Shannonside

Region 4

Clare 'Thomond', Limerick 'Desmond', Tipperary North 'Golden Vale'

Regional Secretary - Frank Naughton


Clare "Thomond" Branch, IPA Ireland


Clare is a county on the mid-western coast of Ireland and immediately north of County Limerick and the Shannon Estuary. Its west coast faces the Atlantic Ocean and its east coast is bordered by the great River Shannon and its largest lake, 30 miles long Lough Derg. To its north lies county Galway. An Clàr, the Gaelic name of the county, means 'The Plain'. Historically it was referred to as Desmond, or North Munster, the kingdom of the O'Briens and McNamaras. Shannon International Airport was built on reclaimed land at the junction of the estuaries of the Shannon and the Fergus and is a town in its own right having many important industries.

County Clare hold endless attractions to visitors. Taking the N18 from Limerick to Bunratty are the endless attractions of the 15th century Castle and a whole traditional village transferred stone by stone from all over the country. Each cabin, farmhouse, pub, post office, school, shop and even a mill is lovingly reassembled and equipped as it would have been a century ago.

The castle had been allowed to fall into disrepair until Viscount Gort took over its restoration in 1954. It now houses painting and tapestries from the 15th and 16th centuries conducts world renowned banquets with music and dancing. Further inland is Knappogue Castle, seat of the Mc Namara kings, built in 1467, and like Bunratty was abandoned but rescued by Texan, Mark Edwin Andrews. It now vies with Bunratty for its banquets, pageants of Irish history with music, song and dance. Further east to Lough Derg and the Shannon is Killaloe the seat of the O'Brien kings, the most famous of whom was Brian Boru who set about banishing the Vikings from Ireland. Brian utterly defeated the Viking king Sitric at the Battle of Clontarf, near Dublin, in 1014, only to be fatally wounded by one of the fleeing invaders.

The Great Famine of 1845 combined with the Penal Laws, depopulated Clare from 286,000 in 1841 to half that number in 1871. Daniel O'Connell, a native of Kerry, trained as a lawyer in the Roman Catholic colleges of St Omar and Douai, France. Called to the Irish Bar, he agitated for the emancipation of Catholics from Penal Laws. He stood for a by-election in Clare in 1828 and won an overwhelming victory but was not allowed to take his seat. His powerful advocacy led to the Emancipation Act of 1829 for which he was popularly titled The Liberator of a downtrodden people.

Back to the west coast, thousands visit the awe-inspiring 650ft Cliff of Moher and the nearby barren-looking Burren with its astonishing variety of wild flowers not found anywhere else in Ireland. Clare has a well-merited reputation as the home of traditional Irish music and dance. The founder of GAA, Michael Cusack, died in Clare in 1906. The inventor of the first commercially viable submarine was John Phillip Holland, born in Liscannor in 1841 and educated in Limerick. His invention, named the "Holland" was purchased and used by the US Navy.

Clare is an independent Division of the Garda Síochána. The Regional Secretary of Shannonside Region is Frank Naughton, stationed in Ennis.

Limerick "Desmond" Branch, IPA Ireland


Region 4 consists of the ancient kingdoms of North Munster and South Munster and North Tipperary part of the Golden Vale. The Region straddles the longest river in Ireland, the 260Km Shannon, hence the title "Shannonside". The river is navigable from Limerick City to the Erne lakes in Northern Ireland. It drives the turbines of the Ardnacrusha Electricity Generating Station in Clare, completed in 1929 and broadens out to three large lakes on its way from the hills of Cavan to the Atlantic Ocean in mid-western Ireland, between Clare, Kerry and Limerick counties.

Remains of Megalithic man dating back to 3,500 BC testifies to the antiquity of the region. Lough Gur's stone circles, forts and lakeside dwellings are the most complete Stone and Bronze Ages sites in North Western Europe that attract vast numbers of visitors to its Visitors' Centre from May to September. With the advent of Christianity, heralded by St Patrick in 432, monasteries sprang up in places like Ardpatrick, Mungret, Adare and Killeedy contributing to the reputation of Ireland as being The Island of Saints and Scholars. The discovery of the Ardagh Chalice in west Limerick, on display in Trinity College, Dublin, is the finest example of gold, silver and gilt bronze craftmanship from the 1st Millennium AD.

Limerick City was founded by the viking invaders who occupied the Shannon Estuary from 922 until driven out at the battle of Clontarf in 1014 by King Brian Boru. They raided many of the monasteries in Limerick and Clare for booty to fill their long ships sailing back to Scandinavia. Their cousins, the Normans, invited by a king having marital problems and stayed until 1922. King John of England, the Wisest Fool in Christendom, ordered the erection of a fortress in Limerick in 1194 that still stands and is a major tourist attraction today. He granted a Royal Charter to Limerick City that predates London's Charter. More castles were built in Limerick County than in any other County in Ireland on lands confiscated from native royalty and peasantry; several are used as hotels and museums today. King John's castle withstood sieges by Oliver Cromwell in 1690 and by King William of Orange at the termination of his war against King James in 1691. The valour of the women of Limerick defending the castle during the sieges is legendary.

The Treaty, agreed by the Generals ending the siege, saw several ships laden with thousands of defeated Irish sailing for the Continent and fighting the wars of France, Germany and Austria. Their leader, General Patrick Sarsfield, died on the fields of Landen and at least two became Marshals of France. The Penal Laws were re-imposed with more ferocity than ever when the English Parliament refuted the Treaty and Limerick became known as "The City of the Broken Treaty". The Castle is now fully restored and used as a museum. The great house owned by the poet Aubrey De Vere standing on 600 acres of Curraghchase Forest Park and Lake, near the picturesque town of Adare, was burned down in 1941 and is now a restful haven for ramblers and nature lovers.

The first flying boats from US landed at Foynes on the Shannon Estuary in 1937 but the first passenger service was not until 1939. The last flying boat left Foynes in October, 1945. Always a centre of learning, Limerick has a modern University and a major Teachers' Training College, a widely recognised Technological Park, 17 second level schools, an Arts Centre, three museums and the famous Thomond Park, the home of Rugby Football. There are two major hospitals, a gaol and the Garda Divisional Headquarters for the city and county. The Garda Sports and Social Club is a converted convent chapel in Sexton Street. There are several major golf clubs dotted all over the county.

The IPA Limerick "Desmond" Branch Secretary is Jim Buckley buckleyhome@yahoo.com

North Tipperary Branch of IPA Section Ireland


While County Tipperary is the largest inland County in Ireland, it is divided for administrative purposes into two North and South Ridings, an old English land demarcation that has survived into the modern Republic System. Although separated by the Shannon the North Riding is contiguous to Clare and Limerick and forms part of the ancient Province of Munster.

It also forms the third Branch of IPA Region 4 having its base in the capital, Nenagh. The Gaelic name of the County is Tiobraid Arann and takes its name from the Well of Era or the River Ara. The County was historically ruled from Cashel, the seat of the Kings of Munster. On the arrival of the Normans the Golden Vale fertile lands of Tipperary were confiscated from the Irish to the English Butlers. Cromwell's Plantation completed the rout of the remaining Irish landowners reducing them to tenants. As a result, resistance of the dispossessed bred violent reprisals against their overlords leading to the Whiteboy movement and the soubriquet "Turbulent Tipperary". In the mid-19th Century the Young Ireland and Fenian resistance leader John Mitchell was twice deported to Australia but was re-elected and played a major role in laying the foundations for the modern Irish State.