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Durlas Éile
—  Town  —

Thurles is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°40′44″N 7°48′50″W / 52.679, -7.814Coordinates: 52°40′44″N 7°48′50″W / 52.679, -7.814
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Tipperary
Elevation 99 m (325 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Urban 7,682
Irish Grid Reference S118583

Thurles (play /ˈθɜrlɛs/ or local /ˈtɜrləs/; Irish: Durlas or Durlas Éile, meaning "strong fort of Éile") is the second-largest town in North Tipperary, Ireland. It is located in Thurles civil parish in the barony of Eliogarty and in Thurles Roman Catholic parish in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly. It is the site of the diocesan cathedral.

Location and access[]

Thurles is located in the south-east of North Tipperary and is surrounded by the Silvermine Mountains (to the north-west) and the Slieveardagh Hills (to the south-east). The town itself is built on a crossing of the River Suir. The mild climate and the waters of the Suir have combined to produce some of the finest agricultural land in Ireland.

The M8 motorway connects Thurles to Cork and Dublin via the N75 and N62 roads. The N62 also connects Thurles to the centre of Ireland (Athlone) via Templemore and Roscrea. The R498 links Thurles to Nenagh.Thurles railway station opened on 13 March 1848.[7] and is one the best served railways stations in the country, On average, there are more than 16 trains from Cork to Dublin that serve Thurles every day.


Ancient history[]

The ancient territory of Éile obtained its name from pre-historic inhabitants called the Eli, about whom little is known beyond what may be gathered from legends and traditions. The extent of Éile varied throughout the centuries with the rise and fall of the tribes in occupation. Before the 5th century A.D. the details of its history which can be gleaned from surviving records and literature are exceedingly meagre, obscure and confusing. During this century however Éile appears to have reached its greatest extent, stretching from Croghan Bri Eli (Croghan Hill in Offaly) to just south of Cashel (in Corca Eathrach Eli). The southern part of this territory embraced the baronies of Eliogarty and Ikerrin, a great part of the modern barony of Middle Third, the territory of Ileagh, and portion of the present barony of Kilnamanagh Upper.

By the 8th century, the territory of ancient Éile had broken up into a number of petty kingdoms: the O'Carroll occupied the northern portion, the O'Spillanes held Ileagh, the Eóganacht Chaisil had annexed Middle Third while the O'Fogartys held what is now the barony of Eliogarty. The O'Fogarty's gave their name to the town. In Irish, Durlas Éile means "Strong Fort of Éile", or more correctly Durlas Éile Uí Fhogartaigh ("Strong Fort of the O'Fogarty's of Éile").[8] The clan dominated the regions of Templemore and the Devil's Bit stretching as far as the Tipperary/Kilkenny border.

Feudal period[]

Towards the end of the twelfth century, the power of the O'Fogarty clan began to wane and by the early part of the thirteenth century, the Norman family of Butler came to be the most powerful. It is to that family that Thurles owes much of its early development. Their architectural legacy may be seen today with two of the original family fortresses still standing (the Black Castle near the centre and O'Fogarty Castle by the Suir). Theobald Walter, 1st Baron Butler or Theobald Butler was the ancestor of the Butler dynasty of Ireland. His father had been the hereditary holder of the office of butler of England and when Theobald assisted Kings Henry II of England and John of England in their invasions of Ireland, he was named "Chief Butler of Ireland". He was also granted a large section of the northeastern part of the kingdom of Limerick. Later in 1328, his descendant, James Butler, was created Earl of Ormond by Edward III.

Market day (August 1848)


Thurles was originally an agriculture market town but in the past twenty years has become more a major shopping town with chains like Dunnes Aldi Boots UK and Holland and Barrett opening in the town. Thurles Shopping centre was recently extended and plans to open a new a Tesco store to replace the current store in Liberty Square have also been announced. Stakelums Hardware is one the biggest family owned business in the town which recently moved out to the Nenagh road and expanded its floor space. McKevitts Costcutter is also another large family business, with two supermarkets in the town it is one the most successful stores in the town. High technology industries have been established in the Thurles Technology Park.

Music and Arts[]

The Source Arts Centre[]

Source Arts Centre and Library

The Source Arts Centre opened on 2 October 2006 and has become the biggest music, theatre and arts venue in North Tipperary. It consists of a 250 seat auditorium with fully flexible seating, and a dedicated gallery space. The year round programme of events includes film, theatre, dance, ballet, opera, music, family events and visual art exhibitions. Acts like Aslan, Foster and Allen, The Fureys are among the list to have played there.

Féile festival[]

The Féile Festival which ran from 1990 to 1994, was held in Semple Stadium. At the height of its success, an estimated 100,000 people attended the festival, which was also known as "The Trip to Tipp".[9] Acts that played included The Prodigy, The Cranberries, Blur, Bryan Adams, Van Morrison, Rage Against the Machine, Slayer, The Saw Doctors and Christy Moore.

Thurles Arts Festival[]

Thurles arts festival started in 2009. Organised by local councillor Jim Ryan. It will return for a third time in 2011 with various events around the town in Pubs, Clubs and The Source arts centre. Revive will be held in Thurles greyhound Stadium on the 6th of August. Line up will include Mundy, Bipolar Empire Jester and other bands.

Amenities and features[]

Semple Stadium[]

Thurles is the birthplace of the Gaelic Athletic Association, founded in 1884 in Hayes' Hotel. Semple Stadium, where the centenary All-Ireland hurling final was played, is the second largest GAA stadium in Ireland with a capacity of 53,500, second only to Croke Park in Dublin. The stadium is the "spiritual home" of Munster hurling and many famous matches, especially Munster Finals, have been played. In 1984 it hosted the All Ireland Hurling Final to celebrate 100 years since the founding of the GAA in Thurles.

Thurles Cathedral[]

The Cathedral of the Assumption

The parish, numbered 32,
within the Archdiocese

The cathedral seat of the ecclesiastical province of Cashel in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, is not in its original site of the Rock of Cashel. This is due to the assumption of certain ecclesiastical properties by the established Church of Ireland at the time of the English Reformation. Instead, following the relaxation of the Penal Laws, the Roman Catholic Archbishop chose to locate his cathedra and residence in nearby Thurles. The present Cathedral of the Assumption stands on the site of earlier chapels in the centre of the town. Work on the cathedral, with its Romanesque architectural style and its facade modelled on that of Pisa, commenced in 1865. It was consecrated by Archbishop Thomas Croke on 21/06/1879. The architect was J.J. McCarthy while Barry McMullen was the main builder. Mr. J.C Ashlin was responsible for the enclosing walls, railing and much of the finished work. The cathedral's main features include a rose window, a free-standing baptistery and a magnificent altar. Particularly noteworthy is the tabernacle, the work of Giacomo dello Porta, who was a pupil of Michelangelo.

The cathedral was extensively renovated and the sanctuary sympathetically remodelled on the occasion of its centenary in 1979.

Famine Museum[]

St. Mary's church, belonging to the Church of Ireland, is built on the site of another pre-reformation church in Thurles. This structure was built by the Normans in the 12th century to provide them with a separate and more exclusive place of worship. The building is currently occupied and boasts a Famine museum as well as a War Museum[10].

Lár na Páirce[]

A museum devoted to the GAA, is located in Slievenamon road. It features a collection of early hurleys, trophies, match programmes and other GAA paraphernalia.


Thurles Library is located in the arts centre.

Thurles Leisure Centre[]

In 2003, North Tipperary County Council demolished the old swimming pool with plans to build a new pool which were later scrapped. In 2007, a new swimming pool and gym was opened.[11]

Town Council[]

Under the provisions of the Local Government Act (2001),[12] the former Urban District Council was renamed the Town Council. The members of the Town Council as at 2012[13] are:

  • Evelyn Nevin (Mayor), (Non-Party)
  • Gerard Fogarty, (Fianna Fáil)
  • Michael Cleary, (Fine Gael)
  • Michael Grogan, (Non-Party)
  • John Kenehan, (Labour)
  • John Kennedy, (Labour Party)
  • David Doran, (Sinn Féin)
  • Noel O'Dwyer, (Non-Party)
  • Jim Ryan, (Non-Party)

The principal unelected officers are:

  • Town Manager: Matt Shortt
  • Town Clerk: Michael Ryan.


Gaelic games[]

Thurles local hurling club, Thurles Sarsfields is an honoured and decorated club which has produced some of the finest hurlers in the country such as Jimmy Doyle and Mickey Byrne.


  • Peake Villa (founded 1967), playing in Tower Grounds
  • Thurles Town, playing in the Greyhound Stadium. The team competed in the League of Ireland between 1977 and 1982.
  • Borroway Rovers (restarted 2002), playing in a shared pitch in Loughtagalla Park
  • Thurles Celtic (founded 2007), playing in a shared pitch in Loughtagalla Park
  • Suirside Wanderers (founded 2009), playing in the Vocational School grounds


Horse Racing[]

Thurles Racecourse is located 1.5km outside the town and has held race meetings since 1732.[14]



  • Gaelscoil Bhríde
  • Scoil Ailbhe, CBS
  • Scoil Angela, Ursuline Convent
  • Scoil Mhuire na Toirbhirte, Presentation Convent


  • Thurles C.B.S.
  • Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed
  • Presentation Convent
  • Ursuline Convent

Third-Level and Adult Education[]

St. Patrick's College, Thurles College of Education, a former seminary runs teacher training degree courses, from 2011 on its degrees are awarded by the University of Limerick.[15][16] A third-level college, the Tipperary Institute(formerly TRBDI soon to be renamed Limerick Institute of Technology Tipperary, was established in 1998. The Pallotine College in Thurles is a retreat, vocations and missions centre for the order.

  • St. Patrick's College
  • LIT Tipperary formerly Tipperary Institute
  • Colaiste Eile
  • Colaiste Mhuire Adult Education
  • Thurles Community Training Centre

Notable people[]

  • Mary Hanafin former TD, and government minister.
  • Una Healy pop star, member of The Saturdays
  • Pat Shortt Actor and Comedian
  • Tony Ryan Founder of Ryanair.
  • Des Hanafin, Father of Mary Hanafin
  • Patrick Leahy (bishop), buried in Thurles Cathedral

International relations[]

Thurles is twinned with:

Annalistic references[]

From the Annals of the Four Masters:

  • M894.6 - Gairbhith, son of Muireagan, lord of Dearlas, died.
  • M931.9 - A battle was gained in Magh-Uatha by Fearghal, son of Domhnall; and Sichfraidh, son of Uathmharan, i.e. the son of the daughter of Domhnall, over Muircheartach, son of Niall, where were slain Maelgarbh, son of Gairbhith, lord of Dearlas; and Conmhal, son of Bruadhran; and many others along with them.
  • M934.3 - Bec, son of Gairbhith, lord of Dearlass, died.
  • M962.9 - Furadhran, son of Bece, lord of Dearlas, was slain by the Cinel-Eoghain.
  • M983.8 - Dubhdarach, son of Domhnallan, lord of Dearlus, was slain.
  • M999.4 - Ua Domhnall, i.e. Cuchaill, lord of Durlas, was slain by Ua Neill, i.e. by Aedh.

See also[]

  • List of civil parishes of North Tipperary


Putting the barony in its historico-geographical context.

  • Barony - an old administrative division. Eliogarty - one of 14 baronies in the old county, between Ikerrin to the north (whose chief town is Roscrea), Kilnamanagh Upper to the west (whose chief town is Borrisoleigh) and Middle Third to the south (whose chief town is Cashel).

Explanation for the use of "North Tipperary" instead of "County Tipperary".

  • Following the abolition of the former county - Tipperary - as an administrative division in 1898, the county of North Tipperary was created. This is still the legal status of the county. See also County Tipperary for further history on the topic.[19]


  1. ^ Census 2006: Volume 1 – Population classified by area
  2. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A.. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  6. ^ Mokyr, Joel (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review 37 (4): 473–488. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. 
  7. ^ "Thurles station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  8. ^ "Historical Postcard Collection: Thurles". Tipperary Libraries. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  9. ^ Tipperary Star", "Trip to Tipp"
  10. ^ Famine Museum - St Mary's Famine History Museum
  11. ^
  12. ^ Local Government Act, 2001, Schedule 6, Part 1, Chapter 2
  13. ^ Town Council members 2012
  14. ^ "Course Profile". Go Racing. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  15. ^ University of Limerick Degrees for Graduates of St Patrick’s College, Thurles University of Limerick Website, Friday, 6th May 2011.
  16. ^ St Patrick’s College Thurles Offers UL Teaching Degrees Thurles Information , 5th of May, 2011.
  17. ^ Dorset Twinning Association - Twin Towns in the UK (Wayback Machine archive)
  18. ^ Sister Cities - Ireland and the US - US Embassy in Dublin
  19. ^ The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898

External links[]

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