In tune: pupils at Holy Family National School in Templetuohy practice for the upcoming Christmas concert
The flags of Templetuohy Moyne GAA club hang listless in the dreary November rain on the approach roads to the village. And while the mood of the locals might be dampened like the soft mist that hangs over the bog by their recent loss in the AIB Munster football semi-final, their spirit is not defeated.
The talk is all of the two first-half goals scored by Fermoy in their victory over the Moyne Templetuohy Club, but there is pride in having kept the opposition out for the entire second half, despite three players being sent off.
It gives the village hope for the future, that one day they will have the upperhand, and encapsulates the fierce sense of community throughout the area.
“We are getting over it,” says PJ Leahy of the match. “We are disappointed. They got two goals and that is a hell of a mountain to climb in football. In fairness, we stuck at it and their goalie made one mighty save.”
PJ is a mine of information about Templetuohy and how it has changed over the years.
“When I was growing up there were 12 shops. You could go to a shop and pub and buy beer, butter, nails or even bullets,” he recalls, with particular fond memories of Colliers, the hardware people who also ran a shop in Templemore.
“Templetuohy was a buzzing, thriving place between Rathdowney, Thurles, Templemore and the edge of Kilkenny, “ he says. “The scene was lively with three pubs and there was music every Tuesday and cards at weekends. They would come from all over.”
PJ recalls the numbers at Bingo every Thursday, which draws a huge crowd, among them 99-year-old Kathleen Hennessy. The committee honoured her this month to mark her birthday, and true to form she was back with her “eyes down” for last week's session.
The Bingo, which celebrated its fifthieth anniversary this year, has raised a considerable amount for the locality, including contributing towards the youth club in the hall.
Sadly, they don't come from all over these days to Templetuohy, but there are high hopes that the new green energy campus at the former Lisheen mines will reawaken the village, and there is broad welcome for Tipperary County Council's plans to build over 10 houses in the area.
“Hopefully, we will get a few new families,” says PJ Sweeney who is making his way home with little Leah from the local playschool Temple Tots on the grounds of the national school.
Pointing to the row of houses on the main street, he lists off the ones where there are no children or no families, just single people or elderly couples.
“There are few small children here. We hope for new families because the school needs them,” says PJ.
Born and bred in the village, PJ says Templetuohy is a “nice community" to be in, highlighting its community spirit in developing a number of projects, including the new playground in the school grounds which will be open to the public.
“There were 11 of us on the committee and we fundraised through the parish forum,” he says. It took them three years to raise around €100,000 and all they are waiting on now is for Tipperary County Council to sign off on the project.
The bright play area includes a sensory garden and a wheelchair accessible swing.
That inclusiveness is echoed in Holy Family National School, where principal Carmel Deegan and her team of Kathleen Meehan, Caroline Carey, Diarmuid Fogarty, Martine Moloney, Jenna Carroll, Teresa Ryan and their visiting music teacher Avril Kinnane are educating the latest generation to grow up in Templetuohy.
The school, which replaced the old one built in 1912, was opened in 1985, and Carmel herself is a product of it.
“I was in all the classrooms,” says Carmel, who says the biggest changes since she was attending is in technology, with interactive boards, as well as having girls and boys equally involved in sports, dance and music.
“I would have loved that,” she says.
They had their Green Flags, too. Then principal Mattie Ryan, would have always been into collecting litter, and he loved the environment, says Carmel.
Mattie Ryan's legacy and the present staff's energy and enthusiasm is obviously rubbing off on their young charges.
They now have six Green Flags and are on their seventh, an active flag, and they are seeking an Amber Flag for mental health awareness. A nice touch with a reassuring message is the worry box in the corridor where pupils can leave their troubles behind them.
When the Tipperary Star calls the pupils are practicing their music and soon they are all assembled in one big cacophony of sound.
“We have our own school band. A few years ago we bought some violins, then we got some guitars, accordions, ukuleles. We now have our own school band,” says the principal.
They have a beginners and advanced trad group and this year will enter the Royal Irish Academy Cara awards. They have also taken part in the Peace Proms and Cór na nÓg.
There are a lot of preparations going on at present with their visit soon to play for the residents at the Hospital of the Assumption, as well as the Christmas show, which is being choreographed by well known choreographer Rosalie Butler, who looks after the musicals and shows in Thurles.
The school's 56 pupils are an active lot, attending the after-school programmes which involve speech and drama, GAA training, quiz time, Irish dancing, spikeball, badminton and basketball.
“We are preparing them here in every way, with the Science Awards, maths, junior entrepreneurship,” says Carmel.
With all that going on when do they get time for homework?
“They are free on a Friday,” laughs Carmel, and, she says, Eimear in Temple Tots runs an after school homework club.
Up to 1861, Templetuohy played second fiddle to neighbouring Moyne. It was only when it got its grant of fairs and markets and, more importantly, the patronage of the Lalor and Power-Lalor families that it got the upperhand over Moyne, though the tradition of naming the parish Moyne Templetuohy has stuck down the years.
The Lalors came in the sixteenth century and Templetuohy grew out of their estate at Longorchard. A wealthy Catholic landowning family, among the most famous was Richard Lalor Shiel, one time friend of Daniel O'Connell, playwright, MP, ambassador in the court of Tuscany and barrister.
In 1851, at the time of his funeral, it was stated that Templetuohy was “impossible to keep warm even if wrapped up like a Russian dreadnought”, with a “desolate vista of bog” and the “dullness of the place is relieved by nothing either in business or gossiping”.
That writer hadn't met the likes of Tom Guilfoyle, who is the second generation of the family to run the local store, which has been in the family since 1979.
The Guilfoyles — Maura and James — took over from the Hennessys, and before that it belonged to the Kinsellas.
Among Tom's concerns is the closure of the local post office next January, and he is hoping to take over the businesses, which would maintain the village's community spirit.
“We are an active village. If the post office goes, I will lose customers too,” he says.
Also keeping his door open is Michael Larkin of Larkins Furniture, a cornucopia of antiques, bric-a-brac and modern furniture.
“There were five antique shops in Cahir before the recession and they are all gone,” points out owner Michael, who has been in business since 1980.
While the business in the village was mostly farming, Templetuohy once had Templetuohy Foods, which has relocated to Horse and Jockey, but Templemore Farm Machinery is still going strong outside the village.
Set up by brothers Jimmy and Joe Butler in 1982, it employs 100 people over six centres throughout the country — there are 24 in Templetuohy, which includes two of the original staff — Francis McCormack and Pat Delaney, while Mary Troy and Eugene Murray have been there for 32 years.
“Technology has become a big player and while farms have got bigger, farmers are looking for new technology in their equipment. We are completely in tune with that and provide solutions for them,” he says by way of explaining the company's continued success. “They are doing more work with less people.”