Parish of Bansha Kilmoyler
Saint Pecaun

Saint Berrihert

The Famine

Sir William Butler

Darby Ryan

John Cullinan MP

John Canon Hayes

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Ecclesiastical 'Bansha'

Irish civil and ecclesiastical parishes differ in their boundaries. The names Bansha and Kilmoyler do not appear in ancient records, but instead this area was divided into different ecclesiastical administrations with the passage of time. The modern parish of Bansha Kilmoyler comprises the Civil Parishes of Templeneiry, Clonbullogue and parts of the parishes of Killardry, Relickmurry and Athassel, Kilshane and Cordangan. The Papal Taxation records of 1291 record Templeneiry and Clonbulllogue as Nachrich and Clonhalke, Archbishop O'Hedian (1437) names them as Naryt and Clonbolygg. The 1607/8 Royal Visitation records Neyragh and Templenegrie as a "parcel of crops and Precentorship." Compare the Civil and Ecclesiastical areas on the Map Page.

In 1224 Pope Honorius III confirmed that the number of Canons in the Chapter of Cashel be twelve. Killardry is one of the five that is documented. The prebend of Kilardrigh is variously recorded as, Kilardriff, Kilydry since being written of in 1291 as Killardry - the site of an Archbishop's manor. It was associated with Cloonfynglasse, from which it is separated by a few miles. At the time of the Disollution of the Monasteries, the Rectories of Clonbullogue and Templeneiry were held by the Priory of Athassel.

The cemetery in Kilaldriffe is in use to the present day. Lt .General Sir William Butler is buried there.

Some Saints Associated with Bansha

Saint Berrihert

Beircheart Naoimhe

  Saint Berihert's Feastday is on the Friday 18 February. The well and kyle (cill) in Ardane has been visited traditionally for the nine days following the feastday. The Office of Public Works cleared the enclosure in 1946 and collected together some seventy stones around the kyle. The well in the field to the east of the kyle is Saint Berrihert's Well. Unbaptised infants were buried there in more recent times, their graves marked by stones. Pilgrims to the site traditionally recited the rosary, and followed the track five (sometimes three) times returning to the altar to tie a cloth to the holly-tree. In former times this was torn from the clothing, rather than brought for the purpose. At the well, a pebble from the outflow stream was thrown in the sandy-bottomed well and then retrieved with a shovel left there for the purpose. Plains, sores and injuries are blessed with the water and the protection of the saint invoked. Where pious tradition had it that the water of the well could not be made to boil. People in our time might be more inclined to put this to the test than enter into the local devotion once so strong and meaningful to our ancestors! The Roman-minded church of the last century has replaced the name Berrihert with Bernard, noticeable as first name common to this area.An invocation used locally on the occasion of any burn or scald was, "Bernard, neighbour, save the skin." This arose from ‘Beircheart Naoimhe'. Site

Saint Pecaun

It may seem curious to us that Saint Pecaun/Naomh Becán be known by so many names. Reverend Richard Devane made the following remarks;

St. Beacan lived in the seventh century. The annals of the Four Masters record his death in the year 689. No separate life of the saint has come down to us, though such seems to have existed in the time of the original compiler of St. Abban's life. His feast-day is 26 May as recorded in various Irish Calenders. (Felire of Aengus, Martyrology of Donegal, etc.)
He appears under a variety of names; Beacan, Becoe, Mabecan, Dobeacan, Do becoe, owing to a common Irish custom of forming endearing names, either by
1) shortening the original name and prefixing the endearing syllables mo, do; or by
2) adding tile suffixes án, ín, oc, óg, devotional diminutives; or by
3) a combination of both, e.g. mo-Bec-an, etc.
The non-devotional name would be St. Bec.

The place-names Kilbragh in Fethard is thougth to derive from the sanme name. Cillbeacain, Kilpeacon and Cluain Aird in Westmeath are also associated with this name.

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The Famine

BK Famine Population Graph

"The famine was never very bad around here." - It was common for people in many parts of Ireland people to deny the reality of what happened 150 years ago. Records show us that thousands in this parish died or emigrated during the time of the famine.
The Pastoral Letter of the Irish Bishops on the occasion of Famine Remembrance (Sunday 24 September 1995) reflected on this memory:
"The need to remember is all the stronger because for a long time the pain experienced by the people of Ireland was downplayed or left out of historical accounts. This ignoring of the Irish people's plight began early when the government of the day declared the famine over in the Summer of 1847. The centenary of the Famine in the 1940s passed almost unnoticed. It may have been that the Famine memory was too painful for the Irish people at that earlier time. The Famine anniversary commemorations which have begun this year present us with an opportunity to acknowledge that pain and to remember it appropriately.
No-one can doubt the continuing relevance of our own famine experience, and the need for us to draw the appropriate lessons from it, in a world which is still ravaged by the effects of famine and hunger. In a world of plenty, over 700 million people do not have enough to eat each day; 40 million die each year from hunger and related diseases; one third of all children in Africa are malnourished. Our experience of Famine emigration gives us a unique understanding of the plight of refugees in many parts of the world today. "

Some Historical Personages associated with Bansha

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Darby Ryan 1777-1855

Diarmuid O Ríain - Darby Ryan - was born at Ashgrove south west of the village of Bansha in 1777, the youngest son of a well-to-do farmer. He was educated at the local hedge school and , being an omnivorous reader, was a most welcomed visitor to the libraries of Bansha Castle and the Matthew Family of Thomastown.

Darby attended an ecclesiastical seminary with a view to the priesthood. However due to the unexpected death of his brother John at a faction fight at Ballydavid he was called upon to return home and he continued to work the family farm. Darby liked to smoke but preferred snuff contained in a neatly decorated box which, on being introduced he socially extended around. He had a love of local scenery and wrote "Shades of Thomastown", " Sporting Green", "Dawson's Seat", "Shades of Ashgrove" and the "Fox Chase". The men and movements of the time also provided him with a theme for his poetry. "The volunteers of 1782", "Grattan's Parliament", "The Tithes War", "The Temperance Movement" and "The '98 Repeal Struggles." The heroes of the day - Tone, Emmet, Lord Edward, Grattan, Sheil and O'Connell were always close to his heart. His poem, "Ireland's Lament" contains 47 stanzas, Darby also wrote in Irish, his best known poems are "Aréir Cois Taoibhe na hEatharla" - (Last night by the Aherlow River) "Dán Molta na hEatharla". an elegy of Aherlow Glen and its people. He also wrote a "Barántas", an impeachment of Tadgh Finin MacCarthaigh who had contravened the rules and regulations of the Bardic school.

Darby attended a meeting of protest against the notorious Tithe Acts of 1830. He was arrested with others and did a term in Clonmel Jail, where he plotted vengeance. A goat "on the seachrán" had been encountered one night by a Bansha police patrol, the animal put up a stiff fight but was eventually overcome and impounded. Wind of the affair reached Darby, his immediate reaction was to put pen to paper the result was his most famous poem "The Peeler and the Goat". The following Sunday, Darby on horse-back sang to his audience his new ballad. Up to and as late as the 1960's many local elderly people would sing this song as their party piece.


Darby's Anchor Headstone

Darby Ryan died in 1855 and is buried in the old Cemetery in Bansha. About his headstone? Well, that's another story; the locals commissioned to buy the headstone supposedly used some of the funds for sustenance on the road and had to settle for a headstone commissioned for an unknown seafarer, thence “Darby’s Anchor”
The song The Bansha Peeler was taken far and wide by Irish emigrants. It became widely recognised as a taunt of police and forces of law and order and was reviled by those in authority for disparaging 'Peel' Act' (Robert Peel) and 'the Peeler's power'. The text is available at a number of sites. Richard Kopp has the words and music.

Shades of Ashgrove

Darby Ryan 1777-1855, Bard of Ashgrove
You bright Heliconian maidens, your favours I humbly implore,
Vouchsafe to assist my endeavours in eloquent measures to soar;
My talents in truth are unequal, unless I'm inspired from Above;
To set forth in suitable phrases the beauties of verdant Ashgrove.

Its valleys are famed by the zephers by genial and temperate breeze;
The honey, in quick distillation, drips down from the fruit bearing trees;
The prolific mares, they are grazing and cattle, full many a drove,
The lambkins are wantonly playing, along the sweet shade of Ashgrove.

The Aherlow's clear crystal current, as nectar, transparent and pure,
Glides gently in tardy meander, reluctantly joining the Suir,
Like the Nile ‘s fertile inundations, the adjacent fair meadows improve,
Ensuring nature's rich vegetation, along the sweet shades of Ashgrove.

Gay flora with exquisite favour, on her fields in all season's bestows,
The violet, the lily and daisy the tulip, carnation and rose.
Here all sorts of flowers grow spontaneous, in each sunny vale and alcove,
In abundance without cultivation, along the sweet shades of Ashgrove.

'Tis now I am come to a finish, kind neighbours, I bid you adieu,
Exempt from all exaggeration, I give to my birthplace its due;
If critics should scoff I'm quite heedless, whether they disprove or approve;
Come, toast off in copious libations, success to the shades of Ashgrove.


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Lieutenant General Sir William Butler and Lady Butler

William Butler Born in Ballyslateen Golden on 31 October 1938 a few miles from Bansha. He had a remarkable and often controversial military career spanning over 50 years.
William Butler joined the British Army in 1858 at Fermoy and served in India and Burma. His first years were spent with the 69th Regiment. In 1868 he transferred to Canada where he served under Col. Wolseley during the Red River and Saskatchewan expeditions, which involved a 2,700 mile winter march into the Rocky mountains. He recommended setting up the North West Mounted Police Force - ‘The Mounties.'

After a successful expedition against the powerful Ashanti tribe in 1873 in South Africa he was called for special duty at Natal and appointed Protector of Indian Immigrants.

During the Land War he became a great personal friend of Charles Stewart Parnell and campaigned for tenants' rights and Home Rule. In 1890 he was appointed Commander of the garrison of Alexandria in Egypt, and in 1898 Commander of the troops in South Africa and High Commissioner of Natal. At that time South Africa was the central storm spot of unrest, Butler's sympathies lay with people who came into collision with British policies. The War Office reproved hirn on this and he resigned in protest. It is now recognised that implementation of his recommendations might have helped to avert the Boer War.
Late in 1900 Sir William was promoted to Lieutenant General, a rank he held until his retirement in 1905. The last five years of his life were spent at Bansha Castle among his own people.

Sir William married Elizabeth Thomson in 1877. The couple returned to live in Bansha Castle in 1905. Sir William Butler died in Bansha Castle on June 7 1910 and his funeral to Killaldriffe was one of the largest seen in these parts. He loved his native place and wrote many poems about it while far away.


Written by William Butler: A Narrative of the Historical Events connected with the Sixty-Ninth Regiment (1870); The Great Lone Land (1 872); Red Cloud: The Solitary Sioux (1872); The Wild North Land (1873) Akim-Foo: The History of a Failure (1875); Far Out: Roving Retold (1880); The Campaign of Cataracts - being a personal narrative of the Great Nile Expedition of 1884-85 (1887); Charles George Gordon: A Biography (1889); Sir Charles Napier: A Biography (1890); Sir George Pomeroy Colley (1899); From Naboth's Vineyard: Being Impressions Formed During a Fourth Visit to South Africa (1907); The Channel Tunnel & National Defence (1907); Napoleon & St Helena (Clonmel Chronicle 1909); The Light of the West (1909); Autobiography (1909).

Elizabeth Thompson was born in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1846. She achieved some fame at twenty-seven years-of-age when Queen Victoria bought her painting, ‘Calling the roll after an engagement, Crimea', more commonly referred to as ‘The Roll Call', Such crowds came to see The Roll Call at the 1874 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition that a special policeman was engaged to protect the picture and keep public order. Lady Butler spent much time talking to soldiers and studying military uniforms in order to achieve accuracy in even the smallest details. She painted at Bansha Castle, in ‘the wilds of Tipperary', from 1905 to 1922. Lady Butler lived at Gormanston Castle, County Meath, with her daughter Eileen, Viscountess Gormanston, from 1922 until she died in 1933. See also Elizabeth Thompson

Paintings by Elizabeth Butler: Calling the Roll After An Engagement, Crimea (or The Roll Call) (H.M. The Queen); Evicted (The Irish Folklore Commission University College Dublin); The Defence of Rorke's Drift (H.M The Queen); Steady the Drums and Fifes (H.M. The Queen); Scotland for Ever (Leeds City Art Gallery); Listed for the Connaught Rangers (Bury Art Gallery); A Lament in the Desert (Private Collection); The 28th Regiment at Quatre Bras (National Gallery of Victoria); The Return from Inkerman (Ferens Art Gallery); Balaclava (Manchester City Art Gallery); Within Sound of Guns (painted at Bansha Castle) (British Army Staff College); Floreat Etona (Private Collection); Dawn at Waterloo (Private Collection); The Remnants of an Army (Tait Gallery)


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John P. Cullinan MP 1858-1920

John Cullinan was born in Bansha in 1858. He was an athletic young man very interested in the Gaelic Athletic Association which was in its infancy at the time. He was at the Central Council convention in 1888. He refereed the first All Ireland Football Final played in Dublin 28 April 1888 (teams playing Limerick and Louth - score Limerick 1-4, Louth 0-3). John Cullinan travelled to America in 1888 to prepare the way for a team of athletes and hurlers. The "Invasion" as the group were known arrived in New York on 25 September 1888. The "Irish World" reporter who interviewed John Cullinan had the following to say of him

Mr. Cullinan is one of the men who took a leading part in the first organisation of the [Gaelic Athletic] Association. Ever since he has been an active member. The fact that he is the referee in all championship contests gives assurance of his thorough familiarity with all matters appertaining to athletics as well as his ability and high character. Needless to say he is a staunch patriot. His record in this respect is attested to by the fact that he has been in jail five times under the various Coercion Acts that have been in force in Ireland since 1881.

Indeed John Cullinan was active as a National League organiser. He was involved in the New Tipperary Campaign. In September 1890 John Cullinan was tried for agitation and for causing agitation for what the Crown called: "An alleged criminal conspiracy to prevent South Barry Tenants from paying their rents and the use of agitation to this end " Cullinan was in the dock with others - John Dillon, Wm. O'Brien, Fr. Humphreys and the editors of a Clonmel and Cashel newspaper. He was found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail. The farmers of Bansha tilled and ploughed his land during this time.

He was also listed as one of eight Publicans in Bansha Village (where O'Heney's pub is now) He was unanimously chosen as candidate for South Tipperary in succession to the late Mr. F. Mandeville and was elected unopposed and for nearly 20 years represented the Constituency in Parliament. He was defeated by P.J. Moloney the Sinn Fein candidate in December 1918.

A personal note: John Cullinan married Rita O'Meara of Newtownadam, Cahir in 1913. They lived at Garnacanty House just outside Tipperary Town. John Cullinan died on Dec. 17th 1920 and is buried in St. Michael's Graveyard. John's wife, Rita (they had no family) survived her husband by many years and died at Bansha Castle in 1943. Her niece, Mrs. Bernie O'Meara remembers her Aunt as a kindly woman who had great affection for her nieces and a kind word for all. John Cullinan made a valuable contribution to the sporting and political life of South Tipperary.


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John Canon Hayes 1887-1957

Canon Hayes

John Hayes was born in Murroe, County Limerick in a Land League hut on 11 November 1887. His early education complete, he entered St Patrick's College, Thurles, in 1905 and was ordained m 1913. He served in a number of places before returning to this diocese in 1924. He served as curate in Tipperary during which time he founded Muintir na Tíre, the rural development organisation He was appointed Parish Priest of Bansha Kilmoyler in 1946.

When Canon Hayes came to Bansha he brought with him new ideas and great enthusiasm, He set about improving the parish on all fronts. First he had both churches renovated. Bansha Church had the sanctuary enlarged, a new sacristy and baptistry added and also three porches. The galleries were all removed and replaced with new ones. Worship took place in the Parish Hall during the renovations and then the hall had a face lift too, New floors etc. The hall was used for woodwork and cookery classes and of course dances. There was a ‘Farmer's Hall' also, located near the Protestant Church (long since gone). The Grotto on the Tipperary road was built and Canon Hayes brought back the Stations of the Cross from Fatima.

Bansha had the distinction of being the first rural parish to get electricity was done with the encouragement of Fr. Hayes. On May 23 1948 with the words "In God's name, here goes" Fr. Hayes amid great cheers turned the switch that put the lights on in Bansha. Fr. Hayes felt that no village was complete without an industry and after much deliberation Jam-making was decided upon.
The old mill was bought for £2,000 fitted out at a cost of £4,000 and equipment cost £2,000. Everybody helped and in due course "Rural Industries Ltd." was opened. It was the first factory in rural Ireland made possible by electricity.

Canon John Hayes died on 30 January 1957 and is buried behind the Sanctuary of the Church (at his own request) with a memorial of a Lourdes Grotto at his head. Our Lady was his strength in life and his love for eternity RIP


See also Tipperary Homepage

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OC/OD: Researched by Mary Alice O'Connor and & Kitty O'Donovan