The Fenian Rising in Tipperary

The Fenian Rising in Tipperary takes place at Ballyhurst townland, on the main Cashel-Tipperary road.

On the night of the 5 March 1867, the railway line at Longford Bridge is destroyed and several bands of Fenians raid the houses of the gentry for arms. The RIC police barracks at nearby Emly and Gortavoher are also attacked, but the police in both instances manage to repel the attackers.

On Wednesday, the 6 March 1867, over a hundred and fifty men, armed with pikes, assemble at a fort at Ballyhurst. American Civil War veteran Colonel Thomas F. Bourke, a native of Fethard, who had been seriously wounded at the Battle of Gettysberg, leads them. He had returned to Ireland at the end of 1866, to assist the proposed Rising.

A brief conflict between the Fenians and sixty men of the 31st Regiment under Magistrate de Gueron wounds many, causing others to flee. One Fenian called Patrick Russell is killed and is buried in Lattin cemetery, a village five miles away.

Many are captured and held in the Tipperary Town Bridewell Gaol for a week before being sent to Clonmel for trial.

Thomas F. Bourke is sentenced to death in April for his part in the Rising. This is later commuted to life imprisonment on the intervention of the President of the United States and the Irish Cardinal Cullen of Dublin. He is released in 1871, returning to the United States where he dies in 1889. The other local Fenian leaders are tried in the following July Assizes.

A consequence of the Fenian Rising is the decision to build a large Military Barracks in Tipperary Town in 1874. Troops had been stationed in the town due to the continued agrarian agitation in the area but had been housed in a variety of temporary accommodation. Work began on the Barracks in 1874 at a cost of £25,000.

See: A skirmish between troops and Fenians, Tipperary, March 1867.


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