Nenagh 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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The name Nenagh has been evolved from Aonach, the Irish for fair. Aonach urmhumhan signifies fair of Ormond. The town rose on or near the site of the ancient fair. Mention is made in the Four Masters of the burning of Aenach Thate by Maolsechlainn in 994. It is stated that he in that year also plundered Ormond, and routed Bryan with the men of Munster. The same authority states that it was again burned in 1056 by Diarmaid, who had marched on a predatory excursion into Munster.

There are still many evidences to prove that the Danes found the district very much to their liking. Remains of Danish fortifications are numerous in the Ormonds, and in the adjoining barony of Owney and Arra. Some of the earthworks attributed to them must have been originally entrenched villages of the native Irish.

The English connection with Nenagh began in the twelfth century, very likely by the erection of the castle. Theobald Walter, progenitor of the Butlers, seems to have acquired ownership in the manor soon after his arrival in the County Tipperary. He came in the train of Prince John, 1185. The historical records concerning Nenagh in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries are not clear. There is some evidence to show that the town had defense works in addition to those connected with the castle. Residents in 1840 recollected that down to about twenty years previously a structure existed known as the old town wall. It was of considerable length, from four to five feet in thickness, and stood to the east of the Protestant Church in Barrack street. In the reign of Henry III., which ended in 1272, an abbey for Franciscans was founded by one of the Butlers. This was burned with the town, in 1548, by O’Carroll. In the Annals of the Four Masters it is stated that the “Red Captain” was in command of the garrison, and that “edifices outside the fortress” were also destroyed.

During the war waged by the Confederate Catholics, 1641–8, the Catholic Army commanded by Owen Roe O’Neill, captured the town and castle, but the royal troops, under Lord Inchiquin, regained possession some time afterward. The Cromwellian Army, led by Ireton, took the town in 1651. In the war of the Revolution, 1688–90, in which James II. and William III. were the prominent figures, Nenagh was taken by Anthony O’Carroll, one of Sarsfield’s lieutenants, but he was dislodged by General Leveson. In 1856, after the Anglo-Russian war, the North Tipperary Militia broke into a riot at Nenagh, because of an order that those accepting discharge should give up their new clothing. The opinion also prevailed that the balance of bounty was to be withheld. Several houses were fired into, and an attempt was made to liberate the prisoners at the gaol. Two of the militia, a soldier of the 41st Regiment, and a pensioner, were killed, and several militia men and soldiers wounded. The riot was quelled by detachments of line regiments, under command of Lieut.-Col. Hart.

The oldest minute book of the Town Commissioners shows that the inhabitants of Nenagh had taken advantage of the lighting, cleansing, and watching clauses of the 9th George IV. in 1845. After coming under the Towns Improvement Act, 1854–5 (Victoria 17th and 18th), the Commissioners evidently thought that in accepting the provisions of the latter Act, they could continue also to retain what was valuable of the former. In a letter from Dublin Castle, dated June, 1856, they are informed that the 9th of George IV., not being a local Act, it ceased to be in force after the first sitting of the Commissioners under the 17th and 18th Victoria. There are twenty-one Commissioners holding office for three years each. Of these seven retire by rotation, and their successors are returned at an election held annually, October 15th. The chairman is elected every year.

The valuation of property within the boundary in 1888 was £8,530. Upon this a rate was struck of 10d. in the £ on buildings, and 2½d. on gardens, nursery grounds, etc. The Board of Guardians is the sanitary authority, and street repairs are done by the Grand Jury. Fifty-eight public lamps were lighted, cleansed and extinguished by the Gas Company for a lump sum of £88, in 1888. This was paid by the Commissioners, and they also repair the flagging of sideways. An effective sewerage system has been in operation for some time.

Down to the present year, 1889, the town has been supplied with water from wells and pumps, but the preliminary steps had been taken to secure a service by pipe from one of the adjacent streams under the auspices of the local sanitary authority.