CLONMEL, a borough, market and assize town, and a parish, partly in the barony of UPPERTHIRD, county of WATERFORD, but chiefly in that of IFFA and OFFA EAST, county of TIPPERARY, and province of MUNSTER, 23 miles (W. by N.) from Waterford, and 82- miles (S. W. by S.) from Dublin ; containing 20,035 inhabitants, of which number, 17,838 are in the town. This place, of which the origin is ascribed to a period prior to the invasion of the Danes, is supposed to have derived its name from Cluain-Meala, signifying in the Irish language the " plain of honey," in allusion either to the character of its situation and the peculiar richness of the soil, or to the valley in which it stands being bounded by picturesque mountains that afford honey of fine flavour. It appears to have been the capital of the palatine liberty, as it now is of the county of Tipperary ; and is probably indebted for its early importance to the patronage of the Butler family. According to Archdall, a Dominican friary was founded here in 1269, but by whom is not known ; and the same author states that the Franciscan friary was also founded in that year by Otho de Grandison, though the date inscribed upon it is 1265 : this friary was reformed in 1536, by the friars of the Strict Observance, and having been surrendered to the Crown in 1540, was, with its possessions, three years after, granted in moieties to the sovereign and commonalty of Clonmel and the Earl of Ormonde ; its church was esteemed one of the most magnificent ecclesiastical structures in the country. In 1516, the town, which was surrounded with walls and strongly fortified, was besieged and taken by the Earl of Kildare ; and during the civil war of the 17th century, having been garrisoned for the king by the Marquess of Ormonde, it was attacked by Cromwell in 1650, with his army from Kilkenny, but was bravely defended by Hugh O'Nial, a northern officer, who, with 1200 of his provincial forces, maintained it with such valour that, in the first assault, not less than 2000 of the besieging army were slain, and the siege was turned into a blockade. After a resolute defence for two months, the garrison, being without any prospect of obtaining relief; secretly withdrew to Waterford, and the inhabitants surrendered upon honourable terms : the town remained in the possession of the parliamentarians till a short time prior to the Restoration, when it was retaken by the royalists. At the Revolution, the town, which was held by the partisans of Jas. II., was abandoned on the approach of William's army to besiege Waterford.
It is situated on the banks of the river Suir, in a beautiful and fertile valley bounded by picturesque mountains, and on one of the two main roads from Dublin to Cork, and that from Waterford to Limerick. With the exception of that portion which is built on islands in the river, it is wholly on the northern or Tipperary side of the Suir, and is connected with the Waterford portion by three bridges of stone. The principal street is spacious, and extends from east to west, under different names, for more than a mile in a direction nearly parallel with the river ; the total number of houses, in 1831, was 1532. The towns is lighted with gas from works erected, in 1824, by Messrs. Barton and Robinson, of London, who sold them, before they were completed, for about £8000 to the British Gas-Light Company of London, under whom they are now held on lease. The provisions of the act of the 9th of George IV., for lighting and watching towns in Ireland, have been adopted here : the inhabitants are amply supplied with water by public pumps in the various streets. Several newspapers are published, and there are four news-rooms, one of which is a handsome building lately erected at the eastern end of the town, and called the County Club House. At the eastern entrance into the town are extensive barracks for artillery, cavalry, and infantry ; behind them, on an elevated and healthy spot, is a small military hospital, capable of' receiving 40 patients.
In 1667, the plan of Sir Peter Pett for introducing the woollen manufacture into Ireland was carried into effect by the Duke of Ormonde, then Lord-Lieutenant ; and. in order to provide a sufficient number of workmen, 500 families of the Walloons were invited over from Canterbury to settle here. The manufacture continued to flourish for some time, but at length fell into decay, in consequence of the prohibitory statutes passed by the English parliament soon after the Revolution, and is at present nearly extinct. A factory for weaving cotton has been established by Mr. Malcomson, which at present affords employment to 150 girls ; he has also an extensive cotton-factory at Portlaw, in the county of Waterford. A very extensive trade is carried on in grain and other agricultural produce of the district, principally with the Liverpool and Manchester markets ; great quantities of bacon are also cured and sent to London and the channel ports. There are two very large ale and porter breweries in the town ; and at Marlfield, about a mile distant, is a distillery for whiskey upon a very extensive scale. The Excise duties collected within this district, in 1835, amounted to £75,520. 16. The only mineral productions in the neighbourhood which forms an article of commerce is slate, of good quality, found at Glenpatrick and worked by the Irish Mining Company. Though not a sea-port, the town, from its situation at the head of the Suir navigation, is the medium through which the corn and provision export trade is carried on between the southern and eastern portions of this large county and England. There are generally about 120 lighters, of from 20 to 50 tons burden, employed in the trade of this place ; and several hundred carriers are engaged during winter on the roads communicating with Clonmel and the principal towns within 40 miles round : a considerable portion of the trade of Waterford also passes through the town. In the year ending April 30th, 1832, not less than 230,543 cwt. of flour, 28,678 barrels of wheat, 19,445 barrels of oats, 3878 barrels of barley, 21,559 cwt. of butter, 2769 cwt. of lard, and 63,751 flitches of bacon, besides smaller quantities not enumerated, were sent for exportation. The navigation of the Suir was formerly very imperfect : in 1765, a parliamentary grant was obtained to form a towing-path, by which the passage of the boats has been greatly accelerated. The river is still in many places so shallow that, in dry seasons, the navigation is much impeded. An act has recently been obtained for its improvement ; and it is proposed to form a railroad between Carrick, where a basin is intended to be formed, and Limerick, thereby opening a communication between the Suir and the Shannon. There is a salmon fishery in the river, the quays of which are spacious and commodious, extending from the central bridge along the north side. The Bank of Ireland, the Provincial Bank, the Agricultural and Commercial Bank, and the National Bank of Ireland, have branch establishments here. The market days, under the charter of the 6th of Jas. I., are Tuesday and Saturday ; and fairs are held on May 5th and Nov. 5th, and also on the first Wednesday in every month (except May and November), for the sale of cattle, sheep, horses, and pigs, and on the preceding day for pigs only. The butter market is a spacious building, provided with suitable offices for the inspector and others ; all butter, whether for home consumption or exportation must be weighed and duly entered : there are also convenient shambles and a large potatoe market. The post is daily ; the revenue of which, for 1835, was about £3000. The royal mail and day car establishment, under the direction of its proprietor, Mr. Bianconi (to whose enterprising exertions the south of Ireland is so much indebted for the establishment of public cars), is in this town. A chief constabulary police station has been established here.
The corporation is of great antiquity, and probably exists by prescription. Numerous charters have at various times been granted since the reign of Edw. I. ; that under which the borough is now governed was granted in the 6th of Jas. I. (1608), and, under the title of "The Mayor, Bailiffs, Free Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Town or Borough of Clonmel," ordains that the corporation shall consist of a mayor, two bailiffs, twenty free burgesses (including the mayor and bailiffs), and a commonalty, with a recorder, chamberlain, town-clerk, and other officers. The freedom was formerly obtained by nomination of a burgess to the common council, a majority of whom decided on the admission ; but at present the rights of birth, extending only to the eldest son, apprenticeship to a freeman within the borough, and marriage with a freeman's daughter, are recognised as titles to it. The borough returned two members to the Irish Parliament till the Union, since which time it has sent one to the Imperial Parliament. The elective franchise was vested in the freemen at large, amounting, in the year 1832, to 94 in number ; but by the act of the 2nd of Wm. IV., cap. 88, it has extended to the £10 householders : the number of voters registered at the close of 1835 was 805 ; the mayor is the returning officer. The electoral boundary, under the act of the 2nd and 3rd of Wm. IV., cap. 89, is confined to the town, including Long Island on the south and a space on the north side of the river for buildings contemplated in that quarter, and comprises an area of 361 statute acres, the limits of which are minutely described in the Appendix. The jurisdiction of the corporation extends over a large rural district comprising about 4800 statute acres, of which 3800 are in the county of Waterford, and 1000 in Tipperary : the mayor and recorder are justices of the peace. The Tholsel court, for determining pleas to any amount within the town and liberties, in which the cause of action must arise or the defendant reside, is held every Wednesday, before the mayor and bailiffs, The mayor's court, in which he presides, is held every Wednesday, for the recovery of debts not exceeding l0s. late currency ; and the mayor and bailiffs hold a court leet twice in the year. Petty sessions are held every alternate Friday. The elections for parliamentary representatives, and the assizes and quarter sessions for the county of Tipperary are held here, the last in April and October. The old court-house, which was built after a design by Sir Christopher Wren, was some years since converted into shops ; the new court-house is a light and handsome structure, The county gaol is a large stone building ; but prior to the erection of the house of correction, which was completed in the year 1834, it was too small for the number of prisoners generally confined in it ; it is now adapted to their classification, contains schools for both sexes and a tread-mill, which is applied to the raising of water for the supply of the prison.
The parish extends beyond the Suir a considerable distance into the county of Waterford, and comprises 8907 statute acres, of which 5922 are applotted under the tithe act. The principal seats are Knocklofty, that of the Earl of Donoughmore ; Kilmanahan Castle, of Lieut.-Col. Nuttall Greene ; Marlfield, of J. Bagwell, Esq. ; Barn, of S. Moore, Esq. ; Woodrooff, of W. Perry, Esq. ; Rathronan, of Major-Gen. Sir H. Gough, K.C.B. ; Kiltinane Castle, of R. Cooke, Esq. ; Darling Hill, of the Hon. Baron Pennefather ; and Newtown-Anner, of Lady Osborne : there are also many other handsome residences. The views from the demesnes of Knocklofty and Kilmanahan Castle abound with interest and variety, and are not surpassed by any in this part of the country. At Kiltinane Castle a very rapid stream issuing from a rock forms a remarkable natural curiosity. The living is an entire rectory, in the diocese of Lismore, and in the gift of the Corporation : the tithes amount to £300. The glebe-house was built by aid of a gift of £100 and a loan of £650 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1810 ; the glebe, dispersed in small parcels in the town and suburbs, comprises 2a. 1r. 2p. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure, with a handsome octangular embattled tower, 84 feet high, at the eastern extremity of the south side ; it was formerly a good specimen of the early English style of architecture, but on its repair, in 1805, it was modernised and retains but little of its original character ; a grant of £1019. 12. was made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for its repair. In the chancel is a beautiful monument, by Taylor of York, to the memory of Mary, wife of J. Bagwell, Esq., and recording also the death of that gentleman and his eldest son, the late Rt. Hon. Wm. Bagwell, uncle of the present proprietor of Marlfield. There is also a monument erected by the parishioners, in the year 1795, as a tribute of respect to the memory of Dr. J. Moore, who was rector of this parish for 66 years. In the porch are slabs with inscriptions and armorial bearings of the noble family of Hutchinson, Lord Donoughmore, and in one of the shields are impaled the arms of Moore, of Barn. The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church, and is the benefice of the vicar-general of the united dioceses of Waterford and Lismore, and contains two chapels, one in Irishtown, and the other a large and neat modern building in Johnston-street ; also a Franciscan friary in Warren-street, lately rebuilt, and a Presentation convent situated beyond the western bridge. There are places of worship for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Munster, the Society of Friends, Baptists, Unitarians, and Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists. The grammar school was founded in 1685, by R, and S. Moore, Esqrs., ancestors of the Mount-Cashel family, who endowed it with the lands of Lissenure and Clonbough, in the county of Tipperary, producing a rental of £369, for the gratuitous instruction of the sons of freemen in Latin. The old school-house having fallen into decay, a large and substantial building has been erected within the last few years at the western extremity of the town, on a site granted at a nominal rent by the late Col. Bagwell, and at an expense of nearly £5000, of which £4000 was advanced out of the consolidated fund, for the repayment of which £240 per annum is appropriated from the proceeds of the endowment : there are at present, including boarders, about 90 boys in the school. A parochial school for boys is partly supported by a joint bequest from Dr. Ladyman and Mrs. Pomeroy, amounting to £7 per annum, late currency, and £2 per annum from the rector ; and there are a parochial school for girls and an infants' school, both supported by voluntary contributions : a handsome and commodious building has been lately erected for these schools, containing three school-rooms, each capable of accommodating 100 scholars. Two schools for girls are superintended by two ladies, who teach the children gratuitously ; a school for boys is supported by collections at the R. C. chapels, which are partly appropriated in paying the master's salary, and partly in providing clothing for the children ; and there are Sunday schools in connection with the Established Church and the Presbyterian and Methodists' congregations. The number of children in attendance daily is, on an average, 580 ; and in the private pay schools are about 650 children.
The fever hospital and dispensary adjacent to it, both handsome and commodious buildings on the north side of the town, are liberally supported. The house of industry for the county of Tipperary, for the reception and support of 50 male and 50 female aged and infirm poor persons of good character, and for the restraint of male and female vagrants, is an extensive building in an airy situation at the foot of the western bridge, opened in 1811 : it is supported by grand jury presentments, and is under the government of a corporation by act of parliament ; it has a department for orphan children, who, when of proper age, are apprenticed to different trades ; the receipts last year were £1543. 5., and the expenditure, £1335. 16. A district lunatic asylum for the county of Tipperary was opened in 1835 : the building is capable of accommodating 60 patients, and was erected at an expense, including the purchase of land, furniture, &c., of £16,588. A savings' bank has been established ; and there are also a mendicity society and a clothing society, the latter established in 1833. A society has lately been formed for the maintenance and education of the orphan children of Protestant parents, and within the first year, 33 were so provided for. Several charitable bequests to a considerable amount have been left to the parish by different individuals.
Of the town walls, which encompassed only what is now the central part of the town, on the northern bank of the river, there are only very imperfect remains ; the entrance was by four principal gates, of which only the west gate, which has been lately very substantially repaired and forms an ornament to the town, is now standing ; and of the various towers by which they were defended, there are three remaining near the church-yard. Near the western end of the town are the ruins of the church of St. Stephen, and in the southern suburb are those of the church of St. Nicholas, Some trifling remains of the ancient castle may still be traced in what is now the office of the Tipperary Free Press, In the neighbourhood are the ruins of several castles, and traces of encampments or Danish forts ; at Gurteen is a cairn or druids' altar ; and near Oakland is a holy well, called St. Patrick's well ; also the ruins of an ancient chapel, in which are several large stones bearing inscriptions. About half a mile to the south-east is a chalybeate spring, resorted to medicinally ; and near the south suburb is another of similar kind, but not much used. The Rev, Laurence Sterne was born here in 1713 ; and Bonaventura Baro, or Baron, who wrote numerous works during a long residence at Rome, where he died in 1696, was also born here. Clonmel gives the titles of Earl and Viscount to the family of Scott ; the father of the present Earl was the Rt. Hon. John Scott, the celebrated chief justice of the King's Bench in Ireland, who was created Baron Earlsfort in 1784, and was advanced to the Viscounty of Clonmel in 1789, and to the earldom in 1793.