The extended Devitt family commemorating the 100th anniversary since the death of Michael Devitt.
Cllr. Tom Wood unearthed interesting information about the man once referred to as ‘a fine type of Tipperary man and one of Cashel’s worthiest sons’.
A resident of Lowergate Street and a renowned cattle dealer by profession, Michael Devitt was the first chairman of the newly formed Urban Council in 1899 and held that post until his death aged 70 on 4th May 1917.
In 1896 his wife Catherine (née Duggan), whose family hailed from the Commons, Cashel, predeceased him at the age of 43, leaving behind seven children ranging in ages from three to 23.
A Home Rule supporter, Michael Devitt contributed greatly to civic life in his beloved Cashel.
He served on South Tipperary County Council for sixteen years and was actively involved in many committees including the County Agricultural Committee, Race Committee, Asylum Committee, Loan Fund Committee, the County Tipperary Infirmary Committee and the Town Tenants League.
Cllr. Wood discovered that prior to chairing the Town Council from its ground floor office in Cashel’s City Hall, Michael Devitt had served with his own grandfather, Dr. Thomas Wood, on the Town Commissioners. They recognised that Cashel was suffering from competition from nearby towns due to the lack of rail transport, so they engaged themselves with other concerned citizens in trying to secure rail transport from Cashel.
A highlight of Michael Devitt’s chairmanship of the Town Council would have been the unveiling of the Fountain on Lowergate Square in 1904. Erected by the citizens of Cashel in recognition of the service given by Dean Kinane (1887-1913), it marked the opening of the Goolds Cross to Cashel rail line that same year.
Among other developments of significance during his political career were the introduction of a safe, clean supply of drinking water for the citizens, and the construction of some of the first local authority housing at Upper Green and Lowergate Square.
Along with being one of the best known southern cattle dealers, his involvement with the South of Ireland Cattle Trade Association brought him into direct contact with hundreds of oppressed tenant farmers, and as one of the first members of the Cashel Branch of the Land League he was among their stalwart supporters.
On hearing of his death, shutters were closed and blinds pulled on premises and homes throughout the town for the three days prior to his burial on the Rock out of respect for the much trusted citizen, before hundreds turned out for his funeral.