What is greater – to give your life for Irish freedom or to write comic songs about the Tipp team?

The Nationalist is running a poll to find out Tipperary’s All Time Great. Among the likes of Charles Kickham, Adi Roche and Dan Breen we have The Two Johnnies, a contemporary comedic duo. While their rib-tickling prowess is undoubted their presence seems incongrous, especially as the paper is using a knockout format to decide who will emerge as Tipp’s All Time Great. Thus rather entertaining juxtapositions like this:


Every gravestone tells a story: from Drangan, Co Tipperary

Every gravestone tells a story: from Drangan, Co Tipperary

Graveyards are full of stories. Thomas Grey’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard captured this decisively in poetic form – so much so that any subsequent poem seems a pale shadow.

In Drangan, Co Tipperary, in the Slieveardagh area -a village which like Cloneen has no Wikipedia presence –  I came across this:

It is irresistably poignant to read of this man whose parents died within days of each other in 1919 (?of the Influenza Pandemic) when he was one or less. And he himself died on the 71st anniversary of his mother.

There are other stones with stories there. I am wary of intruding on grief … but here is one with a rather jollier story to tell:

Choctaw artist/writer Waylon Gary White Deer to lead Tipperary Famine Walk 28th July 2018

Choctaw artist Waylon Gary White Deer  to lead Tipperary Famine Walk in Ballingarry on 28th July. From the Ballingarry Facebook Page:


You are invited to this year’s Famine 1848 Walk which takes place in Ballingarry from the Young Ireland and National Flag Monument in the village of The Commons to Famine Warhouse 1848, the OPW national heritage Museum on Saturday, 28 July at 3pm.

The Walk will be led by Waylon Gary White Deer from the Choctaw Nation in the United States. The Walk will recall the extraordinary act of kindness of the Choctaws to the starving Irish during the Great Famine

Organised by the Ballingarry 1848 Society.

Waylon Gary White Deer’s website describes him as a “Choctaw Indian Painter and Author based in Co. Donegal, Ireland”. This profile pictures him in front of Muckish and describes him as living in the “Donegal Gaeltacht”

The Commons claims to be first place the tricolour was flown as an Irish national flag.

Stained Glass from St Mary’s Church, Kilsheelan

Some images from St Mary’s Church, Kllsheelan.

First of all some interesting motifs – I presume letters of some kind but I am not sure:

These windows were clearly Chi-Ro and IHS symbols:

The altar windows featured some neat images of the Evangelists and symbols of Christ. The mid morning light perhaps made these striking images less easily photographed:

200 Years of Tipperary’s Lost and Found Wellington Monument 

200 Years of Tipperary’s Lost and Found Wellington Monument 

Along the Grange Crag Loop walk,near the village of Grange in the Slieveardagh Hills, one comes across an arresting monument built two hundred years ago. Almost unbelievably (when you contemplate the scale of the structure today) it was overgrown and only rediscovered in the 1990s. Here it is:

And here with a view of the more recently added spiral stairs that take one to a viewing platform:

From the Slieveardagh Website

The Wellington Monument
In 1817, Sir William Barker, the then landlord of Kilcooley Abbey estate caused a large structure to be erected in commemoration of the Duke of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo two years previously. The Wellington Monument has a finely carved dedication stone on its 15 foot high west or ´front end´. The south side is also impressive but the remaining side of the monument is half the ‘Light’ and clearly shows that the structure was designed to be viewed from the west and from Sir William’s manor house at Kilcooley a mile away. The monument – technically called a folly, became completely hidden by forestry in latter years and its reappearance in the early 1990’s, following Coillte’s clear felling was a pleasant surprise to all.

The site features some of the most impressive explicatory plaques I have seen anywhere (there is even more on the other side):

I didn’t know that Napoleon was of an average height for his time, and that British propaganda portrayed him as the short prototype of Small Man Syndrome. And while I had known that Wellington did not say “just because you are born in stable doesn’t make you a horse”, I didn’t know that in fact Daniel O’Connell said it, in modified form, of him.

There are magnificent views from the top:

The top was a little vertiginous. While the structure is reassuringly solid and I knew I was safe, I felt like I did on the Glasgow Tower. This distracted me a little from the excellent display explaining what one could see (and meant I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked. And I did find the typo at the end of this description of Gortnahoe appropriate, for me at least:

I would like to re-iterate that this is a wonderful site to visit and that the structure is very solid and secure…my own reaction to heights is the issue. The local community deserves immense credit for its work and I highly recommend a visit here.

Muscular Christianity: Fr James Doheny brings the Tipperary Way to West Cork 

Here is the arresting life of Fr James Doheny, a priest of whom it could be rightly said they don’t make ’em like they used to:

According to the records in the Diocese of Cashel. James Doheny studied in Carlow College Seminary from 1809 to l8lI. He completed his studies for the Priesthood in St Kieran’s College Kilkenny from 181I to l8l3 where he was ordained by the Bishop of Ossory for the Diocese of Cashel & Emly. As a student James Doheny was involved in faction fighting, a regular occurrence in Ballingarry between the families of the Shanavests and of the Caravats. The Caravats war cry was “Stokes, Croke and Corcoran”. These were the leaders of that party. The Shanavests invariably called their forces together with the cry of “Pollard, St. John and Rochfort” (ref..Dr. W. Nolan, The Master). This activity caused his refusal of ordination in Carlow, so he transferred to St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny in 1811 and was ordained in 1813.

I find it a little hard to imagine people wandering round shouting “Pollard, St. John and Rochfort” before engaging in faction fight battle, though “Stokes, Croke and Corcoran” has a bit of a ring. Fr Doheny’s story is only getting going:

We read of the Horse Fair of Ballinasloe which lasts for a whole week, Dunmanway had such a fair which like Ballinasloe attracted large attendances from all over Ireland for the week, Many deals were made, the event was a great boost to the economy of Dunmanway. However, for some years before Fr Doheny’s appointment this well organised fair had become a bit of a disaster for the merchants and business people of Dunmanway most of whom were of the Protestant faith.

Every three card trickster, conman & conwoman would come to the fair which caused great angst among the inhabitants of the town of both religious persuasions. A short time after his appointment a deputation of the Business community met Fr Doheny at his home. They wanted to elicit his assistance in attempting to quell the riotous behaviour of the crowds that were arriving around the town for the fair. Fr Doheny listened attentively and when asked if he could help invited these businessmen to have up to 30 strong young men at the Parish Hall the following Tuesday at 8pm and to leave the “rest to me”.

30 hardy young men of the town were at the Hall when Fr Doheny arrived with a sack of sticks, on closer examination these men realised these were the blackthorn stick or Shillelagh used in the faction fights of Tipperary but unknown in that area of West Cork.

He organised then into groups and taught them firstly the art of self defence with the stick, he then showed where to hit to hurt without taking a life and finally laid out plans for the Patrol of the fair in pairs, what to look out for and to deal immediately with any problems before they got out of hand. His methods proved a huge success, his actions were rewarded when his brother Thomas his wife and family arrived to farm a piece of land granted to Fr Doheny. His niece Mary Jane became his housekeeper.

Here is the plaque commemorating Fr Doheny in Dunmanway:


And here is a helpful picture of some shillelaghs: