Cahir: The Ancient Castle and Abbey - 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 Castle, as already stated, was built by the king of Ireland before the year 1142. The best authorities only succeed in fixing the date in this rather indefinite manner. In the batterings of many sieges there is no doubt that much of the original structure was swept away, but the repairs from time to time maintained it in formidable shape until it was fully restored in 1840. There are several high towers, all roofed and slated, and the stone steps leading to them complete in every particular. The view from the top of the main tower takes in a large district of country. Along the outer walls there are walks carpeted with ferns, lichens, moss and ivy. In fact these growths meet the eye on all sides, giving a most pleasing effect to every aspect of the venerable structure. The ball room of the castle is a roomy apartment, the use of which is given free for soldiers’ festivals, charitable bazaars, etc. Near this is a flight of thirty-two stone steps to the well which was sunk through the solid rock, under the outer wall and the street immediately in front. The water is very cold, and is highly appreciated by the pic-nic and excursion parties who camp upon the grass-plot above it every summer. Within the walls there is a garden and house occupied by one of the staff of the estate office. The island upon which the castle stands, Cathair Duine Iascadh, has a rather romantic history as given in the Book of Leacan, preserved in the Royal Irish Academy. Finn MacRadamain, a resident of the district of Cahir, killed a relative of Cuirrech Lifé, who, for revenge, went and murdered Finn’s mistress, Badamair. She lived in Cathair Duine Iascadh, and supplied Finn with food and raiment. After the murder, Cuirrech plundered the rath and made off to the country beyond the river Barrow. Finn went in pursuit and finally saw him at a distance. He then pronounced an incantation upon his spear and hurled it at Cuirrech, who was in the midst of friends, and killed him.

Cahir Abbey was founded in the thirteenth century by Geoffrey de Camville for canons regular of the Order of St. Augustine, and dedicated to the Virgin. The last Prior was Edward Lonergan. In 1540 he was made vicar of the church of the Virgin Mary, Cahir. Queen Elizabeth in 1578 appears to have granted the abbey with all its possessions in the county Tipperary to Christopher Hutchinson for twenty-one years. In 1583 she re-granted the same to Peter Sherlock for a period of forty-one years. Another document states that the Sherlock’s received the abbey at the time of the dissolution, Henry VIII. The ruins of Cahir Abbey are quite extensive, reaching almost to the river. Portions of two towers are standing, one over seventy feet high. The mullions of the east window are nearly perfect, and in one of the side walls there are five very narrow lancets. The graveyard attached to the abbey has numerous sculptures. Broken walls, from twelve to fourteen feet high, partly ivy-covered, extend to the railway embankment. The garden, consisting of about half an acre, belongs to Mrs. Eliza Haughton Grubb, of The Abbey House. The field containing the ruin is owned by Mr. John G. Fennell, J.P., the tenant being Mr. William Condon.