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‘Big houses’ on the double – 18th century homes in Tipperary and Meath

Two historic properties with acreage — the Deanery of Cashel and Thomastown House in Meath — have come to market this week

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The Deanery, Cashel, Co Tipperary

The Deanery, Cashel, Co Tipperary

Thomastown House, Duleek, Co Meath

Thomastown House, Duleek, Co Meath

The entrance hall

The entrance hall

The main reception room

The main reception room

The view of Cashel from the Deanery

The view of Cashel from the Deanery

Children praying at Tipperary’s ‘bleeding’ statues in 1920

Children praying at Tipperary’s ‘bleeding’ statues in 1920

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The Deanery, Cashel, Co Tipperary

The Deanery, Bogherclough Street, Cashel, Co Tipperary Asking price: €800,000 (Auction AMV) Agent: DNG Liam O’Grady (062) 31986

Thomastown House, Duleek, Co Meath
Asking price
: €2.8m
Agent: Coonans (01) 6286128

THE historic Deanery of Cashel, long attached to the famous Rock of Cashel and the Rock of St Patrick Church, has been placed for sale with a guide price of €800,000 ahead of an auction.

Since the Reformation there have always been two Deans at Cashel.

And in the early years of the Irish state the two incumbents were like chalk and cheese.

The Church of Ireland Dean was most usually a learned academic, often from a pastoral parish in England. He was installed in the grand 18th century Deanery overlooking the historic Rock and the town itself.

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The view of Cashel from the Deanery

The view of Cashel from the Deanery

The view of Cashel from the Deanery

From 1916 to 1924 that Dean was Trinity-educated William Chadwick Bourchier, a genteel character who had previously been chaplain to the Marquess of Camden in England.

In complete and utter contrast, the Catholic Dean at Cashel in these times was Innocent Ryan, a firebrand whose crazy antics wouldn’t go amiss in Father Ted.

Ryan almost singlehandedly held up Tipperary’s Sinn Féin tide of 1918 when he declared its election candidate to be “The Anti Christ.” Innocent had read a James Connolly “socialistic” quote in Pierce McCan’s canvassing leaflet. And those who voted as instructed from the pulpit certainly weren’t going to give their No1 to the Prince of Darkness.

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Two representatives were despatched with urgency to party HQ in Dublin and a sympathetic priest was sent to Cashel to speak at the pulpit and assure the people that McCan was definitely not the Devil and that it was ok to vote for him. It was enough for McCan to take the seat.

At the height of the War of Independence, Innocent caused an impromptu ceasefire in Cashel and the town to be swamped by pilgrims looking for bleeding statues.

Jimmy Walsh, a farm labourer in Templemore had claimed that a holy well appeared in his bedroom floor and that his three statues of the Virgin Mary were bleeding.

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Children praying at Tipperary’s ‘bleeding’ statues in 1920

Children praying at Tipperary’s ‘bleeding’ statues in 1920

Children praying at Tipperary’s ‘bleeding’ statues in 1920

Before the week was out, 15,000 pilgrims a day were descending on Templemore to view the statues placed outside Dwans shop.

British reprisals which had focused on the town ceased and it was declared that the Virgin had saved the town. Templemore clerics wisely kept their distance.

Not so Innocent Ryan who promptly summoned statue man Jimmy Walsh to Cashel. Innocent was impressed and someone then made a claim that people who touched Walsh at the Cashel presbytery had been cured of illnesses.

Overnight, the crowds switched to Cashel where it became so chaotic that the RIC withdrew from the streets and the IRA were forced to step in to take control of the crowds of “pilgrims, beggars, stallholders and undesirables.”

The IRA acted as ushers and stewards and began charging for parking.

Again someone was sent up to Michael Collins in Dublin. He ordered Dan Breen to interrogate Walsh and bring back one of his statues.

Collins bashed it off a table, breaking it and a mechanism fell out which involved alarm clock works and a fountain pen bulb filled with sheep’s blood. Walsh fled to Australia while Innocent Ryan promptly about turned.

He wrote a letter for publication in the Irish Times asserting that “the sweatings or bleedings took place behind my back and without my knowledge.”

Then in the 1930s, Ryan embraced the Anti Jazz Movement which kicked off with a 3,000 strong march against jazz music.

The Gaelic League’s secretary accused then Finance Minister, the reserved Sean MacEntee, of having “a soul buried in jazz”, followed by the allegation that “he is jazzing every night of the week.”

Ryan wrote a missive to Cashel Urban District Council in 1936 asserting that a hall it owned that was being rented out for the “wrong type of dancing” and had become “a centre of immorality and a source of pestilence to religion and country.”

The Dean had made a spot visit and had evidence that “the people in there weren’t dancing Irish dances but the filthy foreign dances sneaking into the country and corrupting innocent citizens.” The hall was closed.

We can only wonder what the eminent Church of Ireland incumbent over at The Deanery made of the brand of bedlam constantly raised by his opposite number through three decades.

Occupied by successive Anglican Deans since the 1790s, the landmark house became the official rectory for the Church of Ireland parish in the 1960s.

It spans 4,050 sq ft with eight bedrooms one of which is en suite. There are two kitchens, a dining room, drawing room, conservatory, study and other ancillary rooms.

There’s a walled garden and pasture outside. The property is going to auction on June 29, guiding €800,000 through DNG Liam O’Grady.

Meanwhile, another ‘big house’ constructed in the mid 18th century has comes to market this week at Duleek in Co Meath.

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Thomastown House, Duleek, Co Meath

Thomastown House, Duleek, Co Meath

Thomastown House, Duleek, Co Meath

Thomastown House, on 65 acres was long the home of the Kettlewell family until in 1851, it was left to a cousin Echlin Molynaux, a young and ambitious legal eagle.

He significantly advanced his prospects by marrying the daughter of Sir Joseph Napier, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Unfortunately, she died young and Molynaux married again. He would end up marrying three times.

He progressed to become County Judge of Meath, a Queen’s counsel and a head of law at Queen’s University Belfast. When the current owners bought the house in the 1990s it was run down.

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The main reception room

The main reception room

The main reception room

Within six months they had replaced the roof, excavated the basement and tanked it and replaced the floor boards on one floor. They restored the courtyard to include six loose boxes.

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The entrance hall

The entrance hall

The entrance hall

Accommodation includes a drawing room, formal dining room, a study, a big kitchen/breakfastroom, five extra-large bedrooms, a boot room and an office that opens out to gardens beyond.

Most of the period features including chimney pieces are in situ and intact.

There’s a range of farm building and its location, good condition and 65 acres will make it a prime target for parties returning from abroad and for wealthy city types looking for a rural equestrian/hobby farm within reach of the
capital.

Coonan Auctioneers is seeking €2.8m.


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