Downton Abbey From A Tipperary Perspective

A major new & rare exhibition entitled “Downton Abbey, A Tipperary Perspective.” comes to Thurles. The TV series Downton Abbey is set on the fictional estate of Downton Abbey in the North Riding of Yorkshire, England, home to the Earl and Countess of Grantham which follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V.

On Friday next St. Mary’s Famine Museum, Thurles will feature this new previously unseen exhibition, which will open to the public for just two weeks beginning Friday September 21st, & continuing until Friday October 5th, inclusive. The event is being kindly sponsored by Thurles Centenary Co-Op & Thurles Fresh Milk.

The exhibition can be viewed during Thurles Famine Museum’s normal opening hours which are 10.00am – 5.00pm. The Museum will feature a special lecture tour of the exhibition starting sharp at 8.00pm on Saturday night next, September 22nd. Total cost of admission to this unique Tipperary exhibition is a mere €2 which also incorporates a chance to examine the Famine Museum, latter which boasts the largest amount of original memorabilia, pertaining to the Great Famine (1845 – 1849), anywhere in the world.

This current new exhibition is also a must for Primary, Secondary & Third Level history students, who will find this ‘primary resource,’ of huge interest & in keeping with the current education curriculum which encourages students to become involved in all such source activity.
The exhibits on display will include household goods, clothing & shoe fashion, including Flapper dresses of the early 20th century period, which had their origins in the period of Liberalism, social and political turbulence and an increased transatlantic cultural exchange, which followed the end of World War I.

Also on show are Military costumes, some dating back before 1900 from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, in Surrey, together with rare memorabilia from the Gallipoli Campaign (1915 -1916). Hand guns, Military medals, including two rare military crosses, never before viewed by the public, will also be part of this unique exhibition. Each of the over 100 exhibits displayed all contain a strong Tipperary connection. If sufficient interest is shown in this exhibition by the public and all Tipperary people at large, same will become a permanent exhibition here in Thurles next year, thus adding greatly to the prospects of future tourism in our town.

Downton Abbey & Tipperary – The Similarities

The first series of the TV Downton Abbey drama spanned the two years before the Great War, (WW1) beginning with news of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, which set the story in motion. The second series covered the years 1916 to 1919, and the 2011 Christmas Special covered the 1919 Christmas period, ending in early 1920. The third series has just now returned to our screens, beginning last Sunday on ITV and will begin tonight on TV3.
Created by Julian Fellowes and set in the early 20th century, “Downton Abbey,” boasts an all-star cast, including Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham), Jim Carter (Mr. Carson), Brendan Coyle (Mr Bates), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley) and my own favourite Oscar, Tony, BAFTA and Emmy award winning actress the great Dame Maggie Smith, DBE, together with Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress Shirley Maclaine.
Since its premier in September 2010, “Downton Abbey,”” has been met with critical acclaim and has been awarded some of TV’s most prestigious awards including two BAFTAs, six Primetime Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe and Best Drama in the National Television Awards. “Downton Abbey,” also holds the record for the most nominated non-American show in Prime-time Emmy history, with 16 nominations since 2011.

Some critics claim that historically the series is not truly accurate, especially with regard to the close interaction between servants & the owners of the “Big House.” However, to prove the critics somewhat incorrect in this claims & their current understanding, please see a report from a correspondent of the Tipperary Star, who wrote on September 10th 1910, as follows:-

On Saturday night the working men on the Moyaliff estate presented Mr Wm. M. Armstrong, only son of Captain Marks B. Armstrong of Moyaliff, Thurles, with a valuable silver cup and illuminated address on the occasion of his coming of age. Mr. Matthew Kennedy presided and spoke at length on the interest the Armstrong family always took in the welfare of their workmen and servants, and the friendly relations that always existed between Mr. Armstrong, his tenants, and neighbours, and he had great pleasure in making the following presentation, which was numerously signed:-
To Wm. M. Armstrong, Esq., 10th Hussars: “We, the workmen on the Moyaliff estate, offer you our most hearty congratulations on the occasion of your coming of age, and we beg you to accept the accompanying silver cup as a small token of the affection we entertain for you. We hope and pray that you may have a long and happy life, and that success will crown your career in the noble profession to which you belong. Assuring you of our constant devotion and interest in your welfare.”
Mr. Armstrong entertained the workmen and neighbours to dinner at 6.30, and at 7.30 threw open a spacious hall, beautifully decorated, where over two hundred people spent a very pleasant night dancing and singing. Mr. and Misses Armstrong remained for a portion of the night and took part in and enjoyed the performance. The principal contributors of songs were:- Miss M. Ryan, Miss C. Long, Messrs J. McGlen, J.Boyle, J. Mahony, and D. Hayes. Mr. Hayes was inimitably funny with his comic songs, while Miss B. McCarthy’s exhibition of step dancing was a rare treat in itself. Misses M. Kennedy, J. Gleeson, C. Hayes, and J. Hayes were busily engaged distributing refreshments and catering for the ladies. Dancing continued until 5.30 on Sunday morning, and many toasts were proposed and honoured to Captain Armstrong and family.”

Do enjoy the magnificent Downton Abbey series beginning on TV3 tonight and if you get the opportunity call to St.Mary’s Famine Museum on Saturday night next at 8.00pm sharp or over the next fortnight, to view the Tipperary version.
The museum would like to thank Paul Scully, (Thurles Photo Station) Friar Street, Thurles & Paddy Stakelum (Stakelums Men’s Wear) also in Friar Street, Thurles for their particular expertise in assisting with the setting up of the exhibition.

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