Viewing entries in
5 Newspaper Articles

<span class="postTitle">Cashel Cinema Fire</span> The Nationalist 2002

Cashel Cinema Fire

The Nationalist 2002


West Cashel cinema burned down on the night of December 29, 1929. The headlines in The Tipperary Star of January 4, 1930 read: CINEMA BURNED OUT Disastrous Fire in Cashel Damage Estimated at £4,000. The cinema, situated in Wesley Square, was completely destroyed by a fire in the early hours of Monday morning. As it was the middle of the night, the building was completely unoccupied at the time.

The Sunday night performance concluded about 10.30 and the operator, Mr. Godfrey, had left about 11 o'clock, after making his usual inspection of the building. On leaving he was satisfied that everything was in order. He took the films out of the projecting box and placed them in the office by the side of the front door, where they were easily removed shortly after the alarm was raised.
It was a coincidence that the picture, Doomsday, was the last to be shown. A few hours later the whole structure was irretrievably doomed to perish in the all-devouring flames.

The building used as the cinema was originally a Wesleyan Chapel. It was erected in 1832 as an inscription, chiselled on a slab overlooking the main entrance, proclaimed. By the side of the cinema was a store, the lower portion of which was utilised for housing the oil engine and electrical generating plant as well as storage batteries. (Cashel had just been switched on the national electrical grid from Ardnacrusha the day before the fire. The switch-on was a cause of great excitement.) A couple of motor cars were also stored with the generating plant and two, the property of Mr. Thomas Hogan, merchant, Main Street and of Mr. Richard Price, U.C., secretary of the local Legion of British Ex-Servicemen, were completely destroyed.

The cinema proper occupied the second storey of the former place of worship. It was extensive with the overhead portions of stables in the yard of Corcoran's Hotel and also the upper storey of the store where the electrical equipment and motor cars were kept. One car owner. Mr. Mark Wynne, proprietor of a well-known theatrical company, which was playing at the Town Hall that night, had his car parked in a shed adjoining the stables and underneath the cinema. The car was dragged to safety just in time for, no sooner was it clear, than part of the burning floor of the cinema crashed into the shed.

By the time the fire was first noticed the building was well ablaze and this fact was going to cause certain questions to be asked at a later U.C. meeting. The owners of the cinema were Mr. M. H. Hannigan and his sister, Miss E. Hannigan, who also had a garage and petrol pumps fronting Main Street. They lived in a private house directly opposite the burned building. They were awakened about three o'clock in the morning by loud knocking. By the time they got to the fire the chances of saving the cinema were remote. The Civic Guards, under Sergeant Hastings, and a good many citizens of the town, responded to the call for help and did all in their power but in vain. By the time the town fire-fighting appliances were requisitioned all hope of saving any portion of the burning mass of buildings was abandoned.

The cause of the fire was never properly established. It was suspected that a lighted cigarette-end may have been the cause. The interior of the building was largely composed of wood and the walls and ceilings were covered with wainscotting and beaver-boarding. The cinema was partly covered by insurance.

The premises were the property of Mr. George Griffin, Friar Street, Cashel, who rented them to Mr. Hannigan. The latter had converted the place into a well-appointed cinema and it was a popular and attractive amusement hall, where first-class pictures were screened.

There was a discussion on the fire at the Urban Council meeting on January 9, 1930. The Town Sergeant, Matthew Kirwin, who was also the fire engine caretaker, stated he received notice of the fire at 4-10 in the morning. He went at once to the Town Hall for the hose, which he found had already been taken to the scene of the fire by David Corcoran. He called up Mr. Connolly, the Town Surveyor, to lock up all the valves to enable a full water pressure on the pipe line between John Street corner and the Fountain. Seeing that all chance of saving the building was out of the question, efforts were directed at saving the adjoining property. He stayed in charge of the hose until 10 am and was assisted at the fire by a number of voluntary workers.

There was a discussion about the state of the hose which, apparently, had two small holes in it. A new hose had been ordered by the Council but there had been a delay in procuring it. Councillor Cahill stated the fire was going a long time before any attempt was made to check it. Councillor English said it looked bad to see civilians and Civic Guards on the scene while the night-watchman, Corcoran, was not there at all. Councillor Davern claimed he had urged the formation of a voluntary fire brigade but his suggestion wasn't acted on. Councillor English added that it was very strange that after a serious fire in the town there was no report from the night watchman. Councillor McCluskey said that the night watchman was supposed to be on duty until three in the morning and the Council was entitled to know where he was on the night of the fire. Councillor English said it was no use discussing the matter until they had a report from the night watchman. He should be required to supply a report about the fire. 'There was such a thing as putting round pegs in square holes and that was done at that Council.'

Subsequently Corcoran was called before the meeting and in reply to the chairman said he did not send in any report of the fire because he thought the Town Sergeant's report was sufficient. The Chairman said: 'We want a separate report from you and we want to know what time you went on the town that night, what time you went home and when you last saw the cinema before the fire.' Councillor Cahill remarked it was a shame to have the water cut off at the time, when the country was flooded and there was so much water in the reservoir. Corcoran replied he was acting under instructions. It was then decided to adjourn the meeting and the discussion on the fire until the report of the night watchman was delivered.

The adjourned meeting produced a lively discussion. Corcoran's report stated that he was on duty all night with the exception of half-an-hour while he was having supper and mentioned several people he was speaking to. He saw the fire about 3.30 am and did all he could to help put it out. As in all matters there was a conflict of evidence. At the previous meeting Councillor John O'Connor had stated he was on the scene of the fire about 2-25 that morning and the roof was already gone in. Councillor Doherty stated that O'Connor's brother, Michael, was there long before him. Councillor English: 'That makes it all the worse for Corcoran. There are a lot of rumours going around. Some say Corcoran was got outside the town that morning.' Councillor C. O' Connor: 'It is to Corcoran's own interest that these people come here and tell us what they know about his movements that morning. We have a member of the Council stating plainly that the fire was raging when he got there.'

At this stage Councillor Cahill intervened: 'If that member was here to-night he might make a different statement.'

Councillor C. O'Connor: 'I don't think Councillor John O'Connor is as big a twister as you. I don't think we should tolerate a big bastard like you ridiculing any member of the Council and insulting him as you did.'

Councillor Cahill: 'I didn't mean to insult or ridicule him. You are like a bull-dog watching every word that comes out of a man's mouth.'

Councillor C. O'Connor: 'I am watching that nothing but the truth will be said about anyone, especially when that person isn't here to defend himself. You big rotten bastard, you are only now what you always were, a twister.'

Councillor English proposed that the Council ask the Local Government Department to hold a sworn inquiry into the whole matter. Councillor Cahill proposed an amendment that the Council deal with the matter by asking the people referred to by Corcoran in his report to verify his statements. On a poll 11 voted for the amendment and 4 for the original proposition. With the passing of the amendment it was agreed to invite the persons named to attend the next meeting of the Council.

The fire was discussed again at a Council meeting on February 4. The people mentioned in the night watchman's report, who had been summoned to the Council meeting to corroborate Corcoran's account of events, did not attend. In the course of the subsequent discussion, Councillor J. O'Connor repeated that he had seen the fire at 2.40 am. Councillor Davern proposed and Councillor Cahill seconded that the Council take no further action in the matter. Councillor English proposed and Councillor C. O'Connor seconded that the Council hold a sworn inquiry. As the amendment received only six votes to the substantive motion's 10, the matter was left to the Council and it appears there was no further investigation into whether night watchman, Corcoran, was doing or not doing his job on the night.


<span class="postTitle">Goalkeepers Galore</span> County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, March 20, 2001

Goalkeepers Galore

County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, March 20, 2001


One of the many fascinating topics dealt with by J.J. Kennedy in his forthcoming history of the West G.A.A. Board, is the succession of goalkeepers from the division who gave sterling service to Tipperary from the late fifties onwards. They included Terry Moloney from Solohead and Arravale Rovers, Donal O'Brien from Kickhams, John O'Donoghue from Arravale Rovers, Peter O'Sullivan from Cashel King Cormac's, John Farrell from Kickhams and John Leamy from Golden-Kilfeacle.

Terry Moloney made his debut in 1959 at the tender age of nineteen. He graduated from minor ranks, having played in goals for the county in 1957 and 1958, winning an All-Ireland in the former year. He was also sub-goalie to John O'Grady on the senior team in 1958. His first senior championship outing wasn't an auspicious one as Tipperary went down to Waterford in the Munster semi-final at the old Athletic Grounds in Cork. It wasn't so much the defeat as the size of it, 9-3 to 3-4! One of the newspaper reports of the game said that 'Poor goalkeeping, allied to weak covering by the fullback line, contributed greatly to the concession of so many goals.'
Moloney, however, retained his position and made amends in the 1960 championship. In the first round against Limerick he was reported as fit, eager and able. For the semi-final against Waterford he conceded two goals but brought off some fine saves. In the famous Munster final against Cork at Limerick, before a record crowd, he gave a sound, at times brilliant display in goal. In the All-Ireland defeat by Wexford he had a capital hour with several spectacular saves to his credit. He continued to play in the Oireachtas and league but he was dropped for the 1961 championship.

His successor, Donal O'Brien, got his chance in the league final against Waterford in May 1961. The reason for the replacement was that Moloney had suffered a knee injury. O'Brien, who was twenty-two years old, had been showing his prowess as a goalkeeper during 1960 with some fine displays for Kickhams. He had been understudy to Moloney all through the 1960 championship and he was now to relegate Moloney to the substitute's bench. O'Brien holds the perfect record of never losing an intercounty championship match. In 1961 he played against Galway in the Munster semi-final, (Galway having won their one and only senior championship game in Munster that year by beating Clare). This was probably the worse game O'Brien played for Tipperary, conceding five goals. According to one report he 'looked a bit leisurely1 on the day. It was a rare off-day for the player. He came back with a bang against Cork in the Munster final, erected a 'closed door' sign for the hour and made a few superb saves from Ring to keep a clean slate. He also played soundly in Tipperary's 'skin of their teeth' victory over Dublin in the All-Ireland.
At the end of the year the G.A.A. columnist, Culbaire, had this to say of his year: 'O'Brien's part in this title win has been no small one and he should fill his responsible berth for the foreseeable future.'

He had an equally successful year in 1962. He played three championship games, against Limerick, Waterford and Wexford. The first two were easy victories. The All-Ireland final was a difficult one and Tipperary eventually won by two points. After one error from a long-distance shot by his Wexford namesake, Jimmy, O'Brien gave a very sound performance, saving raspers and so, after six championship games, O'Brien had two All-Ireland medals. Soon after his second All-Ireland he emigrated to England and later to the U.S. His place was taken for one year by Roger Mounsey of Toomevara.

This year was but a short break before another West goalkeeper came on the scene, John O'Donoghue. He had succeeded Terry Moloney as county minor goalkeeper and had guarded the posts in 1959 and 1960, having the bad luck of losing two All-lrelands. He won a Harty Cup medal with the Abbey School in 1959 and played with U.C.C. By the time he came on the senior team in 1964 he was an experienced player and he was to remain there for seven seasons, 1964-1970. (Interestingly, as he finished with the small ball he started a new career with the big ball and kept goal for the county footballers for six seasons, 1970-75.) He was part of what is regarded as the greatest team ever put out by Tipperary, the 1964-65 All-Ireland side, O'Donoghue was to win two All-Irelands, lose two in 1967 and 1968 and win a third as a sub in 1971.

He was eventually replaced by fellow-West man, Peter O'Sullivan, his understudy for a couple of years, in the second half of the Munster final against Cork at Limerick in 1970. Peter made some spectacular saves that day and established himself in the position. O'Sullivan had come through the minor ranks, playing on goals for the team that lost the 1961 All-Ireland. The following year he was on goal for the county intermediate side beaten by Cork in the championship. He won the All-Ireland in the grade the following year and won the first under-21 All-Ireland in 1964. So, he had plenty of experience when he took over as senior goalkeeper. After winning the All-Ireland in 1971 it seemed as if a long innings stretched into the future for him. However, an unfortunate work accident, in which he was engulfed in flamable, line painting fluid, in 1972 brought his county goal-keeping career to an untimely end.

He wasn't the last of the goalkeepers from the west. There were a number from the north division, Tadgh Murphy, Seamus Shinnors and Pat McLoughney, before the western interest came to the fore again in the person of Kickhams, John Farrell. He had a brief innings, playing on the side defeated by Cork in the first round of the 1982 senior championship at Cork. Earlier he had played on goals for the minors in 1979 and the under-21 side in 1981 and 1982. He had also a U.C.C. dimension winning a couple of Fitzgibbon medals under Fr. O'Brien. After the 1982 championship he continued to play during the league but constantly changing fullback lines during the period undermined his confidence and John Sheedy was the selectors' choice when the 1983 championship came around. Farrell ended up in England, whereto his work with Larry Goodman took him, and he later played with London.

John Leamy was the last goalkeeper from the west to feature in despatches. He was the substitute keeper on the successful 1989 and 1991 teams, serving as understudy to Ken Hogan. Earlier, he won a minor All-Ireland as keeper on the successful 1982 team, and also on the successful under-21 team three years later. He completed the 'grand slam' when he won a junior All-Ireland in 1991, an achievement not many more in the county can claim.

Any treatment of goalkeepers from the West division, who gave service to the county, has to include Cappawhite player, Willie Barry, who was sub to Tony Reddin on the victorious 1949 team. The tradition of goalkeeping in the family lived on in Willie's son, Mike, who played on goals on the Cappawhite minor and under-21 teams, which won county finals in 1965, and in Willie's grandson, Richie, who guarded the net on the Cappawhite under-21 team, which won the county title in 2000.


<span class="postTitle">The Foot and Mouth Outbreak in Tipperary in 1941</span> County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, March 13, 2001

The Foot and Mouth Outbreak in Tipperary in 1941

County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, March 13, 2001


The following letter, which appeared in The Tipperary Star' on May 31, 1941 gives some insight into the deeply distressing experience the outbreak of Foot and Mouth had on the people of Ballingarry in that year. 'If I live to be very old it will never leave my mind, the horror of this infection in our parish, to see beautiful cows going out in all their health, giving us bucketfuls of milk and then - I used to cry morning and evening the week they were shot. You have no idea how attached people are to cows and little calves. Dry stock and pigs do not appeal so much to our feelings. To make it harder for us we never had better yearlings. There are people worse off than us, poor farmers starting the world with young families.' There was more in that vein.
The outbreak reached its peak in South Tipperary in May. On the 24th of the month it was reported that there were forty-one cases in the seven-day period. John Vaughan of Mullinahone remembers how they were wiped out. All their thirty-six stock, plus some pigs and four sheep were put down. The army came in with picks and shovels and dug a trench at the side of a field. They made a ramp down into it and the larger cattle were driven down, where they were shot. The smaller animals were shot beside the trench and thrown in. All were covered with lime and the trench filled in.

In the letter mentioned above the writer continues: The soldiers are very considerate. They hate the job but know that it is for the country's good, and they have got to do it. Some of them are very affected when they are shooting the cattle.'

The first outbreak was reported in Derry in January and the disease quickly spread across the border into Donegal. The next report was Abbeyleix and then Dublin was hit. In early February two cattle delivered to the fair in Birkenhead were found to have it and, when traced, were found to have been purchased in the fair at Birr. In the middle of February the Government issued an order forbidding fairs and markets in ten counties, including North and South Tipperary because of their proximity to Birr.

Although no outbreaks were confirmed in the county, the Government issued a standstill order in North Tipperary towards the end of the month. It prohibited the movement of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and forbade the movement along the public highways of milch cows even for the purpose of milking. This was to create great difficulties and much non-compliance.

The first outbreak in Tipperary was announced about the middle of March and a second, on the farm of Thomas L. Vincent, Riverstown, was reported a week later. No more outbreaks were reported and there was a rumour of the easing of restrictions early in April. In fact it was reported on April 12 that the North Tipperary Agriculture Committee complained they were not getting a fair crack of the whip in the movement of cattle. A licence scheme had been introduced but it forbade the sending of cattle to Limerick, Cork and Kerry, which were the regular outlets for stock from Tipperary.

The main news during April was the issuing of summonses for breaches of the regulations. A number of cases were heard at Templemore, Urlingford and Borrisileigh. Most of then concerned people driving their cows home to be milked. More were summoned for allowing their cattle to wander. On April 26 it was reported there were many cases up for consideration in Roscrea and as many as eighty-five in Nenagh court.

Racing and the public sale of horses had been banned as early as March. The North Tipperary County Council wrote a letter to the Minister for Agriculture in April calling for greater restrictions on many sporting events which hadn't been cancelled. The Minister replied that he didn't want to interfere with people's enjoyment but it was up to the council to make representations to the promoters of events.

After the lull came the storm. The arrival of May brought disaster to the county. In the second week there were eleven outbreaks, ten in Ballingarry and one in Mullinahone. Creameries and schools were closed. We get the first mention of the cancellation of G.A.A. matches. All games schedules for Littleton, Moyne and Carrick-on-Suir for May 18 were called off. Interestingly, the first editorial on the disease in the Tipperary Star appeared the same week. Between May 17 and 24 Ballingarry was stricken with forty-one outbreaks. Many of the animals had been fed infected milk. There was a possibility that one hundred and seventy-four farms would be infected and over two thousand cattle destroyed.

There was a meeting of the county board of the G.A.A. on May 20 and it was decided to stop all county matches. No teams were to leave the county. There was a request to the Munster Council to postpone the Waterford-Tipperary senior hurling championship game. On May 31 fourteen more cases were reported.

The game, a first round tie, scheduled for Thurles on June 1, was postponed and eventually played on the last Sunday in July. Tipperary won by 4-7 to 3-4. They were to play Cork in the Munster semi-final at Limerick on August 17 but the match was called off the previous Monday by order of the Department of Agriculture. Tipperary, and other counties affected by the disease, wanted the G.A.A. to put back the All-Ireland hurling final, but Central Council would not agree. The council ruled that teams be nominated and if a nominated team won the All-Ireland that team would be awarded the 1941 championship.

The Munster Council decided that Cork and Limerick should play off for the right to represent the province in the All-Ireland. It was also agreed that the winners would play Tipperary later in the Munster final. Limerick had already qualified for the final as a result of victory over Clare. Cork easily won and qualified for the All-Ireland final. In Leinster Dublin were nominated because Kilkenny, their opponents in the Leinster final, were also barred because of the extent of the disease in the county. Dublin defeated Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final at Roscrea on September 14 by two points.

The All-Ireland was played at Croke Park on September 28, As the date suggests the final was already four weeks late. Cork had an easy victory, winning by 5-11 to 0-6. The delayed Munster final was eventually played at Limerick on October 26 and Tipperary had a convincing victory over the All-Ireland champions by 5-4 to 2-5. Dublin won the delayed Leinster final against Kilkenny by 2-8 to 1-8 on the first Sunday of October.

In minor hurling Cork and Tipperary qualified for the Munster final but Cork were nominated for the All-Ireland semi­final because Tipperary couldn't travel because of the travel ban. Cork went on to win the All-Ireland and they won the delayed Munster final when they defeated Tipperary by 4-6 to 3-3 on the same day as the delayed senior final. In senior football Tipperary were forced to withdraw after defeating Waterford in the first round.

The county championships were also delayed by the outbreak of the disease. Castleiney-Loughmore won the mid football final on November 23 and Arravale Rovers won the south on December 7. In the county semi-final on March 29, 1942 Arravale Rovers defeated a West Selection by 5-5 to 0-4. The final was played on April 12, 1942 and Arravale Rovers beat Castleiney-Loughmore by 3-4 to 1-0 at Golden.

The senior hurling championship wasn't as badly delayed. In fact the north final was played at Borrisokane on August 24 with Roscrea victorious over Kilruane. Killenaule automatically became south champions because their opponents failed to field teams. Boherlahan won the mid on October 5 and Eire Og won the west two weeks later. Boherlahan defeated Roscrea in the county semi-final on October 19 and Eire Og defeated Killenaule on November 16. The final was played at Thurles on November 30 with victory going to Boherlahan by 2-2 to 0-6 for Eire Og. It was Boherlahan's last county senior hurling title until 1996.

In all there were an estimated five-hundred and sixty cases of the disease in ten counties over eight months. Foot and Mouth resulted in the enforced slaughter of over nineteen thousand cattle and five thousand sheep during the outbreak.

<span class="postTitle">Tomas O'Laoi (1905-2001) - A Major Figure</span> County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, March 6, 2001

Tomas O'Laoi (1905-2001) - A Major Figure

County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, March 6, 2001


There's a story told about Tom Lee from the sixties. It was the period of the NFA marches to Dublin, about the time that Charlie Haughey was Minister for Agriculture. A number of farmers were picketing in Kildare Street, Dublin when one of them noticed a man walking the footpath on the other side of the street. He shouted to the others: There's the man who beat us in 1928!'

The speaker was none other than John Joe Sheehy, the former Kerry footballer. The man he was pointing to was Tom Lee, then an inspector in the Department of Education. The match he was referring to was played in Tipperary Town on July 8, 1928, the last time a Tipperary senior football team defeated Kerry in a Munster championship game. Tom Lee, playing at centrefield, contributed significantly to Tipperary's victory on that day.

Born in Lisvernane in the Glen of Aherlow in 1905, Tom Lee was the second last of a family of nine. (The last, Monsignor Christopher Lee, Cashel is still alive and will be ninety years on March 26.) He went to Lisvernane National School, where his father, Chris Lee, was principal. Before him the grandfather, Tom Christ Lee, held the position and the young boy had taken his name from the grandfather.

After national school Tom spent five years as a boarder in Rockwell College, 1917-1922. His arrival there coincided with a dramatic change in the outlook of the college. Fr. Johnny Byrne became President of Rockwell in 1916. He was inbued with things Irish and under his guidance rugby and cricket gave way to football and hurling. No rugby was played between October 1917 and September 1925. Tom once related how an old rugby ball was placed on a tree stump with the inscription: 'We refuse to kick this.' The boys played gaelic football from September to Christmas and hurling from Christmas to summer. Rockwell won the Munster schools' senior football cup (Corn Ui Mhuiri) and the senior hurling cup (Harty Cup) in 1918.

Tom Lee, coming from the Glen of Aherlow, was firstly a footballer. But he showed his prowess in other areas as well. In his last year he captained the hurling and football teams but also the athletics team. The college didn't win in hurling or football but they sent a team of six athletes to Croke Park and brought back the College of Science trophy. This was the last year that athletics were organised by the G.A.A. and Tom's contribution to Rockwell's victory was a personal tally of four gold and two silver medals.

But if he excelled on the field of play, Tom Lee was also outstanding academically. After completing his secondary education he went on to U.C.C. on a scholarship, where he completed his B.A. and an M.A. in history. He was the first student to do his thesis through Irish. While in UCC he played football, winning Sigerson Cup medals in 1922, 1924 and 1925. He also played hurling, captaining the college team to victory in the Fitzgibbon Cup in 1925. In 1926 he played for St. Finbarr's and won a Cork senior hurling championship when the team sensationally defeated Blackrock in the final after scoring four goals in the last six minutes to turn a deficit of eleven points into a single point victory. He played with Cork also until he was persuaded by Johnny Leahy to declare for his native Tipperary.

Tipperary's victory over Kerry in the 1928 Munster semi-final was a bit of a sensation. Hopes weren't too bright beforehand. Tipperary football had been decimated by emigration for a number of years beforehand. In a preview of the game the Tipperary Star1 admitted that Kerry would be favourites but it detected a few hopeful signs in Tipp's chances. One was the addition of Tom McCarthy, a robust member of the Garda Siochana, who captained Dublin the previous year. Con Keane of Cashel, better know as a hurler, was also a good footballer. The preview continued: Further powerful aid to the Tipp side will be lent by the services of Tom Lee, that brilliant footballer from 'the Glen'. During his time in U.C.C. he played consistently good football and he has already done wonderful work in inter-county games for the old county. Tipperary can regard itself as being lucky to have him to-morrow.' Tipperary won by 1-7 to 2-3. A number of factors contributed to the victory. The selection committee had made a good choice. The team stuck to its task with determination for a gruelling sixty minutes. There was also the fact that Kerry had approached the game in a casual way and only woke up to the fact of having a fight on their hands in the second half. Finally there was the magnificent defence of the home backs who held out against desperate onslaughts from the visitors in the second half.

However, it was a kind of pyrrhic victory. Although the game could not be described as dirty, Tipperary had four injured players. Two of them, Jim Davey and Tom McCarthy, never played again. Tipperary went into the final against Cork at Dungarvan on August 5 a bit over-confident. But they didn't perform on the day, showed none of the fighting qualities they displayed against Kerry and were well-beaten by 4-3 to 0-2.

Tom Lee recalled the game in an interview some years ago: 'I have very unhappy memories of that match. I was very tired (having stayed in Ring on Saturday night and walked with Micheal O Cionnghaola across the Coinigear on Sunday morning.) Also, an unbelievable thing happened during the match, a few minutes before the end. I was about forty yards from our goal. The ball had been kicked in high from midfield and, as it passed over my head, I heard a whistling sound from it. Dick Heffernan, our full-back ran towards it, caught it, only to find it flatten in his hands, with the air still whistling out of it. It fell to the ground and did not hop. Dick picked it up again and held it up in one hand, shouting at the referee that the ball was punctured. He, of course didn't know what was going on and didn't blow his whistle. A Cork forward ran in and fisted the deflated ball to the net. We remonstrated but to no avail. The flag was put us and the goal stood. We lost the match.'

Lee's prowess as a footballer was recognised the following year when he was picked on the Munster Railway Cup team. He had to play in the half-forward line because Kerry wanted their own centrefield. He kept passing the ball but the Kerry forwards didn't make much use of it and Munster were beaten. He continued to play for Tipperary for a number of years.

Meanwhile, Tom Lee, having completed his studies in Cork decided to go to St. Patrick's Teacher Training College in Dublin to train as a primary teacher. His father was intending to retire in 1930 and desired Tom to take his place. Because of his degrees he had to spend only one year in St. Pat's. He returned in 1928 as assistant to his father in Lisvemane and, when the father retired in 1930, was appointed to succeed him by the Parish Priest. However, the Department of Education wouldn't sanction it because he hadn't the required five years experience for the job. But, the P.P. persisted and he eventually got departmental approval.

But, he didn't remain long in the position. In 1932 he was requested by St. Patrick's to take up the position of Professor of History and Geography in the college as the authorities were introducing the study of subjects through Irish and Tom was admirably qualified. He remained there for a number of years before he was appointed a departmental inspector, based in Cork, in which job he remained until he retired. And, even after that he took up another job in oral Irish in U.C.C.!

When he returned to St. Patrick's in 1932 he played football with the college team, Erin's Hope, and they won a Dublin county championship in that year. What is significant about this victory is that it was only the second time the team had won the championship. The first time was in 1887, the first year it was played. There was an interesting family connection with that team. Tom Lee's father, Chris, was a founder of that team, was responsible for its name and had played in the championship!

Tom Lee was a major figure. As well as a scholar and academic, he had a great love of the Irish language and an intense devotion to it. He was strongly devoted to the Catholic Church and emphasised that devotion in his life. He had a love of Gaelic culture and games and promoted them through his playing and support of them. He was quite a musician, an accomplished flute player and he moved easily from the traditional to the classical. He sang a song well and composed ballads and poems. He was also the outdoor type and enjoyed many an hour catching trout or shooting game. He was an all-round man in the mould of a Renaissance figure.

Tom Lee was laid to rest in St. Oliver's Cemetery, Model Farm Road, near Ballincollig on February 23, 2001. The Tipperary county board was represented by chairman, Con Hogan. His contribution to Tipperary football was recognised by the presence of Michael Frawley, chairman of the football board, Michael Power, treasurer, Hugh Kennedy, past chairman, Pat Moroney, county coaching officer, Tom and declan Ryan, Clonoulty, and Dick Cummins, Fethard. They came to say goodbye to a major figure and to the last surviving member of the team that conquered Kerry in the 1928 Munster senior football championship.




<span class="postTitle">Jim Stapleton, Solohead (1930-2001)</span> County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, June 27, 2001

Jim Stapleton, Solohead (1930-2001)

County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, June 27, 2001


The death took place recently of one of the major figures in the G.A.A. in Solohead, Jim Stapleton. he ws a father figure in the club, was well thought of and was a kind of ambassador to the West division and to the wider Assiciation in the county and beyond.

He came from a distinguished family. His father, Sean Stapleton, who hailed from Oola and inherited an uncle's farm in Solohead, was a founder member of the West Board in 1930. He was also a referee of note. Another claim to fame is that he turned his adopted club to hurling. Taditionally a football stronghold Solohead adapted to hurling under his influence and won a number of South championships before the West Board was founded. 

Jim Stapleton was both a hurler and a footballer. His first success came in 1949 when he won a west junior hurling title with Solohead. Two more hurling titles followed during the fifties, in 1955 and 1959. In the latter year the county championship was also won. A big man, Jim played at full-back or cornerback in these successes. 

He also enjoyed football success. Junior football titles were won in 1954 and 1955. After winning in 1954 Solohead made an impassioned plea at the West convention that Solohead was a small club and couldn't possibly be promoted. Their pleadings were listened to and they were allowed to stay junior. When they won again in 1955 other clubs were none too pleased and they were forced to go senior. They joined Lattin in a combination team and enjoyed senior football divisional success in 1956 and 1957. 

Before his playing career was finished he had already taken up refereeing and refereed widely in West Tipperary and Limerick. He was an effective referee, commanding respect and exuding authority. He was likely to get any match that seemed likely to blow up and could effectively control it. In the course of time his remit ran to county games. He was also recognised at intercounty level, taking charge of National Hurling League games, and he refereed at least one senior championship game, between Limerick and Waterford. 

He was a county senior hurling selector during the great years of the late fifties and sixties. According to report there was no West selector until 1958. In that year the West convention made its choice and this fell to Tony Brennan, who wasn't in attendance at convention. Their second choice was Jim and when Tony declined the position, Jim got it and was selector during the glory years of 1958 to 1968. Tipperary played in eight AII-Irelands during these eleven years, winning five of them. Oh! that such decades would come again! 

Jim's involvement with the G.A.A. outside never curtailed his involvement with Solohead. He was very much involved in the purchase of the field in 1980. He was a trustee of the field. He was a man that people turned to for advice. A man of gentle disposition, he didn't make enemies. 

Married to Mary Kennedy of Tipperary Town, the couple had five children, four boys and a girl.

Jim worked for the Department of Agriculture, initially in Mullingar, later in Dovea and West Limerick, and latterly in Tipperary Town. A patriotic man, like his father, Jim was a long time member of the FCA, where he achieved a high rank. His death was sudden. He was driving his car two days beforehand. One of the last G.A.A. functions he attended was the launch of the West Board history at Dundrum on May 25. It was fitting that he was present because he contributed in no small way to that history. 





<span class="postTitle">A Conjunction of Dated Irish Cliches</span> County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, April 17, 2001

A Conjunction of Dated Irish Cliches

County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, April 17, 2001


Where would you find the following? "After the hurlers left the field yesterday, Gaelic football teams named after County Kerry and County Tyrone immediately took the field. The game includes elements of soccer, rugby and barroom brawling. As the two teams battled, the long-time Kerry team chaplain, the Rev. George McGowan, sat inside at the end of he bar, his cane hanging on the bar top. Told that Kerry was winning, he smiled. His locker room prayer session was working.'

Answer: The New York Times, April 9, 2001 ! It's a report of a visit to Gaelic Park by their reporter the previous Sunday. It made me cringe. It was so cliched, so out of date, so sickening. I read the same kind of crap in American newspapers in the 1920s and here it was all repeated. I immediately sent a letter of protest to the newspaper. At this moment I don't know if they will publish it.

Perhaps I may have been over-reacting, but I wasn't. I met Ian Conroy, and his brother Niall, on Tuesday and they were equally disgusted. 'Who does he think we are?, a reference to the writer, Corey Kilgallon. 'It's the same old rubbish that you get about the Irish in this country." Ian, who gave fine service to Tipperary hurling during the first half of the eighties, emigrated to New York about 1986 and has made a success in business in the city. Since he arrived he played hurling with Tipperary and won three New York championships before he retired in 1997. Also a footballer of note, he won a number of championships with Donegal in that code during the same period.

But, another sample from Kilgallon's article: 'Muddy, bloody players hacked furiously with crude wood sticks at a whizzing ball. Technically, this was only a scrimmage between two New York hurling teams but, in fact, coaches were watching closely to select the best players to form a New York squad to compete next month against a team visiting from Ireland's County Down in the All-Ireland hurling championship'.

All-Ireland Championship

This is an interesting development for New York hurling, the chance of participating in the All-Ireland championship. Ian Conroy told me his last outing as a hurler was on the New York team, beaten badly by Galway in a 1997 All-Ireland quarter-final. He does not believe that New York have enough talent at the moment to upset Down. There are at least four Tipperary players on the panel. They include Owen Cummins of Fethard, who won an All-Ireland junior medal with his native county in 1991 , John Madden of Lorrha, who has given long and distinguished service to the game in New York for a long number of years, and Michael and Kevin Kennedy of Toomevara.
Gaelic games are going through something of a renaissance in New York in the last couple of years. The difficulties with Gaelic Park have been sorted out. In the early nineties as a result of a dispute between the G.A.A. and the John Kerry O'Donnell family in the Park, the lease was lost to Manhattan College. The G.A.A. tried a couple of options but they didn't work out. In the end they came back to Gaelic Park as leasers from Manhattan College. This means that the Association have the use of it for so many Sundays during the year. The franchise for the bars remains with the O'Donnell family. Under Manhattan College certain improvements have been made to the field but it remains poorly developed. The most important thing is that the G.A.A. has a home, albeit a leased one.

A Permanent G.A.A. Home?

Having said that it is important to report that some of the powers that be are thinking in terms of the idea of a permanent G.A.A. home in the New York area. Ian Conroy told me of an interesting development which brought together five hundred people of Irish extraction who were willing to put up $10,000 each in a golfing development. The question many are posing at the moment is as follows: if five hundred people are willing to put up so much money to develop a golf course, surely there are more people than that to put up money for the development of a proper G.A.A. facility! There is hope, but we have to wait and see. A major development has been the attraction of sponsorship. Budweiser rowed in last year with substantial sponsorship, $134,000. The stipulation is that only their beer can be sold in the bar in Gaelic Park. This was an important breakthrough. However, the number of people attending matches in the place is on the small side and something will have to be done to swell attendances before other sponsors will be attracted.

More Cliches

'One Tipperary native, a star hurler named Owen Cummins, snatched a piece of dirt from the field and waved it in the sign of the cross as he sprinted on. 20/04/01 'Now you're hurlin' lads,' yelled John McHugh, an assistant coach on the sidelines.' Did you ever see a player taking the field, signing himself with a bit of dirt? I wasn't able to contact Cummins, but I feel it's most unlikely. Perhaps a piece of colour exaggeration.

And the next paragraph from Kilgallon: 'After the game, Cummins wiped the blood off his face to pose for a photograph. There is nothing gentle about hurling, where most of the action involves jarring contact with other players and their hurleys, the three-foot playing sticks used to hit the game's hard ball, called a sliotair, into an oppenent's goal.' I thought we had new rules for blood injuries, that the player had to be removed to the sideline and the wound treated before he could resume play? Obviously not, according to Corey Kilgallon!

There is plenty of blood in this report. Sometimes it sounds like a war. 'Outside the locker room, a woman in a tan raincoat over a white nurse's uniform examined and fussed over players as they hobbled out of the game. The woman, Theresa Crowe, has worked in many of Manhatten's best hospitals, but for twenty-five years she has been the unofficial on-field surgeon for the players at Gaelic Park, stitching up players quickly enough for them to dash back on the field. Most players refuse pain killers, she explained, but they cannot stand watching her sew. 'As tough as they are, Irishmen hate needles,' explained Ms.Crowe, who is from Tipperary.'

I telephoned Theresa Crowe, who hails from Thurles and is a first cousin of Paddy Crowe of Cashel, lately deceased. She thought the piece over the moon. She didn't recall saying that Irishmen hate needles. She is a registered nurse from Cornell School of Nursing, with specialisation in oncology and orthopaedics.

Theresa Crowe

'How did you get involved in Gaelic Park?' I asked her. She went to New York in 1962 and with many other Irish in the city, went to Gaelic Park every Sunday. One day during a match a player went down injured. He was about to be moved but she realised he was in a dangerous position. She shouted to leave him be and went in and strapped his leg with a couple a hurleys. John Kerry O'Donnell, who was present, was impressed and, in the course of time, she was appointed first medical officer in Gaelic Park. Still later she was appointed auditor and she is currently a trustee. She was also the first woman to attend G.A.A. Congress as a delegate. At the moment she is vice-president of the New York Tipperary Hurling Club. The president is Michael Ryan from Upperchurch.

The fortunes of Tipperary teams have improved in the last few years. The club won the junior and senior New York championships last year. It's probably the best club at the moment. Theresa herself got further recognition this year when she won the G.A.A. Guest of Honour Award, the first woman to receive the award.

We'll leave the final word to Corey Kilgallon: 'For the last 75 years, this (Gaelic Park) humble bit of turf on Broadway at 240th Street in Riverdale, the Bronx, has been the home field to New York's main Irish sports league, the Gaelic Athletic Association, and a fixture for New York's Irish

He concluded by saying: 'Go Kerry!', yelled a fan through the rain. Then another shouted: 'Go,

According to Ian Conroy he never heard an Irishman speak like that: 'It's pure American!', he
added. And, I'd agree.


<span class="postTitle">Eileen Shine - Camas Park & Cashel</span> The Nationalist 2001

Eileen Shine - Camas Park & Cashel

The Nationalist 2001


Recuperating at her home in Boherclough Street, Cashel at the moment is eighty-nine year old Eileen Shine. She returned home about three weeks ago after ten months of care in a nursing home.

Her ordeal began nearly twelve months ago when returning from Clonmel by car. Driving too close to the side of the road in order to avoid an oncoming car, her vehicle toppled into a dyke and she was well and truly shook up. However, she insisted on coming home, being the independent spirit she is.

One of the effects of her accident was an occasional blackout. Her only surviving relation, a cousin from Northern Ireland, came down to see her and took her out to the Cashel Palace Hotel for lunch. After the meal she had a blackout coming down the steps of the hotel, fell heavily, was unconscious for about eight hours and ended up in hospital. After coming to she was sent home.
However, all wasn’t right. She had hurt her back, her ribs were sore and Dr. Ryan sent her for an X-ray, which revealed they were broken. She ended up in Acorn Lodge and, after ten months there, was thoroughly fed up and insisted on coming home. She is happier now, even if she hasn’t full use of herself and moves about with a walking aid.


Camas Park

Most of her long life has been spent in Cashel. Born at Camas Park in 1912, she was the only daughter of Major David and Helen (nee Sayers) Shine. Her father fought in the Boer War. She had two brothers, both of whom joined the Royal Airforce, and both of whom were killed in World War II.

Eileen had a happy childhood at Camas Park. She went to the Deanery School, which was then located on the left side of the Cashel Palace Hotel gates. There were about thirty children in the school and she remained there until she was eleven.

She was sent to boarding school at Celbridge – the school is now a hotel – and she hated it. She played hockey, basketball and tennis. She got home for holidays at Christmas and summer, travelling by train to Gouldscross and changing for Cashel. The students didn’t get home as Easter as the headmistress claimed students always returned at that time of the year with infections and diseases. The food was good but monotonous. She spent six years there and her stay was interrupted with an infected appendix.

Her father wanted her to return to Camas but she wanted to be a nurse. Being still a bit young she went to a finishing school in Dublin for a year and then to France, where she taught hockey and basketball in a school. She has very happy memories of this year in France.


Trained as a Nurse

When she returned to Camas Park on holidays she enjoyed a good social life. Her 21st was celebrated with a dance in Camas. Most activities were organised by themselves, games in summer, fetes organised by friends and neighbours. Relations with Catholics were cool, with both Catholics and Protestants organising their own activities and going their separate ways.

At twenty she went to train as a nurse at Sheffield Royal Hospital, the choice of hospital was made on the basis of having relations there. She did five years training and stayed on a further year trying to make up her mind what to do.

In 1938 she joined the army, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Corps. She did a training course in military basic, how to march, salute, attend funerals, etc

After training at York and Aldershot, she was chosen as one of four to go to the North African Desert to staff a casualty clearance station.

Her work took her along the route of Montgomery’s campaign and the places she mentions are a roll call of names made famous by the campaign. She enjoyed the army life, worked very hard and there was little time for anything else. She recalls getting a week’s holiday in Tripoli and going to bed for much needed rest on the first night, only to be wakened with the information to  be ready for a tank landing in Sicily.

She made her way with the army through Sicily and on to Italy. Moving with the war she ended up in Turin. Eventually she was sent back to England, only to be ordered to the Middle East soon after. She worked in an Italian hospital in Palestine, where jackals and hyenas scurried through the place at night.

He next stop was Greece and from there to the beautiful Dodocanese Islands. Again it was hospital work under a very funny matron. Every night two or three babies were left on the doorstep. She didn’t really get back home for seven years. She was given two days holidays for every one spent in the desert.


After the War

The holiday was much appreciated but then it was back to army life. She went on a military course during 1948 and was posted to Hong Kong the following year for three and a half years. The location got a bit monotonous as there as no place to go. The communists had taken over mainland China in 1949.

When she came back on leave she was posted to Cyprus, where she spent the rest of her army life until she returned to Ireland in 1962. She retired with the rank of Major and would probably have achieved higher rank had she remained.


Sale of Camas Park

There was good reason to retire and return home as her mother was in need of care. Her father had died in 1936 and her mother held on at Camas Park until 1941, when the burden of compulsory tillage and other Emergency measures became too much for her and she sold out to Tim Hyde.

She remained in residence for some time and eventually rented a house at Castlelake. This she occupied until 1956, when she moved to a new bungalow in Boherclough Street. The house is recessed from the street front and originally five houses  occupied the frontage. They were long gone before she arrived and the land on which her house was built was used for allotments during the War.

Eileen was sad to see Camas Park and its many memories go but there was no way her mother could hold on. Eileen looked after her from 1962 until she died in 1977. Her mother had played golf in the early part of the century on the Cashel course, which was located on the Clonmel Road. Eileen recalls caddying for her.

Eileen Shine has spent the last forty years on Boherlough Street. She has led a relaxed life and hasn’t involved herself in much. ‘I came home to rest after a very busy life,’ she says.

The late Ethel Corby tried to involve her in organisations and societies but she resisted. She used to read a lot, mostly about sport, horses and adventure. She is also fond of T.V. Her holidays were spent at Tramore and Dunmore.

She may be feeling sore at the moment but the chances are she will recover sufficiently to lead a full life. There is great longevity in her family. All of her side lived into the nineties. Her mother was 94, when she passed on, and her grandmother 101. She is wished a speedy recovery.



<span class="postTitle">Jovita Delaney - Cashel Person of the Year</span> County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, April 9, 2001

Jovita Delaney - Cashel Person of the Year

County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, April 9, 2001


Jovita Delaney, who captained the Tipperary senior camogie team to All-Ireland victory in 2000, has won the Cashel Person of the Year award. The award, organised by the Cashel Lions Club, has been in existence for fifteen years and Jovita is the youngest winner to date. The presentation of the award will be made in Halla na Feile, Cashel, on Sunday night, May 6. 

Jovita was extremely pleased to be chosen. Since winning the All-Ireland last year, she has been the recipient of many awards. These include the Player of the Match for her display in the All-Ireland, when she saved Tipperary again and again with brilliant saves, the Eircell All-Star award. the Manchester Tipperary Association's Sports Person of the Year award, the Canon Hayes Recreation Centre County Award, the Cidona Award and the Kilkenny Slievenamon Association's Sportsperson of the Year award. She is very proud of all these awards and of the many presentations made to her and her team mates by many clubs. But she has a very special place for the Cashel Person of the Year award because it's the highest recognition her home town could give her. 

Of course she's not really a Cashel person but very much a Boherlahan woman, who was born in that parish, a little over a mile from the town. All her camogie has been played in Cashel or with Cashel. While she was a student in the Presentation Convent she came under the influence of Martin Quirke, who did so much to develop camogie in the school. 'I would have got nowhere without the dedication and commitment he gave to camogie in the school,' she said. 

Another person she mentions as important in her early formation is Kirsty McCluskey, who did so much for the promotion of juvenile camogie in the town. 'Without this work and effort with juveniles, there can be no camogie players,' she believes. She also praised the work of Tom Devitt for his encouragement of camogie.

Presentation Covent, Cashel

Jovita didn't enjoy much success at Presentation Convent. 'We got to a number of junior and senior All-Ireland semifinals and finals but won none of them. We seemed to be always beaten by Loughrea'. There was one success in the All-Ireland Schools seven-a-side in 1989. 

After secondary school Jovita went to Strawberry Hill College in the U.K. where she studied for a degree in Physical Education, Science and Biology. There was no camogie there and she mostly played basketball. There were a lot of Irish students in the college at the time, especially from the North. 

Having completed the four-year course she came back to a job in Dublin, where she spent four years. Three years ago she got a job in Tarbert Comprehensive School, where there are about 700 pupils. She doesn't get any chance of camogie there as football is the game and she is in charge of that, plus basketball and badminton. 

During these years of training and teaching she has been making a name for herself in camogie. She has progressed up the ranks from a minor All-Ireland with Tipperary in 1990, 'to a junior in 1992, after losing two AII-Irelands in that grade in 1990 and 1991, an intermediate in 1997 and two seniors in 1999 and 2000. So she has the complete All-Ireland set and understandably proud of her achievement. She has also had success at club level, winning county finals in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Earlier she had won two more, in 1990 and 1991. What has eluded her is success in the club championship. Grannagh, Ballingarry have been their stumbling block in this area, having beaten Cashel a number of times, especially in the Munster final in 1999. 

With so much involvement in the game of camogie, Jovita has little time for other interests. The training schedule and the games take up a lot of time. Her work distance from the county is another problem. She won't have the burden of captaincy this year as that has gone to Emily Hayden. 'It's only fair that someone else has the honour.' she adds. 

She is reasonably happy with the national profile of camogie, even though it is not as high as she should like to see it. The televising of the All-Ireland finals has worked wonders to improve the image. The newspaper coverage of the game has expanded out of all proportion. She recalls that when they won the All-Ireland junior in 1992 it hardly got a mention in the paper. 

She is looking forward with a keeness and expectation to the coming year. One need hardly mention that a third senior All-Ireland is a top priority. It will be difficult but the dedication and commitment are there and there is absolutely no doubt that when the crunch comes, Jovita Delaney will not be found wanting.



<span class="postTitle">North Tipperary G.A.A. History</span> County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, April 9, 2001

North Tipperary G.A.A. History

County Tipperary Supplement, The Examiner, April 9, 2001 


The recent publication of the History of the GAA. in North Tipperary brings to mind two interesting episodes in the history of the division. One is the Silvermines Silver Cup and the second is about Tony Courtney of Nenagh, who won a County Tipperary senior football medal with Nenagh in 1915 and went on to be capped for Ireland in 1920-21. 

But first the Silver Cup, which is to be found today in the presbytery of the Silvermines parish. This cup was first played for in an intercounty hurling match between Tipperary and South Galway, played in the Phoenix Park in February 1886. Tipperary won and the cup came back to the county. 

Later the same year it was put up as the prize 'for the championship of North Tipperary'. (It would take too long to explain a 'championship of North Tipperary' fifteen years before the division came into existence but the history goes a long way to doing so!). 

At any rate Silvermines and Holycross qualified for the final and, as was the wont in those days, the final wasn't played until April 19, 1887. Silvermines won. 

The man who was regarded as being responsible for training the victorious side was Fr. John Cunningham, a native of Kilrush, who was curate there at the time. Soon after he was transferred to Roscrea and eventually became Parish Priest of Templederry, where he spent the last twenty-one years of his life. He died in 1935. 

Apparently, when he left Silvermines after the 1887 win he took the Silver Cup with him because we read that in the year of his death he returned it to the parish of Silvermines. On St. Patrick's Day 1935 the then Canon Cunningham returned to the parish from neighbouring Templederry to place the cup in the safe keeping of the parish. Five members of the team that won it were present on the occasion as part of the reception committee. The cup was placed in the presbytery, where it has lain since. 

Perhaps it may go on display in Lar na Pairce at some stage! 

Tony Courtney

The second interesting item is the career of Tony Courtney. Nenagh Institute dominated football in North Tipperary in the second decade of the twentieth century. They won two county finals during the period, in 1911 and 1915. In the latter year they beat Castleiney by 1-2 to 1-1 in the final at Thurles, not played until July 31, 1916. Courtney was one of their stalwarts. 

Courtney became a medical student and took an interest in rugby. He was obviously good at the game because he was capped for Ireland seven times in 1920-21, whiIe sti II a young man. He was born in 1899. 

He received his first cap on February 28, 1920, when Ireland were defeated, 19-0, by Scotland at Inverleith. There was another defeat by Wales, 28-4 at Cardiff Arms Park on March 13, and a further defeat by France, 15 to 7 at Landsdowne Road two weeks later. 

There was one success in 1921 but first there was defeat by England, 15 to 0, at Twickenham on February 12. Success came against Scotland by 9-8 at Landsdowne Road on February 26. Two weeks later there was defeat by Wales, 6-0, at Balmoral and Courtney's final game was against France, when Ireland were defeated, 20-10, at Stade Columbes on April 9. 

Courtney played tight-head prop in all his games and his place was taken by McVicker the following season. There was very little mention of the honour of a Nenagh man representing his country in the Nenagh Guardian of the time. In fact it is rather scathing of the game. In a comment on the defeat by Wales in March 1920, it has this to say: 'Of course Rugby football is merely the game of the few. It is not played by the large number who would develop a spirit of rivalry and offer a wider field of selection.' 

There is a little increased mention in 1921. For the first game against England it mentions the two Tipperary men on the team, A. Courtney and Dr. P. Stokes of Fethard. It reported that Stokes was the outstanding forward against France but also mentions the contribution of Courtney. 

Funeral of Tom Ashe

There is an interesting mention of Courtney in Ulick O'Connor's book, 'The Troubles'. In a footnote to his account of the funeral of Thomas Ashe in September 1917, he has this to say: 'Along the North Quays, Dick McKee was in charge of the procession. A despatch rider from Dublin Castle on a motorbike rode past full tilt, skimming the edge of the march. McKee jumped out as he flew by and managed to dislodge him from his cycle. The bike skidded around on the footpath. It finished up at the feet of one of the Volunteer stewards, Tony Courtney, a medical student. 'Dump that bike in the river,' McKee ordered Courtney. The student was reluctant to dispose of something as valuable as a motor cycle then was, and remembers being torn between the instinct to preserve it and the sheer authority that McKee exuded. However, he heaved the bike into the Liffey and the despatch rider had to return to Dublin Castle on foot. Four years later, Courtney would be capped at Rugby for Ireland against England at Twickenham. When the Irish team were received by King George V before the match, Courtney found hinself in a dilemma because of his republican views. But as the King approached, Courtney stooped to tie his bootlace, thus avoiding having to press Royal flesh and at the same time maintaining the semblance of courtesy.' 

Tony Courtney qualified as a medical doctor, married and had four children, two boys and two girls. He died in January 1970 at the age of seventy years. He must hold a unique place in the annals of Tipperary sport with a county senior football medal won with Nenagh and nine rugby caps won playing for Ireland. He must also be the only player in the world to have put tying his bootlace before shaking the hand of the King of England!



<span class="postTitle">Tarmstedt and North Germany</span> Farmers Journal, July 1996

Tarmstedt and North Germany

Farmers Journal, July 1996


One of the highlights of my recent visit to Germany was a trip to Tarmstedt and surrounding villages in north Germany. Tarmstedt is predominantly rural and is situated about 25 kilometres to the east of the city of Bremen. The reason for my trip was to visit Willi Walter Dei and Wilhelm Evert, both of whom were on the German delegation that visited Cashel for the EC meeting of Rural Communes in June 1995. 

Tarmstedt is the chief village in a group of 17 rural villages. It is mainly a farming area and, in typical German style, all the farmhouses are concentrated in the village as opposed to the single habitations one gets in Ireland. The landscape and village scapes are well ordered, showing the results of generations of care and attention. For instance the roads are perfect. All the villages are linked by bicycle lanes. The street signposts are clear and easy to read. Every place is perfectly clean. I saw one woman sweeping up the street outside her farmhouse. It may come as a surprise to listeners to learn that a German householder is responsible for the footpath in the front of his/her house, to keep it clean or, in the event of frost and snow, to keep it clear. 

I stayed with Willi Dei for two nights. He was the translator for the group in Cashel and he is fluent in English and French. He is a teacher in the secondary school in Tarmstedt, which is the educational centre for the 17 villages. All the children to primary and secondary school are bussed to Tarmstedt. Some people have regrets about this development and believe the loss of the village school was a retrograde step. With the loss of the school some of the other infra-structure in the villages will disappear.

In Hepstedt, the village of Wilhelm Evert, these fears are real. While I was there there was a story in the local paper about the fate of the village inn. This famous Gasthaus, which was in the same family for ninety years is today without an owner. The couple who owned it and the son who succeeded all died within a year. The place was put up for sale but as of now there are no bidders. There are fears that nobody is interested because the future of the village would not justify the purchase. The strange thing is that the inn was doing a good trade in the past. Wilhelm Evert, who has been living in the village since 1956, coming originally from the east of the country and who taught with his wife in the local school until he retired, is somewhat pessimistic about the future of the place. 

Some of you are familiar with the name of Hepstedt because it is with this area that Cashel Community School have established an exchange. The school, as I said above is actually located in Tarmstedt, but it serves the community of Hepstedt. The local papers this weekend carry a report by Sean Hill about the exchange.

Farming under Threat 

I suppose the best way of grasping how things are going is to take a look at farming, the main occupation in the area. Wilhelm took me along to visit Helmut Hartmann, one of the local farmers, who farms 30 hectares and leases another 20. He pays between 320 and 400DM per hectare, approximately £140-£174 per hectare for the leased land. On the basis of 2.47 acres to a hectare this works out at £56-£70 per acre, rather cheap by Irish standards. 

However, there is a points rating for land in Germany, which must be somewhat equivalent to the system applied by Griffeth, when he worked out the valuation of land in Ireland in the last century. Under the German system the best land is rated at 100 points and is to be found in middle Germany, particularly around Hanover, where there is a good loemy soil. I am not too sure of all the criteria for deciding on the points rating of land. The land Helmut owns and leases rates between 25-40 on the German scale. Much of the land in the area was original cutaway bog and has been rehabilitated over a long time. If his land were the good loemy kind around Hanover he would pay double the price to lease it. And there would be a similar discrepancy if he went to sell. In that event his land would sell at 10,000 DM for pasture land - about £1,760 per acre - and 12,000 DM for arable land - about £2,112 per acre. In contrast to buy a hectare in Hannover would cost one 50,000 DM, about £8,800 per acre. 

Helmut milks twenty cows and carries about 50 young stock. His cows average 6,500 litres per year, about 1450 gallons. He has a quota of 80,000 litres, about 18,000 gallons, per year. His yield would put him well over quota, unless there is an extra quota with the leased land. He didn't indicate any difficulty with the quota and reckoned that quotas were not being filled in Germany since many of the producers in the former East Germany were failing to make quota. And, he added, quotas can be sold for 1.20 DM per litre, about £2.40 per gallon. Milk prices are 55 phennings per litre plus a 5 phenning subsidy from the government, which, in total, works out at approximately £1.17 a gallon, plus bonuses for butter fat etc. 

In order to get that yield Helmut feeds his cows 7-8 kilos of of meal per day all the year round. This works out at approximately 820DM , about £360, per cow per year. The cows are housed all the year round and are also fed on silage made from grass or maize. Helmut grows 5 hectares of maize, 15 hectares of barley, has 1 hectare of forest and the rest is grass. 

I asked him about the future of farming. He is a man in his seventies and has recently has a heart operation. As we drank beer at his livingroom table I noticed his was of the non-alchoholic variety. Forty years ago there were 40-45 farmers in his village. That number is now reduced to 20 and, he reckons. it will be down to 5 by the year 2000. He believes the minimum acreage a man will need to make a living will be 150 hectares, nearly 400 acres. Young people don't want to work the land anymore. They want a five day week and only eight hours work each day and the weekends free Already, many of the young farmers sons in the village have deserted the land for the big Mercedes factory in Bremen. 

Lack of Wives

And, there is another problem, women. German women do not want to marry farmers. Hermann has a 48 year old son working the land and he is unmarried. Another son, Christian, is living in Tasmania and married to an Australian. And, by the way they met in Ireland!! He and his wife were on holidays while I was on my visit and in response to my question could he see himself returning to farm in Hepstedt, he was very definite to the negative: No way. An interesting point made by Christian was that there were too many restrictions on life in Germany. In contrast Tasmania was a dream place in which to live, with great freedom. His wife was of the opinion that the disinclination of German women to go into farming is a rejection of the traditional role of the German farmer's wife which can be summed up in the three words: Kinder, Kirche, Kuche, children, church, kitchen. German women don't want this role any longer. I don't know if Irish women think the same way about marrying farmers but if they don't perhaps there might be scope here for the Knock Marriage Bureau. Maybe they should set up an office in Hepstedt. 

At any rate from the perspective of Hermann Holsten the outlook is bleak. He foresees the disappearance of family farms and their replacement by ranches and factory farms. This may lead to more efficient farming with higher production levels bringing about a lesser need for subsidies. In fact the future prospect may be very similar to that obtaining in Tasmania, where there are no subsidies but where the size of the farm is such that profit margins per animal or per acre need be much smaller than on smaller spreads. But, the price to be paid will be the disappearance of a strong tradition of family farming in the area and a way of life that stretches back into centuries of time.



<span class="postTitle">Brother Patrick Victorinus Noonan</span> The Nationalist, Oct 16, 1995

Brother Patrick Victorinus Noonan

The Nationalist, Oct 16, 1995


The death occurred this week of Brother Noonan, who had a long association with Cashel. He taught as a primary teacher from 1962 to 1973 and returned again from 1986-90. During both periods he did more than most to promote Gaelic games in the town,

A native of Grange, Newcastlewest he attended to local primary school before going to Charleville C.B.S. for his secondary education. Later he joined the Christian Brothers and was trained as a primary teacher in Marino. His first job was in Inchicore, after which he was to spend periods of time in Tipperary, Mount Sion, Portarlington and O'Connell Schools before coming to Cashel. He was in Tralee between 1973 and 1986 and after his second stint in Cashel he went to Thurles for three years before retiring to Baldoyle in 1993.

On his arrival in Cashel in 1962 he devoted his after school hours to preparing children for the County Council scholarships. His work was successful and there were a number of successful candidates. When free education was introduced in 1967the scholarships were abolished and Brother Noonan found another outlet for his energies.

He decided to run a football league, non-stop, from September 1 to November 1. There were five teams of twelve each and games were played every evening, weather permitting.Operations were closed down from December to February when a similar league in hurling was begun and carried through to June, when the finals and play-offs took place. The boys developed a tremendous interest in the leagues and enjoyed them immensely. Brother Noonan subsidised the hurleys, selling them at half-price, with help from Cashel King Cormac's and Coiste lomana.

His efforts paid enormous dividends and translated into spectacular success for Cashel King Cormac juvenile teams in divisional and county hurling and football championships. The club qualified for the county under-13 hurling and football finals in 1969, losing the hurling to Ballina but winning the football against Thurles. In the following years there was continued success, culminating with a great county minor double in 1974. Many of these underage players, tutored by Brother Noonan, such as John and Tommy Grogan, Pa Fitzelle, Tony Slattery and others made names for themselves at senior and inter-county level later.

On the occasion of his death it is important to recall Brother Noonan's major contribution to the development of Gaelic games in the town. His contribution was part of a great and generous service by the Christian Brothers to the promotion of things Irish and placing emphasis on our culture and our games.

When he returned for a second time in 1986 he willingly offered his services again for the promotion of Gaelic games. It was typical of the man who was always generous of his time and who believed strongly in the value of Gaelic games to the youth of the town. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dílis.


<span class="postTitle">On the Field of Fontenoy</span> The Tipperary Star, December 31, 1994

On the Field of Fontenoy

The Tipperary Star, December 31, 1994


As the 'St David' steamed out of Rosslare Harbour on the night of 26th August, 1910, there were cheers and good wishes from those on shore and the singing of the 'Boys of Wexford' and 'Gallant Tipperary' was taken up simultaneously with two teams of hurlers on board.
It was the start of an historic journey to Brussels by hurling teams from Cork and Tipperary, who were scheduled to give exhibition games in the Belgian capital in connection with the Brussels International Exhibition.

The novel idea was the brainchild of J. J. Walsh, then chairman of the Cork County Board of the G.A.A. A session of the pan-Celtic Congress was being held in Brussels in conjunction with the exhibition and the Gaels of Europe were there to voice their asperations. Walsh's idea was to send two renowned hurling teams, Cork and Tipperary, to Brussels 'not because of any desire to advertise or popularise the game of hurling on the continent, but merely to show the assembled Gaels of the world what Irishmen could do in the realm of sport.'

To finance the trip, an exhibition match was arranged between a Dungourney selection and a Thurles selection in Cork on the 14th August but had to be abandoned because of inclement weather. The Munster Council voted £100 towards the cost. The Patron of the G.A.A., Dr. Fennelly, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, gave £5. Archdeacon Ryan, P.P., Fethard subscribed £2, and there were smaller contributions. Central Council declined to give any support.

The Selections

The two selections set out from Cork and Thurles respectively on 26th August and joined up in Waterford. Each party consisted of seventeen players. The Cork party included Tom Irwin (Redmonds), who was later to be secretary of the county board and a referee, James Walsh (Sarsfields), Willie O'Neill (Sarsfields), Jamesy Kelleher (Dungourney) captain, Maurice O'Shea (Dungourney), who was tragically drowned a short while later, Tom Cronin (St. Finbarr's), Tim Garde (Dungourney), Martin Collins (Dungourney), James Ronayne (Dungourney), Bill Hennessy (Dungourney), Willie Williams (Midleton) Eamonn O'Neill (Sarsfields), Tim P. Forde (St,. Finbarr's), Michael Cotter (Shamrocks), Steve and Tom O'Riordan (Blackrock), Billy Mackesey (Blackrock). 
The following was the Tipperary contingent:- Tom Semple (captain), Jack Mooney, Paddy Burke, Martin O'Brien, Anthony Carew, Tom Kerwick, Paddy Brolan, Jack Mockler, Tim (Thady) Dwyer, Joe McLoughney, William Butler, Joe McCormack, James M. Kennedy (Thurles), Michael O'Dwyer (Holycross), Tim Gleeson (Drombane), Bob Mockler (Horse and Jockey), Jack (John) and Pat Fitzgerald (New Birmingham), Jimmy Bourke (Clonakenny), Jack Ryan-Lanigan, William Carroll, Eddy Finn (Borrisoleigh), R.M. (Dick) O'Hanrahan (Fethard), who wrote the account of the tour for the 'Tipperary's Annual' and Pat McGrath (Munster Council Secretary.)


Early Arrival at Brussels

The St. David arrived at Fishguard at about 5 am the following morning and the party continued to London by train.The day was spent sightseeing and at 9 pm there was a train to Dover. From there the Princess Clementine transported the party to Ostend where they arrived at 3.25 on Sunday morning. The journey to Brussels was continued by train and was reached at 6 am. Having arrived at their hotel the party had some linguistic difficulties to overcome before they could make their needs known but then 'steaming pots of teas with plates of bacon and eggs were brought to the diningroom table to everybody's delight.'

The first match was played at Malines (Meechelen), a large town north of Brussels on the road to Antwerp. After breakfast and Mass the party travelled out to this town. Four representatives of the group joned over 100 delegates to the pan-Celtic Congress, who were being received by His Eminence, Cardinal Mercier. The delegates were accommpanied by the O'Neill Pipers Band from Armagh, which F. J. Biggan, MRIA, had brought over at his own expense.

After the reception the teams mustered in the large square in front of the railway station. They were in playing costume and with hurleys on shoulders they marched two deep through the town, headed by the O'Neil Pipers band with their banner showing the red hand of Ulster. A green flag with a harp was also borne in the procession.

The venue for the contest was the grounds of Racing Club de Malines. When the teams arrived a soccer match was in progress, watched by about 20,000 spectators. Some of them remained to watch the hurling match.

To the air of 'God Save Ireland', Cork and Tipperary took the field . The preliminaries were quickly got through and Mr. Quinlan of the Limerick County Board was in charge of proceedings. The length of the field militated against a proper contest. Another factor to be consiered was that the players had had no sleep the previous night. The teams confined themselves almost completely to ground play and, when they warmed to their task they exerted themselves to effect, particularly the forwards who pressed hard whenever they were in possession. About thirteen hurleys were smashed whilst the game was in progress and to the spectators it seemed as if a battle-royal was in progress.

At half-time the teams were level at two goals each but in the second-half Tipperary scored three more to one for Cork and consequently won by five goals to three.



The attendance included Charles Page Bryan, the American Ambassador, Shane Leslie and Joseph Biggar. On Tuesday, 30th August, the teams renewed rivalry on the famous battlefield of Fontenoy. The greasy and sloping nature of the ground didn't admit of anything but a mere exhibition of the game but it highly pleased the spectators present. The teams received a glorious reception in the village. The progress of the players and their friends through the streets was a triumphal one. Perhaps the most impressive and inspiring feature of the reception was the singing of the school children of the Irish anthem, 'God save Ireland'.

Although the match was no more than an exhibition, the respective captains, James Kelleher of Cork and Tom Semple of Tipperary, were loudly applauded and the game was as spirited and dashing as could be expected. The Corkmen retrieved their fame and, after a keenly contested struggle, came out winners by 2-4 to 2-3. During the game Billy O'Neill of Cork got injured and, as the wound was being dressed, made the remark – 'I'm not the first Irishman to shed blood on this plain.'

The players had visited the exhibition on Monday and went there again on Wednesday, the last day of the tour. They also played their final game. It was supposed to begin at 3 pm but, due to objections by the Irishmen over the flying of the British flag in the playing ground, did not get underway until three hours later. Programmes printed in Irish, English and French were on sale and visitors to the exhibition were thrilled as they viewed the game, which was won by Tipperary.

Heroes' Welcome

The players arrived back in Ireland on Friday to a heroes' welcome. At the railway station at Thurles they were greeted by a large crowd and the Confraternity Band playing 'See the Conquering Heroes Come'. In Cork they were greeted by the Lord Mayor at the Municipal Buildings.

The trip had been a financial disaster, however, and, in an effort to wipe out the debt, Joseph Biggar, who had attended the pan-Celtic Congress in Brussels, was invited to deliver a lecture in Cork.  He did so and summed up the tour with the apt phrase: 'Ireland was on the parade ground of Europe and failed to march past.'

According to Padraig Puirseal 'a fine opportunity for introducing the games to the continent was lost, mainly because of inadequate pre-publicity and poor organisation at the Belgian end . . . This was the first display of hurling in Europe since the days of the Irish Brigade; a chance to publicise Ireland's case for self-rule was missed and financially the tour was a failure.'

It does appear that the games received little in the way of publicity or organisation from the local pan-Celtic Festival Conmittee in Brussels. One gets the feeling, however, that there was a failure in communication between theorganisers in Ireland and the Festival Committee. It would appear that the brainchild of J. J. Walsh wasn't well thought out nor was sufficicient time given for preparations to be made. The idea seems to have come at the last moment and to have been discussed for the first time not much more than a month before departure date.

We must also keep in mind that Walsh, in his own words, had no intention of advertising or popularising the game of hurling on the continent but merely to show the assembled Gaels of the world what Irishmen could do in the realm of sport. However, to do this he needed to advertise and publicise the tour so that as many as possible would attend. He didn't succeed in attracting many to any of the three exhibitions so, ultimately, we must regard the trip as a failure from that point of view.

In the course of a speech on his return from Brussela, Walsh explained to his listeners why they had gone. 'For centuries Ireland had been denied a voice in the council of nations. They saw a golden opportunity of displaying the grand physique of which Irishmen always boasted. . . They saw the golden opportunity of showing to the world and telling the peoples of Europe that notwithstanding the persecutions which had followed their track, they were still a factor in the constitution of the human race. . . (It) was the beginning of a big international movement – a movement for the placing of the Celtic race on a proper footing, and placing it on a stand and position which would be regarded as a factor by the nations of the world. . .'



<span class="postTitle">Jack McKenna</span> Nenagh Guardian, January 26, 1991

Jack McKenna

The Nenagh Guardian, January 26, 1991


In the official photograph of the 1930 All-Ireland senior hurling champions, Jim Lanigan and Jack T McKenna are kneeling side by side on the right of the middle row. They are the only remaining survivors of the victor­ious Tipperary team that included such stalwarts as Phil Cahill, Tommy Treacy, John Maher, captain Joby Callanan, Martin Kennedy and Mick Cronin. The manager was Johnny Leahy and there was a second McKenna on the panel, Paul, who was to die in New York in 1956.

Jim Lanigan was to go on and win a second senior medal in Killarney in 1937 but 1930 was the high point of Jack KcKenna's hurling career. The medals he won that year were cherished possessions for nearly sixty years until they were stolen in 1988. His daughter, Jean, was the proud wearer of his All-Ireland medal until it was taken in a house robbery at her hone in Kill, Co. Klldare in October 1988. A month later Jack's remaining two medals from that year, a Munster and a Thomond Shield, were stolen in a break-in at his residence at Hillside, Birr. So, in the course of a month and at two different locations the malevolent hands of thieves took from him some of his cherished possessions.


The McKennas are a great Borrisokane family. The father of them all, Michael, originally from Ardcroney, ran a pub in the town and was married to a Ryan from nearby. The couple reared seven boys and four girls. The oldest of them, Michael, was born in 1881 and was Clerk of the Union in the town. Mary Anne came next and in the course of time married and became the mother of Dinny Doorley. Malachy followed and became the father of Mackey and Tony of hurling fame, and Ger of greyhound greatness. Joe was on the Toomevara selection defeated by Kilkenny in the 1913 All-Ireland. Three girls, Kit, Gret and Bride, followed and then came the remaining four boys, Tim, who played hurling for Borrisokane, Jack and Paul who won All-Irelands in 1930 and Frank, the youngest, who became the father of Joe of Offaly and and Limerick fame.



Jack started hurling with Shinrone, which requires some explanation. In 1912 the father handed over the pub to Malachy and bought Hazelfort farm in Knockshegowna . Because there was no team there at the time the lads decided to play with Shinrone, which was the other half of the parish and situated in Co. Offaly. This injection of talent was enough to enable Shinrone to win the Offaly junior hurling championship in 1923, beating Tullamore in the final. The following year saw Jack play senior hurling with Offaly in the Leinster championship.

However, the Offaly sojourn did not last long. In 1925 Jack. Paul, Tim and Frank transferred to Borrisokane and were to give sterling service to that club for the next decade. The highlight of this involvement came, undoubtedly, in 1933 when the club won two North hurling titles on the same day, October 22. The senior hurlers defeated nighty Toomevara, who had won 17 divisional titles since 1910, and the junior hurlers from Bawnmore made it an historic day by beating Kilruane. Toomevara had a sizable lead, 2-2 to O-3, at half time. Borrisokane made a couple of switches, including bringing .Frank McKenna to partner Jack at centrefield and this proved a winning combination. They provided a good supply of the ball to their forwards and when the final whistle sounded Borrisokane were ahead by 2-7 to 2-2.


Jack's memories of playing in those days are happy ones although conditions would be regarded as primitive by today's standards. Hurling was the main leisure activity. There was nothing else to do and nowhere to go. 'Hurling was our life,' according to Jack. "We had no money, could afford nothing else.' They trained an awful lot, perhaps much too much. A typical day was to farm from eight in the morning to six in the evening have a light tea, get into the togs and go to the training field where three or four hours hurling would not be exceptional. There could be fif­teen to twenty in the field on the evening and, perhaps, twice that number on Sundays when they hurled the whole day. After a session they would lie down in their sweat to rest, cool down and have a chat. 'Do you have any arthritis from these days?' 'None,' he replies.


County Team

When he was on the county team he travelled to Thurles to train. Jack played junior hurling with Tipperary in 1928 and 1929 and graduated to senior ranks in 1930. Centrefield was his position where he occasionally partnered Tommy Treacy. The road to the All-Ireland began at Dungarvan, where there was an easy victory over Waterford. Clare, who surpr­ised Cork in the other semi-final, were their opponents in the final played at Cork. Tipperary won by eight points. The All-Ireland semi-final was played at Birr and there was a comprehensive victory over Galway. In the final against Dublin Tipperary were ahead by a point at the interval but went on to win comfortably by double scores. The same year the minors and juniors won All-Irelands so 1930 came to be known as the 'Triple Crown' year. Later in the year at a gala day at Thurles Sportsfield, Archbishop Harty distributed no fewer than 130 gold medals to the winners and an his­toric photograph of the three teams was taken.

America Tour

County chairman, Rev. J. J. Meagher offered a prize of £5 for the best poem to commemorate the year and the prize-winning effort came from the pen of Tom Keating, N.T. , Cloneen. One verse was as follows:

Fling the news on the breeze, let it ring o'er the seas,
On the moorland and wild mountain blue,
That the boys on the field forces all rivals to yield,
With the crv: 'Tiobraid Arann Abu'.

The fame of the county was carried 'o'er the seas' the following year when a great tour of the U.S. was undertaken in September. The man most­ly responsible for this undertaken was the redoubtable Dan Breen, then running a liquor business in New York at a time when the sale of alcohol was prohibited. He was responsible for the 'surging mass of admirers' that welcomed the visitors on their arrival in New York and their drive to the City Hall in decorated automobiles, headed by a motor cycle escort of police. Mayor McKee was there to receive and welcome them. Games were played in New York, twice, Boston, Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco. In the latter place the game was played under floodlights in the presence of 10,000 spectators. Thirty thousand attended the first game at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Jack McKenna recalls getting £10 before departure to outfit himself for the journey. After that the players got ten dollars a week from Dan Breen, 'who ran the whole thing'. It was during the depression and the party saw many signs of destitution and poverty. In contrast they were treated very well, staying always in the best of hotels. As far as he can recall Breen paid for it out of the gates taken at the six matches. He could have made money or lost a fortune. Since there were no official pubs, because of prohibition, the players went at night to the "speak­easies' and returned to the hotel later with drink in jam jars! Jack didn't take a drink at the time and neither did Tommy O'Meara. It was a memorable trip and the party didn't return to Ireland until the end of November.


Jack's hurling career with the county came to an end in 1931. He contin­ued to play with Borrisokane for a number of years winning his highest club honour with the North championship success in 1933. He finished his hurling days with Knockshegowna , where a junior club had been formed, and thus returned to the parish where he had started over a decade previously.
Jack must be the last of the old I.R.A. to win an All-Ireland senior hurling medal. His first real initiation to the movement came during an argument between his brother, Joe, and a neighbour, Tommy Culligan, over the executions that followed the 1916 Rising. One statement from that argument that kept ringing in his ears was: 'What could you expect to get from England?' He was later involved in the burning of the barracks in Borrisokane. When an ambush was planned in Ballingarry on a despatch truck that travelled daily from Birr to Nenagh the local I.R.A. column stayed in a loft at Hazelfort the night before. In the morning Jack led the group by a hidden route to where the ambush was to be launched. For some unknown reason the lorry never travelled that day and the plan was in vain. After the Modereeny ambush the Tans burned a number of houses nearly in Knocknaree. They came to Hazelfort to do the same thing, but were prevented from doing so by a friendly R.I.C. man from Borrisokane, named John Dinan. On the same day Jack's sister, was getting married and the wedding was being held in the house. At the time of the Truce there were about 20 in the column but many joined between then and the Treaty. When the column voted on the Treaty these new recruits swung the vote in its favour, much to Jack's regret.


Jack fell in love with in 1942 and moved to Birr, where he has resided since. He has been involved in the cattle business all his life and experienced the changeover from the old style fair, when hundreds of cattle used to be shipped out from Birr station, and the modern cattle mart. His family, four girls and a boy, are all done for and he resides at Hillside with his wife. When he steps out his front door he can see Knockshegovna hill before him and the sight keeps the memories of the early days alive. Jack will be 90 on May 8 and he's still amazingly healthy for a man of his years, driving the car downtown every morning and going out for the odd drink during the week. May he long continue to enjoy life so.




<span class="postTitle">The Story of James M. Ryan of Ballyslateen – World High Jump Champion</span> Supplement Nationalist Centenary 1890-1990, p 76

The Story of James M. Ryan of Ballyslateen – World High Jump Champion

Supplement Nationalist Centenary 1890-1990, p 76


August 19, 1895 was the outstanding day in the life of J. M. Ryan. At the first sports meeting held in Tipperary town for eight yerrs, before an attendance estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000, he soared over 6' 41/2'' on his third attempt to wipe out the world record held by the Irish-American, Michael F. Sweeney. The 'Nationalist' report of the event was sober and brief: 'At Tipperary Sports yesterday, J. M. Ryan, the well-known athlete, raised the world's record by clearing the bar at 6 feet 4 and a half inches. The ground was tested by levels and every precaution taken to ensure its acceptance as a record.' 

The report didn't do justice to the excitement of the occasion. In another account we read: 'The good people of Tipperary, doing honour to their idol, may have umwittingly prevented him from negotiating an inch higher. When he had cleared his extraordinary jump, a rush was made by the spectators and J. M. was carried, shoulder high around the enclosure. It was only after a lapse of about ten minutes that he extricated himself' from their attentions to resume operations at 6' 51/2", all but succeeding, having gone over and landed when one end of the bar fell off the pegs. 

Six Feet

Up to 20 years previously the 6' high jump was regarded beyond the scope of human endeavour. But, in 1876, M. J. Brooks of Oxford University topped 6' 21/2'' at Lillie Brdige. Within four years one of the famous Davin brothers of Carrick-on-Suir, Pat, cleared 6' 23/4'' in his native town for a fresh world record. This record, beaten by M. F. Sweeney in 1892, was to last as Irish record until 1893, when J. M. Ryan jumped 6' 31/2'' at Nenagh. When Pat Davin heard who had done it, he declared his delight 'that it took another Tipp man to beat him.' J. M. went on to beat Sweeney's record at Tipperary.


Who was this world champion? James Mary Ryan was born in Ballyslateen in the parish of New Inn on April 3, 1871. His father, Michael, better know as 'Little Mick' had the distinstion of being able to jump into an ordinary barrel from a standing position, and out again!

This skill was to be passed on to J. M. and his sister, Katie. Both were capable of jumping over the two-sided, five-foot high, iron gate leading into their homestead, from a standing position on one of the gate piers. When it is realised that Katie died at the age of 16 years, the schievement is all the more remarkable!

There was a family of six. Michael, junior died at the age of 32 years. Katie and Mary died in one month from diphteria, aged 16 and 13 years respectively. William left home as a young man, qualified as an engineer in London and went to the U.S. John took up farming and lived at Rathgallon, after the Ballyslateen farm was sold early in the new century. James M. became a teacher.

St Patrick's Training College

James M. spent two years, l890-92, as a Queen's Scholar in St. Patrick's Training College. One of seven training colleges the students were officially known as Queen's (or King's) scholars and age limits for entrance were l8 to 35 years. Entry was confined almost entirely to ex-monitors and ex-pupil teachers. Monitors could he appointed in any suitable national school. They were selected from promising pupils in the higher classes and appointed by the manager, on the recommendation of the inspector for the district. The age limit for appointment was 12 to 16 years. If successful at an examination, held by the Board at the end of the third year, the monitor was con­tinued for two additional years, when a further examination was held which, in practice, was a competitive examination for entrance to a training college. 

A trained teacher was obliged to serve a two year's probationary per­iod, before being awarded the final training diploma. No increment was paid him until after the receipt of the diploma. James M. Ryan received his diploma on December 21, 1894 and it reads: 'Having ful­filled the prescribed conditions, including that of satisfactory probation as teacher in a Public Elementary School,(James M. Ryan) is awarded this Training Diploma of the First Grade.' 


It seems fairly certain that J.N. spent his two years probationary period in Coolderry N.S., and may have spent some time after that. 

In 1893, after winning the I. A. A. A. championship with a jump of 6' 11/8'' a profile stated that 'he lives the quietest of quiet lives in the prettiest part of the King's County, Coolderry. Here he industriously labours as head teacher of the National School. This little instit­ution has, under his energetic direction, grown into a flourishing concern and its success has earned for it the name of Ryan's Academy. Master and pupils are mutually proud of each other and so well they may, as many of the boys who have been finished off by the athletic pedagogue have secured good positions in business, while the discip­line maintained is so firmly estab1ished that the dreaded cane is an unknown qantity in the schoolroom paraphernalia.' 

However, in l895, after setting up his world record in Tipperary, we read that he was then teaching at Mount Bruis, two miles from Tipperary Town. On the day following his feat, in celebration of his winning jump, his pupils showed their appreciation of his efforts when they chaired him around the school. 

It was reported in the 'Nationalist' of Saturday, July 24,1965 that the house in which James Ryan had resided still stood in Davitt street, Tipperary and it was stated to have undergone very little change since he had lived there. The area where he had practised for many a long hour was located only eighty yards or so from his home and had been built on by the late William G. Evans, who was also a very leading light in the sports world of bygone days. 


Ryan didn't look like a high jumper. He stood at 5' 10'' and weighed 178 pounds, quite a weight for a man of his stature to take over the bar. According to the 'Referee', reporting on the English Athletic Championships held at Northampton on July 1, 1893: 'Since Davin no such perfect a jumper has been seen; he clears a bar with a perfectly clear leap without the slightest scrambling manoeuvre common to our jumpers.' And another commentator said of him: 'J. M. Ryan took a jump as a youth would take a hedge or a railing, his only change from the perpendicular in mid-air being a tucking up of his knees. He used neither kick, twist or turn and it can truly be said that the world has seldom seen his like.'

Jim, as he was popularly known, first came to prominence as a nine­teen year old by jumping 6' 11/2" at the Limerick G.A.A. Sports of September l890. He was to be one of the three best jumpers in the world of the early and middle nineties, the other two being Michael F. Sweeney, who was born in Kerry a year later than Ryan and left Ireland for the U.S. at the age of 8 years, and Murty O'Brien of Twopothouse, Buttevant. Sweeney took the lead with a jump of' 6' 41/4'' for,a world record at the New York Athletic Club's games in September 1892. Ryan was beaten by O'Brien the same year at the Clonmel Sports and they were to remain keen rivals for the next four years, with Ryan triumph­ing in the end.


Ryan's progress to his world record at Val McGrath's field, as the Tipperary Sportsfield was better known, was steady and inevitable over the next three years. In July 1893 he cleared 6' 21/2'' in the English championships. In August he broke Davin's 13 year old Irish record at Nenagh, where he jumped like a world beater, not touching the lath up to and including 6' 31/8''. Two years later he broke the Scottish record and in the following month smashed the English record with a jump of 6' 31/2'' at Clogheen Sports. Ryan then attempted the world record and virtually got over 6' 41/2", but barely displaced the bar descending. 

Less than three weeks later he was to succeed with his jump at the Tipperary Sports. The G. A. A. awarded him their official gold medal in recognition of his remarkable achievement.


Within a few days of his success there was a public meeting in Dobbyn's Hotel, Tipperary to present a National Testimonial to the world champion. The attendance was very large and representative and £20 was subscribed in the room. A month later there was a letter to the 'Nationalist' from T.S. O'Dwyer, N.T., Kilmoyler, Cahir pro­posing that the National Teachers of Ireland support the J.M. Ryan Testimonial to the tune of 2/6 per head. I:f everybody responded a sum of £1,500 would he raised. Soon after the Birr branch of the I.N.T.O. at their meeting, criticised the idea of putting a limit to the amount any member should contribute to the Testimonial. The Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Croke, gave his support to the project and senk two guineas to the fund.


The Tipperary event was the peak of J. M. Ryan' s career. Hi s world record did not last long. Nine days later M. F. Sween­ey topped 6' 5" at Travers Island, New York. There was a dispute ahout its legality because it was set up in an exhibition and, it was claimed, exhibitions did not count for world records. Mr. W. H. Carroll, President of the Tipperary Athletic Club, in a letter to the press, claimed that Ryan had actually jumped 6' 6'' outside of competition. Sweeney, however, clinched the issue by attaining 6' 51/8" on September 2 and 6' 55/8" three weeks later on the occasion of the London and New York International match. 

J. M. never achieved these heights and his other rival, Murty O'Brien took the English championship off him in 1896. His athletic career seems to have come to an end in that year. Perhaps his delicate health, which he had despite his robust constitution, was the cause. In spite of his widespread fame he was essentially a shy man. He retired from teaching at Mount Bruis on March 16, 1900 and died exact­ly three months later at the young age of 29 years. The papers said it was the result of a lingering illness. His niece, Mrs. Kitty Hogan of Carron, Cashel believes it was heart failure, which may have been caused by excessive physical exertion in his earlier years. 

Not only was J. M. a high jumper, he also distinguished himself at the long jump, the hop, step and jump and the 14 pound weight. He was even a reputable sprinter! His funeral was one of the biggest witnessed in Tipperary Town for some time and, after Requiem Mass at nine o'clock on Monday, June 18, he was buried in Ballintemple cemetery, Dundrum. 



<span class="postTitle">The Cashel Extension Railway</span> Supplement Nationalist Centenary 1890-1990, pp 110-112

The Cashel Extension Railway

Supplement Nationalist Centenary 1890-1990, pp 110-112


There's excitement now in Cashel, 
For the railway soon will run.
There's commotion in the city,
For the line is nearly done.
There's signs and preparations
That were never seen before,
And the rising generations
Sees prosperity in store.

So Francis Phillips, the Cashel bard. wrote in 1904 in anticipation of the opening of the Cashel branch line on Monday, December 19, 1904.

The opening of the Cashel Extension Railway was a great day for the town.  The occasion was used to unveil the memorial fountain at Lowergate erected to commemorate the great services of the Very Rev. Dean Kinane, PP. VG in connection with the Cashel railway project.  In the course of his remarks the chairman of the urban district council, Michael Devitt, thanked the people for giving him the honour of unveiling the memorial.  It was due to the Dean’s energy and perseverance that they had succeeded in getting the extension.  As a result of the extension Cashel would become as prosperous as ever.

There were many historic fights for a railway to Cashel.  On one occasion when the Privy Council rejected the application of Cashel for a guarantee, a riot took place in the streets of the town.  After than many vain attempts were made to obtain railway accommodation.  Then in 1901 Dean Kinane, together with some of the citizens, assisted by Very Rev. Dean White and Rev. Fr. Brenan, C.S.Sp., president of Rockwell College, resolved to approach the popularly elected representatives of the county council.

At that time, the Great Southern and Western Railway Company were undertaking a project of considerable magnitude involving the amalgamation of the Waterford and Limerick system with their own, and the citizens of Cashel pointed out that it would be of considerable public benefit to the town and district and to the South Riding also if a line were constructed to Cashel.

The GS & WR Company considered the matter carefully and promised that if the Amalgamation Bill passed through parliament they would do all in their power to carry out the projected line to Cashel.  In return for this the people of Cashel supported the Amalgamation Bill and on the 11th February, 1901 the county council was approached for a limited guarantee of 4% on a sum of £35.000. The area proposed to be charged in the event of the guarantee coming into operation was the South Riding of Tipperary with the exception of the municipal borough of Clonmel and the urban districts of Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary. Cashel and Rockwell College estate undertook to pay, if necessary, a tax of 1/-2 in the pound. The result was that the county council granted the guarantee by 15 votes to 9 and the Cashel Extension Railway became a possibility.


Earlier Efforts

Of course Cashel should have had a railway at a much earlier date.  The town was to have been served by a branch from the Waterford / Limerick line planned in 1826.  Then 18 years later the first Act for the Great Southern and Western Railway authorized the main line to go to Cashel.  Later the route was changed but the original intention was retained in the name 'Cashel's,' given to GS & WR ordinary stock on the Dublin Stock Exchange.

Why was the decision made to take a more westerly route to Cork?  A number of reasons is given. In the local folklore there is a belief that the town fathers turned down the idea of the line passing Cashel. It is stated that their reasons were aesthetic: the train was a dirty, noisy monster and the town would be downgraded by its presence. Another version of this story is that some believed that the presence of the line in the neighbourhood would be dangerous for the Rock: the vibration might cause the edifice to collapse?

However there are more practical and credible reasons.  A survey of the original route revealed problems. If the route came by Cashel a bridge would have to be built over the Suir at Ardmayle. The town would also become the junction for Limerick and this would have involved a viaduct at Mantlehill.


Political Clout

A more important reason was the political clout of Maude, Lord Hawarden of Dundrum.  He gave free right to the GS & WR to build the railway through his land.  This was an offer difficult to refuse.  At the same time Cashel’s political clout was weak. As a result of an enquiry into the running of the Cashel Corporation in the late 1830's it was discovered. that the town was in the hands of the Pennyfeathers and their friends and that they had misappropriated public funds. The town lost its chartered status and the·Corporation was replaced by the Town Commission. Michael Doheny was prominent in righting the wrongs done to the people of. Cashel by the Pennyfeathers and their cronies. Through his efforts the family was forced to repay £6,000 to the Town Commissioners.

These matters were agitating the town when the decision was taken to change the route of the proposed railways to Cork to a more westerly one.  The people of Cashel decided to fight the change and they gave Michael Doheny £20 pounds to go to London to fight their case.  However such efforts were in vain. Lord Hawarden got the line through Dundrum and ia station close to his residence. When the station was completed it contained a special waiting room for the Maudes.   Also the signaling system was connected with Dundrum House. When a train left Gouldscross the Maudes, as well as the Dundrum stationmaster, were alerted.  John Knightly recalls using the station in 1949 after coming to Cashel to teach. The Maude waiting room was still in existence, locked and kept in waiting for members of the family if they ever returned.


The Construction

The 5 3/4 mile line from Gouldscross to Cashel was the last branch line to be built by the Great Southern and Western Railway. It was, fittingly, Dean Kinane who ceremoniously dug the first sod at Gouldscross on March 4, 1903. The tracks, ties and other components for the new line were not new but had come from the main Dublin / Cork line at Sallins, part of which had been dismantled in 1900. The biggest engineering feat was the construction of the metal bridge which spanned the Suir between Kilbreedy and Clonmore.  Ardmayle was an intermediate station and there were two level crossings, one that Camas about a quarter-mile from Cashel and a second beside the station at Ardmayle.

Things didn’t go smoothly during the construction. There were labour troubles. The 'Cashel Sentinel' reported on June 20, 1903:  "For the second time the labourers engaged in working on the new railway works from Gouldscross to Cashel have gone out on strike for higher wages. In  the previous strike their wages were increased from three pence to three and a half pence an hour. It was hoped that this would have brought peace but on Wednesday, June 17, they struck again for another halfpenny and invaded the streets of Cashel. Over one hundred and fifty men were involved and they grumbled that the work was too hard and the pay too little." They gained their extra half-penny and went ahead to finish the work.

At the time of the opening the railway had cost £41,602-19-10. It was estimated that further expenditure would amount to £10,500.  The cost of the one rail motor carriage was £1,500-6-6. In 1953 during a tribunal hearing on the future of the branch line the initial cost was given at £58,773.


The Opening

On October 12, 1904, in anticipation of the opening of the railway, a new corn market was opened in the town. Six days before opening day the line was inspected and passed for public use by Col Vandarop, an inspector from The Board of Trade. On the morning of the opening the first train arrived at CasheJ at 8.45 am. It had on board Mr. Bell, the superintendent of the GS & WR; Mr. Cooper Chadwick; Mr. Sides. District engineer; Mr. Bayly, engineer and Mr. Galway, the contractor's engineer.

The platform was crowded, all eager to board the first train and, on its return to Gouldscross, large numbers took a spin there and back. Among the passengers were Very Rev. Dean Kinane, PP, VG; Very Rev. N. J. Brennan, C.S.Sp., Rockwell College; Mr. A. P. Spain, accountant. National Bank; Mr. J. J. Connol1y. agent, Cashel U DC; Thomas Walsh, 'Cashel Sentinel'; Philip Ryan, The Central Hotel; Denis Maher. NT and other notables.

Later that evening after the unveiling of the memorial fountain and the presentation of the address, Dean Kinane told the crowd: "This fountain will remind posterity of the noble feelings of their fathers who erected this monument to a 'Soggarth Aman', who did little but yet did his very best, to improve the temporal as well as the spiritual condition of the people ....' He went on to inform his listeners that he had travelled on the new railway to Gouldscross that day and while in Gouldscross met some navvies who asked him to give them drink. He told them to go to Cashel and they could have plenty of it. They asked him the name of the public house and he told them 'The Gouts' (a watering hole for horses on the Clonmel road) so if any of those present now felt thirsty they could go to 'The Gouts' also.

Francis Phillips caught some of the mood with a poem composed specially for the opening:

Get your tickets on this day
From Thomas J. McQuaid
For the railway will begin
before the dawn.
They'll be crobars in
the air
Picks and shovels everywhere
And the Cashel men will play
tbe 'Rocks of Ban'.


Early Days

The chairman of the UDC, Michael Devitt, prophesiscd at the unveiling of the memorial fountain that Cashel would become a prosperous place as a result of the extension. But his prophesy could not be said to have been fulfilled and the railway, which was never more than a lame duck in the finances of the GS & WR, closed down during the Second World War, resumed partial services in 1947 and was officially closed on January 1, 1954.

Two passenger trains ran daily to and from Cashel and one passenger-cum-goods train, all stopping at Ardmayle. In addition special goods trains were run monthly to coincide with the Fair of Cashel and special excursion trains were run to hurling matches in Thurles and beyond. The timetable for 1947 shows three trains each way on the Cashel branch: way on the Cashel branch: Gouldscross-Cashel at 12.30, 2.30 and 5.00; Cashel Gouldscross at 11.15. 1.30 and 4.00.

Most of these services were hauled by a team engine called locomotive No. 74, which was one of the '47' Class designed at Inchicare. Built in 1887 it was typical of the tank locos which worked many GS & WR branches around the turn of the century. Loco 74 was to serve the Cashel branch line far most of its history. It was replaced by a steam railcar, which seated six first-class and forty-eight third-class but it did not provide for extra passengers when necessary and was transferred to the Drumcondra Link Line. After its departure Cashel trains were usually worked by small 0-4-4Ts or by the ubiquitous standard 0-6-0.


Unusual feature

An unusual feature of Cashel station was its two storey corrugated iron station building. Although the GS & WR favoured this material for building on its branches in Kerry. single-storey structures were more common. In fact the building was temporary because there was a suggestion that the line might be extended to Cahir. It was. however, never replaced by anything more permanent during the life of the branch.

Why wasn't the line a success? Perhaps the obvious reason was that there were never enough people travelling on it and the volume of goods was never satisfactory.  A second problem was a troublesome water' supply. Although there was a permanent water tank at the station an old engine tender and a hand-operated pump were also provided to ease the situation.

John Knightly has an interesting theory on the relative failure of the railway to generate business. He believes it was built at the wrong side of the town and went in the wrong direction! According to this theory the trade and traffic from Cashel traditionally went down the Suir valley to Waterford. For instance, when McCluskeys were at their peak they exported pigs, butter, chickens, even cream, to London via Waterford.




Snippets of History

It is not possible to give the history of almost fifty years in the course of a short article. All that is possible is a few glimpses of the happenings over the period.

1910: the timetable shows an unbalanced service of five trains daily in one direction and six in the other!

1914: for the Munster final at Thurles between Clare and Cork on September 13 there was a special train from Cashel al 12.45 on October 24 of the same year it was reported in 'The Nationalist' that there was a good supply of corn on offer at the weekly corn market. Owing to the depression in the trade, prices were not as high as formerly. However, for barley delivered at Cashel station the quotations were from 13/-9 to 14/-3 per barrel.

1925: All railway companies in south Ireland were amalgamated in one company, the Great Southern Railway. GSW in short. (nicknamed the Great Sourfaced Railway by D.P. Moran). In the same year the 'Handbook On Railway Stations' gave the following information on Cashel - 'Crane power I ton 10 cwts. Accomodation includes goods station,  passenger and parcel station, livestock. horseboxes and prize cattle vans.'

1929: A special train came for the Mass on the Rock of Cashel on the centenary of Catholic Emancipation. John McCormack sang on that famous occasion but refused the Presentation nuns request to sing in the parlour when he paid them a visit. He gave a blank cheque to Dean Innocent Ryan for the.restoration of the Rock, which had to be returned later.

1930's Thomas Rosney, father of Mrs. Lil Burke. was the stationmaster. He came from Claremorris in 1917. Tom Arnold was the scorekeeper and he lived at the Camas level crossing. His wife was killed by a train as she was letting someone over the crossing. Dan Taylor was in the parcels office. Davy Ryan and George Allison were drivers, Eddie Bowen and Jack Ryan, firemen. According to Peter Meskell, Cashel station employed a stationmaster, a platform porter, two goods porters, one checker. one cleaner, one steam riser, two firemen, two drivers and two guards.

1936: For the Munster senior hurling championship at Thurles there was a special from Cashel at 1.30 pm. There was a single fare regardless of whether you boarded at Cashel, Ardmayle or Gouldscross.


The Mystery Tours

1939: During the inter-war years, to cater for the large section of the public for whom the motor car was as yet an expensive luxury, the GSR Company ran a wide range of special trains from Dublin. Particularly popular were the mystery tours and a photograph of such a mystery train was taken in Cashel in May. 1939.

1942: a great shortage of coal led to some branch lines being closed for indefinite periods. In Cashel's case services were drastically reduced.

1946: a report in 'The Nationalist' claimed that there were strong rumours in Cashel that train services would be improved in the near future. This was attributed to the important lobbying done by the Trades Association and the senior curate. Rev. W. English.

1947: The rumour proved unfounded. Because of the fuel crisis the Cashel line was closed completely to traffic on January 27.

1948: this was the year of the ' Blackberry Express', the name the locals gave to the special excursion train for the county senior hurling semi -final between Cashel and Lorrha at Thurles. Dixon Connors was paying 4 / - a stone for blackberries that year and for weeks before the match the locals were out gathering blackberries to make the price of the fare. Neddy Doheny recalls that you could spot a Cashel man anywhere that day because of the blackberry dye on his hands!

1950: services had not been restored. In a report in 'The Nationalist' on March 18 the town clerk reminded the council that as March 26 would fall on a Sunday it would be advisable to have an order made fixing the following day for the old fair. He thought it would also be necessary to remind CIE of the date and of the necessity of providing special train facilities. In April there were excursion trains to Thurles for the semifinals and final of a "hurling tournament for 20 best Blarney No. I worsted suit lengths.' The fare was 2/6. In the following month the Thurles CBS hurling tournament was held and upwards of 500 people travelled in a special from Cashel for the final, which attracted an official attendance of 8,578. Because the special train for the all-Ireland final on September 3 was leaving at 7.10 am, Very Rev Dean O'Donnell arranged for Mass at 6 am summer time.


The Coal Shortage

Another memory from those post-war years was the shortage of coal for the steam engines and the poor substitute turf proved to be. In some cases not enough a steam could be raised to power the engine. Mick Keating remembers the engine failing to make the hill between Ardmayle and Gouldscross on the excursion. The passengers got off and pushed the train to the top. On another occasion, a Munster senior hurling championship game at Limerick, the engine broke down and the passengers didn't get back to Cashel until 1.30 in the morning.


The End

This sporadic service of passenger and cattle specials continued until June 25. 1953 when a tribunal was held at the courthouse Cashel to pronounce on the future of the Cashel branch line. Fr. McAssey. C.S.Sp., bursar. Rockwell College; John Feehan, Maurice O'Connor, John L. Buckley and A.G. Caldwell, the manager of Going and Smith Ltd gave cogent reasons why the service should continue. Mr. D. Stewart, traffic manager, CIE, argued in favour of the closure of the line and staled that the estimated cost of restoring the service would be £6.335.

The findings of the tribunal which was chaired by Dr. Beddy,  appeared in the form of a public notice in the newspapers in December :  'Take notice that on the 15th day of December, 1953 the transport tribunal, in exercise of the powers conferred on them by Section 55 of the Transport Act. 1950, make  the above-mentioned order to come into operation on the 31st day of December, 1953 whereby CIE is exempted from the obligation to operate all services of special trains for passengers and merchandise on the railway line between Gouldscross and Cashel in the county of Tipperary which were in operation immediately before the first day of June, 1950 and whereby CIE is also exempted from the obligation to restore all or any services of trains for passengers and merchandise on the said railway line, which were temporarily discontinued under the Emergency Powers (CrE) Reduction of Railway Services Order, 1944.'


Cattle Specials

Despite the order of closure trains continued to use the line for some while longer. The Cashel correspondent of the 'Nationalist' reported on July 3, 1954: 'Although the branch line between the town and Gouldscross has been officially declared closed, it has, within the past number of months, been opened on a few occasions. At the request of the Cashel Tostal Council, CIE ran a special from Dublin on May 16, the concluding day of the festival. On Monday last Messrs Maurice O'Connor and Sons got a special for the conveyance of a big consignment of cattle to the North Wall. It is understood that other cattle specials are to follow.'

In fact both cattle and passenger specials did follow until July 25. On that day a special to Templemore departed at Ipm for the Mid senior hurling championship game between Boherlahan and Holy Cross. The price was 3/9. It was poorly supported because of a clash with the West senior hurling final at Cashe!. This may have been the last train from Cashel. The local newspapers reveal no more advertisements for them, not even on October 3, when the county finals were played at Thurles. On that day there were specials from Waterford, Nenagh and Cahir but none from Cashel.

And so Cashel's rail link with the rest of the country came to an end almost fifty years after it was opened with such fanfare and promise. The dream of Francis Phillips was unrealised:

And tourists in the summer
on recreation bent
And every ardent lover from
the ancient Orient
Will come and pay's a visit,
and note among the things
A railway line to Cashel,
Old Cashel of the Kings.

Councillor Joe Byrne took a sanguine view of the closure. At the January, 1954 meeting of the  UDC he suggested that in view of the closure the council should get in touch with CIE with a view to purchasing the lavatories at the station, which would be useful if the council should erect a public lavatory. They could be kept until the council decided on a site!

The final chapter of the Cashel Branch Line story was written in 1959-60 when the tracks and bridges were removed. This operation cost more than the original laying of the line. Some years later Cashel station was sold to a Dutch textile company and converted into a factory.

Come down and see the station,
see what labour can control
Hydraulic power and pressure
will bring us to the goal.
With constructive minds and
methods we mastered everyplan,
A pity to prevent us, we'd
railroad Hindoostan.



Report on the Proposed Line of Railway from Dublin to Cashel by John MacNeill, Civil Engineer, 1843 (download PDF file)




<span class="postTitle">Bianconi and Boherlahan</span> Post Advertiser, October 18, 1986, Vol 2 No 7

Bianconi and Boherlahan

Post Advertiser, October 18, 1986, Vol 2 No 7


Isn't it significant that Bianconi should have chosen as his final resting place Boherlahan, the wide road? Surely it was a fitting place for the Father of the Irish Transport System to have his last rest! Or, for a man who started his Irish saga as a pedlar of holy pictures, to leave his last remains! 

Recently, Boherlahan has been celebrating the connection between the parish and one, Joachim Carlo Guiseppe Bianconi, who was born near Lake Como on Sept. 24, 1786. There hasn't been the same publicity around these celebrations as that given to a re-run of the first Bianconi coach service between Clonmel and Cahir on October 2. Nevertheless, the Boherlahan connection is avery strong one and it possesses two very impressive and durable monuments to this extraordinary Italian, Longfield House and the Mortuary Chapel Bianconi built for himself and his family in the parish. 


Charles Bianconi purchased Longfield House from Captain Richard Long, the former owner in March 1846. The residence was surrounded by 623 Irish acres and the cost was £21,000. How could a pedlar of holy pictures acquire the wealth to make such a purchase? 

Bianconi had arrived in Ireland in 1802 to start his apprenticeship to a fellow-Italian, Andrea Faroni, who carried on a picture-selling business in Dublin. When he completed his apprenticeship he invested his money in a wide assortment of pictures and frames and set out on the roads of Ireland pedalling his wares. 

For a number of years he trudged the roads of Ireland and prospered at his laborious work. In the course of time he started different kinds of shops in Carrick-on-Suir, Waterford and Clonmel. 


From his travels he came to recognise the need for a cheap and efficient transport system on the roads of Ireland. He began to turn his mind in that direction and got his opportunity at the end of the Napoleonic Wars when a large number of horses came on the market. Bianconi bought some and started his first scheduled car service from Clonmel to Cahir in July 1815. The business succeeded from the word go and in the course of time Bianconi became a wealthy businessman. His success was recognised when he was made Mayor of Clonmel.

Bianconi came to live at Longfield on September 16, 1846, his sixtieth birthday. He got a fine reception from the people. Bonfires were lit on the roads near the house and a triumphal arch was erected over the avenue gates. The grounds were thronged with tenants and labourers. A band came out from Cashel and there was a dance that night. 

In the course of an address thanking the people for their warm reception Bianconi quoted the famous phrase: 'Property has its duties as well as its rights'. They should all, according to their state in society, have their rights. The landlord should have his and the mechanic and the labourer as well. He thought that the poor man, who earned a shilling a day has as good a right to enjoyment and to his cabin as the queen on her throne. 

Whenever they wanted anything in his power to grant they should ask him and it would afford him much pleasure to assist them by every means in his power. Much of the improvement in the country in the preceding years was due, he said, t the temperate habits of the people, thanks in large measure to his respected friend, Fr. Theobald Matthew and to the advice of the Liberator. 

A Friend in Need

Bianconi was to prove a great friend to the people in the district during the terrible years of the Famine. He helped them with loans of money and gave others, who could not continue the struggle, passages to America. In 1848 he started a large scheme of drainage works. At that time a labourer could earn only 8d a day but the drainage workers were paid by piece work and could earn up to nine shillings a week. For a considerable time more than one hundred men were employed around Longfield and no one died there from hunger. When potatoes were sold in the market at 8d to 10d a stone he sold them to the people for 4d. 

Disliked by Gentry

Naturally, this kind of behaviour towards the men of no property did not endear Bianconi to the neighbouring gentry. They did not like that a new and self-made man should make such innovations and be an example to them in their duties to their tenants: "The gentry were inclined to look coldly on him and hold themselves aloof but he had a great independence of character and cared little for their antagonism. He followed his own way and in the end achieved his purpose' and became increasingly respected.' 

Mortuary Chapel

Bianconi wasn't long settled in his estate when he decided to build a mortuary chapel on his estate as a last resting place for himself and his family. It was built of limestone and sandstone and cost £1,000. Bianconi was his own architect and the work was carried out with the help of a few artisans in the neihgbourhood. It has a flat-roofed bell tower with a Gothic roof. The Archbishop of Cashel, Most Rev. Dr. Leahy, presided at the consecration ceremony. 

Not very long afterwards his daughter, Kathleen Henrietta, who had died in Italy was brought home to be buried there. As well the chapel is also the burial ground of the following: Bianconi's daughter, Charlotte, Morgan John O'Connell, Bianconi himself, his wife Eliza,. his daughter Mary Anne. 0'Connell, his grandson, John Coppinger 0' Connell Bianconi and his great-grand daughter Mollie Watson. 

Extensive Estates

During his time at Longfield Bianconi extended his original property with extensive purchases in the neighbourhood. They included property in Ballygriffin, Road, Glanagile, Cashel, Ballinard, Knockamore, Liss, Lower Pallas and Upper Pallas. These purchases involved a total outlay of about £48,000, bringing the total cost of all his property to over $70,000. The total area amounted to nearly 5,000 Irish acres.

Bianconi had his own ideas about farming. He did a lot. of doctoring on his own horses and always had a large number of them in various states of sickness or injury on the Longfield lands. He went in for the breeding of sheep and Berkshire pigs on a big scale. Despite the number of horses at his disposal he went in for ploughing with horned cattle. The reason may have been a throwback to his early days in Italy. For three or four years he kept two teams of horned cattle but gave up ploughing with them when he found they were slow and wasted the time of the men. 


Bianconi agreed with the axiom that 'the manure is the farmer'. He believed in manuring his lands heavily. At one time he took a fancy to covering his grass with soot from the chimneys. He invested almost all his life's savings in land. He used to quote the old saying: 'Money melts, land holds, while grass grows and water runs'. 

Charles Bianconi's end finally came at Longfield at a quarter-to-five on the morning of Wednesday, September 22, 1875, two days before entering his 90th year. According to his great granddaugher and biographer, Mollie Watson: "All night long his family, together with James Sweetman and the rest of his household, had gathered about his bed to await the end. Then suddenly so it is said, there came the unmistakeable sounds of galloping horses on the gravel below. Everyone looked up startled and the grooms went running to the stables; the gates of the yard were closed and none of the horses had broken loose. They could still hear the clatter; alternately loud and faint like the surging waves of an ebbing tide, just as though all the horses in Bianconi's long life had come to be with him at the last.'



<span class="postTitle">A Tipperary Parish by Micheal MacCartaigh</span> Post Advertiser, Sept. 25, 1986, Vol 2 No 8

A Tipperary Parish by Micheal MacCartaigh

Post Advertiser, Sept. 25, 1986, Vol 2 No 8


A major event in the parish of Knockavilla-Donaskeigh took place in July with the publication of Micheal MacCarthaigh's book 'A Tipperary Parish: A History of Knockavilla Donaskeigh'. Michael MacCarthaigh, who was born in Kilmore in the parish in 1911, was a national school teacher and retired as principal of Knockavilla N.S. in 1977. He had been working on this book for a long time but, unfortunately, did not live to see its publication, having died in April 1985. 

Soon after his death his friends in the parish suggested to the family that his book should be published. His niece, Siobhan Moran, undertook the task of editing and structuring the work for publication. A committee was formed in the parish as a back-up to her work and to organise the financing of the venture. 

The committee also undertook the task of acquiring photographs and maps. Finally they made all the arrangements for the very successful launch of the book in the Golden Vale lounge, Dundrum on July 10. 

The fact that over two hundred people attended the launching was a tribute to the standing of Michael MacCarthaigh in the parish of Knockavilla-Donaskeigh. Prior to the launching a special Sean O'Riada Mass was celebrated by Very Rev. Dean C. Lee, P.P,- Cashel. Among' the distinguished gathering were His Grace, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Rev. David Woodworth, the Curch of Ireland Dean of Cashel, members of the author'sf amily, former friends and colleagues, Senator Willie Ryan, Chairman of the Tipp. S.R. County Council and Cllr. Jack Crowe, M.C.C. A most capable and efficient M.C. for the evening was Danny Morrissey, Principal Knockavilla N.S. 

A Local History 

The blurb on the dust-cover of this book states that the author 'brings national events to life by showing their effects on the people and landscape of his own locality. 'The personalities of landlord, priest and rebel stand out in a land where despite their wretched circumstances the people remain courageous and fun-loving.' 

The author begins in the dim distant past with St. Patrick and his connection with the parish. Tradition has it that he crossed the Multeen river at Aughnagrosse. He mentions other connection.s between the parish ad the Golden Age which are recalled in the place names, old church names and the names of holy wells. He includes Lackenbredy, Kilshenane, Teampall Mhic Duach, Tobar Mhic Duach and Tobar Lacktin. One of the strongest points throughout this book is the author's thorough knowledge of placenames and their significance. 

The O'Dwyers

The writer progresses through Gaelic and Norman times to a chapter on the most famous family in the parish the O'Dwyers of Kilnamanagh. A most interesting chapter on the early parishes follows: "The old parishes of Ballygriffin, Ballintemple, Oughterleague, Kilmore and Rathlynin are known to have existed as far back as the end ofthe 13th Century. They are mentioned in the Papal tax papers for the years 1291 and 1302.' 

Another chapter deals with the castles in the parish, at Ballynahinch, Ballygrffin, Ballinaclogh, Grantstown and Killenure. The author tells us: "Ballinahinch castle was the strongest bastion of them all. It was built near the ford on the Suir. It belonged to the Burkes as late as the middle of the Sixteenth Century ..... and it was a Butler possession from the 1580s forward.' 

The Civil Survey

The book gives us a list of the landowners in the" parish in 1640 according to the Civil Survey. There's an extraordinary number of O'Dwyers. From the Book of Distribution he gives the names of the landowners after the Comwellian Plantation, including Robert Maude, Randal Clayton, Mary Cotton, Thomas Shilburne, Richard le Hunt, Joshua Alien, Thomas Gower and others. 

Fr. William O'Dwyer was registered in 1704 as parish priest of Balllntemple, Oughterleague, Rathlynn and Kilfeacle. He seems to have been succeeded by Fr. Philip O'Dwyer, about whom little is known. His successor was Fr. Timothy McCarthy who was present in the parish from 1752-76. 

Fr. Matt Ryan

The book traces the lives of other priests up to the end of the 19th Century when one of the most famous of parish priests, Fr. Matt Ryan b­came parish priest in Knockavilla. Born in 1844 he came to Knockavilla in 1897 and the first thing he did was to build it church in Donaskeigh because 'in the old one at Ruane there were holes in the earthen floor and swallows flying in and out through the holes in the roof.' 

Fr. Matt had been in prison on two occasions before he came to the parish and was already ori the way to being a national figure. He said on one occasion that he would 'never be loyal to what I think is wrong' and he found the whole landlord system totally wrong. 

A teacher Edward Cussen, began teaching Irish in Knockavilla Boys' School, early in this century and Fr, Matt began studying, the language himself and became an enthusiast. He put his whole heart into the revival movement. He was determined that Irish would be taught in all the six schools in the parish and from that time forward no new teacher was appointed but one who was able and willing to teach Irish. One such apointee was Cormac Breathnach from South'Kerry who did not remain permanently. In time he became President of the I.N.T.O. and later of the Gaelic League. 

In time he became President of the I.N.T.O. and later of the Gaelic League. He was elected T. D. and became Lord Mayor of Dublin. 

Fr. Matt was responsible for organising the first feis in Co. Tipperary in 1904. A distinguished visitor to one of these feiseanna was Dr. Douglas Hyde. The author reveals a tremendous empathy with Fr. Matt and his aims. Michael MacCarthaigh carried on these aims himself at a later stage. 

General History

The book continues down to 1923 and there are brief mentions of hurling and athletic activity in the parish. We learn that on the County Tipperary team that won the first cross-country championship of Ireland, both the team and the individual events, were two men from· the parish, Tim Crowe of Bishopswood and John J. Howard of Ballintemple. The pity is that the story did not continue beyond 1923 and that more of the stirring events of the twentieth century are not treated. 

Although this is a history of the parish of Knockavilla-Donaskeigh the author places that history in the context of the wider scene of national history. Every chapter is prefaced by a resume of contemporary national events. While the idea was excellent the actual result is not a very happy one. Much too much of the book is devoted to an account of Irish history which could have been easily gleaned from a general history of the country. The book cried out for greater emphasis on the local. The chapter on Sinn Fein is an illustration. It contains very little inforfmation on what was happening in Knock;avilla-Donaskeigh and too much on natiorial events. Another example is 

the Famine period. Where did the peole go? What areas of the parish were worst hit? Surely there must have been interesting letters in the parish from heart-torn emigrants that would have given the chapter some local flavour. Again, what impact did the coming of the railway have on the parish? What did it do for employment? Did it bring in new amilies? Did it change the life-style of the people? These questions are neither asked or answered. Surely more on the history of the schools in the parish would have been helpful. One hundred and ninety-four pages of the book are devoted to the period up to the Famine but only one hundred to the time since then that would b of so much more immediate interest to the parishioners. 

But readers will probably regard this as mere carping criticism. And, perhaps it is unfair to the work of a man who dedicated his life to a love of his native parish. In this book he gave expression, on that love and the picture he paints is one at a fine and noble place. The book will be a monument to Michael MacCarthaigh's love of his own place. It will also be treasured by the people of the parish. Already they have expressed that appreciation by buying up virtually the complete edition of one thousand copies.



<span class="postTitle">Cashel's Great Carnival</span> Post Advertiser, Sept. 10, 1986, Vol. 2 No. 7

Cashel's Great Carnival

Post Advertiser, Sept. 10, 1986, Vol. 2 No. 7


On Friday, July 7, 1939 page 6 of the 'Irish Press' was almost completely devoted to advertising for Cashel's Great Carnival. The event was promoted with the object of raising funds necessary for the clearing off of the debt on the new, Christian Brothers School on the Tipperary Road. The accompanying article gave the reasons why the Brothers had moved from Ladyswell to the Tipperary Road. . . . . 

"Secondary education of the highest order is available to students in the Christian Brothers' School and in St. Philomena's Academy attached to the Presentation Convent. A few short miles away stands, in unrivalled intellectual pre-eminence, far-famed Rockwell College - foremost among the Boarding Schools and Colleges of Ireland for the past twelve years. Cashel's well appointed Technical Institute - a few brief years in existence - has already proved its usefuless and has sucessfully trained pupils for commercial, industrial and agricultural careers, as well as imparting a thorough knowledge of the hitherto neglected science of Domestic Economy. 

Of all the teaching establishments in Royal Cashel, one alone, the Christian Brothers' School, had become unsuited to its important role. The great Body of Religieuse, founded by Brother Rice, came to the city about half a century ago, spacious accommodation having been provided in what was formerly the Charters' School, erected in 1748 and devoted to the education of Protestant Orphan boys. This commanding premises in Ladyswell Street had been vacant and on being handed over to the Cashel corporation, passed into the possession of the Christian Brothers at a nominal yearly rent.

Ever since then, the Brothers have faithfully carried on the sacred work to which, like their glorious founder, they have dedicated their lives. For the past fifty years the building (which to this day is known to the old inhabitants as the Charters School) has resounded to the prayers and the teaching of the Gael and now, in its decrepit, advanced age, it has been replaced by a modern structure which adjoins the Christian' Brothers' residence on the Golden Road. The lack of accommodation and general unsuitableness of the old school fell so short of present-day requirements that necessity compelled the Brothers to erect a school in conformity with modern principles". 

The programme for the Carnival Week, which was to begin the following Sunday, had been drafted with the intention of bringing clean, healthful enjoyment to the thousands of patrons who were expected. The entertainment included displays of Sokoi drill by teams from the National Army. Also there was to be a performance by the Number 1 Army Band. A childrens' fancy dress display and a baby show were other features. Firework displays would illuminate the carnival grounds on the Sunday nights. By special arrangement with the Kodak Film Company the entire proceedings were to be filmed in part technicolour. All the secretarial work involved was in the hands of Mr. J.F. Rodoers. N.T. 

Perks Amusements were present with all the latest novelties including Honeymoon Express and Indian Theatre and Colone Danny and Partner, in thrilling motor cycle creashes. Stalls and Shows were to be replete with valuable gifts. There was to be clay-pigeon shooting. Finally, there was to be dancing nightly in a spacious marquee.

Most of the page was given over to advertising and all the advertisers got a mention in the text. Rockwell College had the distinction of being the leading residential school in the country for the previous twelve years. Situated in unrivalled scenic and health-giving surroundings Rockwell students had made names for themselves in Church and State and in many continents. .. . 

Messrs T. McCluskey and Company. had an extensive business in Boherclough St and a well-known reputation for integrity. He had recently opened an up-to-date garage there. They had one of the largest poultry concerns in the country and they bought pigs at centres in four counties. . . 

Mr. William Mullins had one of the oldest and most reputable establishments in the city including hardware, grocery, wines and spirits, agricultural requirements and funeral requisites. 

John Feehan carried on a successful hardware and grocery business; James O'Dwyer was the proprietor of a well-known tailoring establishment in Main Sreet. '. 

Ryan's Central Hotel was recognised as one of the best in the province. Equipped with hot and cold water services it was a popular rendezvous for tourists visiting the famous Rock of Cashel. 

Mr. M.J. Davern had a select wine, spirit and general grocery in Main Street. He was noted for his courtesy and· the high quality of his goods.

A prompt and efficient seivice was available at Messrs M.H. Hannigan and Co. in Main Street. The company ran a garage and general fancy warehouse. 

Mrs. M. Ryan and Mrs. M. Burke carried on a large trade in newsagency and stationery. Mr. W. McNamara's licensed grocery had long been noted for the excellence of its goods. The speciality was J.J.& S. Whiskey. 

Cashel was a fine place to live in at the time if all the paper said was true! 



<span class="postTitle">Paddy Walsh Pádraig Breathnach</span> Post Advertiser, August 1986, Vol. 2, No. 5

Paddy Walsh Pádraig Breathnach

Post Advertiser, August 1986, Vol. 2, No. 5


Many Tipperary people and from further afield are familiar with that ballad about Sean Treacy 'Tipperary Far Away'. Some may be able to sing all its verses but more could without doubt join in the last one; 

His comrades gathered around him

To bid him a last farewell. 

He was as true and as brave a lad

As ever in battle fell. 

They dug a grave and beneath it laid

Sean Treacy so brave and gay, 

Who will never more roam to his own native home

In Tipperary so far away. 

Few, though, would be able to say who wrote it. That man was Paddy Walsh or Padraig Breathnach of Camas, Cashel. Fewer still would be able to relate anything about the man who started life as a civil servant, joined the British army at the outbreak of World War 1, deserted some years later, joined the 1.R.A., took part in the fight for independence, became a great Irish teacher, rejoined the Civil Service and eventually died at the young age of 49 a couple of months before the outbreak of the Second World War. 

Born in Camas

Paddy Walsh was born in Camas on March 5, 1890. His father, John Walsh, came over from Boherlahan to marry Catherine Hayes. There is a song, The Camas Party, in which one of the Hayeses of Camas is celebrated: 

And for the bread and tay, boys, 

'Tis Maggie Hayes that we may thank, 

For she was the dacent girl

And didn't belong to the hungry rank.

There were seven in family, three boys, Paddy, Jim and WillIe and four girls, Mary Nora, Katie and Bridget. Jim emigrated to America, as also did Mary. Willie remained in the home place. Nora married Stephen Ryan, a bootmaker who lived on the Camas Road. Katie married Tom Doherty of Boherclough Street. He was one of the famous Cashel 'tanglers'. Bridget became a nun in the Mercy Convent, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim and was the last of the family to die. 


Paddy went to school to Mr. Merrick at Ballinahinch. The famous Fr. Matt Ryan was P.P. of Knockavilla at the time and a great supporter of things Irish. There was an assistant to Mr. Merrick who used to give Irish classes for a half-hour after school and it was here that Paddy, who became a fluent speaker and was to change his name to Pádraig Breathnach, learned his first Irish. 

At some stage he changed school to Ardmayle. This change may have been caused by a dislike for Mr. Merrick, who was regarded by some pupils as 'cross'. He was to continue teching at Ballinahinch until about 1920. Jack Breen of Camas recalls clearly, hearing about the Solohead ambush in January at school. 

Paddy Walsh went to Cashel C.RS. after Ardmayle and was good enough at the completion of his studies there to be called to the Civil Service. During this period his knowledge and love of the Irish language increased. Not only did he learn Irish at school but from the men of the Decies, who worked on the building of the railway, Gooldscross to Cashel, which was opened in December 1904. Another influence at this time was Tommy Strappe of Camas, who was a native Irish speaker. About 1910 Paddy was to write down stories in Irish told to him by Tommy Strappe. 

At a later stage in his career Paddy Walsh, writing under the pen name An Fanuidhe Aerach in the 'Nenagh Guardian', had this to say about his love of the Irish langauage: 'For many years I had yearned to spend a quiet holiday among one of the Gaelic-speaking communities of Munster. From earliest boyhood I had conceived an utter dislike for the tongue imposed upon us by the Sassanach and, reared in a district where the olden speech still lingered, I always fondly looked southward o'er the Galtees to where I was told the ancient civilisation still held sway. And so, when the harvest was beginning to assume its golden hue, I sped to the land of my early dreams and whiled away a pleasant month in the beautiful district of Ring where a syllable of the foreign speech never passed my lips.' 

Pierce McCan

Later he discovered that Irish was still the living tongue of middle aged people in the Newcastle area. He visited the place with Pierce McCan in the latter's 'splendid two-seater'. He had this to say later: 'Had McCan lived an Irish college would be in Newcastle now. He spoke of it that day and often afterwards. His energy, his sterling worth as organiser, his influence among the people, high and low, would have ensured the success of the enterprise ... ' 

The English Years 

Having been called to the Civil Service, Paddy Walsh was posted to London in 1906 and was to remain there until 1916. He spent much of his time in Whitehall. He became involved in Irish classes in London and was delighted to give voluntarily his services as an instructor. He was conscripted in 1916 and after training was sent to the Eastern theatre of war. He got malaria and was hospitalised for some time in Malta before being shipped home to England. 

There are two different accounts of what happened after that. One states that while on furlough to Ireland he deserted. The second, by Ernie O'Malley, tells us that Walsh deserted from a garrison in Cahirciveen in 1917 and brought his rifle with him. 

Whatever the version he went on the run and took the name, Paddy Dwyer, by which many people in the Upperchurch-Kilcommon area were to know him. It was in that area around Keeper Hill that Paddy was to find refuge and he was to use his army experience to teach some of the Upperchurch men the use of the rifle. He was to be involved in the movement until the Truce. Just before it he was arrested in the Rossmore area. On the occasion he failed to draw his revolver as it got stuck in the lining of his coat pocket. Paddy was to spend some time in jail as a guest of His Majesty's Government. Ernie O'Nalley recalls him: 'I had spent many an hour with him as he puzzled out the derivations of surrounding placenames, for that was his delight.' 

Paddy's interests went far beyond purely military matters. His interest. in the Irish language preceded him and it was decided to set up an Irish class at Knockfune. Here Breathnach, as Paddy now liked to be called, imparted his knowledge of the Irish language, songs and dances to a willing and appreciative group of students. The few surviving students speak highly of Breathnach's ability as a teacher. Even the most intricate of the Irish dances was mastered and, for some years afterwards, the Cashel set was more popular than the local Ballycommon. Among these who provided music for the dancing were Paddy and Julia Ryan (Lacken), who became very good friends of Pádraig Breathnach. Paddy Ryan had taken Irish lessons as also did Paddy Kinane, who became another good friend. 

Neither did Paddy forget his balladeering ability during those years. The Battle of Reidh recalls the attack on the barracks in Rearcross: 

They gathered from valley and highland, 

From their homes by the rivers and hills, 

To fight for the freedom of Ireland

One night in the heart of the hills. 

For they were the bravest of soldiers, 

No cowards or cravers were they

As they marched with their guns on their shoulders, 

To blow up the barracks of Reidh

'Twas dawn when the barracks were blazing

As the boys from the roofing crept down, 

The sight of the flames was amazing

As they lit up the country all round. 

Bullets were everywhere flying, 

Hand-grenades here and there did explode, 

While the Sasanach folk kept on firing, 

The Gaels did reply and re-Ioad. 

Keep their memory 'green', Men of Erin, 

While Shannon and Suir rivers flow, 

Remember it's courage and daring

That rid our dear land of the foe. 

So, join up the ranks and get ready, 

Prepare for the oncoming fray, 

And drill to keep cool, calm and steady

Like the boys at the Battle of Reidh. 

Another of his compositions was At Solaghead the War Began

He took the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War but not in any active capacity. His unadulterated Republicanism was given expression in a piece he wrote in the Nenagh Guardian in August 1923 in support of Paddy Ryan (Lacken)'s candidature in the General Election: 'The Republican ideal embodies the immortal principle of Irish Independence, that is, that England has no right to dictate to us in any way whatsover. This country is ours from Antrim to Cape Clear and from Dundalk to Achill. What business then has England here? To mix up in her 'Empire of Abomination', as Mitchell calls it, the Irish race shall certainly never do. The pride that was the tradition of the Milesian kings shall live as long as Ireland is Ireland.' 

In another place he wrote: 'To achieve Irish Independence it is the conviction of the writer that we must cut ourselves adrift from English civilisation. We must form our own social system and the language is the fIrst step to that.' 

One of his ballads was entitled 'Lament for Erskine Childers'. The second verse went like this: 

A man of noble mien was he, and as the lion bold, 

Who tried to set our country free and scorned English gold. 

A Nation's pride he died to guard and dear we'll hold his name

Tho' lying in a felon's yard he sleeps in deathless fame

An Fanuidhe Aerach

Naturally he did not endear himself to the Free State Government. He failed to be re-employed in the Civil Service because of his refusal to sign the necessary· declaration of allegiance to the Irish Government. He turned his attention to writing and to teaching Irish. 

From 1923 to 1929 he wrote intermittently in the 'Nenagh Guardian' under the pen-name Fanuidhe Aerach. His themes were mostly Gaelic and republican but he touched on other things as well. On November 10, 1923 he wrote: 'The dearth of good books and clean literature on the whole is truly lamentable in the Ireland of to-day .... ' On January 5, 1924 he turned his attention to the 'Bloodspilling Maudes of Dundrum. 'The Maudes reigned with a strong hand for a long time and were held in hatred by the old stock. A peasant dare not, to use the vulgarism, put his nose over a Dundrum fence. It was an easy matter to get transported then and flogged into the bargain.' On April 24, 1926 he asked: 'Is it a lie that Irish Independence has been achieved.'

He wrote a series on the War of Independence in County Tipperary entitled: 'From Solaghead to Knocklong. ' He was a very good friend of Jerry Ryan, the editor of the 'Nenagh Guardian' and gave expresion to that friendship in an editorial on the untimely death of his friend in November 1928: 'How shall I begin to talk about one of nature's gentlemen, one of an exalted turn of mind, one high of soul and lofty of purpose, one who possessed a sense of charity to all, with ill-feelings to none, industrious, manly and God-fearing.'

Itinerant Teacher

During the twenties Padraig Breathnach was employed as a teacher by the County Council. His brief was to travel around after school hours to the National Schools to give Irish classes. He gave classes in Kilcommon, Rearcross and Glenroe. He spent some of his time in the Cashel area. Frank Egan, who came to Cashel in 1927, remembers him. He recalls Padraig saying to him on one occasion about the nature of the job: 'Ni theasodh capall él' He went to County Wicklow in 1929 and spent two years doing the same there. 

However, before that he had got married and it was only fitting that his wife should be an Upperchurch woman. She was Maggie Purcell and she worked in her parents' bar in the village. For a while they lived in Boherclough Street, Cashel, where Mrs. Phelan lived until recently. They had two children, Cait and Diarmuid, and Maggie was to outlive him by nearly fIfty years, only passing on in August 1985. She was a very devout woman with a great :faith. She had an expression: 'The God you know - stay with him.' She was also a great ceilidhe dancer and loved going to Fleadhanna. She took part in a program on the music and culture of Upperchurch produced by her son for R.T.E. in 1971. 

Civil Servant

Padraig Breathnach was eventually re-established as a civil servant in 1931 and worked in the Department oo Defence until his death in 1939. The family lived in Bray and it was from the Church of the most Holy Redeemer in that town that his remains were removed following his death on June 26, 1939. The motor hearse brought the remains to Boherlahan Church where they were received by Rev. W. O'Dwyer, P.P. assisted by Rev. J. Hayes. On the following day the funeral was to the family burial ground in the cemetery adjoining Ballinahinch Castle, overlooking the river Suir. 

Paddy Walsh was a medium sized man, quiet spoken, almost in a whisper. He was thin and dark and is remembered from the twenties as wearing a cap. He was gentlemanly and popular and, as one acquaintance put it, 'crazy on the Irish'. Matty Cody of Camas still remembers the impression he made at first meeting, It was towards the end of the First World War and Matty was at Camas Cross watching the lads play skittles. Paddy Walsh came down to join them and started speaking Irish: 'He seemed to be very fluent but it was like a foreign language to all of us. We never heard it spoken.' 


<span class="postTitle">Sweeney's Bakery Cashel</span> Post Advertiser, July 21, 1986, Vol. 2 No. 2

Sweeney's Bakery Cashel

Post Advertiser, July 21, 1986, Vol. 2 No. 2


Recently Sweeney's Bakery closed down in Cashel and brought to an end a long tradition of baking in the town. Four workers lost their jobs as a result of the closure: Mary Crowe, who ran the office and vanmen, Michael Hogan of Gortnahoe, Pat Cleary of Ballinure and Michael Burke of Drombane. The last two bakers had been let go in April 1984 when the baking operations were concentrated in Thurles. At that time eighteen to twenty sacks of flour were baked daily. This amounted to about three and a half thousand loaves.

Better Days

If we cast our minds back to the mid-twenties we find the bakery turning out about two thousand loaves daily. In May 1924 the business had nineteen people on the books. Seventeen were paid full wages, one, P. Stapleton, was on pension and received five shillings a week and a second, D. Leamy, was an apprentice and received no pay. The total wage bill for the week ending May 17 was £49-18-0. It would have been £1-14-9 more but for the fact that Chris Looby was absent from work on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The total was made up of manu­facturing expenses of £30-3-5, distribution ex­penses of £9-4-0 and storage expenses of £8-7-8. As well, the em­ployers contribution under , the National Insurance Act of 1911 came to £0-17-0.

The Workers

The highest paid man was M. Perry, who was on the rate of £4-2-9. Plus bonus he received a gross amount of £4-11-01/2. He was followed by F. Kennedy, who was on a rate of £3-18-0 and received £3-19-4 for his week's work. Six men were on the rate of £3-13-0. One, J. Leamy, got a gross of £3-17-31/2. The others, William Looby, William Kennedy, Pat Leamy, F. Burke, and Chris Looby were paid £3-11-31/2. E. Farrell was an engineman and was paid at the rate of £2-9-0 and received £2-17-2 for the week.

The next four workers. Paddy Noonan, Jas. Rochford, J. Harding and D. Comerford were involv­ed in the distribution of the bakery products. Noonan and Rochford were on a rate of £2-6-0. Harding was on £2-0-0 and Comerford on £2-7-0. Noonan continued to work there until 1963. He drove the last horse van used by the company and continued to drive thehorse until the latter expired in that year.

The final group of workers were in the store, James Bergin, William Jones, George Purvey and Miss Trayer. Bergin was on a rate of £2-6-0, Jones and Purvey were on £2-0-0 and Miss Trayer, who was the clerk, was on a rate of £2-0-0.


Under the 1911 National Insurance Act the em­ployees had to make contributions for ill-health and unemployment. All the workers, with the except­ion of Miss Trayer who contributed 3d and 7d respectively, made a contribution of 4d for health and 9d for unemployment benefit.

The head office of the business had originally been in Cashel and was known as Going and Smith Ltd., Cahir and Suir Mills Office, Cashel but early in the 1920s the office was transferred to Cahir. (Sweeney's were to take over the business in 1966). In April 1926 W.H. Going issued a directive to Mr. J.E. Harris, the Cashel Manager, to reduce the wages of the bakers by five shillings and the engine-man by nine shillings a week. This reduction was brought about by arrangement with the seven per­manent bakers 'to go towards paying the engine-man'. No explanation was given as to why the bakers were forced to pay the engineman at that point in time.


If we go forward in time to April 1933 we find seven­teen workers baking forty-five and half sacks as against twelve more nine years previously. Gone since 1924 are M. Perry, W. Kennedy and the apprent­ice D. Leamy. Also, J. Harding, Miss Trayer, James Bergin and George Purvey. They have been replaced by John Dee, the new head baker. Jack Rochford, Miss Bailey, W. Comerford and E. 0' Farrell.

There is a dramatic change in wages. The head baker received a rate of £3-12-9, ten shillings less than in 1924. The remaining bakers received ten shillings less also. The engineman is down from £2-9-0 to £2-0-0. The change in the wages of the distribution workers isn't as radical. Paddy Noonan and Jas Rochford are down from £2-6-0 to £2-0-0 but D. Comerford is up from £2-7-0 to £2-10-0. The .workers in the store had held their own.

The total wage and in­surance bill for the week came to £32-16-5, a large drop from the comparable figure of £49-18-0 nine years previously. The in­surance contribution had gone down in the mean­time. The health contri­bution had remained at 4d a week but the unemployment contribution had come down from 9d to 6d for the employee and from 10d to 7d for the employer. The contribution was to go back up to 9d and 10d respectively in the first week of April 1934 under the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1933, which became law on April 1, 1934.


Going and Smith Ltd. went into liquidation in 1966. The Cashel bakery was going well at the time but there were problems in Cahir. The mill there was taken over by the IAWS and the bakery by a former employee. Sweeneys took over the Cashel bakery in April of that year. The bakers working there at that time were the two Leamys, Dick Looby and Arthur Bowen

Distribution workers were Willie Conry, Billy Keane, Dinny Hickey and Tommy Butler. Mary Crowe was in the office and there was always a boy employed for odd jobs. All of this is now history and it's sad to see the baker's skills passing away with many more skills that used to be such an important part of the life of the town.

An advertisement from 1942

There's Something Different about Our Bread

Our "HOUSEHOLD" Flour is "out on its own." Ask those who use it.
If any difficulty in obtaining, please inform us.

Going & Smith