Three times Whitbread prizewinner, William Trevor, was born here in 1928. His father was an official in the local bank of Ireland
The first book on Irish botany was written in Mitchelstown in 1735. The author was Rev. John Keogh, personal chaplian to the then Baron Kingston.
George Bernard Shaw and his wife Charlotte were frequent visitors to the town between 1890 and 1909.
The poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley his ‘The Sensitive Plant’ to Margaret, Lady Mount Cashell, who was the eldest daughter of the second Earl of Kingston.
The first English feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a governess at Mitchelstown Castle in the 1780′s.
The clarion call ‘God Save Ireland‘ was first made famous in 1867 by Edward O’Meagher Condon, a native of Mitchelstown
Col. John O’Mahony, founder of the Fenian Brotherhood in America, was born in Mitchelstown in 1815.
The Galtee Boy, John Salsfield Casey was a native of Mitchelstown.
In the Land War of the 1880′s the town became world famous after three men were killed by police in New Square on 9th September 1887. It was after this incident that William Gladstone coined the phrase Remember Mitchelstown.
Here is an explanation of the street names, with some information about the people and events associated with them.
BALDWIN STREET – Possibly named after an estate agent of the Kingsboroughs, but more probably after John Baldwin, who had a cotton factory nearby. This street was the birthplace of John Sarsfield Casey, a Fenian of the 1860s, who sailed as a prisoner on the ‘Hougoumont’ – the last convict ship to Australia. Casey was better known by his pen name of ‘the Galtee Boy,’ under which he wrote long vitriolic letters about nationalism, Fenianism, land issues and emigration to the Cork and Dublin newspapers. The Bank of Ireland opened a branch in Baldwin Street in the 1870s.
BANK PLACE – The National Bank opened there in the 1820s, thus giving its name to this street. However, this bank was predated by an earlier private bank, which probably started there in the 1770s. The bank premises was a solicitor’s office. Beside it stands the Manor Mill of Mitchelstown, which was an important local employer in the early 19th century. It is now derelict but planning permission has been granted for its regeneration as a hostel and bistro bar.
BARRACK ROAD – A military barracks opened here in 1822. It was designed to accommodate three officers and 72 non-commissioned officers. The barracks was burned in the Civil War in 1922 – all that now stands of the original structure is its interesting defensive wall. A training hall for the FCA (the Irish reserve army) stands at the entrance to the old barracks.
BRIGOWN – ‘Smiths’ Hill.’ Site of the 7th century Brigown Church, founded by Saint Fanahan. The ruins of an 12th century church (which has beatures from earlier and later periods) now dominates the view of its graveyard. A fever hospital in Brigown, built in 1823 by the Earl of Kingston, is now the home of the Dwane family. Across the road from it stood the Glebe, where rectors of the parish lived until the early 20th century. Built in 1807, with stones from the round tower that once stood in Brigown graveyard, it was demolished in the 1970s. The road at Brigown hill was lowered in the 1840s to provide employment during the Great Famine. Brigown road has the main entrance avenue to the Christian Brothers’ schools, founded in 1857. The brothers left Mitchelstown in 1998, but their primary and secondary schools are now managed by independently appointed boards of management.
CHURCH HILL – One of the two original driveways to the Catholic parish church. The limestone gateway is of interest because it was designed by the architects James and George Richard Pain. A matching set of piers can be seen at Convent Hill.
CHURCH ROAD – Links Mulberry Lane with the Catholic church, and was only officially named in 1988. St Fanahan’s College, established 1980, is located here. A tall celtic cross, which stood on this road, may now be found at the centre of the Catholic parish church graveyard. According to local tradition, the cross commemorated local people who died during the Great Famine of 1845-1851. Its inscription states ‘Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you my friends; because the hand of the Lord hath touched me.’
CHURCH STREET – This takes its name from Saint George’s Church, which stands at its western end. The Pains also designed this building. The church was built in 1801-1804 and is one of Mitchelstown’s finest buildings where Church of Ireland services continue to be held every Sunday. The graveyard behind the church has many interesting headstones.
CLONMEL ROAD – In years gone by this was the main road from Mitchelstown to Dublin, via Clonmel. The area outside Sutton’s yard was the site of an ambush against a detachment of English troops in June, 1921. A dog’s head water fountain used to stand nearby. Mitchelstown Creameries was founded in 1925 and outside the cheese factory in Clonmel Road is a plaque commemorating the founding of Mitchelstown Young Farmers Club in 1926.
COACH LANE – Also known as Arch Avenue, because it has an unusual archway closing one end. Apparently, this was where the coachmakers of the town lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.
CONVENT HILL – The Presentation Sisters (a teaching order) were introduced to Mitchelstown in 1853 and their role in educating local children has been outstanding. Their convent, at the top of this hill, has an interesting burial ground. The nuns closed the convent in 2002. A plaque outside the convent gate acknowledges their work in Mitchelstown during their 149-years of association with the town. Plans are being prepared to build an under ground twin-plex cinema at the convent. Some 325 square metres (3,500 sqare feet) of the former Convent building, including its chapel, is being donated to the community for development as a cultural and arts centre. Apartments and a playground will also be built on the site.
CORK STREET (Upper and Lower) – This is the main street of the town, reputedly built over a stream that was diverted into a large culvert underneath the road. The Garda Station (opened 1982), has an interesting sculpture of Saint Fanahan, the local patron. This was sculpted by Cliodna Cussen. Further down the street and on the opposite side is Campaign House, which was the headquarters of the Land League during the Land War on the Kingston estate in the 1880s. Three doors further along the street was the old barracks of the Royal Irish Constabulary (now Dorans and McCarthys Insurance). A memorial on the opposite side of the street, at Mr Mister, commemorates John Casey, John Shinnick and Michael Lonergan who were shot by police during a Land League meeting on 9 September 1887.
EDWARD STREET – The town’s shortest street; probably named after Edward, first Earl of Kingston.
GEORGE STREET – The third Earl of Kingston gives his name to this street, which was once the location of the Kingston School (now the Finn residence). This Georgian style house was built by Caroline, Countess of Kingston, who had a keen interest in educating the poor. The third Earl of Kingston was an infamous individual, whose life is described in Bill Power’s book, ‘White Knights, Dark Earls, the rise and fall of an Anglo-Irish dynasty,’ (The Collins Press, 2000). The Kingston estate at Mitchelstown was 40,500 hectares (100,000 acres) in area, and stretched across counties Cork, Limerick and Tipperary.
JAMES STREET – James King, youngest son of the second Earl and Countess of Kingston, joined the navy at the age of eleven, and reached the rank of Rear-Admiral by the time of his retirement in 1815. He was a friend of Queen Caroline, wife of George IV.
KING SQUARE – King was the family name of the Earls of Kingston. One of the finest Georgian squares in Ireland, half of this square is comprised of Kingston College. The square was built as the entrance to Mitchelstown Castle, which stood on the site now occupied by the factory towers. The house on the left-hand corner with George Street (facing Saint George’s Church) was the site of the Freemasons’ Grand Lodge No. 1, Ireland. The Mitchelstown Warrant is now held by the Cork Grand Lodge. The stone building on the corner with Baldwin Street was formerly the Kingston Arms Hotel.
KING STREET – This opens up a fine vista of the Catholic Church (opened 1834) and New Market Square. This street has an interesting and important 19th century shopfront.
MULBERRY LANE – A once beautiful laneway lined on both sides by dozens of thatched cottages which housed labourers of the Kingston estate. The 400,000 mulberry trees that grew here are all gone, as are most of the 170 cottages which used to stand there but the entrance to St Fanahan’s Well still remains. The well is a peaceful place of prayer, surrounded by trees and streams. It is a much admired and appreciated peaceful walk. The well has a fine penal-cross erected in 1989, and sculpted by Ken Thompson. This depicts Saint Fanahan, holding his cenncathach (‘headbattler’) – a staff that symbolised his spiritual and temporal authority as both a monk and a warrior.
NEW MARKET SQUARE – Markets in Mitchelstown date their origin to at least the 13th century, which were confirmed by Royal Charter in 1618. The markets, although much changed, are still held on Thursdays. The square was the scene of many important public meetings over the centuries. The most famous was a Land League meeting in 1887, where police opened fire on a crowd of 8,000 people. Three men were shot dead. This incident caused the Liberal leader, William Gladstone, to coin the clarion call ‘Remember Mitchelstown,’ on the strength of which the Liberals won the next five by-elections in Britain. The Market House, erected in 1825 at a cost of £3,000, is now part of the Co-op shops. At the top of the square stands a row of stone buildings which were an orphanage and a post office. The bronze sculpture of John Mandeville was erected there in 1906 and has been a landmark on the Cork to Dublin road ever since. Mitchelstown Co-op was founded here in 1919. In 2001, Mitchelstown Heritage Society commissioned ‘Timepiece’ – an analematic sundial in which the shadow of a person standing in the right position tells the correct time. The impressive sculpture was widely acclaimed as the most unusual and interesting sculpture erected in Ireland in 2001.
RAILWAY ROAD – This was the entrance to Mitchelstown railway station. The 20 Kilometre (12 miles) line from Mitchelstown to Fermoy opened in 1891, but the continuation to Cahir was never built. The railway officially closed to passenger traffic in 1947, and to all traffic in 1963.
ROBERT STREET – Robert Edward King, first Viscount Lorton and Baron Erris of Boyle, is remembered in the name of this street. He owned a vast estate of 28,000 hectares (70,000 acres) around Boyle, County Roscommon. His eldest son became sixth Earl of Kingston in 1869. This street is the home of the James Fitzgerald Memorial Brass and Reed Band, which was founded as the Mitchelstown Brass and Reed Band in the 1860s.
THOMAS STREET – Named after the second Earl’s third son, who died as a child. The hall was built as the Catholic parish church in the 1780s, by the second earl, who believed that his Catholic tenants were entitled to worship openly. After 1834 the building became a school. During the Great Famine (1845-’51) many people were buried in the grounds of the former church. The 4,000 locals who died or emigrated from Mitchelstown during those years, are commemorated by a limestone sculpture outside the hall.