Cahir before and since the English Connection - 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, 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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Cahir was a place of importance long before the arrival of the English. The town takes its name from the rock island on which the castle stands. This was originally called Cathair Duine Iascadh. Cathair, from which Cahir is derived, means a stone fortress. The whole sentence, as translated by O’Donovan, signifies “the stronghold of the in fish abounding doon.” This description would answer even at the present day, for the Suir here is well supplied with salmon and trout. Prior to the year 1142, Connor of Thomond, King of Ireland, recognizing the advantages of this fortress, had it surmounted by a castle. This is described in a separate chapter. From the arrival of the English in the county, 1171, the main incidents of the history of Cahir refer largely to the doings of the Butlers. The progenitor of the family was Theobald Walter, who, by favor of Henry II., became Chief Butler of Ireland, the descendants taking the name from the office. Cahir in due time became a manor of the family. Theobald Butler, the reigning lord in 1596, is referred to by the Four Masters as having had a more extensive collection of poetical compositions than any of the Anglo-Irish. His son Thomas is also referred to as having joined in the Irish war. He really had been one of the confederates, including the Earl of Desmond, who had formed a league to protect the rights of the Catholics in opposition to Queen Elizabeth. In 1599, being then lord of the town, the Earl of Essex, at the head of the English forces, marched to Cahir. He was joined by the Earl of Ormonde, and by other Butlers, who had withdrawn from the Desmonds when their fortunes became desperate. Siege was laid to the castle, but the defense was so complete that heavier ordnance had to be sent for to Waterford. With this a breach was made in “the nearest side,” and “the castle had to be surrendered to the Earl of Essex and the Queen.” In the war waged by the Confederate Catholics for Civil and Religious liberty, 1641, Cahir was held for the Confederates. Lord Inchiquin besieged it with an English force in 1647. Surrender was made after a very short resistance. Cromwell’s army took possession in 1650.

After the restoration of Charles II., the prospects of the Butlers became brighter than ever, and notwithstanding all the changes, Cahir is to this day owned by one of their descendants, the Lady Margaret Charteris, daughter of Richard Butler, Baron and Viscount of Cahir, second and last Earl of Glengall. Over fifty years ago, the Earl of Glengall did a great deal to encourage the extension of useful industries in the town. A flax spinning school was established in 1809 by the Cahir Local Association. Some time afterward a bleach green, linen factory, and a market for the sale of linen and yarns were established, but the venture did not prove successful. Through the influence of the Earl of Glengall, the London Relief Committee established a factory for platting straw, to be employed in hat-making, Leghorn, Tuscan, British, etc. Looms were introduced for weaving Italian straw with silk. By such means large employment was given to the female population for some years, but in spite of the friendly efforts to sustain them, they ultimately failed. In those days there were five large flour mills in full work.