Monday, 25 February 2019

I missed Comerford’s Lot
the first time round, but
then found it by accident

On the banks of the River Suir at Comerford’s Lot in Golden, Co Tipperary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018; click on image for full-screen view)

Patrick Comerford

Quite naturally my interest in Comerford family history means I take an interest not only in the genealogical details of different branches of the Comerford family, but I am interested too in places and shopfronts that bear the Comerford name.

Apart from the two places that provide separate origins for families with this name – Comberford, between Lichfield and Tamworth in Staffordshire, and Quemerford, near Calne in Wiltshire – these names crop in many places across these islands.

I have found myself photographing pubs and shop front with the name Comerford in different towns and villages, including James Comerford’s pub in Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, the former Comerford shopfront in Barrack Street, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, Comerford’s drapery on the Main Street in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and Comerford’s Pub in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

There is Comerford Road in London SE4 is off Brockley Road in the Borough of Lewisham, Quemerford Road in Islington, London N7, and Comerford Way in Winslow in Buckinghamshire. In addition, there is Comberford Road in Tamworth, Comberford Lane between Comberford and Wigginton, Comberford Drive is in Wednesbury, Cumberford Avenue in Birmingham and Cumberford Close and Cumberford Hill in Bloxham, near Banbury, Oxfordshire.

I was aware too of Comerford’s Lot in Co Tipperary, but when I visited Golden, near Cashel, a few months ago, I missed Comerford’s Lot. There were no road signs to tell me where it was, no name plates or plaques telling me where I could find the place.

It was only during an idle moment at the weekend that I noticed I had actually been to Comerford’s Lot and stood on the ground there as I was taking photographs on the banks of the River Suir.

When my photographs are moved to Google Photos and stored in the Cloud, Google not only tracks when these photographs have been taken, but actually specifies where they have been taken, right down to the detail of the townland where I have been standing.

Comerford’s Lot is in the Electoral Division of Golden in Co Tipperary

To be precise, Comerford’s Lot is in the Electoral Division of Golden, in the Civil Parish of Relickmurry and Athassel, in the Barony of Clanwilliam, in Co Tipperary. Other townlands in the parish with similar names include Hoop’s Lot, Sergeant’s Lot and Persse’s Lot.

Among the places I was photographing from Comerford’s Lot was a seven-bay multiple-storey mill, built ca1820. It stands close to the banks of the River Suir and was once part of a large mill complex that was powered by the river.

The mill has a hipped slate roof, roughcast rendered walls and square-headed window openings with timber louvres. Although no longer in use, the mill retains its form and structure and is a reminder of the industrial past of Golden.

The seven bay, 200-year-old mill, photographed in Comerford’s Lot at Golden, Co Tipperary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

While I was in Comerford’s Lot, I also photographed the splendid 12-arch road bridge over fork of River Suir, fist built ca1500 and rebuilt around 1770. This long bridge stands at an important crossing point of the River Suir, in the centre of the mediaeval settlement at Golden.

Golden takes its name from the Irish An Gabhailín, referring to the fork in the River Suir. The bridge at Golden straddles an island in the River Suir at Comerford’s Lot, and in the past this village was also known as Goldenbridge.

The 12-arch bridge in Golden spans the River Suir and Comerford’s Lot (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

The bridge is a prominent landmark in Golden and spans two channels of the River Suir in a curve of graceful arches. It is a technical, architectural and engineering achievement and its considerable age makes it one of the more important bridges in Co Tipperary.

The ruined tower house on the bridge recalls its strategic function in the past. This is a rare, round-plan tower house built by the Butlers of Ormond to defend the river crossing and to protect river traffic. The castle is said to have sheltered 120 men, women and children for 11 weeks during the 1641 rebellion. A well close to the castle is known as Cromwell’s Well.

The bridge also displays a bronze portrait of Thomas McDonagh (1878-1916). However, this Tipperary-born poet seems to have had no connections with Golden.

The tower and bridge are now set within a park that is partly in Comerford’s Lot. This park surrounds the bridge area and offers picturesque views of the River Suir.

The castle ruins and bridge at Comerford’s Lot in Golden, Co Tipperary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Golden, in the heart of the ‘Golden Vale’ in Co Tipperary, is about 6 km south-west of Cashel and is made up of two mediaeval parishes, Relickmurry or Religmurry and Athassel, in the Barony of Clanwilliam.

An Augustinian Priory was founded in Athassel in the late 12th century by William Fitz Aldelm de Burgho, for the Canons Regular of the Order of Saint Augustine, and was dedicated to Saint Edmund King and Martyr.

The priory was so rich and so powerful that the Abbot of Athassel sat in the Irish parliament with the bishops as one of the spiritual peers. After the priory was dissolved at the Reformation, the priory and its estates were granted to Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond.

Golden’s most famous person was Father Theobald Mathew (1790-1856), the ‘Apostle of Temperance,’ who was born nearby at Thomastown Castle, the home of the Mathew family, Earls of Llandaff.

Thomastown Castle, now in ruins, was first built in the 17th century by George Mathew, half-brother of James Butler, the 1st Duke of Ormond. It was dramatically altered and enlarged in neo-Gothic style around 1812 with new wings and four slender towers designed by Richard Morrison (1767-1849).

When Edward Comerford was Archbishop of Cashel (1695-1710), he survived as the parish priest of Thurles under the protection of the Mathew family, and lived at Annfield, the home of Toby Mathew.

At the time of Griffith’s Valuation, nobody recorded as living within the townland of Comerford’s Lot. But the name of Comerford’s Lot in Golden may predate those links with the Mathew family, and may date to some grant of land from the Ormond Butlers to the Comerford family.

Obviously, I need to do some more research to discover the origins of Comerford’s Lot.

Comerford’s Lot is a townland in Golden … similar names for neighbouring townlands include Hoop’s Lot, Sergeant’s Lot and Persse’s Lot

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