First Ever Sports Festival Begins In Thurles

sport-fest

Thurles Sports Festival 2015

The first ever sports festival of its kind to be held in Ireland, the ‘Thurles Sports Fest‘, will take place in various indoor and outdoor venues, throughout the town of Thurles, from July 3rd next to July 11th inc, with the full support and backing of Tipperary County Council, Tipperary Tourism, Tipperary Sports Partnership, together with LIT Thurles, Fáilte Ireland and Tipp FM.

Click image on left for greater magnification.

This annual festival is massively expanded this year, following on from the previous and hugely successful annual Thurles Sarsfields Festival of Gaelic Sport. Sports teams from across Ireland and abroad are all lined up, once again for the trip to Thurles, as part of this exciting Sports Festival.

The town of Thurles will showcase the best it has to offer as a sports, tourism and shopping destination to the many visitors who are expected to visit the home of the G.A.A. during this 9 days of festival activity. The nine day festival features 24 sports, national and international, as well as very attractive musical and cultural events.

The feast of Sport will see games such as Hurling, Camogie, Ladies Football, Juvenile Hurling, Road Bowling, Rounder’s, Handball, Target Ball (Latter for persons with special needs), Basketball, Soccer, Boxing, American Football, Fencing, Swimming, Golf, Fun Cycle, 5Km fun run/Walk, Taekwando, tag rugby, and a special feature; an International Polocrosse match between Ireland and the U.S.A..

There will also be sports talks, fitness talks, healthy food talks, children’s workshops, a food village to include cookery demonstrations, a craft village, family fun-day, funfair, live music day, dance shows, bouncy castles, climbing walls, G.A.A Heritage trail, re-enactment of the founding of the G.A.A., pub music trail, traditional music sessions and much more.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to avail of special incentives and explore the sights of Thurles such as St Mary’s Famine Museum, Semple Stadium, Lár na Páirce (Latter the G.A.A museum), Cabragh Wetlands, Farney Castle, Holycross Abbey, Pony-trekking with Thurles Equestrian Centre, and Thurles Greyhound Stadium.

Why not visit www.thurlessportsfest.com/ and download the complete festival brochure.

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Thurles Welcomes Walking Club

St. Mary's Famine Museum, Thurles. Tipperary.

St. Mary’s Famine Museum, Thurles. Tipperary.

Some 50 members of Fingal Walking Club have arrived here in Thurles today, with many of these visitors remaining within our midst over the coming weekend and into the early part of next week.

These welcome visitors are staying at the Anner Hotel, Business and Leisure Centre, situated on the Dublin Rd, east of Thurles town and as I write some are enjoying a quiet stroll in the hills above the picturesque village of Upperchurch.

This visiting group, organised by Active Breaks Ireland, will be met later this evening by personnel representing St. Mary’s Famine museum; latter who will both welcome our guests and brief them on matters pertaining to the historical important of this part of Co. Tipperary.

On Sunday next, June 21st, this group will also undertake a guided walking tour of Thurles town centre, visiting amongst other places St Mary’s Famine Museum and Lár na Páirce GAA museum.

Welcome to Thurles, Co Tipperary.

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Book Launch – Tom Semple & The Thurles Blues

Tom Semple & The Thurles Blues

The long-awaited biography of Tom Semple and his legendary hurling comrades “The Thurles Blues”, by author Liam Ó Donnchú, was launched to a thronged main hall in Thurles Sarsfields Centre, (beside Semple Stadium) Thurles, Co Tipperary on Saturday June 13th 2015.

Performing this launch was Tom Semple’s son, Martin, who travelled with his wife Jo Ann all the way from Denver, Colorado, in the USA to attend the event.

Speakers
Speakers on the occasion included: -Robert Frost (Munster Council Chairman), John Devane (Vice-Chairman of Tipperary County Board), Archbishop Emeritus Dr Dermot Clifford,  Michael Maher (Chairman Thurles Sarsfields) and the author himself Liam Ó Donnchú. Michael Dundon, (Former editor of the Tipperary Star newspaper) proved a most efficient ‘Master of Ceremonies’.

Semple-Launch

Picture shows author Liam Ó Donnchú with Archbishop Emeritus Dr Dermot Clifford and Martin Semple, latter son of Tom Semple.

Tom Semple, the GAA icon, whose name is immortalised at Semple Stadium, is synonymous with the game of hurling, since he led the Thurles Blues to All-Ireland glory in 1906 and 1908.

This new publication details the exploits of these earlier heroes of the camán (Irish – Hurl) and of Tom Semple’s training regime and tactics.

The reader can now follow ‘The Blues’ on their amazing tour to Brussels and historic Fontenoy in 1910. They can access the fascinating story of the early years of Thurles Sportsfield, renamed ‘Semple Stadium’ in Tom’s memory, and how it developed into today’s ‘Field of Legends’.

The role Semple and others played in the War of Independence is also detailed in this hardback publication, which contains more than 400 pages. The book is illustrated throughout and offers new insights into the life and times of yesteryear.

Books costing €30 are available from local Tipperary bookshops and signed copies may also be ordered by post (€35 inc postage) from: Liam Ó Donnchú, Lár na Páirce, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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The Stained Glass Window’s Of James Watson

‘Leisure’
[Extract from the poem by William Henry Davies (1871 - 1940)]

“A poor life this if,  full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”

All too often these days, in the hustle and bustle of our individual daily life, we fail to take time to‘stand and stare’, to observe and enjoy with local pride the many historic symbolic gems contained within our own individual communities. Many of these gems are to be found staring us in the face on a daily basis, their significance now perhaps partially erased from the blackboards of our minds, as we go about scratching a livelihood for ourselves and our dependants.

The Watson stained glass window in St Mary’s Church, Thurles, which we discuss hereunder, is one such perhaps temporary forgotten artistic gem.

HH

Left To Right: (1) The ‘Watson of Youghal’ stained glass window, St Mary’s Church, Thurles, Tipperary. (2) William Holman Hunt’s original painting “The Light of the World”. (3) Photo of artist William Holman Hunt in eastern dress.

The original allegorical portrait (centre above) depicted by James Watson in this stained glass window is the work of renowned Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt. This work, entitled “The Light of the World,” was originally painted by night in a makeshift hut at Worcester Park Farm in Surrey, England, between the years 1851 & 1853. Due to Holman Hunt’s failing eyesight, he was assisted in the completion of a larger version of this painting by the English painter Edward Robert Hughes.

The painting (Centre above) and stained glass depiction (Left above) both show the figure of Jesus Christ knocking on a door and careful further study indicates that this same painted overgrown entrance has remained unopened for some considerable time. In his painting Holman Hunt is attempting to illustrate a quote from the New Testament scriptures; to be precise the Book of Revelation: Chapter 3: Verse 20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me”. Viewers of the original painting will note that this depicted door has no visible handle and can therefore only be opened from the inside, thus representing the choice given to the closed and unsure minds of both lapsed Christians and non-believers.

Here in Thurles regrettably, we do not have Holman Hunt’s wonderful painting “The Light of the World,” to view; same lovers of art must travel to the Chapel at Keble College, Oxford, or to St Paul’s Cathedral in London, where a later version, latter which once toured the world, has now taken up residents. However here in Thurles we do own the next best thing; “The Light of the World,” as depicted by renowned stained glass artist James Watson of Youghal, Co Cork.

James Watson, born in England circa 1860, came from a long line of English stained-glass manufacturing artists. In 1888, attracted by the growth in church building in Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, James moved to Youghal, with his wife, Mary and his sons Hubert and Maurice. His reputation as a stained glass artist soon became a by-word for artistic excellence, with the importing of brilliantly coloured glass from Europe; the red from England, the best blue’s, orange and yellow’s coming from France and the green’s coming from Germany. Watson would eventually go on to exhibit his stained glass at the St Louis World’s Fair of 1904.

Using large detailed artistic drawings called “cartoons,” painting was undertaken using a translucent stain
which was then applied in numerous layers, giving that masterful effect of light and shade. The final tiny details achieved often using a needle and each complex masterpiece produced demanding several firings. The required leading, joining each piece of painted glass, had to be made by a hand cranked machine, while thermally insulated chambers or kilns used, took days to fire up.

Although the Watson workshop survived until recently, maintained by successive generations of the Watson family, much of the firm’s finest work was done in the early years of the 20th century, as can be seen in the designs and drawings displayed currently at the Crawford Art Gallery, Emmet Place, Cork, under the stewardship of Exhibition Curator M/s Vera Ryan, latter who recently visited Thurles to view the Watson window in St Mary’s Church.

Note: A truly magnificent “Watson Archive Exhibition” is currently on display at the Crawford Art Gallery, Emmet Place, Cork, containing some one thousand works on paper, including records, account books and other material. This exhibition will only run until March 2015, but is a must see for lovers of art and indeed Tipperary history.

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Walk Our National Pilgrim Paths

Thousands of Irish people and overseas visitors are expected to tread our National Pilgrim Paths on April 4th, 2015.

 

Kilcommon Mass Rock

Kilcommon Mass Rock, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Ireland’s National Pilgrim Paths Day, on April 4th next, is aimed at raising awareness of our country’s wide network of pilgrim routes, while also providing a more general appreciation of our medieval Christian heritage.

To this end on Saturday, April 4th, 2015, large numbers of Irish people and overseas visitors are expected to retrace their ancestral heritage this coming Easter Weekend, as they take to this countries ancient pilgrim paths, to celebrate Ireland’s second ‘National Pilgrim Paths Day’.

This new Easter Festival will see a nationwide series of non-denominational, pilgrim walks taking place on Ireland’s medieval penitential trails. Last year, there were over 1,800 participants for Ireland’s inaugural Pilgrim Paths Day and this year it is expected that the numbers will be even higher.

On Pilgrim Paths Day, events will take place on each of Ireland’s 12 Medieval Pilgrim Paths including 3 pilgrim paths in County Tipperary. They are Kilcommon Pilgrim Loop, (Information, 062 78103), St Declan’s Way (Information, 086 354 1700) and Holycross Pilgrim Path (Information, 087 7962177).

Heritage guides from these communities will lead each event while outlining the story of the route and explaining how medieval penitents coped with their arduous journeys.

There will also be a reflection and thanksgiving at the end of the walk.

For full details of all pilgrim walks nationwide take the time to visit; www. pilgrimpath.ie

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