Tipperary: History of the County - Book of County Tipperary, 1889

About “The Book of County Tipperary,” 1889

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

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The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. The Book of County Tipperary is the first of these to be made available on libraryireland.com, with its own search page. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

To enjoy the rich variety of advertisements, confirm accuracy of the entries, or have a printed record of a family member, obtain an original or facsimile copy of The Book of County Tipperary.

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The name Tipperary is derived from the Irish Tibrad Ara, the spring of the territory of Ara. The well which gave outlet to this spring, is in the town of Tipperary, near the River Ara. It was famous in Pagan times, and continued to be prized for the purity of its waters until about sixty years ago. In the early ages, when Ireland was divided into petty kingdoms, Cashel, in this county, was the seat of power for Munster. The subordinate Kings were called Righ, and the supreme ruler of the country Ard-Righ, High King. Each division had its own military establishment, upon whose strength in battle the King had to depend for the security of his possessions. As a consequence changes in territorial boundaries were frequent. After the conversion of the Arch Druid to Christianity at Tara, 432, St. Patrick made haste to rescue the Provincial Kings and chieftains from the darkness of Paganism. Cashel claimed his attention, when he had succeeded at Armagh, and his labors were here also crowned with success. Through the instrumentality of St. Patrick a Constitution was written, which in the course of time, was recognised as supreme law by all the powers of the country. The Tipperary of the present was then divided into districts under the authority of chieftains, and so continued until the arrival of the English.

Eventually the Provincial Kings began to make their own interpretation of the Constitution. Tara was no longer the seat of federal power, and the position of High King was considered to be open to ambition from any quarter. The Kings of Cashel came strongly into the fore front as rivals for the monarchy of Ireland. It was claimed for them that St. Patrick had put a curse on Tara, and had promised to transfer its rights to Cashel. Beginning in the year 800, the rivalry was maintained until the elevation of Brian Boru to the sovereignty in 1001.

Tipperary was frequently visited by the Danes from 794 to 1014. A great number of their fortifications still continue in a good state of preservation.

Henry II., King of England, arrived at Waterford in October, 1171, and led in person the first English army that entered the County Tipperary. He received submission from the lords of Decies, then chieftains of a territory which included part of Tipperary. Donald O’Brien, of Thomond, and others, also made a form of submission. Henry then continued his way to Dublin, and began the work of religious reformation under the Bull of Pope Adrian, given to him in 1154.

At the beginning of 1172 a Synod was held in Cashel at Henry’s request, which appears to have dealt with marriage, baptism, etcetera. He sailed for home on Easter Monday, 1172. Not long after his departure, the chieftains who had made submission to him, openly withdrew from the obligations implied. The Earl of Pembroke, better known as Strongbow, in 1174 marched into Tipperary against them. He encamped at Cashel for a brief space while awaiting the arrival of a Danish contingent summoned from Dublin to his aid. The junction was effected at Thurles, and there a great battle was fought. The opposing troops were commanded by Conor, son of Roderick, King of Ireland, and Donald More O’Brien, of Thomond. Strongbow was defeated, and retreated to Waterford.

Prince John having been invested with the Lordship of Ireland, assumed direction of the English interests in 1185. Arriving in the County Tipperary, he caused the erection of the castle of Ardfinnan, which soon after its completion was taken and the garrison slain by Donald More O’Brien. John’s mission was not a success, and he was recalled. The work of reducing Tipperary to a better frame of mind toward England, was continued by other hands. The fortunes of the house of Butler now began to ascend. Theobald Walter, who was one of John’s retinue in 1185, was appointed by Henry II., father of the Prince, to the position of Chief Butler of Ireland. The dignity was made hereditary in the Walter family, who finally took the name of Butler. King John, who succeeded his brother Richard in 1199, came to Tipperary eleven years later. During his stay the boundaries of the county were fixed. Among the concessions which he made at the time was a charter to Holycross Abbey.

On the occasion of the tour of Ireland by Edward Bruce, in the manner of the ancient Irish High Kings, 1315, he encamped with his brother, the King of Scotland, at Cashel, but made few friends in the county.

James Butler was created Earl of Ormonde in 1328, and received from Edward III. a grant of the regality fees and all other liberties in the County Tipperary; also the prisage of wines in Ireland. The Church lands of the county then formed considerable tracts, and were exempt from the palatine jurisdiction. They were designated the Crosse of Tipperary, had their own sheriffs, nominated by the King, and special representatives in the Irish Parliament.

Tipperary appears to have been in a hopeless condition in 1430, from the British Government point of view. It was then the subject of a special representation in Parliament, and described as being for the most part subject to “Irish enemies or English rebels.”

Gerald, eighth Earl of Kildare, was one of the most remarkable men of his time, and most powerful among Lords Deputy. During the baronial feuds in the County Tipperary, and other parts of Munster, 1495, the Archbishop of Cashel, David Creagh, so offended him that he marched to Cashel and set fire to the Cathedral. When accused of this act of sacrilege before Henry VII., the only excuse he had to offer was that he thought the Archbishop was in it. Notwithstanding this statement historians, including the Four Masters, unite in the opinion that he was valorous, merciful, and “religious in his words and judgments.”

Sir Anthony St. Leger, who as Lord Deputy was instrumental in procuring for Henry VIII. the title of King of Ireland, 1541, four years previously sat at the head of a commission in the County Tipperary. He was sent over to inquire into the condition of the entire country, but seems to have been specially impressed with the manner of doing things in this county. According to his report the lower classes were in a shocking state of misery, apparently living only for the convenience of their masters. They were taxed in a most irregular manner, and the laws were a mixture of the Brehon, civil, and common law, added to which were the “Statutes of Kilcash,” issued from a romantic spot in the shadow of Slievenamon.

The Earl of Ormonde’s fortunes rose still higher in the reign of Henry VIII., to whom he was related by marriage. His previous acquisitions were confirmed, and, in addition, he was charged with the execution of the ordinances for the government of Tipperary and the adjoining counties.

In 1569, after Queen Elizabeth had been excommunicated by Pope Pius V., a formidable opposition to the new religion was organized by the sixteenth Earl of Desmond and his family connections. The territory of the Desmonds, Geraldines, extended into the County Tipperary from Limerick, and adjoined that of the Earl of Ormonde, causing a serious dispute upon a matter of boundaries. The difference between them was settled only to become more bitter, and in 1567 the Earl of Desmond was taken at Kilmallock, by orders of Sidney, and sent to the Tower of London. Sir John Desmond, his brother, was also arrested and sent to London. The second Geraldine League was formed immediately afterward by the friends of the Desmonds. Sir James Fitzmaurice, cousin of the Earl of Desmond, became leader. The Archbishop of Cashel, the Bishop of Emly, and James, brother of the Earl of Desmond, were sent to seek assistance from the King of Spain, and the Pope. Lord Deputy Sidney took the insurrection in hand with his accustomed celerity, and either seized or induced the surrender of all the notable adherents of the League with the exception of the leader, Fitzmaurice, who took refuge in the Galtees, establishing an outlet of communication with his sympathisers through the Glen of Aherlow. For a year he maintained his position, but was at last compelled to surrender, and was pardoned by the Queen. Unsatisfied with the result of his rebellion, he repaired to the Continent, and succeeded in enlisting 1,000 men at the expense of Pope Gregory XIII. He arrived in Ireland in 1579 with a very small part of the number recruited, and was shot and mortally wounded by one of his own kinsmen while endeavoring to reach the Galtees. In his last moments he named Sir John of Desmond as his successor in the movement for the defence of the Catholic religion and the property of its upholders in Munster. Sir John drew to his standard 2,000 men and maintained his position against the English forces until 1580, when he was killed while attending a conference with Lord Barry. The Earl of Desmond had shown a disposition to leave the conflict to his kinsmen, but was now forced to take the field, 1580. He was successful in two engagements in the County Tipperary, the first against the English under Roberts, and the second at Knockgraffon against the Anglo-Irish, led by the Butlers, brothers of the Earl of Ormonde, who had been among the confederates who had chosen Sir James Fitzmaurice as leader. The earl wintered at Aherlow in the manner of his two predecessors. For four years he maintained the life of an outlaw rather than that of the leader of an insurrection. His following melted in the face of proclamations of pardon, and in November, 1584, he was captured in the Kerry Mountains with two devoted adherents, and instantly put to death. The estate of Desmond consisting of 570,000 acres, extended through the Counties of Tipperary, Waterford, Limerick, Kerry and Cork. It was divided among “Undertakers,” of whom Sir Edward Fitton received 11,500 acres in Tipperary and Waterford. Hugh Roe O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, after his great victory over the English at the Yellow Ford, 1598, marched through Ireland at the head of 3,000 men. Coming to Munster in the manner of candidates for the monarchy, he worshipped at Holycross Abbey; going thence to Cashel he was joined by a Geraldine whom he caused to be proclaimed Earl of Desmond, although the son of the late Earl was at the time a prisoner in the Tower of London.

In the war of 1641, waged by the Confederate Catholics for civil and religious equality, James Butler, Earl of Ormonde, then residing at Carrick-on-Suir, was entrusted with the command of the English forces. Although only thirty-one years old, he had succeeded in acquiring title to the estates of his family which had been given to others by James I. The campaign was begun in the North, and the South announced its participation by Philip O’Dwyer’s capture of Cashel. Col. Owen Roe O’Neill was the most interesting figure among the leaders of the Confederation. He won a great victory over Monroe, the Puritan General, at Benburb in 1646, and marched into Munster soon afterward, camping at Cashel. Here he inspired so much respect, that when Ormonde made a visit to the city the Mayor would not let him in, lest in so doing he might offend O’Neill, who was then not far off at the head of 10,000 men. Roscrea Castle, held for Charles, was captured by O’Neill in 1647. The County Tipperary having been left to the protection of the Confederate General, Taafe, 1648, a man of little military experience, Lord Inchiquin at the head of an English force, 6,500 strong, advanced on Cashel, and permitted the inhabitants to be slaughtered in cold blood. Oliver Cromwell’s campaign of nine months, from August 15th, 1649, was only three months in progress when O’Neill died in Ulster from the effects of poison. His nephew, Hugh O’Neill, took part in the defence of Clonmel, the last of the Tipperary walled towns to surrender to the Puritan leader. Martial law was administered in the county by Sankey, named for the purpose by Cromwell’s son-in-law, Ireton.

At the restoration of Charles II., Ormonde, who had shared his exile, was amply rewarded for his services during the twelve years of the Confederation. He was raised to the rank of Duke, re-appointed viceroy, and his Irish rental increased from £7,000 to £80,000 a year. The Cromwellian settlers in Tipperary and elsewhere in Ireland were not interfered with by the new government.

The principal places in the county garrisoned for James II., surrendered within six weeks from the date of the defeat at the Boyne, 1690.

At the beginning of the reign of George III., 1760, secret oath-bound societies came into existence in Tipperary as well as in other parts of Munster. Through the enclosing of commons by landlords, riots occurred which were declared to be the result of a Popish plot. The Marquis of Drogheda was sent to restore order, and made head quarters at Clogheen. The Rev. Nicholas Sheehy, P.P. of Clogheen, was tried for high treason, the specific charge, drilling and enrolling whiteboys. He was acquitted, but one of the witnesses against him having disappeared, he was, two years later, at Clonmel, tried for murder, condemned and beheaded.

The Society of United Irishmen, organized at Belfast by Theobald Wolfe Tone and others, in 1791, extended its ramifications to the County Tipperary. Its object was to procure a reform of Parliament that would place Irishmen of all religious denominations on the same level politically in order to neutralize the effect of English influence. It had 500,000 tested members, 300,000 armed, in 1798. The rebellion broke out in Dublin, Kildare and Wexford that year, but the Tipperary members refrained from rising in the belief that it would be better to wait for the arrival of a French expedition. The final failure of the insurrection hastened the Legislative Union of Great Britain and Ireland, 1801. During the O’Connell agitation, which resulted in Catholic Emancipation, 1813–1828, Tipperary witnessed many stirring episodes.

The movement for the repeal of the Union which culminated in the insurrection of 1848, in its main incidents, was more strikingly connected with Tipperary than any other county. It was supported by clubs in every part of Ireland, but it was considered by some of the leaders who were natives of the county, that Tipperary had the best organization, and consequently was the best starting point for rebellion. William Smith O’Brien, descended from the ancient Limerick family of the same name, was the leader chosen for the occasion. He entered the county in July 1848, and on the 29th of the same month an outbreak occurred at The Commons, within two miles of the village of Ballingarry. It was estimated that O’Brien was accompanied by over 500 people, armed with guns and pikes, when 46 policemen under command of Sub Inspector Thos. Trant, of the neighboring town of Callan, County Kilkenny, arrived on the scene. Fearing the consequences of a collision with a force so much superior, the police took refuge in a small farm-house in which they defended themselves with vigor. Two of the insurgents were shot and several wounded. O’Brien withdrew his followers after a short time, and there was no further conflict with the authorities. On the 5th of the following month, when arrested by the guard of the train at Thurles, he said to General M‘Donald that he thought Tipperary was ready to receive him, but that he had been deceived. He was tried at a Special Commission in Clonmel, 21st September, found guilty of high treason, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Thomas Francis Meagher, Patrick O’Donohue, and Terence Bellew M‘Manus were also found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death. They were defended by James Whiteside Q.C., afterward Chief Justice, and Isaac Butt, Q.C. All the juries recommended the prisoners to mercy and the sentences were commuted. Michael Doheney, Richard O’Gorman, Thomas Darcy M‘Gee, John F. Doyle, John O’Mahony, and others, escaped to France and America. Charles Gavan Duffy, John Martin and John Mitchell were also identified with the movement of 1848.

The Fenian Organization, in connection with which arrests were made in this county in 1865, was largely promoted by men of ’48; John O’Mahony and James Stephens were of the number; Stephens was an aide-camp of William Smith O’Brien, and was wounded in the attack on the police at The Commons.

Book of County Tipperary

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