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Baile Mhic Andáin
Ireland adm location map.svg
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Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 52°31′36″N7°08′14″W / 52.526667°N 7.137222°W / 52.526667; -7.137222
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County Kilkenny
Founded13th Century
Time zone UTC+0 (WET)
  Summer (DST) UTC-1 (IST (WEST))
Irish Grid Reference S585420

Thomastown (Irish : Baile Mhic Andáin), historically known as Grennan, [1] is a town in County Kilkenny in the province of Leinster in the south-east of Ireland. It is a market town along a stretch of the River Nore which is known for its salmon and trout, with a number of historical landmarks in the vicinity. Visitor attractions include Jerpoint Abbey, Kilfane Glen gardens, and Mount Juliet Golf Course.

Irish language Gaelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic languages family, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family. Irish originated in Ireland and was historically spoken by Irish people throughout Ireland. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of habitual but non-traditional speakers across the country.

County Kilkenny County in the Republic of Ireland

County Kilkenny is a county in Ireland. It is in the province of Leinster and is part of the South-East Region. It is named after the city of Kilkenny. Kilkenny County Council is the local authority for the county. As of the 2016 census the population of the county was 99,232. The county was based on the historic Gaelic kingdom of Ossory (Osraighe), which was co-terminus with the Diocese of Ossory.

Provinces of Ireland Historic territorial division of the island of Ireland

Since the early 17th-century there have been four Provinces of Ireland: Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; however, in the medieval period there were more. The number of provinces and their delimitation fluctuated until 1610 when they were permanently set by the English administration of James I. The provinces of Ireland no longer serve administrative or political purposes, but function as historical and cultural entities.


Thomastown is a Local Electoral Area of County Kilkenny and includes the electoral divisions of Ballyhale, Ballyvool, Bennettsbridge, Bramblestown, Castlebanny, Clara, Coolhill, Dunbell, Famma, Freaghana, Goresbridge, Gowran, Graiguenamanagh, Inistioge, Jerpoint Church, Kilfane, Kiltorcan, Paulstown, Pleberstown, Powerstown, Shankill, Thomastown, Tullaherin, Ullard and Woolengrange. [2]


The town is situated at a bridging point on the River Nore 17 kilometres (11 mi) from the city of Kilkenny. As of Census 2016, Thomastown had a population of 2,445 making the town the third most populous in the county. The R448 Naas–Waterford road passes through Thomastown, the town is serviced by buses and has a railway station.

River Nore river in Ireland

The River Nore is a 140-kilometre (87 mi) long river located in south-east of Ireland. Along with the River Suir and River Barrow, it is one of the constituent rivers of the group known as the Three Sisters. The river drains approximately 977 square miles (2,530 km2) of Leinster. The long term average flow rate of the River Nore is 42.9 cubic metres per second (m3/s) The river rises in the Devil's Bit Mountain, County Tipperary. Flowing generally southeast, and then south, before emptying into the Celtic Sea at Waterford Harbour, Waterford.

Kilkenny City in Leinster, Ireland

Kilkenny officially ‘the Municipal District of Kilkenny City’ is the county town of County Kilkenny in the province of Leinster, Ireland. It is built on both banks of the River Nore. The 2016 census gave the total population of Kilkenny as 26,512.

R448 road (Ireland)

The R448 road is a regional road in Ireland. It is the designation given to the former N9 national primary road when it was bypassed by the M9 motorway.

The bridge over the River Nore. Thomastown65.jpg
The bridge over the River Nore.


The town was founded in the 13th century on an important crossing point by an Anglo-Norman mercenary from Wales, Thomas FitzAnthony, replacing the earlier Irish settlement of Grennan (Irish : Grianán, Sunny Place). FitzAnthony was granted a large area of land in the region by William Earl Marshall, son-in-law of Strongbow, and became the Seneschal (Governor) of Leinster in the 13th century. [8] He built fortifications at Thomastown, fragments of which can still be seen today, together with nearby Grennan Castle, now in ruins. FitzAnthony died in 1229. Of this castle and the town's walls, the only remains are the towers near each end of the bridge and the remains of a 13th-century church, dedicated to St Mary. The town became a small medieval walled town. [9]

Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, Lord of Leinster, Justiciar of Ireland was an Anglo-Norman nobleman notable for his leading role in the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland. Like his father, Richard fitz Gilbert has since become commonly known by his nickname Strongbow, which may be a mistranscription or mistranslation of "Striguil."

In 1650 the town was attacked by Oliver Cromwell. Grennan Castle was laid siege to by Cromwell's army and after two days the defending forces surrendered. [9]

Oliver Cromwell 17th-century English military and political leader

Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader. He served as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland "and of the dominions thereto belonging" from 1653 until his death, acting simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republic.

Local tradition holds that the remains of Saint Nicholas, the 3rd century Anatolian bishop, lie in the vicinity of Thomastown in Jerpoint Park. A grave slab with the carved heads of three people at the ruined Church of St. Nicholas, the church itself, and other stones are virtually all that remain of the medieval village of Newtown Jerpoint, which had fallen into ruin by the 17th century. The village of Newtown was adjacent to Jerpoint Abbey, founded in 1183. The abbey had its own gardens, watermills, cemetery, granary, and kitchens, and was home to a group of Irish-Norman Crusaders in the Middle Ages. It was dissolved in 1540. The legend refers to a band of Irish-Norman knights from Jerpoint, who travelled to the Holy Land to take part in the Crusades. On their return to County Kilkenny, it is said they brought St. Nicholas' remains.

Saint Nicholas 4th-century Christian saint

Saint Nicholas of Myra, also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek maritime city of Myra in Asia Minor during the time of the Roman Empire. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, prostitutes, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas.

Anatolia Asian part of Turkey

Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, Asian Turkey, the Anatolian peninsula or the Anatolian plateau, is a large peninsula in West Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Armenian Highlands to the east and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the Balkan peninsula of Europe.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.


Kilfane Glen is a restored historic 1790s garden of romantic era with waterfall, woodland walks and cottage orne. The garden is listed as an Irish Heritage garden and was awarded assistance in 1993 by the European Union Cultural Commission. As an amenity it covers about 15 acres (61,000 m2) of easily accessible natural landscape.

The romantic landscape within the demesne of Kilfane House was developed during the 1790s by a particularly cultured and sensitive landowner and his wife, Sir John and Lady Power. Sir Richard Power, twin brother of Sir John also joined in the development of the garden.

The ruins of the 12th century Jerpoint Abbey is located near the town.

The nearby Grennan Castle, an oblong-shaped castle, dates from the 13th century and was erected by Thomas FitzAnthony. The castle was in good repair until the beginning of the 19th century, when parts of it were removed for building purposes. [9]


River Nore at Thomastown. Thomastown64.jpg
River Nore at Thomastown.

Milling, with mills powered by the waters of the River Nore, was the principal industry in the town until the early 1960s. The mills were Pilsworth's Mills. At one stage there were 12 water-powered mills, for grain and cloth, working in the parish. The last working mill in Thomastown closed in 1963. This mill is now the site of Grennan Mill Craft School. [10] Several mill buildings in good condition can be seen upstream from the bridge. [9]

For centuries there was an important boat trade to carry produce to and from the port of New Ross. It went into decline at the end of the 18th century.



The R448 Naas Waterford road passes through Thomastown where it crosses the R700 regional road. Meanwhile, the R703 road connects the town with Ballymurphy, Co. Carlow.


The town is connected to the Irish railway network on the Dublin-Waterford railway line via Kilkenny. Thomastown railway station opened on 12 May 1848. [11]


The town is a stop on the Bus Éireann Waterford - Carlow - Dublin - Dublin Airport route 4. There are several daily services on this route. Thomastown is also served daily by the Bus Éireann Waterford - Athlone route 73 and on Thursday by the local Bus Éireann route, 365 to Waterford via Knocktopher. Kilbride Coaches' Kilkenny to New Ross route serves the town twice each way daily (except Sundays). Bus Éireann route 374 also operates from Kilkenny to New Ross but on Thursdays only. [12] [13] [14]


Dysart Castle close to Thomastown is reputed to have been the birthplace of the influential Irish philosopher Bishop George Berkeley. Thomastown was the birthplace of the Texas empresario James Hewetson. [15] Born in Kilmurry, Mildred Anne Butler (1858–1941) was an artist associated with the Newlyn School, she worked in watercolour and oil of landscape, genre and animal subjects. Butler spent most of her life at her family home in Kilmurry, Thomastown. [16] The house previously belonged to the Bushe family, whose most distinguished member was Charles Kendal Bushe, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, who was born at Kilmurry in 1767.

A bronze statue of Ollie Walsh, a Thomastown hurler, stands in Mill Street. Monsignor Tommy Maher played hurling with the local club Thomastown and with the Kilkenny senior inter-county team in the 1940s and coached Kilkenny to seven senior All-Ireland titles between 1957 and 1978. Tom Walsh played hurling with Thomastown and Kilkenny's senior inter-county team in the 1960s.

British songwriter and guitarist John Martyn lived in Thomastown from 1998 until his death in 2009. [17]

Victoria Cross recipient William Dowling was born in Thomastown.


Kayaking (canoeing) and fishing are common on the River Nore in the area, with the Thomastown Paddlers Canoe Club providing training on the river,[ citation needed ] which leads to the village Inistioge.

See also

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  1. Placenames Database of Ireland
  2. Act of the Oireachtas: County of Kilkenny Local Electoral Areas Order 2008
  3. Census for post 1821 figures.
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  10. Grennan Mill Craft School
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  16. ]. "Butler, Mildred Anne (1858 - 1941)". Dublin, Ireland: The Hugh Lane Gallery. Retrieved 26 June 2010. Website hughlane (dot) ie.
  17. "A true legend passes on". Kilkenny People. 9 February 2009. Archived from the original on 2 July 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.