, he states that he emphasised to the teacher that no books could be used in the school except those sanctioned by the Office. He also stated that all pupils should be on the register, including infants.

We are also informed that the monitor, Maria Somerville, was absent on the day. This is the first time we are informed that Miss Carroll had a monitor to help out with the classes in the school.

There is another inspection a month later and the inspector reported that one girl had her examination cancelled because she was found copying her answers from a book under the desk!

A Mr. Purser replaces Mr. Dugan as inspector in 1882 and he visited the school on November 15, 1882. According to the report this visit was to examine for result fees. Sixty one were present and fifty-nine were examined.. No results are given but an observation at the end noted that some children were leaving the school as soon as the roll call was completed. The inspector stated that such pupils should be marked absent.

 

Poor Performances
 

The next report, dated July 6, 1883, which was probably the result of the examination the previous November, is anything but favourable. Class 1 with 8 pupils was 'weak at tables'. Class 2 with 10 present, was weak at reading. Class 3 with 10 present was weak at grammar and geography. Class 4 with 8 present was middling at reading, poor at spelling and grammar, and defective at maths. Class 5 & 6 with 8 present were poor in 'deduction' and bad at grammar.
The inspector added the following note: 'The defects in arithmetic in these classes show that repetition is not enough attended to: only 1 in Class iv could multiply 8096 x 270 and all failed in dividing 175,488 by 297; in v & vi only one could reduce 10,001 square yards to square inches.
He made further observations. He believed the pupils were prone to copy from one another and 'this would account for the low proficiency in arithmetic.' The girls worked without thimbles in needlework. On the positive side the house was in fair order, with just one window frame in poor repair.

From the information given above the total number of pupils at school on the day was 44.
There is better news following the inspection on November 19, 1883. Fifty-two pupils were examined and the inspector found that 'the answering of the juniors was very good with the exception of grammar.' The oral examination of the seniors was very creditable. However mental arithmetic needed attention. Discipline in the school was good.

A report in May 1884 stated that needlework was not good enough. 'More care should be given to this matter – the girls to be made bring suitable material for sewing unless strips of callico for practice are provided in school.'

 

New Teacher
 

It appears that Miss Winifrid Carroll married between inspections held in November 1885 and November 1886 as she appears as Mrs Winifrid Loughnane on November 19, 1886.

There was a change in inspector in 1887, with a Mr. S Allman signing the inspection book in November of that year. In his report of a visit to the school in May 1889, the name of the principal is given as Miss Ellen Carroll. The inspector adds: 'Mrs Loughmane died on May 22, 1888. The school, since then up to 1 April 1889, had been in charge of an unrecognised teacher. Miss Ellen Carroll took charge on 1 April 1889.'

The report continues: 'Many children have been in the same class since November 1887 and it is only reasonable that they should be anxious for promotion. Miss Carroll should, however, be careful to ascertain the fitness of each pupil for promotion before making a change.'

The numbers attending appear to have dropped from a high of 59 in 1885 to under 40 in 1891. The reports given by S. Allman are much shorter than under the previous inspector and information is much less as a result. Numbers begin to climb again in the mid-nineties with 51 being examined in May 1897.

A new inspector, E. S. Cromie, was appointed in 1898 and his reports are much more detailed..

Following his May visit in 1899 he wrote: 'Throughout the school the pupils should be accustomed to speak much more clearly and distinctly than they do at present.' The teacher is advised to use the blackboard more when teaching arithmetic. Also: 'It would be well to use the inkwells. Time is lost in giving out ink bottles and these are liable to be overturned.'

There's a new inspector in 1901, Mr. D. Mangan, and for his annual inspection the following year there were 51 present. The report stated that the 'Reading is fluent, but it is not expressive or incisive.' Also: 'The children should be taught to express themselves freely and to speak distinctly and audibly.'

A Mr. A. J. McElwaine inspected the school in 1903 and found 44 out of 49 pupils present. Among his complaints was the state of spelling and grammar in the school.

The inspector's first report is interesting in that it tells us the subjects that were taught in the school in 1903: English Oral and Written, Arithmetic, Drawing, Object Lessons (sic), Needlework, Geography, Physical Drill.

In his report following a visit on July 6, 1904, Mr. McElwaine stated that the ventilation in the school was insufficient: 'One small window is not enough to ventilate the room.' We learn that there are 31 pupils on the Roll..

A Mr. J. D. Bradshaw did the inspection in September 1906 but Mr. McElwaine was back again in 1907. Further inspections in in that year and 1908 report the same old problems. Reading is generally indistinct. Writing leaves a lot to be desired and more thoroughness in teaching was required.

 

Detailed Report
 

There is a very detailed report of an inspection carried out by Mr. J. P. Dalton on May 26, 1911 The report begins: 'I consider the school accommodation here most unsatisfactory. The ventilation of the room is particularly defective: there are no means of sending a current of pure air through the schoolroom and the atmosphere is, therefore, quite oppressive.'

The report continues: 'Much more attention should be paid to order, arrangement, tidiness, etc. Copy books and papers are left lying about in loose heaps, official documents are scattered through the records, and no attempt seems to be made to keep things in their right places. Some school portfolios should be got and used for filing papers.'

'The organisation would admit of much improvement. The whole tone of the school needs bracing up. The pupils seem to be allowed to answer their lessons along in an aimless, unthinking way; the desks are not supervised and much of the work shows great carelessness. The teaching methods show some radical faults.'

A new inspector, J.A. McMahon, was appointed in 1912 and a report of his following a general inspection in March 1915, is much more positive, The report stated: 'The teacher here works honestly though with moderate success. The progress of the pupils is fair generally. There is need of increased attention to the development of intelligence at arithmetic and oral answering. Desk discipline might be easily improved. . . . A globe is needed.'

The most interesting part of the report is the statement that the school was very unsuitable and that it was hoped that the new one would be built with as little delay as possible.. It was to be twelve years before the school was replaced as World War 1, the Rising in 1916, the War of Independence and the Civil War, followed by the setting up of the Irish Free State, put paid to any plans in place in 1915.

Inspections were held in 1916, 1917, 1918 and 1919. There is no report for 1920. 

In the 1921 report it is stated that 'Efficiency of instruction is defective in various respects.' This is signed by J. O'Riordan, who gives his address as 46 Grosvenor Square, Dublin.. There is a second inspection in December the same year. J. C. Kyle is the inspector and his report includes the following: 'The accommodation is not ideal but at the same time the room might present a more tasteful appearance: mantelpiece and top of press should be clean and tidy and floor should be cleaner.'

 

The Free State
 

The takeover of the Education Office by the Free State Government is reflected in the inspector's report of November 16, 1922. The inspector, who now signs himself in Irish, S. C. Ó Cadhla, writes his report in Irish.

In the course of this report he informs the teacher of the new policy of the Department of Education that the school must provide 1 hour's instruction in Irish per day in every class. In the following years there is a big emphasis on the teaching of Irish, both oral and written. In his report on the 1926 visit the inspector is critical of the progress of Irish in the school. He states that the speaking of the language is awful and the handwriting is equally bad. According to him too many children are showing no signs of improvement.

 

New School
 

In the same year the children moved from Redwood Castle to the new school at Kilmurry. There were occasional reports from the inspectors over the years about the condition of the school in Redwood House.

There is a report on 25th September, 1900 that the house in only in middling repair. There's a further report on September 10, 1901 that 'the windows are bad, the floor boards are loose and the roof leaks.' On August 15th, 1904 it is reported that improvements have been carried out. There were other reports that the ventilation was very bad. The report in 1915 seemed to suggest that a new school was imminent. The commencement of World War 1 and the he political developments following the Rising of 1916 probably hindered any building plans and the replacement school wasn't opened until 1926.

In fact there is confirmation of this in the official report of the Department of Education covering the years 1925, 1926 and 1927. It included the statement that at least 350 new schools would be needed to make up for arrears of building that accumulated during the period from 1914 to 1924. As well more schools were required to replace unsanitary and unsuitable premises.

This report also states that during the year 1925-26 grants of £27,652 were sanctioned in respect of the erection of 13 new schoolhouses. The names of the schools aren't given but the new school in Kilmurry could well have been one of them. There is the additional information that grants for new schools were normally sanctioned on the basis of two-thirds of the cost, but in poor and congested districts a larger grant could be given or in extreme cases the whole cost of the building could be defrayed by the Department.

The site for the new school at Kilmurry appeared to be ideal. It was a piece of land owned by the parish and so would cost nothing. It was adjacent to the old school so there wouldn't be any great difficulty for the schoolchildren getting there. There was about an acre of land attached to the site which would provide a playground.

However, it was the site of an ancient graveyard and Tom Lambe recalls seeing bones being thrown up when the foundations were being dug.

The school at Kilmurry was in use for only 13 years when the present school was completed beside Redwood Chapel in 1939. Why this change took place so quickly is a story for another day.

 

Teachers: 1879-2014
Miss Winifrid Carroll 1879-1888
Miss Ellen Carroll 1889-1923
Miss Mary Guinane (later Mrs. Grogan) 1923-1930
Miss Mary Clune Jan-Aug 1930
Miss Mary Kelly 1923-41
Miss Margaret McCormack 1930-1952
Miss Nora Moran
Miss. Nora Kelleher
Mrs. Annie King 1941-1974
Mr. Jim Keane 1952-1977
Mrs. Joe Needham 1974-2000

The Reformation at Birr Given as a talk to Cashel Historical Society in the 1980s and revised in 2009

The Reformation at Birr

Given as a talk to Cashel Historical Society in the 1980s and revised in 2009

 

The so-called 'Reformation' at Birr refers to the consequences of a dispute between Catholic clergy at Birr, Co. Offaly during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The main characters in the dispute were two cousin priests, Frs. Michael and William Crotty, on the one side and Very Rev. Patrick Kennedy, P.P. and the church committee on the other.

In order to understand the dispute it is important to sketch in the historical background. The events commenced during the depression that followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The Catholic Church had just emerged from the period of the Penal Laws and was going through a phase of reconstruction. It was badly in need of reorganisation. Episcopal control of priests and people had suffered greatly during the Penal Laws and it was to take a long time to reassert.

As well as the need for reform in the relationship between bishop and priest, there was also a need for reform in the lives of the clergy. There were many charges against the clergy. They were sensual, arrogant or churlish, fond of the pleasures of the palate, preferred the company of the wealthy and influential people and were too fond of money.

It was the latter failing in their clergy that the people were least willing to forgive. Avarice and greed for money was most resented. Poets and people were quick to seize on the paradox of a clergy, whose business it was to denounce the vanity of earthly wealth but who sometimes appeared to be unduly concerned with pecuniary matters. There were two areas of financial support for the clergy, the payment of the priests and religious and the building of churches. The payment of the clergy was by the voluntary system and this created friction when priests approached the collection in a commercial spirit. There was a big church building program going on during this period and this created an additional financial burden on an impoverished people who, up until 1838, had to pay tithes to the Established Church as well.

When it is realised that at least a quarter of the population in pre-Famine Ireland were subsistence farmers, who did not use money, the grievances of many at the financial demands of the clergy can be well understood. Parish Priests were estimated to earn £150 per annum in 1825. Curates were badly paid. They got board and lodging, a horse and a cash allowance from their P.P.


Appointed To Birr

In April 1821 Rev. Michael Crotty was transferred to Birr as junior curate after a short stay at Toomevara. His stay there from August 1820 hadn't been a happy one. He had a personality clash with the P.P., Rev. John Meagher, who had been ordained at Maynooth in 1817, and he later wrote this about his experience: 'In Toomevara I felt degraded by having to associate with the popish incumbent of the parish, a creature of the Maynooth School, who had just talent enough to say Mass, collect money, and generally mimic the peculiarities of his diocesan.'

Michael Crotty, the son of farmer, James Crotty, and Catherine Drew, was born in O'Briensbridge, Co. Clare in 1795. His uncle was Rev. Michael Crotty, P.P., Castleconnell, and another uncle, Patrick Crotty, was married to Sarah Vaughan, a sister of Rev. Daniel Vaughan, P.P., Scariff, afterwards P.P. of Killaloe, and later bishop of the diocese. They had a son, William, who also became a priest and was later closely involved in the reformation at Birr.

Michael Crotty entered Maynooth College in April 1814 and matriculated in the class of Logic for the diocese of Killaloe. He was expelled from the college in 1817 because of a libellous article on Maynooth 'as a hotbed of sedition' published in the public press. One of the arguments made by Crotty in his book Narrative of the Reformation at Birr, published in London in 1847, was that the students were disloyal. According to the book forty students fought against the King's army in the rebellion of 1798. This may have been the charge against the College in the above mentioned, libellous article. The expulsion coloured his opinion of Maynooth and of the priests who were ordained there.

Returning home Michael Crotty took sides when Bishop O'Shaughnessy of Killaloe charged Fr. Corbett, P.P., Kilrush for having carnal relations with his housekeeper, who happened to be the bishop's niece-in-law . The trial was held in Castleconnell Church and Corbett was found guilty. The case divided the clergy and the people. On the one side were the bishop, Crotty and his uncle the P.P. of Castleconnell while the leading cleric on the other side was Very Rev. Patrick McMahon, P.P., Quin, who made a speech in which he promised that all who supported Corbett would be rewarded, and that Michael Crotty would never be ordained.. He was as good as his word. When he became co-adjutor bishop in 1819, Fr. Corbett became P.P. of Kilrush.


Ordained in Paris

However, he was unable to prevent Michael Crotty getting ordained. Bishop O'Shaughnessy repaid the assistance of young Michael Crotty by recommending him to St. Sulpice in Paris for the Diocese of Killaloe. He did this despite warnings from the Maynooth authorities of the unsuitability of Crotty for ordination because of his rash and disputative nature. Michael Crotty was ordained at St. Sulpice in June 1820 and appointed to Toomevara in August, where he remained until sent to Birr the following April.

Fr. Michael Crotty's appointment as second curate to Birr was because of the poor health of Fr. Philip Meagher, P.P., who had been ordained in 1790 with the future Bishop Patrick McMahon, mentioned above. Fr. Meagher lived in Connacht Street and his curates, Frs. Curtain and Crotty, in Main Street.

The old chapel in Birr was a wretchedly poor building and, as far back as 1808, a committee had been formed to collect funds for a larger and more suitable replacement. The foundation stone of the new chapel was laid by Lord Oxmanstown, son and heir of the Earl of Rosse, on August 1, 1817. He had provided a site and £100 towards the project. A Chapel Committee with Fr. Peter Curtain as chairman held weekly collections to help meet the building costs. Progress was slow and the building work continued at a snail's pace. Delays were caused by alterations to the plans.

Following Crotty's arrival at Birr he soon found fault with the committee and roundly and publicly accused them because of 'their riotous and drunken assemblies' and the 'abandoned profligacy of their morals.' Somewhat of a loner he was further isolated from his fellow-clergy by his stand on the Catholic rent, which was collected by the clergy in support of Daniel O'Connell's campaign. In this he had sided with his uncle and namesake, the Parish Priest of Castleconnell, who refused to collect it. He soon gained support from a section of the people. He had already made an impression on them by his attention to the wants of the poor, by his efforts for the suppression of immorality and by his zeal against Protestantism.


State of Birr

Birr was a garrison town which catered for many religious groups among its population of about five and a half thousand. The main churches were Catholic and Church of Ireland but there were also three independent chapels, two Wesleyan chapels and a Quaker Meeting House.

In 1825 Fr. Francis Kennedy, P.P., Shinrone died. Pending the appointment of Fr. Nicholas Hourigan as Parish Priest, Crotty was sent to Shinrone to take charge of the parish, probably in the hope that matters might calm down in Birr in his absence. Here he changed his attitude to the Catholic rent became 'an agitating and political priest' and collected the rent.

In his zeal he assaulted a company-keeping pair on July 14, 1825. The man was a Protestant, named Kennedy, and he prosecuted Crotty for assault. The trial came on but the jury disagreed and Crotty was bound over to meet the charge under a new jury at the next Quarter Sessions. Having come to the belief in the interval that the prosecution was dropped, he failed to appear at the next Sessions and was consequently fined the sum of £20. 

In the meantime Crotty returned to Birr after his temporary sojourn at Shinrone and at mass on his first Sunday back demounced Mr. Cruise, who had presided at his trial, as 'the intransigent organ of an Orange Bench.' (Incidentally, Cruise was a Catholic.) Shortly afterwards Bishop O'Shaughnessy decided that Crotty should return to Toomevara. He never forgave the bishop for this especially as Fr. Thomas Blake, who was ordained in 1825, was appointed to the 'lucrative living' in Birr. As well Blake's father was a member of the Chapel Committee at Birr. Crotty brooded on his disappointment 'in the wretched and paltry village of Toomevara' and soon applied to Bishop O'Shaughnessy for a transfer. Early in 1826 he was sent as curate to Killaloe.

Soon after arriving in Killaloe, as he hadn't paid the court fine of £20, he was arrested, brought to Birr and had to give bail, himself £50 and two sureties of £20, to stand trial at the April Quarter Sessions 1826 for the original charge of assault. He was sentenced to two weeks in jail but, after he requested that the sentence be changed to a fine, he was fined £10, which was duly paid by his friends. On the Sunday following his trial Crotty denounced the magistrates and the two Catholic members of the jury, one of whom was Fr. Blake's father and returned to Killaloe.


Investigation of Accounts

Crotty's persistent attacks on the Chapel Committee had begun to take effect and on April 17, 1826 a public meeting was held with Thomas Lalor Cooke, a Protestant solicitor, in the chair. Resolutions were passed demanding an enquiry and the election of a new committee. The accounts were handed over to two laymen, John Cassin and John Smyth, for examination. They reported back that the books had not been kept 'in a regular, explicit and correct manner.' However, they couldn't discover any appearance of fraud.

Bishop O'Shaughnessy send his co-adjutor, Dr. McMahon, to Birr to examine the finances of the committee with Dr. Ambrose` O'Connor, P.P., Nenagh. They examined the books and found that 'No charge of peculiarities or fraud of any description' could be found. 

This was not the kind of result the people expected. They had expected that the old committee would be found guilty of fraud. The practice had been that tollgates were erected near the chapel and each Sunday collectors refused to allow 'any person to pass who did not pay one halfpenny at least.' When these tollgates were thrown into the river, they symbolised the end of the old regime.

During his investigations Bishop McMahon was insulted by the anti-committee faction, who shouted: 'We want Mr. Crotty.' Lord Rosse in his account of the events, described matters as follows: 'Thus was their Bishop, who had always before been received with the greatest reverence, that the people fell on their knees to him when he appeared, now met with murmurs, without even a hat taken off to him; and at last hooted and opposed with clamour when he was addressing them in their place of worship. It is this very extraordinary irreverence towards their priests and Bishop, like nothing that has ever occurred except in revolutionary France, in the days of her greatest wickedness, that has induced me to write the account of these proceedings.'

The bishop had been given plenary powers to deal with the Birr situation and he laid the parish under interdict. The parish priest, Fr. Meagher, was relieved of his duties at an annual pension of £130 per year. The bishop appointed Fr. Kennedy, P.P., Lorrha as administrator of Birr. He was given authority by Bishop MacMahon to remove the interdict, which he did in August.

On the first Sunday after his arrival, Fr. Kennedy, who was of a confrontational nature, told the people he would personally supervise the completion of the church. Lalor Cooke then drew up two resolutions 1) that any money collected be placed in the hands of a treasurer acceptable to the people and that the parish priest draw on him for any money required and 2) that each Sunday's collection, plus the treasurer's statement, be read from the pulpit. Fr. Kennedy would not agree with these constraints.

The legality of Fr. Kennedy's appointment was hotly contested by the Crottyites. The anti-committee faction sent another long remonstrance to Bishop O'Shaughnessy in mid-May. On May 17, 1826 Bishop McMahon wrote Fr. Kennedy that, if he so wished, he could have Fr. Tynan as curate in place of Fr. Blake, whom the Crottyites detested and that, if he deemed it prudent, he could remove the ban on the Crottyites. Fr. Kennedy took over the parish finances and retained Fr. Blake.

Crotty's popularity did not wain. Some of the parishioners wrote inviting him to come to Birr and make a collection for the £20 fine, which was still unpaid. Crotty requested permission of Bishop O'Shaughnessy. It was granted but later withdrawn on the objection of Fr. Kennedy.


Crotty Defiant

Crotty returned to Birr in defiance of Fr. Kennedy. When he arrived in the town he was greeted by the Chapel Band playing See the Conquering Hero Comes. On the morning of June 29, 1826 he was handed an order from Bishop O'Shaughnessy by the parish priest at Lalor Cooke's house commanding him 'under pain of suspension ipso facto not to put a foot inside the Roman Catholic Chapel of Birr.'

Crotty ignored the order, went to 12.00 o'clock Mass, where there was uproar and Fr. Kennedy was forced to abandon Mass. Crotty took over and announced a collection for the following Sunday, which realised £40. 

(If one compares this with the normal Sunday collection of £6, or £1 for the Church Fund, one gets some indication of Crotty's popularity. The figure is still more impressive when it is realised that his support is supposed to have come from the poorer section of the people.)

Meanwhile Fr. Kennedy retreated to 'the Shambles', the public abbatoir, and said Mass for several weeks for the Chapel Committee. 

That night Crotty wrote to Bishop O'Shaughnesssy vindicating his position. He reminded the bishop of his support during the Corbett affair, complained about being removed from the curacy of Birr and referred to Fr. Kennedy as 'that little ingenious gentleman who had taken a most decided part against the vast majority of the parishioners with a corrupt and profligate faction, and inflamed the public discontent by indulging in abuse from the altar instead of preaching Christ and him crucified.'

Fr. Kennedy asked lord Rosse about the legal position and was informed that an action could be brought under the 31st Act, George III for disturbance of public worship. He then reported the matter to Bishop O'Shaughnessy. The latter replied on July 2nd saying that Crotty was what the Maynooth superiors represented 'a fool and a madman.' He appointed Fr. Kennedy as Vicar General and authorised him to use canonical sanctions against Crotty.

On July 21, 1826 Bishop O'Shaughnessy deprived Crotty of his priestly faculties. Crotty ignored the decision and continued to celebrate Mass in the old Church.

On July 24 Lord Rosse suggested to Kennedy that proceedings be brought against Crotty on the grounds that the lease of the church belonged to Fr. Kennedy.

The following Sunday Crotty held a special meeting in the Church and drew up a number of resolutions to be presented to Bishop O'Shaughnessy. The resolutions complained of insults from Fr. Kennedy, the confused state of the parish finances and requested Fr. Kennedy's removal. Lalor Cooke wrote a letter to O'Shaughnessy in which he expressed no confidence in Kennedy.

Lord Rosse wrote to O'Shaughnessy on August 17 suggesting a compromise: Crotty should be offered the vacant parish of Doonas, if he would leave Birr. Nothing seems to have come of this proposal. 

The divisions in the town of Birr are described in the Clare Journal on August 21, 1826: 'It is not easy to describe what a scene of animosity that town has become. It is completely divided between Crottyites and Kennedyites, but the former far exceed the number of the latter. On Tuesday the people assailed the Roman Catholic Bishop with hisses and groans and was it not for the timely arrival of the police they would have proceeded to violence. Nothing can exceed the present triumph of the Crottyites. In fact the Bishop's authority is set entirely at defiance both of Fr. Crotty and the people. How all this will terminate, it is difficult at present to ascertain, but now hostility reigns between shepherd, pastor and flock ˆ and the last have thrown off all spiritual control.'


Crottyites Ejected from Chapel

On Saturday, August 26 a meeting was held in the Shambles, in which the fate of Crotty was decided. On September 8 Lord Rosse ordered the 66th Regiment to march to the church and formally evict Crotty. This they did 'with screwed bayonets and loaded muskets . . . brutally and forcibly' expelling Crotty and his congregation. Several of Crotty's followers ended up in Birr Bridewell.

On September 10 Fr. Kennedy had Crotty charged with riot, conspiracy and disturbing public worship. The case was heard at the October Quarter Sessions. Crotty was defended by Sir George Bennett, Q.C. The trial lasted two days after which the jury acquitted Crotty.

He was now prevented by law from using the old chapel so his followers rented a large house for use as a temporary chapel. Crotty claims that Kennedy's congregation was now so small that supporters had to be brought from Roscrea.

On December 2 Rev. Phillip Meagher, P.P. died and Fr. Kennedy was officially appointed Parish Priest the following week. Crotty was enraged. During the night of December 16, the roof of the old chapel caved in. Fr. Kennedy blamed Crotty, while the latter blamed Kennedy.

Next day Crotty and his followers took possession a the new chapel, which at this stage was almost completed. It was roofed but unfurnished. Crotty celebrated the first Mass within the walls to the great annoyance of Kennedy and his followers. He was evicted the following week.

Lord Rosse was unsure of the legal position and wrote to the bishop, Dr. O'Shaughnessy, asking whether Kennedy was officially Parish Priest. The bishop replied: 'I beg leave to inform you that the death of Dr. Meagher makes no change whatsoever in the situation of Mr. Kennedy whom I hereby constitute and appoint Parish Priest of Birr.' Strong pressure was being put on Dr. O'Shaughnessy to have Fr. Kennedy removed. Two letters exist in the diocesan archives from a Birr layman, Patrick Carroll, requesting his removal. They are dated February 25 and March 7, 1827 requesting that Fr. Kennedy be removed and asking the bishop how he will 'account for all the souls that departed this life since 29th June last in the hands of Mr. Crotty.' Carroll later became a violent opponent of Michael Crotty and an ardent supporter of his cousin, William.


Legal Opinion

Meantime Sr. George Bennett had been asked for his legal opinion regarding the new chapel, and he stated on February 28: 'I have already said the the Roman Catholics of Birr have a right to go to the chapel, and I conceive that Mr. Crotty has a right to be there if he pleases, but that right should be exercised with caution, not in a violent manner, or with any circumstance that could induce a jury to believe it was done with the intention of disturbing public worship or of breaking the peace.'

Acting on this Crotty went to the new chapel on March 4 and Fr. Kennedy made no attempt to oppose him. Some of Fr. Kennedy's supporters went to see Daniel O'Connell the following week and he advised them to barricade the building. Any attempt by Crotty or his supporeters to force a way in would leave them open to prosecution. When Crotty came next he found the chapel bolted and barricaded. He went to see John Wetheralt the magistrate to see about getting in. Unfortunately for Crotty some of his supporters were hasty and pulled down the barricade. Immediately Fr. Kennedy had Crotty prosecuted for disturbing public worship, riot and trespass. He was arrested, charged, found guilty and sentemced to three months in jail and bound to the peace for seven years. 

He was jailed in Phillipstown.Two of his leading supporters were sentenced to two months.

While in jail he was visited by J.F.K., Bishop of Kildare and Loughlin, who offered to negotiate his release if he would only submit to the Killaloe authority. Crotty replied that he would 'sooner die of beggary and starvation than be a splendid example of successful servility to popish domination.'

Crotty's followers represented the judgment as a malicious and unjust persecution and refused to return to the pastoral care of the parish priest. They continued to meet every Sunday in their rented rooms in Castle Street. Numbering an estimated two thousand they were content, while deprived of the Mass, with having the rosary said, prayers offered and a collection made for their leader. Every week a parcel of money and provisions was sent to Crotty in jail. Infants were carried the twenty-seven miles distance to be baptised by him and some even died without the last rites rather than have them administerd by Fr. Kennedy.

On the day of his release from jail Crotty was met by a large number of people and escorted to his house. He then resumed his ministerial functions in Castle Street and the hostility between his followers and those of Fr. Kennedy continued as bitter and vehement as before. Crotty concentrated on building up his congregation. He also started what was to become the 'Reformation at Birr' by abolishing clay money, the practice of giving money to a priest at a funeral, when a handful of blessed clay was put on the coffin.

From 1828 until early 1832 there were no more major upheavals at Birr although the tensions between the rival factions occasionally spilled over into violence. During this period also there was a steady decline in the support for the Crottyites. By 1834 it was estimated that there was an overall attendance of 3,750 at the three masses in the Roman Catholic chapel but only 1,550 at the three masses in the Crottyite chapel. As the latter introduced more Reformation ideas many of the members began to drift away. However, the Crotty movement was to receive a major boost with the arrival of William Crotty.


William Crotty

William Crotty, a cousin of Michael's, who was born in 1806, was a student in the Irish College in Paris when Michael started his reforming campaign at Birr. Representations were made to Bishop O'Shaughnessy (who died in August 1829) and to his successor, Bishop Patrick MacMahon, to have William withdrawn from the Irish College, where he began his studies in 1825.

While studying in Paris, William later claimed, he began to entertain doubts of the religious system in which he was brought up. When he saw Roman Catholics burning incense, bending the knee and offering prayers before the statue of the Virgin Mary in the garden of St. Sulpice, he could not help declaring that it was not without reason that the charge of idolatry was brought by Protestants against the Church of Rome.

In 1828, he was summoned to Ireland by Bishop O'Shaughnessy. Having arrived he learned he was summoned for the purpose of using his influence on his cousin, Michael, to induce him to relinguish his attitude of rebellion against the bishop and to submit to ecclesiastical authority. There was also a veiled threat that failure would mean he might never be ordained.

William travelled to Birr but instead of changing his cousin's mind, joined him for a short time. Then he changed his mind and denounced the Birr reformation in a newspaper: 'The day of deception and delusion, with regard to me, is no more and I now resemble the prodigal child returning to his father's house, which he so shamefully deserted.'. The Bishop was none too pleased and it was his successor, Bishop MacMahon, who eventually gave permission for his ordination. William was eventually ordained in January 1832 and appointed curate at Killaloe, where his uncle, Daniel Vaughan, was parish Priest.

Soon after William had a quarrel with Fr. Vaughan. He wrote to Michael at Birr asking the latter to receive him as he was 'sick of Popery and saw the errors and corruptions of the Church of Rome.' Michael received him as a colleague in May 1832 and the two worked together for a while. All the efforts made by his uncle and Parish Priest to get him to change his mind were in vain.

After some time William had a change of mind due to doubts about the direction of his life or, more likely, because a curacy in Castleconnell had become vacant. Whatever the reason he recanted and denounced Michael and the Birr reformation with 'satanic malignity' in a letter to the Limerick Chronicle. He may have expected to get the curacy as a result of his recantation.

He failed to get the position and went to France for a while. He had another change of mind. He wrote to Michael again saying he was sorry for what he had done, that he could find no rest from the accusations of a guilty conscience and promised, that if he were forgiven and sent £20 to bring him back to Birr, he would never again abandon Michael and his flock.

'Notwithstanding the remonstrances of my friends, my easy good nature got the better of my prudence; I sent him a bank order for £20 to bring him home from France and again received him into favour', Michael wrote later.


Development of Reformation

William Crotty was now regarded by Michael as a young, zealous co-adjutor in his crusade of reform as plans were made to establish another chapel in the parish of Lackeen. The foundations of this building are still to be seen not far from Carrig Church for the building seems never to have got further than the foundation stage.

The Reformation now developed under the guidance of the two cousins with the emergence of new practices and observances. New prayers were formulated, the Mass was translated into English, communion in two kinds was offered, the use of holy water and altar candles was abandoned, clerical vestments were discarded and the levying of clerical fees was curtailed. A school was set up where the children would read 'the Protestant bible in its integrity and purity, without note or comment, without mutilation or curtailment and unpolluted by the withering and contamination touch of the adulterous Board of Irish Education.' It was reported that nine hundred people attended Crotty's services each Sunday.

The cousins next tried to spread the word in Castleconnell, where their uncle, Michael Crotty, P.P., was old and infirm. Bishop McMahon wrote a letter to the parish priest denouncing nephew Michael as 'the archschismatic of Birr, going about like a spirit of darkness, seeking those whom he may devour.' Michael threatened a libel action against the bishop, which came to nothing, and wrote three open letters to the bishop in the Limerick Chronicle. The first, which appeared on March 10, 1832, outlined the causes of the Birr troubles. The second developed the theme and stated that peace could be restored if Fr. Kennedy, P.P. was removed. The third was a long tract which ranged over the nature of schisms to the authority of the Church.

Another attempt at reconciliation was made in 1833 through the mediation of a Maynooth contemporary of Michael Crotty's, Fr. O'Loughlin. He found the Crottys ready to co-operate, even to the extent of moving away from Birr, but not prepared to sign a document, which the bench of bishops in Dublin looked upon as the sine qua non of the restoration of normal relations. This document called for their 'unconditional acknowledgement of submission' to episcopal authority and their declaration that all the marriages which they had solemnised for the previous eight or ten years were 'absolutely invalid' and their absolutions during that period 'null and void'.


Final Breach

The Crottys were unable to accept these conditions and this marked the final breach between them and their denominational allegiance. William Crotty publicly declared: 'I am totally unconnected with either Pope or Bishop, and not very partial to Romanism from what I have been made to know of that cruel and degraded superstition.'

Michael Crotty had been bound to the peace for seven years in 1827 and when the time expired on April 13, 1834 he and William 'in a quiet and peaceable manner went to the Catholic chapel at Birr, then in the illegal possession of Priest Kennedy to perform divine service.' It was Sunday and Fr. Kennedy was saying Mass. The Crottys forced their way into the Church and a violent struggle followed before they were finally ejected. The Crottys were arrested and released on bail. Crown Counsel offered that if they left Birr the charges would be withdrawn. They refused and Michael was sentenced to seven weeks imprisonment and fined £10. The cousins never again attempted to take possession of the Church.

In June 1835 Fr. Kennedy, P.P. was appointed coadjutor bishop. The bull of appointment was a long time coming from Rome but eventually arrived and Kennedy was consecrated bishop at Birr on January 17, 1836. He was co-adjutor for only five months as Bishop Patrick MacMahon died in the following June.

Having failed to secure the possession of the New Chapel the Crottys decided to build a new one for their congregation, which had declined in numbers since 1827, and published an appeal in the Dublin papers on November 1st, 1835.

'Having been deprived of all right and title to officiate for our flock in the new Roman Catholic Chapel of Birr by a recorded decision of the laws of our country against us, the only recourse now left us was to make an appeal to the sympathy and generosity of the Christian Protestants of Ireland on behalf of our persecuted congregation.'

The appeal was headed: 'To the liberal, high-minded and Christian Protestants of Ireland. Brought by the grace of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit to see the errors and corruptions of the Church of Rome and to embrace the truth of the Protestant religion, we have been enabled during the period of ten years to resist and withstand the encroachments of prerogative, to struggle against the inroads of arbitrary power and oppose the exercise of opulent oppression . . . .'

'We have discarded the novelties of superstition and reduced Christianity to first principles. . . We consume in the fire of God's Word the hay and the stubble of superstition, such as penances, purgatory, saint invocation and image worship. We have reduced the Sacramants to two ˆ Baptism and the Lord's Supper. We have exploded the damnable doctrine of exclusive salvation. We appeal to the generous and high-minded Prostestants for pecuniary means to build our chapel and rescue 2,000 souls from the snares of Antichrist.'

The appeal met with immediate response and over £400 was subscribed. Trustees were appointed, most of whom were members of the Established Church. A site in Castle Street was leased from the Earl of Rosse and the foundation stone of the new church was laid on July 15, 1836 by Michael Crotty.

Already on June 5, 1836 the Crottys celebrated mass in English for the first time. This new version was radically different from the Latin version. The substance of the mass was changed and 'we have expunged the ceremony of the Elevation, together with all the other nonsensical mummery and cris-crosses of the Romish Mass.' This development maked a clear break in doctrine with the Catholic Church.


Growing Divisions Between Cousins

In the meantime the bishop, Dr. McMahon, passed away and was succeeded by Fr. Kennedy. He was consecrated at Birr on January 17, 1836 before a very small congregation. This fact was gleefully referred to by Michael Crotty the following Sunday. He 'congratulated the people on the stand made against priestly domination the previous Sabbath. No surprise should be felt at the high elevation of a priest who so lately gave them opposition ˆ wicked men have often been raised to the highest station, and a devil was among the deciples of the Lord.' Soon after his consecration Bishop Kennedy wrote to Rome claiming that Crotty was no longer a problem.

In order to continue the fund-raising Michael left Birr on a tour through Ireland and Great Britain, leving the congregation and the building of the chapel to be supervised by his cousin, William. In Belfast the sum of £325 was pledged. From there he went to Scotland and spent a good deal of time there, eventually returning to Birr in February 1837.

While he was busy fund-raising in Scotland William was not idle. As a result of his study of Presbyterian forms and doctrine, he shortly conceived the idea of connecting himself and his people with the Synod of Ulster. He also recruited an ex-student of the Irish College at Paris, Michael O'Keeffe, who wrote a letter to the Evening Packet bitterly assailing the Established Church and also attacking the Presbyterians for accepting the Regnum Donum. William went further when he preached a sermon in Limerick criticising tithes.

The result of these developments was that many Protestants became hostile to the Birr reformation.

Dr. Cooke, the great Belfast preacher, had raised over £300 at a meeting for Michael Crotty but refused to forward the money until Michael repudiated William's views. In response Michael wrote a letter to the Scottish Guardian defending the clergy of the Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, supporting the collection of tithes which William had attacked and saying that William was misquoted and misrepresented in the Limerick Chronicle. Later he wrote of the episode: 'The conduct of my cousin on several occasions has been to me a source of much sorrow and regret but for the good of the cause on which we were embarked, I continued with a kind of desperate fidelity to adhere to him in the hope that time and experience would have produced a reformation.'

In spite of these protestations it was clear by now that a real division had emerged between the Anglican-inclined Michael and the Calvinist William.


Affiliation with Church of England

A meeting of the trustees on May 15, 1838 decided that Michael should go to England to raise badly-needed funds. He did not get on very well as there was suspicion about William's direction. After five months only £270 was raised. One Minister, Rev. Hugh McNeil, wrote to Michael saying 'I cannot support or recommend your cause unless you come in connection with the church, or under ecclesiastical superintendence.' Michael saw the only hope of success lay in affiliating with the Church of England. 

Accordingly, when he returned to Birr in April 1839, he persuaded William to join the Church of England with him. They received testimonials of character from Rev. Marcus McCausland, Rector of Birr and from Rt. Rev. Ludlow Tonson, Bishop of Killaloe. Armed with these testimonials Michael returned to England to raise funds. While there he got married to Martha Holland, the daughter of John Holland, umbrella and furniture maker, of Darwen Street, Birmingham in St. Philip's Church of England, Bermingham, signing himself 'a clergyman of the Established Church.'

Michael's long absences in England had given William the opportunity to take control of matters in Birr. In his book Michael described the developments: 'During my absence in England, the Revd William Crotty violated his compact with me, abolished the English liturgy, changed the mode of celebrating the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, introduced the Presbyterian form of public worship, and thereby banished many of the congregation, who went back to popery.'

When William heard of the marriage he persuaded the congregation to apply to join the Presbyterian Church, declaring its considered opinion that Presbyterianism 'in its doctrine, discipline and government, comes nearest to primitive Christianity and to the original constitution of the Christian Church.'

For some time William had thought of the idea of connecting himself and his congregation with the Synod of Ulster. He was convinced that the constitution of the Presbyterian Church supplied it with peculiar advantages for the propagation of the Gospel in Ireland. He also believed that many of his congregation had a preference for the Synod of Ulster. In the summer of 1838 he wrote two letters to the members of that body explaining his views, but had received no reply. He complained of the lack of response to a Presbyterian acquaintance and was advised to make application to the nearest Presbytery, the Presbytery of Dublin. The Presbytery sent a deputation to Birr in February 1839 to ascertain the moral character and doctrinal views of the two Crottys and how their congregation's views coincided.

By the time the deputation arrived at Birr news of Michael's marriage had become known. It caused such excitement that the deputation decided it was not an opportune time to raise the issue of attachment to the Presbytery of Dublin. So, the Presbytery took no further notice of William's proposal at this time.

Soon after, however, they received a communication from the members of the congregation in Birr containing a copy of resolutions unanimously adopted by them at a meeting previously held in their church. In these resolutions the people declared that the pastoral connection between them and the Rev. Michael Crotty was dissolved, he having publicly declared himself a Minister of the Established Church, and that they thenceforth recognised the Rev. William Crotty as their sole pastor. They also expressed their strong desire to be united to the Presbyterian Church and requested the Presbytery to lose no time in sending a deputation to confer with them on the subject.


Connection with Synod of Ulster

The Presbytery acted with promptitude and sent two members to Birr. A meeting of the congregation was immediately summoned, resolutions were adopted and the following adopted at a formal meeting of the people: 'We, the undersigned, members of the Reformed Church at Birr, beg to state, that we are desirous of forming a union with the Presbyterian Church. We do not at present deem it necessary to mention our motives for preferring your Church to any other section of the Reformed Church in these countries, save that, from the period of our coming out of the Church of Rome, we have been led to think that Presbyterianism, in its doctrine, discipline and government comes nearest to primitive Christianity and to the original constitution of the Christian Church. We, therefore, pray that you will receive this, our aplication, into your immediate consideration, and that you will take such measures as may carry our wishes into effect.'

The application bore one hundred and nine signatures and on the 30th May, 1839, at a specially convened meeting at Birr, before a congregation of about five hundred, Rev. William Crotty and his flock were publicly received into connection with the Synod of Ulster. The following month the Synod decided to afford William an income of £100 per annum.

The Presbyterians were determined to exploit the opportunity of launching a missionary operation in the locality of the new congregation, directly initially at those who had lapsed their connection with the Crotty Church and hadn't yet returned to the Roman Catholic chapel. Rev. James Carlyle, a Scotsman who arrived in Dublin in 1813 and was Commissioner of the Board of National Education, expressed an interest in the Birr Mission and came to the town in August 1839. He superintended the repair of the Church, the formation of schools, the activities of the scripture reader, the publication of tracts and the adoption of any other means he thought might be used to advance the Reformation just begun. He was to stay initially for three, months, then six, then a year and remained until his death in 1853. He is buried at Birr in the Crotty graveyard.

The mission had no easy passage. It was beset by financial problems but more troublesome was a succession of rows in which the Crotty cousins, jointly or separately, were involved. Thus they quarrelled with each other, exchanging mutual accusations of bad faith, lying, intimidation and intention to disturb the peace of the congregation and neighbourhood ˆ and, for good measure, Michael threw in the charge of adultery against William.


William's Removal from Birr

The latter, moreover, was constantly at adds with his congregation, other neighbour clergy, most of the mission's agents and, particularly, with Carlyle, whose presence in the town William increasingly resented. Eventually in 1843, the General Assembly decided that the best interests of the mission would be served by William's removal from Birr and he was sent as a home mission agent to Roundstone in Galway. Here he was employed until his resignation in 1856 as an itinerant preacher and became the author of several polemical tracts denouncing Roman Catholicism.

Before he left Birr William married Kate Dempsey in December 1841 and they had three sons, Albert (1849-1936), a Minister at Mullingar, Richard (1850-1924) a Resident Magistrate in Clare, and Leslie (1852-1903), an opera singer. He was received back into the Roman Catholic Church in 1856 and died the following year.

Meanwhile Michael had not heard of the events of 1839 for a fortnight. He was at Bristol when he received the news and returned to Birr immediately. He had to stay at Dooly's Hotel because William had taken over his house and sold his furniture. He instituted legal proceedings but the matter was settled out of court through the intervention of another cousin, and there was a settlement of £12 on Michael.


Michael Publishes his Memoirs

Abandoned by his friends and unable to get a living in Ireland, Michael crosed to England. His original following was reduced to little over one hundred, following the departure of a large number to William's congregation, the drift away that followed the introduction of Reformed ideas, and the return of some to the Roman Catholic Church. He found it difficult to get a parish until in September 1843 he arrived as curate in Kirkheaton, near Huddesfield, in the diocese of Ripon. 

Here he wrote his memoirs, entitled Narrative of the Reformation at Birr, which was published in 1847 by Hatchard of London and reprinted in 1850. The book has 461 pages and is only partly a narrative of the events in Birr as it descends into a polemic against the Roman Catholic Church and all its works and pomps. Crotty sets out his intention in the Preface: 'The object of the following Narrative is to glorify God and to edify the Christian world by showing how the Almighty was pleased to call me by his grace out of the darkness and bondage of popery into the marvellous light and liberty of the glorious gospel of his Son, while thousands of my clerical brethern are still left in the Church of Rome to perpetuate the errors, superstitions and, it is much to be feared, the soul-destroying delusions of the new, unscriptural and anti-Catholic Tridentine Creed on the credulity and simplicity of their too confiding and unsuspecting countrymen, and to die, in all human probability, in the communion of that great apostasy.'

Towards the end of his Narrative he expresses his intention 'to return to Birr, to recover my Church and congregation from the usurped and illegal possession of the present intruder, Mr. James Carlyle, Presbyterian Minister, and put them as I originally intended to have done under the episcopal jurisdiction of the Protestant Bishop of Killaloe. He remained as curate in Kirkheaton until 1850.

In 1852 he instituted legal; proceedings to recover the church building for the conduct of Anglican services. In this he gained a bloodless victory for, on the advice of Carlyle, the General Assembly did not contest the issue and the building was surrendered to him.

His appeal to the people of Birr, however, wasn't successful and after five years he agreed to return the church to the General Assembly on payment of £100. He found it difficult to accept that his followers at Birr had all deserted him and that he was no longer welcome there.


Misfortunate End

His latter years are shrouded in mystery. On December 15, 1855 the Nation published an account of his arrest in Preston on a charge of obtaining money under false pretences. He stated he had been collecting the money for enlarging and endowing his church at Birr. When his claim was checked out with the Rector at Birr, he stated that Crotty's wife and children were residing there and were receiving money from him on a regular basis.

The next reference to him is in April 1856 when he wrote to Daniel Vaughan, Bishop of Killaloe from Dublin. The letter contained a strong expression of repentance and a plea for reconciliation. The letter appeared in a local newspaper the following month with the comment: 'It is said that the Revd Michael Crotty is at present in Birr, giving the best example in reparation of the scandals of his former life.'

The matter of reconciliation with the Catholic Church wasn't as straighforward as might seem as Crotty had a wife and two children and was torn between his commitment to them and his desire for reconciliation. These difficulties are given expression in a letter in the archives of the Irish College, Rome from Dr. Vaughan, Bishop of Killaloe, dated September 24, 1857, which has reference to Michael Crotty: 'The unfortunate Crotty, who caused such scandal at Birr, now shows signs of repentance. I was thinking of sending him to Rome, as the wicked woman with whom he has lived will seduce him again if he is left in Ireland. He says he has two children nearly grown and cannot get away from her. He is in dire poverty.'

Somehow, he made his way to the continent. In June of 1858 the Prefect of Police at Bruges in Belgium had him committed to a lunatic asylum in Couttrai. It was stated on his certificate of admission that 'the Rev. Michael Crotty is affected since a few months with a mental illness ˆ Lypemania ˆ which necessitates his internment in a specialised house.'

An extract from the Medical Register states: 'This man had a most agitated life following disputes which he had with his superiors. There does not seem to exist any disturbance in the intellectual functions. Michael approaches us only to tell us about his misfortunes and the treasons to which he was a victim, gives gigantic proportions to his sufferings, complains about everyone, asks for death by all his wishes.

Here he died on May 4, 1862 aged sixty-seven years. His death certificate describes him as unmarried. There is no indication whether he was reconciled with the Church

There is no record of the death of his wife or the fates of his two sons. However, a grandson, Richard, who was born in 1910, was received into the Catholic Church in 1954 and was later a Benedictine priest in Broome, Western Australia.


Postscript

There are various estimates of the number of people who belonged to Crotty's congregation. One source tells us that 900 people were present at Crotty's services each Sunday in 1832. Michael Crotty himself records: 'The women cast away Agnus Deis, scapulars, Friar-blessed habits of the Virgin Mary and committed this superstitious trumpery to the flames, and came to the fountain of the Saviour's blood to be cleansed of their sins.' Another report tells us 1550 people attended the three masses in Crotty's church on a Sunday. A description of his congregation in 1827 mentions the figute of 2,000

What happened to the Crottyites? The changeover to Presbyterianosm alienated many. In 1840 the Sisters of Mercy came to Birr and were responsible for restoring many Crottyites to the Catholic Church. The famine and emigration reduced their numbers. A famous Passionate Mission to Birr in 1853 did much to end the schism. There is a story that after the burial of a man in Birr in 1940 the officiating priest said: 'There goes the last of the Crottyites!.


What were the causes of the schism?

They were numerous and it's difficult to pinpoint the main ones. The general state of things in the Catholic Church at the time contributed. The personality conflict between Michael Crotty and 'Priest Kennedy' played an important part. The desire of Michael Crotty to marry doesn't appear to have been a cause. Michael Crotty disliked spiritual despotism and regarded the attempts by authorities to impose their will as just that. A closeness to the people was a factor. Michael Crotty came to protect them against those better off, as well as the Chapel Committee. This closeness to the people led him to demand the vernacular for them and greater lay participation in the running of church affairs. Michael Crotty's political views came into conflict with those of a growing number of Catholic clergy. Edmund Burke was his hero and he hated O'Connell. In 1824 Crotty's uncle was threatened with suspension by his bishop if he did not collect the O'Connell rent. The uncle, who was Parish Priest of Castleconnell, gave as his reason that he did not wish to mix politics with religion. Later he was charged at a dinner in Nenagh as an enemy of the freedom of Ireland. Crotty, who was at the dinner, defended his uncle and his defence gives some insight into his political views. According to him, attacking his uncle implied supporting those who preached rebellion from the altar, denounced Protestants and their religion, stimulated resistance to the laws of the country and to the constituted authorities, filled the jails and the transports and fed the gibbits, and would end good relationships with Protestants by which the lot of the poor was alleviated. Michael Crotty was probably an ecumenist before his time. Finally, one cannot forget the Evangelical Movement and its influence of 'Back to the Bible' in the first half of the nineteenth century. The chief object was to preach the Gospel to the Irish people. It was strong and produced enthusiastic preachers and probably contributed to the reformation at Birr.


Why was it so sucessful?

Obviously the personality of Michael Crotty played a part. Although the Maynooth authorities regarded him as 'a fool and a madman', he had good leadership qualities and could command a strong following. This following was willing to stand by him in the face of intense opposition from the Church authorities. His following came from the less well-off and he appeared to be their defender against the demands of the Chapel Committee. The idea of tollgates to extract money from the people appears harch and unfeeling and was obviously resented by the poor and underprivileged. When there was a suspicion that some of the money was being alienated it raised their hackles. According to Lord Rosse Michael Crotty was of violent temper but 'he attached the lower orders of the people to him by praising them from the altar and censuring and reviling the upper orders.' Understandably the people came to regard him as their hero and champion.

On the other side the response of the Church authorities was essentially hardline. Fr. Kennedy, who was referred to as the 'fighting cock' of the diocese of Killaloe, was not the kind of person capable of bringing peace to the parish. He was of prickly disposition and seemed to welcome confrontation rather than compromise. He lacked diplomacy and the ability to cope with dissent. It did not help matters that Rody Kennedy, his brother, who had a grocery store on Main Street, was a member of the old chapel committee. As well as Kennedy there were a number of unfortunate coincidences together with misjudgments on the part of the authorities in the early stages of the dispute, which seemed to justify Crotty in his belief that there was a conspiracy against him. The two Catholics on the jury that convicted him at the quarter sessions in April 1826 were members of the Chapel Committee. Also, one of these was the father of Fr. Blake, who replaced him at Birr after he was transferred to Killaloe. The appointment of Patrick Kennedy, brother of one of the chapel committee, as administrator and later Parish Priest of Birr, appeared to Crotty as part of the same conspiracy.

 

The Burning of Portland House, May 1938 Tipperary Historical Journal 2009, pp 145-152

The Burning of Portland House, May 1938

Tipperary Historical Journal 2009, pp 145-152

 

Portland Park House, Lorrha was burned to the the ground in the early hours of Tuesday, May 10, 1938 by a body of twenty-four armed men, who entered the house about 2.30 am.

Major Charles Kemble Butler-Stoney, who owned Portland Park, hadn't lived in the house for ten years and had recently handed it over to the trustees of Emmanuel Home, Rathgar, Dublin as a home for Protestant children. Seventeen orphans from Emmanuel House were due to arrive and take up residence there on May 10.

The armed men ordered out the inmates, Mr. John W. Densmore, superintendent, his wife and two children, and a maid, Miss Meredith.

Major Butler-Stoney lived in a house about a mile from Portland House and on the Friday following the burning 710 acres belonging to him were allocated to tenants, as the final part of the distribution of the land of the estate by the Land Commission.

Mr. Densmore answered a loud knocking at the door soon after 2 am and found eight men on the doorstep. They told him they had come to burn the house and that he would have to leave and take anybody else in the house with him. When the family left, the men, some masked and carrying revolvers and cans of petrol, filed into the house and shortly afterwards it was on fire. The men, whom Mrs. Densmore described as courteous to her and one of whom said to her that they didn't like burning the house but that they had their orders, then marched away.

Emmanuel House

Major Butler-Stoney had given the house to the trustees of Emmanuel House because the latter was full. It was to provide a home for Protestant children and assurances had been given that it would not be a proselytising institution. These assurances had been given as a result of bad feeling locally against the project. There was no question of land trouble because the land had already been divided up between tenants sometime previously.

The mansion, a late Georgian two-storey structure over basement, was built in the first quarter of the 19th century and had twenty-five rooms. Some furniture and carpets belonging to Major Butler-Stoney, as well as some belonging to the Densmores and some installed for the reception of the children were destroyed by the fire.

Man Arrested

Intense police activity followed the burning but it took some time for arrests to be madeiv. On July 1 Thomas Hough, Carrigahorig, Lorrha was charged at Birr District Court with having 'with others not in custody, wilfully and maliciously set fire to a dwelling house, known as Portland House, value £1,500 . . .'v

The first prosecution witness was John William Densmore, who stated he was nominally superintendent of the orphanage at Portland House. He resided with his wife and family at the house. According to him 'We were going to carry on the custody and care of illegitimate Protestant children. These children were to come to us from Emmanuel Home, Orwell Road, Dublin. We were going to work without remuneration.'

He was awakened at about 2.30 am on the morning of May 10 by knocking at the hall door. He went to the window and was told to come down. When he asked for what he was told it was about business. When he commented on such an extraordinary hour for doing business, the reply was: 'Come down if you don't want to go up in smoke.'

He decided to go down, dressed and was followed by his wife. When he opened the door he was confronted by eight or ten men, the leader of whom presented a revolver and said: 'Hands up!'. Mr. Densmore put up his hands and said he was unarmed. The leader said: 'We'll give you time to clear out; we have come to burn the place.'

Several men then invaded the house and disappeared into various parts. The spokesman asked him how many occupants were in the house and he told him of his wife, maid and two chldren. He began to reason with the leader as to why they were burning them out. He replied he had no time to argue: 'I don't want to hear any of this talk – we know what you are.'

Mr. Densmore continued that he then went upstairs to his wife and children, who were crying. Soon the children were pacified and one of the men helped his wife to dress them. They collected some of their personal belongings and carried them down to the lawn. He was exhorted by one of the men to hurry up and he tried to reason with him also. 'Sure you are proselytisers,' the man said. When Mr. Densmore denied that he ever proselytised a human being in his life, the man replied: 'Don't you pick up Roman Catholic children off the streets of Dublin to make Protsetants of them?' When this was denied the man said: 'We have no time to argue; hurry up and get out.'

Mr. Densmore related how he continued to remove his private papers and other personal belongings to the lawn and how, after some time, the man who appeared to be leader said to him: 'I think you have enough out now.' They were allowed to take nothing but their personal belongings.

House on Fire

As they went on to the lawn the fire was alight. This was ten to fifteen minutes after the men arrived. Soon the place was completely ablaze and by six o'clock in the morning it was completely burnt out.

The men left immediately the fire had started and didn't seem to have bicycles or motorsvi. According to Mr. Densmore the leader 'was wearing large horn-rimmed spectacles and what appeared to be a muffler round the lower part of his face and a soft hat. He believed that there were at most about twenty men there that morning.

At 6.20 am he reported the burning to the Civic Guards in Lorrha. On May 21 he attended an identification parade at Templemore Garda Station with his wife and maid. He was unable to identify any of the men paraded before him. Under cross-examination he did admit he was in the bedroom with his wife and children and had met two men face to face for two or three minutes on two or three occasions.

Man Recognised

Mrs. Densmore corroborated her husband's evidence but added that she recognised one of the men in the Templemore parade 'as the man who was in my bedroom on the morning of May 10. I had not the slightest hesitation or difficulty in recognising him. I pointed him out to the Superintendent at the time. I first saw this man on the 10th May standing on my left hand side in the hall. He walked almost alongside me up the stairs and into my bedroom. He remained there until he came down with me also. He was in the bedroom with me for about ten minutes. He was the man who dressed the child, rolled up the bedclothes and was very courteous. I saw him again in the hall when we got downstairs. The electric light was on in all these places. I now see him in court – he is the accused.' Earlier she had informed the court that the man wasn't masked. He wore a scarf round his neck and a soft hat. He wore a dark brown overcoat.In order to give time for cross-examination Justice W. J. Meagher, D.J. adjourned the further hearing to Birr District Court on July 29.

When the case resumed Mrs. Densmore was examined by Mr. Sean McCurtain for the accused. He asked her why she had recognised the accused in the identification parade at the barracks at Templemore and her husband hadn't. She claimed that her husband hadn't the same opportunity as she had for recognising him as she spoke directly to the man in her room on the morning of the burning whereas her husband had only passed in and out of her bedroom. Another reason she stated was that he hadn't his glasses on that morning. Mr. McCurtain's defence was to cast doubt on Mrs. Densmore's identification and he kept pressing her that she could not be positive. At one point the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Haugh, objected to the persistence of the questioning stating that 'the matter had gone far enough, and there was a limit to everything.'

Another witness was the maid of Mrs. Densmore, who saw the men on the morning but failed to identify the accused at the identification parade.

In the course of his evidence Charles Kemble Butler-Stoney told the court that his family lived at Portland House until about ten years previously. The previous December he gave the house over to Emmanuel Home, Orwell Road, Rathgar and had nothing to say as regards the running or management of the intended home. He had made a claim for malicious damage to the house and for the furniture destroyed. Under cross-examination he stated: 'I was aware there was some feeling from one source about the handling over of the house.'vii

Superintendent O'Boyle of Nenagh told the court about the identification parade. It consisted of nineteen men, fourteen from the Templemore area, the accused, and four other suspects from Lorrha and Borrisokane. The accused and the other suspects were given the choice of their own places in the line. He related how Mr. Desnmore failed to recognise anyone but that Mrs. Densmore, having walked along the line and examined each man, she returned to the middle of the line and said to the Superintendent: 'I have seen this man before,' pointing to Thomas Hough. Superintendent O'Boyle continued: 'I asked her to place her hand on the man to whom she was referring. She then placed her hand upon Thomas Hough. I asked Mrs. Densmore where she saw him and she replied, 'in Portland Park.'

I asked her when and she said 'on the morning of the 10th' I asked her what month and she said 'May'. I asked her what year and she said 'nineteen thirty-eight'. She then said: 'That is all I can conscientiously swear to.'

Sergeant Patrick Vaughan of Tipperary gave evidence that he took the accused and the other suspects to Templemore. Under cross-examination he stated that none of them asked for a solicitor before they arrived at Templemore. Mr. McCurtain suggested to Sergeant Vaughan that it was an unfair identification parade because the accused and the other suspects were engaged in agricultural work and had the marks of it on their clothes while the others were from Templemore and their dress wasn't like that of men who were immediately after coming off a farm like the accused, who was taken off his farm where he had been ploughing and was covered in clay.

Inspector Thomas O'Reilly read a statement that the accused made to him on May 20th. In it he told how he had spent the day before the burning and how he retired at 10.15 pm to bed on the night of the burning. He got up shortly after 6 am and didn't hear about the burning until 6-30 pm on Tuesday evening. 'When I heard this news I said 'Powerful work' and said no more about it.'
The statement continued: 'Prior to last Monday week, for about six weeks, it was talked of in the parish for miles around that a 'bird's nest'viii was being established at Portland House and for some time before last Monday week it was thought that the orphans were already there. All the people were cursing and saying that the damn thing should not be allowed, that it would be alright in the cities. I could not give the names of the persons who were so cursing, because the whole countryside was against the 'bird's nest' without exception.'

'I never heard that Portland House was going to be burned, nor never dreamed that it would be burned. I had no hand, act or part whatsoever in the burning of Portland House. I would not like to see any place burned. I was not a bit sorry to hear of Portland House been burned – if anything I was glad.'

When the judge asked the accused if he had anything to add to the statement, he replied: 'Not guilty.'

Returned for Trial

The prosecutor, Mr. Haugh, applied to have the accused returned for trial to Nenagh Circuit Court on October 4. Defence counsel, McCurtain, disagreed. According to him the prosecution case rested on the evidence of Mrs. Densmore's identification of the accused, which was not corroborated by her husband or maid. Also, no jury would agree with the manner of the identification parade, which was unfair to Hough, who had the distinguishing marks of of the farm on him. He continued that Mrs. Densmore's evidence was not reliable because her recollection wasn't good. 'She hadn't been properly cross-examined, not was there any really close investigation into her evidence. She had plenty of time to consider her answers.'

For instance, according to McCurtain, Mrs Densmore had stated that there was a man in her room that night from the time the men arrived until they left. That evidence was contradicted by the maid who said that when she first went into Mrs. Densmore's room, there was no man there. Another example of her faulty recollection was Mrs. Densmore's statement that she arrived at Templemore for the identification parade at 1 o'clock, whereas the evidence of the Inspector said it was 2.50. For these reasons the accused should not be returned for trial.

The Justice said that he had no jurisdiction to say if the accused was guilty or not guilty. His position was to decide if there were a prima facie case for a jury and he had come to the conclusion there was. He accordingly returned the accused for trial to Nenagh.

Trial Moved to Dublin

When Thomas Hough, described as a farmer and shopkeeper of Carrigahorig, Lorrha, appeared at Nenagh Circuit Court on October 4, the State Solicitor, Mr. James O'Brien, applied under Section 54 of the Courts of Justice Act to have the trial transferred to the Central Criminal Court, Dublin. Justice Sealy consented.

The trial took place on December 6 at the Central Criminal Court, Green Street, Dublin before Mr. Justice O'Byrne and a jury. Mr. Kevin Haugh conducted the prosecution on behalf of the State and Mr. A. E. Wood, S.C. instructed by Mr. Sean McCurtain defended the accused.

Most of the evidence was a rehash of what had been given at the District Court sitting. Mr. Wood's main defence was to throw doubt on the evidence of Mrs. Densmore, especially on the question of who was in the room while she was dressing her children and completing her own. He also threw doubt on the accuracy of her account regarding the dressing of the children and on the amount of time that the men stayed in the room. When the accused was cross-examined by Mr. Haugh, he didn't add anything new to his original statement.

When Mr. Wood closed the case for the defence, he said there were two matters for the jury's consideration: 'They would have to first find that it was while those persons {Mr. and Mrs. Densmore} were in the house that it was actually set on fire, and they had secondly to find that the accused was in the house participating in the dastardly act that took place.' 

To sustain the indictment it would be necessary to find that the parties should be in the house at the very time the fire was communicated to it. He thought they could not be satisfied on the evidence that that was so. He thought there was one thing that was undisputed that the dastards who burned the house that night, the one thing they were anxious about was that the persons who were in the house and their personal belongings should be removed out of the house before it was set on fire. He took it that the evidence would also satisfy them that before any fire was seen all the occupants were out on the lawn. On the second point he told the jury that many judges thought that visual identification was not as strong or imposing as circumstantial evidence.

Mr. Wood, proceeding, said he did not suggest Mrs. Densmore was doing anything but trying to tell the truth but the question was could a person be anxious and trying to tell the truth and yet be completely mistaken. 'Mrs. Densmore's mind', said Mr. Wood, 'was aflame with religious zeal, her children were crying in the room, she was confronted by armed and desperate men, and her mind was set aglow with the prospect that the house, which was the citadel of her soul's desire, was about to be burned.'

Defence counsel, in conclusion, appealed to the jury that having heard the accused's statement on oath to say that they could not be convinced that the fire was communicated to the buildings before the occupants left it or that the accused was the man who was in the room with Mrs. Densmore that night. Mr. Haugh did not address the jury for the State.

Address by Judge

Mr. Justice Byrne, in charging the jury, said they would have to consider the evidence with very great care: 'We, in this country,' he proceeded, 'are supposed to be living under a rule of law and order. We are living in a country where freedom of religion is guaranteed and where people are supposed to be able to carry on their ordinary avocations unless they offend against the law. Whatever the result of this case may be, you will have no doubt that on this morning of 10th May last a shocking outrage was committed. This house, known as Portland House, had been presented by the owner to an institution in Dublin, having as its object the upbringing of Protestant illegitimate children, children who have nobody to look after them. The care and maintenance and education of such children is a very laudable object.'

He added that it was obvious from some of the evidence that there was strong local feeling against this institution. There were suggestions that the people in charge were proselytising Catholic children. But the jury should not be concerned with that aspect of the case. They should know that strong private feeling was no entitlement to anyone to go in and burn down property. Therefore they should consider the evidence with care because if, in their opinion, the case against the accused was satisfactory, then they must vindicate the law of this country and find the accused guilty.

As regards the charge against the accused, it was necessary that he should refer the jury to Section 2 of the Malicious Damage Acts of 1961, which provided that whoever should set fire unlawfully and maliciously to any dwellinghouse, a person being within, shall be guilty of a felony. It was alleged in the indictment that Mr. and Mrs. Densmore and family were in the house at the time it was set on fire, but the State had to prove that. If the State failed to prove this, and also that the accused was one of the persons that set fire to it, then the accused should be acquitted.

He continued: 'It was obviously no part of the intentions of these men to set fire to the house and burn the inmates of it. That was clearly not their contemplation. Consistently with their object it may be that before the parties had actually gone out, they had set fire to the back portion of the house – a fire that would not inpede their progress to the outside.' It would seem to his lordship that Mrs. Densmore had much greater opportunities of taking notice of the man and being able to recognise him than her husband or the maid, and they might take into account that she was a more observant person that her husband.

Dealing with the case for the defence, the Justice referred to the statement made by the accused on May 19, and particularly to the part in which he said that a man named Paddy Hogan got a gallon of oil in his shop in a large petrol tin: 'Hogan, of course, may have required that oil for a particularly innocent purpose and it might be that it was portion of the oil used for the burning of Portland House. They should remember there were two tins seen at Portland House.'

Another point made by the Justice was the strangeness of the accused's brother, who was actually in court but didn't appear in the witness box: 'It may be of course that he could only tell them that he had gone to sleep before his brother went to bed.' 
If the jury accepted the accused's evidence they should acquit him. If they rejected it they weren't entitled to convict him until they considered the evidence for the prosecution and decided whether it satisfied them that the accused was one of the guilty parties.'

Not Guilty Verdict

The jury retired at 3.50 pm and returned at 5 pm, when the foreman announced that they disagreed. The question they wanted to know, according to the foreman, was when the fire was first seen. The judge went over the evidence and a juror asked if it were possible to see the drawingroom, where the fire started, from the hall. The judge was unable to give an answer as they had no plan of the house. The jury retired a second time but was recalled again to be referred to some of Mr. Densmore's evidence. At 5.10 it retired a third time and returned after ten minutes with a verdict of not guiltyix. A man began clapping in the public gallery and the County Registrar said: 'Stop that.' The Justice discharged the accused. He left the dock and, as he went out into Green Street, a crowd gathered to greet him. A police superintendent warned a small group of men to have no demonstration. A shout of 'Up the I.R.A.' was heard and the crowd dispersed.

Sequel

At Nenagh Circuit Court on October 5, Judge Sealy heard a claim by Major C.K. Butler-Stoney of Portland Hill, Lorrha for £7,000 for the malicious burning of the house and £863 for the destruction of the furniture. In the course of the hearing counsel for North Tipperary, Galway and Offaly County Councils accepted the malice of the burning but sought to reduce the amount of the award by illustrating that Portland House, at the time of the burning on May 10, was a 'white elephant' and an unsaleable asset.

In the course of the hearing it was revealed how the owner, Major Charles Butler-Stoney, who inherited the house from his brother, Thomas, in 1917, did not take up residence in it until 1928, because he had been occupied with army work in England. Major Stoney was a bachelor and soon found the house too big, built another nearby for £1,500 to £2,000 and let Portland House to a relative, Mrs. Colwyn Smith, on a five-year lease at a rent of £275. From 1933-1936 the house was occupied for six weeks every year by Richard Butler-Stoney. He was the only one of the Stoneys to be married. Up to 1936 the house was insured for £8,000 and the furniture for £1,000. In that year the insurance was reduced to £2,000 and £600 respectively.

It was also revealed that the estate attached to the house contained 3,000 acres up to 1930, when it was sold to the Land Commission with the exception of 100 acres for Major Butler-Stoney and six acres to remain with the house. The land was parcelled out among twenty-five tenants including the park land through which the avenue of the house went. This avenue of 1,100 yards was now bisected by four tenants' plots and access to the house was through four gates across an avenue, which was now in a bad state of repairx.
This development, according to the defence, made the house much less attractive and in fact made it suitable to nobody but 'a shopkeeper in Portumna {who} might utilise the house as a weekend residence at a rent of £35 per year.'

Before the house was handed over to the Densmores in 1937 an auction of some of the effects was held in Birr. The prices paid for items were low and defence claimed this as an argument against the size of the compensation sought for the furniture. The claimant stated that the best furniture was kept and was to be left at Portland House until suitable alternative accommodation should be found for it. The effects included 1,500 books, which included 'some extraordinary old bibles'. There were also some paintings of value.

Another argument against the size of the claim was that the house was no longer in use by the owner. It had been on the books of the auctioneers for a number of years and no buyers had come forward. There were many such mansions around the country and they were more attractive to religious communities because there was a sizable amount of land with them. The owner had given the house to the Densmores because they could find nobody to buy it. It was the only way he could get it off his hands. There was no evidence that it was an attractive proposition for someone interested in hunting. Neither would it be a success as a hotelxi and there was no reason to believe there would be an onrush of wealthy people from England in the wake of the rise of Hitler.

In his summing up Judge Sealy discussed the merits of the evidence before him and came to the conclusion that the house which, from the photographs he had seen, appeared to be beautiful and well kept-up, had depreciated in value as a result of selling off the estate. Also the presence of farmers on the avenue would deteriorate it to the state of a country boreen. However, the house did have a saleable value as evidenced by the fact that Emmanuel House, having been burned out of Portland House, had purchased a similar mansion in Wicklow for £1,800. His lordship said he would allow £1,200 for the mansion, which he considered a fair sum for the loss sustained, and £600 for the furniture.

The area of charge would be confined to North Tipperary because, even though the bounds of County Galway were only 450 yards from the house, there was no evidence to show that any of the malefactors came from County Galway.

 

O’Sullivan Beare and Lorrha O’Sullivan Beare March, Lorrha, 1996

O’Sullivan Beare and Lorrha

O’Sullivan Beare March, Lorrha, 1996

 

The epic march undertaken by O'Sullivan Beare to Leitrim through the counties of Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Galway, Roscommon, Sligo and, eventually, Leitrim arose as a result of the Irish and Spanish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale at the hands of the English. 

The battle of Kinsale began on the 17th of October, 1601 and, after the defeat of the Irish, Donal Cam, chieftain of the O'Sullivan Beara, rushed back to the family castle at Dunboy and began to fortify it against an English attack that started on June 6th and lasted eleven days before the English stormed the castle after bombarding it with cannonfire. 

Harassed by the English and having lost his lands and his herds of cattle and sheep, O'Sullivan Beare left the Beara peninsula and decided to travel to Leitrim to fmd sanctuary with the friendly O'Rourkes. Accompanying him were 1,000 men, women and children and this march through hostile country in the middle of winter stands beside many other great marches in history. 

In the middle of January 1603 the remnants of the party reached their destination with only 35 people remaining, many having starved to death, others killed and still more giving up and settling along the route of the march. Maybe the O'Sullivans settled in this parish on that occasion. Many of the localities where these people settled have been known since as the Bearas. 

The famous march entered County Tipperary at EmIy and continued on through Cullen, Solohead, Donohill, Annacarty, Hollyford, Upperchurch, Templederry, Latteragh, Toomevara, 

Cloghjordan, Knockshegowna before arriving here and then continuing on to Lorrha, Redwood and crossing the Shannon at White's Ford to Meelick. 

That is a general picture of what happened and the route the march followed. When O'Sullivan arrived in Toomevara he had done so by skirting the Slievefelim mountains and Keeper Hill. He was now through the hills and he had to make his way to some part of the Shannon before the river empties itself into Lough Derg in order to fmd a crossing. This journey took him through Cloghjordan and Knockshegowna. The latter hill had a castle on it at the time. From the top of it the Shannon is visible and the land in between is flat. Ballingarry, at its base, would have been a walled village at the time. 

The next stop was Lackeen. The castle was the chief seat of the O'Kennedy, who, together with the O'Mearas and the MacEgans, were he old rulers of this part of Lower Ormond. The O'Kennedys once owned eleven castles in two baronies, extending from Lorrha to the banks of the Shannon. They kept their independence until 1553, when they acknowledged the overlordship of the Butlers. Then, in the usual way, they lost their possessions after joining with O'Neill in 1600, forfeiting the last vestiges of their power to the Cromwellians. Donagh Kennedy of Lackeen, the son of the last chief of Lower Ormond was reported in the Civil Survey of 1654 as residing 'amidst the ruins of his father's greatness in the old ruined castle and bawne of Lackeen, the walls only standing and the mote an orchard and garden, a mill standing in a little brook running through the said land, and six thatch houses ... ' 

This description comes fifty years after O'Sullivan's visit to the place. And, to jump forward a little more into history, in 1725 the Stowe Missal, written on vellum, dating back to the earliest period in the Irish Church, was found here. It was wrapped in a dazzling metal shrine, refurbished by Philip Kennedy, Lord of Ormond, and his wife, Aine, between 1323 and 1350. The missal had once belonged to the abbey at Terryglass, but, after Terryglass declined, it came to Lorrha monastery. Later, during some war it was hidden in one of the walls of the castle, and forgotten until its accidental discovery. Since it was believed that no local man could translate it properly, the job was given to a West Clare poet named Aindrias Mac Cruitin, who was paid with expense money, a new suit and a horse.The missal's metal shrine is preserved in the National Museum but the missal itself is in the British Museum, as also is St. Ruan's Bell, which was preserved in or near Lorrha until the 19th century. 

Why did O'Sullivan Beara spend the night at Lackeen rather than Lorrha? Tradition has it that he camped beside an ancient church, which must have had very strong associations with the ecclesiastical stronghold at Lorrha. Possibly Lorrha was in the hands of the supporters of MacEgan at the time. The MacEgans were celebrated hereditary Brehons of the 0'Kennedys and professors of the Brehon Laws to all Ireland. Scholars, writers and teachers, Brehons had a lengthy education, which could take anything from twelve to twenty years and included learning a secret language of their own. In the fourteenth century, a MacEgan compiled a manuscript with the delightful title of Leabhar Breac, the Speckled Book': By the sixteenth century their scholarly talents were becoming rather run down although the MacEgans still kept up some of the old traditions of learning. In 1602 they were supporters of the English and, for this reason, 0'Sullivan may have preferred to stay out of Lorrha. 

It is, therefore, probable that O'Sullivan skirted the village of Lorrha on his way to the Shannon. There is conflict about the exact place the refugees camped before crossing the river. Philip 0' Sullivan wrote that the 0'Sullivans hid themselves in 'the thick and secure wood of Brosna'. This was an extensive forest situated between the loop of the Brosna river and the Shannon. A strong local tradition claims Portland, a surviving wooded ridge towards the present bridge of Portumna, as the actual camping site. Another view is that they camped quite close to Redwood castle, which was occupied by Donnchadh MacEgan, who was Queen's sheriff for this area. 

O'Sullivan Beare sent scouts forward to discover what boats and ferries existed to transport the party across the river. They discovered that all boats and ferries had been removed and the ferrymen in the district had received warnings and threats that the fugitives were not to be helped. The man responsible for the order was Donnchadh MacEgan. 

Redwood castle was a relatively new building when 0'Sullivan camped in the neighbourhood in the winter of 1602-03, having been erected in 1580. After the wars, the MacEgans, continued to follow the family traditions, using it as a school for teaching history and law. Its most distinguished scholar was Michael O'Clery, the main compiler of the Annals of the Four Masters. By 1654 the Civil Survey described it as 'an old ruined castle, the walls only standing, and two thatched houses. ' 

It is probably true that the Shannon came much closer to the castle at that stage, with much swamp and thickets between it and the river. From it the MacEgans became aware of O'Sullivan Beare camped at the river's edge and prepared to attack the party as it crossed the water. 

So, 0'Sullivan Beare found himself and his party cornered with their backs to the river and an enemy about to bear down on them. They had to escape to safety across the river or fight the forces of MacEgan. And, their escape was hampered by the disappearance of the boats and ferries. They were also on the verge of starvation. 'Every heart was hereupon filled with giant despair,' Philip O'Sullivan wrote. 'In this critical state of things, my father, Dermot O'Sullivan, announced that he would in a short time make a ship and put an end to the soldiers' hunger.' This Dermot was seventy at the time of the march and, having survived the ordeal and gone to Spain, lived to be a hundred. He is buried in Corunna in Northern Spain. 

Tradition has it that the crossing was made at White's Ford, where the electricity pylons now cross the Shannon. The place is known as poll na gcapall, the field of the horses, and is supposed to be the place where O. Sullivan Beare's men killed and ate their horses and used the skins for making boats. 

Philip O'Sullivan's account of the building of these boats is interesting as it gives a detailed description of the traditional method of constructing boats with osiers and wet skins. Two boats were built, one under the direction of Dermot of Dursey, which must have looked very like the long black currachs, which are still seen today in the west of Ireland, and the second under the direction of the O'Malleys, some of O'Sullivan Beare's Connacht mercenaries, who were members of a seafaring clan, and obstinately insisted on building a boat of their own. It seems to have been more like a coracle and it was made 'of osier, without joinings, having a circular bottom like a shield, and sides much higher than the bottom suited. It was covered with the skin of one horse pulled across the bottom.' 

The currach was much more elaborate. 'Two rows of osiers were planted opposite each other, the thickest end being stuck in the ground and the other ends bent in to meet each other, to which they were fastened with cords. To this frame the solid planks were fixed and seats and cross beams were fitted inside. Outside the skeleton of osier and timber was covered with the skins of eleven horses, and oars and dowels were fitted on. The keel was flat, both by the nature of the material and also so that rocks and stones could be avoided. The boat was 26 feet long, 6 feet broad and five feet deep, but the prow was a little higher in order to stem the tide. ' 

When most of the horses were slaughtered, the refugees had their frrst proper meal since they left home. But O'Sullivan Beare, his uncle Dermot and a man named Dermot Huallachain declined the unaccustomed meat. Obviously they had some prejudice against horsemeat even though, according to one contemporary, Fynes Moryson, horsemeat was then relished in Ireland. 'Yea, they will feed on horses dying of themselves, not only upon want of flesh, but even for pleasure. ' 

The construction of the boats took two days.. They worked within a palisade which they had made on a bank inside a ditch fortified with timber. Although they were hidden in the heart of the woodland, the activities of hundreds of people cutting down trees, building frres, slaughtering, skinning and cooking horses, could not have passed unnoticed. Yet, they were not attacked by MacEgan. Perhaps he did not want to attack fellow Irishmen. He may have considered that depriving the refugees of ferries and boats was enough. More likely he did not consider his garrison strong enough to' face 0'Sullivan Beare's seasoned soldiers. He did not move against them until they were divided by the river. 

The flooded Shannon would have been as much as a quartermile wide when the first launching" of the boats took place as secretly as possible on the night of January 7, 1663 under the dim light of a quarter moon. The two boats were carried down to the river on men's shoulders. Then the big boat began to ferry soldiers over, thirty at a time, while the surviving horses were drawn after them, swimming. Disaster occurred with the coracle of the 0'Malleys into which ten of them were crowded. Trying to direct it with the paddles they had fashioned, it overturned as it swirled and turned in the swift current and, in the darkness, they all drowned. 

The currach did better. F or the rest of the night it went back and forth taking its full load every time. By daybreak the majority of soldiers were over in Galway. On the Tipperary side the resourceful Thomas Burke, commanding about twenty pikemen and twenty musketeers, was detailed to look after the women, the non-combatants and the baggage. The motto of women and civilians last may seem unchivalrous but it was merely a repetition of the way they moved throughout the march -- vanguard, followed by non-combatants, followed by the rearguard. Over on the Connaght bank there were unpleasant surprises for the troops who had completed the crossing, since they would soon be attacked. The camp followers seemed to be in good hands guarded by Burke and his picked men. 

At dawn, after the currach had made at least six or seven crossings, Burke was arranging another load consisting of civilians and baggage, when MacEgan suddenly appeared with a small force. At first his men did not wish to inflict real harm on those left behind, merely to rob them and destroy their supplies, demonstrating their energy in the Queen's service. However, as they seized the packs, they found it too easy to kill the wretched sutlers who were guarding them and drive the shrieking women across the reeds into the river to drown. 

Apparently, Burke did not interfere with MacEgan and his men initially and by the time he did it was too late because, by then, the attackers were involved in robbery and slaughter. So, Burke attacked them and his fine soldiers soon routed them. Fifteen MacEgans were killed, including Donnchadh MacEgan himself. The Four Masters, in their account of the crossing, felt it was a tragedy that should not have happened and that MacEgan had brought his own death on himself. 'Donnchadh, son of Cairbre MacEgan, began boldly to attack and fire on O'Sullivan and his people, so that at length he was obliged to be slain ... ' 

By this time the noise of the firing had attracted hordes of people to the river, partly to sightsee but also partly to plunder anything that might come their way. Burke now decided escape 

was the best for him and the rest of the party. He herded his charges on the boat, which was much overloaded and sank close to the bank. A few of the men waded ashore. Some were caught by the mob while others went into hiding. Still more performed the astonishing feat of swimming the icy river. The survivors were able to relaunch the boat and make the crossing safely. 

It was a dreadful episode and I can only attribute it to the greed of man. Those who try to defend MacEgan claim he would have lost his castle if he had not proven himself an active Queen's man. Which may be true. As well the struggle to live was particularly difficult that winter and O'Sullivan was seen as an enemy consuming scarce resources of food. Conversely, he may have been perceived as an extra source of supply to eke out scarce resources. Overall, I'm inclined to see his actions as those of a man, who saw an easy target and the old tribal instincts got the better of him. Donnchadh does not come out of the episode with much credit and, of course, he paid the price of his folly and his greed with his death. 

And so, O'Sullivan Beare passed through Lorrha and continued his journey to Leitrim, From the perspective of over 393 years it was an epic journey, endured· with great hardship and starvation. The extent of this hardship and suffering can be gleaned for the fact that in the course of fourteen days his party was reduced form 1,000 to 35 persons. The episode represents an incredible level of decimation. On a beautiful July evening in the shadow of this castle it is difficult for us to comprehend the episode. The country has changed so much, communications have improved so greatly, our creature comforts have been satisfied to such an extent, that it is well nigh impossible to imagine a body of men and women, poorly clad by our standards, cold and wet and hungry, plodding on to an unknown destination in the depths of winter and so much at the mercy of the inhabitants that death stared around every corner and from behind every tree. It is right and fitting that we should recall their plight and remember that these inhabitants of Ireland passed this way all those years ago and left their mark on our landscape and, perhaps, left the O'Sullivans, who have been so much a part of the parish for so long, behind them. 

But, the epic journey has an added significance and a relevance to all who live in rural Tipperary. The way of life in many of the parishes is threatened by emigration or by migration to bigger centres of population. Fewer and fewer people chose to live in rural Ireland and many of the things that rural Ireland stands for and its way of life are under threat. Do people lie down and say this is inevitable because of an unstoppable impetus to urbanisation? Or, do they say this need not be if we stand up and be counted and make an attempt to stop what appears to be a tide of inevitability? 

I believe that the Slieve Felim Holidays organisation is a gesture in that direction. This group of people have said that something can be done, albeit small, to stem this tide of rural depopulation. They have organised this series of walking and clans festivals around the historic march of 0'Sullivan Beare and for that reason we are here this evening. I think it is a marvellous gesture, a sign of resilience and a defiant no to any inevitability in the course of things. I believe also that the organisation could not have taken a more suitable inspiration for their effort than the march of O'Sullivan Beare. He and his clan found themselves facing inevitable extinction back in 1602. They were not prepared to die. The instinct to survive was strong and the only way to survive was to undertake a perilous march to a friendly castle in Leitrim. The group endured incredible hardship, suffering and death and few survived to tell the tale. But the clan survived. I believe their action can give rural Ireland the kind of inspiration to take initiatives which will help its people to continue living in our parishes. We have a scenic land, we have mountains and valleys, vistas and streams, walks and scenic routes and many of the things that modern tourists are in search off. The Slieve Felim Holidays association is trying to develop this potential to bring people into the area and by doing so give employment and help revive it. It may be a small gesture but it represents a fine intent and a much nobler pursuit than sitting down and doing nothing. Let us all take inspiration from what O'Sullivan Beare and his people did so many years ago and translate it into practical endeavours for the future of rural Ireland.

Money for Votes Times to Cherish: Cashel and Rosegreen Parish History 1795-1995, ed. by Bernie Moloney, pp 154-163

Money for Votes

Times to Cherish: Cashel and Rosegreen Parish History 1795-1995, ed. by Bernie Moloney, pp 154-163

'The last act of the last Cashel election drama has been played out to an ignominious finish ... If there be degrees in electioneering corruption, the constituency is, in our opinion, the most culpable when more than half the electors are swayed by the highest bribe ... Suffice it to say, that several boroughs where bribery was less extensive have been disfranchised, and it is hardly possible that an insignificant place like Cashel can escape political extinction for the incorrigible corruption which has been conclusively brought home to it.' This blast from the editor of the Nenagh Guardian was occasioned by the judgment handed down by Judge Baron Fitzgerald in Cashel on 20th February 1869 at the conclusion of the hearing of the Election Petitions by Mr. Henry Munster against the election of Mr. James Lyster O'Beirne to the Cashel Westminster constituency in the election of 20th November 1868.

 

General Election 1868

When the general election of 1868 was called the sitting M.P. was James Lyster O'Beirne. He was first elected in 1865 general election when he unseated the incumbent, 'Honest John Lanigan'. Each had claimed 'Liberal' as his political affiliation. O'Beirne was opposed by Henry Munster, a lawyer from Sheffield, very wealthy, and also a Liberal. O'Beirne arrived in Cashel on 10th September, accompanied by Captain Graham, J.P. Six days later Munster arrived and met a 'warm reception'. Next day he addressed the electors, explaining his political views. 'The conduct of the mob, many of whom were under the influence of drink, was boisterous.' The same evening O'Beirne, accompanied by some friends, after canvassing several of the electors, proceeded to his hotel from the window of which he addressed the crowd assembled and was received with cheers and counter-cheers. The mob seemed to be nearly equally divided and several encounters between them took place and, but for the interference of the police, serious consequences might have resulted.

On Monday, 19th October, O'Beirne waited upon some fifty electors at the Commons and received from nearly all the most unequivocal promises of support.

The election addresses of the two candidates appeared in the local newspapers on 28th October. O'Beirne promised to look for a thorough and complete change in the existing law relating to landlord and tenant. He would use his earnest efforts to remove the Church Establishment. He favoured denominational education. He would encourage the creation of independent ownership of small freehold estates and he would continue to support Gladstone, whose policies were favourable to Ireland.

Munster looked for the support of the electors because he was an 'Independent' member. He was above the temptations of office and would better represent their interests as his views were those of the electors. He wanted to do away with the Established Church, improve the situation between landlord and tenant, promote religion and denominational education. He would encourage industry and the development of natural resources and would support Gladstones's Irish Policy. Even though he was English he claimed that every pulse of his heart beat true for the interest of dear Ireland.

On the same day it was reported that Munster was making ground. He had £5,000 to his credit in the local branch of the National Bank and had his agent go around the town showing off the deposit slip. He had given £500 to the clergy, the amout required to get the Christian Brothers to start a school in the town. He gave £150 to the Presentation Sisters for a bazaar and he paid Corcorans £200 for the use of their hotel.


Behind the Scenes

There was much going on behind the scenes that the newspapers never reported. This was only revealed after the election when the investigation was carried out into certain practices pursued by the candidates and their agents and retainers. These practices were forbidden under the so-called ' Bribery Act', which had become law during the previous session of Parliament. There had been a law against bribery but the new act altered the machinery for discovering bribery. Under the new act the trial was to take place before judges of the superior courts, instead of being handled by House of Commons committees.

Once an Election Petition was presented it could not be withdrawn without the leave of the judge and before he gave his consent he had to be satisfied that the withdrawal was not induced by a corrupt bargain or consideration. If the Judge found that the offence had been committed 'with the knowledge and consent of a candidate at an election' the candidate would be subjected to the following disqualification for seven years: (a) he could not sit in the House of Commons; (b) he would be incapable of being an elector anywhere; (c) he could not hold any municipal office in a borough; (d) he could not hold any judicial office or be a Justice of the Peace.

It was under this legislation that Munster's Petitions were heard by Judge Baron Fitzgerald at the Courthouse, The Green, Cashel, from 15-19th February 1869. The evidence given before the judge showed that both candidates and their agents set out to influence the electors by wining and dining them, renting their houses and rooms at extravagant rates, paying them sums of money and even intimidating them.

Some of the evidence at the hearing gives some idea of the nature of the operation. There was a get-together of about fifty of O'Beirne's supporters at Miss O'Dwyer's house the night before polling day for eating, drinking and dancing and they stayed at it until eight o'clock in the morning. Michael Ryan was paid £60 for his committee rooms by O'Beirne. John Dunn informed the trial that O'Beirne had taken rooms in his father's house for the election and had people in drinking every evening. His father was paid £20. Timothy Hogan was paid £20 he was owed by O'Beirne for the 1865 election. Michael Coffey of Lowergate was paid £20 for his sittingroom by O'Beirne but it was never used, Patrick Maher was offered £20 to vote for Munster. A Mr. Close gave evidence that Munster helped his son with his French and gave him employment after the election. Munster's agent Michael J. Laffan, paid fourteen electors five guinea cheques as retainers to prevent them voting for O'Beirne since people employed thus in an election forfeited their votes. Laffan also spent £155-15s. on 'messages and porters' who were, in short, the mob. It was a mob of men and women under a captain, named Hourigan. They were paid at the rate of half-a crown each, not including drink, and they acted as a kind of guard or escort during Munster's canvass, to protect him from the crowd of beggars and women. They also gave their services in shouting. On arriving in Cashel Munster had paid £300 to get the telegraph from Gooldscross to Cashel and another £50 or £60 to set up an office in the town. He charged one shilling for every word sent out of Cashel during the election.

 

O'Beirne's Evidence

In the course of his evidence O'Beirne, a solicitor by profession, informed the hearing that he had contested Cashel unsuccessfully in 1857 and was elected for the first time in 1865. Patrick Connors was his election agent but he had other agents as well. He stayed at Dunn's Hotel and he told Mrs'. Dunn to give no entertainment and no drink to any elector. He did not know that his valet was ordering drink. He paid £50 for his room but did not seek to influence the vote of Mr. Dunne, who voted against him in 1865. He paid John Hogan £60 to canvass the electors on his behalf. He paid Simon Tracy the same amount for similar work. He made many other payments but denied they were intended to influence the way the electors voted.

O'Beirne was cross-examined by Mr. Isaac Butt. He admitted that he had not paid one shilling expenses through his Expense Agent, even though the law required that all election expenses be paid through his agent. He said he did not know the law made it a misdemeanour to pay any expenses except through an agent. Though he was a solicitor and a M.P. he had never read all the sections of the relevant Act of Parliament and depended on his agent, Mr. Pierce Grace, for legal advice on what to do. O'Beirne thought the election had cost him £500. He had also spent about £300 since he came to Cashel. Most of his election expenses were paid through the bank. Upwards of £400 was spent paying the mob in the street. The mob were to come into the town on the day of the nomination to prove the popularity of the candidate, O'Beirne. Many came from Cionmel. Each man was to be paid 2/6 to 3/6 per head and he left strict instructions that they were to be served no drink. In conclusion O'Beirne said Johnston, his agent, had spent over £2,500 in the 1865 election. Virtually all the bills paid out were for £30 and O'Beirne came to the conclusion that that was the price of a vote.

 

Munster's Testimony

On being examined by Butt, Munster recalled coming to Cashel on 16th or 17th October. He came from Sheffield with his daughter Miss Ede and was met at Thurles Station by Edward Leahy, the brother of the Archbishop, an old friend. He had taken the house, Abbeyview, and drove to it from the station. He had two sons and a daughter. He had spent £50 on toys in Mr Ferris's toy shop to treat the children in the National and Convent schools and to give beggars around the town. As well as appointing an Expense Agent, his private solicitor, George Richardson, he also appointed Miss Sterne to attend to his household expenses and gave her an account in the bank for that purpose. He also got Miss Ede, who was about to enter a convent novitiate in France, to look after all begging applications. He admitted that he knew so many agents were being retained on his behalf in order to prevent the 'most corrupt people in the constituency, whom others bribe, from voting at all'.

Cross-examined by Mr Hemphill he admitted that Mr Edward Leahy first suggested that he might be a candidate for Cashel. He had hardly heard of the place or had any interest until about a month before he came to the town. Soon after arriving in Cashel some of the Town Commissioners visited him and before they left he wrote a cheque for £500 to Archdeacon Quirke to pay for the Christian Brothers coming to the town, provided a new premises were found. There was an implication that the £500 was payment for the support of certain people. The cheque was conditional on the school being built or started within nine months. The local clergy did not support Munster but the Archbishop was his friend. Munster denied that the telegraph, which he had installed from Gooldscross to Cashel, was his gift to the people of Cashel if they voted for him.

The papers said that he had come to Cashel 'like Jupiter in showers of gold'. There were also allegations that he bought carriages, horses, a jennet for £10, furniture, cattle, and had in fact spent £6,000 during the election.
 

The Verdict

Judge Baron Fitzgeald came to the conclusion at the end of the Petition Hearing that the corrupt practice of bribery did extensively prevail in the 1868 election. The conclusion he felt obliged to arrive at upon a consideration of the whole case, regarding each part of the light of the other, was that the election of Mr O'Beirne must be declared void; and, in regard to the position of Mr O'Beirne himself, he would be obliged to report to the House of Commons that the bribery was with his knowledge and consent.

In the case of Mr Munster, he did not appear to have been personally involved but, he held that he had committed bribery through his agents, and particularly Patrick Laffan. In the same issue of the Nenagh Guardian, 24th February 1869, quoted earlier it was reported from the House of Commons that immediately after the receipt of Judge Baron Fitzgerald's report on the Cashel Election Petition, means would be taken, with the concurrence of leading men on both sides of the House, to disfranchise the borough of Cashel.

What the Petition Hearing had established was that corrupt practices had prevailed in the 1868 Cashel election but this had now to be proved before the constituency could be disfranchised. To do this a Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the Cashel election and to examine the existence of corrupt practices. George Waters, a.c., was appointed Chief Commissioner and Constantine Molloy and William Griffin as Commissioners.
 

Commission of Inquiry

The Commission of Inquiry began in Cashel on 4th October 1869. Chief Commissioner Waters stated that they had the power to serve upon any person whom they thought it right to examine, a summons to appear as a witness and further they had power to inflict punishment on any person who disobeyed their summons. He threatened prison to persons who refused to answer questions, or who answered them unsatisfactorily or refused to produce documents when required. But, he also offered the carrot of persuasion. He promised that 'if any man, no matter how deeply he may be involved in any corrupt practices, comes before us on our summons and frankly and fairly and fully tells the truth of all that he knows, it is in our power to give him a certificate which will free him from all pains and penalties of any kind whatsoever'.
The minutes of evidence of the inquiry is a most impressive document. In the course of it about 250 witnesses were called and 18,872 questions asked by the Commissioners. The huge number of questions was required by the evasiveness of many of the witnesses, who were extremely economical with the truth. Having started on 4th October, the hearing lasted for twenty-two days and concluded on 20th November. It provides a vivid, interesting and comprehensive picture of electoral practices in nineteenth century Ireland.

In their report the Commissioners stated that having found corrupt practices committed in the 1868 election they carried out a like inquiry into the previous election of 1865 and having found corrupt practices obtaining then, they" investigated the previous election to that, 1859, but did not find that corrupt practices were committed then. Therefore they did not inquire into any antecedent election.

It appeared that the election of 1865, which was won by Mr O'Beirne, had cost him between £2,500 and £3,000, a sum very greatly in excess of any possible legitimate expenditure. The Commissioners found that the election was conducted in a corrupt manner on the part of Mr O'Beirne and that corrupt practices were committed at that election. The total number of electors found to have been guilty of corrupt practices was thirty-two. The Commissioners believed that the number was probably greater but owing to the death of Mr Frazer Johnson, Solicitor, O'Beirne's conducting agent at the election, who seemed to have been the principal manager of the corrupt practices on his behalf, and the non-attendance of Mr O'Beirne, they were unable to ascertain the full extent of corupt practices. It appeared however, from the evidcence of Mr J. D. White, the local partner of Frazer Johnson, that he gave ten men £30 each in bills at that election, but he was unable to identify the men to whom he gave the money, being only able to state that he believed them to be voters from the Commons.

In connection with the 1868 election the Commissioners found 77 electors guilty of corrupt practices. They estimated that the total amount expended by or on behalf of Munster was about £3,800 and this figure included about £1,000 which was spent on charitable and other public purposes. Half of the latter amount was a donation to the Christian Brothers and even though the donation was made unconditionally the Commissioners believed that the gift was calculated to induce voters to support him and to obtain influence in favour of his return. They found that this transaction constituted corrupt pratices on Mr Munster's part. Direct bribery on Mr Munster's side did not appear to have commenced until the Monday before the election. Mr Patrick Laffan, the brother of Mr Munster's conducting agent, was the person who principally managed the direct bribery on behalf of Mr Munster. In all he expended about £1,100 in the direct bribery of voters, principally at the rate of £30 to £40 per head, by the hands of a man named Larkin. He was a stranger to Cashel and had been brought there from another part of the county.

Besides this direct bribery, there were some cases in which parties were led to expect that they would receive money after the election. There was an idea among many voters, who did not get anything before the election, that, to use their own expression, 'if there was anything going after the election, they would get their shares'. Accordingly, a great many claims, to the number of about thirty, were sent in to Mr Munster's agent, or entered in his agents' books after the election, generally in the names of sons or relations of voters for 'services at the election'. The sums varied from £20 to £60. In some cases the claims were either suggested, or actually put in for the parties without their request or knowledge, by Mr Munster's conducitng agent. He gave as his reason for doing so, that he 'intended that those who voted honsetly and independently', as he conceived, 'should not afterwards be worse off than those who had made a corrupt bargain'.

The Commissioners further noted that another form of corrupt practice, the taking of houses from voters at extravagant prices, which was well known in Cashel, was resorted to on both sides but more extensively on behalf of Q'Beirne. As well, they concluded that bribery was more widely practised by Munster than by Q'Beirne. They could not ascertain that the latter had at his disposal for the election more than £900 and of that sum £400 was spent on hotel bills, the payment of mobs and other expenses. They found that £230 had been expended in bribery, either by Q'Beirne himself or with his knowledge. The Commissioners' Report was submitted to the Government on 18th December.

 

Reaction
 

It took some time for the Government to respond to the Commissioners' Report. In the meantime there were a number of reactions. There was a feeling abroad that the worst that could happen was the disqualification of the elected representatives and the holding of bye-elections. As early as the publication of Judge Baron Fitzgerald's report on the Election Petitions, half-adozen candidates expressed their intention of going forward for the vacant seat in Cashel. In April a petition signed by the Electors of CasheI against the disfranchisement of the town was presented to the House of Commons.

Then came the report of the Commission of Inquiry and the future looked less bright for the constituency. The Election Petition hearing had caused bitterness, according to John Davis White in the Cashel Gazette: 'The result has been that many of his oldest and best friends and neighbours have been estranged from him. The breach now will in all probability be further widened (as a result of the Commisison of Inquiry).'

The Gazette did not welcome the Commission and told the House of Commons in an editorial 'to cast the beam out of its own eye before it begins to take the mote out of the eye of the electors of Cashel.' The Gazette commented on the Report of the Commissioners in its issue of 12th March 1870. It concluded it was 'a very one sided affair' and claimed that the Commission in its questioning treated the supporters of Mr O'Beirne more leniently than those of Mr Munster.

On 28th March, the newspaper had an editorial about the Disfranchisement Bill and made a strong plea against it. But all was in vain. The text of the Bill appeared on 4th June. Under it the two constituencies of Cashel and Sligo would cease to return Members of Parliament and of the persons named in the schedules none 'shall have the right of voting for the county of Tipperary in respect of a qualification situated within the said borough of Cashel.'

When the Bill was introduced into the House of Commons the Members heard a Petition to Parliament signed by the innocent electors of Cashel. It stated that Cashel had a right to elect a Member to Parliament since 1216 but the people were practically excluded from the rights of voting until the passing of the Reform Act of 1832. From then on worthy people were elected until 1865 when the Electors had to choose between two candidates of the same party and succumbed to bribery.

The petition was in vain. The Bill got its second reading on 16th June and was passed by 153 votes to 23. Only 23 of the Irish Members in the house voted in the division, with 10 voting for and 13 against. The Bill received it Third Reading on 27th June after which it went to the House of Lords where it was given Royal Assent on 1st August. '
 

Conclusion

The Cashel Gazette quickly came to terms with the loss of the seat. In the following February it stated as follows: 'The principal good derived by the citizens from having a Member consisted in being able to obtain nominations to offices in the public service, and now that these offices are open to competition without such nominations we shall not very much miss a parliamentary representative.'

In November 1870 the Town Commissioners of Nenagh met and resolved that their town should get the right of returning a Member that was taken away from Cashel. The Gazette disagreed and proposed instead that the seat be given to the county, which could be divided into north, middle and south. The seat was eventually given to the county after the Reform Act of 1884 when the county was divided into four constituencies, north, mid, east and south. Clonmel lost its right to send a Member to Parliament and the first election under the new arrangement was held in 1885.
 

Sources
Dod's Parliamentary Companion.
Cashel Gazette.
Nenagh Guardian.
The Times (London).
Tipperary Advocate.
Tipperary Independent.
Report of the Commission into the Existence of Corrupt Practices at the last Election in Cashel (Dublin, 1869).

 

Sporting Highlights Times to Cherish: Cashel and Rosegreen Parish History 1795-1995, ed. by B. Moloney, pp 116-130

Sporting Highlights

Times to Cherish: Cashel and Rosegreen Parish History 1795-1995, ed. by B. Moloney, pp 116-130

 

It is an impossible task to cover the sporting highlights of the parish of Cashel and Rosegreen within the bounds of an article and yet it is one that ought to be attempted in a book purporting to describe the activities of the people of the parish over two hundred years. Apart from the extensive time span one of the problems that had to be faced was the scarcity of information and the absence of much real organised sporting activities during the first hundred years. Another problem was what to include and what to exclude. At first it was decided to limit mention to those that had achieved national and international fame. But this created a major problem: for one thing it excluded mention of Cashel King Cormac's historic victory in the 1991 county senior hurling final. It also precluded mention of stories and anecdotes of a sporting nature which would give spice to the account. In the end it was decided to be plain arbitrary in the criteria used and what might have been a solid historical account ended up as a personal essay. And, one further point to add to the confusion; the essay hasn't always remained strictly within the bounds of the parish.


THE SPORT OF KINGS

Horses have always played a major part in the lives of the people and Ballydoyle is a name that is synonymous with that activity. A previous owner to Vincent O'Brien, a Mr. Saddler, kept point-to-point horses and was part owner of Ballykisteen stud. He was also an auctioneer and had seven daughters. But, that's another story.

With respect to Mr. Sadlier and his interest in horses, it was county Cork man, Vincent O'Brien, who put Ballydoyle, Cashel and Ireland on the horse-racing, training and breeding map, almost as soon as he arrived in 1951. Before he touched down he had already made an impact on English National Hunt racing having trained Cottage Rake to take the Cheltenham Gold Cup on three consecutive years, 1948, '49 and '50 and having another triple winner with Hatton's Grace in the Champion Hurdle in 1949, '50 and "51 . He was to confirm this form with three successive English Grand National winners with three different horses, Early Mist, Royal Tan, which was bred by J. Topping near Tullamaine, and Quare Times in 1953, 1954 and 1955. He was to take another Gold Cup with Knock Hard in 1953.

Having won all the major honours in National Hunt he turned his attention to flat racing. From Chamier in the Irish Derby in 1953 to the success of College Chapel in the Cork and Orrery Stake in 1993, bringing his tally at Royal Ascot to 25 winners, he won every honour in racing. His tally included 16 English and 27 Irish classics. As well as the six English Derby winners Larkspur, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky , Roberto, The Minstrel and Golden Fleece, six Irish Derby winners Chamier, Ballymoss, Nijinsky, The Minstrel, El Gran Senor and Law Society,have also come out of the famous stables. This success has not been confined to Ireland and England. Sir Ivor won the Washington International in 1968 the Grand Criterium in France in 1967. He won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in three occasions, the French Derby in 1983 and as late as 1990 Royal Academy won the Breeders Cup mile in New York under an inspired ride from the recently renewed Lester Pigott.

Vincent O'Brien has always been concerned with the stud side of the business and in 1973 bought into Coolmore Stud, which was owned by Tim Vigors. This was expanded in 1975 into the Coolmore/Castlehyde operat­ion with John Magnicr and Robert Sangster as partners. It now comprises six farms and over 2,500 acres and rivals any stud set-up in the world. In the early 1980s Lyonstown Stud, midway between Cashel and Rosegreen, was acquired to accommodate mares and home­bred foals and yearlings. Best winners raised there to date include Sadler's Wells, King's Lake, Tate Gallery, Thatching and Lomond, all of whom went to stand at Coolmore.

 

TIPPERARY TIM AND OTHER GREATS

Still on horses but going back to an earlier time, Tipperary Tim, so-called after the famous Dundrum runner, Tim Crowe, (who ran the London Marathon in 1924 ) won the Aintree Grand National. He was bred by John Ryan at Dogstown, which borders the parish. In 1928 Ryan emigrated to America and, in fact, was on the boat as it was about to leave Cobh when he learnt that the horse he bred had won the 'Blue Riband' of National Hunt racing. The New York Times reported John Ryan's account of how he heard the news:

'I was sitting in the smoking room,' he said, 'when a man pokes his head in the door and says':
'Doe anyone want to know who won the National?' and I said: 'I do.' and he says 'It's Tipperary Tim, and who are you?' 'I'm his breeder saysI', and then we had a bit of celebration all round.
The late Paddy Quinn of Kilbragh bought Golden Miller as a yearling for 100 guineas at Dublin Sales from Mr. Lawrence Geraghty of Co. Meath and sold him as a three-year old for £300. The horse then went to England and eventually became the property of Dorothy Paget. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on five successive occasions between 1932 and 1936 and also won the Aintree Grand National in the record time of 9 mins. 20.4 seconds, carrying 12 stone 2 Ibs.
One cannot talk of horse racing without mentioning the name of Arkle It may interest readers to know that apart from Arkle only one other horse ever beat the great Mill House at level weights and that horse was none other than Hunter's Fort which was bred by Pat O'Connell of Kilconnell.
The late Henry Quinn of Mayfield owned Heirloom, who won the Irish Grand National in 1945. He also owned Dickie May, who won the Massey-Ferguson Gold Cup when trained by Tom Dreaper.
James Ryan O'Connor was a bookmaker in London at the turn of the century but had house near Rosegreen, whereto he returned frequently on holiday. His uncle, Jim O'Connor, donated two of the statues in the Parish Church, Cashel and also the marble altar in Rockwell College.

Ryan O'Connor was a colourful character and named his house in London, 'Rosegreen'. He set up his own trainer - a Mr. O'Dwyer - at Locfedora near Cashel and he trained the Irish Derby winner in 1911 named Shanballymore.

When home on holidays, Ryan O'Connor used to go racing at Limerick Junction and on the train journey back used to throw his small change out the window where the children would wait to pick it up. He also used to give one of the locals a sovereign to go into Cashel in the pony and trap to collect the newspaper. He eventually was made bankrupt as a result of his betting. His daughters continued to live in Rosegreen and the last, Kitty, died as recently as 1992,

 

EXPENSIVE HORSEFLESH

In the winter of 1940 Tim Hyde moved his racing stable from Cork, where the new Christy Ring field is today, to Cashel. The moving was done bytrain and the horses walked out to Camas Park. Hyde was a most successful jockey. He rode the winner of the Irish National on two occasions, with Clare County in 1938 and Prince Regent in 1945. He won the Aintree Grand National in 1939 on Workman and he trained Dominick's Bar to win the Irish National in 1950. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Prince Regent in 1946 and became the champion National Hunt jockey.

He was also a top show-jumper, winning many victories, including the Horse of the Year championship on Hack On in Harringay in 1949. His successful career came to an abrupt end when he was injured at the Clonakilty Show in 1950 and he spent the remainder of his life in a wheelchair .

His son, Timmy, has made his mark in the stud farm business. In 1984 he sold the most expensive yearling ever purchased in Europe for £3,100,000 at Goff 's Sales. The colt was by Shergar and went on to win two Group I races, including the St. Leger. Some of the successful classic winners bred in Camas include Al Bahatri, who won the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Indian Skinner, who won the French Oaks and Soviet Star, who won the French 2,000 Guineas.

 

THE OVAL SHAPED BALL

There has been a rugby club in Cashel since 1925 and the club moved to its present location in 1951. The most famous players ever to come from the parish were undoubtedly the Ryan brothers from the Race­course. They were legends in their own lifetimes and the legends haven't faded in the meantime. Mike was capped 17 times for Ireland between 1897 and 1904 and Jack 14 times over the same period. Mike was chosen in 1905 but refused to play because Jack wasn't picked. Both were on the first Irish team to win the Triple Crown in 1899. Both played a major part in that memorable victory. Against Scotland a well-publicised incident happened: Mike slung the biggest Scottish player, McEwan, into the spectators. "He was playing a great game. Now, from our twenty-five he meant to get through.

I saw him coming, teeth bared, jaw set, deter­mination written all over him. Five yards from me he hurled himself for me. I got one arm well round him, swung around with him and let go; he sailed out into the crowd. There was a great hush for a moment in which you would have heard a pin drop. It was looked on as a prodigious feat of strength, but it was his own size and speed that helped me. He resumed the game nothing the worse."

Only five players played in all three matches, Louis Magee, James Sealy, Billy Byron and the two Ryans. "Jack and I returned home. At the Race­course Cross we were held up by all Rockwell. To a man they had turned out to welcome us. They took the horse from between the shafts and insisted on pulling us all the way to the college we loved, though our hands ached from all the fierce handclasps we received."

Jakes McCarthy, an outstanding sportswriter of the time, once described a famous try by Mike Ryan with the memorable phrase: "crossing the line, his frame festooned by Saxons.".
The Cashel club was the home club of Johnny Moroney in the mid-sixties after he left Rockwell because there was no club in Clogheen. Moroney won a number of international caps. The Wolfhounds played in Cashel on two occasions in the fifties. Cashel fielded an all Ryan selection in 1956, captained by Denis Ryan, and played against a county Tipperary fifteen. The first major trophy won by the club was the Garryowen Cup in the thirties.

 

HANDBALL

The greatest national distinction achieved by people from the parish in the past twenty years has been in the game of handball. Since the opening of the Michael Carrie Memorial Ally in 1975 handballers from Cashel have won an impressive list of victories.

Pride of place in the roll of honour must go to John O'Donoghue, who has won All-Irelands at minor, under-21, junior and senior levels. At the minor level the outstanding player has to be Noel Marshall, for a hat-trick of victories in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Others successful at the minor level were David Moloney, Noel Murphy and Michael Carrie. At the under-21 level John Fitzell, Jocie O'Dwyer, David Moloney and Noel Murphy won the highest honours. David Moloney and Jocie O'Dwyer were again success­ful at junior level and the Cashel club had the honour of winning the junior inter-club All-Ireland in 1992 with a team that included Jocie O'Dwyer, Noel Murphy, David Moloney and Brendan Murphy. Paddy Hoare and Willie O'Dwyer won the novice All-Ireland in 1991.
Other All-Ireland victories in handball have been achieved in Cumann na mBunscoil, Community Games, Tailteann Games, Feile na nGael, Vocational Schools, Junior and Senior Colleges and Inter-Varsity competitions.

At Cumann na mBunscoil level All-Ireland honours were won by Noel Murphy, Noel Marshall, Timmy Moloney, Michael Carrie, Denis White, Connie Crotchett, Barry Moloney and Albert Carrie, Jnr.

In the Community Games the highest honours were achieved by Willie and. John Fitzell, Tommy and P. J. McGeer, Paul and Steven Moloney, John O'Donoghue, Jamie Gillespie, Michael Carrie, Noel Marshall, Denis White, Connie Crotchett, Noel Murphy, Timmy Moloney, John O'Dwyer and Michael Carrie.

In different years John Fitzell, Jocie O'Dwyer, John McGeer, Seanie and Declan White, Michael Carrie, Michael Mclnerney, Brendan and Noel Murphy, Alan Gillespie, David Moloney, P. J. McGeer, have been successful in the Tailteann Games.

Jocie O'Dwyer, Gerard Myers, Seanie White and John McGeer won top honours in Division 11 of Feile na nGael in 1983. Jocie O'Dwyer had the added distinction of being skills champion.
Many of the above mentioned won the highest honours at Vocational School level, John O'Donoghue, John Fitzell, Jocie O'Dwyer, Noel Murphy, Noel Marshall, Denis White and P. J. McGeer.

Cashel boys have also made their impact at Junior and Senior Colleges level, John O'Neill, John O'Donoghue, Jimmy O'Neill, John J. Murphy, John Scannell, Richard Fahy, Michael Carrie and David Moloney. In inter-varsity competitions honours were won by John and Jimmy O'Neill, John Scannell and Michael Carrie.

Nor have the girls been found wanting. Perhaps they have been inspired by the famous handballing nun, Sr. Mary Brennan, who won two over-30s All-Irelands in 1979.
The successes of the girls include Regina Mulligan, Teresa Scully, Nollaig Ryan, Triona and Nuala Bonnar, Anne and Michelle Buckley, Kath­leen Guilfoyle, Margaret Lonergan, Deirdre Healan, Noreen O'Dwyer, Tina Keating, Caroline Kenny, Carol Moloney and Sandra Hourigan in the Tailteann Games.

Many have also won honours in the Comm unity Games, including Teresa Scully, Michelle Fogarty, Regina Mulligan, Nuala, Eithne and Triona Bonnar, Kathleen Guilfoyle, Anne Buckley, Deirdre Healan, Margaret Lonergan, Christine O'Dwyer, Gene Hourigan, Ellen 0 ' Shaughnessy, Monica Broad, Joan McGrath, Carol Moloney, Caroline Kenny, Sandra Hourigan, Roseanna O'Dwyer, Allison White and Catriona O'Reilly.

All-Ireland champions include Jackie Keating, who achieved the highest honours in three consecutive years, 1991, 1992 and 1993. She also came third in the USHA finals in Cincinnati in 1992. Other All-Ireland successes were achieved by Sandra Hourigan and Caroline Kenny in 1992 and by Carol Moloney in 1993.

By any standards this has to be recognised as an outstanding performance by the club members. At the beginning of the account John O'Donoghue was singled for his All-Ireland medals in four different grades.. The achievements of David Moloney and Noel Murphy have also been outstanding: they have won no less than 15 and 13 All-Irelands respectively in diff­erent competitions since they first came on the scene in 1985.

 

A GOLFING INTERLUDE

It may come as a surprise to many to learn that there was a golf course in Cashel at one time, a golf links to give it its precise name. The information is rather sparse but as far as can be ascertained it was located in what was then Stapleton's land, opposite Dan Grogan's, on the Clonmel Road.

It appears that the original intention was to start a club in a different place. There was a meeting in the City Hall in October 1912 for the purpose of establishing a golf links. One of the main speakers was C. Barrington, J.P., who spoke of the advantages a golf links would have for Cashel. Old and young, fat and thin, men and women could play it. It would bring business to the town. He would recommend starting with a 9 hole course and if that were successful they could always extend to 18. They had about fifty-five potential members,which was adequate. The biggest problem would be renting a suitable site because the land was so rich around Cashel. They would not require the links during summer as golf was entirely a winter game, played from October to April. (Pre­sumably when the grass was eaten or scarce.) Other speakers placed emphasis on the last point. As golf was a winter game the owners of land would not suffer any loss or damage by the establishment of a golf links.

A small committee of six was appointed to find a suitable site. When they reported back they had selected Mr. Dwyer's (no relation of the present owners) land at Locfedora, which contained over sixty acres and the owner was willing to let it to them for the first year for £20. It was agreed to take up the offer. A professional golfer from Tipperary, Mr. Doyle, was engaged for one month to coach the members. The following charges were agreed to for members: Family £2-2-0; Gentleman £1 - 1 –0, Ladies 10/6.

Whatever happened to these plans is not known because they never came to pass. The links was established on the Clonmel Road by 1918. It was an elaborate set-up with a clubhouse in timber with a felt roof and some 'lovely furniture inside.' The links contained 9 holes and the greens were wired off squares. The fairways used to be cut and rolled by Paddy Stapleton and the game was played in the summer, despite the protestations of Mr. Barrington. Some people still living remember the players; the ladies in their long dresses and hats and the men in their plus-fours. Bernard Cantwell and Willie Delaney are remembered driving out in a big white horse and trap to play a game after first mass on a Sunday morning. The Matthews, who worked in the National Bank, used to walk out for a game with their daughter, Miriam. Miss Corby was a member, as were the Trayers and the Ryan-O'Connors. Willie Hackett, who used to live in Bill Gough's, was the caretaker. Paddy Purcell was a keen player as were Mrs. Costello of the jeweller shop, Mrs. Spiers, whose husband was an excise officer, the Coopers of Killenure, some Rockwell priests and Dean Talbot.

It's difficult to establish when it ceased to operate as a golf links. The clubhouse was burned down in about 1922 and was rebuilt a couple of years later. By the late twenties it had ceased to be a viable proposition. One theory is that the upkeep had become too great for the declining membership. Whatever the reason it ceased to exist. A meeting was held in Ryan' Hotel in the early fifties to revive it but nothing materialised. W. P. Ryan and Jack Rodgers were among those who attended.

 

S0ME LESSER KNOWN HEROES AND HEROINES

Cashel has produced its heroes in less well-known sporting activities. Cork ex-patriate, Mick Bennett, was an All-Ireland tug- o'- war champion. Aidan Fogarty won a national badminton| championship. Boy O'Brien of 7 Haig's Terrace was an All-Army boxing champion. In wrestling Stephen Ryan of Chapel Lane and Jimmy 'Tiger' Ryan of Cathal Brugha Street made it to the top. Joe Delahunty of Dominic Street was a national javelin champion. In running John Fitzell, Brendan Murphy and Anna McCormack have won recognition as also have Tommy Barron and Mary Price in cross-country running. Marie Gayson and Tommy Leon are skittles champions. Michael Perdue won the long puck competition in the 1982 Community Games. In weight-lifting Garda Andrew Fogarty won a national championship and Johnny Ryan-Cagney was a one-mile walk champion. And what about the exploits of Paddy Ang1i m of Rosegreen. He was N.A.C.A. champion of Ireland for six successive years in the long jump between 1931-36 and for the same length of time in the pole vault between 1929-34. Did you ever hear of Tai Kwondo? It's the Korean martial art of hand and foot. John Foley of Dualla Road was on the Black Belt team that won the national championship in 1992. Two years earlier he won the Black Dragon Karate individual championship in his weight. Another O'Brien, a brother of Boy's, was an All-Army champion in 60 and 100 metres. An earlier hero was Michael O'Connor of Rathcowan. His field of fame was the shot putt. He won the All-Ireland championship in the 28 Ibs in August 1900 and in the 56 Ibs the following year. He was presented with a cup, still in the family, called the Rathcowan Cup, by J. Costello, Jeweller, Cashel, in honour of his achievement.

Any account of sporting highlights in the parish of Cashel and Rosegreen that omitted to mention the names of Tommy Wade and Dundrum would be in­complete. The combination brought honour and glory, not only to the little townsland of Longfield but to the broader area of Tipperary and to Ireland at large. Two names from the parish who have made an impact in show-jumping are Seamus Hayes and Shane Breen. One of the youngest heroines in the parish is Niamh O'Connor of Cahir Road, who won a junior internat­ional gold medal for Ireland in the international competition for disabled swimmers in Scotland in June 1993, the first Irish girl to win such an honour. On a completely different plane two people from the parish have won All-Irelands in ploughing, Larry Bergin of Rosegreen and Gary Prendergast of Dangan.

And, did you know that Bernie O'Dwyer of the Old Road is the daughter of the late Paddy Ryan of Pallasgreen, a world hammer-throwing champion! Or that Hurricane Billy Warren, a world heavyweight boxing champion, gave an exhibition in Cashel? Sike and McTigue also boxed in Cashel. And have you heard of Cover Cleary? Not much is known of him but the story goes that one day a running champion was finding it difficult to shake off the attentions of an opponent and was alleged to have said in frust­ration: "Is it the devil I have with me today or Cover Cleary from Cashel?!"

 

CANINE GLORY

Cashel has had its share of successful doggie men. One of the more recent was Jim 'Jumbo' Ryan, who won the Waterloo Cup in consecutive years with Minnesota Miller in 1976 and Minnesota York in 1977. Back in the fifties Philip Hennessy of Templenoe won the Laurels in Cork with Templenoe Rebel and Philip Holmes won the Tipperary Cup in Thurles with Bellaree. James Farrell won the Derby in Clonmel with Fourth of July in 1957 and the McCalmontt Cup in Kilkenny the same year. Two years later Fainne won the McCalmont Cup in Harold's Cross and in 1971 Fleur-de-Lis won the Corn Cuchulainn at the same venue. John Fahy had a runner-up with Potipher in the coursing Derby in Clonmel in 1967 and his Mr. Gallant won the Deise Cup in Dungarvan in 1969. Frank O'Regan took the Carroll's Irish Derby in 1981 with Bold Work.

One of the most successful trainers in the parish is Tom O'Dwyer. One of his earliest winners was Rattle the Kee in the Produce Stakes in Clonmel in 1962. After more winners in the next two decades he hit a golden patch in the eighties. In 1984 Smokey Dixie won the Connaught Cup and in the following year Smokey Pete captured the Scottish and Welsh Derbies. In the same year Townbrook Bimbo won the coursing Derby in Clonmel and Smokey Hothead captured Corn na Feile. Pyramid Club won the coursing Derby in 1988 and Smokey David the Clonmel Open International in 1993. His wife, Mary, has also had a number of successes. She captured the coursing Oaks at Clonmel in 1978 with Smokey Flavour and the Belsize Cup in Co. Westmeath. She was also successful in the coursing Oaks with Smokey Alice in 1984.

 

THE MOST POPULAR PURSUITS

Of all the sporting activities that have occupied the people of Cashel for generations, Gaelic games have been the most popular. Even before the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884 hurling was popular in the parish. In spite of this it took four attempts to found a G.A.A. club in the town and this happened in June 1888 with Dr. Tom Wood as the first chairman. In the course of time the club became known as the Cashel King Cormacs and it has always been the major club in the parish. Other teams to appear at various times were the Rock Crackers, for a brief period in 1887, Racecourse in the same year, Ballyfowloo in 1915, Abbey Rangers in 1941, Knocknagow in 1950, Rosegreen in 1955 and 1980, Suir Rangers 1958, Crokes 1962 and St. Mary's 1963.

Mention of Racecourse recalls the county final in 1910 in which they beat Toomevara twice before losing both games on appeal. Two brothers, synon­ymous with the Racecourse are Jack and Mick Ryan, who were prominent for the club and county in hurling and football.

Even though hurling was always the premier game the first Cashel players to win national honours, Tom O'Connor, Michael Dargan and Michael Devitt, did so in All-Ireland junior football in 1912. In the following year Patrick Dargan won an All-Ireland junior hurling medal and Jim Hickey emulated this feat in 1924. Michael Burke won All-Ireland minor hurling honours in 1932 and 1933.
Not until 1937 did a Cashel man win All-Ireland honours in senior hurling. The honour went to Jack Gleeson of Shanballa, who had the added distinction of winning a junior All-Ireland the following year with London. The next parish man to win the highest honours was Jim Devitt who was probably one of the most brilliant stickmen to come out of Tipperary. He won All-Ireland honours in 1945 and 1949. A few minor hurling stars came next, Mickey Buckley in 1949 and Johnny Murphy, who was later to play for New York, in 1953 and 55. Peter O'Sullivan won five All-Ireland hurling medals in three grades, intermediate in 1963, under-21 and senior in 1964 and senior in 1965 and 1971. Two Cashel players won All-Ireland honours in 1967, Conor Davitt and Patsy O'Connor. Tommy Grogan and Tony Slattery won minor hurling honours in 1976 and under-21 in 1979. In the latter year Cormac Bonnar won his first All-Ireland in the same grade and made it a double the following year. Other successes in the eighties included Sean Slattery and Colm Bonnar in minor hurling in 1982 and in 1985 Colm and Pat O'Donoghue won under-21 hurling honours.
The mention of the Bonnars introduces a household that has brought more distinction to the club and parish than any other .family. As mentioned above Colm won All-Ireland honours in minor and under-21 and was unfort­unate to be on a beaten All-Ireland junior team in 1985. He was a member of the county senior hurling team that ended the famine in 1987 and went on to win All-Irelands in 1989 and 1991. He also won a National League medal in 1988. Also on that successful side was Pat Fitzell, who was getting his second medal, his first having been won in 1979. Another Bonnar, Cormac, having already won two All-Ireland under-21 medals, came back in ,the autumn of his career to win senior glory in 1989 and 1991, thus achieving the distinction of winning All-Irelands in three decades. A younger member of the clan, Conal, was also on the successful winning teams of 1989 and 1991. All three have also been recognised with All-Star awards, Colm in 1988 and Cormac and Conal in 1989 and 1991.

A high point in the history of the Cashel King Cormacs club was undoubtedly the opening of Leahy Park in 1956. The club had used many venues down the decades and finally found a permanent home on the Clonmel Road. The naming of the Park after the famous Johnny Leahy from Boherlahan was a recognition of his stature in the county. It also recalled the fact that he played his first senior hurling with Cashel in 1908 and it recognised the respect Cashel always had for the men of Boherlahan.

Without doubt the outstanding achievement of the Cashel King Cormacs was the winning of the county senior hurling title in 1991. This success was a long time coming but the joy, excitement and satisfaction in winning it were worth the, wait. Almost forty years previously the club had won its first county hurling title in 1953, and over the intervening decades won similar honours in minor and under-21 but the senior contin­ued to elude it until 1991. Having eventually made the breakthrough Cashel went on to win the Munster Club title with a glorious victory over Midleton and were deprived of ultimate honours after a three-game saga with Kiltormer.

While still on the subject of hurling it is worth recalling that Cashel C.B.S. won two All-Ireland 'B' competitions in the early eighties. In 1980 they beat Roscommon C.B.S. to win the school's first ever All-Ireland and to become the first school in the county to win Corn Ui Chaoimh. Cashel repeated the victory in 1982 by beating Callan C.B.S. in the final.

The girls from the Presentation Convent anticipated the achievements of the boys by winning the All-Ireland Colleges junior title in 1975, They were the first team to bring the cup to Munster. The school went one better in 1977 when winning the All-Ireland senior championship. In 1978 the school captured the double, beating Bawnmore in the junior and Shannon in the senior finals. Success continued in 1979 with a second senior All-Ireland in a victory over Athenry. The person largely responsible for these major successes was Willie Prendergast, who got involved in 1974 and retired as games-master in 1980. He was succeeded by Martin Quirke who guided the school to victory in the junior and senior Munster Colleges championships in 1989 and to a further senior in 1990.

At the club level Cashel Camogie Club has done very well in recent years. After winning county junior and intermediate honours in the early sixties, the club hit the jackpot in the 1980s by winning six county senior titles in-a-row between 1986 and 91. Three players have the distinction of having won all six medals, Irene Butler, Julia O'Dwyer and Noreen Ryan. The club was also successful at underage level, winning county under-16 titles in 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1992 and under-18 in 1989. Cashel players have won recognition at county level. No fewer than eight of the successful team that won All-Ireland junior honours in 1992 came from the Cashel club: captain Triona Bonnar, Kaiffe Moloney, Jovita Delaney, Anne Marie Fitzgerald, Helen O'Leary, Marita Tobin, Angela Ryan and Joan Tobin. Club players also contributed to Tipperary's All-Ireland victories at under-16 level, Jovita Delaney, Neassa O'Dwyer, Marita Tobin, Jackie Keating, Sylvia Ryan, Tracy Bargary and Roisin Nash in 1990 and Michaella Bulfin, Edel Keane, Michelle Burke and Anne Barry in 1992. Two girls from the club have won Cidona Awards, Jovita Delaney in 1990 and Kaiffe Moloney in

The problem with an article of such Length, covering such a long period of time and mentioning so many activities and names is the danger of omissions. In anticipation that someone has been left out, I should like him/her to know that it was not deliberate. There is also the possibility that some activities that might have been mentioned have been left out. Again I apologise for the omissions. To all those who made a name for themselves in some sporting activity during the first hundred years of the period covered all I can say is that I came across no records of their achievements and, therefore, was unable to mention them. Finally I should like to thank a number of people who supplied information, particularly Peter McCarthy, Timmy Hyde, Tom O'Dwyer, Albert Carrie, Julia O'Dwyer, Mick Fogarty and many others too numerous to mention.

 

Sporting Heros Times to Cherish: Cashel and Rosegreen Parish History 1795-1995, ed. by Bernie Moloney, pp 154-163

Sporting Heros

Times to Cherish: Cashel and Rosegreen Parish History 1795-1995, ed. by Bernie Moloney, pp 154-163

 

It's an impossible task to cover the sporting highlights of the parish of Cashel and Rosegreen within the bounds of an article and yet it is one that ought to be attempted in a book purporting to describe the activities of the people of the parish over two hundred years. Apart from the extensive time span one of the problems that had to be faced was the sparcity of information and the absence of much real organised sporting activities during the first hundred years. Another problem was what to include and what to exclude. At first it was decided to limit mention to those that had achieved national and international fame. But this created a major problem: for one thing it excluded mention of Cashel King Cormac's historic victory in the 1991 county senior hurling final. It also precluded mention of stories and anecdotes of a sporting nature which would give spice to the account. In the end it was decided to be plain arbitrary in the criteria used and what might have been a solid historical account ended up as a personal essay. And, one further point to add to the confusion; the essay hasn't always remained strictly within the bounds of the parish. 


The Sport of Kings

Horses have always played a major part in the lives of the people and Ballydoyle is a name that is synonymous with that activity. A previous owner to Vincent O'Brien, a Mr. Saddler, kept point-to-point horses and was part owner of Ballykisteen stud. He was also an auctioneer and had seven daughters. But, that's another story. 

With respect to Mr. Saddler and his interest in horses, it was county Cork man, Vincent O'Brien, who put Ballydoyle, Cashel and Ireland on the horse-racing, training and breeding map, almost as soon as he arrived in 1951. Before he touched down he had already made an impact on English National Hunt racing having trained Cottage Rake to take the Cheltenham Gold Cup on three consecutive years, 1948, '49 and '50 and having another triple winner with Hatton's Grace in the Champion Hurdle in 1949, '50 and' 51. He was to confirm this form with three successive English Grand National winners with three different horses, Early Mist, Royal Tan, which was bred by J. Topping near Tullamaine, and Quare Times in 1953, '54 and '55 respectively. He was to take another Gold Cup with Knock Hard in 1953. Having won all the major honours in National Hunt he turned his attention to flat racing. From Chamier in the Irish Derby in '53 to the success of College Chapel in the Cork and Orrery stakes in 1993, bringing his score at Royal Ascot to 25 winners, he won every honour in racing. His training tally included 16 English and 27 Irish classics. As well as the six English Derby winners - Larkspur, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky, Roberto, The Minstrel and Golden Fleece - six Irish Derby winners - Chamier, Ballymoss, Nijinsky, The Ministrel, El Gran Senor and Law Society - have also come out of the famous stables. His successes have not been confined to Ireland and England. Sir Ivor won the Washington International in 1968 and the Grand Criterium in France in 1967. Ballydoyle horses won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on three occasions, the French Derby in 1983, and as late as 1990 Royal Academy won the Breeders' Cup Mile in New York under an inspired ride from Lester Piggott, who had come out of retirement just a few months earlier. 

Vincent O'Brien has always been concerned with the stud side of the business and in 1973 he bought into Coolmore Stud, which was owned by Tim Vigors. This was expanded in 1975 into the Coolmore/Castlehyde operation with John Magnier and Robert Sangster as partners. It now comprises six farms and over 2,500 cres and rivals any stud set-up in the world. In the early 1980s Lyonstown Stud, midway between Cashel and Rosegreen, was acquired by Vincent O'Brien from the philanthropic American millionaire, John A. Mulcahy, to accommodate mares and homebred foals and yearlings. Best winners raised there to date include Sadler's Wells, King's Lake, Tate Gallery, Thatching, El Gran Senor, Dr. Devious and Lomond, all of whom went to stand at Coolmore, except El Gran Senor and Dr. Devious. 

After firty-one years as a trainer, forty-four of which were spent at Ballydoyle, Vincent O'Brien announced his retirement in October 1994. 

Vincent O'Brien's eldest son, David, set up as a trainer in the Rahinaghmore Stables, which adjoins Ballydoyle, in 1980 at the age of twenty-four. In a short nine year period, he established himself as one of the outstanding young flat trainers of all time, being one of the few to win the English, French and Irish Derbys. 

In 1982 he was the first British or Irish trainer to win the French Derby (Prix du Jockey Club) with Assert. This horse also won the Irish Derby and the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup in the same year. In 1983 he was the first trainer to win the Irish 2000 Guineas with a filly. This he did with the brilliant Triptych. 

Probably one of the most sensational Epsom Derbys of all time was the 1984 race which was won by a short head by Secreto - trained by David and ridden by Christy Roche from Bansha from El Gran Senor, who was trained by Vincent and ridden by another Irish jockey, Pat Eddery. 

In a very different sphere of endeavour, Jacqueline O'Brien has established an international reputation in photography and, in association with Desmond Guinness, has produced two highly acclaimed photographic volumes: Great Irish Houses and Castles and Dublin - A Grand Tour. 


Tipperary Tim and other Greats

Still on horses but going back to an earlier time, Tipperary Tim (called after the famous Dundrum runner, Tim Crowe, who won the London Marathon in 1924) won the Aintree Grand National. He was bred by John Ryan at Dogstown, which borders the parish. In 1928 Ryan emigrated to America and, in fact, was on the boat as it was about to leave Cobh when he learnt that the horse he bred had won the 'Blue Riband' of National Hunt racing. The New York Times reported John Ryan's account of how he heard the news: 'I was sitting in the smoking room,' he said, 'when a man pokes his head in the door and says: "Does anybody want to know who won the National?" and I said: "I do," and he says, "It's Tipperary Tim, and who are you?" "I'm his breeder," says I, and then we had a bit of celebration all round.' 

The late Paddy Quinn of Kilbragh bought Golden Miller as a yearling for 100 guineas at Dublin Sales from Mr. Lawrence Geraghty of Co. Meath and sold him as a three-year-old for £300. The horse then went to England and eventually became the property of Dorothy Paget. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on five successive occasions between 1932 and 1936 and also won the Aintree Grand National in the record time of 9 minutes 20.4 seconds, carrying 12 stone 2 pounds. 

One cannot talk of horse racing without mentioning the name of Arkle. It may interest readers to known that apart from Arkle only one other horse ever beat the great Mill House at level weights and that horse was none other than Hunter's Fort which was bred by the recently deceased Pat O'Donnell of Kilconnell. 

The late Henry Quinn of Mayfield owned Heirloom, who won the Irish Grand National in 1945. He also owned Dickie May, who won the Massey Ferguson Gold Cup when trained by Tom Dreaper. 

James Ryan O'Connor was a bookmaker in London at the turn of the century but had a house near Rosegreen, whereto he returned frequently on holiday. His uncle, Jim O'Connor, donated two of the statues in the Parish Church, Cashel and also the marble altar in Rockwell College. 

Ryan O'Connor was a colourful character and named his house in London, 'Rosegreen'. He set up his own trainer - a Mr. O'Dwyer - at Lochfedora near Cashel and he trained the Irish Derby winner in 1911 named Shanballymore. 

When home on holidays, Ryan O'Connor used to go racing at Limerick Junction and on the train journey back used to throw his small change out the window where the children would wait to pick it up. He also used to give one of the locals a sovereign to go into Cashel in the pony and trap to collect the newspaper. He eventually was made bankrupt as a result of his betting. His daughters continued to live in Rosegreen; the last, Kitty, died as recently as 1992. 


Expensive Horseflesh

In the winter of 1940 Tim Hyde moved his racing stable from Cork, where the new Christy Ring field is today, to Cashel. The moving was done by train and the horses walked out to Camas Park. Hyde was a most successful jockey. He rode the winner of the Irish National on two occasions, with Clare County in 1938 and Prince Regent in 1945. He won the Aintree Grand National in 1939 on Workman and he trained Dominick's Bar to win the Irish National in 1950. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Prince Regent in 1946 and became the champion National Hunt jockey. He was also a top show-jumper, winning many victories, including the Horse of the Year Championship on Hack On in Harringay in 1949. His successful career came to an abrupt end when he was injured at the Clonakilty Show in 1950 and he spent the remainder of his life in a wheelchair. 

His son, Timmy, has made his mark in the stud farm business. In 1984 he sold the most expensive yearling ever purchased in Europe for £3,100,000 at Goff's Sales. The colt was by Shergar and went on to win two Group I races, including the St. Leger. Some of the successful classic winners bred in Camas include AI Bahatri, who won the Irish 1000 Guineas, Indian Skinner, who won the French Oaks and Soviet Star, who won the French 2000 Guineas. 


The Oval Shaped Ball

There has been a rugby club in existence in Cashel since 1912 and the club moved to its present location on the Old Road in 1951. The most famous players ever to come from the parish were undoubtedly the Ryan brothers from the Racecourse. They were legends in their own lifetimes and the legends have not faded in the meantime. Mike was capped 17 times for Ireland between 1897 and 1904 and Jack 14 times over the same period. Mike was chosen in 1905 but refused to play because Jack wasn't picked. Both were on the first Irish team to win the Triple Crown in 1899. Both played a major part in that memorable victory. Against Scotland a well-publicised incident happened: Mike slung the biggest Scottish player, McEwan, into the spectators. 'He was playing a great game. Now, from our twenty-five he meant to get through. I saw him coming, teeth bared, jaw set, determination written all over him. Five yards from me he hurled himself for me. I got one arm well round him, swung around with him and let go; he sailed out into the crowd. There was a great hush for a moment in which you would have heard a pin drop. It was looked on as a prodigious feat of strength, but it was his own size and speed that helped me. He resumed the game nothing the worse.' 

Only five players played in all three matches: 'Louis Magee, James Sealy, Billy Byron and the two Ryans. 'Jack and I returned home. At the Racecourse Cross we were held up by all Rockwell. To a man they had turned out to welcome us. They took the horse from between the shafts and insisted on pulling us all the way to the college we loved, though our hands ached from all the fierce handclasps we received.' 

James McCarthy, an outstanding sportswriter of the time, once described a famous try by Mike Ryan with the memorable phrase: 'crossing the line, his frame festooned by Saxons.' The Cashel club was the home club of Johnny Moroney in the mid-sixties after he left Rockwell, because there was no club in Clogheen. Moroney won a number of international caps. The Wolfhounds played in Cashel on two occasions in the fifties. Cashel fielded an all-Ryan selection in 1956, captained by Denis Ryan, and played against a County Tipperary fifteen. The first major trophy won by the club was the Garryowen Cup in 1953-54. It was won a second time two years later. 


Handball 

The greatest national distinction achieved by people from the parish in the past twenty years has been in the game of handball. Since the opening of the Michael 'Monto' Carrie Memorial Alley in 1975 hand ballers from Cashel have won an impressive list of victories. 

Pride of place in the roll of honour must go to John O'Donoghue, who has won All-Irelands at minor, under-21, junior and senior levels. At the minor level the outstanding hardball player has to be Noel Marshall, for a hat-trick of victories in 1991, '92 and '93. Others successful at the minor level were David Moloney, Noel Murphy and Michael Carrie. At the under-21 level John Fitzell, Jocie O'Dwyer, David Moloney and Noel Murphy won the highest honours. David Moloney and Jocie O'Dwyer were again successful at junior level and the Cashel club had the honour of winning the junior inter-club All-Ireland in 1992 with a team that included Jocie O'Dwyer, Noel Murphy, David Moloney and Brendan Murphy. Paddy Hoare and Willie O'Dwyer won the novice All-Ireland in 1991. 

Other All-Ireland victories in handball have been achieved in Cumann na mBunscoil, Community Games, Tailteann Games, Feile na nGael, Vocational Schools, Junior and Senior Colleges and Inter-University competitions. 

At Cumann na mBunscoil level, All-Ireland honours were won by Noel Murphy, Noel Marshall, Timmy Moloney, Michael Carrie, Denis White, Connie Crotchett, Barry Moloney and Albert Carrie, junior. 

In the Community Games the highest honours were achieved by Willie and John Fitzell, Tommy and P. J. McGeer, Paul and Steven Moloney, John O'Donoghue, Jamie Gillespie, Michael Carrie, Noel Marshall, Denis White, Connie Crotchett, Noel Murphy, Timmy Moloney, John O'Dwyer and Michael Carrie. 

In different years John Fitzell, Jocie O'Dwyer, John McGeer, Seanie and Declan White, Michael Carrie, Michael Mclnerney, Brendan and Noel Murphy, Alan Gillespie, David Moloney, P. J. McGeer, have been successful in the Tailteann Games. 

Jocie O'Dwyer, Gerard Myers, Seanie White and John McGeer won top honours in Division II of Feile na nGael in 1983. Jocie O'Dwyer had the added distinction of being skills champion. 

Many of the above mentioned won the highest honours at Vocational School level, John O'Donoghue, John Fitzell, Jocie O'Dwyer, Noel Murphy, Noel Marshall, Denis White and P. J. McGeer. 

Cashel boys have also made their impact at Junior and Senior Colleges level, John O'Neill, John O'Donoghue, Jimmy O'Neill, John J. Murphy, John Scannell, Richard Fahy, Michael Carrie and David Moloney. In Inter-University competitions, honours were won by John and Jimmy O'Neill, John Scannell, Michael Carrie and Eamon O'Brien. 

Nor have the girls been found wanting. Perhaps they have been inspired by the famous hand balling nuns, Sr. Mary Brennan, who won two over-30s AII-Irelands in 1979, and Sr. Paula Buckley. 

The successes of the girls include Regina Mulligan, Teresa Scully, Nollaig Ryan, Triona and Nuala Bonnar, Anne and Michelle Buckley, Kathleen Guilfoyle, Margaret Lonergan, Deirdre Heelan, Noreen O'Dwyer, Tina Keating, Caroline Kenny, Carol Moloney and Sandra Hourigan in the Tailteann Games. 

Many have also won honours in the Community Games, including Teresa Scully, Michelle Fogarty, Regina Mulligan, Nuala, Eithne and Triona Bonnar, Kathleen Guilfoyle, Anne Buckley, Deirdre Healan, Margaret Lonergan, Christine O'Dwyer, Jean Hourigan, Eleanor O'Shaughnessy, Monica Broad, Joan McGrath, Carol Moloney, Caroline Kenny, Sandra Hourigan, Roseanna O'Dwyer, Allison White and Catriona O'Reilly. 

All-Ireland champions include Jackie Keating, who achieved the highest honours in three consectuive years, 1991, '92 and '93. She also came third in the USHA final in Cincinatti in 1992. Other All-Ireland successes were achieved by Sandra Hourigan and Caroline Kenny in 1992 and by Carol Moloney in 1993. 

By any standards this has to be recognised as an outstanding performance by the club members. At the beginning of the account John O'Donoghue was singled out for his All-Ireland medals in four different grades. The achievements of David Moloney and Noel Murphy have also been outstanding: they have won no less than fifteen and thirteen AII-Irelands respectively in different competitions since they first came on the scene in 1985. 


A Golfing Interlude 

It may come as a surprise to many to learn that there was a golf course in Cashel at one time: a golf links to give it its precise name. The information is rather sparse but as far as can be ascertained it was located in what was then Stapleton's land, opposite Dan Grogan's, on the Clonmel Road. 

It appears that the original intention was to start a club in a different place. There was a meeting in the City Hall in October 1912 for the purpose of establishing a golf links. One of the main speakers was C. Barrington, J.P., who spoke of the advantages a golf links would have for Cashel. Old and young, fat and thin, men and women could play it. It would bring business to the town. He would recommend starting with a nine-hole course and if that was successful they could always extend it to eighteen holes. They had about fifty-five potential members, which was an adequate number. The biggest problem would be renting a suitable site because the land was so rich around Cashel. They would not require the links during summer as golf was entirely a winter game, played from October to April. (Presumably when the grass was eaten or scarce.) Other speakers placed emphasis on the last point. As golf was a winter game the owners of land would not suffer any loss or damage by the establishment of a golf links. 

A small committee of six was appointed to find a suitable site. When they reported back they had selected Mr. Dwyer's (no relation of the present owners) land at Locfedora, which contained over sixty acres and the owner was willing to let it to them for the first year for £20. It was agreed to take up the offer. A professional golfer from Tipperary, Mr. Doyle, was engaged for one month to coach the members. The following charges were agreed to for members: Family £2-2-0; Gentlemen £ 1-1-0; Ladies 1 0/6d. 

Whatever happened to these plans is not known because they never came to pass. The links was established on the Clonmel Road by 1918. It was an elaborate set-up with a clubhouse in timber with a felt roof and some 'lovely furniture inside.' The links contained nine holes and the greens were wired off squares. The fairways used to be cut and rolled by Paddy Stapleton and the game was played in the summer, despite the protestations of Mr. Barrington. Some people still living remember the players; the ladies in their long dresses and hats and the men in their plus-fours. Bernard Cantwell and Willie Delaney are remembered driving out in a big white horse and trap to play a game after first Mass on a Sunday morning. The Matthews, who worked in the National Bank, used to walk out for a game with their daughter, Miriam. Miss Corby was a member, as were the Trayers and the Ryan-O'Connors. Willie Hackett, who used to live in Bill Gough's, was the caretaker. Paddy Purcell was a keen player as also were Mrs. Costello of the jewellery shop, Mrs. Spiers, whose husband was an excise officer, the Coopers of Killenure, some Rockwell priests and Dean Talbot. 

It's difficult to establish when it ceased to operate as a golf links. The clubhouse was burned down in or about 1922 and was rebuilt a couple of years later. By the late twenties it had ceased to be a viable proposition. One theory is that the upkeep had become too great for the declining membership. Whatever the reason it ceased to exist. A meeting was held in Ryan's Hotel in the early fifties to revive it but nothing materialised. W. P. Ryan and Jack Rodgers were among those who attended. 


Some Lesser-known Heroes and Heroines

Cashel has produced its heroes and heroines in less wellknown sporting activities. Cork ex-patriate, Mick Bennett, was an All-Ireland tug-o'-war champion. Aidan Fogarty won a national badminton championship. 'Boy' O'Brien of Haig's Terrace was an All-Army boxing champion. In wrestling Stephen Ryan of Chapel Lane and Jimmy 'Tiger' Ryan of Cathal Brugha Street made it to the top. Joe Delahunty of Dominic Street was a national javelin champion. In running, John Fitzell, Brendan Murphy and Annie McCormack have won recognition, as also have Tommy Barron and Mary Price in crosscountry running. Marie Gayson and Tommy Leen are skittles champions. Michael Perdue won the long puck in the 1982 Community Games. In weight-lifting Garda Andrew Fogarty won a national championship and Johnny Ryan-Cagney was a one-mile walk champion. And what about the exploits of Paddy Anglim of Rosegreen? He was N.A.C.A. champion of Ireland for six successive years in the long jump between 1931-36 and for the same length of time in the pole vault between 1929-34. Did you ever hear of Tai Kwondo? It's the Korean martial art of hand and foot. John Foley of Dualla Road was on the Black Belt team that won the national championship in 1992. Two years earlier he won the Black Dragon Karate individual championship in his weight. Another O'Brien, a brother of Boy's, was an All-Army champion in 60 and 100 metres. An earlier hero was Michael O'Connor of Rathcowan. His field of fame was the shot putt. He won the All-Ireland championship in the 28 Ib in August 1900 and in the 56 Ib the following year. He was presented with a cup, still in the family, called the Rathcowan Cup, by J. Costello, Jeweller, Cashel, in honour of his achievement. 

Any account of sporting highlights in the parish of Cashel and Rosegreen that omitted to mention the names of Tommy Wade and Dundrum would be incomplete. The combination brought honour and glory, not only to the little townsland of Longfield but to the broader area of Tipperary and to Ireland at large. Two other names from the parish who have made an impact in showjumping are Seamus Hayes and Shane Breen. One of the youngest heroines in the parish is Niamh O'Connor of Cahir Road, who won a junior international gold medal for Ireland in the international competition for disabled swimmers in Scotland in June 1993, the first Irish girl to win such an honour. On a completely different plane two people from the parish have won All-Irelands in ploughing: Larry Bergin of Rosegreen and Gary Prendergast of Dangan. 

And, did you know that Bernie O'Dwyer of the Old Road is the daughter of the late Paddy Ryan of Pallasgreen, a world hammer throwing champion? Or that Hurricane Billy Warren, a world heavyweight boxing champion, gave an exhibition in Cashel? Sike and McTigue also boxed in Cashel. And have you heard of Cover Cleary? Not much is known of him but the story goes that one day a running champion was finding it difficult to shake off the attentions of an opponent and was alleged to have said in frustration: 'Is it the devil I have with me today or Cover Cleary from Cashel?' 


Canine Glory

Cashel has had its share of successful 'doggie' men. One of the more recent was Jim 'Jumbo' Ryan who won the Waterloo Cup in consecutive years with Minnesota Miller in 1976 and Minnesota York in 1977. Back in the fifties Philip Hennessy of Templenoe won the Laurels in Cork with Templenoe Rebel and Philip Holmes won the Tipperary Cup in Thurles with Bellaree. James Farrell won the Derby in Clonmel with Fourth of July, in 1957, and the McCalmont Cup in Kilkenny the same year. Two years later Fainne won the McCalmon Mont Cup in Harold's Cross and in 1971 Fleur-de-Lis won the Corn Cuchulainn at the same venue. John Fahy had a runner-up with Potipher in the coursing Derby in Clonmel in 1967 and his Mr. Gallant won the Deise Cup in Dungarvan in 1969. Frank O'Regan took the Carroll's Irish Derby in 1981 with Bold Work. 

One of the most successful trainers in the parish is Tom O'Dwyer. One of his earliest winners was Rattle the Key in the Produce Stakes in Clonmel in 1962. After more winners in the next two decades he hit a golden patch in the eighties. In 1984 Smokey Dixie won the Connaught Cup and in the following year Smokey Pete captured the Scottish and Welsh Derbys. In the same year Townbrook Bimbo won the coursing Derby in Clonmel and Smokey Hothead captured Corn na Feile. Pyramid Club won the coursing Derby in 1988 and Smokey David the Clonmel Open International in 1993. His wife, Mary, has also had a number of successes. She captured the coursing Oaks at Clonmel in 1978 with Smokey Flavour and the Belsize Cup in Co. Westmeath. She was also successful in the coursing Oaks with Smokey Alice in 1984. 

No mention of 'doggie' men in the area would be complete without the inclusion of Dick Ryan of Gooldscross, probably the greatest of them all. His list of achievements is incredible and can be appreciated fully only by people 'in the sport. He won the Newbridge Open and Clarke Cup Open nine times. He won the Irish Cup in Clounanna on three occasions. The North Kilkenny Cup in Ballyragget was won on twelve occasions. When he won the Waterloo Cup with Old Kentucky Minstrel in 1957 he was the first Irishman to be successful in eighty years. Having made the breakthrough he won it twice more, with Himalayan Climber in 1959 and Dubedoon in 1963. He trained Move on Swanky in his second season and the dog equalled the record of thirty-four successive courses set and held by Local Master. He also won numerous Irish Grand Nationals on the track. His last venture to England was in 1976 when he won the Waterloo Plate with Tipping Around. Born in 1911 he was honoured during his lifetime with a Caltex Award and the Greyhound Hall of Fame Award, the latter in 1991, a year before his death. 


The Most Popular Pursuits

Of all the sporting activities that have occupied the people of Cashel for generations, Gaelic games have been the most popular. Even before the founding of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884 hurling was popular in the parish. In spite of this it took four attempts to found a G .A.A. club in the town and this happened in June 1888 with Dr. Tom Wood as the first chairman. In the course of time the club became known as the Cas he I King Cormacs and it has always been the major club in the parish. Other teams to appear at various times were the Rock Crackers, for a brief period in 1887, Racecourse in the same year, Ballyfowloo in 1915, Abbey Rangers in 1941, Knocknagow in 1950, Rosegreen in 1955 and 1980, Suir Rangers 1958, Crokes 1962 and St. Mary's 1963. 

Mention of Racecourse recalls the county final of 1910 in which they beat Toomevara twice before losing both games on appeal. Two brothers, synonymous with the Racecourse are Jack and Mike Ryan, who were prominent for the club and county in hurling and football. 

Even though hurling was always the premier game the first Cashel players to win national honours, Tom Connor, Michael Dargan and Michael Devitt, did so in All-Ireland junior football in 1912. In the following year Patrick Dargan won an All-Ireland junior hurling medal and Jim Hickey emulated this feat in 1924. Michael Burke won All-Ireland minor hurling honours in 1932 and 1933. 

Not until 1937 did a Cashel man win All-Ireland honours in senior hurling. The honour went to Jack Gleeson of Shanballa, who has the added distinction of winning a junior All-Ireland the following year with London. The next parish man to win the highest honours was Jim Devitt who was probably one of the most brilliant stickmen to come out of Tipperary. He won AIlIreland honours in 1945 and' 49. A few minor hurling stars came next, Mickey Buckley in 1949 and Johnny Murphy, who was later to play for New York, in 1953 and' 55. Peter O'Sullivan won five All-Ireland hurling medals in three grades: intermediate in 1963, under-21 and senior in 1964 and senior in 1965 and 1971. Two Cashel players won All-Ireland honours in 1967, Conor Davitt and Patsy O'Connor. Tommy Grogan and Tony Slattery won minor hurling honours in 1976 and under-21 in 1979. In the latter year Cormac Bonnar won his first All-Ireland in the same grade and made it a double the following year. Other successes in the eighties included Sean Slattery and Colm Bonnar in minor hurling in 1982 and in 1985 Col m and Pat O'Donoghue won under-21 hurling honours. 

The mention of the Bonnars introduces a household that has brought more distinction to the club and parish than any other family. As mentioned above, Col m won All-Ireland honours in minor and under-21 and was unfortunate to be on a beaten AIIIreland junior team in 1985. He was a member of the county senior hurling team that ended the 'famine' in 1987 and went on to win AII-Irelands in 1989 and 1991. He also won a National League medal in 1988. Also on that successful side was Pat Fitzell, who was getting his second medal, his first having been won in 1979. Another Bonnar, Cormac, having already won two All-Ireland under-21 medals, came back in the autumn of his career to win senior glory in 1989 and 1 991 , thus achieving the distinction of winning AII-Irelands in three decades. A younger member of the clan, Conal, was also on the successful winning teams of 1989 and '91. All three have also been recognised with All-Star awards, Colm in 1988 and Cormac and Conal in 1989 and '91. 

A high point in the history of the Cashel club was undoubtedly the opening of Leahy Park in 1956. The club had used many venues down the decades and finally found a permanent home on the Clonmel Road. The naming of the Park after the famous Johnny Leahy from Boherlahan was a recognition of his stature in the county. It also recalled the fact that he played his first senior hurling with Cashel in 1908 and it recognised the respect Cashel always had for the men of Boherlahan. 

Without doubt the outstanding achievement of the Cashel King Cormacs was the winning of the county senior hurling title in 1 991. This success was a long time coming but the joy, excitement and satisfaction in winning it were worth the wait. Almost forty years previously the club had won its first county junior hurling title, in 1953, and over the intervening decades won similar honours in minor and under-21 . But the senior continued to elude it until 1991. Having eventually made the breakthrough Cashel went on to win the Munster Club title with a glorious victory over Midleton and were deprived of ultimate honours after a three-game saga with Kiltormer from Co. Galway. 

While still on the subject of hurling it is worth recalling that Cashel C.B.S. won two All-Ireland 'B' competitions in the early eighties. In 1980 they beat Roscommon C.B.S. to win the school's first ever All-Ireland and to become the first school in the county to win Corn UI Dhaoimh. Cashel repeated the victory in 1982 by beating Callan C.B.S. in the final. 

The girls from the Presentation Convent anticipated the achievements of the boys by winning the All-Ireland Colleges junior camogie title in 1975. They were the first team to bring the cup to Munster. The school went one better in 1977 when winning the All-Ireland senior championship. In 1978 the school captured the double, beating Bawnmore in the junior and Shannon in the senior finals. Success continued in 1979 with a second senior All-Ireland in a victory over Athenry. The person largely responsible for these major successes was Willie Prendergast, who got involved in 1974 and retired as gamesmaster in 1980. He was succeeded by Martin Quirke who guided the school to victory in the junior and senior Munster Colleges championships in 1989 and to a further senior in 1990. 

At the club level Cashel Camogie Club has done very well in recent years. After winning county junior and intermediate honours in the early sixties, the club hit the jackpot in the 1980s by winning six county senior titles in-a-row between 1986 and , 91. Three players have the distinction of having won all six medals: Irene Butler, Julia O'Dwyer and Noreen Ryan. The club was also successful at underage level, winning county under-16 titles in 1987, '88, '90 and '92 and under-18 in 1989, '90 and '91. Cashel players have won recognition at county level. No less than eight of the successful team that won All-Ireland junior honours in 1992 came from the Cashel club: captain Triona Bonnar, Kaiffe Moloney, Jovita Delaney, Anne Marie Fitzgerald, Helen O'Leary, Marita Tobin, Angela Ryan and Joan Tobin. Club players also contributed to Tipperary's All-Ireland victories at under-16 level: Jovita Delaney, Nessa O'Dwyer, Marita Tobin, Jackie Keating, Sylvia Ryan, Tracy Bargary and ROlsin Nash in 1990 and Michelle Bulfin, Edel Keane, Michelle Burke and Anne Barry in 1992. Two girls from the club have won Cidona Awards: Jovita Delaney in 1990 and Kaiffe Moloney in 1991. 

The problem with an article of such length, covering such a long period of time and mentioning so many activities and names, is the danger of omissions. In anticipation that someone has been left out I should like him/her to know that it was not deliberate. There is also the possibility that some activities that might have been mentioned have been left out. Again, I apologise for the omissions. Concerning all those who made a name for themselves in some sporting activity during the first hundred years of the period covered by this book, all I can say is that I came across no records of their achievements and, therefore, was unable to mention them. Finally, I should like to thank a number of people who supplied information, particularly Peter McCarthy, Timmy Hyde, Tom O'Dwyer, Albert Carrie, Julia O'Dwyer, Mick Fogarty and many others too numerous to mention. 

 

Cashel Man of Letters - Dr John Lanigan (1758-1828) Times to Cherish: Cashel and Rosegreen Parish History 1795-1995, edited by Bernie Moloney, pp 187-198

Cashel Man of Letters - Dr John Lanigan (1758-1828)

Times to Cherish: Cashel and Rosegreen Parish History 1795-1995, edited by Bernie Moloney, pp 187-198

 

It is arguable that Dr. John Lanigan, who was born in Cashel in 1758 and died in Dublin seventy years later, was the most illustrious son of the City of the Kings. His beginnings were modest. His chief biographer, W. J. Fitzpatrick, has him born two doors from the Archiepiscopal Palace (now the Cashel Palace Hotel). Another gives it as Chapel Lane (near the present Folk Village). His father was Thomas Lanigan, originally from Dundrum where his family had been evicted by Sir Thomas Maude. Thomas Lanigan came to Cashel and set up as a schoolteacher. His wife was Mary Anne Dorkan from Beakstown, Holycross: 'a very superior woman whose mind was as original as her appearance was beautiful.' The couple had sixteen children of whom John was the eldest. There were four girls, Mary, Catherine, Hobanna and Anne. Catherine was considered the belle of Cashel. Anne, the youngest, became Mrs. Anne Kennedy and died in Clonmel on 30 October 1860.

 

Education
 

His father, Thomas, as a boy had intended to be a priest and, with that in mind, had received a good classical education. Family circumstances prevented him from realising his intention and, on arrival in Cashel, he started a school. It was in this school that John was instructed in the rudiments of general knowledge.

Later, he was placed under the care of Rev. Patrick Hare, a Protestant clergyman who, for many years, kept a seminary of considerable repute in Cashel. Hare, or O'Hehir, from Corofin, Co. Clare, went to Trinity College, Dublin, where he obtained college honours and distinctions. He finally became a parson, having converted to Protestantism. In the course of time he was made Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Cashel under Archbishop Agar, with whom he was a great favourite. When the Archbishop was translated to Dublin Rev. Hare threw up the position and appears to have opened a school. This was located in John's Street (in Osbornes' house). It appears to have been a later addition to the rear of the house and it would also appear that
the entrance was from Agar's Lane, which has a built-up doorway.

From what we read, John Lanigan possessed a solidity of intellect and a steadfastness in the pursuit of excellence as a student. On the other hand we hear that he learned to dance an Irish reel. He was reputed to have great eyesight and had a love of letters. He used to read his books at night by the light of the moon. In later life he was nearly blind. At the age of sixteen Thomas Lanigan was assured by Mr Hare that his son's studies were finished. He was appointed an usher in the school. John Lanigan was already thinking of the priesthood and he prepared himself for his vocation by study and reading.

 

Rome

In 1776 he was recommended by Dr James Butler, Archbishop of Cashel, for a burse in the Irish College at Rome. He sailed from Cork to London. On the journey he befriended a passenger who informed the young Lanigan that he too was going as far as Calais. They shared a room in the same hotel near St Paul's Cathedral. On waking the following morning he found his 'friend' gone and the hour of sailing past. He was informed by the waiter that he had to pay the bill. On putting his hand in his pocket he discovered that his money had been taken during the night. In great distress he contacted the Administrator of the diocese, who came to the hotel, befriended Lanigan, paid the bill and brought the young Cashel man to his house. There he remained until a remittance came from home. The Administrator put Lanigan in touch with a party of priests on their way to Rome and he accompanied them at small cost. They travelled through Brussels, Aix-le-Chapelle, down the Rhine to Strasburg and through the Tyrol to Rome. Earlier, the vessel on which his 'friend' had gone was wrecked soon after sailing.

Fr. Luke Wadding had helped to establish the Irish College in 1627. Until it was suppressed by Napoleon in 1798 it was scarcely able to receive more than eight students within its walls. Among its distinguished alumni were St Oliver Plunkett and Dr John Brennan, Archbishop of Cashel. It had mostly been run by the Jesuits. Shortly before Lanigan's arrival control had been wrested from the Order and the College was taken over by the secular clergy.

There is no record of Lanigan's academical distinctions whilst a student in Rome because the period of his stay was followed by such confusion and ruin, connected with the suppression of the College in 1798, that most records were destroyed. However, we are informed that his progress in philosophical and theological studies was brilliant and rapid. Bishop Blake, an alumnus of the College, and later its President, said of Lanigan's stay there: '1 can say with certainty that his talents and extraordinary acquirements, as well as his natural disposition, gained for him the love and admiration of all who knew him.' He was ordained in 1782, shortly after he had won his doctorate 'magna cum laude'.
 

Pavia

Sometime later Dr. John Lanigan is to be found in Pavia, whither he went on the invitation of Professor Gaggei Tamburini. Beginning as a lecturer at the university he was promoted to a Professorship in 1789 and occupied with distinction the Chair of Hebrew, Ecclesiastical History and Divinity for seven years. On the occasion of his acceptance of the Chair he gave his inaugural address in Latin and this was later printed.

According to M. J. Brennan several of the Hanoverian and Austrian nobility and even princes received their education under this distinguished Irishman. His extensive acquirements ranked him among the first characters of the university. The learned Tamburini was accustomed to designate Lanigan the pillar and brightest ornament of the establishment. On one occasion the Emperor, Joseph II, having visited the university was pleased to honour Dr Lanigan's lectures by his presence. The doctor delivered a Latin oration which was received with unbounded applause, the Emperor at the same time observing 'that so young and so enlightened a professor reflected new lustre on the Irish nation and reminded him of the ancient literary glory of that people.'

Many of Dr Lanigan's sacred writings published during his time in Pavia were unrivalled for their historical research and profound erudition. One work in particular was pronounced highly valuable, Prologomena to the Sacred Scriptures, a work of over 600 pages. It was printed in Pavia in 1793 and Lanigan styles himself 'Joannes Lanigan, Hibernus Cassiliensis' (an Irishman, of Cashel). In this work he set out to give theological students a complete treatise which would enable them to understand the aim and object of the Sacred Scriptures and to draw therefrom 'as from an armoury of truth, those weapons which might be used with deadly effect against Lutherans, Calvinists and other sects . . .'

Not long after its publication the university conferred on Lanigan the degrees of Doctor of Divinity and Canon Law. In the course of his address conferring the degrees, the Archbishop of Pavia, Joseph Bertieri, stated that Lanigan had greatly excelled 'not alone owing to an unblemished and spotless character, but likewise in every kind of literature and erudition, particularly in the teaching and cultivation of theological studies and of canonical jurisprudence ... ' The conferring took place on 28 June 1794 before a distinguished audience.

 

Return to Ireland

Two years later Napoleon took Pavia and dispersed the University. The professors fled and Lanigan returned to Ireland, leaving behind his valuable collection of books. He sailed from Genoa to Cork and arrived penniless to a cold reception. He vainly applied for pecuniary assistance to Doctor Moylan, the bishop of the diocese, and his vicar-general, Dr McCarthy. The reason for the cold shoulder was Lanigan's known intimacy with Tamburini, the Administrator of Pavia University and the man responsible for organising the Council of Pistoia in 1786. Lanigan had been invited to attend but, whether he smelled trouble or not, he turned down the invitation on the grounds that as the synod intended to deal very much with matters of purely local discipline it was not in his province. As it happened the Council did not confine itself to disciplinary matters but extended its deliberations to discussions of predestination, morals, grace and other delicate questions. The Council was presided over by the Jansenist bishop, Scipione Ricci, and was regarded as schismatical.

With no help forthcoming in Cork, Lanigan was compelled to walk to Cashel where he was welcomed by his surviving relatives. Among his siblings was a sixteen-year-old sister, whom he had never seen. Thirty years had intervened between John Lanigan's birth and that of his youngest sister. The latter related to Fitzpatrick, shortly before she died on 30 October 1860, how she met her brother unknowingly in the Main Street of Cashel on his arrival from Cork and how he clasped her in his arms to her surprise and said: 'Yes. I know you are my little sister.' Apparently, the girl bore a striking resemblance to her brother.

Lanigan hoped to obtain a position in his native diocese and seems to have had an interview with the Archbishop, Dr Bray, but the latter did not give him much encouragement to stay. Dr Lanigan, therefore, proceeded to Dublin, where he was fortunate to find a few friends. One of these was Very Rev. Martin Hugh Hamill, Vicar-General and Dean of the diocese, with whom he had studied in the Irish College at Rome. Through the latter's invitation Lanigan was able to attach himself to Francis Street chapel, which was located between Christchurch Cathedral and St Patrick's Cathedral.

Shortly afterwards the Chair of Sacred Scripture and Hebrew at Maynooth (established in 1795) became vacant as a result of the resignation of the incumbent, Dr Clancy, in 1797. Lanigan was proposed for the position by the Primate, Dr O'Reilly, and seconded by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Troy, and received his appointment to the Chair. However, the Bishop of Cork, Dr Moylan, still suspecting Lanigan of Jansenism, suggested that the latter should subscribe to the formula which had been drawn up as a test of orthodoxy for the French clergy after the Revolution.

This Lanigan indignantly refused to do, though he declared that he would cheerfully subscribe to the bull 'Unigenitus Dei Filius' issued by Clement XI in 1713. The result of the dispute was that he resigned the professorship and left Maynooth in a huff, his dignity having been offended. Those who accused him of being a Jansenist were in the wrong but Lanigan probably over-reacted in the situation. The Chair was not filled for some years afterwards.

The ex-professor walked the journey from Maynooth to Dublin, where he was re-attached to Francis Street chapel under his friend, Rev. Dr Hamill, and with the blessing of Dr Troy, who does not seem to have believed anything of these Jansenistic accusations.

 

Royal Dublin Society

Two years later, on 2 May 1790, Dr Lanigan was appointed a translator for the Royal Dublin Society. The minutes of the Proceedings of the Society for that day state: 'Resolved: That the Rev. Mr. Lanagan (sic) be appointed to translate the Essays on Agriculture from the German, in the room of Mr Taafe.' He secured his position through the good offices of General Vallancey, whom he had known in Italy and who had been sent to Ireland as a architect and engineer to erect fortifications round the coast of Ireland against the threat of a Napoleonic invasion.

The General was a longtime member of the Society and a Vice President from 1799 to 1812. From a translator Lanigan progressed to be Assistant-Librarian in 1803 at a salary of £100 per annum, which was increased to £150 in 1808. He performed the duties without the title of Librarian.
His job involved the translation of specialist papers from other languages into English. Lanigan was fluent in many tongues, including German, French, English, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Spanish and Irish. One writer has described Lanigan's situation thus: 'The income was small and the work full of drudgery. Lanigan's immense learning found no higher official use than in translating what we would now call Department pamphlets from various foreign languages. In the picturesque words of one of his friends, "this Doctor of Divinity plodded along shearing sheep, curing fish, analysing manure and sowing hemp", for such were the subjects of the translations entrusted to him.

But he earned enough, after providing for his mother, to keep body and soul together as a result of this drudgery, and there were compensations in his lot.' In the minutes of the Society for 25 March 1802 it was ordered: 'That the sum of twenty guineas be paid to the Rev. John Lanigan as a compensation for the extraordinary trouble he has had in correcting the proofs of the statistical reports, published this year under the direction of the Society.'

He was intimately associated with the literary enterprises of the time in Dublin. His wit, learning, liberal Catholicism and the dignity and suavity of his continental manners were a ready passport to the best society. As well as General Vallancey, his friends included Richard Kirwin, President of the Royal Irish Academy, Archbishop Troy, Rev. Denis Taaffe, and the Celtic scholars, William Halliday and Edward O'Reilly. He took a lively interest in the Gaelic Society, founded by the latter in Dublin in 1808, not only for the investigation and revival of ancient Irish literature, but also for the development of the history and literature of the island.

His friendship with Dr Troy was intimate. He used to attend archiepiscopal dinners every Saturday at Liffey Street, presided over by the Archbishop. The latter had an income of £300 a year and was renowned for his hospitality and generous disposition. R. Lalor Shiel's sketch of Dr Troy is not over-flattering: 'He had the look, too, of a holy bon vivant, for he was squat and corpulent; had a considerable abdominal plentitude and a ruddy countenance, with a strong determination of blood to the nose. Yet his aspect belied him, for he was conspicuous for the simplicity and abstemiousness of his life .. .' He was educated in Rome and was nineteen years older than Lanigan. They obviously got on well together. The Cashel man, too, was fond of the pleasures of the table but was a rigid observer of the fasts and abstinences from flesh meats on abstinence days. He loved fish and indulged his appetite for it on the Fridays of Lent.
 

Writings

Dr. Lanigan wrote many controversial articles and pamphlets under the pseudonyms of 'Irenaeus' and 'An Irish Priest', usually defending a Catholic position. He edited a very fine edition of Rev. Alban Butler's posthumous meditations and discourses. He prepared for publication the first edition of the Roman Breviary ever printed in Ireland. His most memorable achievement was a piece on the means of affecting a reconciliation between the churches. He spoke of his efforts to soften controversial asperities. However, although written to conciliate Protestants, Lanigan's points must have thrown some of them upon their mettle.

He showed a profound acquaintance with the writings of Protestant divines and the manner in which he made them propound thoroughly Catholic dogmas by accurate citations from their writings, was very ingenious. At the end of one particular tract he says he has no other object in view than the general good of Christianity and: 'were I ambitious to having my tomb distinguished by any particular epitaph, I should prefer: "Here lies an advocate for the union of Christians".'

In the political and religious questions which then agitated popular opinion, Dr Lanigan took an active part and by powerful and timely contributions to various national journals and magazines he influenced and directed that opinion along sound Catholic and national lines. He argued strongly against the Veto, the proposal for allowing the government to interfere in the appointment of bishops. He exposed the worthlessness of the celebrated Quarantotti Rescript, which presumed to authorise the Irish Catholic Episcopacy to vest in the government a Veto in the appointment of members to that body.
 

An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland

Dr Lanigan's principal work and his major claim to fame is An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, published in four volumes in 1822. The work was begun in 1799 and fourteen years later he commenced the arrangement of the materials for publication. This took nine years of tremendous labour before the completed enterprise appeared in four octavo volumes in 1822. According to the historian, Rev. J. Brennan: 'There has not perhaps been ever written in any nation or in any language, a work more distinguished for accuracy, impartiality and sound criticism than this inimitable production; the precision with which he balances the several statements of our national records prove him to be an antiquarian of the first order; while the immense mass of authority to which he refers may enable us to form some idea of the herculean task which this great man had to encounter. By means of this immortal work, he has rescued from oblivion, as well as from obloquy, the genuine records of his native land; he has placed the ecclesiastical antiquities of Ireland on a solid and imperishable basis. He attends to facts, to truth, and to nothing else.'
In the course of the Preface he gives his reasons for writing the history: 'Most books written about the Ecclesiastical History of Ireland have long since become scarce or are inaccessible because they are in Latin.' And: 'In the civil histories of Ireland that have been written by Keating, MacGeoghegan, O'Halloran and others, little of our Ecclesiastical History is to be found, beyond a few detached anecdotes, in great part fabulous, destitute of chronological accuracy, and often contradictory.' The work begins with the first introduction of Christianity among the Irish and continues to the beginning of the thirteenth century. The book was published with the aid of subscribers and sold for £2-12-0. The names of the subscribers, almost three hundred and twenty, lay and clerical, were published in the first volume. Lanigan's old friend, Dr. Hamill, canvassed for subscribers among the clergy. A second edition appeared in 1829.

The Ecclesiastical History terminates with a very erudite essay on the origin and use of the Round Towers. Dr Lanigan claimed a pagan origin for them which conflicted with Dr Petrie's claim of a Christian origin. Lanigan's line of argument was that the Round Towers, influenced by Eastern pagan practices, were fire temples wherein the Irish venerated the sun.

Another controversial claim made by Lanigan was to name France as the birthplace of St Patrick and to show scant regard for the long-standing tradition that his place of birth was Scotland. In formulating this arbitrary theory he may have been influenced by the intense goodwill which Irish people of his day felt towards France. By contrast, Scotland at that time was viewed unfavourably as being especially hostile to Catholicism.
 

Declining Years

Dr. Lanigan began to reveal symtoms of cerebral decay in 1813. On May 6 he presented the Royal Dublin Society a certificate, signed by two physicians, who urgently recommended extending leave of absence to their patient. His biographer, W. J. Fitzpatrick, paints a sad picture of the great man: 'The old priest, with failing gait and haggard mien, tottered off to breathe the free air of Tipperary. He came to Cashel and was received with open arms by his sister, Mrs. Kelly, who kept a small woollen drapery establishment in the town. His society was sought by local gentry and clergymen. He left Cashel hurriedly in 1814 after a strange apparition about his brother's
death and rushed back to Dublin to find him dead.'

Refreshed from his sojourn in Cashel he was able to resume his duties as Librarian in the Society on 10 February 1814. He superintended the removal of the Royal Dublin Society's library from Hawkins Street to Kildare Street. A letter dated 28 April 1814 contains many suggestions by him on the improvement of the library. He was presen~at the ceremony of laying the first stone of the Pro-Cathedral in Marlborough Street on 14 November 1815. The old church had been in Liffey Street. His good friend, Dr Troy, blessed the stone and later was the first corpse to be laid out in the new edifice.

Despite this return to activity all was not well with Lanigan. During 1814 there were complaints that he was not able properly to discharge his Librarian's duties. On November 17 he wrote a letter resigning the care of the library 'thankfully retaining,' he adds, 'my former situation of translator, editor and corrector of the press, which I had the honour to hold for nine years previous to the year 1808.'

Dr Lanigan's mind was going and he suffered from delusions which related to stones. Many anecdotes are related, including one of an alleged attack on a member of the Royal Dublin Society with a paving stone. A more innocent explanation of the incident may be that he intended to illustrate a philosophical argument under discussion with a paving stone.

Mr Quinlan, a one-time editor of the Dublin Evening Post, and a native of Cashel, remembers its townspeople much puzzled while they described Dr Lanigan boiling stones in a metal pot at the house of his sister, Mrs. Kelly, with whom he stayed during his illness. This illness is supposed to have happened in 1814. Lanigan's mind continued to give way and he found himself unable at times to concentrate his attention on finishing his Ecclesiastical History. His manuscripts got confused in their arrangement, piles of notes which he had gathered lay about hopelessly disconnected: He had only momentary flashes of light and his doctors forbade him to enter his library. At this juncture he got help from a Capuchin friar of great learning, Rev. Michael Kinsella, who organised much of the material for publication, particularly the fourth volume.

Ultimately he became a permanent patient in Dr Harty's Asylum in Finglas. Before that he used to go there voluntarily when he felt bad attacks in the head coming on. In his closing days he would spend hours in silent and solitary prayer before the altar. He suffered from a softened brain, impaired sight, a faulty memory and a failing gait. He was forbidden reading and all occasions of excitement. Sleeplessness also overtook him. He was often bled. He became a withered, wasted, little, old man. To Rev. P. J. O'Hanlon, a friend, who called on him, he said: '1 know not what I had for breakfast and, except that I feel no craving, I do not even know that I have breakfasted. I, who could formerly grasp any course of study, how obstruse soever, cannot now apply my mind to a recollection of the simplest event of yesterday. I know that I am now speaking to you but, in ten minutes after you will have left the house, I will have no remembrance of our conversation, or of you.'

His mental ailment finally merged into an intense melancholy. He did not read or write. A miserable fascination led him to sit Mrs. Kennedy's death was reported in the Tipperary Free Press on 2 November 1860.

In 1925 the University of Pavia celebrated its eight centenary. The President of U.C.C., Professor P. J. Merriman, represented the National University of Ireland at the celebrations and, on the suggestion of the Senate of the National University, proposed to the Academic Senate of the University of Pavia that a memorial tablet be erected to the memory of Dr Lanigan. The proposal was cordially received and, on the occasion of the inauguration of the academic year 1925-26, the tablet was unveiled. A suitable inscription in Latin was prepared by Professor D'Alton of Maynooth (and later Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh) and the National University was represented at the unveiling on November 4 by Rev. Professor T. A. Corcoran, S.J.
 

Sources
Irish Wits and Worthies, W. J. Fitzpatrick (Dublin, 1873).
Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, Rev. M. J. Brennan (Dublin, 1864).
Centenary History of Maynooth College (Dublin, 1895).
Proceedings of the Dublin Society, vols. 35, 38, 44, 48, 49, 50, 51.
An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, Dr John Lanigan (Dublin, 1822).
Dictionary of National Biography, vols. XI, XX (Oxford, 1973).
Sunday Independent, Helena Concannon (Dublin, 8 November 1925).

Miler McGrath (1522-1622) Talk given to Cashel Historical Society circa 1986

Miler McGrath (1522-1622)

Talk given to Cashel Historical Society circa 1986

INTRODUCTION

On my way home from Dean Woodworth's talk nearly three weeks ago Patsy Lacey brought up the subject of Miler McGrath. He was looking forward to the lecture and asked me had I anything new on the man. The question stopped me in my tracks because I had to ask myself had I anything new. I couldn't answer the question because I wasn't fully aware of how much people did know. However, on the rest of the journey I discovered that Patsy knew quite a lot about Miler and, if his level of knowledge is common, I must ask myself another question: Why, then, am I presuming to talk on this former Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, who provides a link with the past for Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic together.

Before attempting to answer the question I should like to tell you what source material is available on Miler. There is the original material contained in documents from the State Papers concerning Miler McGrath. They are collected together in Archivium Hibernicum and are essential reading for anyone who wishes to study Miler in depth. I have to admit that I haven't studied these documents at first hand and am acquainted with them only through secondary sources. Then there are books that contain references to Miler like Philip O'Sullivan Beare's H1STORIAE CATHOLICAE, which vas published in 1621. There is the long poem, containing 168 verses, entitled 'The Apostasy of Miler McGrath' by Eoghan O'Duffy which was first published in Irish in 1577, during the height of Miler's career and was translated by John O'Daly and printed by John Davis White of Cashel in 1864. There are pieces on aspects of Miler's career that have appeared in historical journals.

Then there are the main secondary sources. The one most of you are familiar with is Robert Wyse Jackson's "Archbishop McGrath: the Scoundrel of Cashel', which was published by the Mercier Press in 1974. Twelve years before that Patrick Ryan, a Student in the Holy Ghost order did an M.A. thesis on Miler that extends to over two hundred pages. It is probably the most comprehensive work done on Miler. In 1975 a Capuchin priest, Odhran O'Duain, produced a book in Irish on Miler, entitled Rogaire Easpaig, which contains over 140 pages.

However, despite this wealth of material there are a huge number of gaps in our knowledge of the man. We know virtually nothing about his boyhood and his education. We don't know where he joined the Franciscans. It is pre­sumed that he spent some time in the Netherlands. His life in Cashel is very vague. He is reputed to have lived in Camas and part of the castle ruin can still be seen between Hyde's residence and the river on the left hand side of the bridge. An eighteenth century map shows a mill in the area and there is a graveyard down river. The ruin was partly demolished in the early seventies because it was in a dangerous condition. The demolished section was an arched affair and was the entrance to the castle. According to one source this was a mere summer residence for Miler. However, might he not have resided there with an income from the mill? At a time when travel was so slow and hazardous in the country might not a residence on the hanks of the Suir be the best place to travel from? It is well-known that most transport during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from Clonmel to Waterford was by boat. So there are two good reasons why Miler might have resided in Camas.

However, we have no contemporary account. The official residence of the archbishop was the castle on the Rock. We don't know if Miler lived there. We do have a report from the last decade of the sixteenth century of a complaint made by some Cashel people to the Lord Deputy that Miler had cut down about a hundred oak and ash trees on Church lands. Miler's defence was that he intended to build a great palace. We don't know if he did or where it was built. I mention these things to illustrate how limit­ed our knowledge of Miler really is and how difficult it is to fill out the bald tale contained in State Papers.

 

THE MAN

And what kind of man was Miler. A friend of mine imagines him big, fat and gross, a kind of Henry VIII in later years. We have no evidence of his physique. We do have a photograph which is on display in Clogher Cathedral. It's the kind of picture we expect of sixteenth century personalities. He is distinguished, perhaps fiftyish and perhaps a little sinister. The man lived to be a hundred and yet we have only one contemporary account of what he looked like. This account makes him handsome, which may be a reason Elizabeth 1 liked him so much.

We have some reports on his behaviour. It seems that in private life he was dissolute. In 1593 he was twice accused by Patrick Kearney of gross immorality: 'The said Milerus, contrary to the sobriety required in a bishop, is an open and common drunkard and maketh all his guests to carouse at every sitting till they all be drunk. Moreover, he doth embrace none other qualities so much as whoredom, drunkeness, pride, anger, simony, avarice and other filthy crimes . . .'

When one hears a litany like that one is inclined to shout stop and attribute it all to a political enemy. If any of you recall the period when Charlie Haughey was Minister for Agriculture and there was a lot of farmer agitat­ion the stories that were doing the rounds about Charlie at that time would have made anyone blush.

The same authority, Kearney, accused Miler also of having a concubine during his stay in England in 1591-92. It is significant that Miler was seventy years old at that stage and, if he did have a concubine, it would indicate an unusually high level of sexual activity for a man of those years. Again, not impossible when one recalls the history of David and Abigail or the fact that Michael Collins's father was seventy-nine years of age when Michael was conceived. Again, Kearney said that Miler was 'an open gamester with mean and common carrughes and gamesters and not with them of his peers.'

Miler's court must have been hilarious, with its harper- GilIpatrick Oge, wild kern, wine cards and dice. Though he employed local men as his servants, from the beginning we find his relatives and friends from Ulster assisting him. His brother Niall was the constant companion of the general official Mathew Ryan. Niall resided at the episcopal manor at Camas and married an O'Kelly from Kiltinan near Fethard.

And what of Amy O'Meara of Toomevara. Amy bore Miler nine children, Turlough, Redmond, Bryan, Mark, Mary, Sarah, Cecily, Ann and Elie. To have done so in those primitive days must have involved a number of miscarriages. From what we know she remained a good Catholic all her life and Miler's best efforts failed to get her to embrace the new religion. Yet, from the story of the meat on Friday there seems to have been a good relationship between the two even if she were a little in awe of her man. We don't know when she died or where she was buried. There is a report that Miler married again but I am inclined to doubt it.

In Fleming's book of Charges of 1591 we are left a description of how Miler went about 'in doublet of proof buff leather, jerkin and, his sword on his side, his scull and horseman staff with his man a horseback, after which a train of armed men to the great terror and bad example of the people . . . And, having any meeting for matters of controversy with his neighbours, doth assemble an army of horsemen and footmen to win his demands with a strong hand...' The archbishop admitted that he had to go armed even to his Chapter House. His extreme unpopularity with certain elements of society and the fact that he was attacked on a number of occasions, barely escaping with his life, made such armour necessary.

 

THE BEGINNINGS

But let's get back to the beginning of the story.

Miler was the eldest son of Donough McGrath and heir to the ancestral estates. His father was both local chieftain and erenach of St. Patrick's Purgatory, which was under Augustinian care. The family were in possess­ion of the original monastic lands, the Termon Daberg. The family territories were Termon Magrath and Termonamongan in the counties of Tyrone, Donegal and Fermanagh. In medieval times Termon McGrath formed a tiny buffer statelet between the powerful families of O'Neill, O'Donnell and Maguire.

The family were also erenach of St. Patrick's Purgatory. The office of erenach was less prestigious than that of being a coarb. The latter was the heir of the original saintly founder of the monastery. The erenachy was vested in a family. It was hereditary but deriving from the bishop’s authority. The bishop had the right to refuse to appoint if he thought the candidate was not worthy. The erenach gave the bishop a small annual payment, dispensed hospitality when his diocesan looked for it, was regarded as a sort of a cleric and so was often in minor Holy Orders. He was invariably married and from the ranks of his sons came many of the clergy.

Into such a family was born Miler McGrath in 1522. We know nothing of his early life. One source said he was brought up in the neighbourhood of modern Pettigo. We know nothing of his schooling but, as the son of an Irish chieftain he was probably brought up the same way. The Irish chieftains lived a simple and primitive life and practised their religion.

Perhaps because he was brought up in the shadow of Lough Derg had an influence on Miler. He decided to become a Conventual Franciscan and in doing so renounced his right of inheritance. From about 1450 up to the time of the Suppression of the Monasteries there was a remarkable revival within the Franciscan Order. This revival was marked by the foundation of a number of houses in the west and south- west, by the prodigious growth of the Third Order and by the introduction of the Strict Observance into the First Order

The first house of Strict Observance to be established in Ireland was at Quin in 1433. This was founded by the MacNamaras as a burial place for their family instead of Ennis. Nine houses accepted the reform in 1560. By 1500 some 24 houses and by the time of the Suppression two-thirds of all Franciscan houses had adopted it.

The first great outburst of Observant activity occurred during the provincialate of Fr. William O'Reilly, the first man of pure Irish blood to hold the office of Provincial Minister of Ireland.

More than one quarter of the Franciscan houses were reformed or built for the Observants by Irish chiefs. All the reformed houses were confined to the south-west and northern portions of the country until 1518, with the exception of Enniscorthy and Wexford. It was almost the eve of the Reformation before many of the Conventual houses, nearer the English sphere of influence, adopted the Observant rule.

All this reforming generated considerable friction between conventual and observant. Some friction remained until the time of the Reformation, especially where Conventuals and Observants lived together.

The Observant movement was popular and necessary. Observant houses be­came overcrowded while Conventual Friaries became greatly depleted. The movement was vigorous and expansive. The Friars were zealous men and produced many excellent preachers. As proof of this Sixtus IV issued to the Abbot of Derry on May 9, 1482 a papal mandate which stated: 'On account of the rich fruits which the friaries of the Observance have brought to the people of Ireland by their exemplary lives, their preaching and other good works, and since the devotion of the faithful towards them daily increases so much that they are ready to build new houses for them in suitable places, he has empowered the Irish Friars of the Observance to build or receive two houses in Ireland, with church and cemetery attached to each.

The Observants were the most active of all the old religious orders at the time of Henry Vlll's attack on the Pope's jurisdiction. George Browne, the Kings Archbishop of Dublin, met with active opposition from the Observants.

However, there is no evidence to show that the Irish Conventuals, any more than the Observants, compromised at the time of the Reformation. Miler became a Conventual between 1535 and 1540 at either Monaghan or Downpatrick, probably Monaghan, which had been founded in 1407. The place was sacked by the English soldiery in 1540 and finally burnt and destroyed in 1589.

There is no evidence to show that there was any particular laxity in either Monaghan or Downpatrick and it should not be considered as a reflection on these monasteries, where they followed the Conventual Rule. Whatever bad traits we find in Miler McGrath do not necessarily follow from his belonging to the Conventual friars.

 

EDUCATION

It seems certain that Miler was sent to Rome for his studies. Ireland at this time had no universities in which masters and scholars could lecture and scholars study. However, there were non-university schools in the country where canon and civil law was studied while most of the larger religious establishments had theological facilities attached to them. For the Franciscans Galway and Armagh were the two most important seats of learning and seem to have been set aside for the common use of both Observants and Conventuals.

It was customary, however, for the Conventuals, to send their more talented pupils to England or the continent for studies in the various universit­ies and they evidently produced more high ranking academic scholars than the Observants. Miler, himself, as appears from his letters, was an educated man and he certainly did have a keen legal mind. There is absent however from his writings anything of a philosophical nature. His speculations are mainly concerned with the things of the world.

Wherever Miler was educated we know nothing of his scholastic wanderings. If he ministered on the continent we are not aware. He makes his first entrance into history on October 12, 1565 as Bishop of Down and Connor. He was 43 years old and had been consecrated at Rome 'at the private charge of the Pope.

The vacancy in the see of Down and Connor had occurred in 1562 with the death of Eugene Magennis. In the Consistory held in Rome in 1565 in which Miler was appointed he was described as a Conventual Franciscan. According to the Act of Appointment Magrath had reached the canonical age required for the episcopacy and, as to morals, learning and birth he was considered worthy of the office and vouched for by his superiors. It was also stated that he came from Down. Magrath may have claimed Down as his place of origin when aiming at the vacant bishopric. It may also have been that Miler referred to Down as the place where he lived his Franciscan life.

Magrath was in Rome at the time of his appointment and his consecration evidently took place there, the expenses for his promotion being defrayed Pope Pius IV himself. It is not known why he was at Rome. One source states that Miler's 'attention or his unabated obsequiousness to certain high personages, both in Spain and the Netherlands, had, after some time, brought him into notice'. If that be the case he had already revealed those qualities of personality that were later to ingratiate him into the favour of Elizabeth. On the other hand, he must have been a personable man of talent to be so successful.

While Miler was in Rome he drew up a document in Latin setting forth proposals for the establishment of the Holy Inquisition in Ireland with the collaboration of Primate Creagh and Shane O'Neill. The reason for this exceptional display of zeal is not apparent. One reason given is that it was probably due to some antipathy between Primate Creagh and himself; Magrath may have thought Creagh too loyal to Elizabeth. This source furt­her suggests that 'Magrath, a foster-brother of Shane O'Neill would seem to have been at that time fixed with rebellious instincts and with menac­ing hatred towards Protestants.' His zeal may also have been an attempt to ingratiate himself with the Roman authorities. However, his extravag­ant scheme never seems to have been taken too seriously in Rome.

Magrath's document, though not adopted does show us that, at that time, nearly all the people of Ireland, at least in areas not occupied by the English, were still Catholics. He notes that in a few places there were not a few heretics who kept close together and 'under a form of sound doctrine, yet by many tales and pretty conceits disseminated many diverse and profitless matters repugnant to the Catholic faith and the Christian religion, whereby they lead even good Catholics into various errors.’ Magrath was most anxious to be rid of those Protestants. This document is the only one we have from Mcgrath's hands while he was still a Catholic bishop.

By the time Magrath reached Ulster Primate Creagh was away from the scene of conflict. Arrested in January 1565 near Drogheda he escaped at Easter and made his way to Louvain. From there he wrote to the Queen suggesting that she agree to his filling the see of Armagh in return for his civil loyalty to the throne. Like a great majority of English and Anglo-Irish Catholics Primate Creagh appears to have hoped and believed that the quarrel between the Holy See and the English crown would be healed by the passage of time.

In the meantime Creagh received an order from Rome directing him to re­turn to Ireland and in the month of August 1566 Miler arranged an inter­view between the Primate and Shane O'Neill. Magrath accompanied Creagh to this meeting and it is very probable that he acted as mediator between the opposing parties. O'Neill, who had received a letter from the Pope, signified his submission to the Primate and promised him protection. This interview, however, did not compose the differences between O'Neill and the Primate and Magrath has been suspected of having sown dissension between them. Moreover, it was probably as a result of these machinations that Creagh found it expedient to retire into Connaght for a time. Here he was eventually betrayed to the English enemy by one O'Shaughnessy on April 30, 1667.

Down and Connor diocese was in a devastated state when Miler was appointed. Things did not improve. His temporalities, which had been in a bad way,suffered more in the year that followed the conference between O'Neill and the Primate as O'Neill made use of Church lands to aid himself in his war against Lord Deputy Sidney and the combination of Northern chieftains which had formed against him after he was proclaimed traitor on August 3,1566.

At enmity with the Primate and suffering the loss of his temporalities through O'Neill, Miler, along with his patron, Con Maguire, chieftain of Fermanagh, visited the Lord Deputy at Drogheda, where they submitted on May 29, 1567. Maguire had already gone over to the English Government, a fact which enraged O’Neill. It is indeed possible that Maguire may have induced Magrath to submit since he was probably acquainted with the fate intended for O'Neill.

Magrath had chosen a most opportune moment to submit and gain possession of his diocese. Shane was hemmed in on all sides in May 1567. All Miler's submission amounted to was an oath of allegiance. When Sidney wrote to the queen to know her pleasure, he spoke of Magrath as one 'who humbleth him­self and craveth mercy and restoration to his bishopric from her highness’. There is no question here of accepting the bishopric from the Queen but simply that he might be enabled by Sidney's help to occupy his See. T'here is no mention of an oath of supremacy, nor a surrender of any papal Bull of appointment.

In a letter the Queen welcomed the submission of Magrath: 'We like the submission of the bishop of Down and think that he and others whom you shall not find meet to expel may be induced to submit themselves and to take their bishopric from us.’ Elizabeth was counselling lenient and politic methods in dealing with Catholic bishops. Magrath continued as Catholic bishop of Down and Connor and there was no attempt on the part of Elizabeth to make him one of her bishops. He did not see any conflict between political submission to Elizabeth and relig­ious obedience to the Holy See. However, his submission was not popular with the followers of Turlough O'Neill, who had succeeded Shane. In 1568 with things getting hot for him, Miler was anxious to be translated to the diocese of Clogher, which was in the territory of his patron, Con Maguire. Magrath went to Rome towards the end of I567 or early 1568 with a view to securing Clogher for himself. In this quest he had the support of Maguire. In his letter of support Maguire claimed that there were then two bishops, both claiming the see - 'who upon their own authority had divided between themselves the administration of the diocese.’ He requested that both of them might be removed and Miler be substituted in their place.

Primate Creagh, still a prisoner in the Tower, heard of these developments and found means of conveying his sentiments to Rome. He begged the Holy Father to appoint a worthy bishop without delay to Clogher. He was equally earnest in condemning the past career of Miler McGrath and urged the Holy See not to entertain the idea of advancing him to the see of Clogher.

Already much frustrated the ambitious Magrath began to conspire to have Creagh convicted and deposed for heresy. He charged him in the Roman Curia with 'treason to the Divine Majesty, of violating religion, and of prevarication of the laws of the Church.' Miler forged letters as if written by Creagh on matters of great import and 'others of worthless counsels, very different from his mind and dignity. ' These Magrath brought before the Pope and the College of Cardinals for the purpose alleged.

On examination of the seals on the documents and the known character of the supposed writer, the forgery was revealed and Magrath was summoned to answer his calumny. He evidently panicked at this and betook himself to England where he deserted the Catholic faith. This happened about 1569. On arrival in England Magrath was put in prison and remained there until the following year.

 

PROTESTANT

During his imprisonment Miler wrote an obsequious letter to Lord Cecil pleading to be freed. In this letter he made solemn and prophetic protestations of loyalty. In spite of all his protestations he failed to secure his release.

In February 1570 Magrath's case was under consideration and Lord Cecil was thinking of sending him back to Ireland. shortly after this Elizabeth wrote to Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy, informing him of her intention of sending Primate Creagh and Magrath back to Irekand. She noted the difference between the two. Creagh still refused to acknowledge her supremacy in spiritual matters. Magrath's crime was of resorting to Rome looking for a bishopric. However, his crime was looked on not as grave as Creagh's and he was to be treated differently since he had submitted himself for instruction. However, neither was sent back to Ireland. Creagh was to continue until the end of his days in the Tower and Magrath remained in London at least until the Autumn of 1571.

During his continued imprisonment Magrath continued to petition to get back the see of Down and Connor, which had been given to Merriman. His anxiety to get back may have been due to the fact that he was still Catholic bishop of that diocese and was to remain so for another ten years. Perhaps he wanted to be Catholic and Protestant bishop simultaneously. Failing the possibility of getting Down and Connor he requested to be given some other benefice 'in some safe place where her rule is observed, for I have no desire to live among the rebellious and vulgar Irishmen among whom I was born.' One such place was Cork but Magrath was appointed neither to it or to Down and Connor.

By this time Magrath was destitute, having neither benefice nor any other source of income. Eventually on September 18, 1570 he was appointed as first Protestant bishop of Clogher, a diocese by no means prosperous. He was given £31-6-6 to pay his London expenses. He was also sent by the Queen and Privy Council to Primate Creagh to urge him to conform. Magrath's efforts were futile and Creagh told him to go to hell.

It is not stated anywhere that Magrath ever took possession of Clogher. Even if he did he didn't greatly benefit from his new appointment. The Northern chieftains had turned against him for his acceptance of the 'reform’. It seems likely that Magrath remained in London and on February 3, 1571, he was appointed to the united sees of Cashel and Emly. Magrath had submitted to the Queen and accepted the reform very much as a matter of expediency. The economic factor weighed much in his final decision. In many ways he was still a typical medieval benefice hunter and was probably prepared to intrigue to obtain preferment.

 

CASHEL

Miler was appointed to succeed James McCaghwell, the appointee of the Crown to Cashel in February 1567. The Papal nominee was Maurice MacGibbon who had been appointed on June 4, 1567. Neither man made much impact on the internal affairs of Cashel. McCaghwell 's reign was too short. He was arrested by MacGibbon 's men and lodged in prison. He died soon after his release. MacGibbon's life was occupied with diplomatic affairs in Spain and Rome on behalf of the Munster insurgents

In the 35 years since the Reformation there was little religious impact in the diocese. Its achievements were negligible. or most of the Church officials were Protestant and all the Cathedral clergy were crown appointees .Little had been done to remedy abuses within the diocese. There was still much traffic in benefices and the local lord, the Earl of Ormond, retained much power over the church and appointments to benefices. The Reformation contributed greatly to the landed wealth of the Butlers and their friends.

So far the Reformation had meant little more than the rejection of Papal authority. The general need of reform was not met with any religious revival and had little effect on the lives of the ordinary people, except to deprive them of their Catholic clergy. By the time jailer arrived in Cashel the Papacy had made its bid for the allegiance of the people and had gained long lead on the reformers.

Munster was torn by war when Magrath arrived there in the summer of 1571 - a war between unifying absolutism and local authority. Magrath’s role was to bring the people into subjection to the Queen in matters spiritual and temporal, in co-operation with the President of Munster, Sir. John Perrot .

Magrath arrived at Cork in the Spring of 1571 with Perrot. Our first evidence of his activity within the diocese of Cashel appears in July when he arrested two Friars for preaching against the reform movement. Six days later Magrath received a threatening letter from James Fitzmaiirice to have them released. A couple of days later Edward Butler came to Magrath's house and took the friars away forcibly, while Miler was absent. By his action in imprisoning the friars the archbishop created a favourable im­pression with the Dublin authorities. the other hand his action made him unpopular in Cashel . He felt his life was in danger and became anxious to be out of Cashel. When Merriman, bishop of Down and Connor, died in 1571, Miler tried to get transferred to the Northern diocese but failed. After his first diocesan visitation in 1571 Miler made one change in exist­ing practice. While on visitation the bishop's retinue had to receive re­fections from the incumbents of the parishes!. Sometimes the retinue was a hundred or more and caused a severe strain on the incumbent's resources. Magrath decided, with the consent of the clergy, to take money instead of the refections. Twenty years laater we read that Magrath was then extorting four times the agreed amount from every incumbent. As a result of such extortions the clergy were driven out of the diocese and by this policy Miler kept their livings in his own hands 'which maketh him so great a moneyed man as he is reported to be.'

The important person connected with these extortions was Magrath's general official, Mathew Ryan, a layman. Another of this official's tasks was the collection of all excessive fees and other rewards that the Arch­bishop got from his diocese. Through this office Mathew was accused of amassing a great fortune to the value of £1,000. Together with Niall Magrath, Miler’s brother, Mathew was for practical purposes, the Archbishop's most important henchman. He was labelled papist and and a traitor by the Archbishop's enemies. On the other hand he earned the hatred of his countyrmen for his diligence against the papists.

Magrath had every opportunity to line his own pockets. He sold diocesan offices to the highest bidders. The officials he appointed to the four rural deanaries are described as his 'caterpillars which continually useth extortion upon the poor clergy, that is most pitiful to hear of. Magrath would take £10 or £20 for their office depending on the value of the deanery. He used his officials cleverly to increase his own income. He also tried to monopolise many of the benefices within the diocese, in particular the lucrative ones. The mutual relations between the Archbishop and his chapter were strained. -The type of person he appointed left a lot to be desired. When commissioners visited his diocese in 1591 five of the benefice holders were deprived, four for contumacy and pluralism, the for defective orders and contumacy. One of these, Edmund Burke, was also illiterate. The same year 22 benefices were reported vacant and their fruits going to to the Archbishop.

There is no evidence that Magrath made any positive effort to forward the Reformation in Cashel. He had no interest in the new doctrine but contented himself with its temporal advantages. These enabled him to marry in 1575. His wife was Any O'Meara, daughter of John O'Meara of Lisiniskey, Toomevara. That place is between Ballymackey and Toomevara off the Nenagh-Roscrea road. Magrath presumably came in contact with her after procur­ing a grant of the Priory and Priory lands of Toomevara from Elizabeth. Any was a Catholic and the nine children that resulted from the union were all reared as Catholics and they all did very well for themselves, Miler's ecclesiastical policy was moderated by her influence and she may have been the principal cause of his duplicity in religious matters.

The mercenary character of Magrath is much in evidence in his administration of the temporalities of the diocese. There was a lot of land attached to the archbishopric and Magrath leased out much of it for his own ends. The income from it ought to have been used for the repair of churches and the payment of clergy. It was Miler's avarice rather than his apostasy which caused so much hostility to him.

 

EXCOMMUNICATION

Ten years passed before Rome took serious action against Magrath. On March 14, 1580 the Holy Office of the Inquisition took up the case of Miler and after discussion he was declared a heretic and solemnly condem­ned. He was proclaimed heretical by Pope Gregory Xlll and deprived of his see of Down and Connor. The customary invocation of the secular arm to punish him was advocated but needless to remark it was a useless clause since there was no Catholic potentate in a position to do so.

It is difficult to determine Miler's reaction to his excommunication and deposition. His conduct in religious affairs subsequently became extreme­ly dubious. Many newly appointed prelates made an attempt to win Magrath back. In 1582 he was given the added responsibility of the diocese of Waterford and Lismore by Elizabeth. Here there were very few Protestants and Miler did little to further the Reformation. His visitation in 1588 revealed that less than half the benefices had clerics in them. Shortly after the visitation he was removed from the see, apparently at the instigation of the undertakers. While he was there he continued his policy of alienation and leasing of ecclesiastical lands.

Miler tried to strike a balance between remaining on friendly terms with some of the counter-reformation clergy and retaining his allegiance to the Queen. He sometimes allowed these clergymen to operate in his diocese but when suspicion was aroused he reported them to Dublin Castle and was able to confirm his loyalty to the Queen. At one stage he kept two papal bishops in his house, Moloney of Kilmacduagh and O'Brien of Emly 'for winning the greater credit with the papists' as his enemies alleged. About 1583, however, O'Brien was seized by the Archbishop and committed to the Castle prison, where he died some years later. Peter Power, who was appointed to Ferns by the Pope in April 1582 was likewise arrested by Magrath. He submitted, took the oath of supremacy, later repented his act, escaped and returned to Rome. When accused with consorting with the Catholic clergy. Miler alleged that it was his policy to invite those to discuss religious matters with him in order to drive them from their errors and conform them to the state religion.

As the years went by the duplicity of the archbishop's position with regard to religion increased! At times he seemed anti-Catholic, consider­ing he had imprisoned at least three Catholic prelates and several priests However, there was no doubt in the minds of the Cathedral clergy and of his local enemies that in the matter of religion Miler was a double dealer. His conscience may have been at him when he made seemingly Catholic speeches. Un the other hand he may have been hoodwinking the Catholics. He allowed his children to be reared as Catholics and they received the Sacrament of Confirmation from some of the Catholic prelates while they were at school in Waterford.

 

GOVERNMENT AGENT

Magrath had a second role during this period: he was an agent of the Government. From the beginning he was associated with Sir. John Perrot's Presidency and apparently was a member of the Council of Munster. From an early date the archbishop sent periodic reports to the Lord Deputy of affairs in Munster and in Ireland in general.

In many ways Church and State affairs were geared by the archbishop to minister to his own needs and thus he led a life more befitting a lay chieftain than an ecclesiastic. As early as 1573 Miler started laying the foundations of large estates for his family and relatives. Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam wrote about him in 1591: From time to time I have misliked his greedy mind to heap together large possessions and his contentious nature always bent to quarrel with such as were his neighbours. For his extortionate policy and high-handed activity he was hated by the poor while the rich had their own quarrels with him. He had a long-standing dispute with the Earl of Ormond.

Magrath spent 1592 in London answering charges against him and petitioning the privy council. He alleged that his income was no more than £98-4-0 per annum and it was insufficient to enable him to live decently.

While he was in England his enemies in Ireland decided to bring his mis­demeanours to public notice. A burgess from Cashel , Edmond Fleming, was appointed to inquire into the whole course of the archbishop's life. The examination of witnesses took place on August 12 and the findings were for­warded to the Lord Deputy on August 21.

Many grave charges of treason, felony, simony and extortion were brought against him. The principal witnesses were members of his own chapter. The most serious charges centred around the archbishop's partiality towards the Catholic clergy, especially towards Dr. Creagh of Cork and Coyne. Other charges portrayed the archbishop as a deceitful, racketeering individual, a high-handed adventurer, a local tyrant, feared by the poor and hated bv all.

However, Magrath successfully defended himself before the Privy Council. His answers to the charges were made in a masterly fashion, each article being dealt with separately. He admitted in most cases that the accusations were not without some foundation but that the facts were wrongly inter­preted or falsified with malicious intent.

Magrath had to extend his stay in London and the Queen availed of his service bv commanding him to set down in writing a declaration of the state of Ireland 'with the means to increase the revenues and amend the government and withstand the Spanish practices.' Miler's report extends to 7,000 words and some of the points are interesting. He suggests that the Shannon be made navigable as far as Athlone for military and commercial reasons, He said there were too many bishops in the country, forty, with the result of too many begging letters from underpaid clerics, and there should be only 16.

The memorandum pleased the Queen and towards the end of the year she again appointed him to Waterford and Lismore. When Miler returned from London he brought with him letters of recommendation from the Queen and the Privy Council.  However, soon after his return there was a rapid deterioration in his relations with the Lord Deputy.

 

However, soon after his return there was a rapid deterioration in his relations with the Lord Deputy. Patrick Kearney, a former clerk of the Archbishop, opened a new slander campaign with a series of charges sent to the Lord Deputy on February 13. In the next month a book of various slanderous charges against Magrath was sent to the Lord Deputy by Piers Comyn. The charges were sufficiently treasonable to undermine the archbishop's position.

Magrath soon discovered about the plot and set about defending himself. Knowing how much the Lord Deputy Fitzwilliain hated him, Miler fled to London. There on June 8 he related his tale to Sir Robert Cecil. He blamed the papists for alienating his friends, servants, kinsmen and even the Lord Deputy himself 'by most false and slanderous suggestions!' He hourly expected danger 'remaining safe neither in country or town, at home or abroad, in church or in chapter-house.' He was driven to appeal thither 'to the uncorrupted seat of Justice and sanctuary of all afflicted subjects - her majesty and her honourable Council.  He asked that a commission be set up to examine his case and if he obtained this request he would return to his poor flock,- live quietly among them and content himself with his poor fortune.'

A commission was set up to examine the accusations and sat between July 7 and July 20, 1593. It failed to reach any conclusions.

It is a tribute to Magrath that he emerged from those years of plots and strives without suffering much loss. All through he had the unswerving support of the Queen against otherwise overwhelming odds. Magrath found himself trying to please Catholics and Protestants, not out of any interest in either religion but to enable him to follow more readily his material interests.

During the Nine Years war Magrath' s policy was to please his Queen. He was in Ulster as a Government agent and was well-qualified. He possessed a thorough knowledge of the country and its people with an intimate knowledge of the ruling families and their internal strives. He knew the language of the countrv as well as English and Latin. He had a great capacity for in­trigue and legal skill. He was on good terms with the Ulster chiefs and the London authorities.

Later he worked in Munster doing his best to break up alliances among the Irish and winning their undying hatred. He remained a Government agent until the death of Elizabeth in 1601 Magrath had been her great favourite. Upon him she heaped benefice after benefice and took his part in his quarrels and other difficulties. To her he would refer in his troubles.

 

FAMILY FORTUNES AND QUARRELS

Despite all his service to the state the one principle which guided all of Miler's activities was the material welfare of himself and his family. He made incessant demands on the state for services rendered. The fruit of all this was a large fortune for himself and his sons and a series of good marriages.

A regrant of the family lands of Termon McGrath was made to his father under the Queen's letter of August 9,1593. This surrender was made so that the lands were regranted to him for life, with successive remainders to Miler and to Miler's sons. Miler had land in Toomevara and Aughnameal. With his son Brian he bought land in Ballymackey and Kilmore at a time when the Irish were selling it off cheaply for fear of plantation. In this way Brian became one of the largest landowners in Ormond. Another son Terence acquired large tracts of land in Emly and the Barony of Clanwilliam. Son Redmond acquired much land in the district around Cashel, in Thurlesbeg, Ballymore and Killough.

The archbishop's grasping for land and wealth brought him into conflict with neighbours, most noticeably with O'Dwyer of Kilnamanagh. Eventually this dispute was fixed up in a series of marriages. Redmond Magrath married O'Dwyer's daughter and Cecelia McGrath married Philip O'Dwver of Dundrum.

Because of his intensive secular pursuits the spiritual side of Miler's program was left in abeyance. Reform was scarcely tried. Protestantism was an Act of State and the State hadn't been accepted in Ireland. The bishops who might have implemented it were mere place hunters and time servers. The Reformation was their vested interest.

Magrath's laxity in religious affairs was a byword. By the end of Elizabeth's reign the physical character of the Established Church within the dioceses of Cashel, Emly, Waterford and Lismore had steadily deteriorated. The Protestant bishop of Cork called Waterford 'the sink of all filthy superstition and idolatry.’ Catholics were allowed to practise their religion secretly provided the practice wasn't bound up with treasonable action.

The accession of James 1 ushered in a widespread resurgence among the Catholics of Ireland. In Waterford the Mass was celebrated in public again.

Sir John Davies reported to the Government on the state of the Protestant Church and clergy. He cited Magrath as the most notorious example of pluralism, having 70 benefices and 4 bishoprics. Churches were in ruins and there was no divine service or dispensing of the sacraments.

To counteract this resurgence in Catholic activity there was a Royal Proc­lamation declaring there was to be no liberty of conscience and that people should attend the Protestant services.

In 1607, at 85 years, Magrath was still active and his main interest was personal wealth and family fortune. About this time he was in London and while absent a visitation of his four dioceses was inaugurated by the Lord Deputy and undertaked by the Archbishop of Dublin, accompanied by the bishops of Kildare and Ferns. The report substant­iated the belief that 'wherever the archbishop could do hurt to the church he hath not foreborne to do it.'

When Miler heard about the visitation and report he complained to the King and Privy Council that divers persons in Ireland plotted against him 'to bring in question and in hazard of his life and of malice for his good ser­vice and for his profession.'

However, despite his plea the Lord Deputy and his Council were determined to reduce Miler's jurisdiction. The result was that he was forced to resign Waterford and Lismore early in 16O8 and received Killala and Achonry in­stead. Whether as a response or not in August Miler requested David Kearney, the Catholic Archbishop, to solicit the Pope to absolve him and receive him back to the Catholic Church.

Meantime it was decided to bring Miler to trial to answer for his misdeeds. Miler demanded a public trial and the Lord Deputy had second thoughts and the trial did not take place. Soon after this Miler returned to his former ways again.

Miler spent little time in Cashel. The administration of the diocese was left in the hands of one of his sons. In l6l0 a co-adjuter, William Knight, was appointed but he brought no improvement in conditions in Cashel. In l811 an Inquisition into the behaviour of the Protestant bishops was set up under a Scottish bishop. The results were highly critical of Magrath. Miler may have feared deposition. We contacted Fr. Ultan, the provincial of the Franciscans, who was living in the Cashel diocese. Miler expressed his desire to return to the Catholic Church and expressed a readiness 'to recant in the presence of the heretical church' if the Pope so commanded him. We don't know if the English authorities got wind of this or not but they decided to leave Miler alone.

Relations deteriorated between Miler and his co-adjutor. Knight grew weary of the office and returned to England. One source gives the reason 'for that Knight appeared drunk in publick and thereby exposed himself to the scorn and derision of the people'. Another authority has it that Miler got him drunk in order to provide him with an opportunity to disgrace himself. Another Commission examined the condition of the State Church in 1615 and visited Cashel in July. The commissioners learned that Magrath was non-­resident. Thirty-three churches in the diocese were in bad repair or entirely in ruin. Numerous churches, rectories and vicarages were in the hands of the archbishop himself. The number of Vicars Choral was only four. The number of preachers in the diocese was fifteen but only five were resident. Cashel had a public school and the headmaster, Flanagan, was getting £20 a year, but he only idly performed his task.

 

All the fault for the failure of the Reformation in Cashel cannot be laid at the feet of Magratb - the Church was bad everywhere but perhaps a little worse in Cashel. Cashel had the added problem of the conversion of Ormond to Catholicism in 1605 after which the Catholic clergy were given free rein.

There isn't much information on Miler after 1615, even though he was to live for seven more years. In the history of Catholic Ireland written in 1621 Philip O’Sullivan Beare included a chapter on Magrath, According to it Miler was nearly worn out with age. He still continued to rule his diocese in some fashion.

In 1612 he indicated to Rome again that he intended to renounce 40 years of heresy. The Pope believed him and stated that if he came to Rome he would receive a loving reception there. Miler didn't go but he used this document as a defence if anyone tried to discipline him. A vear or so before his death he erected a monument to himself in the Cathedral of Cashel on the south side of the choir between the episcopal throne and the choir. The effigy in the monument is not one of Miler. The figure is vested in full Roman vestments and not in the usual vest­ments of a Protestant bishop of the period. The figure is wearing a pallium, an undoubted sign of a Catholic archbishop. At the foot of the effigy there is a dog on which the feet of the archbishop rest, which points to its medieval origin. Above the head is the archbishop's coat of arms, similar to the Magrath family arms, which are carved on the side of the tomb. On the plate is to be read the epitaph:

The ode of Miler McGrath, archbishop of Cashel, to the passer-by.

There had come of old to Down as his first station,

The most holy Patrick, the glory of our Nation;

Succeeding him, would that I had been as holy;

So of Down, at first I was the prelate;

behind thy sceptre, England, I worshipped for fifty years,

and in the time of noisy wars, thy chiefs I pleased,

Here where I am laid, I am not.

I am where I am not.

Nor am I in both places, but I am in each.

It is the Lord who judges me.

Let him who stands take care lest he fall.

On November 8, 1622 Miler made his last will and testament and six days later he died. He had reached the age of 100 years and had ruled the diocese of Cashel for 50 years and ten months.

There are numerous authorities who state that Miler died a Catholic but there is no proof positive. One authority claims that he died openly a Protestant but secretly a Catholic. This is based on the last two lines of the epitaph.

One authority, O'Sullivan Beare, claims that Miler married a second time but he is the only one to make the claim. The general belief is that he married Amy O'Meara of Toomevara and had nine children, Turlough, Redmond, Brian, Marcus, James, Mary , Cicely, Anne and Elie. Many attempts were made after Miler's death to retake the diocesan land appropriated but most of this failed.

 

CONCLUSION

Miler was an irreligious man who confessed God with the lips but denied him in his acts. He was able to hoodwink those in authority and even Catholics as well. Avarice was his ruling passion, the driving force of his activities. It corrupted him and drove him to excesses in simony. He turned his ecclesiastical office and sacred things to selfish ends. His idol was his own ends and his family's interests. He and his family grew enormously rich. He was always restless, never satisfied.

He had a passion for intrigue as can be seen from his endeavours to bring Primate Creagh into disgrace with the Roman Curia. There is evidence that while he was openly in the service of the Government, he was secretly in league with some of the Irish and Anglo-Irish Lords. He had a reputation for depth and cunning. He was elusive, quick-witted and plausible. He did not lack the pen of a ready writer. His great and undoubted talents are unquestioned.