County Tipperary (Irish: Contae Thiobraid Árann) is a county in the Mid-West or Shannon Region of Ireland, historically part of the province of Munster. It's low-lying, fertile and extensive: to paraphrase the familiar tune, "it's a long way from one end of Tipperary to the other". It was therefore divided into two Ridings, with the north governed from Nenagh and the south from Clonmel. In 2014 the Ridings were abolished and it became a single county, with those two towns continuing to share the county role. Tipperary town has never been the county seat.
- 1 Nenagh (Aonach Urmhumhan) has a well-preserved Norman castle tower.
- 2 Portumna (Port Omna) in County Galway is just across the river from Lorrha and Terryglass, which have tumbledown abbeys and castles.
- 3 Ballina on the Shannon is a short walk from the medieval cathedral of Killaloe.
- 4 Roscrea (Ros Cré) has an abbey, restored mill and high cross.
- 5 Thurles (Durlas Éile) has an ornate cathedral, but the big draw is Holy Cross Abbey.
- 6 Tipperary (Tiobraid Árann) is near scenic Glen Aherlow.
- 7 Cashel (Caiseal) has the Rock of Cashel, crowned with medieval sites.
- 8 Fethard (Fiodh Ard) has a medieval church, abbey and defensive walls.
- 9 Cahir (An Chathair) has a fine castle, the playful Swiss Cottage and Mitchelstown Cave.
- 10 Clonmel (Cluain Meala) has several interesting buildings such as Main Guard and Old St Mary's Church.
Tipperary is low-lying, ringed by hills (some of them ranking as mountains) at its boundaries, and with the River Shannon and Lough Derg on its northwest flank. It's landlocked, mostly drained by the River Suir flowing south to Waterford through the fertile "Golden Vale". County Tipperary was created in the 13th century when the Normans broke up the former kingdom of Munster, though for 500 years the church lands formed a separate county of Cross Tipperary. The area was united in 1715 but divided again in 1838, this time geographically into North and South Ridings, which persisted until 2014. The largest towns are Clonmel, Nenagh and Thurles, and in 2016 the county had a population of 159,553.
The county remains mostly agricultural, with limited industry. Its low terrain has suited railway- and road-building, and Tipperary for many visitors is just a green blur through the rain-streaked windows on the way to the Atlantic coast. The main reasons to linger are the historic towns of Cahir and Cashel. With your own vehicle you can easily reach interesting old villages such as Fethard and Ahenny, and explore Glen of Aherlow and soggy Slievenamon.
English is the prime language. About 40% of the population speak Irish but Tipperary is not part of the Gaeltacht. It has nevertheless played an important role in preserving Irish traditions: the Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in Thurles in 1884.
Dublin Airport (DUB IATA) has the best selection of flights, competitive fares and the best onward public transport into the county. But since you'll need a car to get around, you could also fly into Shannon (SNN IATA) (the nearest airport, near Limerick) or Cork (ORK IATA) and hire from there.
The main railway line crosses the county, with trains every hour or two from Dublin Heuston via Kildare and Portlaoise to Thurles (75 min) and Limerick Junction just outside Tipperary (90 min). They continue south to Mallow and Cork, while connecting trains run to Limerick Colbert i.e. the city.
Two trains M-Sa follow a branch line from Limerick Junction to Tipperary, Cahir, Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir and Waterford.
Expressway X12 runs hourly from Dublin Airport and Busáras via Portlaoise to Roscrea and Nenagh, continuing to Limerick.
From Dublin take N7 onto M7 (the section to Naas hasn't yet been upgraded to motorway) past Kildare and Portlaoise. Stay on M7 for Roscrea, Nenagh and Limerick; branch south on M8 for Thurles, Cashel (turnoff for Tipperary), Cahir (turnoff for Clonmel), Fermoy and Cork.
The main cross-county highways are N24 Waterford - Clonmel - Cahir - Tipperary - Limerick, and N62 Thurles - Roscrea - Birr - Athlone.
Mainline trains connect Thurles and Tipperary, though the latter's mainline station is 3 km from town. Branch line services are sparse, see above.
The Dublin - Cork bus connects Cashel and Cahir, and the Limerick - Waterford bus connects Tipperary, Cahir and Clonmel.
See individual towns for Local Link bus services, operated by Kavanagh's Coaches. They're sparse but could prove useful, eg the Clonmel - Fethard - Cashel - Thurles route and the Roscrea-Thurles route.
- Rock of Cashel is the county standout, a crag with several religious ruins.
- Cahir has the Castle, Swiss Cottage, and Mitchelstown Caves.
- Terryglass at the north end of Lough Derg is an attractive village.
- Glen of Aherlow is a scenic area south of Tipperary. It's backed by the Galtee mountains, where Galtymore reaches 918 metres.
- Holycross Abbey is a church within a ruined abbey with fragments of the True Cross, allegedly.
- Lough Derg, part of the River Shannon, extends for 50 km through Ballina, Garrykennedy, Dromineer, Puckane, Terryglass and on up to Portumna in County Galway. You can make a circuit, returning along the County Clare side of the lough.
- Ormond Castle is a fine Elizabethan manor house at Carrick-on-Suir, east of Clonmel.
- "First Fruits" churches: After the Reformation, the Anglicans (i.e. establishment Protestants) took over all the churches, and Catholics weren't allowed to build their own or hold mass - or else! Anglican churches were supported by a tithe, a tax (nominally 10% of arable produce) on parishioners. But Ireland remained too darned Catholic and too darned Irish for the likes of its rulers, so one initiative was the "Board of First Fruits" set up in 1711 to establish more Protestant churches in Ireland. This was funded by the cunning ruse of taxing the Catholics an equivalent amount to a tithe. (Since they were being spared the expense of having their own churches, they surely couldn't begrudge the tax could they now?) County Tipperary received the bulk of these "First Fruits" churches. There are good surviving examples in Thurles, Roscrea and Terryglass, with others in ruins.
- Golf: most towns have a golf course or two nearby.
- Gaelic games: the County GAA play Gaelic football and hurling in Thurles, where the national Association was founded. There are some 75 club teams across the county.
- Sing! It's a long way to Tipperary was written by Harry Williams and Jack Judge, and first performed by Judge in Jan 1912 at the Grand Theatre in Stalybridge near Manchester. The legend goes that it was only composed for a bet the night before performance, but they already had a good draft of 1909 called "It's a long way to Connemara" which just needed tweaking. "It's a long way to County Sligo" somehow wouldn't chime, but Judge's grandparents were from Tipperary - aha! The song was born upon an Edwardian peacetime world, where Irish songs were popular but often mawkish. But this lyric has the hero leaving London with a spring in his step, surely on his own terms and with cash in his pockets, to return to "the sweetest girl I know". It has a rousing marching rhythm and in Aug 1914 the Daily Mail reported the Connaught Rangers singing it as they passed through Boulogne, with every stride taking them further from Piccadilly, Leicester Square and Tipperary, into the maw of Germany's Schlieffen Plan. Soon every British Army unit was singing it. It was recorded in Nov 1914 and became popular throughout the English-speaking countries, and an unofficial anthem of the First World War.
- However "It's a long way - " is not the county anthem, for obvious topological reasons. What they sing is Slievenamon, written in the mid 19th century, and suitably lachrymose yet patriotic.
Eat & Drink
- In most towns, bar meals in the pubs will be your best option.
- The standout restaurant in the county is Chez Hans in Cashel.
- Lava Rock in Cahir is the up-and-coming challenger.
- In Fethard, McCarthy's Pub, Restaurant and Undertaker has been going strong since the 1850s.
- In Clonmel, Mulcahy's and Befani's both attract admiring reviews.
- Bulmer's Cider is made in Clonmel. It's marketed as Magner's outside the Republic as it's no longer connected with the UK Bulmer's firm.
- Stock up on fresh local produce at the Farmer's Markets held in many towns. And wine from the supermarket of course.
- To the west is historic Limerick city and county, and scenic County Clare.
- South across low hills is County Waterford.