Clonmel Churches, Religious Societies and Convents - 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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The ancient parish church of St. Mary is situated in the centre of an extensive grave-yard, well planted, and for the greater part enclosed by the remnant of the town wall. Many changes have been made in this structure from the period of the original foundation. The walls of the old church have been preserved in the various alterations and extensions. The east and west gables are enlargements of the old ones. Exclusive of the porch, which is partly ancient and partly modern, the church in greatest length is one hundred and sixteen and a half feet. It is over twenty feet wide in the ancient part, and the walls are thirty feet high. Restorations and improvements have been in progress from 1805 down to within a few years. These have included the removal of some of the sepulchral slabs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from the church floor to facilitate the laying of handsome encaustic tiles. The slabs stand upright against the exterior walls of the church. In the southern aisle and porch are many of the same kind, all of antiquarian interest. The old chancel window, nineteen feet in height, and nearly twelve feet wide, was filled with stained glass in 1839. During the progress of an excavation beside the pillars dividing the nave from the southern aisle, stone coffins containing relics, were discovered about twenty years ago. The mural tablets commemorate Maria, wife of J. Bagwell, J. Bagwell, and the Right Hon. Wm. Bagwell; Dr. Joseph Moore, sixty-six years Rector of the parish, 1795, the wife of Joseph Grimshields, 1737; John Bagwell, Richard Legge, 1863; Thomas M‘Cann Clarke, 1858. The pulpit, a handsome work in Caen stone, was purchased by subscription in memory of Francis T. Brady. Ald. Edmond Woods, J.P., presented the lectern. The tower, octagonal in shape, over 80 feet high, is at the south-east corner of the church. Of this, the lower part only is ancient. A parochial hall with large seating capacity, built not long ago, is situated near the Mary-street entrance. A curious feature of the grave-yard is a well fifteen inches deep, in the fork of a great chestnut tree. It is said that the quantity of water in this remains about the same in winter and summer, and that many persons have been benefited by using it as an application for weak and inflamed eyes.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, built principally of cut stone, is situated in the Irishtown, and has a small prettily planted esplanade at the rere, giving a pleasant outlook toward the river. The handsome tower, with dome-like summit, may be seen from any point of view around Clonmel. The interior of the church is cross-shaped, the roof, which is slightly arched, being supported by pilasters in the side walls. High windows of well executed stained glass, fill the building with mellow light and assist the highly ornate character of the appointments. A number of tablets are set in the walls. One commemorates the wife of John Cleary, and near it is a long testimonial to the life and labors of the Rev. John Baldwin, 19 years curate and 32 years parish priest of St. Mary’s. The church was built under his auspices, and Mass was first celebrated at the high altar on the occasion of his interment. This altar is an imposing structure of many colored marbles and much statuary. The marble steps, fittings and accessories, are all rich and suitable. Facing it on the western transept wall is a portrait medallion of Rev. Dr. Thomas Flannery, formerly parish priest, died 1836. The pulpit is heavily carved with figures of saints in Caen stone.

SS. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church occupies a commanding position in Gladstone-street. The building is of cut sandstone, with limestone corners. In March, 1887, renovations and additions were completed at a cost of about £6,000. The eastern porch is a beautiful architectural and artistic achievement, representing the patron saints in a setting of splendid ornamentation. Round arches and massive pillars of polished grey granite divide the spacious interior into nave and two aisles. The high altar is solid and sightly, with a fine painting of the crucifixion. The smaller altars are similar in style. Two colored windows, with the figures of SS. Peter and Paul, near the altar of the Virgin, were presented by Alderman Patrick Murphy in memory of his wife, 1882. An unusually fine Celtic Cross, carved with a wealth of twisted ornament, commemorates Ald. John Hackett, J.P., and Ald. H. O'Connell Hackett, J.P., Mayors of Clonmel, and their wives. This is in front of the church, and is seen from the street.

The Presbyterian or Scots’ Church is in Anglesea-street. It is a solid structure with a portico in the Grecian style, formed by six massive pillars, and bears date 1838. The interior appointments are neat and appropriate and are maintained in good condition. Attached to the church is a manse for the minister, Rev. James Wilson. This is enclosed with the church grounds by a handsome railing. In the annual report of the secretary, Mr. John R. Scott, submitted in 1889, it is stated that the finances of the congregation of this church are in a more flourishing condition than they have been at any period in its history.

The Methodist congregation is not as large at Clonmel as it used to be. The chapel with a chiseled limestone gable in the Grecian order of architecture, is in Gordon-street, near an entrance there to St. Mary’s Protestant Church. It has a plain interior with seatings in modern style, and dates from 1843. Rev. J. Carson was minister in 1889.

Clonmel is one of the three places in the County Tipperary where there are meeting houses of the Society of Friends. The other two are Carrick-on-Suir and Cahir. For some time prior to 1699 meetings were held at the house of George Collett. In that year Stephen and Joseph Collett gave £30, and deeded a piece of ground in Mary-street upon which a Meeting house was erected soon afterward. The present meeting house in Market-street was adapted from a riding school about a century later. In 1840 there were 250 members; in 1888 the total number was 58. The cemetery of the Society is in New-street. It is surrounded by a high wall, and tastefully laid out and well kept. Many of the graves are marked by standing slabs, inscribed with the names of the well known families of the town and district.

In Morton-street, a congregation of Christians, known as Plymouth Brethren, have a meeting house. Early in 1889 it consisted of eighteen members.

The Convent of the Sisters of Charity, sixteen in community, is in Upper Gladstone-street, with side entrances from Morton-street. There are extensive buildings, in which a great deal of work is accomplished. About 550 pupils are taught, under the supervision of the National Board of Education. Some 300 children are given advantage of the Kindergarten system, and an orphanage is managed. In the latter there are fifty girls, who, in addition to ordinary school instruction, are taught needlework, crochet and knitting, and have a practical training in the laundry. This section of the charity depends entirely for support upon the labors of the children, and produces highly creditable specimens of handiwork. Many pupils of the National Schools are clothed and partly fed by the Sisters.

The Presentation Convent lies on the Waterford side of the Suir, and is approached by the Irishtown bridge. Its grounds, which are embellished by avenues of stately forest trees, command a view of the Suir Valley and the mountain of Slievenamon. This Convent was founded October 2, 1813, and for fifteen years occupied small quarters near St. Mary’s Church, Irishtown. Its school numbered 700 the first year, and suffered no diminution in the years following. Dr. Flannery, V.G. and P.P., St. Mary’s, was instrumental in bringing the nuns to Clonmel. The new house was built in 1828, and the fine school building and cloister in ’65. Mother Mary Magdalen Sargent, one of the founders, was the architect and designer of the new house, which includes an elegant chapel, whose altars are decked with especially fine original designs in Macramè. A beautiful little oratory in the garden, of white stone and petrified wood, was built in 1861. The National School roll is about 350. Clothing and food funds help the Sisters in their work of providing for poorer pupils.

The Loretto Convent, founded in 1881, is a young ladies’ school, and a branch of the Fermoy establishment. Drawing, harp, piano and languages are taught in addition to English. Its school-rooms are home-like, and a small, exquisitely neat and well-arranged chapel and pleasant grounds are features of the place.