Picture: Photo of the Rock of Cashel taken by Mary B. Lanigan Ryan
Mary B. Lanigan Ryan is a former deputy principal and past pupil of the Presentation Secondary School Thurles.
What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend in Tipperary?
Ideally, I love to escape the housework and paperwork and enjoy some fresh air and exercise. Escape to the country! Great work has been done to improve the accessibility of Cabragh Wetlands, (Thurles) - a haven for nature lovers and a magnet for birds in all seasons. Templemore Park is also a favourite haunt of mine - a family-friendly environment and the colours of nature are uplifting on the darkest days.
When restrictions are lifted I look forward to walking the recently developed Derrynaflan Trail, which will give me a great excuse to enjoy a visit to The Coffee Dock in The Horse and Jockey Hotel afterwards - guilt-free! The highlight of a perfect weekend is to attend a performance in The Source Arts Centre - music or dance, comedy or drama. All year round there is entertainment on offer and right at my doorstep!
Who has made the greatest contribution to Tipperary in your lifetime - and why?
Vincent O’Brien, arguably the greatest racehorse trainer of all time, was a celebrity living in the village of Rosegreen, where I grew up. Vincent’s success in the equine industry put Tipperary on the map, nationally and internationally.
What's your first Tipperary memory?
My first memorable milestone was my arrival in the Presentation Boarding School, Thurles. It was a big move for a small country girl, aged 11, full of excitement and anticipation, having followed the adventures of “The Four Marys” in the weekly “Bunty” comic for years in advance. My classic brown suitcase was neatly packed with my well-labelled essentials, including my first-ever dressing gown and laundry bag. How posh! It was there that I forged friendships that have lasted a lifetime.
What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
The Rock of Cashel holds a special place in my heart. A dramatic, iconic monument of historic significance and one of Ireland’s most spectacular and most-visited tourist attractions. Having worked as a Tour Guide there for a number of years, I grew to appreciate my heritage and simultaneously enjoyed the multicultural working environment, listening to visitors speak foreign languages from all over the world.
What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?
Like every other Irish county, Tipperary people enjoy their own unique, quirky character. The community spirit amongst country people from small towns, villages and farming communities is heartening and never more appreciated than in recent times. The rich agricultural land of Tipperary is the envy of many counties and a key attraction for many visitors. It’s often only when you are away from home that you truly appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of your homeland. Is glas iad na cnoic i bhfad uainn ach ní bhíonn siad féarmhar.
What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?
Lack of industry and employment opportunities are, undoubtedly, a cause for concern.
If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Tipperary, what would it be?
I would love to see an improvement in our public transport system. Imagine the old railway lines reopening! Fethard, Horse and Jockey and Goold’s Cross were once busy stations!