(photo: Main St. Roscrea by Robert French)
Located in County Tipperary, and spanning the counties of Laois and Offaly, the Parish of Roscrea is an active member of the national diaspora programme Ireland Reaching Out. Whether you are tracing your family tree or looking to connect with Irish people abroad, we are delighted to welcome you to our community.
Nestled as it is on a crossroads on the important ancient route to Tara – the Slí Dála, and perched between the Devil’s Bit and Slieve Bloom mountain ranges, Roscrea boasts a long and proud heritage stretching back over six thousand years. Indeed, during the recent construction of the M7 new evidence of settlements were unearthed at Derrymore & Camblin. It is no wonder then that with its area being populated for many millennia, claiming as it does the title of The Oldest Inland Town in Ireland existing for 1,500 years having so many historical buildings in evidence throughout the town that a wonderful “sense of place” and belonging exists here.
Its establishment was the culmination of its strategic position on the intersection of the Slí Dála and the monastic pathways from Clonmacnoise to Cashel and other such major centres. To serve the travellers on the road, St. Cronan, the local patron saint established his monastery here. People settled nearby and the town developed into a trading one catering for travellers – and remains a trading town to this day. Besides the remains of St. Cronan’s monastic settlements, it boasts a 13th century castle complex, all within easy walking distance. Indeed, our profile picture illustrates this closeness.
Significantly, the town of Roscrea’s population pre-famine was over 9,000. In 1900, the town’s population was only 2,000. Today the population of Roscrea town is approximately 5,000 while there are an additional 15,000 people in the rest of the parish.
A Tour map with walking and driving guides is available free of charge.
Ireland Reaching Out in the locality
Following their initial training, the local XO team manned a station at Roscrea Beo Festival in 2013 to help with tracing your roots. In 2014 they hosted a commemoration service for those from Roscrea who served and died in WW1. This was attended by various colour parties and the Seattle Police Pipe Band together with the Cultural Ambassador to Seattle Mr. John Keane. In May 2015 they plan to hold another event with illustrated talks and an exhibition to further commemorate same.
Eamonn Horan, now retired, with a great interest in matters historical is our Chairman. He has since before and after the group began helped visitors to Roscrea locate roots here. This involves trawling through Parish Records in search of same. He is also a member of Kilbarron XO and was involved in their recent commemoration of locals who were involved in WW1. He’s available to “Meet & Greet” when needed.
Dick Conroy is a retired National Teacher with an interest in Local History. During the year he dealt with enquiries from the XO site regarding tracing roots. Like Eamonn above, this involved trawling through records, but one great success was the location and uniting of one such enquirer from New Zealand with his first cousin in Roscrea in 2014. Dick also was deeply involved with the organising of the Commemoration Service for WW1 participants mentioned above. He’s also a member of Bournea Parish. He’s available to “Meet & Greet” when needed.
Joe Coughlan is a man with a deep sense of place. He runs a local Facebook Page and a website entitled “Roscrea Through the Ages” – www.roscreathroughtheages.org in which he is constantly publishing memoirs from diaspora and locals alike. Both sites are studded with a wealth of local pictures and articles from the past – including audio and video clips. He’s available to “Meet & Greet” when needed.
Ann Feehan has a deep interest in topics local and is great a researching archives for information on local items and in answer to queries from diaspora. She is also a member of Bournea, Dunkerrin and Kilbarron Parishes and participated in events in both during the past year. She’s available to “Meet & Greet” when needed.
For quick reference to the latest news you might want to visit out and follow us on Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/roscrea.reachingout
History of the Parish
The parish has a chequered history since its foundation. It is an area of multiple monastic settlements – the remains of which are still to be seen. The Book of Dimma a pocket-sized manuscript of the four gospels was written at the monastery in Church Street. St. Cronan established three monastic settlements in all in Roscrea. The first was Sean Ros (The Old Wood) in the grounds of what is now St. Anne’s Home for the severely intellectually challenged. As a retreat he used to “vanish” off to an island in the nearby lake. This settlement, later became a famous pilgrimage location here it was reputed that one could not die – hence it became in Irish – Inis na mBeo, the Island of the Living. This became corrupted through the centuries to Monaincha. Geraldus Cambrensis called it Insula Vivientium (Island of the Living) and named it the “31st Wonder of the World”. It became a place of pilgrimage centuries before Fatima or Lourdes.
There is a Cistercian Monastery in the area that continues this monastic tradition.
Once a diocese on its own, the parish became part of the larger diocese of Killaloe – the title Bishop of Roscrea still exists as a Titular one. Roscrea, as a trading town of note, was the site of the Aonach Éile, the largest market in the territory. As such it became a target for the Danes/Vikings who raided it in 929, but the combination of the townspeople, traders and the monks from the monastery drove them off inflicting severe casualties!
In 1213, following the burning of the Norman settlements at Kinnitty, Birr and Lorrha by Murchadh Ua Briain (of the Mountain), King John assembled his forces in the area and convening his advisors, to re-establish control – this we claim was the first meeting of the English Parliament outside the UK – and following this a Motte & Bailey style castle was built in Roscrea as a base of operations. This was replaced in 1260 by the stone castle you see today which over time has had modifications added. Damer House, situated in the courtyard of the castle is beautifully cared for and dates from 1722. The Castle was used as a barracks until the turn of the 1900’s.
A Visitor’s Map with both driving and walking guides is available locally free of charge.
Greater information can be located here: http://www.libraryireland.com/topog/R/Roscrea-Ikerrin-Tipperary.php
There are 60 townlands listed here. There are many others just outside the parish bounds that most people consider Roscrea, but they are not listed here. Spellings for some or colloquial naming can occur. The Parish Clergy now administer the Parishes of Knock, Ballaghmore, Curraguneen and Dunkerrin. Townlands in these parishes are not listed here
Aghsmear Cloonagh Grange Raheens Ashbury Clybanane Inane Scart Ballybrack Coolanure Irby Sheehane Ballycleary Cooleshall Kielogue The Sheehys Ballycrine Corville Kilcremin Timeighter
Ballycrine Demense Killavilla Townparks Ballyduff Derrymore Knockloughlin Tullaskeagh Ballygorteen Derryvale Laughil Verdant Hill Ballyskenagh Dromakeenan Liosnageeragh Whitepark
Barnagree Dungar Loughanavatta Benamore Fancroft Loughpark Birchgrove Glascloon Millpark Borris Glebe Monaincha Camlin Glenbeha Moynure Carrick Glentara Parkmore Clonan Gorteen Pintown Cloncracken Gortmullen Racket Hall
|Category (ies)||Heritage/Culture Tourist Attraction|