Tipperary Town

The area known as "Tiobraid Árann" gave its name not only to the modern day town of the same name, but also to the county in which it is to be found. The place name translates into English as "the well of the territory of Ara", and the water that sprung from it was highly treasured for centuries by locals for its purity. Among the tribes of ancient Tipperary that settled around its environs were the Crotraighe, Eoghanacht and Artraighe, and the Déise replaced them in prominence in the 5th Century. Remains of the settlements of these tribes are still to be seen today in the elevations known as "Tipperary's Hills".

English Establishment and Irish Discord

The Déise were overpowered by the English invaders in the 12th Century, though little mention is made of what occurred in and around Tipperary Town at this time. What is known, however, is that King John ordered that a castle be constructed in what would become Tipperary Town, and this was followed, in the 13th Century, by the establishment of an Augustinian Abbey. It is thought that the town was granted its status by Edward I. Tipperary and its hinterland served as the battleground upon which fought the O'Briens and Fitzgeralds during their bitter feud of the 14th Century. The O'Briens held the Glen of Aherlow and Galbally, which served as important passes to the strategically important town of Cork. The animosity between the Geraldines and the Desmonds would rumble on into the 17th Century.


Following the Rebellion of 1641 and the destruction wrought by Oliver Cromwell, the way was made clear for the planting of the barony of Clanwilliam, in which Tipperary Town is located. This plantation introduced into the area many families that would attempt to shape the town's future, most prominent among them being Erasmus Smith. It was Smith that established Tipperary Town as a centre for education when, in 1647, he opened a school for the education of tenants on his estate, a school that would later evolve into what is known today as the Abbey.

Agrarian Unrest

During the 19th Century, the latter half of which was filled with many outbursts of agrarian unrest, Tipperary Town was a hotbed of conspiracy and activity. A house on Main St. was the birthplace of one of the nation's most celebrated Fenians, John O'Leary, who was involved in the Rising of 1848. Bank Place today is host to a bronze statue of one of O'Leary's friends and contemporaries in the national struggle, the celebrated author and poet Charles J. Kickham. One of the more remarkable series of events in the Town took place in the late 1880s and early '90s, during the Plan of Campaign, when the part of town known as "New Tipperary" was built. Having been evicted from their holdings by their landlord, A. H. Smith Barry, the tenants and their supporters endeavoured to establish buildings of their own outside of Smith Barry's control. What resulted was a great display of unity and solidarity on the part of Tipperary's tenants. Much of the finances for this ambitious project came from abroad, and labourers from the surrounding villages shared the work of construction. "New Tipperary" is to be found around modern-day Dillon Street.

Sources - Marnane, "A Signposted Walking Tour of Tipperary Town"; Doyle, "Fragments"; Bassett, "County Tipperary Directory"

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