West of Clonmel
Marlfield (Co. Tipperary / South)
Marlfield (Inislounaght, from Inis Leamhnachta – “island of the fresh milk”), originally a small estate village, became a milling centre in the C18th and was later known for its distillery; it had a populaion of over 1000 before the Great Famine, when some locals were reduced to attacking river barges transporting food (for which several were severely punished).
Marlfield House (1785) was long the principal residence of the Bagwell family, notably the Unionist historian Richard Bagwell MP (1840 1918). The main entrance gate, considered of exceptional quality, was designed by the local architect William Tinsley and the conservatory by Richard Turner. The mansion was burned down by Republican vandals in 1923, and although the house was subsequently rebuilt, its valuable library of rare historical documents was irreplaceable. Around the same time, John Philip Bagwell, an independent Irish Free State Senator from 1922 to 1936, was kidnapped by the IRA and held in the Dublin Mountains until he managed (or, as a result of threatened government reprisals, was allowed) to escape. The family sold the house and estate in the 1970s. Part of the house has been converted into apartments. (Photo by RustyTheDog)
Inislounaght was the name of a Cistercian Abbey founded c. 1145 by Donal Mór O’Brien, king of Munster, on lands donated by Malachy O’Phelan, lord of the Decies. In 1240, a group of English monks from Furness Abbey were sent to replace the former abbot, excommunicated following a legal dispute with the abbot of Dunbrody. In 1397, the Earls of Desmond and of Ormond met here to seal a treaty of peace (which, as usual, did not last long). In the C16th the Abbey lands came under the direct control of the Butler dynasty. According to Burke, “Amid the hundreds of religious houses which studded the country at the time of the Reformation, Innislounaght stood distinguished and alone in evil prominence“. Little trace of the Abbey now remains.
St Patricks church (CoI), designed by Thomas Tinsley and completed in 1818, is approached along an atmospheric tree-lined avenue, and incorporates several medieval features thought to come from the former Abbey, notably a Romanesque door dating from c.1200.
St Patrick’s Well
St Patrick’s Well is situated in a pretty swamp valley on the former Marlfield House demesne; to enter the site visitors must descend a long flight of stone steps and wear waterproof shoes, as springs continuously bubble up from underground.
This once popular place of pilgrimage comprises a Holy Well overflowing into an enclosed pond beneath a lovely old tree. A very ancient and badly weathered High Cross stands on an artificial island.
The adjacent ruined chapel dates from the C17th, but there are traces of an even older building. Inside the walls is the tomb of Nicholas White of Clonmel, who died in 1622.
Marlfield Lake, fed by underground streams, was dug to provide a regular water supply for the Big House. It has long been frequented by birds such as the common coot, waterhen, mallard, widgeon, pochard and teal, and since its designation as a wildfowl conservancy has become a recognised breeding ground for several other species.
Knocklofty (Co. Tipperary / South)
Knocklofty is a small village.
Knocklofty House is a magnificent mansion dating from the C17th, with later additions. Internally, the house embodies the best of Irish Georgian decorative architecture; the Library is particularly impressive, with a wrought iron balustrade protecting an upper gallery on three sides and a beautiful ceiling.
Knocklofty was long the seat of the Hely-Hutchinson family, descendants of lawyer / statesman John Hely, Provost of TCD, and Christiana (née Nixon / Nickson), Cork-born niece and heiress of Richard Hutchinson of Knocklofty, whose surname the couple adopted; she was created Baroness Donoughmore in 1783 in honour of her husband, forced him to eschew a title for himself due to his espousal of democratic principles .
Their eldest sons, both Generals in the British Army, were given various titles; the first-born, made 1st Earl of Donoughmore in the Peerage of Ireland in 1800, was succeeded by his brother, Baron Hutchinson of Alexandria, and then by their sibling the Hon Francis Hely-Hutchinson, MP. The 4th and 5thEarls were Conservative politicians who held UK government offices, while the 6th Earl was a noted Irish Freemason. Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson was the last Governor of the Cape Colony.
The family finally sold their ancestral home in the 1970s.
Knocklofty Country House Hotel & Leisure Centre has received great reviews since new management took over in 2009.The House is set in over 100 acres of sweeping parkland and has wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
Knocklofty is also the name of a beautiful area of Tasmania.
Knocklofty is not far from Ardfinnan on ByRoute 3.
Moorstown (Co. Tipperary / South)
Moorstown is an ancient townland, referred to in a 1652 document as Ballynamona (móin in old Irish meant simply pasture / moor, and not necessarily turf or peat as people gather from Bórd na Mona).
Moorstown Castle is a strongly built late C15th circular Tower House with a courtyard / bawn and a towered gateway, all in a fair state of preservation. (Photo by Mike Searle)
Its founder was James Keating, one of the Earl of Ormond‘s henchmen, whose cousin was the chief of the Butler family’s kerns or household troops. In 1635 his descendant Richard Keating failed to redeem a £300 mortgage and so forteited the property to his creditor, an English settler called Sir Robert Cox of Bruff, Co. Limerick. In 1678 his daughter Frances Cox married Godfrey Greene, a retired officer in King Charles I‘s army. Their grandson Godfrey was killed in a duel with Richard Keating of Nicholastown in 1735, exactly a hundred years after the Keatings lost Moorstown. The last of the Greene family to live in the castle died of natural causes in 1798, while the last to be born there died in Calcutta in 1818.
The Landed Estates Court sold the castle and land in 1855 to pay outstanding debts. The buyer was Richard Grubb of Cahir.
The premises remains private property.
The Apple Farm is an attractive local enterprise with a mouth-watering farm-produce shop and an exceptionally pleasant camping & caravan park with excellent facilities for family holidays.
Moorstown is near Caher on ByRoute 4.