Michael O’Gorman, proprietor of “The Monks,” public house in Mitchel Street, Thurles, Co.Tipperary, is reluctant to talk about the “Hound of Death,” or “The Monk,” latter who occasionally is spotted siting near the fireplace, only observed by the most sensitive of his nightly customers on the odd winters night.
As Michael says himself, “If you throw a pebble into a pond, the small stone sends ripples of water out from around where it strikes the surface. These ripples are deflected backwards again as they strike the ponds bank, returning to where they originally began, so maybe the passing of human life is somewhat similar. A mans very existence after all must surely cause the odd ripple.”
Music played in this video:- The Handcuffs (Hornpipe) and the Easy Club (Reel).
Song:- The Gaol of Cluain Meala.
The strange tales regarding the ‘Hound of Death,’ started around 1915 with Thurles soldiers in the British army, involved in the first World War, returning home on leave. It is said that a large over sized black hound would occasionally be seen late at night, circulating in the area of Mitchel Street, Cathedral Street and the Pike, (Latter now known as Kickham Street.) here in Thurles.
Legend states the animal hung around ‘The Monks,’ public house entrance and would growl or attack just some of the individual soldiers at closing time. On returning to the European theatre of war, it was believed these soldiers, who ran foul of the ‘Black Hound,’ would tragically loose their lives a short time later.
Pub trading, at ‘The Monks,’ public house, goes back to just after the Great Famine period in Irish History, around 1860, with the basic structure today little changed, except for essential maintenance down through the years. A larger, very comfortable extension was added on to the original structure in recent years stretching out to the boundaries of an area known locally, for generations, as “The Monks Field,” and despite the name P.O’Gorman clearly displayed over the door, the pub has become known as ‘The Monks.‘
If you are looking for the ultimate in a real Irish traditional pub experience, then a visit to “The Monks,” is essential at least once in anyone’s lifetime. Expect no gimmicks or commercialism stationed here, but do expect a quality pint, combined with impromptu music, singing and story telling, particularly on a Wednesday night, and all delivered courtesy of visiting, very talented clientele.
Expect to run into people from all walks of life and from almost every country in the world, all anxious to soak up this genuine old Irish Rambling House experience. Indeed it is in this candlelight atmosphere of The Monks, Mitchel Street, heated by the large welcoming wood and turf fire, on any winters night, that you first begin to understand the true meaning of the phrase “A stranger is just a friend you have’nt met yet.”
Mr O’Briens big black Labrador was the only dog we encountered on our visit and when we asked jokingly was the Monk around, Michael, the proprietor came out to greet us. (It appears he is also affectionately known by his customers as The Monk Gorman.)
Well now on reflection, I think it was Michael, but I suppose it might have been the other one.