Tipperary Manufactures, Coal Fields, Silver and Copper Mines, Slate Quarries, Limestone and Sandstone - 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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Woollen Manufacture is at present the most interesting feature of the industrial activity. Within a few years a strong effort has been made to regain the lost prestige of the county in this regard. Although one of the promising enterprises—that at Bansha—proved a failure, the prospects, generally, are favorable. Clonmel has one factory well under weigh. Ardfinnan has one that has been for some time excellently equipped. At Clogheen, Nenagh, and Lacken, Tipperary, friezes, tweeds, serges, flannels, blankets, etc., are manufactured. Hand-loom woollen weaving is done to some extent at Carrick-on-Suir, Roscrea, Tipperary and Ballyporeen. Fifty years ago the county had a great many breweries and distilleries. Now it has only two breweries— one at Clonmel, and the other at Carrick-on-Suir, and no distillery. Flour milling was in the zenith of prosperity thirty years ago in every part of the county. The tillage lands were used largely for wheat-growing, and many fortunes were made by mill-owners. Clonmel, Cahir, Carrick-on-Suir, Clogheen, Thurles, Nenagh, Templemore, Cashel, Roscrea, Newport, Borrisokane and Derrinsallow were important milling centres. Flour is still made at some of the places mentioned, but the free entry of American flour so affected the industry that only a few of the millers had courage enough to expend their money in improved roller machinery. There has been a decline, too, in the tanning industry, but Clonmel still has three tanneries, Thurles one, and Roscrea one. The manufacture of tobacco has also declined. It is confined now to Clonmel, Cashel and Tipperary, one capitalist at each place endeavoring to hold his own against outside competition. Before the time of burning oils and composite candles, the manufacturing chandlers of the principal towns made a great deal of money. Now the work of the manufacturing chandler is confined, almost exclusively to tallow “dips.” In this line of industry Clonmel has a representation of three houses, Tipperary two, Carrick-on-Suir, Nenagh and Roscrea one each. There are four mineral water factories. Of these two are at Nenagh, and one each at Clonmel, Roscrea and Thurles. Carriage and car building are done chiefly at Clonmel, Nenagh, Carrick-on-Suir and Tipperary. Agricultural machinery of every kind is manufactured at Clonmel. The manufacture of butter by machinery, an industry of considerable magnitude, is referred to particularly under the head of farming, markets, fairs, etc.

Coal mining in late years has not been carried on with the vigor of fifty years ago. The coal fields of the county are quite extensive, but mining operations have been confined to the district of Killenaule, in the south-east. This consists of many hills, none reaching to a great height. The formation includes shale and sandstone, in a depression of the limestone strata. Under the coal there is a depth of fire-clay of from four to nine feet, everywhere marked by impressions of various plants. The coal burns with little flame, possesses great heating power, which it maintains without renewal for six or seven hours. It has over 97 per cent. of pure carbon and no bitumen. For smelting and malting it is unexcelled. It is also used as fuel for domestic purposes. The lumps vary in size from about 6 lbs. to ½ a lb. Slack, or culm, is valued very much for lime burning. The mines were worked by private enterprise until about 1825. After that time the Mining Company of Ireland leased nearly all within the district named. While the milling trade continued profitable the great mill-owners were good customers, employing the coal for kiln-drying grain. At the time of my visit in January, 1889, some of the largest mines were only partly worked. A few private owners and lessees were trying their fortunes. Among the number were Mr. Patrick M‘Cormack, and Mr. Patrick O'Connor. The mine of the former is at Ballincurry, two miles, Irish, from Killenaule, and that of the latter is at The Commons, about seven miles, Irish, from Killenaule. Mr. M‘Cormack’s mine was formerly worked by the Mining Company. He informed me that he paid his men three shillings and sixpence per ton. One of the seams then yielding was only fourteen inches at the greatest height, and, in order to get out the coal, the miners were obliged to sink four inches lower; even then they had to lie on their sides while digging. Further reference is made to the coal mines in the descriptive particulars concerning The Commons, Ballynonty, and New Birmingham.

Silver, lead, copper and iron have been found in different parts of the county. In the parish of Kilmore, 4 miles, Irish, from Nenagh, mining for silver was begun in the sixteenth century. Lord William Russell and Sir Charles Brooke held a lease from the Crown of the district in which the village of Silvermines now is. The lead ore taken out had more silver in it than any of the Irish ore at the time, and was next to that of Bangor in purity. While the war of 1641 was in progress, the miners, who were chiefly foreigners, were slaughtered by the Irish. The mines were afterward re-opened by private individuals and by English Companies at different periods. Ultimately an English Company, under lease from Lord Dunalley, the present owner, and Lord Norbury, expended a large amount of money, and gave extensive employment. Differences arising, at length, in the matter of lease extensions, the works were closed, and remain so to the present time, very much to the chagrin of the people of Nenagh, who, in the days of prosperity, supplied goods to the miners. Veins, rich in copper ore, have been found in several places, including Lacamore and Cappawhite. The Lacamore mine was one of the most famous in Ireland. It has been worked by many Companies under varying conditions. At one period it yielded ores to the Mining Company that realized as high as £30 per ton. It is about thirty years since the final effort to make it pay was abandoned.

The County Tipperary slates are said to be equal in durability to any in the world. Along the Shannon shore from Ballina there are many idle quarries. One in operation near Portroe, is at present owned by the Killaloe Slate Company, Limited, and gives large employment. Another quarry worked in the County, is situated within 5 miles, Irish, of Carrick-on-Suir; it adjoins the County Kilkenny, and is owned by the Victoria Slate Company, Limited. About 100 people are employed here.

Limestone of the most superior quality for building and monumental work is abundant throughout the County. In fact Tipperary is included in the great limestone field of Ireland. An excellent quality of sandstone is also found. A famous quarry of the latter kind, is situated at Drombane, near Thurles. The principal mountains, composed chiefly of sandstone, are the Galtees. The Knockmealdown Mountains are composed of clay slate with a sandstone base. Slievenamon and Keeper Mountains consist of clay slate and sandstone, and the Devil’s Bit, and Roscrea Hills, of sandstone.