Special focus on martyr priest Fr Nicholas Sheehy in new book on Clogheen’s Shanrahan Cemetery

Ed O’Riordan’s soon to be published offering, Lonely Little God’s Acre, is a 170 page book on Shanrahan Churchyard, Clogheen. The book gets its title from a description by historian Fr. John Everard, a former Ballyporeen curate who became Parish Priest of Clogheen in the early 1900s.

Ed O’Riordan’s soon to be published offering, Lonely Little God’s Acre, is a 170 page book on Shanrahan Churchyard, Clogheen. The book gets its title from a description by historian Fr. John Everard, a former Ballyporeen curate who became Parish Priest of Clogheen in the early 1900s.

Lonely Little God’s Acre is a timely publication given that the year 2016 will see the 250th anniverary of Fr. Sheehy’s execution being commemorated, and an entire chapter covers the history of the planning and construction of the Fr. Sheehy Tomb and Railing in 1898. Fr Sheehy was the Parish Priest of Shanrahan, Ballysheehan and Templetenny (modern day Clogheen, Burcncourt and Ballyporeen). This is the area’s ‘98 Rebellion commemoration monument. Ed has researched and included all the names of the planning committee, the preparations for the day, the speeches on the day, etc. and a photo from The Nationalist showing the crowd of thousands as they assembled and prepared to march solemnly from the Square in Clogheen to Shanrahan. The Nationalist September 7, 1898 described the scene:

“The Memorial Car followed, drawn by four horses and covered with a profusion of floral wreaths. The solemn strains of “The Dead March in Saul” were splendidly rendered by the bands, those of Cashel and Cahir leading. The various contingents came in the following order; -

Clogheen Band and Banner; Ballyporeen Contingent with Banner; Skeheenarinka contingent, with banner and brass band; the Clonmel Corporation; City of Cashel contingent, consisting of members of the ’98 Association with splendid banner and Cashel brass band; Cahir contingent, banner and brass band; Ardfinnan band and banner; Tipperary banner and contingent; Cappoquin brass band; Tipperary Foresters with magnificent flag; Mitchelstown brass band and banner; Ballylooby band and banner; Clonmel Trade and Labour League, with banner; Clonmel C.J. Kickham Fife-and-Drum Band; Clonmel Irish National Foresters; Glanworth Brass Band, pikemen and banner; Bansha contingent and band; Kilbehenny brass band and banner; Mullinahone, Drangan, and other contingents.”

The names of the subscribers to the tomb, the names of the representatives of the various towns and villages, as well as the names of the members of the several bands from the various towns and villages are in Ed’s new book. The Mayor of Clonmel and the members of the Corporation attended in their robes to do honour to Tipperary’s martyr priest.

Also in this new publication is a history of the ruined church in Shanrahan churchyard, with the names of the congregation and the names of the local men who worked on the maintenance of the building during its last one hundred years of use. In 1820, the new Protestant church was opened at the Bella Hill and the furniture and fittings from the Old Church were donated to the Catholic Church then being built in Clogheen. A drawing by the architect, James Pain, of the church on the Bella Hill is included as well as a list of the names of the congregation. The church in the cemetery was originally the Catholic Parish Church of Shanrahan. Ed has included a plan of that old church as well as many fascinating photos which explain the building.

The 1966 Fr. Sheehy Commemoration is not forgotten either. This great event in Clogheen’s recent history is covered in some detail with great photos from the day, as well as details of the organisation that went into the planning. Dr Michael Russell, the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, and President Eamon de Valera attended at Clogheen and Shanrahan to do honour to Nicholas Sheehy’s memory. Ballyporeen received special mention from the Clogheen correspondent who said they were the most organsied and largest group on the day.

Other chapters in the forthcoming book include information on Catholic Churches in the parish of Clogheen and Burncourt, the Bronze Age cairn on Knockshanahullion, a brief report on the O’Callaghan Mausoleum, and some pages on the two Sheela na Gigs in Shanrahan. The plan to build a Protestant Church in Ballyporeen is also included with a drawing of that building, also by architect, James Pain. Other pages deal with the ivy covered tower in Shanrahan which is all that remains of a defensive 13th century Castle/Hall House that once guarded the southern border of Tipperary and kept watch on the pass through the Knockmealdown Mountains at this point. The book will be available before Christmas and, in the meantime, Ed is taking orders for what will be a limited edition. He can be contacted on 086 3840894 or edoriordan@gmail.com