Michael Ahern's new book shines spotlight on Clonmel

Eamonn Wynne


Eamonn Wynne



'Rare Clonmel'

Cllr. John Fahey, author Michael Ahern, Museum curator Marie McMahon and Michael Grace with Michael Ahern's new book 'Rare Clonmel' .

A book that its author says brings the reader on a tour of Clonmel was launched last week.

'Rare Clonmel', the latest offering from well-known historian and author Michael Ahern, was launched by The Nationalist columnist and fellow historian Margaret Rossiter at the County Museum.

This hardback volume, which has plenty of colour and black and white photos scattered throughout its almost 400 pages, certainly lives up to its promise to bring the reader on a trip around of the town.

And a fascinating tour it is too. One of the most engaging chapters tells the story of the last public hanging in the town, when Richard Burke was executed outside Clonmel Jail in August 1862 after he was convicted of poisoning his wife Johanna.   

The book focuses on the former Butter Market (in Market Street), ruins on Suir Island and the Quays, from where river barges once traded, and which are described as relics of former commercial greatness. 

The principal institutions, civic, religious and educational, provide reminders that there is much to see, and according to the author the crowning glory is the architectural genius of William Tinsley.

"It's a book than you can easily dip in and out of", says Michael.

"There's nothing too high-falultin' in it, it's a book for the people".

The all but forgotten holy wells, which attracted pilgrims from far and wide; and a once famous spa on the south eastern side of town, frequented by ladies of fashion and their admirers, are recalled in its pages.The old town walls, according to Michael, are visible symbols of a heroic past.

Disappearing street furniture such as the jostle stones (used to protect the arches of houses from horse-drawn carriages), foot scrapers (useful for removing mud from shoes when streets were little more than dirt tracks) and gas lamps are also featured.

There's also a chapter on the Freemen of Clonmel, who include former Presidents Eamon de Valera, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, current President Michael D. Higgins, former Ceann Comhairle Sean Treacy, Dr. Pat O'Callaghan, Charles Stewart Parnell, Sr. Joachim Lombard and former Nationalist editor Brendan Long. 

Clonmel Railways, some of the town's lanes, Carey's Castle, the West Gate, the Main Guard and Hearn's Hotel also come under the spotlight.

The colour photos that illustrate the book so vividly were taken by Donal Wylde, former Nationalist photographer and RTE cameraman. 

'Rare Clonmel' is a book that will appeal to people of all ages with an interest in the town. It's sure to be a popular stocking-filler this Christmas.