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Gaelic: An tAonach / Aonach Urmhumhan
County Tipperary
Nenagh pearse street 2006.JPG
Pearse Street, Nenagh
Grid reference: R865787
Location: 52°51’48"N, 8°11’58"W
Population: 8,968  (2016)
Post town: Nenagh
Postcode: E45
Local Government

Nenagh is the second largest town in County Tipperary. It is a civil parish in the barony of Ormond Lower. It is also an Ecclesiastical parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Killaloe.[1] It used to be a market town, and its name in Irish means "The Fair of Ormond" – a reference to the Ormond (East Munster) Fair, of which it was the site. Nenagh is today a busy commercial town.

Location and access

Nenagh, the largest town in the North Riding, lies to the west of the Nenagh River, which empties into Lough Derg at Dromineer, 5½ miles to the north-west, a popular centre for sailing and other water sports.[2] The Silvermine Mountain range lies to the south of the town, with the highest peak being Keeper Hill at 2,277 ft.[3] The Silvermines have been intermittently mined for silver and base metals for over seven hundred years. Traces of 19th century mine workings remain.[4]

Features and attraction

The town's historic attractions include Nenagh Castle, the Heritage Centre and the ruined Franciscan abbey. It has a mild climate, with the average daily maximum in July of 19 °C and the average daily minimum in January of 3 °C.


Nenagh is located in the Barony of Ormond Lower which was the traditional territory of the O'Kennedys prior to the Norman invasion. This land was included in the grant made by King John to Theobald, the eldest son of Hervey Walter of Lancashire. Theobald was subsequently appointed "Chief Butler of Ireland".[5]

Surviving east gable of the Priory and Hospital of St John the Baptist at Tyone of the Fratres Cruciferi

Nenagh Castle was built c. 1216 and was the main castle of the Butler family before they moved to Gowran, County Kilkenny in the 14th century. The family later purchased Kilkenny Castle which was to be the main seat of their power for the next 500 years.[5] The town was one of the ancient manors of the Butlers who received the grant of a fair from Henry VIII. They also founded the mediæval priory and hospital of St John the Baptist, just outside the town at Tyone. A small settlement grew up around the castle, but it never seems to have been of any great importance other than as a local market throughout the mediæval period.[6] An important Franciscan friary was founded in the town in 1252 in the reign of Henry III which became the head of the Irish custody of West Ireland and was one of the richest religious houses in Ireland.[5] The Abbey was in use for six hundred years; Fr. Patrick Harty, who died in 1817, was its last inhabitant.

The Butlers who descended from the 1st Baronlater became Earls of Ormond. Nenagh remained their principal seat until 1391 when it was moved to Kilkenny Castle.

In the rebellion of 1641 Neagh Castle was garrisoned by Sir George Hamilton for the twelfth Earl (later the twelfth Duke). It was taken by Phelim O'Neill in 1648 during Owen Roe's journey south via the silvermines but was re-taken by Inchiquin in the same year and Sir George was back again as Governor to face Ireton and Abbott in 1650. After a short siege he surrendered on articles and was allowed to march out— not being hung out of the top window as asserted by many writers following an error apparently first made by a writer in the "Dublin Penny Journal" in 1833. Colonel Daniel Abbott then became Governor for the Cromwellians and withstood attacks on the Castle both by Colonel Grace from Birr and a Captain Loghlen O'Meara of a local family who defeated his forces in an engagement close by and forced them to take shelter in the Castle. After the Restoration, Sir William Flower came along in 1660 on behalf of the Marchioness of Ormond who had the ownership of the Manor on her marriage settlements.
—Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1925).[7]

The last Marquess (James Butler) died in 1997. Without a male heir the marquessate became extinct, while the earldom is dormant.[8]

East gable with lancet windows of the Franciscan Friary

The town seems to have been refounded in the 16th century. In 1550 the town and friary were burned by O'Carroll. In 1641 the town was captured by Red Owen O'Neill, but shortly afterwards it was recaptured by Lord Inchiquin. It surrendered to Henry Ireton in 1651 during the Cromwellian period and was burned by Patrick Sarsfield in 1688 during the Williamite Wars. Apart from the Castle and Friary most of the town's buildings date from the mid-18th century onwards when its sale out of Butler ownership led to the large-scale grant of leases and the subsequent growth of industries and buildings. The town's growth and development was accelerated in 1838 when the county of Tipperary was divided into two ridings and Nenagh became the administrative capital of the North Riding.[5]

In the 19th century, Nenagh was primarily a market town providing services to the agricultural hinterland. Industries included brewing, corn processing, coach building and iron works with the addition of cottage industries such as tailoring, dressmaking, millinery, shoemaking, carpentry, wood-turning, wheelwrighting, harnessmaking, printing, and monumental sculpting. The Nenagh Co-operative Creamery was established in 1914 providing employment in milk processing and butter-making.[5]


Nenagh is home to Abbey Machinery, makers of farm equipment, Carey Glass International and Procter & Gamble.

Major buildings

Nenagh Castle

Nenagh Castle

This fine Norman Keep was built c1200 by Theobald Walter, 1st Baron Butler and completed by his son Theobald le Botiller c1220.[8] The circular keep is over thirty metres high, and has a base of sixteen metres and is one of the finest of its kind in Ireland.[8] The crown of mock crenellations and ring of clerestory windows were added at the instigation of Bishop Michael Flannery in 1861. The intention was that the keep would become the Bell tower of a Pugin-designed cathedral which was never built.[8] Though not true to historic character these additions have ensured the iconic status of the keep which ensures that it features on the logos of many local clubs and businesses including Nenagh Town Council. The Castle and grounds were extensive renovated between 2009 and 2013. This project is aimed to position the castle as the main tourist attraction in the area. It is now open to the public.[9][10]

Other historic buildings

The old jail, with its beautiful octagonal governor's residence, is now an historic monument. Only one jail block remains intact. The Governor's Residence and jail gatehouse house Nenagh & District Heritage Centre.

Nenagh Courthouse was built in 1843 to the design of architect John B. Keane.[5] The design was similar to his previous courthouse in Tullamore which in turn followed William Morrison's designs for Carlow and Tralee.[5] The courthouse has been refurbished following the moving of the county council offices to the new Civic Offices. The grounds of the refurbished courthouse nearby have become the site of bronze sculptures of three Olympic gold medallists with Nenagh links.

Nenagh Arts Centre (formerly the Town Hall) in Banba Square

Nenagh Arts Centre (formerly the Town Hall) is a distinctive building built in 1895. It was refurbished and now features a theatre and multi-purpose exhibition space.[11] Until 2005 it housed the offices of Nenagh Town Council and up until the 1980s Nenagh Public library. The building was designed by the then Town Engineer Robert Gill (grandfather of Tomás Mac Giolla)[5]

Religious buildings

St Mary's of the Rosary Catholic Church is a neo-gothic church and was built in 1895 to a design by architect Walter G Doolin.[12] It was constructed by John Sisk using Lahorna stone and Portroe slate with the Portland stone]of the arches being the only imported material.[12]

The adjacent St Marys Church of Ireland Church was built in 1862 to a design by the architect Joseph Welland (1798–1860)[5] and features a stained glass window from the studio of Harry Clarke.[13] The building is striking in its simplicity in contrast to its larger and more ornate neighbour.

The town also contains the ruins of a Franciscan Friary, where the Annals of Nenagh were written and the mediæval Priory of St John on the outskirts of the town at Tyone.

Modern buildings

The New Civic Offices on the Limerick Road house Tipperary Council offices. Designed by Ahrends, Burton and Koralek, they have won international recognition for their striking modern design.[14]

The Mid-Western Regional Hospital, known locally as St Joseph's Hospital, located on the Thurles Road (c1940). It is the only general hospital in north Tipperary. Built in the International Style of mostly flat roof and rendered walls. Retro-fitted with uPVC windows at a later date. Adjoining mortuary church with notable mosaics and stained glass.[15]

The mixed residential scheme known as 'Stafford Hall' Silver Street Nenagh was selected for exhibition in the R.I.A.I Architectural Awards in 2004.


Nenagh is situated on the R445 Regional Road, which links it to the M7. The M7 by-passes the town to the south and provides high quality access to the cities of Limerick and Dublin. The N52 National Secondary Route to Birr (and through the Midlands to Dundalk) starts/terminates south of Nenagh, at a junction with the M7. This route also bypasses Nenagh to the north and connects with the M7 to the west of the town towards Limerick.


Nenagh is connected to other main towns and cities by bus services. There are services 24 hours a day to Dublin and Limerick and direct services to both Dublin and Shannon airports.[16] The town centre bus stops are located at Banba Square. Nenagh railway station is also served infrequently.


Nenagh railway station is on the Limerick to Ballybrophy line. Passengers can connect at Ballybrophy halt to trains heading north-east to Dublin or south-west to Cork or Tralee. The station opened on 5 October 1863.[17]

The railway line is lightly used. Lack of upkeep means that the line is restricted to a maximum speed of 40 mph and the existing trains are poorly timetabled for commuters. While the twice-a-day service on the Ballybrophy/Limerick line is poor, Nenagh is only 23 miles from Thurles, which is on the main Dublin/Cork line, and which has around 18 trains daily in each direction, including non-stop services to and from Dublin. However, there are only two buses each weekday from Nenagh to Thurles (and vice versa) so this option is generally only practical for motorists.[18]


Gaelic Athletic Association

Éire Óg Nenagh is the local Gaelic Athletic Association club and has had a deal of success in County Championships in both football and hurling, last winning the County Championship in 1995. The club has been strongly represented on All-Ireland winning Tipperary hurling teams with players such as Mick Burns, Michael Cleary, John Heffernan and Conor O'Donovan.


After years of being one of the stronger junior Rugby clubs in Munster winning many trophies in the late nineties and early part of the 21st century Rugby Union club Nenagh Ormond RFC became the first Tipperary club to gain senior status by being promoted to the third division of the Rugby AIB League in 2005. Since going senior the club has competed admirably in the AIL. The club has produced three full Irish International players: Tony Courtney in the 1920s and more recently Trevor Hogan and Donnacha Ryan.[19]


Nenagh is home to Nenagh A.F.C.(1951) and Nenagh Celtic F.C.(1981). Nenagh A.F.C.'s home grounds are Brickfields and Islandbawn. Nenagh Celtic's home ground is the VEC grounds. Nenagh Celtic over the last decade have dominated the north Tipperary soccer scene, winning numerous titles.


The local athletic club Nenagh Olympic were named after three men (Johnny Hayes, Matt McGrath and Bob Tisdall) with Nenagh connections who won Olympic Gold Medals and the badge of the club is three interlocking Olympic Rings in green, white and orange. A statue of the three has been erected in Banba Square in the grounds of the Courthouse. The club has produced many fine athletes including recently Gary Ryan who also represented Ireland at the Olympics.[20] The club also possesses Ireland's first and to date only international standard indoor athletics track at Tyone. Many championships are held there including Munster championships and all-Ireland championships.[21][22]


Nenagh Golf Club located at Beechwood on the "Old Birr Road" was affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland in 1929. The original 9-hole course was designed by Alister McKenzie, who along with Bobby Jones designed the legendary Augusta National. The course was expanded to 18 holes by Eddie Hackett in 1973. The course was expanded to 150 acres during the 1980s and 1990s and redevelopment to a new design by Patrick Merrigan was completed in 2001.[23]

Other sports

  • The New Institute Snooker Club is located in Friar Street in Nenagh. The club is one of the most decorated and distinguished in the country. The club was established in 1887 and held its 125th Anniversary celebrations in November 2012. The club were the All-Ireland Club champions in 2008 and have also produced a number of European Champions.
  • Banba Square is the hub of the North Tipperary Cycle Network. Signposted routes varying from 11km to 67km in length leave and loop back to Nenagh .[24][25][26][27]
  • Nenagh's Lough Derg Sub-Aqua Club is a scuba diving and snorkelling club affiliated to Irish Underwater Council (C.F.T) which is an affiliate member of CMAS the international umbrella organisation for recreational diver training organisations. It was registered with C.F.T. on the 15/08/1995.
  • The Nenagh Triathlon Club was formed in 2007 to cater for the growing number of triathlon enthusiasts in the town organises the annual North tipp Sprint Triathlon.[28]
  • Swimming is catered for by Nenagh Neptune Swimming club which is based at the town's 25m swimming pool.
  • Riverdale Pitch And Putt Club on the "Old Birr Road" is a registered Member of the pitch and putt union of Ireland.
  • Nenagh And District Darts run annual team and singles darts leagues in and around Nenagh.[29]
  • Nenagh Cricket Club is a member of the Munster Cricket Union and plays in the Munster Cricket League.[30]

Notable people

  • J.D. Bernal – scientist
  • Patrick Roger Cleary – founder of Cleary University in the US
  • E. J. Conway – biochemist at UCD, FRS and Boyle Medal recipient
  • Michael Courtney – Papal Nuncio to Burundi, assassinated 29 Dec. 2003
  • John Dominic Crossan – religious scholar and a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism
  • Patrick Donohoe – Recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • John Doyle – journalist with Canada's Globe and Mail
  • Bernadette Flynn – Dancer
  • T.P. Gill MP of the Irish Parliamentary Party and agriculture pioneer
  • Julian Gough – novelist and singer with Toasted Heretic
  • Johnny Hayes – Olympic Marathon gold-medalist
  • Trevor Hogan – Irish Rugby International
  • Jack Jones – British Labour politician
  • Tomás Mac Giolla – Former Workers' Party president, Dublin West TD and Lord Mayor of Dublin
  • Shane MacGowan – singer and songwriter (His mother came from nearby Carney)
  • Matt McGrath – Olympic Hammer-throwing gold-medalist
  • Dan Morrissey – Government Minister
  • Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill – Poet
  • Michael O'Kennedy – former Government Minister and European Commissioner
  • Mary Redmond – Sculptor
  • Father Alec Reid – Facilitator of the Northern Ireland peace process
  • Donal Ryan – Writer
  • Donnacha Ryan – Irish Rugby International
  • Bob Tisdall – Olympic 400m hurdles gold-medalist
  • John Toler, 1st Earl of Norbury – Irish lawyer, politician and judge, 'The Hanging Judge'

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Nenagh)



  1. Parishes of Killaloe Diocese.
  2. "Nenagh Places to Visit". Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  3. "Keeper Hill". Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  4. "Silvermines". Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Murphy, Nancy (1994). Walkabout Nenagh. Relay Books. ISBN 0-946327-12-2. 
  6. Brian Hodkinson, In search of medieval Nenagh, North Munster Antiquarian Journal, Vol. 46, 2006, pp. 31–41
  7. Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (1925). "The castle and manor of Nenach". The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (The Society): 257. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Murphy, Nancy (1993). Nenagh Castle: Chronology and Architecture. Relay Books. ISBN 0-946327-10-6. 
  11. Nenagh Guardian, Saturday 25 September 2010 page 11
  12. 12.0 12.1 Cotter, Rev. Pat (1990). St. Mary's of the Rosary, Nenagh, 1896–1990. 
  14. ABK
  17. "Nenagh station". Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 7 September 2007. 
  19. "Nenagh Ormond History". Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  20. "Olympics at". Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  21. Athletics Ireland
  22. Nenagh Olympic Stadium
  23. "Nenagh Golf Club". Retrieved 6 February 2009. 
  28. "Nenagh Triathlon Club | Triathlon Ireland". Retrieved 27 October 2008. 
  29. "Nenagh And District Darts". Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  30. "Nenagh Cricket Club". Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  31. Grace, D. (2000). The Famine in Nenagh Poor Law Union. Nenagh: Relay.