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Durlas Éile
Location of Thurles
centerMap highlighting Thurles
Irish grid reference
Province: Munster
County: County Tipperary
Elevation: 99 m (328 ft)

Population (2002)
 - Town:
 - Environs:


Thurles (pronounced /ˈθɜrlɛs/, locally /ˈtɜrləs/; Irish: Durlas Éile) is a town in County Tipperary, Ireland. It is situated on the River Suir, with a population of around 8,000. It is twinned with Bollington in England[6] and Salt Lake City, Utah, United States.[7] Thurles was originally a market town, and its name in Irish, Durlas Éile means 'Fort Of Éile', or more correctly Durlas Éile Uí Fhogartaigh, the strong fort of the O'Fogarty's which was part of the early O'Fogarty stronghold which includes the region of Templemore and the Devil's Bit.




Origin of Thurles/Early 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 Middlethird, 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 Eoghanacht of Cashel had annexed Middlethird, the O’Fogartys held what is now the barony of Eliogarty, while to the north of them, at least some time later, were O’Meaghers of Ikerrin.

The many castles and monastic settlements, which surround Thurles, bear lasting evidence to the area's rich and colourful history.

The town itself owes its development to the Norman Butlers and particularly to James Butler, who was created Earl of Ormond by Edward III in 1328. The remains of two of the original family fortresses in Thurles still stand. Based in the heart of Tipperary and with a population of over 8000, Thurles gets its name from the Irish word 'Dúrlas Éile Ui Fhógartaigh'[8] meaning the strong fort of the O'Fogarty's of Eile, which formed part of the O'fogarty stronghold during the twelfth century. Much of their dominance included the regions of Templemore and the Devil's Bit stretching as far as the Tipperary/Kilkenny border.

Towards the end of the twelfth century the O'Fogarty clan began to loose their reign and it was towards the early part of the thirteenth century that the great Norman family, the Butlers came to power. It is to them that Thurles owes much of its early development and some of their architecture can still be seen today.


Geographically, Thurles is the second largest town in North Tipperary after Nenagh and is surrounded by the Silvermines which are mountains to the north-west and the Slieveardagh Hills to the south-east. The town itself nestles in the heart of the beautiful Suir Valley. The mild climate and the waters of the River Suir have combined to produce some of the finest agricultural land in the world.

Major Buildings

Thurles Cathedral

The magnificent Cathedral of the Assumption stands on the site of earlier chapels in the centre of Thurles in North County Tipperary. Building commenced in 1865, and the impressive Romanesque cathedral, with its faade modelled on that of Pisa, was consecrated by Archbishop Croke on 21st June 1879. The Architect was J.J McCarthy, Barry McMullen was the main builder, and J.C Ashlin was responsible for the enclosing walls, railing and much of the finished work. The skills of these men are evident in the finished building with its wonderful imposing faade. The cathedral has many beautiful features, including an impressive rose window, a free-standing baptistery and a magnificent altar. The prize possession of the cathedral is its exquisite 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

The Protestant Church of St. Mary’s in Thurles is the site of the official Pre-Reformation Church of Thurles. The original structure was built by the Normans, in the 12th century, to provide them with a separate and more exclusive place of worship. This building is currently occupied and boosts a Famine museum and also a War Museum as well.


Gaelic games

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 Gaelic Athletic Association stadium in Ireland, second only to Croke Park. In addition, Lar na Pairce, a museum devoted to the Gaelic Athletic Association, is located in the center of the town. Semple Stadium in Thurles is Ireland's second largest sports arena with a capacity of 55,000. It is the spiritual home of Munster hurling and many famous matches, especially Munster Finals, have been played there. Thurles is well noted for their local hurling club, Thurles Sarsfields which are the most honoured and decorated club which produced one of the finest and best hurlers in the country and big names including Jimmy Doyle and Mickey Byrne. It was also the site of the Féile rock festival during the 1990s. The area also have a football club, Rugby pitch and a greyhound and horse racecourse.


Thurles is home to numerous soccer clubs such as Peake Villa (1967), Thurles Town, Borroway rovers(re-started 2002), Thurles Celtic (2007) and Suirside Wanderers (2009). Peake Villa are the most dominant soccer team nowadays playing in the Tower Grounds where they cater for teams from U8's to U17's and also have a Junior A and B which compete in the TSDL Premier and 4th division respectively. Thurles Town (who played in the League of Ireland between 1977 and 1982) play in the Greyhound Stadium and are in the North Tipp & District Division 1. Thurles Celtic and Borroway Rovers both share a pitch in Loughtagalla Park and are in the North Tipp & District Division 2 where a derby game each year brings about great interest. Suirside Wanderers play in North Tipp & District Division 3 and were founded in 2009 and they play in the Vocational grounds.


There are numerous schools in Thurles. The Ursuline Convent was founded in 1737, the Presentation Convent in 1817, the CBS in 1818, St. Patrick's College in 1837, the Pallottine College in 1907, and Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed in 1928. A third-level college, the Tipperary Institute (formerly TRBDI), was established in 1998. A new arts centre & library, the Source, was completed in 2006.


Historic print depicting market day in Thurles (August 1848)
Thurles December 2006

Thurles has a well-developed industrial sector originally based on the traditional agri-based sector. It has also successfully attracted modern high technology industries to the area, with the establishment of the Thurles Technology Park. In recent years unemployment has increased due to the closure of many companies like Irish Sugar plc: in 1989, GMX in 2002 and Erin food`s (formally owned by Campbells) in 2008.


The M8 motorway connects Thurles to Cork and Dublin via the N62 and the N75 roads. The N62 also connects Thurles to Athlone. The R498 connects Thurles to Nenagh. Road surfaces on most roads are poor and covered with pot holes and cracks. The town also lacks bus routes to major destinations like Dublin, Limerick and Cork Thurles railway station opened on 13 March 1848.[9]. On average there are more than 14 trains from Cork to Dublin that serve Thurles every day.


Thurles was the location for the Féile festival which ran from 1990 to 1994. Acts that played included The Prodigy, Something Happens, Rage Against the Machine, Deacon Blue, Slayer, Happy Mondays and Christy Moore. The concert was held in Semple Stadium. At the height of its success, an estimated 100,000 people attended Féile, also known as 'The Trip to Tipp'.

Notable People

See also

External links


  1. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ 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.  
  5. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November), "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850", The Economic History Review Volume 37 (Issue 4): 473–488, doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x,  
  6. ^
  7. ^ Sister Cities - Ireland and the US - US Embassy in Dublin
  8. ^ "Historical Postcard Collection: Thurles". Tipperary Libraries. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  9. ^ "Thurles station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-09-07.  

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Thurles is in County Tipperary, in Ireland. It's the largest city in North Tipperary.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

THURLES, a market town of Co. Tipperary, Ireland, pleasantly situated on the Suir, and on the main line of the Great Southern & Western railway, 87 m. S.W. of Dublin. Pop. (1901), 4411. Thurles is the seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Cashel; and the cathedral of St Patrick is a beautiful building. The town is the seat of other important Catholic establishments, including an Ursuline convent; a Presentation convent; St Patrick's Catholic College (1829) for ecclesiastical students, where was held in 1850 the synod of Thurles; and an establishment of Christian Brothers, who devote themselves to the instruction of boys on the Lancasterian method. The town has a considerable agricultural and retail trade, and there is a monthly horse fair largely attended by English and continental buyers. Thurles is governed by an urban district council.

Originally the town was called Durlas O'Fogarty. In the 10th century it was the scene of a defeat of the Irish by the Danes. A preceptory was founded here by the Knights Templars, who possessed themselves of a castle, of which there are remains, erected early in the 13th century. A castle was subsequently erected by James Butler, first lord palatine of Tipperary, of which the keep collapsed in 1868. There were several other strongholds in the vicinity. South-west of the town, at a distance of 31 m., stands the Cistercian abbey of Holy Cross, one of the finest ruins in Ireland. It was founded by Donnell O'Brien, king of Thomond (1168-1194); and owes its foundation and name to the presentation to his family of a portion of the true Cross, which attracted numerous pilgrims. The shrine of this relic is in the Ursuline convent at Blackrock, Co. Cork. The ruins, beautifully placed on the bank of the river, embody a cruciform church, transitional Norman in style, and exhibiting the carving of the period in its highest development. There is a fine Perpendicular tomb in the choir. A large portion remains of the adjoining buildings, including chapter-house, sacristy, cloisters and dormitory.

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