Being a Ryan, when one starts to think of Ireland, one’s mind naturally turns towards Tipperary, situated in the South/West of Ireland in the Province of Munster. Although the Ryan Family is represented in almost every County and city in Ireland, and way back in the dim and distant past the Ryans were more prevalent in the Province of Leinster, the Ryans many centuries ago appeared in the Province of Munster and quickly established themselves along the border between Limerick and Tipperary where they rapidly became the Family of influence and power in the Baronies of Owney and Owneybeg. The Family influence grew rapidly as did their numbers until the Ryans were so numerous in Tipperary that it became a trite saying that "One could hardly throw a stone down a street in Tipperary without hitting a Ryan". And so it became natural to associate Tipperary County with the Ryans and the Ryans with Tipperary County.
It seems natural although in truth the Ryan family did not really originate here and are associated with other areas and Counties in Ireland. Nevertheless it is true to say that Tipperary is considered the home of the Ryans. So any Ryan when visiting Ireland most naturally finds his or her way to Tipperary, just as we did when we went to Ireland in 1995. Tipperary is probably best known, world wide, from the World War 1 Song “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” which, in fact, was written by an Englishman who had never even seen Ireland, let alone Tipperary, and it became a popular song on both sides of the trenches. The song is still popular to this very day, but the ironically amusing about the "Long Way" thing is that, when we arrived in Tipperary in 1955, it was not long before we were confronted with a roadside sign which, with typical Irish humour, said “SEE, IT’S NOT THAT FAR AFTER ALL”.
Tipperary derives its name from –Tiobraid Arainn (The
well of Aran) - a well situated just off the present Main Street of
Tipperary Town, which is, or rather was, (the well I mean) considered sacred,
and at which King Brian Boru is reputed to have
washed his wounds after a battle. However, in common with many other Irish towns
Tipperary Town traces its origins to the Normans, who invaded Ireland, and around
the end of the 12th. century established a settlement to the north-west in the
vicinity of the present town. The motte and bailey built by the Normans then,
can still be seen today.
Note: A motte and bailey are ancient forms of structures and earthworks, commonly used during this era.
Main Street, Tipperary as we saw it in 1995
However, the future King John of England later built a castle in Tipperary, and every trace of this structure has since been obliterated. Later during the Cromwellian suppression of Ireland, all land in Tipperary was confiscated to the British Crown; Irish landowners were deprived of their ownership; and the town became the property of a wealthy English gentleman and merchant by the name of Erasmus Smith
The area between Limerick, in County Limerick; Nenagh, Thurles, and Tipperary Town in Tipperary is considered the cradle of the modern Ryan Family. Known collectively as the Slieve Felim area as it contains the Slieve Felim Mountains. An area on this North/Western border with Limerick was a district known as Owney and Owney Beg which gave its name to the Ryan Family which was then known as the Owney Ryans or the Ryans of Owney There a number of places and areas in Tipperary which are intimately associated with the Ryan family. Mostly these are concentrated in the North of the County in the region around the Slieve Felim Mountains, and names like Newport, Nenagh, Cashel, - the Rock of Cashel being famous, of course, for its association with St. Patrick - Clonmel, Thurles and others bring a gleam to the eye of every Ryan that visits Tipperary. Within this area around Newport there are the ruined remains of no less that four Ryan Castles. And while visiting Ireland I was fortunate enough to visit two of these ruins.... These were the Castle Craig and Cully Castle, this last named having been confiscated by Cromwell, and awarded to one of his financial backers, an Englishman named Waller, who subsequently renamed it Castle Waller.
Castle Waller formerly Cully Castle
The ruins of a Ryan Castle (Cully Castle) situated in Northern Tipperary. The ruins are completely covered in ivy, but note the more modern cottage built on to the ruins, which was still occupied. The Castle was confiscated from the Ryan Family by Oliver Cromwell, and presented to one of his supporters, Col. Waller who renamed it as "Castle Waller". In the picture the ruins are being inspected by Ted Ryan (nearest to building) and his brother Bernie Ryan during a visit to Ireland in 1995.
This Castle situated in the Sleive Felim Mountains of Northern Tipperary was confiscated by Cromwell from the Ryan Family and presented to a supporter Col Waller, who renamed it "Castle Waller". You will note from the picture that all the ruins of the castle are overgrown and covered with ivy, but interestingly a somewhat more recent cottage has been attached to the ruins and is still occupied. The ruins are being inspected by Ted Ryan (Aust) - nearest to ruins- and his brother Bernie Ryan during a trip to Ireland during 1995.
It is interesting to note that even today the name Ryan is prevalent throughout Tipperary and it is not uncommon to see the name proudly displayed on business houses and Hotels, throughout the County. Even when searching for the Ryan Castles in 1995 we had recourse to Ryan’s Hotel in Newport for directions, were welcomed with great Ryan cordiality and warmth, and quickly put on the right track On another occasion while seeking proof of our family roots we visited a Ryan Pub in Thurles and were directed to Ned Ryan, or "Ned the Undertaker" as he was known, who proved a mine of information and assured us that we probably belonged to the Ryan Family known by the nickname of "Ryan Castle". It is a shame that we have not yet been able to corroborate this assumption.
There are many more towns and areas in Tipperary which prove a natural enticement for the tourist, such as Cashel, Holy Cross, Nenagh, Thurles, Clonmel to name but a few. However, for myself, my brother and our wives, who made the trip to Tipperary in 1995 there are several which stand high in our memory, and of these the most remembered is the Glen of Aherlow. The Glen stretches for some 15 miles from Bansha in the East to Galbally in the West a most picturesque village at the mouth of the Glen and only 9 miles from Tipperary Town. The Glen is nestled between the Slieve na Muck hills to the North, and the Galtee Mountains to the South, and provided a haven of refuge for the Raparees –- the Irishmen who had been dispossessed of their lands and became outlaws during this troubled periods of Irish History -– the most famous and well known of these being Edmund RYAN or “Eamonn an Chnoic” or “Ned of the Hills” The area is justly famous for its outstanding scenery and beauty and a marvellous view of the Glen can be enjoyed from the statue of “Christ the King” on the Coach road.
When we visited Ireland the Clan Ryan treated us to a magnificent banquet masterminded and controlled by Mr, John Bradshaw of Tipperary Town, at the Aherlow House which is situated overlooking the Glen not far from the Statue. Here we were treated right royally by the Clan Ryan, Tipperary, and experienced a memorable time. Only a matter of several miles to the west of Tipperary town, any Ryan visiting Tipperary, and interested will find a small village called Ballyryan, may spend a night at a farming property which prides itself on its “B&B” (bed and breakfast) facilities, and is run by the original family of Ryans who still farm the property.
All things considered Tipperary is a well worth destination for any person fortunate enough to make the journey, and particularly so if he/she happen to have Ryan connections. Anyone contemplating a visit would be well advised to contact Mr. John Bradshaw, at the Clann na hEireann Office at 45 West Main Street, Tipperary Town, who will undoubtedly give you the best advice and guidance possible. If you do just tell John that Ted Ryan from Gympie, Queensland sent you.
You could also look up Willie Ryan mine host of the "Nellie O'Brien" pub in Main Street, Tipperary Town who just after our visit to Tipperary was elected as Chieftain of the Clan Ryan Tipperary, or Con Ryan who lives on the Clonmel Road, only a short walk from the Main Street of Tipperary and you could say the same thing to them.
Here I must add a post script as I have recently been advised that Willie Ryan has now relinquished the "Nellie O'Brien" and the best way to contact him would be through John Bradshaw. To the best of my knowledge Con Ryan and his wife are still residing on Clonmel Road.
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