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County Tipperary South
Province:  Munster
Parish:  Clogheen and Burncourt (formerly Shanrahan)
Poor Law Union:   Clogheen
Population:  500 +
Barony:  Iffa and Offa West
New Book on Fr Sheehy, Parish Priest Clogheen, Burncourt and Ballyporeen!  

Imagine a Valley so soft and Green it takes your breath away!

Famine in The Valley Complete

Clogheen Soccer History Moulson Brothers 

This looks like an aerial photo of Clogheen but it was actually taken from one of the nearby 
Mountain Walks.

Clogheen:  The Hidden Heart of Ireland
The small town of Clogheen at the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains is just a few miles across the valley from Galteemore.  Clogheen dates from the late medieval period and there are numerous references to the town in Cromwellian records.  At one point, Cromwellian officers directed (1640s) that the markets and fairs of Clogheen should be transferred to the stronghold of Castlegrace a few miles to the east..  The town had always been strategically important because of its position  at the foot of the mountains directly beneath the pass that connects County Tipperary to Co. Waterford.  It was also important because it was situated on the banks of two rivers - The Tar and the Duag - and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries became a busy market and milling town. Here too, the centre for the Union of Clogheen was established in 1840, a Poor Law Union that took in the entire area between the Galtee and Knockmealdown mountains and included the towns and villages of Cahir, Clogheen, Newcastle, Ardfinnan, Goatenbridge, Ballyporeen, Ballylooby, Skeheenarinky and, for a time,  most of Kilbehenny in County Limerick.  The Poor Law Unions had been established to cater for the growing number of paupers in the country just prior to the Great Famine. Being the centre of the Union, it was in Clogheen that the Union workhouse was built.  This was opened in 1842.

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Click on small image on left to see photograph taken by Pete Weber in 1932.  This picture is the only known picture of Clogheen workhouse.  The picture shows the gates and 'jostle stones' and the entrance buildings of the workhouse.  The entire building was destroyed by the IRA in 1921. Built for 500 people, during the Famine it housed over 1500.  Many of these were housed in auxiliary buildings in the village.  A children's workhouse was established at Tincurry at the foot of the Galtee Mountains in 1849.  This photograph is copyright of Cronin/Weber collection

Formerly the market town of the Everard Family who owned Burncourt and Ballyboy Castles, Clogheen was developed further by the Landlord O'Callaghan Family in the late 18th century and early 19th century.  Cornelius O'Callaghan received the title of Lord Lismore in the early 1800s and built Shanbally Castle. The story of its destruction is a sad one, made all the sadder when one realises that it was destroyed in 1960 by the Government of the day.

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Shanbally Castle

Shanbally Castle 2

Shanbally Castle 3

Cockpit Lane 1932
Cronin/weber Collection

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Convent and old 
Convent School in foreground

The Boys from Clogheen 1930s

Castlegrace Castle

Clogheen's early courthouse, later the Market House.


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Lough-Glen Bridge Clogheen. Also known as Loughlin's Bridge. This is pre-forestry and shows old road along mountainside.

 Clogheen 1950s showing O'Callaghan's Butcher's Shop.

 (Photo From Fr. Ailbe Luddy) R.R. Madden, writing in 1843, insists The Cock-pit was the place. 

Manor Mill and Lamberts' House on Convent Road Clogheen


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Medal awarded to 'Keating Clogheen' 1860

 Ted O'Riordan with his aunt May O'Riordan/Callaghan outside Riordan's Store. May's mother was O'Brien from house in background

Taylor-Skinner Road Atlas 1778 shows Clogheen with no Cahir Road as we know it today.

Looking upstream from Bridge on Convent Road.  Ruins of Grubbs Mill and Brewery. 1932 
Copyright Weber/Cronin 

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Walshs' Pub, Castlegrace. Early 1900s

Main St. Clogheen Early 1900s

Middle of Main St.

Cronin/Weber Collection Fair Day-1932.  Dan Brien's House
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Clogheen Fair Day. Cronin/Weber Collection 1932 

Panoramic picture of Galty Vee Valley taken from The Vee. Rhododendrons and Sugarloaf mountain, Clogheen. This is a Pat Nolan Original. Pat Nolan's Great photo of Bay Lough, Clogheen. Baylough

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Map of Clogheen 1840

Clogheen 1st and 2nd classes late 1950s(?)

 Dr. Heffernan retires as Clogheen Doctor

Shanbally Castle Clogheen

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Hairpin at Vee Road Clogheen 1940s

Clogheen from Hillfield 1948

 Dog running across 
Frozen Bay Lough.  Jan. 2010. (Alice O'Brien)

Dance in Old Hall Clogheen.
 (Opposite Hospital)
Early 1950s ?
Madge Kiely, Gerald Duggan,Gerald Dwyer, Mrs Srgt. Sullivan, Maureen Duggan, Tom Duggan.

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Names Please?

Bride Maher
Clogheen Pantomime Early 1950s

(Above) Pantomime early 1950s
Old Hall Clogheen

Richard Keating
1950s Panto

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(Above)Children at Bridge Street 1950s.

Mick the Maddie 1940s
Gerald Duggan's photo reads : A great Clogheen Character.

Boys Saluting in Street opposite Church

 Nora Dowling pictured outside her Chemist Shop.
Photo by Gerald Duggan -  early 1950s

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Before and after photos of Fr. Sheehy Tomb at Shanrahan.  Work being expertly carried out by Garry Gleeson's company, 'Constructive Solutions'


Fr. Sheehy Tomb and Railing almost finished.
Project undertaken by Clogheen Development Association with grant-aid from South Tipp Development Company.

Kerbs reinforced and repaired, drains installed, railing sandblasted with shell and painted with best standard paints and protective coating. 


Detail in McFarlane Railing is superb and visible again since conservation work.
Photos by Garry Gleeson.

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Main Street showing Barry's Shop. 1940s Postcard

 Clogheen (Altar Boys) Servers 1930s
(Jim and Betty Fleming)

Clogheen Dramatic and Musical Society Carol Singing in Mitchelstown. December 1954. (Jim & Betty Fleming)

Jim Fleming and Richard Keating in Christmas 1956 Panto 'Aladdin' at Clogheen Hall (opposite hospital)
(Jim and Betty Fleming)

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Sliabh gCua (Slievguo)bounding Shanrahan Parish.
Civil Survey 1654

St. Mary's Church Clogheen interior, late 1950s or early 1960s. Note the memorial pulpit to Fr William Shanahan erected by the people of Clogheen and removed by.... 

Historical Guide to Clogheen  (Copyright Edmund O’Riordan)

(by Ed O’Riordan 1996)


The Little town of Clogheen in South West Tipperary’s Galtee-Vee-Valley owes its name to the Gaelic ‘Cloichin an Mhargaid’ (Little Market Stone). If we are to believe the translation of historian - and former Clogheen Parish Priest - Fr. Everard, it could also mean the Stone market place. An impressive cut limestone rock which stands in the grounds of the local Saint Mary’s National School is said to be the very market stone which gave the town its name, and on which, long ago, traders and farmers at market signified their acceptance of a deal by striking it with their blackthorn sticks.

This booklet explores
 Clogheen’s past from earliest times down to the late nineteenth century, and outlines some of the major events which affected the town during those years. It also includes some items of less historical significance which will be of interest to locals and visitors alike.

For those of you who are interested in tracing family roots, a short chapter on genealogical research in South Tipperary is included. This chapter is designed to get you started by pointing you in the right direction with details of places and sources of material, thereby saving you valuable time in your research. Further information can be obtained from mapped walks on the Knockmealdown Mountains which were published in 1996.

The original booklet had a section on Genealogical research in the Clogheen area but this is very out of date since most records are now on line.  Irish Family History Foundation is a great starting point online for deaths, births and marriages. 
Information on Irish Land Divisions is also available online and is indispensable when doing research.

Historical Guide to Clogheen


Earliest Years
Seventeenth Century
Eighteenth Century
Fr. Sheehy
Cavalry Barracks
Royal Irish Constabulary
Public Floggings
Clogheen Mills
Fairs and Markets
Churches and Antiquities
Famine Years
Items of Interest from Clogheen’s Later Years
Rian Bó Phadraig
Shanbally Castle
St. Cathaldus


             Historical Guide to Clogheen

Earliest Years 
Sometime between 2000BC and 500BC when wolves still roamed the country and Ireland was, to a great extent, still covered by forest, Bronze Age people found the area around Clogheen hospitable enough and fertile enough to establish a settlement there. In August 1982, archaeological excavations on the Cork-Dublin gas pipeline discovered the remains of a Bronze Age village type settlement in the townland of Croughatoor, about a mile north of Clogheen on the Cahir road. Further evidence of Bronze Age people’s use of the area can be seen in the number of cairns or burial places on the top of the Knockmealdown Mountains, most notably the cairn on the summit of Knockshanahullion, just south of the town. A mapped walk available at takes you to this summit. A Bronze Age axe head which was found in recent times at Carrigmore townland, two miles west of Clogheen, can be seen in the Tipperary County Museum in Clonmel. Rose Cleary, a local archaeologist, based at University College Cork, suggests that it was these Bronze Age people who cleared the valley of the forests which would have covered all of Ireland at one time. 
            There is compelling evidence of continuous occupation of the Clogheen locality in the large number of ringforts still visible in the surrounding countryside. The ringforts were large circular earthen enclosures inside which families lived, and into which they brought there animals at night to keep them from being taken off by raiders. These ringforts date from the Iron Age (just after the Bronze Age) and Christian Period and were used right into medieval times. Their remains have been held sacred by our forefathers for many hundreds of years. The belief that the forts were home to the fairies and that they would exact fearful retribution from anybody cutting trees or bushes on their forts has ensured that they have remained largely untouched by the chainsaw and bulldozer. Today, all ringforts and other archaeological monuments are protected by the National Monuments Acts (1936, 1954, 1986).  Some believe that the fairies did a better job than modern legislation!
            Even before St. Patrick came to Ireland in 432, St. Declan of Ardmore had made his mark on the area in the form of a roadway or track that traverses the Knockmealdown Mountains near
 Clogheen, and links Ardmore in County Waterford to Cashel via Lismore. This track, known as Rian Bó Phadraig is still in existence and is popular with hikers who want to experience the historical heritage as well as the beauty of the Vee-Valley. Information on Rian Bó Phadraig can be found in a later chapter in this book.
            Chronologically, the next event of importance in
 Clogheen’s history must be the founding of a monastic settlement at Shanrahan, one mile west of the town, by St. Cathaldus in the seventh century. After a few years at Shanrahan, St. Cathaldus traveled to Palestine on a pilgrimage. However, instead of returning to Ireland, he journeyed to Italy where he became the Bishop of Taranto.
           From the eighth to the eleventh century, the Danes, or Vikings, continually invaded and settled in Ireland. No concrete evidence presents itself that the Danes ever cames as far inland as Clogheen. ( A sweathouse built in the Viking style can be seen at Parson’s Green just outside the town). There is a vague local tradition that the Danes had heard that local stone could be burned and used as fertilizer, but they had not been instructed in the difference between limestone, which can be burned, and sandstone which cannot. After many fruitless attempts to burn the sandstone, they gave up, but the small ridge to the east of the Knockshanahullion peak on which they conducted their experiments was known by the old people as Little Hell.

            Following the defeat of the Danes at the Battle of Clontarf in Dublin in 1014, there followed a long period of political and social instability in Ireland as the High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, has also been slain at Clontarf. In the 12th century, the Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland and during the next few centuries they consolidated their position by building castles in most areas of the country. In the immediate vicinity of Clogheen, castles were erected at Castlegrace (DeBirmingham), Ballyboy (Earl of Desmond) and Shanrahan (Earl of Desmond). The ruins of Castlegrace castle are still fairly extensive, but sadly, very little remains of Ballyboy castle. In Shanrahan, the castle which was built in 1453, is now only recognisable by a solitary, ivy covered tower. Ownership of the two latter castles had passed to Sir Richard Everard by the beginning of the 17th century, and Shanrahan was described by Fr. Everard as “a favourite residence of Sir Richard”.
            Father Everard writes that Sir Richard and his wife lived at Shanrahan in 1627, and later on lived at Ballyboy. In 1640, probably having acquired more land, Sir Richard and his wife moved to their new castle at Burncourt. Ten years later, during one of the blackest period of Irish history, Oliver Cromwell attacked and destroyed Burncourt Castle. It is believed locally that the Everards burned the castle themselves rather than have it become one of the spoils of the Cromwellian campaign. Sir Richard is said to have been hanged after the Siege of Limerick in 1651. 
            At this stage, it is possible to look more closely at the development of Clogheen through the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Seventeenth Century
The river tar which rises in the Galtee Mountains and joins the River Suir at Newcastle, forms not only a townland boundary between Clogheen Market and Ballyboy West but is also the geographical dividing line between the parishes of Clogheen/Burncourt and Ballylooby/Duhill. In the 16th century, it was the bridge over this river, at the lower end of Clogheen’s Main Street, that gave its name to the original settlement here: Droichead Abhann Tear ‘Bridge of the River Tar’ ( Prof. Wm. J. Smith). A glance under the arches here shows that the original bridge was only half the width of the present structure. It is not possible to determine with any precision just when the name ‘Droichead Abhann Tear’ gave way to the modern name of Clogheen. However we do know for certain that this was the name being used in the early 17th century. In 1643, Sir Richard Boyle, the Earl of Cork, recorded in his diary:
“…on Friday evening, the 26th May, 1643, my son Francis, together with the forces of Lismore, took, plundered and burnt the town of Clogheen. 

            That attack on
 Clogheen was described in History of County Waterford as follows:

“ So long as history shall be read, and treachery and cruelty hated, that deed shall thrill the mind with undiminished horror. British soldiers were never so cowardly and ferocious. That iniquitous burning was not warfare…It was assassination on a large scale, and under circumstances every detail of which adds to the inexpressible painfulness of the fact. It is lamentable that the character of the Boyles should be blackened by so foul a stain.”. 

Two nights after the attack on the town, the Earl was to record, again in his diary:

“…On the 28th May, 1643, this Sunday morning about two o’clock, 200 rebels (from
 Clogheen) with a party of horse, in revenge, before it was day, entered the town of Lismore and burned most of the thatched houses in the town to the outgate of my castle.”

(Sir Richard Boyle was the father of Robert Boyle, philosopher and father of modern chemistry.)

            In 1649, Oliver Cromwell, having recently overthrown and executed Charles 1 of England, arrived in Ireland to begin his never forgotten campaign of slaughter and plunder. There is a local belief that he billeted in
 Clogheen following the capture of Burncourt Castle. As already noted, Sir Richard Everard is credited with the burning of the castle rather than let it fall into the hands of the Cromwellian Roundheads. Folklore has it that on Cromwell’s visit to Clogheen  he is said to have declared that the town was full of “pigs, peasants and papists!”  Cromwell himself recorded that he halted at  Cloghine, otherwise Everard's  Castle’. From this we can suppose that Burncourt Castle was in fact ‘Clogheen’ and the village of Clogheen that we know today was Clogheen Market.      One of the legacies of the Cromwellian campaign in Ireland that we should be grateful for is the number of records that were compiled at the time. One of those records, the 1654 Civil Survey of Ireland contains a few entries concerning the Clogheen area, most notably the following:
“Proprietors names in ye year 1640 – Sir Richard Everard of Everards Castle (Burncourt) Knight, Irish Papist.
            Clogheen Markett: The said half ploweland of Clogheene is bounded on the east with the lands and mountains of Ballyboy in the parich off Tullaghorton, on the south with the mountains of Ballynasagard in the County of Waterford, on the west with the plowelands of Shanrahan in this parish, and on the north with the lands of Garymore… The said Sir Richard Everard proprietor in fee by Patent from the Crown of the said half ploweland of Clogheen as wee are informed. Upon the said half ploweland stands some cabbins.
            In the town of
 Clogheen aforesaid was held a ffayre twice a year, one on Wheitsun twesday anmd the other on the 18th of October, and a market every twesday, all wch Markett and fayres were lately removed by order to the garrison of Castlegrace. This land hath the acoomodation of the River Ountearr runinge by it.”

            Unfortunately, the Census of Ireland taken in the year 1659, does not list the names of the inhabitants of the various parishes and towns. It does, however, tell us that the parish of Shanraheene, now parish of Clogheen, contained 376 people, (presumably only landholders were recorded) and that 361 of those were Irish. ‘Clogheenmackett’ (undoubtedly Clogheen Market ) had a population of 82, and 78 of those were Irish.

            Another useful record from those years is the Hearth Money Records. Hearth Money was a tax of two shillings (Sh) which was levied on all fireplaces and the following is the listing for Clogheen compiled in 1666:

Name                                                  Hearth                                   Sh.
James Prendergast                               1                             2
Morish Casey                                       1                            2
William O’Connor                                  1 & forge                  4
Thomas Peazeh                                   1 & forge                  4
John Moore                                         1 & forge                 4 
Anthony Kinsfoile (Kinssoile)                   1                            2 
Philip Wolfe                                         1                            2
Connor McConnor                                 1                            2
William Borton                                      2                            4
Thomas Longerdon                               1                             2
Teige Hickey                                       1                             2
John Heilane                                       1                             2
Teige McWilliam                                   1                             2
Edmund Cleary                                    1                             2
John Barr                                           1                             2
John Bore                                           1                            2
Daniall Corkra                                      1                            2
Morrish Heiland                                    1                            2
William Looby                                      1                            2
John Leddy                                         1                            2
Miles McSwiney                                   1                            2
Edmund English                                   2                            4
Conor McWilliam                                  1                            2
Nicholas Barron                                   1                            2
Henry Oglethor                                   1                            2        
Thomas O’Maroe                                 1                            2
John McWilliam                                   1                            2
Denis Carroll                                      1                            2
Miles Heiferna                                    1                            2
James Keife                                       1                            2
Daniell Sullivan                                   1                            2
Thomas Conry                                    1                            2
Thomas Jellett                                   2                            4
Seaven Wast howses                          7                          14


            The removal by decree of the fairs and markets from Clogheen to Castlegrace in the immediate post-Cromwellian period must have curtailed the development of the town for same years, but at some time in the years following, the fairs and markets were restored and development was once again under way.
            By the end of the seventeenth century, the small market town at the crossing over the River Tar was busy enough to warrant the setting up of an inn there. The lodge at the entrance to Coolville House, and the lodge garden, are reliably pointed out as being the site of the old Garter Inn. Small thatched houses linked the Garter Inn and the Market Square and formed the nucleus of the town, which gradually extended to include the present Main Street and a series of lanes running north and south. The crossing over the River Duag was simply a ford which was about 100 yards down-river from the present day bridge. From this, we can see that travellers through
 Clogheen in those years would have crossed the River Tar, passed by the Garter Inn, continued southwards on Chapel Lane (now Mountain View), crossed the ford on the Duag and traveled on towards the Knockmealdown mountains. This is said to account for the alignment of the two storey house opposite the entrance to Glenleigh house and gardens on the Vee road. Even though it has recently been modernized, this house was built in the 1700s. 
            The present Vee road over the mountain was not constructed until the early nineteenth century. Prior to that, the little roadway that can be seen passing right beside Baylough was the road from Clogheen to Lismore. This old road is now a forestry path and forms part of the Kilballyboy - Bay Lough walk.


Eighteenth Century
Following the demise of the Everards as a major landholding family, the early 1700s saw the O’Callaghan family gain prominence in the area. Having acquired great wealth through astute marriages and political endeavour, the O’Callaghans, with their newly established family seat at (Old) Shanbally, near Burncourt, gradually came to control over 35,000 acres of land including almost all of Shanrahan parish. Clogheen prospered under the O’Callaghans; its fairs and markets thrived and small traders established their businesses there. Weavers and spinners, blacksmiths and farriers, inn keepers and merchants all contributed to, and took advantage of, the town’s growing prosperity.
            All was not well, however. Poverty and hardship, both in the town and the surrounding countryside were rife, and under the Penal Laws which were enacted in 1690, religious freedom was denied to Catholics, and ownership of property became almost impossible for them. Against this background, secret societies such as the Whiteboys began to appear in many parts Ireland, and, in South West Tipperary, events began to unfold that are talked about to the present day.

Fr. Sheehy
In all of Clogheen's history, the most memorable event must surely be the trial and execution of Fr. Nicholas Sheey, the Parish Priest of the then united parishes of Shanrahan - Ballysheehan -Templetenny (Clogheen - Burncourt - Ballyporeen). Ballyporeen has been an independent parish since 1816.  From around 1750 onwards, the rent for land began to increase dramatically, and in ten years it had actually doubled.  This was no great problem for the large graziers who rented huge tracts of land, as the prices they obtained for their cattle kept pace with the rent.  For the cottiers, however, it was an intolerable burden, and had it not been for the commonages to which they had access, they could not have survived.
            As well as paying rent to the landlord, these poor people had to pay thithes to the Established Church, and it was this particular hardship which first brought Fr. Sheehy to the notice of the ruling class, when, while he was ministering in the neighbouring village of Newcastle, he had urged non-payment of these tithes, as there was not a single Protestant in the parish.
            The Penal laws seem to have been sufficiently relaxed in the area, so that a priest could go about his religious duties with impunity, and in 1740, a thatched chapel was in use at Carrigavisteal in Ballyporeen.
Then, three things happened simultaneously which were to dramatically affect South Tipperary, and Clogheen in particular.

            Firstly, the landlords and huge graziers became even greedier than heretofore and began to enclose the commonages.  Secondly, the Whiteboys or Levellers became very active in the area.  This secret organisation was the only form of justice available to the poor.  They had absolutely no recourse to the judicial system.  They had no knowledge of it, and they could not afford to take on the landlords in costly legal battles.  Even if they could have gone to court, they would have found the people whom they considered to be their enemies sitting on the bench. It is inevitable that desperate people will resort to desperate measures, and so the Whiteboys became a means of vengeance and a crude form of justice.  Undoubtedly, they operated by bullying and intimidating even their own people, and the so-called justice they administered was possibly as cruel as that which they sought to redress.  They levelled ditches and fences, burned crops, injured animals, terrified the tithe-proctors (collectors) with threats, and sometimes carried those threats into effect, and forced people to join them and swear a secret oath.

            Thirdly, in this trio of events, was the fact that Fr. Nicholas Sheehy was appointed Parish Priest of Shanrahan -Ballysheehan -Templetenny.  It was evident from the outset that here indeed was a champion of the downtrodden and oppressed who were his parishioners, and he quickly became a marked man.
            The fanaticism of the Whiteboys was equalled, if not surpassed, by some of the Protestant gentry, causing Lord Charlemont, himself a Protestant, to write at the time:
" The furious and bigotted zeal with which some Protestants were actuated was shocking to humanity and a disgrace to our mild religion....they could not brook opposition to their established despotism, and resistance of Papists was looked upon as the resistance of slaves...the hunting of Whiteboys was the fashionable chase.  I heard Lord Carrick exclaim with delight 'I have blooded my young dog, I have fleshed my bloodhound,' after a successful hunt for Whiteboys in which his son had participated."

The ruling class were terrified of a French invasion of Ireland, and locally, they believed or pretended to believe, that Fr. Sheehy who had been educated on the continent, was a link between the French and the Whiteboys.  They maintained that there was an ongoing conspiracy in which the Whiteboys were being funded in an attempt to destabilise the country in advance of this feared invasion.  They decided on a course of action, and Fr. Sheehy was to be the target of that action.

            In an article about Fr. Sheehy, Exshaw's Magazine noted at the time that he was a man 'with a passionate sense of justice'. and it was this passion that caused him to openly take part in the levelling of a wall at Drumlummin, a neighbouring townland.  He had also offered resistance to a tithe proctor, named Dobbin, in Ballyporeen, who had tried to collect five shillings for every Catholic marriage.

            This was the opportunity that his enemies had been waiting for, and he was now charged with high treason.  He was also charged with assaulting one John Bridge, (described as a local halfwit), who had been suspected of stealing a chalice from Carraigavisteal church.  Fr. Sheehy had to go into hiding and was obliged to spend his days in the O'Callaghan family burial vault in Shanrahan cemetery.  At night he crept out and was given food and shelter by the Griffith family who lived in a farmyard beside the cemetery.

            The Griffiths were a well-known Protestant family and they could never have known that their actions would be applauded by a classroom of Catholic schoolboys almost two hundred years later, and that by their action, they had passed on a valuable lesson in Christian fellowship to those same boys.

            Finally Fr. Sheehy decided to surrender, and he sent word to landlord Mr. O’Callaghan, whom he trusted, that he would do so on the condition that he would be tried in Dublin as he was aware that he would not get a fair hearing in nearby Clonmel, the seat of the enemies.  O’ Callaghan arranged for him to be sent to Dublin, and in th trial that followed, in spite of all the false witnesses that were presented to the court, he was acquitted on all charges.  Some of the witnesses used against him were people of little character: a horse thief who was awaiting trial, a prostitute who had been admonished by Fr. Sheehy, and others who were ready to perjure themselves for small reward.  John Bridge did not give evidence as he was nowhere to be found, and as the ‘not guilty’ verdict was brought in, the gentlemen from South Tipperary who had attended the court had the luckless priest arrested on a charge of murdering Bridge.

            His worst fears were now to be realised, and he was brought back to Clonmel for trial.  The same witnesses who had been discredited in Dublin were produced in Clonmel to give evidence against him.

            The result of the trial was a forgone conclusion and having been found guilty of murder, even though no body had ever been found, Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, Parish priest of Shanrahan/ Ballysheehan/ Burncourt, was executed on the scaffold on the street in Clonmel on the 15th March 1766 alongside Ned Meehan of Grange who had been prosecuted on the same charges. Fr. Sheehy’s body was dragged through the streets of Clonmel after execution.  His head was then severed from his body and stuck on a spike over Clonmel jail as a warning to all those who would dare challenge the ruling class.  His body was taken by his sister and interred in Shanrahan cemetery, Clogheen.  Twenty years later, his parishioners were given permission to remove the blackened head from over the jail and it was buried in the grave at Shanrahan.

            The night before he was executed, Fr. Sheehy wrote a letter in which he said that he had been told under the sacred seal of the confessional, the names of the two men who had murdered Bridge, but he could not use this information to save himself owing to the manner in which he had received it.

            Three of Fr. Sheehy’s co-defendants:  Edmund Sheehy (his cousin), James Buxton of Kilcoran and James Farrell, were convicted on the same evidence and hanged in front of their families square in Clogheen in that same year, 1766.

            The Celtic cross which stands in the grounds of St. Mary's Catholic Church was erected to the memory of Clogheen's martyred priest in 1870. It was intended that the cross be erected over his grave but the military were called out to prevent it. Some years later, the white marble plaque on the side of his tomb and the railing which surrounds the tomb were erected.

            There was a great tradition in the parish for many years that the clay from Fr. Sheehy's grave was a cure for many ills, and emigrants, before leaving Clogheen, would come here and take a little of the clay from inside the tiny door on the tomb, and bring it with them to their new homes in England, America or Australia.

            The name of Fr. Sheehy is still very much revered and honoured in the parish of Clogheen/Burncourt. This is illustrated by the fact that the parish Gaelic football and hurling club proudly bears his name. The local G.A.A. playing field is also named after him as is the modern housing estate near Mountain View road: Fr. Sheehy Terrace. It is fitting that this estate should bear the name of Fr. Sheehy as he would undoubtedly have said Mass in the little thatched chapel which once stood on this site.  
250 page book The Case of Fr. Nicholas Sheehy is now available here!

Cavalry Barracks

The neat little housing crescent at the western end of the town, opposite the Post Office is called Lios Mhuire.  It was on this site that Clogheen’s  Cavalry Barracks was built into 1769 in response to the level of Whiteboy activity in the area during those years.  This was one of the first British Cavalry Barracks built in Ireland and was at one time an important depot for the south of Ireland.  The ground which was being farmed by a Mr. Butler, was leased from Cornelius O'Callaghan, the local landlord at a rent of one peppercorn per year. In a dispute in the 1830s with Clogheen's Parish Priest, Fr. Casey, concerning a wall abutting the perimeter wall of the barracks, it was discovered that the landlord had inadvertently forgotten to sign the lease.  Threatened legal action against the priest have to be withdrawn. The barracks had in those early years accommodation for 56 men, and stables for 60 horses.

            Prior to the building of the Barracks Clogheen was occupied by a unit of soldiers under the earl of Drogheda.  These soldiers would have been quartered on the local inhabitants.  At one time, the famous Irish horse Regiment was stationed at this barracks. In 1858, No.1 Company of the South Tipperary Artillery moved from Cahir to Clogheen as a result of over crowding in Cahir. 

            On the closing of the barracks in 1922, it was evacuated by a battery of the royal Field Artillery.  The keys were handed to a local man. Mr.  Maher.  B efore the anticipated arrival of the newly formed Irish Government’s forces, the barracks were burned down by the anti treaty forces.  (Old I.R.A)  The ruined barracks building was finally demolished to make way for the new houses in the early 1950’s.  The perimeter wall of the barracks can still be seen encompassing Lios Mhuire, a reminder of the 153 year British  military presence in the town.  The upper part of Clogheen’s Main Street is still known as Barrack Hill.


Royal Irish Constabulary

Today, Clogheen has a Garda Barracks manned by one garda. It operates as a substation of Cahir. At one time the town had three resident Gardai and one sergeant. Prior to the establishment of the Garda Siochana, Ireland's police force was known as the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC).  In 1836, Thomas Drummond formed the Irish Constabulary to replace an earlier but disorganised police force. Police barracks were established all over Ireland. Almost three quarters of the rank and file members of this force were Catholic while all of the officers were Protestant. It was a strict rule that members of the force could not serve in their own area.

            Mrs. Cutler's house, on the west side of Keatings' public house on Main Street was Clogheen's RIC. station. The original barred windows can still be seen on the ground floor. (This building subsequently served as a bank.)

            Contemporary writers regarded the Irish Constabulary as being closer to a military body than a police force.  Alexander Somerville, writing in 1852, said, “ They have belts and pouches, ball cartridges in their pouches, short guns called carbines, bayonets, pistols, and swords". Later in the century, L. Paul Dubois described the isolated rural barracks as being blockhouses with iron doors, more like forts than police stations.

            Within a few miles of Clogheen, three locations still carry the name 'Mountain Barracks'. One on the Kilworth road out of Ballyporeen, one at Gortacullen on the Clogheen-Newcastle road, and, perhaps the one most familiar to Clogheen people, the site on the road over the Knockmealdowns, just where the road forks for Lismore or Cappoquin. These outposts were established to provide protection for the great numbers of flour carts travelling those roads as well as the Bianconi mail and passenger coaches which operated throughout the greater part of Ireland. The Mountain Barracks also served to control the lives of the rural population of Ireland. The RIC did not acquire the appellation 'Royal' until some years after their formation.

            After the RIC was disbanded in the 1920s, local people went to the Mountain Barracks on the Knockmealdowns and took it apart stone by stone. This was caused by a mixture of  antipathy towards the RIC and also the possibility of getting some good building stone. Even though the rank and file members of the Irish Constabulary were Irish and Catholic, the force had come to be seen as agents of the Crown rather than an impartial police force. The Royal Irish Constabulary also had barracks at Tubrid, Burncourt, Kilcoran and Knocklofty.

            The four houses on the east side of Careys' Pharmacy occupy the site of Clogheen's Bridewell. Bridewells were houses of correction or prisons for minor offenders.
At Clogheen, the former McCraith's Hotel, was the staging post for the Bianconi coaches. The stone arched hut on the left hand side of the Clogheen-Lismore road, just beyond Bay Lough, was used to house a change of horses for the mail and passenger cars. Similar but smaller huts in the vicinity are said to have been shepherds' huts but may have been outposts for the RIC barracks.


Volunteers, 1781.

Partly out of a necessity to be prepared for a French invasion and partly from an aspiration towards independence from England, the Irish Volunteer movement was formed in the latter half of the 1770s. Initially their ranks were occupied by Protestants only, as Catholics were still restricted from holding arms. There was no national uniform for the Volunteers and the various companies seemed to vie with each other in their attempts at sartorial splendour. In his History of Clonmel, Canon E. Burke describes the Clogheen Troop of Horse, formed on the 6th January, 1781:

            The uniform was scarlet, faced light blue, edged silver lace, white buttons, silver epaulets, white jackets edged red. The furniture was goat skin turned red:

The staff:

Colonel            Cornelius O'Callaghan

Captain            Thomas Clutterbuck

Lieutenant       James Butler

Adjutant          Thomas Vowell

Surgeon           John Foliot

Chaplain          Charles Tuckey

Secretary         Charles Tuckey.


Public Floggings
The insurrection of 1798 which included the Wexford rebellion at Vinegar
Hill was the culmination of years of repressive Government measures in Ireland. The fact that the United Irishmen failed to answer the call to arms in all counties of Ireland at that time has been attributed in part to the efforts of the more brutal members of the governing class. In Tipperary such a man was Thomas Judkin Fitzgerald, high sheriff of the county.

            Fitzgerald had a few favourite methods of making 'discoveries'. Any peasants who were suspected of being members of the rebels, or of having knowledge of them could expect to be dragged through the streets behind a cart or flogged or both. Fitzgerald had great faith in the information acquired in this way. Sir John Moore, who held a commission in the British army, once witnessed the High Sheriff engaged in his favourite pursuit in Clogheen. An innkeeper of good character was tied up and being flogged by Fitzgerald's men in an effort to extract information. The man, Jeremiah McGrath, was tied to a ladder for the duration of the flogging while the local people were compelled to line the streets with their hats off to witness the spectacle. McGrath had no information to give Fitzgerald, but on being informed that he would be flogged to death if he did not give such information, he invented a name.

The floggings went on all afternoon and Fitzgerald claimed that he had flogged the truth out of a great many respectable persons that day.

Flogging outside the Globe Inn (Eddie O’Riordan Jnr.)

The Mills

Clogheen is proud of its past glories, and we often delve into the past to regale visitors with tales of its once busy fairs, thriving markets, and the seven flour mills that once provided economic stability to the area. Sadly, all these fairs, markets and mills are now only part of our past.

            There is a history of milling in the locality going back to medieval times, and in the 1654 Civil Survey of Ireland the following is recorded for Castlegrace, two miles east of the town:

"Upon the said lands stands a large stone house, (and) a little castle, both covered with thatch,and two turrets within a bawne whereof the said house, castle, and turrets are all lately rebuilt at the chardge of the Commonwealth, likewise some thatcht houses, cabbins, and a grist mill, which Mill was lately built by Capt. Thornehill, and the best part of the houses and cabbins by his Tennts. upon the said lands. This land hath the accommodation of the River Ountearr runinge by it."

            The Civil Survey also refers to 'a tucking mill' (cloth) and a grist mill' (coarse flour) at Rehill, and a 'grist mill' at Ballysheehan. Both of these townlands are just a few miles north of Clogheen.

            However, it was in the late 18th century that the mills, for which Clogheen was once famous, commenced construction. In 1784, Thomas Vowell, the adjutant of the Clogheen Volunteers, had purchased from one Daniel Keefe, the Garter Inn and lands at Coole(ville), in Clogheen. Here Vowell built a mill, and in 1794, he sold it to Samuel Grubb. a merchant from Clonmel. Over the next several decades the Grubb family built further flour mills at Cooleville, Clashleigh, Castlegrace and Flemingstown. They also built a brewery at Clashleigh, and the little roadway which leads down to the old mill ruins opposite the Catholic Church is still known as Brewery Lane.              Fennells, who owned a mill at Rehill, purchased the Manor mill near the Duag Bridge on Convent road from Murrays in the 1840s and later extended it.

Wades had a mill at Mt. Anglesbey. It is suggested locally that this townland owes its name to its one­time owner, the Earl of Anglesey, who received land in the area during the post-Cromwellian period.

            Water power for the mills was derived from the Rivers Tar and Duag and for Mount Anglesbey and the Manor mill at Glenleigh from the Glounliagh stream. The last mill was constructed in 1832. The 1840 Ordnance Map shows that there was a small mill at Rearoe, two miles west of the town, at that time

            The Napoleonic wars, at the beginning of the 19th century, and the rapidly increasing population in the industrial regions of England, created a huge market for Ireland's agricultural produce. The mills provided both a ready market for the wheat grown in the surrounding farmland and employment for great numbers of labourers. Farming at the time was very labour intensive and consequently it, too, provided a great deal of seasonal employment for the ever increasing rural population. However, with the continuing trend of sub-division of farms that was prevalent in the country, the demand for labour on these smaller agricultural holdings gradually diminished. Samuel Lewis noted in the 1846 Parliamentary Gazette, that in Clogheen:

"a large trade in agricultural produce is carried on, chiefly for exportation, and more than 80,000 barrels of wheat are annually purchased in its market and in the neighbourhood. which is made into flour of very superior quality and sent by land to Clonmel, whence it is conveyed down the (River) Suir: For this purpose there are seven flour mills in the town and neighbourhood, which are worked by fourteen water-wheels. There is also an extensive brewery."

           Slater's directory of the same year, 1846, was able to report that: 'The corn-mills of Messrs. Grubb are very extensive, employing great power and a considerable number of hands. "

            A document in the National Archives in Dublin records the dimensions of the mill-wheel at Samuel Grubb's mill in Clogheen in 1847: Diameter of wheel--16 feet. Number of buckets--32. Breadth of buckets--5 feet. Fall of water--13 feet. Revolutions per minute--8.

            Throughout the 19th century, the River Suir was navigable from Clonmel to Waterford. The barges which conveyed the flour down-river discharged their cargo onto the Waterford quayside, or directly onto the ships which conveyed the flour to England. However, not all the flour was exported through Waterford. Youghal in County Cork, was at that time a busy port. It was to facilitate the horse drawn flour carts journeying over the Knockmealdown mountains on their way to Lismore and Youghal that the present Vee road was constructed early in the 19th century. During the Great Famine of 1845-50 the mills had to be guarded from attack by the starving populace. They did in fact come under attack in 1846. (See chapter on Famine)

            The demise of Clogheen as a great milling centre began during and just after the Great Famine. During the Peel administration in England (1841- 1846) the Corn Laws were repealed. These were laws which imposed prohibitive tarriffs on corn imports to Great Britain of which Ireland was then a part. The great wheat growing areas of North America were fast developing and becoming accessible by rail, and cheap American wheat and corn eventually began to flood across the Atlantic destabilising the prices heretofore ensured to Irish millers. In Ireland, the newly established rail network, by excluding Clogheen from its routes, also contributed to the mills' demise.

            It had been expected that the rail line from Dublin to Cork would pass through Clogheen, a route that would have made sense geographically. Whether from lack of political influence or financial clout, the planned rail connection to Clogheen never happened, and over the next several years, the mills, now isolated, found that transportation costs and competition from imports were all too much. Professor Wm. J. Smyth has noted from records in the National Archives, the following description of Grubb's flour mill at Flemingstown in 1870:

" The work done in this mill in 1852 was 4,970 barrels. and in 1865. 1,115 barrels. Little or nothing has been done since 1868, with only one pair of stones working for two days a week on an average in these times. Some buildings are in ruins and others much dilapidated. Indian Corn is now only ground in it and wheat grain must be supplied from the Dublin market. It is nine miles from the nearest railway station ."

            By 1880 all but one of the flour mills had closed down. Before the end of the century, flour milling had ceased in Clogheen. For some years one of the mills was converted to the manufacture of woollens, and Lonergans' Woolen Mill had a reputation for blankets, tweeds and serges of fine quality.


Fairs And Markets

Two different sites in Clogheen are pointed out as the location of the town's once busy market-house. Both are correct. The 1840 Ordnance Survey map shows that the site now occupied by Carey's Pharmacy on Main Street and Corbett's lumber yard directly behind the pharmacy was the site of the market house and shambles. Here weekly markets for butter, eggs, potatoes, and other foodstuffs gave life to the town on two days of each week. Buyers from many urban areas travelled several miles to purchase the butter at these markets. The shambles at the rear was an area where stalls were erected from which traders sold meat and other products.

            In the late 1880s, the market house was destroyed by fire, and a building at the site of the garage in the Square was converted to a market house. This building was Clogheen's original court-house but had been abandoned in favour of the new court-house in the early 1800s. During the Great Famine, that same building had been used to house paupers when the local workhouse was unable to accommodate the numbers seeking relief.

            Before the advent of the Irish Farmers' Cooperative movement and the subsequent organisation of cattle marts, cattle and pigs were sold on 'Fair- day' in designated towns around the country. Clogheen was one such town.

            Throughout the countryside on fair-day, before the cock crowed or the sun cast the first rays of early morning light, the farmers and their labourers would have rounded up the few cattle they had to sell and begun driving them along the road to the Clogheen fair. In the apparent confusion of hundreds of cattle milling together on the streets, some sort of order reigned, and all day long deals were done with much spitting on palms prior to handshakes amid vociferous encouragement from the onlookers.

            Cattle sold and a few outstanding bills paid in the local stores, the farmers headed for home. For some, the serious business was just beginning, and their next port of call was one of the dozen or so local public houses where vast amounts of whiskey, and porter from large timber barrels were consumed. Songs were sung with old friends; old scores were settled in fist fights, and new friends were made in the smoky bars lit by oillamps while the publicans used butter-boxes to hold the day's takings.

            The following day, the streets had to be cleared of the inevitable mess from the fair, broken windows repaired, money counted and stories told. Stragglers from the fair who had been too inebriated to find their way home the previous night, nursed their sore heads with a 'hair of the dog that bit them'! Another Fair- day was over. Sadly a day came when Clogheen saw its last fair.

            The absence of the railway was again to have an effect on the economic well being of the town, and in 1889, George Henry Bassett, in his ' Book of County Tipperary , noted the following for Clogheen:

            “ The houses of Clogheen for the most part, are well built, and many of those devoted to business are tastefully fitted. and heavily stocked with merchandise. The district contains a considerable amount of good land. and in favourable times the farmers are well to do.

            Oats and potatoes are the principal crops raised. Dairying is carried on to a large extent. Every Saturday a market is held for butter and eggs, but it is small in comparison to what it was some years ago. The market-house was destroyed by fire, and has not been rebuilt. A fair is held on the third Monday of every month for pigs. The cattle fairs, once first rate, failed through competition of those held at Clonmel, Cahir and Mitchelstown. Influences of a similar nature affected the prosperity of the weekly market. Within forty years, four flour mills were worked with success in the town and neighbourhood. Now only one is kept going. Fifty years ago Clogheen had a brewery, but it likewise failed.

            Nearly a hundred years ago a silvermine was worked profitably at Castlegrace. Why it was abandoned does not appear. The Knockmealdown mountains are supposed to be rich in iron ore. At present Woolens are manufactured here on a modest scale, by Mr. Michael Lonergan. The industry was begun by his late father some twenty years since, and has a promising future. "  


One of the most tangible links that we in Ireland have with the past is the prolific number of old churches scattered throughout the length and breadth of the country, some currently in use, others in a state of ruin. In the immediate vicinity of Clogheen there are a number of such ruins. Medieval church remains can be seen in the cemeteries at Shanrahan, Castlegrace/Tullaghorton, Ballysheehan, and Whitechurch. All dating from around the 15th century, they fell into gradual decline following the suppression of monasteries after the Reformation, and after the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity had been passed in the middle of the 16th century. The church in Shanrahan was rebuilt and used as a Protestant church at a later date. The square tower from this later church is now a dominant feature of the cemetery. It was here in Shanrahan that St. Cathaldus had his monastic settlement in the 7th century. (See chapter on St. Cathaldus on page 73)

            The church ruin at Ballysheehan was at one time the parish church of Ballysheehan. This ancient parish is now united with Shanrahan under the name Clogheen/Burncourt. Ballysheehan was more anciently known as Kilmolash and according to the Civil Survey of 1654, it boasted a Chapel of Ease.


St. Mary's Church, Clogheen

It was a feature of life in Ireland during the last few centuries that Protestant service was held in a 'church' while the Catholics attended the 'chapel'. Despite thc Penal Laws which were enacted in the 1690s, as a means of ensuring that there could could be no more Catholic rebellion, a thatched chapel was built in Clogheen in 1740. Chapel Lane ( Mountain View) owes its name to this chapel. From 1740 until the 1830s, this was the place of worship for Clogheen's Catholics. Prior to that, a Catholic church was in use inside the walls of what later became Shanbally estate.  Logataggart has been pointed out as being the site of this early church. The Gaelic word 'Lag' describes a natural hollow in the geographical terrain while 'Sagart' is the Gaelic for a Priest.

            Following a fire in the Clogheen thatched chapel in the 1830s during the pastorship of Fr. Matthias Casey, a decision was made to erect a new Roman Catholic Church at Main Street. This decision reflected the growing influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland following the Relief Act of 1793 and the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 for which Daniel O'Connell is famous.

            The limestone for the new church was hewn from the adjacent quarry, much to the chagrin of the Military authorities who found that the east gateway of the barracks was made redundant by the quarrying of the stone. That gateway, now blocked up, can still be seen on the old barracks wall, behind and to the north of the Crucifixion scene in the church grounds. Fr. Casey was so proud of his new church that he often boasted that it was unsurpassed by anything outside Rome.

            The continuing development of the Catholic church in Ireland, however, with the resultant increase in the size of congregations, necessitated the building of an even larger church in 1864. Fr. John O'Gorman was the Parish Priest at the time. This is the present St. Mary's Catholic church on Main Street which was built from limestone from McCarthy's quarry at Garrymore - two miles from the village. The cost of this handsome Gothic edifice was £2,662. Father Shanahan, who was the Administrator of the parish in 1858, collected £1,700 towards the building fund on the Australian gold-fields. Lord Lismore, the local landlord, donated £100.

The Parochial house was erected in the early 1890s.

St. Kierans 

St. Kieran's Catholic church at Duhill in the neighbouring parish of Ballylooby /Duhill is well worth a visit as it contains two stained glass windows by the famed artist in that medium, Harry Clarke.



The Catholic church in Burncourt was erected in 1952. This church replaced the 1810 cruciform church on the same site which had been extensively restored in 1874 during the pastorship of Rev. Thomas Finn.



A small silver chalice, now in safe keeping in the parish, dates from 1638. It was a gift to the parish from Lucas Everard and his wife Eliza Daniel on their wedding day in that year.

 The old wooden altar from the little thatched chapel of 1740 is still in existence. And can be seen in the modern church.  The damage from the fateful fire is evident to this day. A few statues from that chapel are also preserved. The original baptismal font from the 1830s church is still preserved at St. Mary's, though it is not now in use.


St. Paul’s Church Of Ireland

The Protestant Church of St. Paul was built in 1845-46. A plaque over the door says '1846 - Rev. Wm. Frazer, Vicar'. Prior to that date, Protestant services were held in the church which stood at the Bella Hill, near Shanrahan Crossroads. This church, which is represented on the 1840 Ordnance Survey map, was dismantled and the stone used in the building of St.Paul's. William Tinsley, the noted architect and builder was the contractor. He narrowly escaped with his life following a fall during the demolition of the church on the Bella Hill. St. Paul's was built to a James Pain, Jnr. design. Shortly after building St. Paul's, Tinsley gave up the building side of his business as he had lost money on the contract. He later left Ireland for America where he further developed his architectural skills. Many of the University campuses in Ohio were designed by Tinsley and a replica of St. Paul's Church was built in Quarry Hole, north of Gambier in Ohio.

            In 1847, Rev. Wm. Frazer was the Protestant chaplain to Clogheen Union workhouse, and Fr. Kelly, the Parish Priest, was the Catholic chaplain to the same institution. Both men served on the Relief Committe that was established in Clogheen during the Great Famine.

            It was in this church, St. Paul's, that a British Army soldier named James Clarke, who was serving locally as a bombardier in the Royal Artillery, married Mary Palmer of Clogheen on May 21st, 1877. They were the parents of Thomas Clarke, one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation who was executed after that rising.

            Due to a sharp decrease in the size of its congregation, St. Paul's closed as a Church of Ireland on March 14th 1976. At the final service, at which Bishop John W. Armstrong officiated, many of the town's Catholic community attended in a spirit of ecumenism with their Church of Ireland neighbours. This gesture of friendship and sharing of the sadness at the closing of the church was commented on by the presiding minister who said that he was heartened by such a display of Christian fellowship, particularly as he was about to take up an appointment in Belfast.

           Following its closure as a church, the Church of Ireland authorities donated the building to the People of Clogheen. Over the next few years, the hard working community council converted it into the local Community Centre which has proved to be a valuable asset to the town. The tomb of the Taylor family, agents to Lord Lismore for several generations can still be seen behind the old church.


Shanrahan Church

Part of the remains of the mediaeval parish church of Shanrahan can still be seen at the easternmost end of the ruined church in Shanrahan cemetery. This has also been suggested as the site of an ancient Abbey called St. Mary's but there is no historical record of such an Abbey. The tower at the western end is part is part of a later Protestant church. In 1666 Robert Thornhill of Castlegrace was charged at a court in Clonmel with the destruction, by force of arms, of the Church of All Saints in Shanrahan in 1657.


Another consequence of the Penal Laws was that Irish Catholic children were denied education. However, the thirst for education was so strong that hedge schools sprang up all over Ireland. These hedge schools were so called because teachers travelled around the area and taught the children in the open air often using a hedge as shelter from the wind and prying eyes. During times of inclement weather, the classes were convened in local farmers' sheds or houses and continued to be called hedge-schools.

            The townland of Rearoe, two miles west of Clogheen, is known colloquially as Ronga, from the Gaelic word 'Rang', (pronounced 'roung'), meaning 'school class'. While other hedge school sites would certainly have existed, they are long forgotten, and so it is to Rearoe, or Ronga, that we look for the earliest known school site in the area.



The first identifiable school building in Clogheen is the old Parochial school - older than and situated behind St. Paul's church. During the school's first ten years in existence the ground in front of it, now occupied by St. Paul's Church, was an open space. Also known as Shanrahan school, it was built in 1838. It is doubtful if any Catholic children went there in its early years. A number of 'pay-daily' schools were established in the town over the following years, usually in the school-master's home.      Only those who could afford the few pence per week for the master could afford to attend, and so these schools were in fact an early form of private education.

            In 1842, a school was established in the newly opened  Clogheen Union workhouse under the control of the National Board of Education. Richard Burke was appointed as schoolmaster on a salary of £15 per year, and Mary Nowlan was

appointed as first schoolmistress.

            By all accounts, Burke was dedicated to his job and spared no effort in setting up the workhouse school. Promotion soon followed, and he became Clerk of the Union, and later still he obtained a higher position in Waterford. While in Waterford he met and fell in love with a young woman which was a bit unfortunate as he already had a wife in Clogheen! In March, 1862, Richard Burke sent a package containing medicine laced with strychnine to his ailing wife in Clogheen. She lived in one of the houses now occupied by the Co-op store. Mrs. Burke took the medicine with fatal consequences, but before she died she managed to alert one of her neighbours as to the cause of her impending demise. Richard Burke's crime was discovered and he was hanged on the 25th August, 1862.

            The workhouse school was obviously only accessible to those children whose parents were destitute in that institution. The poor children who had so far managed to avoid the poorhouse were still denied education. A letter to the Tipperary Vindicator newspaper in 1844, urged that a National school should be built in Clogheen, saying:

"Nowhere are so many children to be met with, so backward in literary requirement, nor no place would they be tolerated to grow up and remain in so rude and uncultivated a state of nature as they are here (in Clogheen), without some respectful effort to have been made by at least a few humane, well disposed and charitable persons to commence building an institution, to be conducted by a Catholic, in which knowledge would be imparted that would dispel their darkness and rescue them from their abject state of ignorance ... "

The stone plaque over the door of the building opposite St.Theresa's Hospital shows that Clogheen had its National school by 1846.

            In the 1930s, the old Parochial school behind St.Paul's was used as a technical school.

            In the early years of this century, the old National school closed and was replaced by a Convent school run by the Sisters of Mercy and a boys school on the Ballyporeen road a half mile west of the town. The Sisters of Mercy had established a convent in the town in 1886, and in a tradition that continues to this day, commenced nursing the sick and dying and educating the children of the district.

            The present St. Mary's National school was opened in 1980, and replaced the Convent school and the old boysschool. A four teacher school, it presently has 107 pupils on its roll-book. A well run modern school, it boasts all the facilities necessary for the comfort of, as well as the education of our children. It has had a considerable amount of success in the Tidy Schools' competitions and its grounds are a credit to all those charged with their care.



From Bassetts Book of Tipperary 1889


Famine Years

Visitors to Clogheen will be surprised to learn that in spite of the fertility of the Valley and in spite of the apparent affluence of the town in the middle of the nineteenth century, it was nonetheless severely affected by the Great Famine of 1845-50. With its seven mills and brewery and many assorted shops and businesses, the casual observer could be forgiven for assuming that Clogheen was set up to withstand the ravages of those dark years.

            Just how badly it was affected can be shown by the fact that in a famine exhibition at Cork University in October 1995, Clogheen/Burncourt parish was chosen along with Skibbereen in County Cork to portray the famine in Munster.

            In October 1845, The Tipperary Free Press, a Clonmel based newspaper, reported that they had investigated reports of widespread failure of the potato crop and were saddened to say that the failure was much more serious than they had at first thought. Somehow the poor managed to struggle through the winter of 1845-46. After all, this was not the first potato failure they had had to contend with. Neighbours who had 'a bit put by' and local charities selling Indian meal at cost price, kept the deaths to a minimum in those first months.

            By spring of 1846, the true extent of the disaster began to be realised. The landlords and gentry, clergy and business people of the area held a meeting at Clogheen's courthouse in April and formed a Relief Committee. This committee proceeded to divide the area around the town into ten walks, and they visited each home in these walks. They selected 387 families, comprising 2,017 persons, as "fit objects for relief." On the 18th April, The Tipperary Free Press reported that oatmeal and coarse flour had been distributed to over 1,000 people in Clogheen during the week.

            At the end of March, the Guardians of the workhouse were appealing to the authorities in Dublin for funds, and they recorded in their minute book (Tipperary County Library Archives) that no contractors had tendered for the supply of potatoes to the house. Consequently they would have to feed the paupers on meal and bread. The destitution in the surrounding countryside was now so great that the starving poor tried to take matters into their own hands. Convoys of flour carts over half a mile long left Clogheen and Cahir each day under military escort. They could no longer travel alone as they were constantly coming under attack when unprotected. Lord Lismore had written to Dublin Castle asking that extra military be sent to Clogheen as the flour carts travelling the Clogheen to Lismore road had come under attack. The mills were also besieged by a 'tumultuous body of people who advanced on the town blowing horns'. The attacks on the mills were repulsed, however, as the police had been tipped off and were waiting for the mob. (Outrage Papers, National Archives)

            Relief works were underway by summer, and the most important famine relief project in the Clogheen area was the building of the present road to Cahir. This road is still referred to as the 'New Line'. All over the country, hundreds of thousands of people , the majority of them starving, clamoured to get on to the various relief works. A system of piece-work was introduced to reward those who were doing the most work, but this had the most appalling consequences for the operation of the country's entire relief-work system. Men in ragged clothes, near to starving, poured onto the works with their wretched wives and children, in an effort to earn more than the few pence per day that they themselves were capable of earning.  

            After a few months the entire system became inoperable and eventually closed down. Many people died while building the 'New Line' , and it is believed locally that they were buried in the ditches on either side of the road. The Vee road over the Knockmealdown mountains was upgraded during the Famine, and the walls on either side of that road were built as part of famine relief.

January 1847 saw soup kitchens being opened in all areas of the country that were fortunate enough to have Relief Committees. Clogheen's soup-kitchen was established in December 1846 by the Quaker family of Grubb. The charitable works carried out for the poor of Ireland during the Great Famine by the Quakers or Society of Friends is only now being acknowledged. Mrs Grubb's letter to the Relief Commissioners in Dublin in Jan 1847 is preserved in the National Archives in Dublin. In it she wrote:

" ... no persons with common feelings could withstand the solicitations of the starving wretches imploring them for relief which they cannot give. Disease in the rural districts is making rapid strides, where grass, bran, and donkeys, we hear, are resorted to for food."

Mrs. Grubb went on to request aid under the grant system that had been advertised for setting up food-kitchens. Dublin's reply was that as the Clogheen ladies' soup-kitchen had not been officially set up by the Relief Committee, they could not be grant aided. After much correspondence, aid was finally granted to Clogheen.

            The following month, Robert Davis, of the Society of Friends, visited this area and recorded his findings. At Ballyboy near Clogheen he found:

" Active measures in progress for the daily distribution of prepared food to the distressed people around, and here I may say literally that actual famine first met my view. There was no mistaking the shrunken looks and sharpened features of the poor creatures, who were slowly and with tottering steps assembling to partake of the accustomed bounty. Sheer destitution marked their attenuated countenances too legibly to admit of a doubt that it was all a sad reality ... From Ballyboy I next went to Clogheen, and visited the soup, or rather porridge, establishment there, it was at full work and appears to be well attended to. From Clogheen we proceeded to the village of Burncourt, situated at the foot of the Galtee Mountains, a locality where destitution abounds to a fearful degree ... deaths from actual starvation were becoming of daily occurence; whilst the corpses were buried in some instances at night, and without coffins. "

The Tipperary Free Press reported on a similar visit by one of their correspondents in the same month:

"I have just returned from having visited ten townlands (in the Vee-Valley), and a more distressing duty I never I think performed. Although I knew great destitution prevailed, yet I had no idea that the wretched people were at all so bad. In many instances, I had to speak to them while they lay on a little dirty straw, which they use for beds, they not being able from exhaustion to get up to speak to me. People who were in good health four or five months ago, I found were dead, and I was assured by the Sergeant of Police, that their deaths were caused by starvation. In short, sore famine is in the country."

            By the end of 1847, the workhouse in Clogheen was so overcrowded that extra accomodation had to be found for the numbers seeking relief there. Several extra buildings around Clogheen were leased including the old court house at the Square, Clogheen, and at Tincurry, on the Galty mountains outside Cahir, a disused factory was converted into an auxiliary workhouse, to house 400 children.

A unique letter from one of the unfortunate paupers who was obliged by destitution to seek refuge in Clogheen workhouse with his family during those years, describes the conditions:

" ... the exterior is grand and inviting, but the interior is a scene of tyranny, cruelty, and inhumanity, which is destructive to human life. The portion of the food and drink given to each person daily is not sufficient for one meal...some are gluttonously fed, and many are perished by lingering hunger. ... I have seen from six to twelve children dead daily. On the 23 March or thereabouts I have seen sixteen dead together, fourteen of whom were helpless children. I have seen fathers and mothers who could not find their children dead or alive ... "  (Board of Guardian Minute Books, Tipperary County Library Archives)

            Perhaps the most telling documents from those years are those which contain the census figures (unfortunately for researchers, no names.) for the years 1841 and 1851. The population of the valley had fallen in those ten years from 43,932 to 32,903. The number of houses had fallen from 7,034 to 5,133, reflecting the huge number of evictions which took place during those years. The population of the town of Clogheen had fallen from 2,049 to 1,562. That figure did not take into account the 1,322 inmates in the local workhouse. Tincurry held over 500. Together, starvation, emigration and death from fever had swept twenty five per cent of the population from the Valley.   



Famous Painting Found

Beside Corbett's hardware store on Main Street, in the house with the coloured brick window surrounds, a story unfolded in the early 1900s which deserves retelling here.

            In the year 1866, Father Tracy of Stradbally in County Waterford had organised a raffle to help pay off the debt on his new church. Mrs. Collins, who lived in the above mentioned house, sold a book of tickets for Fr. Tracy, and by way of thanks he sent her an unwanted prize from the raffle. It was a painting, later described as being of .. a man with a clean shaven, broad, kindly intelligent face, wearing a furred cape over a black velvet jacket and something resembling a Lord Mayor's chain." Mrs. Collins hung it in the parlour of her home alongside black and white prints of Irish national figures.

            Here it hung until one day in the early 1900s when Dr. Richard Henebry, who occupied the chair of Celtology at Cork University at the time, paid a visit to his cousins in Clogheen, the Collins family. While waiting for a cup of tea to be made for him, he casually walked around the room looking at the various paintings on the wall. His eyes fell on the old picture and he immediately realised that it was a painting of Thomas More painted in the early sixteenth century by Hans Holbein the younger.

            At Dr. Henebry's suggestion the Holbein was sent to London where it was sold at auction for seven hundred pounds. Mrs. Collins, the daughter in law of the original owner, felt that she had come into a fortune. In 1918 the painting was resold to an American for forty thousand pounds.


Sir Thomas More (1527), by Hans Holbein the Younger


Thomas More by Hans Holbein the younger    © The Frick Collection

Today the Hans Holbein painting of Thomas More hangs in the Frick Gallery in New York, and its value is reported to be in millions of dollars.

For over three hundred years, art lovers and experts throughout the world had searched for the Blessed Thomas More painting by Holbein. It is not known how it came to be in Ireland or who donated it to Fr. Tracy's raffle in Stradbally. What is known is that for over fifty years the priceless portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger hung unnoticed in Collins' house on Clogheen's Main Street.

That's the story that we in Clogheen have been brought up with!! However, on a recent trip to New York, an American lady with Clogheen connections visited the Frick Museum in New York, saw the Thomas More painting and following a meeting with one of the Museum's researchers, discovered that the provenance of the Holbein in question makes it clear that the painting's whereabouts have never been in question. It has never been to Clogheen!

 Looking at the facts of the story it would appear that there was a painting sold from Collins' house in the early 1900s for seven hundred pounds. The researcher at the Frick Museum suggests that it was probably one of many copies of the Holbein that have come to light over the years. In 1918 somebody obviously saw a report that the Thomas More painting by Holbein the Younger had been sold for £40,000 and assumed that it was the same painting that had graced the walls of the Collins home for all those years.

Katie Ryan And The Fairy Tree.
Of all the Irish songs recorded by the celebrated Irish tenor Count John McCormack, perhaps the best loved, in Ireland at any rate, is 'The Fairy Tree'. Katie Ryan who lived just outside the village for most of her eighty seven years, provided the inspiration for the author of this song, Temple Lane.

Temple Lane was the pen-name of Isabel Leslie, daughter of the Rev. Canon Leslie, who at one time ministered in St. Mary's Protestant Church in Clonmel, later at St. Paul's Church of Ireland in Clogheen, and later still in Lismore where he is buried. She took her name from the Temple lane that ran near her former home in Clonmel.

What better way to remember Katie Ryan than to reproduce the words of the famous song.


The Fairy Tree.


All night around the thorn tree, the little people play,
And men and women passing will turn their heads away.

They'll tell you dead men hung there,

Its black and bitter fruit,

To guard the buried treasure round which it twines its root

They'll tell you Cromwell hung them,

But that could never be,

He'd be in dread like others to touch the Fairy Tree.

But Katie Ryan who saw there in some sweet dream she had,

The Blessed Son of Mary and all his face was sad.

She dreamt she heard him say

Why should they be afraid? Why should they be afraid? When

from a branch of thorn tree the crown I wore was made.

By moonlight round the thorn tree the little people play

And men and women passing will turn their heads away.

But if your hearts a child's heart and if your eyes are clean,

You'll never fear the thorn tree

that grows beyond Clogheen.


Major Eeles' Grave.

High up above the Vee road, on top of the Sugarloaf peak on the Knockmealdown mountain range, a mound of stones marks the site of one of the strangest burials ever to have taken place in Ireland.  Folklore has a habit of confusing historical facts and we are happy to be able to offer here a link to the correct information regarding Major Eeles - the man and his burial place.


Samuel Grubb's Grave

Just beyond the Vee hairpin, a few hundred feet above the Lismore road out of Clogheen, stands a monument in the shape of a beehive cairn that looks out over the Galty-Vee-Valley. This well known landmark is the last resting place of Samuel Richard Grubb, an estate and mill owner from Castlegrace, Clogheen. Mr. Grubb had expressed a wish that he be buried overlooking his lands and estate at Castlegrace and here at this spot on the side of the Sugarloaf was the chosen site. Each year, many visitors to the Vee climb up to the monument and are surprised to find that it bears an inscription, which simply reads:


" Samuel Richard Grubb of Castlegrace. Born 26th September, 1855; Died 6th September, 1921."



Dr. Geoffrey Keating

A couple of miles outside Clogheen, in the lonely little churchyard of Tubrid in the parish of Ballylooby and Duhill lies the grave of one of the most illustrious Gaelic scholars that Ireland has ever produced. Dr. Geoffrey Keating (Seathrun Ceitin] was born in the nearby townland of Burgess in 1570. Having trained for and been ordained to the priesthood in Bordeaux he returned to his native parish in 1610 and built the church in Tubrid from where he ministered to his flock. Geoffrey Keating has been described as " the greatest master and best model of Irish prose."

            These were troublesome times in Ireland, but Fr. Keating seems to have worked in peace for some years until for some reason he felt obliged go on the run. He went into hiding in a cave in the Glen of Aherlow a few miles from Cahir, and it was while here that he began to write his most famous work (Foras Feasa an Eireann), a complete history of Ireland in Irish.

            In 1650 Dr. Keating was killed by a Cromwellian soldier. He was buried in the churchyard at Tubrid A handsome monument has been erected at his birthplace in Burgess in recent times. It has been said of him that his works will "always remain a standard of Irish at its best" and that "it represents the current tongue of the Irish scholar, writing when his native language possessed its full vigour."

            To get to Tubrid, take the Clonmel road out of Clogheen. After two miles, turn left at the pub at Castlegrace. One mile further on is Duhill Church with the Harry Clarke stained glass windows. One mile further on again is Tubrid Churchyard.

            To get to the monument at Burgess it is best to take the Cahir road out of Clogheen. Watch out for the signpost which is about two miles from Clogheen. 


Clogheen Man Killed At The Battle Of Shiloh.

Given that emigration has for centuries been an integral part of Ireland's history, it is safe to assume that many hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women from Clogheen and district have, over the years, left their mark on various parts of the world. One such man was William Hickey, a farmer's son from Lisfuncheon, Clogheen, who emigrated to Boston towards the end of the Great Famine.

            From the outset it appears (from his letters home which are still preserved) that his life in the New World held all the excitement and adventure that he could possibly have dreamed of as he was planning his trip. Within days of leaving home an accident on board ship almost severed his toes, but it seems he made a full recovery. In one of his early letters he mentioned the fact that John Bourke from Tubrid was given two hours before the ship sailed from Liverpool to remove his dead wife's body on his back in order that she might be given a Christian burial. John Bourke then returned to the ship and together with his two young children set out for their new life in America.

            One year after his arrival at his cousin's home in Commercial Street, Boston, William wrote home to his parents requesting that the return fare should be sent to him. Work was difficult to find and he had been obliged to take up employment at a boot and shoe factory, a fact that obviously displeased him. History does not relate whether or not he received the money, but a few months later he was again writing to his parents for money, this time to go to California, a journey he assured his parents, that would take all of six weeks.




Again he was to change his plans, and the next letter from William described his horror at finding himself in Sheepscote Bridge in Maine "in the wilde woods of America away from priest and chapel…I shed tears from my eyes in this letter for you, thinking of you and being so lonesome here that I have no one that I would spare a word to but savage Yankees, some of them who would sooner see the devil than an Irishman."


He went on to say that he was barely earning enough money to clothe himself, cutting down trees from four in the morning till ten at night. He dreaded the oncoming winter when he could expect to have to work in from six to fourteen feet of snow. He resolved to go to St. Louis, where he felt sure that his cousin Father Abram Ryan, the celebrated American poet, would fix him up with decent employment.

          William's final letter to his parents was written from New Orleans in 1861. He was happy to be able to report that he was working in a very respectable establishment, earning two dollars per day. He gave his address as William Hickey, New Orleans, Louisiana.

            On an August morning in 1866, Rev. Father James Hickey waited at the gate of his brother's house in Lisfuncheon for the mail to be delivered. He was anxiously waiting for word of his young cousin Johanna Ryan, whom he had assisted in emigrating to America a few months previously. The letter that arrived bearing a St. Louis postmark was from Johanna's brother David, who had been awaiting his young sister's arrival.


The despair, sadness, and sorrow with which Fr. James read that letter can hardly be imagined. A great many of the passengers on the ship 'The England' had died from cholera during her voyage, and great numbers after her arrival in quarantine in Halifax.


"and sad to relate poor Johanna among the rest... Your nephew William Hickey was a brave hearted young man, well liked by everyone in St. Louis, and at the breaking out oj the war, he went to New Orleans where he joined the Confederate army, and was killed at the Battle oj Shiloh holding the rank of lieutenant and was acknowledged to be a brave intrepid commander."



William Hickey's Lisfuncheon Home


Rian Bó Phadraig

Wherever an unusual topographical feature occurs in Ireland, one can be sure that there is a legend or two accompanying it by way of explanation. Such a feature locally is the ancient track across the Knockmealdown mountains known as Rian Bo Phadraig (The track of St. Patrick's cow). The track in question is the unusual topographical feature while the connection With St. Patrick's cow is the legend.

            The story goes as follows: St. Patrick's cow, accompanied by her calf, was grazing contentedly on the banks of the River Tar. A cattle thief from County Waterford came over the mountain and stole the calf and made off with his prize for his home some twenty miles away. On discovering her loss, the cow set off in pursuit and such was her fury that she tore up the mountain side with her horns as she went. The distraught animal pursued the rustler well into County Waterford until at last she recovered her calf.

            In 1903, the Rev. P. Power from Waterford first published the results of his many years of investigation of the Rian. Using ancient manuscripts and books and accounts of early saints' lives coupled with thorough research on the ground, he gradually unravelled the great mystery.

            Rian Bo Phadraig is in fact a 4th or 5th century roadway linking the ancient ecclesiastical centres of Cashel in Co. Tipperary and Lismore in Co. Waterford. Some historians maintain that the continuation of the roadway from Lismore to Ardmore in the same county points to a link With St. Declan of Ardmore who preached Christianity in the south of Ireland before St. Patrick ever set foot here. However, Dr. Power has identified a more direct link between Ardmore and Cashel via Newcastle at the eastern end of the Knockmealdowns.

            From interviews with the older members of the rural community who lived along the route of the road Dr. Power identified many hundreds of old Irish placenames which had not been recorded on the 1840 ordnance survey maps. Using these names and his knowledge of the Irish language he discovered many sites on the Rian which he regarded as positive evidence of the road having been used by the holy men of Cashel and Lismore. Among those sites was a well called Tobar Mochuda (Mochuda's well), on the north side of the Knockmealdowns and the ruin of a small chapel close by. Mochuda was the founder of Lismore.

            At the time of Dr Power's research he was able, with difficulty in places, to trace the Rian from Cashel to Lismore via Ardfinnan, Kildanoge, and the summit of the Knockmealdowns. He expressed the opinion that the ancient road had been preserved down through the centuries, even on farmland, because of the reluctance of the farmers to interfere with the holy road bearing the saint's name.

            In this modern age of intensive farming, road widening, land drainage and extensive afforestation, many stretches of Rian Bo Phadraig are not clearly identifiable. However with the aid of Dr. Power's map, available at the County Library in Thurles, it is now possible to retrace the steps of the early saints of Ireland and St. Patrick's cow.


Shanbally Castle.

Whenever the destruction of Shanbally Castle is mentioned in casual conversation in Clogheen, local residents are seen to be visibly moved. While the anger in the voices will have diminished over the years, the sadness remains. The shameful demolition of that wonderful building in the late 1950s still causes sentiments of disgust to be expressed that cannot be reprinted here.


Built in the early 1800s by the landlord Cornelius O'Callaghan who had recently had the title of 'Lord Lismore' bestowed on him, it would seem logical that the castle would have been seen as a symbol of landlord oppression in the area and that its destruction would have been welcomed by the locals. This, however, was not the case.

            Having, of necessity, accepted the inevitable landlord tenant relationship that existed between them, the tenants on Lord Lismore's 35,000 acre estate appear to have borne little animosity towards the O'Callaghan family who collected the rent from them each year. At first this might seem surprising, in view of the fact that evictions did at times take place on the estate, and considering that Lord Lismore had called out the military to prevent the erection of a monument at the site of Fr. Sheehy's tomb in 1870. However, it might be explained by the fact that during the Great Famine of 1845-1850, Lord Lismore had shown benevolence towards his tenants by reducing their rents and establishing a soup kitchen at the gates of his castle. Contemporary writers described Lord Lismore as one of Ireland's good landlords, and Clogheen had indeed prospered under him.

            The castle had been designed by the celebrated architect John Nash who also designed the famous terraces that surround Regents Park in London, and redesigned Buckingham Palace. Constructed of magnificently cut limestone, the castle boasted twenty bedrooms, lavishly designed stucco ceilings, splendid mahogany staircases and doors, marble fireplaces throughout, and was set in one of the most picturesque parts of South Tipperary. The setting was described in 'Lewis' Parliamentary Gazette' of 1846:  “It is beautifully situated on low ground, in the centre of the valley between the Galtee mountains on the north and the Knockmealdown mountains on the south; and it commands the most magnificent views of the slopes." One thousand acres surrounding the building had been laid out in parkland and woods which were further enhanced by the creation of an artificial lake. To add to the sadness of the destruction of Shanbally castle, the chief example of Nash's work in Ireland, Sir Cecil King Harmans' house in County Roscommon had burned down a short time before the detonators and gelignite had done their work in Clogheen.

            In the 1950s the Shanbally estate had been purchased by the Irish Land Commission and the land commendably distributed among Irish farmers. Then followed one of those bizarre decisions for which officialdom everywhere is well known. It was decided that as the roof was in a dangerous condition, a fact disputed by lovers of the castle at the time, ten thousand pounds were to be spent in its destruction. Over several weeks, despite the outcry and protest from around the country, one thousand and four hundred holes were drilled around the castle, eighteen inches from the ground. The holes were then filled with explosive, and following the huge explosion Shanbally Castle was converted into thousands of tons of rubble.

It is no wonder that the people who remember it wince when they are reminded of that wanton act of official vandalism. Here, they will tell you, was Clogheen's Dromoland or Ashford castle. Here, apart from our mountains, was Clogheen's great tourist attraction with its consequent employment and ancillary business opportunities. Even as a roofless ruin, Shanbally Castle should have been allowed to stand as a monument to the man who built it, Cornelius O'Callaghan - Lord Lismore, and indeed as a monument to the people whose rent paid for its construction.



Saint Cathaldus Of Shanrahan And Taranto.

South of Shanrahan cemetery stands Knockshanahullion, a peak of the Knockmealdown mountain range. These mountains were not always known as the Knockmealdowns but were more anciently known as Slieve Cua or in English, Cua's mountain. They were named after the legendary chieftain, Cua, who is reputed to have built his fort either at the site of the present cemetery or in the immediate vicinity of that place. This fort was known as RathCua or Cua's Fort. Later on in time it became known simply as Rathan (the Fort) and as the centuries progressed it became known as Shanrahan (Old Fort). What we now know as the parish of Clogheen and Burncourt was, up to the last century, together with the modern parish of Ballyporeen, known as the parish of Shanrahan - Ballysheehan and Templetenny.

            Following the arrival of St. Patrick, Holy men established small monasteries throughout Ireland. In this area such Holy men are remembered at Ardfinan (St. Finian}, Tubrid (St. Kieran). It is not surprising then, to learn that in the seventh century a Holy man named Cathal, having studied at the University of Lismore which was founded by St. Carthage, made his way through the pass in the ancient SlieveCua mountains at the western end of Knockshanahullion peak and arrived at Rathan where he established his monastic settlement. He was appointed Bishop of the area even though it must be remembered that in those early years of the Christian Church this did not mean that he was in charge of a diocese.

            After some years at Shanrahan, Cathal set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On his return journey he was shipwrecked off the coast of Southern Italy and on discovering that the people of the area had reverted to paganism he resolved to stay amongst them in an effort to reconvert them to Christianity .

            Within a few years the people of Taranto in Southern Italy had selected Saint Cataldo (in Latin, Cathaldus or Cataldus) as their Bishop. Today the popularity of Saint Cathaldus in Southern Italy is equal to, if not greater than, the popularity of St. Patrick in Ireland. Over one hundred and fifty churches are dedicated to him in that country and the Cathedral-Basilica in Taranto proudly bears his name. He is the Saint Protector of Corato [Bari], of Gangi (Palermo) and of many other places. A town in Sicily is called San Cataldo.

            In 1071, during the reconstruction of the Basilica in Taranto, the tomb of Cathaldus was discovered and opened. With his body was found a gold cross bearing his name and the word Rathcau.

            In 1963, Fr. Frank Mackin, a Jesuit priest from Boston, came to Clogheen to research his family history. Following that visit, he went to Taranto to research the life of the Irish Saint. He was amazed that there was neither a statue nor a stained glass window commemorating the Irish Saint in the Clogheen Church even though it was obvious from the writings of the Historian Fr. Everard - Clogheen's Parish priest in the early years of the twentieth century - and from local tradition, that Clogheen people were aware of the historic link between Taranto and Shanrahan. He resolved to do something about it. In 1986 the Mackin family of America, Ireland and Australia installed a beautiful Stained Glass window in St. Mary's Catholic Church, on Clogheen's Main Street. The window, on the west wall of the church, depicts the life of St. Cathaldus in Shanrahan, his journey to the Holy Land and his being shipwrecked off the coast of Southern Italy.  PHOTO

            In 1996, an important delegation from Taranto in Italy, accompanied by Signor Enzo Farinella from the Italian Embassy in Dublin representing the Italian Ambassador, came to Clogheen to re-establish the historic link between Shanrahan and Taranto. The delegation was formed by Mons. Dr. Nicola Di Cornite, Vicar General and Archdeacon of the Metropolitan Chapter of Taranto; Mons Marco Morone, Parish Priest of the Basilica-Cathedral 'San Cataldo' and Don Cosimo Quaranta, secretary of the Metropolitan Chapter.

            During concelebrated mass on Sunday September 22,1996 Monsignor Michael Olden gave the homily on the subject of Saint Cathaldus. Then Mons Nicola Di Comite addressed the people of Clogheen and presented his Lordship most Rev. Dr. William Lee, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore with a gold replica of the Cross of St. Cathaldus.

            At the time of writing, 1996, it is planned that a plaque be erected at Shanrahan to commemorate the visit of the Italian delegation and the link between Shanrahan in Clogheen and Taranto in Southern Italy.

            In the Irish office of this great Saint (Gill and Son, Dublin) Die viii, Martii, p. 18, we read:


"Cathaldus in loco hodie Shanrahan nuncapato sedam suam eptscpales constituit".


(Cathaldus, in a place nowadays called Shanrahan, established his Episcopal See).




Clogheen History.  Clogheen Books.  Fr Sheehy.