NENAGH - Nenagh Castle "Aonach", the Irish word from which the town derives its name, means "fair", and refers to the circumstances around which the town was founded. It was in and around this area that an ancient fair, known as aonach urmhumhan (Ormond) would have taken place. Nenagh is the administrative capital of North Tipperary, and straddles the border of Lower and Upper Ormond baronies.

Danish Origins?

The remains of Danish fortifications are numerous in North Tipperary, and it is very likely that the town owes its origins in some measure to an early Danish community. The Annals of the Four Masters state that the settlement was burned in 994 by Maolsechlainn, and again in 1056, by Diarmaid. Nenagh first became established as a walled, Norman town in the 13th Century, when Theobald FitzWalter, the founder of the Butler dynasty in Ireland, built a castle in the Nenagh area. The Butlers made the town their principle seat in their palatinate, but it was later moved, in the 14th Century, to Kilkenny. Theobald established the Augustinian priory at Tyone, while the Franciscan friary in the town also dates from that period. In 1548 Nenagh, along with its friary, was destroyed by fire by O'Carroll, the chief of one of the principle Irish clans of the area.

Confederate and Jacobite Wars

Most of the large towns in the county played a part in the Confederate War of the 1640s, and Nenagh was as involved as any other. In 1648 Owen Roe O'Neill, on his march south, took Nenagh Castle. Lord Inchiquin re-took it that same year and when Cromwell arrived in Ireland Nenagh was being held by Sir George Hamilton. In October 1650 Cromwell's son, Ireton, arrived at and demanded the surrender of the town. Hamilton initially refused, but when field artillery was put in place in front of the town's walls he wisely yielded. During the Jacobite War, 40 years later, Nenagh sustained three separate attacks. In August 1691, Williamite General Ginkel, on his way to the final confrontation of the War at Limerick, stayed at Nenagh for four days "for want of bread and other necessities". He then carried on to Limerick, via Silvermines and Newport, where the Treaty was later signed.

"The Battle of the Breeches"

In July 1856 the town witnessed an extraordinary mutiny that was to become known locally as "The Battle of the Breeches". Following the end of the Crimean War the North Tipperary Militia (which was based in Nenagh) was disbanded without receiving payment of a bounty promised to them. To further inflame matters the soldiers were also ordered to give up their uniforms, an order one man flatly refused to obey. He was deposited in the guardhouse, where his colleagues later tried to free him, along with the other prisoners in the gaol. The resulting revolt saw 2,000 soldiers posted to the town, and two of the militia, one a pensioner, were killed. Nine men were subsequently deported for their involvement in the mutiny.

Sources - Bassett, "County Tipperary"; Murphy, "Walkabout Nenagh"; Sheehan, "Nenagh and its Neighbourhood"; Murphy, "Nenagh Castle"

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