Tipperary was one of the first parts of Ireland to be shired during the 13th century following the Norman invasion of Ireland. For local government purposes the county is divided into the counties of North Tipperary (county town: Nenagh) and South Tipperary (county town: Clonmel). This division dates back to the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, with the county’s two “ridings” having had separate assize courts for much longer. The use of riding for the divisions was an historical misnomer, since the word derives from the dividing of an area into three parts.
Tipperary is sometimes referred to as the “Premier County”, a description attributed to Thomas Davis, Editor of The Nation newspaper in the 1840s as a tribute to the nationalistic feeling in Tipperary and said that “where Tipperary leads, Ireland follows”. Tipperary was the subject of the famous song “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” written by Jack Judge, whose grandparents came from the county. It was popular with regiments of the British army during World War I. The song “Slievenamon”, which is traditionally associated with the county, was written by Charles Kickham from Mullinahone, and is commonly sung at sporting fixtures involving the county.
The Kingdom of Thomond
Thomond, meaning North Munster, is a region of Ireland associated with County Clare, County Limerick, north County Kerry and north County Tipperary; effectively most of north Munster. The name is used by a variety of establishments and organisations located in, or associated with the region. Thomond College of Education, Limerick was a teacher training college in Limerick City, until it was amalgamated with the University of Limerick. Thomond Park in Limerick is the rugby stadium used by the Munster Rugby team. Thomond Villas is the name given to the old army barracks at Clarecastle. The Thomond Bridge was for centuries the only bridge crossing the River Shannon in the ancient walled city of Limerick and still carries the road from the city of Limerick through a district known as Thomondgate.
Historically Thomond was one of the Kingdoms which existed in the island of Ireland before the Norman invasion. One of its notable kings was Brian Boru, ancestor of the O’Brien Clan of Dalcassians).
The area is famed for Irish traditional music. Gaelic games, especially hurling are popular and the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in the province. The rugby union team – Munster Rugby – is a prominent identity symbol and is amongst the elite of European rugby clubs. There are many ancient castles and monasteries in the province; this coupled with the vast green countryside and three cities makes it a feature of the tourism industry. A 5th century bishop named Ailbe is the patron saint of Munster.
In Irish mythology, a number of pagan goddesses are associated with the province including Anann, Áine, Grian, Clíodhna, Aimend, Mór Muman, Bébinn, Aibell and Queen Mongfind. Each is historically associated with certain septs of the nobility. The druid-god of Munster is Mug Ruith. A more shadowy figure is Donn, associated with Tech Duinn, beyond the mortal realm.
The province has long had trading and cultural links with continental Europe. The tribe of Corcu Loígde is known to have had a trading fleet active along the French Atlantic coast, as far south as Gascony, importing wine to Munster. The Eóganachta had ecclesiastical ties with distant Germany, which show in the architecture of their ceremonial capital, the famous acropolis on the Rock of Cashel.
The majority of Irish ogham inscriptions are found in Munster, principally in areas occupied by the Iverni, especially the Corcu Duibne. Later, Europe’s first linguistic dictionary in any non-Classical language, the Sanas Cormaic, was compiled by Munster scholars, traditionally thought to have been directed by the king-bishop Cormac mac Cuilennáin (d. 908).
The School of Ross in Munster was one of Europe’s leading centers of learning in the Early Middle Ages.