Tullow town, Carlow


Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Tullow Town
(An Tulach)
Co Carlow

Bridge Street, Tullow

Tullow Town c2008Tullow, a small farming town, is located in the River Slaney Valley in the midst of rich, fertile agricultural land. Tullow is also the ancestral home of the famous Wolseley family - Frederick York Wolseley gave his name to the Wolseley car. It is known locally as the granite town because of its magnificent stone approach roads as well as its granite public buildings.

In the market square stands a statue of Father John Murphy, (see image below), the insurgent leader, who was captured near Tullow and executed in the Market Square on 2 July 1798.

Tullow is a pleasant town situated on the River Slaney, ten miles east of Carlow. The place was formerly known as Tulach O’Feilmeadha or territory of UI Felmeltha, a tribe descended from Feidlimidh son of Enna Ceansalagh and brother of Crimthan, first Christian King of Leinster in 1314 according to Ware, Simon Lumbard and Hugh Tallon granted the Augustinians a house and three acres of land in the village of St John near Tullow. In 1331 John de Kell was prior when King Edward III confirmed the grant. In December 1557 Queen Elizabeth granted this monastery to Thomas, Earl of Ormond. Nothing survives of the building to-day.

The First Stone Bridge c.1767

Elevation and Plan of the New Bridge at Tullow by Charles G. Forth. C.E. over the River Slaney
View of Tullow Bridge
Image of Tullow Bridge by Tim Lock

Indicative of the slow pace of change and development prior to the industrial revolution which started about 1750, was the fact that the first stone bridge across the Slaney in Tullow was built as late as 1767. That first five span structure, wide enough to take a horse and cart, was doubled in width about the middle of the last century. Plans for the new bridge were prepared by the Dublin based civil engineer Charles G. Forth. My paternal grandfather Laurence O'Toole, born in Tullowbeg in 1880, was fifteen when the first Wolseley motor car was produced in Birmingham. A story he often related underlines the extent of change in transport that took place in his lifetime. In 1895 he was delivering cabbage plants grown around Tullow to places as far away as Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, with horse drawn carts - an unchanged mode of transport used six hundred years earlier when the Cistercian Lay Brothers were transporting charcoal from Arklow to Grangeford. My grandfather died in 1970 - on 22nd January that year the Boeing 747, then the world's largest airliner, entered commercial service. The revolution in transport, in which Frederick York Wolseley had a role, had come a long way.

Source: Fredrick York Wolseley by Jimmy O'Toole 1995. p20-21.

The Tullow Bridge

It has been estimated that Ireland possesses some 25,000 masonry arch bridges of over 6 feet span. Many of them like the one at Tullow were erected with grants for the Grand Juries. There has been a bridge over the Slaney in Tullow at least since 1680 when William Crutchley, JP, tenant of the castle, was observed by Dineley to have lately repaired it. In 1747, Thomas Bunbury combined forces with Sir Richard Butler, Robert Eustace, Robert Lecky and John Breusters (Brewster) to oversee the construcion of a new bridge by Mr. Thomas Nowlan of Rathvaran, a farmer. Twenty three years later, Thomas was again to the fore when the Grand Jury for County Carlow gave thanks to John Semple at their Summer Assizes in 1770. These thanks were due for Semple's drawing a plan and estimate for a new bridge over the Slaney in Tullow, which they deemed a 'very strong and handsome' design and also cheaper than anticipated. Names of Grand Jurors appended included, in order, C. Wolseley (Sheriff), Richard Butler, William Burton, Thomas Bunbury, Robert Browne, B. Burton Doyne, Richard Mercer, Robert Eustace, William Paul Butler, Theophilus Perkins, John Perkins, Thomas Gurly, James Butler, Simon Mercer, Thomas Whelan, William Bernard, William Bunbury, William Vicars, and Bartholomew Newton.

See: Ask About Ireland.

Tullow Castle c1681
This image of Tullow Castle c1681 is take from a sketch by Thomas Dineley the Worcestershire Antiquarian. The site is now occupied by Church of Ireland, St Columbia's Church.
Source: 'Come Capture Castles' by Victor Hadden

The castle of Tullow is said to have been built by Hugh de Lacy in 1181. It is said that he gave the castle, manor and town to his butler, Theobald Walter, the founder of the Butler family.  In 1650 the castle was defended bravely by Colonel Butler against the Cromwellian forces but after a long siege was taken by Hewson and Reynolds. The garrison were mercilessly put to death. No portion of the building remains, it is said that the building was taken down in the reign of Queen Anne and the materials used to build a barracks on the site of the present Courthouse.

Theobold, grandson to Sir Edmund Butler of Clogrennan was created Viscount Tullowphelim in 1603. He died without an heir in 1613 and Richard 5th Son of the 1st Duke of Ormonde inherited the title, but he also died without issue. The title was revived in 1693 by Charles, 2nd Son of the Earl of Ossory. The title became extinct when he died without an heir.

Father John MurphyFollowing the defeat of the insurgents at Vinegar Hill in 1798, Fr. John Murphy and his companion John Gallagher were executed in the Square, Tullow. A monument was erected to their memory by the people of Tullow in 1905.

In a field in Ballygorey near Tullow, Art Og Mac Murrough, King of Leinster is said to have made formal submission to Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham and Richard II’s representative in Ireland. Art undertook to quit Leinster together with his subordinate lords under certain conditions. However, after Richard’s return home, Mac Murrough and the Leinster chiefs made no attempt to quit the lands of Leinster. Their refusal to do so was denounced as a breach of faith and led to Richard’s second expedition to Ireland.

In the district of Aghade, two miles south of Tullow is the Holed Stone (Clochaphoill). In Ardristan are two pillar-stones, one of them grooved, this is the finest of the granite standing stones in North Carlow.

Four miles north is Rath Moon, near Rathoe, a large ringfort which gives its name to the townland. Three miles north is Cloghstuckagh or Five Fingers, a Bronze Age burial was found here. Nearby is Kellistown, site of an ancient monastery whose Round Tower survived until 1807. In 490 Muircheartach Mac Erca, King of Tara is said to have slain Oengus Mac Nat Fraich, King of Cashel in Kellistown. O’Byrne and MacDavy routed and slew Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, Richard lI’s Lieutenant in Ireland and heir to the English throne in July 1394.

Other local townsland names:

Templeowen (Teampall Eoin)

Eamon de Valera in Tullow

It is April 1971 and the 89 year old President of Ireland, Eamon de Valera, is in Tullow for the 50th anniversary Mass to commemorate the execution on 25th April 1921 in Mountjoy Jail of Thomas Traynor. Thomas Traynor was a native of Cannon's Quarter, Tullow, as a 35 year old recruit to the Irish Volunteers he had served under de Valera in Boland's Garrison during the Easter Rising in 1916. I filmed Dev's visit to Tullow on the occasion pictured above on my Super8 movie camera (no sound). When Dev arrived in Tullow his first stop was at the house of the parish priest where I had a 10 minute interview with him in the company of Father Sean Kelly C.C. (now retired parish priest of Stradbally). Many of Thomas Traynor's 10 children were in Tullow for the mass and the wreath laying ceremony at the Traynor memorial in the town. Among those pictured meeting Dev on the day are Sean Monaghan, Jim McGrath, Frank Mallin and Peter Rooney and other members of the Carlow Brigade Irish Republican Army.

Source: Michael Purcell

INDEX Tullow Town Images

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© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects, IGP TM

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