ByRoute 7.1 Co. Kildare // Co. Tipperary

Liathmore & Twomileborris (Co. Tipperary / Northeast)

Liathmore Round Tower (Photo by saintinexile)

The Liathmore / Leighmore / Leigh churches site comprises two ruined churches and the foundations of a Round Tower, all that remains of Liath-Mochaomhog, a great monastery founded in 590 AD by Saint Mochaomhog / Mochoemhoc / Kennoch / Pulcherius / Vulcanius, nephew of Saint Ita and friend of Saint Fursey.  The smaller church is thought to have been built during the life of an Abbot called Cuangus, who died in 746 AD. The later main church was considerably extended and altered over several centuries; it has a rather splendid Sheela-na-Gig. There are legends of a great town being raised up around this monastery, but archaeoligists have found only ecclesiastical artefacts.

Twomileborris / Two Mile Borris / Twomile Borris (Burios Leith) is a small village wih a Norman keep. It has also been called Borrisleigh / Burrisleigh (causing confusion with Borrisoleigh); Burras / Burriss / Burrows / Burroughs / Burgess (all misspellings); some argue that its name in Irish hould be Bhuirgeas Dhá Mhile, a reference to king Miles, ancestor of Niall of the Nine Hostages. The name Borris is generally believed to have come from the Norman word for a borough, district or stronghold. This one is about two long Irish miles from Thurles.

The Irish Times – Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Green light for €460m ‘Las Vegas’ complex


AN BORD Pleanála has given the go-ahead for the construction of a €460 million “Las Vegas-style” sports and leisure complex in Co Tipperary.

The 800-acre Tipperary Venue, close to the village of Two-Mile-Borris, will include a 500-bedroom five-star hotel; a 6,000sq m casino; an all-weather racecourse; a greyhound track and a golf course.

The site, which is located off the M8 Dublin-Cork motorway, will also feature a full-size replica of the White House in Washington which will be used as “a banqueting facility” and to host wedding receptions.

Planning permission for a 15,000-capacity underground entertainment centre was refused by An Bord Pleanála as it was deemed “inappropriate” given the location.

North Tipperary County Council granted planning permission for the project last year but the case was appealed by some local residents and An Taisce.

Concerns included the level of traffic which would be generated by the venue, along with noise, carbon emissions, helicopter use, its distance from public transport and the sustainability of such a large-scale development.

An estimated 1,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the facility which is expected to take three years. Between 1,350 and 2,000 additional full-time positions are expected once the complex is completed.

The Tipperary Venue is the brainchild of developer Richard Quirke, a former garda from Thurles who is best known for running Dr Quirkey’s Good Time Emporium gaming arcade on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

Mr Quirke issued a short statement: “I welcome this decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the Tipperary Venue project which advances the implementation of my vision and ambition for this site,” he said.

“I have instructed my design team and management to proceed to the next appropriate stages of the development.”

The venture has received support from the Coolmore Stud, Horse Sport Ireland, Bord na gCon, Shannon Development and Thurles Chamber of Commerce.

Planning permission is granted subject to 32 conditions which include an archaeological appraisal, details of noise monitoring and mitigation measures, and the carrying out of road safety procedures.

The developer is also required to make a financial contribution towards public infrastructure and facilities associated with the project.

The project is also still dependent on the Oireachtas passing proposed new legislation to enable the opening of casinos.

A consultation paper on legislative options for the gambling sector was published last December by then minister for justice Dermot Ahern.

The paper outlined a framework for licensing and regulating small-scale casinos which operate as members’ clubs and included a proposal to allow a “resort” casino similar to that proposed by the Tipperary Venue developers.

The report indicated support for a casino with multiple gaming tables with between 1,000 and 1,500 slot machines. It added it would not be desirable to allow more than one such large-scale resort.

Douglas Adams in his book The Meaning of Liff defined the word “Twomileborris” as “A popular East European game in which the first person to reach the front of the meat queue wins, and the losers have to forfeit their bath plugs.”

Twomileborris is

Thurles (Co. Tipperary / Central)

Thurles (Dúrlas Eile, originally Dúrlas Éile Ui Fhógartaigh – “the strong fort of the O’Fogarty [chieftains] of Ely”) (pop. 8500) is a rather dreary midland market town in the old barony of Eliogarty (a mixture of “Eile” and “Fogarty”). (Photo by Seamus_ie)

At the Battle of Thurles (1174), warriors jointly led by Dónal Mór O’Brien and the deposed High King, Roderick O’Connor, surprised Strongbow’s troops camped in Lognafola (“The Hollow of Blood”), allegedly killing 1,700 Norman soldiers. Despite this setback, the invaders soon controlled the area.

Barry’s Castle, aka Bridge Castle, a C15th Tower House guarding the River Suir crossing, was built by the Butler family, who, having established a foothold in the early C13th, were largely responsible for the development of Thurles. James Butler, 1st Earl of Ormond, built a Carmelite Friary and a castle locally in 1328. The Knights Templar are said to have had a preceptory in Thurles, which may have been in this castle. In 1649 it was garrisoned by Royalists but taken and partially demolished by Cromwell‘s troops.

Black Castle (c. 1493), partially hidden behind shops at the other end of the main commercial area, was the home of Lady Thurles, née Elizabeth Poyntz (1587 – 1673), the staunchly Roman Catholic widow of Viscount Thomas Butler (drowned in 1619) and mother of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde. During the turbulent 1640s she remained faithful to both her religion and to the Crown, harbouring many families fallen foul of the rebels, who threatened to torch her home. She refused to open the town gates to Eoin Roe O’Neill in 1648.

Thurles is the spiritual home of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, better known as the Gaelic Athletic Association / GAA.

Semple Stadium, where Munster Hurling Finals are annually celebrated with well-nigh religious fervour, has capacity for 53,000 spectators (second only to Dublin’s Croke Park, Ireland’s premier GAA venue).

Liberty Square is the urban centre of Thurles. It is full of atmosphere on match days.

Hayes’s Hotel, founded in the C18th, was where Michael “Citizen” Cusack and others founded the GAA in 1884, and since then has been a traditional meeting place for the thousands of GAA followers who throng the town for major games. Cheap and cheerful, with friendly staff, the rather shabby two star hotel is more of a party venue than a spot for a good night’s sleep.

Lár na Páirce tells the story of Gaelic Games from earliest times to the present day. Located in fine cut-stone edifice built for the National Bank about the time of the GAA’s foundation, the various exhibits invite the visitor to experience the excitement of Gaelic Football, Hurling, Camogie and Handball.

The Croke Memorial is a bronze life-sized statue of Drçççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççççç Thomas Croke, (1823-1902), Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, whose support was vital for the success of the fledging GAA.

The 1798 Rebellion Memorial, aka “the stone man”, is a romantic limestone rebel figure standing on a pedestal bearing sculpted portraits of prominent United Irishmen. Thurles was not actually involved in the doomed uprising.

The Source is an impressive modern Arts Centre & Library. (Photo by Maryade)

The Cathedral of the Assumption (1879), an  Italianate Romanesque building modelled by JJ MacCarthy on Pisa’s cathedral, is the fourth church to occupy the same site.  The 150ft Campanile is Thurles’ most important landmark. The separate Baptistry is an unusual feature for Ireland. The cathedral contains some outstanding stained glass windows and several statues by noted Italian neoclassical sculptor Giovanni Maria Benzoni (1809 – 1873). The elaborate tabernacle was designed by Giacomo della Porta (1537 – 1602) for the Gesu, widely regarded as the gaudiest church in Rome.

Thurles has been recognised by Rome as the seat of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly since 1723. The 1850 Synod of Thurles was the greatest gathering of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland since 1642.

In addition to the Archbishop’s Palace, several religious orders and institutions have made Thurles their home, notably the Ursuline Order of nuns, whose convent school has a lovely garden.

St. Mary’s Famine Memorial Church & War Museum

St. Mary’s church (1820) stands on the site of the first Norman parish church built here at the end of the C12th. It is still used as a place of worship by the small local Church of Ireland community. The churchyard has been a burial place since the middle ages and contain many notable tombs.


A Famine Museum opened in part of the church in 1995, the 150th anniversary of the Great Famine, provides insights into the hardships of life in Thurles and environs during the period from 1845 until 1850.


A War Museum is housed in the rebuilt gallery, displaying weaponry and memorabilia from the Crimean War to present day conflicts. (Photo by Maryade)


A Garden of Remembrance commemorates those from the Thurles area who lost their lives in WWI, in the struggle for Irish Independence, and in UN peacekeeping operations.

There is a small bird sanctuary on Pheasant Island in the middle of the River Suir.

Thurles also has a modern Greyhound Racing Stadium with a glass-walled restaurant.

Thurles is north of Holy Cross Abbey on ByRoute 6.

Brittas Castle, two miles north of Thurles off the Templemore Road, was commisioned by Major Henry Langley and designed by William Vituvius Morrison in imitation of Warwick Castle, with a dungeon, moat and working drawbridge; unfortunately, Langley was killed on the site by a falling stone, and the expensive folly was never completed.  The ruin is on private land.

The Cabragh Wetlands south of Thurles include some former Sugar Company land now turned into a privately funded wildlife refuge, with a Visitors Centre and a hide for observing birds.

Thurles Racecourse is principally a jumping track, highly regarded by National Hunt fans, though a small number of flat races are also held. Racing generally takes place from late September to early April.

Thurles Racecourse is

Inch House, an early Georgian county house with beautiful plasterwork, was built by one of the few C18th Roman Catholic landowners in the area, John Ryan, whose family remained in residence for over 200 years, acumulating interesting antiques and artefacts along the way. The building and contents were restored in 1985 by the farming couple John and Norah Egan, who run it as an elegant Guesthouse with very good restaurant facilities, open to non-residents by reservation.


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