THE CROMWELLIAN occupation of Fethard followed somewhat predictable lines. Colonel Jeremy Sankey, a Cromwellian officer, not known for either benevolence or kindness, had Captain John Godfrey, a prisoner of war, hanged when one of the occupation troops had been killed.
At this time the numerous woods of the countryside gave refuge to large numbers of refugees and fugitives who took every opportunity of harming the enemy which they failed to defeat in the field of battle. Far away from the daily troubles was the most wealthy citizen of Fethard town, Sir Redmund Everard. He had fled abroad to await better times. At home the only fate that could await him was execution at the behest of some military overlord. A priest had slender or no chances of survival and thus it happened that Father Tirry, an Augustinian priest, was hanged in Clonmel. By the way, his grave has never been discovered.
The Cromwellian times are important in Irish history for the widespread confiscation of all land belonged to former rebels and this meant in practice the pauperisation of all Catholic landowners who were almost overwhelmingly Catholic in the South of Ireland and in the west or east also. We hear that in 1654 one John Kearney of Fethard sought some mitigation of his banishment and deprivation of property in the town. With a kind of savage sense of justice he was excused for twelve months from transplantation, as it was called. The reason was simply because he had not appeared in arms against the English government forces for the first twelve months of the rebellion.
Debts or wages
The new owners came from the English commercial and trading classes and the armed forces. In the first case it was in settlement of debts and in the second case it was in lieu of wages. Thus, a Cooke took over the castle and lands of Kiltinan, which had been the property of the Butlers of Dunboyne, as they became known. In 1659, when a poll-tax, or personal tax, was levied throughout the land, the collectors and assessors in Fethard were Robert Powell and Peter Cooke. Powell was settled in Monemore. When the Cromwellian regime ceased in 1661 and the dispossessed landowners expected to receive their lands back they were bitterly disappointed. Few got anything and even the Butlers of Kiltinan were never again in possession of their old possessions near Fethard.
In the 18th century Fethard was a much less important place than it had been. We hear that patents for fairs were issued in 1705 to the towns and the grantees were two men called Marsh and Jacob. Two fairs were granted, one on the 27th or 28th August annually, and the other on 9th or 10th April. The reason for the alternative dates in each case was in case the first of each fell on a Sunday. In this situation the fair was held on the following day. it is rather interesting to note that no markets are mentioned in the patent.
The O’ Callaghans.
The borough of Fethard fell into the hands of the O’ Callaghan family of Shanbally in the 18th century. This family later was granted the title of Lord Lismore. Thus it happened that this family had the right to arrange the sending of two MPs to the Irish Parliament in Dublin ‘till 1800 when the corrupt system ended in Ireland after the union of the Irish and English Parliaments. In 1775 the MPs for the borough of Fethard were Cornelius O’ Callaghan and John Croker. This same O’ Callaghan was also one of the four governors of Co. Tipperary in the same year. Ten years after this he was created Baron of Lismore after marrying a lady who was Speaker in the Irish Commons and niece of both the Duke of Devonshire and Lord Bessborough. Members of each club look after one another.
One more thing. In 1700 an order was issued to have the town walls and fortifications of Irish towns and cities demolished. This seems to have been more disobeyed than otherwise. Thanks to the non-compliance with the law, we still see the south wall of the old town and its towers as well as the northern gateway. There are also other portions of the town walls incorporated in many buildings in the town.
(to be continued)