Shinrone History

Shinrone is the name of a parish and townland as well as of a town distant six miles south of Birr. Its ancient name was Suidhe-an-Roin, signifying the “Sitting place of the seal or hairy person.”

Famine and tithes in 1822

"By 1822, little had changed with a similar number of complaints despite the presence of the yeomanry. In February, Major Powell in Shanavogue submitted a sample of a notice objecting to tithes in the parish of Shinrone but by the middle of March he commented on the tranquillity of the district attributing peace to the recently enforced Insurrection Act. Also in March, the petition of the local justice of the peace in Edenderry, Mr. J. Brownrigg, was successful in obtaining a military station for the eastern part of the county. He stressed that a permanent force was needed indicating the uselessness of bringing military into the county only to take them out again. In late June 1822 a report verified that hunger and disease were stretching available resources while violence became more common as men became more desperate. Major Powell had written on three aspects which drew attention to the problems worrying county officials: firstly, that violent outrages were increasing although a man indicted for a local murder had been apprehended, next that a fever hospital to cope with typhoid had been established and thirdly, that he strongly was of the opinion that local distress was attributable to the lack of employment rather than a shortage of food."

A larger version of this map is here

Unrest in 1822

Not many records have survived for these districts in 1821 but King's County was reported to be 'in a dangerous state' while Limerick was worst of all. Once again the authorities had let the situation develop until it was beyond their control. During the year the crops failed and by the end, the familiar pattern of disease accompanying the hunger was established. By late December 1821, the London Times reported:

"The Dublin papers of Saturday evening arrived yesterday. They give a melancholy picture of the state of Ireland. Natural, seem now to conspire with political, causes to desolate that ill-fated country. The late heavy rains have produced the most ruinous consequences upon the potato crops; and typhus, the usual result of any extraordinary scarcity in an impoverished country, has made its appearance."28

The Annual Register confirmed that any goodwill engendered by the recent visit of George IV completely disappeared. "The gaudy and hollow bubble of conciliation soon burst and a system of outrage, robbery, murder and assassination commenced scarcely to be paralleled in the annals of any civilised country."29 A map of King's County has been marked with all places reporting disturbances and outrages during 1821 and early 1822. 30 Although not usually identified with insurrection, nearly every district and almost every settlement reported outbreaks of disorder in the two year period under discussion.

By 1822, little had changed with a similar number of complaints despite the presence of the yeomanry. In February, Major Powell in Shanavogue submitted a sample of a notice objecting to tithes in the parish of Shinrone but by the middle of March he commented on the tranquillity of the district attributing peace to the recently enforced Insurrection Act.

The Green Ribbon Meeting of 1828

In 1792 the rectory and vicarage were united to Kilmurray, and these were afterwards episcopally united to the rectory of Kilcommon. It is related there were only ten houses in Shinrone in 1640. In 1828, the excitement over the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act was intense all over Ireland. A great meeting was held in Roscrea, when the men paraded in green ribbons, determined on a similar demonstration at Shinrone, at that time one of the few Protestant towns in the Midlands. When the inhabitants heard that thousands would march on their town from Galway, Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Queen’s County, they fortified themselves. The doorways and lower windows were barricaded. Sashes were removed from the upper windows, converting them into embrasures for musketry; and on the other hand the “Green Boys” swore, that march through the town they would, let the hazard be what it might.

However, on the 27th September, the day previous to the meeting, the late Lord Rosse, of Telescope-making fame, then Lord Oxmantown, received a despatch from the Duke of Wellington, at that time First Lord of the Treasury, and the Marquis of Anglesea, Lord Lieutenant, directing him to take to Shinrone a competent force to preserve the peace. When the preparations for the drafting in of two regiments besides police and some cavalry, by Oxmantown, became known, and news of this description circulated, the contemplated procession was dropped, only a small body persisting, but on getting close, they were prevailed upon to return. Thus ended a raid, which for the time, created discussion and excitement

Noel MacMahon, "In the Shadow of the Fairy Hill, Shinrone and Ballingarry - A History", pp 108-111

After the passing of Catholic Emancipation in 1829, it was reasonable to expect that there would be an improvement in the economic and social life of the country. However, this was not to happen quickly. Catholic tenant farmers and cottiers considered it most unjust that in addition to paying their rent, they should still be forced to pay an annual tax on the produce of their land, known as the Tithe, towards the upkeep of the Protestant Established Church. Moreover, they resented the manner in which the Tithe was assessed and collected. It was levied on tillage, on which the majority of people depended for food and rent, whereas the large "graziers", invariably Protestant, were exempt from paying the tax. Another reason for discontent was that the valuing of crops for Tithe purposes was left to the despised Proctors, or tax collectors, who got a percentage of the money they collected and often valued unfairly in their own interests. The Tithe varied from district to district and from time to time and was paid in kind, in corn mostly and potatoes. (Ignatius Murphy, The Diocese of Killaloe 1800-1850, p 14)

In November 1835, Mr. Smith, agent for the Rev. William Brownlow Savage, Rector of the Union of Shinrone, Kilcommon and Kilmurry, filed two bills for tithes against Mr. Thomas Tiquin, a prominent businessman from Rusheen, Kilcommon. The foundations of the mill and house where Tiquin and his family carried on a successful milling business can still be seen at the Three Roads in the townland of Rusheen. The total sum claimed amounted to one pound, twelve shillings and eight pence. Tiquin refused to pay the tithes and a court case followed. Despite being defended by the eminent Q.C., Mr. Rolleston of Glasshouse, Tiquin lost his case, was arrested, and confined in the barracks at Shinrone, before being transferred to Newgate prison now known as Kilmainham. The details of the court case remain unclear, but it seems that Tiquin was convicted on a legal technicality, which was regarded as being most unjust at the time. Furthermore, the fact that legal costs were awarded against Tiquin aroused considerable anger amongst those demanding reform of the Tithes. The trial and imprisonment so affected Tiquin, that despite being 'one of the finest young men in the King's County, upward of six feet two inches in height, and the idol of his neighbourhood', he died shortly after his imprisonment. (Valentine Trodd, Midlanders, pp 13-14)

Daniel 0' Connell and the Catholic Association, realised that the indignation which the trial and death of Tiquin had aroused could be used to bring added pressure on the Government to abolish the Tithes. The coffin, borne in a plain hearse, drawn by four black-plumed horses, left Dublin on Thursday evening. Four placards were attached to the hearse bearing the inscription, "Funeral of Mr. Thomas Tiquin of Shinrone, in King's County, who died on Thursday 30th May, 1837, while under imprisonment in the Four Courts, Marshalsea, Dublin. For The Tithes". The funeral was followed by Mr. Rey, the Assistant Secretary of the Catholic Association, along with two other associates.

While on its way to Shinrone, stopping over in Kildare on the Thursday and Mountrath on the Friday, thousands of people, on foot, on horseback and in cars, carriages and gigs, accompanied the cortege. On the Saturday, Tiquin's two brothers, together with his wife Maryanne and other relatives arrived in Roscrea to await the arrival of the funeral from Mountrath. The Catholic Association had arranged that the funeral should proceed through Shinrone and Dunkerrin, but the family decided that the remains should be taken directly from Roscrea to Birr and then on to the family burial grounds at "All Saints" in Banagher.

On the Saturday, while hundreds prayed in the chapels of Shinrone and Roscrea for the "victim who so nobly sacrificed himself for his country", hundreds of friends and neighbours from Shinrone proceeded to Mountrath, Castletown and Borris-inOssory to accompany the remains to the church in Roscrea. Among the cortege were Fr. 0' Meara and Fr. Kelly, Roscrea, Fr. Dore, C.C. Shinrone, Fr. Nolan, Dunkerrin, and Fr. Cleary, P.P. Kilcolman.

On the Saturday night, the funeral made its way to Bin where the Roman Catholic Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. Kennedy, after addressing an estimated crowd of seventeen to eighteen thousand people, advised them to disperse quietly. It was Bishop Kennedy, then Fr. Kennedy, together with Thomas Lalor Cooke who had been responsible for stopping the Greenboys march on Shinrone in 1828.

It was three o'clock on Sunday when the funeral reached the "All Saints Well" burial ground, Banagher, where Tiquin was laid in his grave. On its way to the burial ground. the hearse had to stop for half an hour to allow the people from Shinrone, Cloghan, Banagher, Roscrea, Lockeen and Durrow to arrive. It is estimated that in all, 200,000 people took part in the funeral on that day. (Leinster Express, 10th June 1837)

In 1838, the following year, the Tithes were abolished. Tiquin became known as The Last Tithe Martyr' and it seems certain that just as the march of the Greenboys was influential in hastening the passing of Catholic Emancipation, the imprisonment and subsequent death of Thomas Tiquin accelerated the abolition of the Tithes.
Report in the Leinster Express - 10th June 1837.

Record 2807 from 'Famine Relief Commission Papers, 1845-1847' NA reference number: RLFC3/1/
Description: Rev WB Savage, Rector of Shinrone, chairman of the Shinrone Relief Committee, enclosing a subscription list and seeking increased assistance to facilitate the continued relief of 536 families.

Church of Ireland in 1837

Of the few accounts of evangelical protestantism in Offaly in the years before the Famine and one of the more interesting in that by Baptist Wriothesley Noel published in London in 1837 and entitled Notes of a short tour through the Midland Counties of Ireland in the Summer of 1836, with observations on the condition of the peasantry.

"Rev. Frederick Trench and Shinrone Church

But to return from this long digression, if I did not much admire Mr. Trench's Hibernian school, there were other things in the parish, which I witnessed with much delight. Near the school I entered with him into a cottage as tidy and clean as a cabin with a mud floor could be, in which a lecture is held by the curate every Wednesday, when the cottage is filled with Protestants. I asked the owner of the house, herself a pious person, whether any of the Romans now attended. "They are afraid", she answered, "for if any should attend, the Priest would probably make him stand in the chapel in a sheet, before all the people, or place him at the altar with a candle in his mouth." "Still they are on good terms with you". "Oh, the Romans are quiet and peaceable enough; they only break each others heads now." "Do you call that being peaceable and quiet?" "Sure they don't break our heads, and that's being quiet enough". But do they really fight with each other?" "Wait till tomorrow, at the fair, and if it is like the last, you'll see fighting and beating enough."

I was glad to hear that the Protestants of the parish have, in this respect, a marked superiority. Indeed, among them there seems to be much piety, and a general thirst after the word of God. Of the first I had pleasing evidence in the conversation of several of the cottagers, whose cabins I entered in company with the pastor: I had also an opportunity the same evening of witnessing the second. It was only that morning that Mr. F. Trench had heard of our arrival; upon which, he sent out notice that a stranger would preach to them in the evening. The number of Protestants in the parish scattered over a considerable extent of country is about 1000; and at the appointed time I found his church filled with above 300 persons. Nor was the number congregated the only indication of their devotional feelings. Unlike so many of our congregations which seem to consider the praise of God no part of their business, here the whole congregation rose with the minister, and without either organ, or any singers to lead them, made the church resound with a full and beautiful concord of voices. I was prepared to see some tokens of earnestness among his people, from what I knew of his own self-denying zeal. His house is the smallest and the simplest imaginable. Four little rooms, which, if thrown together, would scarcely make one large one, form his humble dwelling, in which the simplest furniture corresponds with the white-washed walls. It is easy to show that the circumstances in which we live, do not require of us, ad the disciples of Chris, something of the same kind? One governing considered regulates his whole expenditure. He asks himself and he calls each of his fellow-Christians to ask himself too, "how can I, by my whole property, do the greatest good to my fellow-creatures, and bring the greatest glory to God?" That principal what Christian can blame? And when we proceed to its application, who can question, but that if large sums which are now spent by Christians, on amusement, luxury, and splendour, were employed in scriptural schools, in loan libraries, in the circulation of the Bible, and of useful tracts, in provident societies, in the support of missionaries abroad and missionary agents at home, in the erection of churches, in the employment of the industrious, and in the promotion of useful public designs, the face of society might, in a short time, with the blessing of God, be much improved. Are any of us sufficiently liberal and self-denying? Do we really and in truth live for the glory of Christ, for the good of our fellow-creatures, and for eternity? Mr. Trench has for some years exemplified those principles of Christian liberality, which have been lately enforced in an eloquent and excellent work entitled "Mammon", by Mr. Harris, of Epsom, which I think every one who is anxious to be a faithful steward of the property which God has entrusted to his charge, ought to be read and weigh. Such men as Mr. Trench are a blessing, not merely to their neighbourhood, but to their country and their age."

From "Lewis 1837"

"The principal seats in the parishes forming the union are Cangort, the residence of G. Atkinson, Esq., a handsome mansion erected on the site of the ancient castle; Cangort Park of W. Trench, Esq., a handsome modern mansion in a demesne embellished with some fine old timer;"

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