Touring Tipperary a jewel in Ireland’s Ancient East
We had the fantastic opportunity to housesit in Tipperary and we took the opportunity to start touring Tipperary from top to bottom. Tipperary sits at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East and includes some amazing heritage sites such as the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey.
Tipperary was immortalized in song during the First World War by soldiers from the Connaught Rangers who were heard singing it during their march to Boulogne, it then spread to other troops and became an anthem about longing for home. Written by Jack Judge who was originally from Tipperary and Harry Williams it was first sung on the music hall stages in 1912.
Tipperary is a large county divided into the North and South regions and it is completely landlocked, but it does have immense mountain ranges (Galtees, Knockmealdown, the Arra Hills and the Silvermines). The river Suir runs throughout the southern end of the county and the Shannon in the northern end runs into Lough Derg. The Golden Vale runs through the centre of Tipperary and is an incredibly fertile agricultural region.
Tipperary is redolent with history, around every turn there is an ancient Abbey or monument, places dedicated to IRA warriors, Norman Barons, Priests, Saints and sinners. Just getting in the car and driving will allow you to experience all that Tipperary has to offer. Most of these ruins and places to visit are free, even Cahir Castle and Swiss cottage are available to tour free, usually on Wednesdays the fee is waived.
Sites you must see when touring Tipperary
“Seventy-eight years ago on a quiet Tipperary roadway the first nationalist revolt against the British Empire this century was started by a small band of armed men from townlands and villages—Donohill, Solohead and Hollyford—in the vicinity of Tipperary Town. The Soloheadbeg ambush shook British rule in Ireland and sparked a controversy which can be heard to this day.” The memorial is on an unamed road that is signposted on the road to Limerick.
Is a circular tower, known in Gaelic as Farrin-a-Urrigh, and history tells us that many of Strongbows’ forces in retreat from Cashel were attacked and buried here. Human bones are frequently dug up near the tower and a few years ago a large helmet was discovered. The Castle used to be the residence of the Butler family and Cromwell is said to have attacked it at some point. (Photos from Irish Antiquities)
Near the River Suir stands the remains of a large Manor House. Built in the Tudor style by the Baron of Adrmayle (also a Butler) it has a history of warfare and was nearly totally destroyed by the Williamite army in the late 1600’s. . (Photos from Irish Antiquities)
The village is situated on the River Suir and sits between Cashel and Tipperary town. In older times the village was known as Goldenbridge and there is extensive evidence of medieval and 17th century settlements along the river. The bridge over the river was built around 1690 and the ruined castle nearby holds a monument to Thomas McDonagh who was a Leader of the Easter 1916 Rising and a Tipperary born poet.
A mile south of Golden, on the banks of the Suir, are the wonderful remains of Athassel Abbey, the largest Augustinian abbey in Ireland. It was founded in the early century and is still largely intact, with a small bridge and a gatehouse leading into the abbey itself.
Cahir which is pronounced as care is a unique Medieval town with an astoundingly beautiful castle situated on a tiny island in the Suir River. It was built in the 1100’s and is one of the largest castles in Ireland. There isn’t much furniture in the castle but it is a fascinating tour and you can see things like the old portcullis and its mechanism and go up to the higher floors and see out to the town and across the river. Cost for a tour of the castle or simply to go round yourself is around €5 Euros but on Wednesdays the Trust opens the Castle for tours for free.
Cahir is also home to the Swiss Cottage which was built in the 1800’s as a country retreat as the style is known as “Cottage Orne” which really means ornamental. It is believed to have been designed by the famous architect John Nash. The cottage is quite lovely with its thatched roof and climbing flower trellises. It was left to rack and ruin for years but has been renovated and refurbished in the 1980’s. It is surprisingly small with only 2 rooms up and 2 rooms down, but the basement hides the kitchens and the servants rooms. Cost to view the cottage and have a tour is €4 Euros, but on some days the Trust has free entry so keep an eye out for that and you can visit the Cottage and Cahir Castle for no charge.
Ardfinnan Castle was built by King John around 1186 to guard the river crossing. The 14 arch bridge was started soon after the castle was completed. The castle has a long and varied history of owners, and is inhabited, but it is not open to the public.
Lisronagh has been inhabited since at least the medieval period, and was held by the Anglo-Norman de Burgh family from the time of Henry II. A rare surviving document, the rental of the manor of Lisronagh, dates to 1333 and describes the local lord’s landholdings, the rents owed by local tenants, and the rights which the village’s inhabitants possessed. The powerful Butler family built a tower house in the village in the 16th century, which is now a ruin.
Clonmel was founded early in the 13th century and by 1328 had become the headquarters of the Palatinate, an administrative area controlled by the Earls of Ormond. One of Clonmel’s finest buildings, the Main Guard, was built in the 17th century as a courthouse for the Palatinate.
The ruins of a 12th century church are incredibly atmospheric, the sign says Saint Cillian worshipped here.
A splendid example of early Christian art and craftsmanship, these 8th century High Crosses are ornately carved with intricate Celtic designs. The base of each cross has carved figures depicting Biblical scenes including Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Adam naming the animals. Both crosses are made of sandstone and stand over 3 metres high. The Ahenny crosses are part of the Ossory group of High Crosses; Ossory was an ancient kingdom which straddled Tipperary and Kilkenny. They are evidence of a monastic settlement at this site. Situated to the east of Slievenamon Mountain, about 5 miles north of Carrick-on-Suir, Ahenny High Crosses are located in Kilclispeen graveyard.
Another medieval bridge, that at Holycross, forms the boundary between North and South Tipperary and also served another Cistercian foundation, Holycross Abbey, the church of which has been restored and is still a popular place of worship.
In the beautiful Glen of Aherlow, looking out to the stunning Galtee Mountains are the ruins of Moor Abbey.This Franciscan friary was founded in the 13th century by Donnchad Móir Ó Briain, King of Thomond (1210-1242).
There are several legends associated with the pillar stone. The hill where the stone is located is said to be where Finn MacCumhaill obtained his ability to prophecy and another legend says that the stone was thrown from the top of the Slievenamon mountains by a giant. The pillar stands around 3 metres high and has crosses engraved on either side of it.
Stunningly beautiful, the Glen of Aherlow’s sweeping vistas are as many shades of green as you can count. The Glen is a fantastic destination with activities that range from walking, cycling and horse riding, 4 golf courses and the outstanding Mountain Bike Trail in Ballyhoura. There is fishing for perch and brown trout in the River Aherlow specialty fishing tours, guided walks and breathtaking scenery.
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