Tipperary Born Tom Clarke First Signatory Of Irish Proclamation.

The Protestant Church of St. Paul In Clogheen Co. Tipperary, has today been reduced, like so many Protestant Churches in Ireland, to the status of a Community Centre.

According to a plaque over the doorway in the porch; the former Church dates back to 1846, the first full year of the Great Famine (1845-1849) and was closed officially in 1976.

The building, showing every evidence of high quality early nineteenth-century craftsmanship and design, is associated with Clonmel, Co. Tipperary born and renowned architect, William Tinsley. Tinsley you will remember, in 1836, also constructed the Chapter House, once home to the Bolton Library, in Cashel, Co. Tipperary.

Architect William Tinsley: William Tinsley served as a juryman in the William Smith O’Brien trial, held in Clonmel in 1848. O’Brien, then leader of the ‘Young Irelanders’ had been arrested at Thurles Railway Station, and following his trial was convicted of sedition for his part in the “Ballingarry (South Riding) Uprising“ near Thurles, [“Battle of Widow McCormack’s Cabbage Patch”] in that same year.
Although an independently wealthy property owner in Clonmel, it is thought that his known association with the William Smith O’Brien trial as a Juryman, together with Great Famine conditions, may have contributed to a decline in Tinsley’s business. Same is understood to have resulted in his decision, in 1851, to emigrate to Cincinnati, Ohio, US, with his second wife Lucy and their nine children. His first wife, Ellen MacCarthy, had died of tuberculosis after just two years of marriage. He then had married her cousin Lucy MacCarthy, latter who died in 1857 in Indianapolis, Indiana. His third marriage, to Mary Eliza Nixon, ended in estrangement. In total he had fathered seventeen children by his three wives. Following his death in 1885, he was interred at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana, US

A short distance from the Church, Tom Clarke, [Tomás Séamus Ó Cléirigh], was born on March 11th, 1857, in Main Street Clogheen, Co Tipperary; the son of Irish Catholic servant girl Mary Palmer and Irish Protestant British Army Sergeant James Clarke. Two months later the couple married in this same St. Paul’s (C of I) Church, at Lower Main Street, Clogheen Market, Clogheen, South Co. Tipperary, (Picture shown hereunder). Over the next 12 years together Mary and James would add two girls and one other boy to their family unit.

Photographer: G. Willoughby.

In 1865, after spending some years in South Africa, his father Sgt. Clarke was transferred to the Ulster town of Dungannon, County Tyrone, Ireland, and it was here that Tom spent his formative years, bonding strongly with both his parents and siblings.

Former Protestant Famine Church of Saint Paul, Lower Main Street, Clogheen Market, Clogheen, South Co. Tipperary.
Photographer: G. Willoughby.

Highly intelligent; whose hero was Theobald Wolfe Tone, latter a leading protestant Irish revolutionary figure and founder members of the republican society known as the United Irishmen, Tom Clarke went on to became an assistant teacher at a local school, while developing a passion for politics.

Rejecting only his father’s British Army uniform; Tom Clarke was constantly warned by his father James, that defying the might of the Great British Empire, was completely futile. However, being naturally rebellious and sympathetic of the rough treatment issued out to Dutch, German, and Huguenot settlers (Boers) in South Africa, Tom had come to regard the British Army stationed in South Africa as ‘an imperial garrison of oppression’ since the area came into their possession in 1806, as a result of the Napoleonic wars.

For centuries the Irish town of Dungannon had been a den of bitter religious hatred and political antagonisms between Catholics and Protestants. In 1878 Tom heard a speech by the national organiser of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) John Daly and a short time later, at the age of 21years he joined the organisation, having come to the realisation that his future must involve attempts aimed at the destruction of every vestige of British authority within Ireland.

By 1880, he had risen to be head of his local Irish Republican Brotherhood group. It was at this time that an RIC officer had shot and killed a man during riots between the Orange Order, (latter a Protestant fraternal order) and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, (latter a Roman Catholic organisation).
A revenge attack by Clarke and his followers on the RIC in Irish Street, Dungannon failed; forcing Clarke, who now feared arrest, to flee to New York, where he soon joined Clan na Gael, the then leading republican organisation in America. Eager to strike at the very heart of the British Empire, he volunteered to join the Fenian dynamite campaign (carried out in England between the years 1881 and 1885). This campaign had been advocated by Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, one of the IRB leaders, also then exiled in the United States.

In 1883, using the alias “Henry Wilson”, Clarke was sent to London. However, aided by paid informants, British authorities were already on the heels of those involved. Clarke was arrested while found to be in possession of dynamite, as were three of his associates. He was sent for trial at London’s Old Bailey, before being sentenced to penal servitude for life, on May, 28th 1883.

He would serve 15 years in prisons Pentonville, (Islington, Central London), Chatham, (St. Mary’s Island Kent) and Isle of Portland prison, (Dorset) before his release in 1898. Following years of invasive body searches, systematic sleep deprivation and constant isolation, his hatred of the British establishment made him even more determined to continue in his efforts to overthrow British rule in Ireland.

Released and now 41-years-old, he moved to Brooklyn in the United States, where he would be later be joined by the very lovely Kathleen Daly; the 20-year-old fiercely republican niece of his aforementioned mentor and prison comrade John Daly. Despite their age difference they were subsequent married on July 16th 1901, in New York City.

Kathleen Clarke, (née Daly)

Kathleen Clarke (née Daly) would become a founder member of Cumann na mBan in 1914 and later subsequently a Teachta Dála (TD) and Senator with both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, and would become the first female Lord Mayor of Dublin (1939–41).

In late 1902 Kildare born John Devoy the then leader of Clan na Gael, conscience of Clarke’s organising ability, appointed him the editor of his weekly newspaper “The Gaelic American”, which documented the struggles of Irish Americans and was published in the United States from 1903 to 1951.

John Devoy was one of the few people to have played a role in the Fenian Rising of 1867, the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence of 1919–1921, and had orchestrated the escape of IRB founder and Kilkenny born James Stephens from Richmond Prison in Dublin. Following his death in 1928 The Times of London newspaper described Devoy as, “the most bitter and persistent, as well as the most dangerous, enemy of this country which Ireland has produced since Wolfe Tone”.

Tom proved to be a talented journalist and his anti-British propaganda soon attracted 30,000 readers across America. Under the intensive instruction of John Devoy, Clarke learned the valuable techniques on how to manage a revolutionary organisation; how to manipulate people and when to exercise power.

Tom Clarke returned to Ireland in November 1907, opening a small newspaper, stationers and tobacconist shop at No 55 Amien Street, Dublin. Within the next 5 years he had successfully rid the IRB of its entrenched older individuals which formerly made up what Clarke saw as a failed supreme Council and had befriended Sean MacDermott, a younger man who shared his love of conspiracy and revolutionary ideals.

Tom Clarke pictured standing outside his shop at No 55 Amien Street, Dublin.

With the start of the first World War in August 1914, Clarke and MacDermott both saw their opportunity and established a military council made up of Patrick Pearse, Joseph Plunkett and Eamonn Ceannt to secretly devise plans for a rising, supervised by Clarke himself and MacDermott. In January 1916 Clarke forged an alliance with James Connolly, informing him of most of his Military Council’s plans.

The agreement by Germany to supply a shipment of arms for a rising on Sunday, April 23rd, 1916, seemed to place everything in position. However, as we now know, Volunteer President Eoin MacNeill countermanded the parades that were to precede the uprising. Clarke’s Military Council however decided to proceed on Easter Monday in the hope that the nation would respond. There would be no real response.

The Easter 1916 Rising began on Easter Monday, April 24th 1916 and lasted for six days, ending on April 29th, 1916.

Of the 485 people killed, 260 of these were civilians, 143 were British military and RIC personnel. Irish rebels deaths made up 82 in total, including 16 rebels executed for their roles in the Rising. More than 2,600 individuals were wounded, with many of the civilians either killed or wounded by British artillery fire mistaken for rebels or caught in the crossfire during firefights between the British and the rebels.

Tom Clarke’s court martial on Tuesday May 2nd lasted approximately 15 minutes. He made no statement, called no witnesses and only entered a plea of not guilty, so as to deny being a German agent.

Found guilty and sentenced to death, early the next day he was brought with Pearse and MacDonagh to Kilmainham Gaol. In the morning he was allowed a final farewell visit from his wife.

Shortly before 3:00am he entered the stone-breakers’ yard and after vainly offering to forego a blindfold, he was executed by a 12-man firing squad as was Pearse and MacDonagh; all in quick succession.

A horse-drawn ambulance was used to carry the three corpses of the executed men to Arbour Hill for interment in unmarked graves in the exercise yard of the military prison, behind what we today know as Collins Barracks. The buildings now house the National Museum of Ireland (Decorative Arts and History).

A request by his wife and three sons to have Tom’s body taken for interment to a family plot, was rejected by Colonial Governor, General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell, latter who had played a key part in the response to the 1916 Irish Easter Rising, including the ordering of the execution of all leaders of the rising.

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Knaggs Family Research Thurles, Co. Tipperary

Brief research was undertaken by Thurles.Info on the Thurles Knaggs family, following a request by one Ms Charlotte L. Roberts on the Ireland Reaching Out website.

“Things I Remember About My Father and Mother” was a published document written by Ms Charlotte L. Roberts, whose mother was Charlotte Knaggs-Roberts, latter originally from Thurles, in Co. Tipperary.

Charlotte L. Roberts writes fondly about her mother:-

“We walked to church and mother always went except when she had a small baby or someone was ill.
Mother loved music but had never had an opportunity to learn to play. She sometimes played on a Jew’s Harp. Will Atkins, a brother-in-law, directed the church choir at the First Methodist Church. She sang in the choir whenever possible. Sunday evenings she could go because my father would stay home with Olive and me. He would hold me on his lap and sing many hymns – usually gospel hymns.

Mother was a very good cook and we always had plenty of good food. She made pickles of the little cucumbers; mustard pickle, red cabbage pickle which was kept in a big crock down cellar; string bean pickles and many kinds of jelly. She also made her own bread and pies and cakes. We had many family picnics, usually at the Trout Ponds.

Mother was always patient with her children. She was born in Thurles, Ireland. Her father and mother were staunch Protestants. There were, Jane, Annie, Sarah, and Charlotte and several sons: Tom, Jim, George, and I think, one other. There was an Anne Jane, two with the name Hannah, [one died as a baby], Elizabeth, Robert, and Benjamin.

They came to America in 1864 and stayed in New York City for a few years. At Duane Street, Methodist Church they met many young people. My mother married John Oliver Roberts. They lived in Ohio for a time where my father bought butter and eggs and shipped them to New York. Later he came to Smithboro and finally to Newark Valley (New York) where they spent the rest of their lives”.

Charlotte L. Roberts writes also about her father John Oliver Roberts:-

John Oliver Roberts 1848 was from Middleton. Co. Cork, was the son of John Oliver Roberts. We were always at church every Sunday. My father was treasurer of the Sunday School. Also, teacher of a men’s class. He knew the Bible well. I found books that had been given to him as awards for his Bible study. I believe Father was also on the Official Board. He always liked to have his family look nice and he himself, was very meticulous about his own appearance.

He was a wonderful gardener – no weeds in his garden. He raised all kinds of vegetables, so we had good food summer and winter. Apple trees in the back garden furnished fruit and jelly.

He was fond of games. On afternoons when he could get away from the store, he would go with Bert Livermore to the Trout Ponds to play croquet. They each had their own special mallet and ball. At home he liked to play Checkers and Crokinole, (Latter a dexterity board game similar to marbles, and shove ha’penny).

As children we had Parcheesi (Played with two dice), Dominos, Authors (Card Game), Devil Among the Tailors (Table skittles), Jack Straws (Game involving a bundle of “sticks”, between 8 and 20 centimetres long, which are dropped loosely in a bunch onto a table top, jumbled into a random pile), and Croquet. He enjoyed company and we had cousins from Jersey who used to visit us in the summer. One year 15 cousins had their pictures taken at our home, though all were not visiting us.

Father was born in Middleton, Co. Cork, Ireland. Roberts is a Welsh name, but I know nothing about his family, his ancestors. There was an Uncle Ben who lived in London. Father’s brother James lived in this country and all his later years were spent in Smithboro. There were two sisters who visited in New York, but there is no further information about them. My father came to this country when he was 18 years of age in 1865″.

James Knaggs, eldest son of Robert Knaggs, Archerstown Mills, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

Our brief research undertaken will first deal with Mr James Knaggs who through a Codicil in 1816 [Codicil being an additional formal legal document, added to a will, through which the Testator can make valid changes to their estate], obtained a lease from his father, latter Robert Knaggs (Surveyor of Excise), with an address at New Ross, Co. Wexford; of cabins including mills and a brewery on Littleton Road, Thurles, for 3 lives.

Mr James Knaggs married Ms Elizabeth Langford on February 11th, 1839 here in Thurles. They had 10 children – five daughters; Charlotte, Sarah, Anna Jane, Hannah Marie and Elizabeth, together with 5 sons; James, George, Robert, Benjamin and Thomas.

We are aware that Ms Ann Jane Knaggs, daughter of above named, Mr James & Elizabeth Knaggs, married Mr Sexton Roane, here in Thurles on June 29th 1860.

The Archerstown brewery and bakery, in 1846, was situated on the left side of the road, while the Archerstown water mill was situated on the right-hand side, as commuters travelled southwards from Thurles to Littleton via the Mill Road, latter formerly known as “Manor Mill Road”.

‘Poulaneigh’ is a pond in the townland of Galboola near Littleton. Same is the source or starting point of the Poulaneigh river. Joined by the river ‘Bréagagh’ same fed this 6-acre property of Archerstown mill, leased to Mr James Knaggs.

[Take time to halt and view the Ordnance Survey map, 6-inch to a mile, first edition, first surveyed 1840-1841, engraved in 1843, in the video shown above.]

‘Poulaneigh’ – (“Poll an eigh”) Irish translation “the pool of the horse”. ‘Bréagagh’ – Irish adjective for “false, deceptive or lying”, from the noun ‘bréag’ meaning a lie.

Regrettably today, Archerstown Mill (later which later become Dan Brady’s Mill) no longer exists. All that remains today is a narrow section of the millrace that provided fast running water to the old mill wheel. The archway leading into the once Brewery yard, (also shown in the above video) stands situated across the roadway and remains today, somewhat in decline.

You can read more about Knaggs Mill, same later to be known as Dan Brady’s Mill, by clicking HERE.

As exists today; the Poulaneigh river then continues on, to be joined by the ‘Drish’ river, as a tributary, and then continues to the Manor Mills [The Manor Mills, today better known as Byrne’s Mills, are marked on the 1840’s map as the “old tuck mill” and the “old flour mill”] situated on the Mill Road side of today’s Drish Bridge [Marked on the map as the “Old Mills bridge”] near the entrance to Lady’s Well. The output or mill-race from the Manor Mills is still marked as the “Poulaneigh or Manor river” until it feeds into the Suir river, just beside ‘Lady’s Well’. The river Breagagh is marked as a tributary of the Poulaneigh river, joining it just after it has begun to flow out of Poulaneigh pond.

The Old Tuck Mill Reference

Cloth washing areas go back a long way. Old Testament Bible Quote: “Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed”. [From Book of Isaiah: Chapter 7, Verse 3. Written in the 8th century before Christ (BC)]

The concept of ‘Tucking’, also known as ‘Fulling’, ‘Walking’ or ‘Waulking’; was a stage in the manufacture of woollen cloth, which in turn involved the cleansing of cloth (particularly wool), thus eliminating oils, dirt, and other impurities, and to make it thicker. The workers undertaking this work were known as ‘fullers’, ‘tuckers’, or ‘walkers’.

Tucking involves two processes: (1) Scouring and (2) Thickening; each carried out originally by the pounding of the woollen cloth with a club, or the tucker’s own feet or hands.

By the time of the Crusades; in the late eleventh century, ‘Fulling / Tucking Mills’ were active throughout the medieval world. From this medieval period, tucking was often carried out in a water mill, followed by the stretching of the cloth on large frames known as ‘tenters’, to which the
‘Tucking’ product is attached by hooks. [It is from here that the phrase “being on tenterhooks” is derived, usually meaning that one is being held in suspense.]

The second function of fulling (Thickening) was to thicken cloth by matting the fibres together thus giving it strength and increased waterproofing (known as felting). After this stage, water would then be used to rinse out any foul-smelling residue.

‘Tucking’ or ‘Fulling’ in Roman times was labour consigned usually to slaves who worked the cloth, while ankle deep in tubs of human urine. Stale urine, known as ‘Wash’, was a source of ammonium salts which assisted in cleansing and bleaching the cloth. It is understood that urine from the Thurles Workhouse (Hospital of the Assumption, Thurles) and from the wealthier houses was collected and used to bleach such cloth.

As already stated, marked on the 1840’s map, the Breagagh river finished where it flowed into the Poulaneigh river, latter which then continued on as the Poulaneigh river, to feed Archerstown [Brady’s] Mill first and having being joined by the Drish river; to feed Manor [Byrne’s] Mills.

Same river in turn would then also contribute to the running of the Turtulla Mill, same once existing close to the Meagher residence, better known today as Thurles Golf Club. In all 4 mills operated on this less than 1 kilometre stretch of water.

On the 1904 Ordinance Survey map a new feature or attribute appears in 1846, on the Thurles landscape – namely a Leat.

Leat (also spelt lete or leet) is the name for an artificial watercourse or aqueduct dug into the ground, especially one supplying water to a watermill or its mill pond. Here also we come across the welcome activity of yet another of the Knaggs Family; namely Robert Charles Knaggs [Medical Doctor (MD)], latter who resided where the Ulster Bank operates today, at no 49 Liberty Square, Thurles previously then known as Main Street Thurles.

Dr. Robert Charles Knaggs (MD) Main Street Thurles

Monday April 20th, 1846
On Monday April 20th, 1846; according to the ‘Minutes of the Thurles / Rahealty Famine Food Committee’ [Minutes of Great Famine 1845 -1849]; members of same met with Rev. Henry Cotton (Chairman), Dr. O’Connor, Rev. Mr Barron (RC), Rev. Mr Baker, Rev. Mr Lanigan, Mr. Francis O’Brien (Treasurer), Dr. Robert Charles Knaggs and Mr J. B. Kennedy present.

We learn: “Dr R.C. Knaggs also reports – he having inspected the works to be done at Limekiln Lane, College Lane and the Double Ditch – calculated the expense of the works at College Lane at £20.
Proposals from P. MGrath and Danl Carroll for barrows –
½ a doz ordered from MGrath at 9/- each.
½ do from Carroll at 9/6 each.
½ doz also to be got from Dan Dwyer, (if he wishes to make them)”
(1.) Hours of labour for all employees to be from 7:00am to 7:00pm; minus 2 hours for meals.
(2.) Any labourer found to shirk from reasonable and fair work or refusing to follow the directions of his overseer, shall forthwith be discharged and not admitted to the works again.
(3.) That the persons employed shall be paid every evening.
(4.) That in case a greater number of labourers shall offer themselves, than the funds will enable the committee to pay, a preference shall be given to those who have the largest and most necessitous families.

This ‘Leat’ would travel from the grounds of today’s St. Patrick’s College as far as ‘Lady’s Well’, before travelling under the Poulaneigh river, thus removing flood water from the Thurles river Suir end; draining it further downstream back into the River Suir once again. This ‘Leat’ remains visible to this day.

17th Oct 1846
On October 17th, 1846 we also learn that:- “On discussion as to the appointment of an assistant secretary and providing the use of a room for a future sitting of the Committee; it was deemed advisable to do so and it was accordingly arranged with Dr. R.C. Knaggs to allow his parlour (in the now Ulster Bank building) to be continued to be used by them and that he should be appointed assistant secretary and paid a stipulated sum to be hereafter agreed upon, out of the sums of money granted by the Lord Lieutenant.”

Friday November 13th 1846.
At the 3:00pm meeting on Friday November 13th 1846 we read:- “Dr. R.C. Knaggs states that a large number of men could be employed on making sewers through the town, if there was a quarry to be had. Venerable Archdeacon Dr. H. Cotton offers the use of a quarry on his land.”

Note: Here we have the first ever sewage system being built here in Thurles, making the then existing ‘Shit Wells’ / ‘Honey Wells’ positioned in the back lanes of the town, now redundant. Indeed, so well designed was this sewer system; that in more modern times pipes were, for the most part, laid directly into this same old sewer system, when it was being upgraded.

According to Griffith’s Valuation of Ireland, Dr. Robert C. Knaggs owned property at Pike Road (Today’s Kickham Street, Thurles), at Wrensborough Thurles (Dublin Road), and at Monakeeba, Thurles.

Perhaps the existing Knaggs Clan around the world, might like to take a trip back here to Thurles, Co. Tipperary, in the not too distant future and we will be happy to walk you in the footsteps of your ancestors.

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Richard Thomas Moynan – The Tipperary Connection.

Well-known Irish painter, Richard Thomas Moynan (27th April 1856-10th April 1906) was born in Dublin at No.1 Eldon Terrace, off the South Circular Road. He was the fourth of eight children; three sons and five daughters, born to Mr Richard Moynan (Sr.) and his wife Harriet (nee Nobel and daughter of Arthur Nobel, a Church of Ireland clergyman).  The father of Richard Moynan (Jr.) held a managerial position with the fabric importers Ferrier, Pollock and Company, who had registered offices at No. 59 William Street, Dublin.

The Paintings Of Richard Thomas Moynan video by George Willoughby.

Richard Moynan (Jr.) initially studied medicine; however, his artistic instincts would prove to be too strong to be resisted and shortly before his final medical examinations, he decided instead to commence his training in the arts, at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, in January 1880.

Somewhat older than his fellow students and perhaps better educated; Richard Moynan was soon winning prizes in the Taylor and Cowper competitions. [The Taylor Art Trust was formed in 1878 in response to the will of Captain George Archibald Taylor, latter who died in 1854 leaving £2,000 for the “the promotion of art and industry in Ireland”.]

In 1882 he moved on to the Royal Hibernian Academy, winning both silver and bronze medals for his talents and in the following year, 1883, achieved the Albert Scholarship for the best picture shown at the Royal Hibernian Academy by any student. This painting entitled “The Last of the 24th at Isandula” (RHA, 1883), portrayed an imaginary episode in the Zulu wars fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom.
Continue reading

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Irish Nationalist Supporter – Thomas Croke Archbishop of Cashel & Emly

Dr Thomas William Croke (D.Div.) Archbishop of Cashel and Emly – Strong Supporter Of Irish Nationalism.

Sunday last, July 22nd 2018 marked the 116 anniversary of the death of Archbishop Thomas William Croke (D.Div.) [28 May 1824 – 22 July 1902], the second Catholic Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand (1870–74) and later to become the Irish Archbishop of Cashel and Emly. A former patron of the Gaelic Athletic Association, with the largest GAA stadium situated in Dublin, Croke Park, named in his honour.

Archbishop Croke was born in Castlecor, Dromin in the parish of Kilbrin, Co. Cork, in 1824. His grandfather was a shopkeeper in the local square. His father, William was Land Agent/Manager for the 4,000 acres Freeman Estate, purchased from the Chinnerys in the early 18th century. (Freemans of Castle Cor, Co. Cork, their home now demolished.).

William his father married a Protestant girl, one Miss Isabella Plummer, daughter of an aristocratic family, latter descendants of the Knight of Glin, a hereditary title held by the FitzGerald families of Co. Limerick, since the early 14th century. Isabella’s parents would disown her following her Roman Catholic marriage to William in 1817.

Archbishop Croke was the third of eight children born of this couple, before his father died in 1834. William’s brother, Reverend Thomas Croke, now took it upon himself to supervise the education and upbringing of the children.

Two of Archbishop Croke’s brothers would enter the priesthood, while two sisters would enter a convent and become nuns. Archbishop Croke himself would go on to be educated in Charleville, Co. Cork and later at the Irish College in Paris and the Irish College in Rome, winning academic distinctions, including a Doctorate of Divinity, with honours.

Ordained a priest of the Cloyne diocese at the height of the ‘Great Famine’ (1845-1849) in May of 1847, he was appointed a Professor in Carlow College. Irish nationalist Member of Parliament (MP) and leader of the Young Ireland movement, William Smith O’Brien claimed that Archbishop Croke fought on the barricades in Paris during the French Revolution in 1848.

In 1858 he became the first president of St. Colman’s College, Fermoy, Co. Cork and then served as both parish priest of Doneraile and Vicar General of Cloyne diocese from 1866 to 1870. Thomas Croke attended the First Vatican Council as theologian to the Bishop of Cloyne in 1870.

In 1870 Croke was appointed Bishop of Auckland in New Zealand, arriving in Auckland on 17th December 1870 on the Steamer “City of Melbourne”. During the next three years as Bishop of Auckland; Croke devoted some of his considerable personal wealth to rebuilding diocesan finances. However, in Auchland there was then little sign of the strongly Irish nationalist line Croke would later adopt following his return here to Ireland; transferred to become a member of the Irish hierarchy as Archbishop of Cashel, (One of the four Catholic Irish archbishoprics, i.e. Cashel & Emly; Dublin; Armagh and Tuam).

Archbishop Croke (His motto – “Mergimur Nurquam”. Literal translation from Latin “We are never sunk”.), would now become a strong supporter of Irish nationalism, aligning himself with the Irish National Land League; an Irish political organisation of the late 19th century which sought to help poor tenant farmers; and with the chairman of the Irish Parliamentary Party, Charles Stewart Parnell, latter a wealthy and powerful Anglo-Irish Protestant landowner. Croke’s support of nationalism caused successive British governments and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland’s civil service in Dublin to be deeply suspicious of his known associations. He also associated himself with the Temperance Movement of Irish Catholic priest and teetotal reformer, Father Theobald Mathew, [latter born at Thomastown, near Golden, Co. Tipperary, on October 10th, 1790], and the Gaelic League from its foundation in 1893; its aim to restore the Irish language.

Later, somewhat embarrassed by Charles Stewart Parnell’s immorality, Archbishop Croke was forced to distance himself and withdrew from active participation in nationalist politics, following the scandal that erupted over Parnell’s relationship with Mrs Katherine (Kitty) O’Shea, (particularly during the period 1886-1890), latter the separated wife of Parnell’s fellow M.P., Captain William (Willie ) O’Shea. Captain O’Shea would eventually file for divorce from his wife, citing Charles Stewart Parnell as co-respondent. A two-day trial would reveal that Mr Parnell had been the long-term lover of Mrs O’Shea and had indeed fathered three of her children. This scandal back then would force the two dominant forces of Nationalism and Catholicism to split wide apart.

Due to his support and known association with Parnell’s efforts, Archbishop Croke now found himself summoned to Rome by Pope Leo XIII and Cardinal Simeoni. Following his meeting and prior to his return to Ireland, he stayed over at the Irish College in Rome and when questioned regarding the outcome of his meeting with both men, Archbishop Croke stated that he returned to Ireland “Unchanged and unchangeable.”

Archbishop Croke died at the Archbishop’s Palace in Thurles, Co. Tipperary on 22nd July 1902, aged 78 years and he is buried in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Today: From the western side and overlooking Liberty Square, in the centre of Thurles, Co. Tipperary, a very fine life sized statue of Archbishop Thomas William Croke (D.Div.) exists bearing the Irish inscription:-

Translation: The Athletic Association of Ireland erected this commemorative plaque as a tribute of honour to the Most Reverend Thomas Croke, D.D., Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, the first Patron of the Gaelic Athletic Association.
An example to every one of the nobility and strength of the Irish People.

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Visit St. Cualan’s Bell in Borrisoleigh Co. Tipperary

The ancient art of Handbell Ringing is largely unheard of here in Southern Ireland; first Handbells having being developed by brothers Robert and William Cor in Aldbourne, Wiltshire, England, between 1696 and 1724.

Now on Friday next two simultaneous Hand Bell Ringing Marathon Recital events will take place in the area of the village of Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co. Tipperary on Friday next, July 27th, 2018. The bell ringing recitals will be conducted by the London-based guild of St. Cualan, under the direction of Mr Thomas Hinks.

This St. Cualan Guild take their name from the Bearnan Cualan, a 12th century Irish bell shrine, which originally belonged to the monastery of St Cualan at Glenkeen, Borrisoleigh, in Co. Tipperary.

Replica of St. Cualan’s Bell, Sacred Heart Church, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary.

St. Cualan’s Bell, (also known as the Glankeen Bell or An Béarnan Cuileáin) is a late 7th to early 8th century [Anno Domini], iron hand bell, latter encased in a richly ornamented early 12th century brass shrine; its height being about 30 centimetres, inclusive.

It had been located hidden in a tree trunk in the townsland of Kilcuilawn, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary, in the late 18th century and the original now resides in the British Museum in London, (Reference Record No. 1854,0714.6.B.)

The bell shrine is decorated in what is possibly an Irish version of the Viking Ringerike style, (Ringerike style receives its name from the Ringerike district north of Oslo, in Norway who produced similar designs), with an inlaid Silver and Niello strip, (latter manufactured by fusing together copper, silver and lead before mixing the molten alloy with sulfur).

The work is similar to that found on the Clonmacnoise Crozier and the Lough Derg Sword and indeed it is quite likely that all three pieces may have originated from the same metal workshop. It is also possible that all three pieces were made either for use at or in commemoration of the Synod of Ráith Bressail, which met near Borrisoleigh in the year 1111. Latter was the most important of all the synods associated with the twelfth-century Church Reform movement in Ireland, organising for the first time an administrative structure and a territory based system of dioceses under the control of individual bishops.

Interesting: For many years St. Cualan’s Bell was used to detect false oaths; liars swearing by St. Cualan’s Bell, risked having their ‘heads reversed’.

The original bell is partially incomplete; missing its internal ‘clapper’ and a handle, however, an accurate replica of the shrine is kept on open display in the Roman Catholic parish Church of The Sacred Heart in the picturesque village of Borrisoleigh, just 14km or 16 mins drive from Thurles, Co. Tipperary, via route R498.

The bell somehow came into the possession of Birr attorney and historian Thomas Lawlor Cooke from Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary, who wrote important histories on the town of Birr and district [`Picture of Parsonstown’ (1826)]. Cooke went on to sell the bell shrine, along with other artefacts, to the British Museum, where it has remained as part of religious displays ever since.

When this visiting guild of bell ringers were first formed, they were not fully aware of the ancient story behind the famous Bearnan Cualan and its association with Borrisoleigh village.

Now, at about 1.00pm on Friday next, July 27th the welcome Bearnan Cualan Chapter will divide into two groups. One half will remain in the Church of The Sacred Heart, Borrisoleigh; while the other half will attend near the ivy-covered medieval ruins of Glenkeen church, before both commence a three hour long ‘Marathon Peal’.

Needless to say, everyone is invited to make an appearance to either or both venues and to remain for whatever length of time they can spare.

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