Completely both landlocked and rural, County Tipperary is Ireland’s largest inland county. The county is popular for its rich and fertile farmland, raised bogland, and the Galtee Mountains in the south. More impressively, the lands of Tipperary have always ranked amongst the most productive in Ireland. The land has always been a great destination for gazing and has extensive tracks of bog and mountain and absolutely captivating scenery.
Tipperary is a very picturesque region, with the stunning Galtee Mountains, the River Suir and a rich, lush, green landscape, famous for its horse studs. Rising up from here are several huge mountain ranges. Among them the Arra Hills and the Silvermine Mountains, both compiled with The Galtee comprise the largest inland mountains in Ireland. Lough Derg, one of the largest lakes in Ireland, also spreads down the west side of North Tipperary along the River Shannon. The county has a lot of records to break to get your attention.
Tipperary is better known as the “Premier County”, dating from the 1840s when Thomas Davis in the Nation newspaper lauded Tipperary for its patriotic atmosphere and sense of serenity and claimed, “Where Tipperary leads, Ireland follows.” Raised bogland dominate The central area of the county, some 12,000 years old. Splitting the county into its two halves: North Tipperary, which is administered from the town of Nenagh, close to Lough Derg. And South Tipperary, which is administered from Clonmel, on the border with County Waterford.
History of Tipperary
History and heritage flow through the veins of County Tipperary. It is one of Ireland’s oldest counties. Having been administrated to Ireland in the 13th century, just after the Norman invasion. Thanks to the early invaders, there is an abundance of castles in the county. The main towns you can find in the south and they include Tipperary town, Clonmel, Cahir, the central market town of Thurles and Cashel, where you’ll find the famous landmark the Rock of Cashel. When visiting Tipperary, you’ll want to be sure to get the name right, putting the emphasis on the third syllable, rather than the first for a sound something like tip-er-rare-ee.
It was also in Thurles, at Hayes’ Hotel in 1884, that a group of hurling enthusiasts came together to form the earliest incarnation of the Gaelic Athletic Association. Which would become the governing body of the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders?
Sports in Tipperary
It was the landed elite and military officer classes that helped in promoting the growth and development of different sports in County Tipperary in the mid 19th century. In the instances of cricket, rugby union and association football, the military was the principal agency through which these sports spread and became known among the different factions of people in the county. Sporting trends which were fashionable in Great Britain also became evident in Ireland, and by extension, County Tipperary.
The degree to which horse racing and hunting to hounds became an integral aspect of the social lives of the elite class is reflected countywide. The associational culture among this class became evident in summer time recreations most notably archery, lawn tennis and cricket. Cricket was the one sport which was quickly diffused throughout the sporting community of Tipperary as it became, in the 1870s, the most prolific team sport in the county and played by all classes.
Sport took place without borders and to this end patronage was a key element of this support. There were some notable supporters who gave of their time and money to ensure that the best resources were in place to bring this about.
Key Attractions in Tipperary
The Rock of Cashel is one of the most famous of County Tipperary’s landmarks with a group of mediaeval buildings sitting on top of a rocky outcrop dominating the skyline of the town of Cashel. Lough Derg is the largest of the lakes along the River Shannon. The longest river in Ireland, and is almost an inland sea. In its essence, Tipperary’s nature is as authentic and diverse as it can be.
The Galtee Mountains
The Galtees are Ireland’s highest inland mountain range. As the name suggests, the Galtymore is the highest peak within the range and stands at 3,009 feet. There are a number of corrie lakes on the Galtees, such as Lough Musky, Lough Curra, and Lough Bohreen. The entrance location of its centrepiece, the Glen of Aherlow Nature Park, is close to the Christ the King statue and adjacent to the car park.
The Galtee Mountains, or “a walker’s paradise”. The Glen of Aherlow has a variety of mapped walking routes across forest tracks and open moorland. The Glen of Aherlow has eight looped walks on Slievenamuck and two linear walks in the Galtee Mountains.
Cahir Castle (Irish: Caisleán na Cathrach) is one of the largest ancient castles in Ireland. Built-in County Tipperary in 1142 by Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond. On an island in the river Suir. The original castle was at the north end of the present-day castle. The highest point of the island and was probably just a simple fort. It was eventually surrounded by a thick wall and with tours at each corner, as safe a place as it was then possible to construct.
With where the castle is located, a glorious testament to the skills of Medieval architects and builders, gleaming in the sun, surrounded by the formidable yet beautiful River Suir. It is impossible not to imagine the Norman Knights and Medieval ladies that once graced these high and intimidating Curtain Walls. Walls that loom overheard telling the story of this place with silent beauty.
The castle remained in the Butler family until the last Lord Cahir died in 1961. At that point, it became the property of the state. It is open to visitors all year round and guided tours are available. Although there is an entrance charge.
The River Suir (pronounce ‘sure’) rises in the Devil’s Bit Mountain in County Tipperary. Flowing from Borrisnoe Mountain north of Templemore all the way down through County Tipperary. Winding its way eastward until it eventually joins with its sister rivers Nore and Barrow, before finding its way to the Irish sea in County Waterford. It is 115 miles long and together with its tributaries, it drains a total catchment of 1,394 square miles.
The flow in the main river has deep and shallow glides interrupted by shallow riffles. It’s width increases as it proceeds downstream and the sequence of relatively shallow glide and riffle is maintained. This combination of a rich limestone base and huge areas of relatively shallow glides makes the Suir ideal for the production of brown trout.
The Knockmealdown range of mountains for a good part straddles the Tipperary Waterford border. The highest peak is Knockmealdown with other peaks Knockshanahullion, Sugarloaf Hill, Knocknagnauv, Knocknafallia, Knockmeal.
At this popular beauty spot, famous for its magnificent display of rhododendrons in late May and early June. The valley sides offer a perfectly chevron-shaped scene of the fields of Tipperary laid out far below, a panoply of greens, browns and yellows. The Tipperary Heritage Way north to Cashel begins at The Vee. While the seventy-kilometre East Munster Way starts down at Clogheen and heads east from The Vee to Carrick-on-Suir, via the northern foothills of the Knockmealdowns and the Comeraghs.
St. Patrick’s ll
It’s a fact that the counties of Ireland envelop more than 3,000 holy wells. Each attached to their own saints, legends, and healing properties. These holy wells have been sites of worship and prayer for centuries. Those who seek the miraculous cures offered by the waters still visit today.
In Bellcoo, Tipperary down a narrow road marked only with an old high cross, lies the ancient site of St. Patrick‘s Well. Steeped in legend, the holy well of Patrick is not a well at all but a wide stream surrounded by stones. A stream which bubbles with what is said to be the coldest water in all Ireland.
Rock of Cashel
It should be no surprise that Cashel is quite famous for the massive rock of limestone that sits in the centre of the town. The Rock of Cashel (Carraig Phádraig), more formally named St. Patrick’s Rock, also as Cashel of the Kings. The site is quite literally a walled area, built atop a huge rock. It was a brilliant defensive choice and an ideal spot for the castle they built there (hence the name).
To be more accurate, the name originates from Caiseal, meaning “stone fort,” and the hill was originally the residence of the kings of Munster. Excavations have revealed some evidence of burials and church buildings from the 9th or 10th century, but it was in the early 12th century that the Rock began to develop into a major Christian centre. Numerous buildings have occupied the cold and exposed Rock over the years, but it is the ecclesiastical relics that have survived.
A County’s Legacy
Among Tipperary’s most famous children are Former Australian Prime Minister Ben Chiffley, James Dewey Watson, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology with two others in 1962 for their discovery of DNA structure, and Irish folk group, The Clancy Brothers. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s ancestors were also from Tipperary.
Other Worthy Reads:
Mesmerising Beauty of County Sligo| Castle Ward: A Place with A Remarkable History| Clare and the Irish Wonder of the Atlantic| The Unendowed and Rich History of County Down|