FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF THE LATE CANON FOGARTY(no. 31)(Note: Because these lines were written in the 1940s - and possibly later - the ownership and location of facilities referred to have changed. )
This building was erected in 1743. It was originally an oblong structure with stone balconies at both ends to get to the top (storey). The upper storey was the courthouse and assembly room until the erection of the present Courthouse in Rossa St. Under the balconies arched-gateways of cut-stone led to the under chamber, on the entrance to which on either side were small cells used for the detention of prisoners.
The centre part of the under chamber - to which side gates also admitted - was occupied by butchers' stalls and tables on which traders displayed their goods for sale.
The greater part of the building fell as a result of a fire about the year 1870. Its bell - suspended from a wooden tower above the roof - escaping injury, was given to the local poorhouse or county home where it is still in use. All that remained of the burned building was removed by the Urban Council in the early part of the 20th century.
It is on record that Ger. Grant, the highwayman, spent a period of incarceration in Thurles Markethouse. He attempted to escape but a blow on the head with an iron weapon by a Jenny Crowe, the jailer's assistant, rendered him unconscious and he was thrown back into his cell. Grant was removed to Clonmel where his "bid" for liberty succeeded. Near the Markethouse, on the public street, up to about the year 1800, were the "stocks", for detention of disorderly individuals.
The Fever Hospital (St. Mary's): was erected in 1838 at the cost of £1,000; the greater part of this was given by the Grand Jury of the county and the remainder came from subscriptions. The site was leased to Archbishop Slattery, Archdeacon Cotton & John Evans by Lady Elisha Mathew for 1000 years at an annual rent of ten shillings. On the establishment of the Poor Law System the hospital was handed over to the P. L. Board of Guardians.
The courthouse was built in 1828 by the Grand Jury of the County - the site being leased to them by Francis James Mathew, the 2nd Earl of Llandaff.
The jail in Rossa St., was erected in 1816. It contained twenty two cells, four dayrooms two yards and was connected to the dock in the Courthouse by a subway, now closed up at each end. The governor of the jail in 1837 was Ardrew Ardagh at a salary of £18 - 9 - 0 a year. The jail was closed toward the end of the 19th century and passed into the hands of the County Council in 1903. The Council gave it to a board of Trustees comprising of priests and citizens, for the use of the local branch of the confraternity of the Holy Family. A sum of almost £2,000 was required to make the building adaptable to the purpose intended, but this was realised through the energy of Father Banon, the then chaplain of the confraternity - since then the building is known as the Confraternity Hall. An accidental fire destroyed the hall in 1913 but it was restored.
John Sadlier was born in Tipperary between 1814 and 1817, of well-to-do parents. Later he was a solicitor in Dublin succeeding to an extensive practice belonging to his uncle. Having ability, and being ambitious, Ireland was not big enough for him; he crossed the Irish Sea to London and there saw the possibilities opening up to a man of money.
At home in Tipp. there was nothing to tap the hoardings of the farming class and shopkeepers, so he launched a joint stock bank, popularly known as Sadlier's Bank.
The venture started in 1842 and went well. Branches were established in Clonmel, Carrick, Tipperary, Thurles, Nenagh, Roscrea and even in out-of-the-way places like Glengoole.
Among the early shareholders were James Sadlier of Shronell, Rev Thomas O'Mahony of Templebraden, Richard Scully of Tipperary, James Scully of Athassel, Pat Cleary Cahirvillahowe, James Sadlier Clonacody, Robert Keating Garrinlea and John Ryan Scarteen.
With the farmers' savings at his command John Sadlier gambled nightly at the London clubs and ranked amongst the highest and boldest of speculative financiers.
His next step was to enter the British Parliament and become a power therein. Carlow provided him with a seat in 1847. In the same year and in the same election William Keogh became the representative for the borough of Athlone... Thence on in a joint career until their downfall, Sadlier and Keogh aimed at complete control of Irish politics.
In 1850 the Irish people turned from physical force & insurrection to give constitutional effort a chance; they formed what was called "the Tenants League" - at the zenith of its power for the general election of 1852.
In the meantime Sadlier and company had gotten together a party of their own to which they gave the name "Catholic Defence Party". There was bitter rivalry between the two - the former having a powerful press in the Nation, Tablet and Freeman. Sadlier saw the power wielded against him, so, regardless of expense, he flung £50, 000 into an opposition journal to silence his enemies. In his journal the Pope and John Sadlier were the two great authorities of the Catholic Church. - the one its infallible head, the other its invincible defender.
One thing is certain, Sadlier fooled the clergy to the whites of their eyes. At the election of 1852 his party did badly. Keogh was elected, likewise Sadlier himself, and also his three cousins Frank and Vincent Scully and Robert Keating. Sadlier's brother came in for Tipperary.
Parliament met in November 1852, the Tories assuming power which they lost on a defeat a month later. The Liberals under Lord Aberdeen had to take up responsibility, and, to rule, they required the the assistance of the Irish vote. The fate of Ireland lay with the Irish members and unity was the Question of the hour. But there was no unity. Sadlier sold his "brigade" to the Prime Minister, duped his supporters and paralysed the country.
Soon after, the tide turned against the banker-politician and was bearing him irresistibly to ruin. Rumours were in circulation that he was in financial difficulty - they were too true! His speculations had turned out adversely and he had misappropriated every last shilling of the Tipperary Bank. All was over; he must die, and by his own hand.
On a bleak February morning in the year 1856, his corpse was found on a grassy mound on Hampstead Heath, near London; he had put himself beyond the reach of the law for a seven-figure debt!
The homes of Tipperary were overcast with the clouds of despair when Sadlier's death revealed his peculations. The peasants who trusted his bank with custody of their hard-won earnings, received a blow which sent many of them to a pauper's grave.
Sadlier's Bank in Thurles was (located) to the left of the old constabulary barracks ... in use up to the year 1903, and behind the Singer sewing machine shop, in a large house which afterwards became the poor school of the town. Both barracks and house are at present the property of the the Ursuline Convent.
The manager when the bank closed was Patten S. Bridges. He earned notoriety for himself as land agent for Buckley's Galtee estate near Mitchelstown, Co. Cork.
In a letter written by Mr. J. Burke, solicitor, Liscahill, to Tom Cahill of Clonismullen, we get the deposits lost by local people in the Thurles Branch:
Col. Knox Brittas lost £400; Phil Burke of Pallas lost £100; Mr Russell Ballyduag lost £900; Mr McCarthy Mealiffe lost £600 and Mr. Feehan Rathcannon lost £500.
A few days before the crash, Peter Gill, editor and owner of the Tipperary Advocate , was offered £100 to write an editorial on the bank's solvency but he refused.
The "Towns Improvement Act", passed in 1854, was adopted in Thurles in 1861. A meeting of the rate payers of the town assembled in the Courthouse and elected their first Commissioners. They : David Cummins, Manager of the National Bank, Chairman; William Boyton, William Moynan (sic), Dan Maher, Ben Hayes, Richard Burke, Robert Prendergast, William Hickey,Tom Burke, Anthony Dwyer, Michael Harney and Michael Kenny. John Bergin was the Town Clerk and Michael Ryan the Sanitary Inspector. They took the following actions:
a. They erected thirteen oil lamps to light the town at night and hired a man at two shillings and four pence a week to care for and light them (1862).
b. In 1864 they laid down gas pipes to replace the oil lamps and walled the pump in the Main Street. The Gashouse was built in 1874.
c. In 1865-7 they asked for a railway line from Thurles to Clonmel. They contradicted a report on the Irish Times that the Fenians denuded the town of its trees and used them for pike handles.
d. In 1868 they requested Mr Tom Butler of Ballycarron - agent of the Thurles Estate - to remove a part of the castle buildings (tower) at Westgate, lest it fall and kill someone.
e. In 1870 they gave permission to have poles erected and telegraph wires run from the Railway Station to the Post Office. The Post Office was for many years in the house presently occupied by William Blake, then Crowe-Burke's. After that it went to Kennys - now the Urban Council Office, then to Brays of Square and finally the position it is in today.
We have evidence that the town wall stood near Phil. Moloney's corner...
In 1699 the Duke of Ormond appointed Robert White of Thurles to be Clerk of the Markets and Salesmaster of leather, cloth, linen and other merchandise for County Tipperary.
1775. The following were indicted for assaulting Pat Purcell, a tithe proctor, and rescuing two cows seized for the Protestant Church rates: James Quinlan, Rahealty; John and Robert Spillane of Athnid, Tom Cormack of Ballyduff and James Connell of Cooleeny.
Father Mathew came to Thurles in 1841 and gave the Pledge to a crowd of 14,000.
In 1831, according to Lewis's Topographical History, the population was 7084, houses numbering 1210... He mentions the Petty Sessions held on Saturdays... He mentions also thirteen private schools; the carting of corn to Clonmel for shipping and the existence of a large brewery and tannery. The military were still quartered in the town in 1831 but only in one barracks - now the stores of Mr Dwan in Parnell Street. The brewery must be the present building in Kickham St. then owned by Charles O'Keeffe who was shot in 1839. O'Keeffe is mentioned as a land agent to Val. Maher of Turtulla. He was married to Elizabeth Boyton... Morty Quinn was owner of the brewery prior to O'Keeffe. A man names Gleeson, evicted from Stradavoher, was arrested for the murder but was acquitted.
In the eviction period of 1849 there were 930 ejectment entries to be heard at Thurles Quarter Sessions. A part of the Thurles Estate was cleared by the local land agent who tore down the people's houses with teams of horses. A tenant league meeting held in Thurles.
At a general election in 1847 the following M.P.s were elected:
For the Borough of Cashel - Sir Timothy O'Brien, Dublin. The votes of the constituency were a mere 159.
For the Borough of Clonmel - Hon. Cecil Lawless, son of Lord Cloncurry. The votes of the constituency were 324.
For the County - Nicholas Maher of Turtulla and Francis Scully of Kilfeakle. The votes of the county constituency were a mere 1125.
Stormy scenes took place at the polling in Clonmel. Maher and Scully's opponents were Ponsonby Barker of Kilcooley and a Mr. Collett, an Englishman who was the proprietor of the State Quarries in the county
After the result was made known a London paper, The Morning Leader, reported: "Once Tipperary was represented by the Mathews, Pritties, Bagwells and Pennefeathers - gentlemen of lineage - now it accepts an ex-Dublin attorney and a briefless barrister of Lincoln's Inn, the son of a Tipperary farmer from Kilfeakle."
In 1853 about 100 English Protestants came to Ireland to convert the natives... four landed in Thurles and took up position on the balcony of the Markethouse and began to talk as the people were returning from Sunday Mass. Needless-to-say they were attacked and sent about their business - sadder but wiser men.
In 1854 Maurice Leyne withdrew from the staff of the Nation newspaper and came to Thurles to edit the Tipperary Leader, a weekly journal founded by the advanced priests of the county. He died of Typhus fever on the day that the first number appeared. It looks as if the paper was continued in 1855 by William Kenneally of Cork - "a paper called the Tipperary Leader, edited by him, was in being for two years - 1855/7, then it disappeared because of a libel action of £2000 against its editor.
Later(1881), another paper with the name Tipperary was in vogue. This was edited by T.P. Gill of Nenagh fame. Gill lived in Liscahill House - formerly Baker's - and he had his press in Rossa St, in Culhane's store, now Mrs Gleeson's shop near the monastery gate. After two years the paper ceased and its plant was purchased by the Nationalist company of Clonmel.
In 1860 a number of men from Thurles and neighbourhood went to fight for the Pope in the Garribaldian war. Amongst them were: Stephen walsh and James Hunt of Mitchell St., John Maher Ikerrin Road, Tom Dwyer and Michael Cummins of Rossa St., Philip and Thomas Kirwan Main St., Tom Cahill employed at Moloney's - later Fogarty brothers - later still John Maher's Main St., Tom Kennedy Westgate, James Cleary Stradavoher, Michael Crofts Railway Road, the Treacy Brothers Garryvicleheen, John and Joe Gleeson of Fishmoyne, John Butler of Turtulla, Dan Guider of Littleton etc. They were away for eighteen months and returned safely.
In 1866 the first bicycle - called the "bone-shaker" - a contrivance of two wooden wheels of equal size, arrived in Thurles. It was the property of Mr. Tommy Johnson. Another Johnson was owner of the first "big wheel" bicycle that came to the town in 1869. The last to own and ride the "curiosity" was Mr Hassett of Ballytarsna...then about the beginning of the 20th century. "God protect us Mary! there's a headless coach at the hotel" - so an old man said to his wife when he saw the first motor car in Thurles.
For a Chronology of the Main Events of the Anglo-Irish War in County Tipperary see the Christmas number of the Tipperary Star, 1938.
In Rahealty the Purcell castle erected about the fifteenth century stands within a circular fort which may or may not be the 'rath of the doe' - Rath-Eilte. The castle in fairly good preservation is sixty feet high and quadrangular with corners rounded on the outside similar to the older portion of the castle of Loughmore. It has a watch-tower on the top, a murdering hole and a dungeon i.e., a vaulted chamber in the thickness of the wall with a trap-door to let a prisoner down. The walls of the castle are 9 feet thick. The natives have two stories connected with the ruin:
One tells of a dwarf of two feet high terrorising the night-walkers. (suspiciously like a story concocted by the local clergy to discourage courting couples!..J.C.)
The other well-thought-out goes like this... Before clocks were invented a man from Ballyduff let the time slip by - somewhere that he was "coordeeucth" (cuartaíocht i.e. visiting ..J.C). As he passed the ruin at midnight he saw a white girl being let down by a rope from the top of the castle. Needless-to-say, he perspired and ran for his life.