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The River Suir at Thurles
The River Suir at Thurles
Thurles is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°40′44″N 7°48′50″W / 52.679°N 7.814°W / 52.679; -7.814Coordinates: 52°40′44″N 7°48′50″W / 52.679°N 7.814°W / 52.679; -7.814
CountryRepublic of Ireland
CountyNorth Tipperary
Elevation99 m (325 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Urban7,933
Irish Grid ReferenceS118583
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For other uses, see Thurles.
The River Suir at Thurles
The River Suir at Thurles
Thurles is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°40′44″N 7°48′50″W / 52.679°N 7.814°W / 52.679; -7.814Coordinates: 52°40′44″N 7°48′50″W / 52.679°N 7.814°W / 52.679; -7.814
CountryRepublic of Ireland
CountyNorth Tipperary
Elevation99 m (325 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Urban7,933
Irish Grid ReferenceS118583

Thurles (/ˈθɜrlɛs/ or local /ˈtɜrləs/; Irish: Durlas or Durlas Éile, meaning "strong fort of Éile") is the second-largest town in North Tipperary, Ireland. It is located in the civil parish of the same name in the barony of Eliogarty and in the ecclesiastical parish of Thurles. The cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly is located in the town.

Location and access[edit]

Thurles is located in the south-east of North Tipperary and is surrounded by the Silvermine Mountains (to the northwest) and the Slieveardagh Hills (to the southeast). The town itself is built on a crossing of the River Suir.

The M8 motorway connects Thurles to Cork and Dublin via the N75 and N62 roads. The N62 also connects Thurles to the centre of Ireland (Athlone) via Templemore and Roscrea. The R498 links Thurles to Nenagh. Thurles railway station opened on 13 March 1848.[7]


Ancient history[edit]

The historical Hayes' Hotel in Liberty Square

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 Middle Third, the territory of Ileagh and a portion of the 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 Eóganacht Chaisil had annexed Middle Third while the O'Fogartys held what is now the barony of Eliogarty. The O'Fogarty's gave their name to the town. In Irish, Durlas Éile means "Strong Fort of Éile", or more correctly Durlas Éile Uí Fhogartaigh ("Strong Fort of the O'Fogarty's of Éile").[8] The clan dominated the regions of Templemore and the Devil's Bit stretching as far as the Tipperary/Kilkenny border.

Feudal period[edit]

Towards the end of the twelfth century, the power of the O'Fogarty clan began to wane and by the early part of the thirteenth century, the Norman family of Butler came to be the most powerful. It is to that family that Thurles owes much of its early development. Their architectural legacy may be seen today with two of the original family fortresses still standing (the Black Castle near the centre and O'Fogarty Castle by the Suir). Theobald Walter, 1st Baron Butler or Theobald Butler was the ancestor of the Butler dynasty of Ireland. His father had been the hereditary holder of the office of butler of England and when Theobald assisted Kings Henry II of England and John of England in their invasions of Ireland, he was named "Chief Butler of Ireland". He was also granted a large section of the northeastern part of the kingdom of Limerick. Later in 1328, his descendant, James Butler, was created Earl of Ormond by Edward III.

Market day (August 1848)


Thurles was originally an agriculture market town but in the past twenty years has become more a major shopping town with chains like Dunnes Aldi Boots UK and Holland and Barrett opening in the town. Thurles Shopping centre was recently extended and plans to open a new a Tesco store to replace the current store in Liberty Square have also been announced. Stakelums Hardware is one the biggest family owned business in the town which recently moved out to the Nenagh road and expanded its floor space. McKevitts Costcutter is also another large family business, with two supermarkets in the town it is one the most successful stores in the town. High technology industries have been established in the Thurles Technology Park.

Music and arts[edit]

The Source Arts Centre[edit]

Source Arts Centre and Library

The Source Arts Centre opened on 2 October 2006 and has become the biggest music, theatre and arts venue in North Tipperary. It consists of a 250 seat auditorium with fully flexible seating, and a dedicated gallery space. The year round programme of events includes film, theatre, dance, ballet, opera, music, family events and visual art exhibitions. Acts like Aslan, Foster and Allen, The Fureys are among the list to have played there.

Féile festival[edit]

The Féile Festival which ran from 1990 to 1994, was held in Semple Stadium. At the height of its success, an estimated 100,000 people attended the festival, which was also known as "The Trip to Tipp".[9] Acts that played included The Prodigy, The Cranberries, Blur, Bryan Adams, Van Morrison, Rage Against the Machine, The Saw Doctors and Christy Moore.

Thurles Arts Festival[edit]

Thurles arts festival started in 2009. Organised by local councillor Jim Ryan. It will return for a third time in 2011 with various events around the town in Pubs, Clubs and The Source arts centre. Revive will be held in Thurles greyhound Stadium on the 6th of August. Line up will include Mundy, Bipolar Empire Jester and other bands.

Amenities and features[edit]

Semple Stadium[edit]

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 GAA stadium in Ireland with a capacity of 53,500, second only to Croke Park in Dublin. The stadium is the "spiritual home" of Munster hurling and many famous matches, especially Munster Finals, have been played. In 1984 it hosted the All Ireland Hurling Final to celebrate 100 years since the founding of the GAA in Thurles.

Thurles Cathedral[edit]

The parish, numbered 32,
within the Archdiocese

The Cathedral of the Assumption is the mother church of the ecclesiastical province of Cashel and the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly. It is not in its original site of the Rock of Cashel. This is due to the assumption of certain ecclesiastical properties by the established Church of Ireland at the time of the English Reformation. Instead, following the relaxation of the Penal Laws, the Roman Catholic Archbishop chose to locate his cathedra and residence in nearby Thurles. The present Cathedral of the Assumption stands on the site of earlier chapels in the centre of the town. Work on the cathedral, with its Romanesque architectural style and its facade modelled on that of Pisa, commenced in 1865. It was consecrated by Archbishop Thomas Croke on 21/06/1879. The architect was J.J. McCarthy while Barry McMullen was the main builder. Mr. J.C Ashlin was responsible for the enclosing walls, railing and much of the finished work. The cathedral's main features include a rose window, a free-standing baptistery and a magnificent altar. Particularly noteworthy is the tabernacle, the work of Giacomo della 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[edit]

St. Mary's church, belonging to the Church of Ireland, is built on the site of another pre-reformation church in Thurles. This structure was built by the Normans in the 12th century to provide them with a separate and more exclusive place of worship. The building is currently occupied and boasts a Famine museum as well as a War Museum.[10]


Thurles Library is located in the arts centre.

Thurles Leisure Centre[edit]

In 2003, North Tipperary County Council demolished the old swimming pool with plans to build a new pool which were later scrapped. In 2007, a new swimming pool and gym was opened.[11]

Town council[edit]

Under the provisions of the Local Government Act (2001),[12] the former Urban District Council was renamed the Town Council. The members of the Town Council as at 2012[13] are:

  • Evelyn Nevin (Mayor), (Non-Party)
  • Gerard Fogarty, (Fianna Fáil)
  • Michael Cleary, (Fine Gael)
  • Michael Grogan, (Non-Party)
  • John Kenehan, (Labour)
  • John Kennedy, (Labour Party)
  • David Doran, (Sinn Féin)
  • Noel O'Dwyer, (Non-Party)
  • Jim Ryan, (Non-Party)

The principal unelected officers are:

  • Town Manager: Matt Shortt
  • Town Clerk: Michael Ryan.


Gaelic games[edit]


Thurles is furnished by the Thurles Kickboxing club (TKBC)



Horse Racing[edit]

Thurles Racecourse is located 1.5 km outside the town and has held race meetings since 1732.[14]





Third-Level and Adult Education[edit]

St. Patrick's College, Thurles College of Education, a former seminary runs teacher training degree courses, from 2011 on its degrees are awarded by the University of Limerick.[15][16] A third-level college, the Tipperary Institute(formerly TRBDI soon to be renamed Limerick Institute of Technology Tipperary, was established in 1998. The Pallotine College in Thurles is a retreat, vocations and missions centre for the order.

Notable people[edit]

International relations[edit]

Thurles is twinned with:

Annalistic references[edit]

From the Annals of the Four Masters:

See also[edit]


Putting the barony in its historico-geographical context.

Explanation for the use of "North Tipperary" instead of "County Tipperary".


  1. ^ Census 2006: Volume 1 – Population classified by area
  2. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. 
  7. ^ "Thurles station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  8. ^ "Historical Postcard Collection: Thurles". Tipperary Libraries. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  9. ^ Tipperary Star", "Trip to Tipp"
  10. ^ Famine Museum - St Mary's Famine History Museum
  11. ^
  12. ^ Local Government Act, 2001, Schedule 6, Part 1, Chapter 2
  13. ^ Town Council members 2012
  14. ^ "Course Profile". Go Racing. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  15. ^ University of Limerick Degrees for Graduates of St Patrick’s College, Thurles University of Limerick Website, Friday, 6th May 2011.
  16. ^ St Patrick’s College Thurles Offers UL Teaching Degrees Thurles Information , 5th of May, 2011.
  17. ^ Dorset Twinning Association - Twin Towns in the UK (Wayback Machine archive)
  18. ^ Sister Cities - Ireland and the US - US Embassy in Dublin
  19. ^ The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898

External links[edit]