History of Tipperary Town

The name Tipperary translates the Irish Tiobraid Arann, “the well of the territory of Ara”, a reference to an ancient sacred well on the river Ara which runs through the town. This ancient well, located just off Main Street, is now closed and little is known about the early history of settlement in the area. The little fountain in the picture is not on the site of the well, it is of more recent origin, built by Stafford O'Brien in 1833.

The first records we have of the town is as an Anglo-Norman settlement. You can still see the motte and bailey built by the Normans, as a mound among the Tipperary Hills, on your left as you drive into the town from Limerick. Prince John (later King John, infamous for Magna Carta) had a castle built in the town towards the end of the 12th Century and it is thought that the town was granted its town status by Edward I.

In the 17th century Erasmus Smith, of a local prominent family, established a grammar school which today is the Abbey Boys' Secondary School. Where the present Church of Ireland building stands has been a religious site since the 13th century. The preacher John Wesley visited Ireland many times and is believed to have preached nearby, in West Tipperary.

The town has a history of involvement in the struggles for independence as the home of John O’Leary. A prominent statue in the town commemorates Charles Kickham and another is dedicated to the Manchester Martyrs. In the early 20th Century, the War of Independence kicked off in the nearby village of Sologhead.

A more detailed history of the town can be found here.