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This week local librarian and historian Mary Guinan Darmody gives us some insight into County Tipperary, what the key surnames there are, some key dates, and where to find resources for anyone doing research in the area. 

Earl Main Street, County Tipperary

Tipperary (Tiobraid Árann) often called the premier county is the largest inland county and the twelfth largest of the thirty-two counties. In 1328, Tipperary was granted to the Earls of Ormond as a county palatinate or liberty. The grant excluded church lands such as the archiepiscopal see of Cashel, which formed the separate county of cross Tipperary. In 1838 Tipperary was divided into two ridings; North Tipperary and South Tipperary for administrative purposes.  

Tipperary is famous for its horse breeding industry and is the home of Coolmore Stud, one of the largest thoroughbred breeding operations in the world. There is much fertile land, especially in the region known as the Golden Vale, one of the richest agricultural areas in Ireland.

Get Involved: Browse the County Tipperary Group

Names associated with Tipperary

  • Brien (ÓBriain) A Dalcassian clan deriving its importance from King Brian Boru, one of the most numerous names In Ireland. The family acquired land in north Tipperary around 1300.

  • Butler: (de Buitléir) Theobald Fitzwalter accompanied Henry 11 to Ireland and was created Chief Butler in1220. The chief branch of the family was associated with Kilkenny Castle, but several branches of the family were associated with Tipperary.

  • Dwyer (Ó Duibhir) The O’Dwyer sept is associated mainly with the barony of Kilnamanagh

  • Fogarty: (Ó Fógartaigh) The sept gave its name to the area which is now the barony of Eliogarty where Thurles is situated.

  • Gleeson (Ó Gliasáin or Ó Glasáin) is mainly associated with Lower Ormond

  • Kennedy: (Ó Cinnéide) The baronies of Upper and Lower Ormond are the areas most associated with Kennedy whose family ancestor was Kennedy, nephew of Brian Boru

  • Maher:(Ó’Meachair) Also spelled as Meagher, this name is long associated with the barony of Ikerrin.

  • Mockler: ((Ó Moclair) First mentioned in Co. Tipperary in the early thirteenth century and mainly associated with Middlethird. There is a townland called Mocklerstown.

  • Ryan: (Ó Riain) Amongst the ten most numerous surnames in Ireland. Long associated with the barony of Owney and Arra. Other forms of the name are Mulyryan and O ‘Ryan

  • Tobin: (Tóibín) the family came to Ireland after the Norman Invasion and had settled in Tipperary by 1200

Key dates in Tipperary history

  • 432: St. Patrick is meant to have baptised King Aengus on the Rock of Cashel, piercing the King’s foot during the ceremony. But as the King believed it was part of the ritual, he did not complain.

  • 1101: Synod of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel and its lands were granted to the Church by King Muirchertach Ua Briain, the great-grandson of Brian Boru.
  • 1650: Oliver Cromwell arrived in Clonmel on 27th April 1650 and so began the Siege of Clonmel.
  • 1838: County divided into two ridings, North and South on 1st December 1838, read more HERE
  • 1848: The Young Ireland Rebellion was a failed Irish nationalist uprising led by the Young Ireland Movement, part of the wider Revolutions of 1848 that affected most of Europe. It took place on 29 July 1848 at Farranrory, 4.3 km north - northeast of the village of Ballingarry. After being chased by a force of Young Irelanders and their supporters an Irish Constabulary unit took refuge in a house and held those inside as hostages. A several-hour gunfight followed but the rebels fled after a large group of police reinforcements arrived.
  • 1884: GAA was founded in Hayes Hotel, Thurles on 1st November 1884, with seven men in attendance at the meeting Michael Cusack, Maurice Davin (who presided) John Wyse Power, John McKay, J. K. Bracken, Joseph O’Ryan and Thomas St. George McCarthy. Read more HERE

  • 1895: Bridget Cleary, a dressmaker, was born in Ballyvadlea, near Cloneen. In March 1895, she was burned to death in the kitchen fire by her husband and neighbors in the belief that she had been replaced by a fairy or changeling.  The horrific event was widely reported in Ireland and internationally. See below, The cottage where Michael Cleary murdered his wife Bridget, still stands in Ballyvadlea, image above was taken in 1895 source: National Archives CBS_1895_9617_S

Bridget Cleary

  • 1912: ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’, the song which became famous for marching during World War 1 was written by Englishman, Jack Judge whose grandmother came from Tipperary. Read more HERE, Welcome signs 'You've come a long long way' can be found throughout County Tipperary today.
  • 1919: Sologheadbeg Ambush took place on 21st January, the same date as the first sitting of the Republican parliament. Irish Volunteers seized gelignite from the Royal Irish Constabulary.  The incident is often thought of as the first engagement of the War of Independence.

READ MORE: County Tipperary in the 1830s

Famous Faces from Tipperary County

Lena Rice: Featured in our extraordinary women's piece, Lena Rice was born in Marlhill, near New Inn. In 1890 she became the first (and only) Irish woman to win the Ladies Singles Tennis Championship at Wimbledon.

Lena Rice

READ MORE:: 10 of Ireland's Most Extraordinary Women

Aileen Cust: formerly of Cordangan Manor, Tipperary was the first lady to qualify in veterinary medicine. Despite not being allowed to sit her final exams, she worked for several years in the field, including working with the YMCA and in the field veterinary hospital during WW1. It was only in 1922 that she was allowed to finally receive her professional qualification.

Aileen Cust

Charles Bianconi: Although christened Carlo, he anglicised his name to Charles when he arrived in Ireland in 1802. He worked as an engraver and print seller in Dublin. In 1806 he set up an engraving, gilding, and print shop in Carrick-on-Suir, moving to Clonmel in 1815. Bianconi established regular horse-drawn carriage services on various routes from about 1815 onwards. He purchased Longfield House near Boherlahan. He donated land for the construction of a parish church in Boherlahan and he and his family were buried in a side chapel.

Frank Patterson: Born in Clonmel in 1938, Frank Patterson KCHS was an internationally renowned Irish tenor. He performed sell-out concerts from London to New York's Carnegie Hall. He sang in Phoenix Park during the visit of Pope John Paul 11. He died aged 61 in 2000 and was buried in his native Clonmel.

READ MORE: Ireland & The Opera

The Clancy Brothers; The Clancy Brothers, Patrick, Tom, and Liam were born in Carrick on Suir. The Clancy Brothers were an influential Irish folk music group. Best known for their work with Tommy Makem and their long association with the Aran jumper.

Vincent O’Brien: Born in Co. Cork, Vincent O’Brien moved to Ballydoyle in 1951 and founded his world-famous training stables. He was voted the greatest national hunt trainer of the 20th century and was later voted the greatest flat trainer of the 20th century

Vincent O Brien

Cottage Rake jumps the final fence en route to the first of three Cheltenham Gold Cups in 1948, under the ride of Aubrey Brabazon. Photograph: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty

Ned Kelly: Edward Kelly was an Australian bushranger, outlaw, gang leader, and convicted police murderer. One of the last bushrangers, he is known for wearing a suit of bulletproof armor during his final shootout with the police. His father, John from Moyglass had been transported in 1841 for the theft of two pigs.

Ned Kelly

Thomas MacDonagh: Thomas MacDonagh was born in Cloughjordan in 1878, the son of two schoolteachers. In 1902 he joined the Gaelic League, which began his intense interest in Irish nationalism. In 1913 he joined the Irish Volunteers and was appointed Commandant of the entire Dublin Brigade and Director-General of Training. He was a signatory of the 1916 Proclamation and was one of the leaders executed for their role in the Easter Rising. Thomas MacDonagh was executed on May 3, 1916.

Thomas McDonagh

Tipperary has several Olympic athletes

Bob Tisdall, Matt McGrath, Tom Kiely, and Pat O’Callaghan

READ MORE: Ireland & The Olympians

The County Tipperary Community on IrelandXO

Did you know that our County Tipperary Diaspora Community has close to 1.5K members? If you haven't already joined you can do so here. It's a community of those living in County Tipperary with an interest in genealogy and those living abroad with ancestry in the County. It's our mission that both communities have a space where they can come together share stories and connect.

Below, we've included a small selection of ancestors added to the Tipperary Community by you our members both local and overseas, click on the image to find out more. 

GET INVOLVED  We'd love to see more profiles linked to the Tipperary Community, why not add the story of someone from your town/village? Click here to add an ancestor.

John F Finerty

John F. Finerty 1846

John Hogan

John Hogan 1840

Margaret Tobin

Margaret Tobin

Mary Maher

Mary Maher 1823

Martin Nolan

Martin Nolan 1866

Anne O Callaghan

Anne (Rita) Marguerite O Callaghan 1902

John Meagher 1869

John Meagher 1869

Margareet Mary Hopkins

Margaret Mary Hopkins 1848


Find out more about your County Tipperary Roots

Whatever stage you are at with researching your Tipperary ancestry, we have the resources to help you find out more. Once you have tracked down your Tipperary ancestors, be sure to add them to the IrelandXO Ancestor Database so that others can read their stories. Who knows? You may even find a connection you never knew you had. Watch our handy video here, its number 2!

We highly suggest checking out our Tipperary  Message Board where our wonderful team of volunteers is waiting to answer your queries and help you to solve your family history mysteries. If you are not sure of what parish your ancestors lived in CLICK HERE to get started. For a full list of civil parishes in County Tipperary CLICK HERE

In the meantime here are some pages that we have put together to help you on your genealogy journey. 

  • Tipperary Studies is the designated Local Studies department for Tipperary County Council.  The department has a very active digitisation policy and is making an ever-expanding amount of historical and genealogical material available via its Digital Archive. It is the first place anyone researching their roots in Tipperary should visit. 

  • If you want to know how the Famine affected Tipperary CLICK HERE to read our handy guide or click HERE to go straight to the census records that list populations in each year from 1821 - 1881

  • In 1837 the Lewis' Topographical Survey was published. This provides detailed snapshots of life in each Civil Parish just before the Famine. CLICK HERE for more information on Tipperary

  • Tipperary Studies is also home to the County Tipperary Historical Society and out-of-print journals may be accessed there.

  • Tipperary County Council Library Service also hosts local historian Tom Burnell’s database of the Tipperary War Dead 

Read More

Are you living in County Tipperary, would you like to be the local representative for your town/village? If so we'd love to hear from you, get in touch at 


An initiative of the Tipperary County Council

We hope you have found the information we have shared helpful. While you are here, we have a small favour to ask. Ireland Reaching Out is a non-profit organisation that relies on public funding and donations to ensure a completely free family history advisory service to anyone of Irish heritage who needs help connecting with their Irish place of origin. If you would like to support our mission, please click on the donate button and make a contribution. Any amount, big or small, is appreciated and makes a difference. 

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