Fethard Abbey and Churches—The Convent - 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 Augustinian Abbey at Fethard must have been founded early in the thirteenth century. In 1193 the first friars of this Order were brought by the Earl of Pembroke (Strongbow) from Bodmyn, in Cornwall, to his Abbey at Kells, in the adjoining county of Kilkenny. The Eremites of St. Augustine acquired some land from Walter de Mulcote for rebuilding their monastery at Fethard, but as it afterward appeared that this had been given illegally, Edward I. granted confirmation, and a pardon for the offence. He also increased the possessions at the same time, 1306. In the 31st of Henry VIII., the monastery and endowments were granted to Sir Edmund Butler, Knt., at an annual rent of 5s. 4d. Irish. William Burdon was the last Prior. The Augustinians ultimately came again into possession of their ancient church and friary, shorn of the endowments. Very Rev. James A. Anderson, formerly Prior at Drogheda, since his arrival at Fethard, within a short period has devoted his time unceasingly to the work of restoring this abbey. In the results accomplished, evidence is everywhere afforded of Father Anderson’s sincere respect for antiquity. It is at once seen that he is a restorer, and not an “improver.” Down to March, 1889, he had spent over £1,200. Within one year £800 of this had been received, for the greater part in response to private appeal.

The Protestant Church at Fethard is part of an ancient edifice, with a square tower at the west end, like that of one of the great abbeys. It has many interesting sepulchral slabs. The oldest legible inscription is on the tomb of the Hackett family, 1613, in the interior of the church at the north side. The tomb of Robert Jolly, 1709, is at the south side. He was the hero of a romance, the leading points of which have been handed down from generation to generation in Fethard, with great fidelity. While stationed in the town as a private soldier he made the acquaintance of a maid servant, named Ellen Maher. When ordered to duty elsewhere, she, not wishing to be regarded as “the girl he left behind him,” removed to London, and soon became the wife, and in due time the widow, of a wealthy Hebrew. In the latter capacity she, by chance, one day met her soldier-lover. They were married shortly afterward, returned to Fethard in great state, and established themselves at Knockelly Castle.

The Catholic Parish Church at Fethard is a plain, spacious building, facing the main thoroughfare. It is cruciform in shape, and contains a fine stained window over the high altar. Many of the leading families of the town and district have burial places in the grave-yard attached.

The Presbyterians have had a place of worship here under the Synod of Munster, since 1739. Rev. James Wilson, of Clonmel, is minister.

A handsome Convent of the Presentation Order occupies a choice site near the Catholic Church. The main building was erected in 1870 at a cost, including the ground, of £3,100. Wings built in 1885, including a beautiful chapel, cost nearly £2,000. Schools built in 1872 cost £1,000. The nuns came from the Presentation Convent, Thurles, in 1862.