Location

The Parish of Annacarty & Donohill is situated in the centre of the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly and is comprised of the baronies of Clanwilliam and Kilnamanagh. The present parish embraces the ancient civil parishes of Aghacrew and Kilpatrick, in full and portions of Donohill, Kilmucklin and Ballintemple civil parishes.

Name

There is lack of consensus regarding the precise meaning of both Annacarty & Donohill placenames. According to the Ordnance Survey Name book of 1843 Annacarty is derived from Áth na Cairte, the ford of the cart. Others, however, maintain that Annacarty represents the modern translation of Áth na Ceardcha, the ford of the forge. Similarly with Donohill, Dún Eochoill, the fort of the oak wood or the fort of the yew.

Earlier Settlements

The numerous ring forts scattered throughout the parish together with a cairn at Laghseefin in the townland of Glencarbery suggests that the area was attractive to early setters.

When the Normans arrived soon after 1170 they considered the Moat of Donohill an ideal location for a fortress; hence the small castle which was built on top of the moat. The moat or mote was occupied by the Archdeacon or Coady family according to late 12th century records. Centuries later, O’Sulliavn Beare’s army attacked the castle in1602.

Ballysheedy Castle

One of approximately sixteen cylindrical tower houses in Ireland. The oldest building in the parish, it was an O’Dwyer stronghold until the Cromwellian Plantation in the 1650s. There is a tradition that an underground tunnel connected the castle to a monastic settlement in Kilnamanagh. Scarcely anything is known about the latter institution.

There are approximately 16 such tower houses in Ireland and Tipperary county has the highest number with seven. They are; Knockagh near Templemore, Synone, Ballinahow, Farney, Golden, Crannagh now attached to an eighteenth century house near Templetuohy. Ballysheedy near Anacarty/Cappawhite.

The castle is situated on a ridge approximately 600 meters high at the foot of the Slieve Felim hills, and belongs to a small class of cylindrical tower houses. While it is of some architectural significance, it could not have sustained an artillery attack of any protracted siege, nor was it expected to.

The essence of tower house is their verticality: their various organs – entrance hall, guardroom, bedrooms, kitchen, principle living room – are disposed on top of one another instead of being laid out side by side on the ground as in an English hall hose.

Originally the territory was in the possession of the Ryans, but from the middle of the sixteenth century onwards the O’Dwyers wrested control of the area from them. Either they, or their Butler allies erected the castle. Ballysheedy was one of nine such castle belonging to the O’Dwyers of Kilmnamanagh. In 1657 it was in the hands of Philip O’Dwyer Esquire, the chief of the O’Dwyers, even though 510 profitable acres and 1,015 unprofitable acres were confiscated from him and given to Captain Arthur Purefoy following the Munster Rebellion of 1640. In the Civil Survey of 1640 it was stated; “The small castle of Ballysheedy wanting repair,” and that there were then on the lands “three thatched houses, thirty cabins and a watermill.”

In the Hearth Money Rolls for 1665-66 the castle appears to have been in the possession of Thomas Butler, who then paid two shillings for one hearth. In the following year he paid six shilling for three hearths, so in the interval he must have rendered it more habitable. Subsequently it passed in to the hands of the Warwick family. The names of William and Purefoy Warrwck of Ballysheedy occur in the Act of Attainer passed by James 11 in 1689. In the 1830s Lewis recorded “on a eminence near Annacarty is a circular tower called Ballysheedy Castle, forming a conspicuous object from a great distance.”

In 1840 O’Donovan gave a very full description of the Castle in his Ordnance Survey letters: About one furlong to the West of Kilnamanagh church in the same townland there is a round castle of great strength in which the chief of the O’Dwyers live and from which the Barony was called, for the townland on which it stands was originally called Kilnamanagh. It is five stories high, one hundred and twenty eight feet in circumference at the base on the outside, and its wall are eleven feet two inches thick. It is square on the inside; the second floor rested on a strong arch which still remains; the others were of wood. The castle is about sixty feet in height and was lighted by twenty four small and large windows, some quadrangular, some pointed, and all constructed of limestone.”

The entrance to the castle is by a door to the east side. The doorway leads into a passage with a guard room on the right. Facing the door is a small opening leading into a rectangular basement. It is a vaulted structure with three loops to allow in light. About a yard to the left, after one enters the main door the passage begins to curve to the right. In most castles the roof of that passage would contain a murder hole, but Ballysheedy does not. At the end of the passage is a flight of steps leading up to the first floor. The steps form a clockwise spiral staircase set in the South West wall. The third and fourth floors contained fireplaces and windows were increasing in size and moving from loop-hole type to the rectangular shape. However, it is not possible to enter these floors as their timbers have long since disintegrated. The castle has four equally spaced machicolations, one of which is situated directly above the east door. The loops have vertical axes and embrasures on the inside, suggesting that they were built before the advent of guns. There are no crenulations at the top of the tower suggesting that the castle might have been slighted in the Munster Rebellion of 1640.

All of these round towers originally had some kind of enclosure around them called a bawn. There is evidence of such a bawn at Ballysheedy on the north and west side of the Castle. While the castle is quite sturdy it stands exposed to the elements, but has endured the flow and ebb of war for more than three hundred years. Just over a century ago Bassett reported “A circular tower stands on Mr. Purefoy Bagwell’s property. Tradition has it that a tunnel ran underground, linking the castle with an ancient church at Kilnamanagh some two hundred yards away. Visitors to the area immediately wonder at its existence as it is such an imposing feature.

The Folklore Commission of 1939 gives us the following story of a man digging for gold. “It was in the 1904. They dug at the right hand side of the door of the Castle and continued digging until they were seven feet down in the earth. They then came upon a large flag or stone. They proceeded to lift the stone when all at once a bugle sounded. It was about midnight when three horse soldiers dressed in red uniform encircled them and leaped over the ditch backwards and forwards. The men left and were very glad to beat a hasty retreat!” (The above material on the castle comes from “Anacarty/Donohill. History. published in 1997 by the AnacartyDonohill Historical Society.)

Parish Boundaries

The present parish system emerged during the late 17th and 18th centuries. Only minor alterations to parish boundaries have occurred since that date.

In the case of Annacarty & Donohill there was a significant redrawing of the boundaries in 1804 when Archbishop Bray established the new parish of Kilcommon, Rearcross and Hollyford. As a result, Fr. Daniel Prout, the then administrator of Annacarty and Donohill(1799 – 1804), resigned in indignation and left the Archdiocese to serve as parish priest of Watergrasshill in Cork diocese until his death in 1830.

The further adjustment on parish boundaries occurred following the mid 1970s local plebiscite when the townlands of Lackenacreena and Foilmacduff voted to join Hollyford.

Ancient Churches

Evidence survives regarding numerous ancient churches in the parish. There was a church in Kilpatrick in pre Norman times. As late as the end of the 18th century Kilpatrick was the location of annual pattern in honour of St. Bartholomew. Over the centuries there were churches in Aghacrew, Donohill, Kilmucklin and one near Ballysheedy Castle.

The Protestant Report of 1731 records that there was “one old mass house” in Donohill. Sometime between 1783 and 1785, at the behest of Fr. Fr. Thomas Hogan, parish priest, a Mr Duhy of Grange built a small thatched chapel in Donohill. In 1813 a new church was built in Annacarty at a cost of £400.

Modern Churches

The present St.Brigid’s Church, in Annacarty was constructed in 1879 at a cost of £6,000. George Ashlin, the distinguished 19th century architect, designed the church and the beautiful altar. Annacarty church is among the finest examples of Gothic revival architecture in the Archdiocese. The church has undergone numerous refurbishments over the years, especially when a copper roof and improvements were added.

There are conflicting dates regarding the building of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Donohill. It is generally accepted that it was built in 1824 at a cost of £450. Others claim that the date was 1836 and the cost£700.

In 1861 Donohill church was enlarged at a cost £420. More than a century later in 1965, the church was substantially reconstructed; £17,000 being spent on the project. The renewed church was reopened on 8th December 1965.

Donohill (Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837

Tipperary
Parish: Donohill
DONOHILL, a parish, partly in the barony of CLANWILLIAM, but chiefly in that of KILNEMANAGH, county of TIPPERARY, and province of MUNSTER, 3.75 miles (N.) from Tipperary town, on the new line of road to Nenagh; containing 4308 inhabitants. This parish comprises 12,812 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act.

Greenfield, the residence of Col W. Purefoy, and Philipstown, of H. B. Bradshaw, Esq., are the principal seats.

A mountain stream, called the Anacarthy, runs through the parish, where is a small village of that name, in which are a constabulary police station, a chapel and a school.

It is in the diocese of Cashel; the rectory is impropriate in the representatives of the Rev. R. Watts, and the vicarage forms part of the corps of the precentorship in the cathedral church of St. Patrick, Cashel. The tithes amount to £384 12s. 3.75 d., of which £200 is payable to the impropriators and the remainder to the vicar.

The Roman Catholic parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; there are two chapels, one at Anacarthy, and one at Donohill.

There are five schools aided by subscriptions; in which about 500 children are taught.

Some slight remains of the ancient church may be seen; there is a conical hill, supposed to be a Danish rath; and on an eminence near Anacarthy is a circular tower, called Ballysheedy Castle, forming a conspicuous object from a great distance.

DONOHILL, a parish, partly in the barony of Clanwilliam, but chiefly in that of Kilnemanagh, county of Tipperary, and province of Munster, 3� miles (N.) from Tipperary, on the new line of road to Nenagh; containing 4308 inhabitants. This parish comprises 12,812 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. Greenfield, the residence of Col W. Purefoy, and Philipstown, of H. B. Bradshaw, Esq., are the principal seats. A mountain stream, called the Anacarthy, runs through the parish, where is a small village of that name, in which are a constabulary police station, a chapel and a school. It is in the diocese of Cashel; the rectory is impropriate in the representatives of the Rev. R. Watts, and the vicarage forms part of the corps of the precentorship in the cathedral church of St. Patrick, Cashel. The tithes amount to �384. 12. 3�., of which �200 is payable to the impropriators and the remainder to the vicar. The R.C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church; there are two chapels, one at Anacarthy, and one at Donohill. There are five schools aided by subscriptions; in which about 500 children are taught. Some slight remains of the ancient church may be seen; there is a conical hill, supposed to be a Danish rath; and on an eminence near Anacarthy is a circular tower, called Ballysheedy Castle, forming a conspicuous object from a great distance.
Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis, 1837

1889
ANNACARTY, Tipperary

Annacarty, in the barony of Kilnamanagh, lower, parish of Donohill, is a village of six houses and a Catholic Church, 6 miles, Irish, north east of Tipperary, and 2 1/2 miles west by north from Dundrum railway station.  Part of the district is good for dairying, the rest is boggy.  Oats and potatoes are the principal crops.  A mountain stream in the vicinity is good for brown trout.  At Ballysheedy, one mile from Annacarty, there is a circular tower on Mr. Purefoy Bagwell’s property.  One of the arched floors fell at the beginning of 1889

1889
DONOHILL, Tipperary

Donohill, in the parish of same name, consists of half a dozen houses, 4 miles, Irish, north by east from Tipperary.  It is a good grazing district.  Within view of the post-office, on the farm of Mr. Jerh. Horan, there is a curious conical moat of considerable height with the fragment of a building near the top.  It is attributed to the Danes.

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