Thurles 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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Thurles is derived from Durlas, a fortress, and seems to have been a place of considerable importance at a very early period. In the annals of the Four Masters it is stated that in the year 660 Maclduin, son of Furdran, Chief of Durlas, was killed. In 931 the Chief is called Lord of Durlas, and frequent reference is afterward made to him by this title. A battle was fought here between the Irish and Danes in the tenth century, ending in the defeat of the Danes. In 1174, Strongbow (Earl of Pembroke), marched into Munster with the object of maintaining the authority of Henry II., to whom a form of submission had been made by the chieftains three years previously, but soon retracted. While encamped near Cashel he heard of the arrival of an army headed by Conor, son of Roderick, King of Ireland, and sent for assistance to Dublin. A contingent composed of Danes and English came to his aid. The junction was effected at Thurles, and a great battle was fought in the neighborhood. Strongbow was defeated. It is estimated that 1,700 of his soldiers were slain. Donald More O’Brien, of Thomond, who commanded a section of the Irish army on the occasion, tried conclusions with the English seventeen years after, on the same battle ground, and achieved another victory. In 1197 the English advanced on Thurles, burning “many churches and temples.” Record is made of the capture of a castle in 1208 from Geoffrey MacMorris, by Hugh De Lacy. The Butlers secured a foothold at Thurles early in the thirteenth century. One of the family in 1300 erected and endowed a Carmelite Monastery, which flourished until the dissolution, when it was granted with belongings to Thomas, Earl of Ormonde. James Butler, created Earl of Ormonde in 1328, built a strong castle here after having received from Edward III. a grant of the regality fees and all other liberties in the County Tipperary. It continued to exist until taken and destroyed by the Cromwellians in 1651. Down to a comparatively recent period there were remains at Thurles of nine castles, and the towers of the east and west gates. The former stood on the western bank of the river at the bridge, and had two towers. A gun smith named Blackwell, who lived in one, used to engrave a picture of the gate on his gun locks. The west gate occupied the narrow passage between Main-street and Friar-street, until a part fell in 1868, after which it was all removed. The site is marked by the houses of Mr. Wm. Maher, draper, and Mrs. Blake. Within a short distance of the west gate there are remains called Hickey’s Castle, for the reason that it stood at the back of the house in the square occupied by a man of that name. Mr. William Maher, victualler, is the present tenant. At the bridge there is a small castle, roofed and slated, a few years ago, and used for a store by Mr. James Dwyer. This is supposed to have formed part of a preceptory of Knights Templars. From the top a charming view is afforded of the surrounding country, the scenery of which is enhanced by numerous plantations. There are no other castles within the town boundary. Remains of a splendid mansion belonging to the Llandaff family, owners of Thurles, were remembered by Miss Hennessy, a native of the town who died in 1855. A beautifully constructed moat occupied a site that included the yard of Mr. Richard Kirwan, New-street, until about the year 1800. It rose abruptly to a height of one hundred feet, and the summit was reached by a spiral path.