THURLES, a market-town and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of ELIOGARTY, county of TIPPERARY, and province of MUNSTER, 24¾- miles (N.) from Clonmel, and 75 (S. W.) from Dublin, on the road from Tipperary to Templemore; containing 10,031 inhabitants, of which number, 7084 are in the town. This place, originally called Durlas-O'Fogarty, is of great antiquity, and in the 10th century was the scene of a memorable battle 3 between the Danes and the native Irish, in which the former suffered a signal defeat. Soon after the English invasion, the Osttnen of Dublin, on their march to reinforce Strongbow, who was then encamped at Cashel, halted at this place in careless security, when O'Brien of Thomond suddenly attacked and defeated them, with the loss of 400 of their men and their four principal commanders. O'Brien soon afterwards encountered the English borderers, who were extending their power in this direction, and meeting with them at this place, compelled them to retreat. A castle appears to have been erected here at an early period, which in 1208 was besieged by Hugh de Lacy and taken from Geoffrey MacMorris, by whom it was then occupied. In 1300 a monastery for Carmelites or White friars was founded here by one of the Butler family, which at the dissolution was granted, with all it dependencies, to Thomas, Earl of Ormonde. A preceptory of Knights Templars is said to have been also founded here, of which probably the castle before mentioned may have been a part, but no authentic record exists of such an establishment. The principal castle was erected by James Butler, the first Lord Palatine of Tipperary, one of whose descendants was, in 1535, created Viscount Thurles: this castle, during the parliamentary war, was garrisoned for the King, but was afterwards taken by the parliamentarian forces, by whom it was demolished. The town is pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Suir, by which it is divided into two nearly equal parts, connected with each other by a low bridge; and consists of one spacious street, from each extremity of which smaller streets diverge in various directions. In 1831 it contained 1210 houses, most of which are neatly built and several are of handsome appearance: there are infantry barracks on a small scale. The environs in every direction are pleasant, and are enlivened by richly varied scenery: the surrounding country is extremely fertile, and the town is the commercial centre of a populous and highly cultivated district, and is rapidly increasing in wealth and importance. A considerable trade is carried on in corn, which is sent by land carriage to Clonmel; it has also an excellent retail trade, and contains a large brewery and a tannery. The market days are Tuesday and Saturday; and fairs are held on the first Tuesday in every month, on Easter- Monday, and on the 21st of Aug. and Dec. The market- house is a neat building in the western part of the main street. A chief constabulary police force is stationed in the town; general sessions for the county are held twice in the year, and petty sessions every Saturday. The sessions-house is a neat modern building; and near it is a well-arranged bridewell, containing 22 cells, 4 day-rooms, and two airing-yards. The parish comprises 7290 statute acres, of which 5670 are arable, 810 pasture, and 810 bog and waste: the land in cultivation is of very good quality, producing abundant crops, and the system of agriculture is improved. An abundant supply of fuel is obtained from the bogs, and from the Slievardagh coal mines, which are about eight miles distant. Brittas Castle, the property of the Langley family, was commenced on a very extensive scale by the late Capt. Langley, but remains in an unfinished state. The Archbishop of Cashel has a handsome residence here, and there is also the residence of a stipendiary magistrate in the parish. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Cashel, partly impropriate in -- Bagwell, Esq., and Mrs. Downes, and partly united, by act of council, in 1682, to the vicarages of Rahelty, Shyane, and Adnith, and in the patronage of the Archbishop. The tithes amount to £995, of which £135 is payable to the impropriators, and £860 to the vicar. The glebe-house, towards which the late Board of First Fruits contributed a gift of £100 and a loan of £1500, in 1820, is a good residence; the glebe comprises 68 statute acres, and the gross value of the benefice amounts to £1022. 3. 6. per annum. The church is a neat edifice at the east end of the town, towards the erection of which the late Board of First Fruits advanced a loan of £2000. The R. C. parish is co-extensive, with that of the Established Church; it is the head of the diocese, and the mensal of the Archbishop. The chapel, which is the cathedral of the diocese, is a spacious and handsome structure, erected at an expense of £10,000, and one of the finest buildings of the kind in Ireland. Near it are the Ursuline and Presentation convents, the ladies of which employ themselves in the gratuitous instruction of poor female children; each has a private chapel. St. Patrick's College, established in 1836 for the liberal education of R. C. young gentlemen upon moderate terms, is a handsome building in an improved demesne of 25 acres, bounded on one side by the river Suir. About 700 children are taught in four public schools, of which the conventual schools are partly supported by a bequest of £2000 from the late Most Rev. Dr. James Butler, and those of the Christian Brethren by a similar bequest from the Most Rev. Dr. Bray, the interest of which he appropriated to the instruction and clothing of poor boys; and the parochial school is supported by the incumbent. There are also 13 private schools, in which are nearly 700 children; and a dispensary. It is said that till within the last 20 or 30 years there were the ruins of seven castles in this parish; there are still vestiges of two, and also of a large mansion, formerly the residence of the Earl of Llandaff. The remains of the principal castle are situated close to the bridge, and consist at present of a lofty quadrangular keep, with various embattled walls and gables: the other, which is situated at the western extremity of the town, and is ascribed to the Knights Templars, appears to have been of very small extent; a little to the north of it was an ancient moat. In this part of the town are also the remains of the ancient monastery, consisting of a great part of a strong tower, with some mouldering walls. Grose, in his Antiquities, states that St. Mary's church, belonging to a Franciscan monastery, founded by the O'Meaghers in the 15th century, occupied the site of the present R. C. chapel. Manus O'Fohily, the last abbot, refused to surrender it at the dissolution, and was taken prisoner to Dublin, where he suffered a long confinement. On the townland of Killinard are the remains of an old church, to which is attached a burial-ground. The greater part of the parish is the property of Lady Elizabeth Matthew, sister of the late Earl of Llandaff. Thurles gives the inferior title of Viscount to the Marquess of Ormonde.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.