Abandoned ireland


Thomastown Castle,


Documenting our Heritage

Thomastown Castle, Tipperary

The atmospheric ruin of the great seat of the Mathews, now largely shrouded in ivy.

The central block was a 17th century house constructed by George Mathew, half brother of the 1st Duke of Ormond, now largely collapsed.

The building was dramatically altered and enlarged in neo-Gothic style in about 1812 with new wings and 4 slender towers to front by Richard Morrison.

Thomastown Castle was the childhood home of Father Theobold Mathew, "The Apostle of Temperance".

The fortunes of the family declined and house fell into ruin by the late 19th century.

Surrounding it are the remains of the 17th century formal gardens overlaid by 19th century work.

Fr. Mathew - The Apostle of Temperance

The movement with which his name is associated began in 1838 with the establishment of the Teetotal Abstinence Society which relied on one enduring act of will to keep a person sober for life. It was called simply The Pledge. It could be made by anybody, either with or without an alcohol problem.

Father Mathew did not believe in gradual approaches or temporary commitments. He advocated a promise that meant complete commitment. It did not bind like the vows of marriage, but the principle of permanent commitment was the same. Fr. Mathew understood that as long as the act of will continued, it could overcome all difficulties.

One simple commitment, encased in the words of the Total Abstinence Pledge, supposedly did the trick. The surroundings did not make much difference. One could take the pledge as a single individual or as one of a waiting line coming up in a parish, mobilised and brimming with enthusiasm for the occasion. However, Father Mathew arrived at this conclusion only after much prayer for guidance and after urging by others who proposed total abstinence over moderation. In less than nine months no fewer than 150,000 names were enrolled as taking the Pledge. It rapidly spread to Limerick and elsewhere, and some idea of its popularity may be formed from the fact that at Nenagh 20,000 persons are said to have taken the pledge in one day, 100,000 at Galway in two days, and 70,000 in Dublin in five days. At its height, just before the Great Famine of 1845-48, his movement enrolled some 3 million people, or more than half of the adult population of Ireland. In 1844 he visited Liverpool, Manchester and London with almost equal success.

However, his campaign did have the unforeseen consequence of an increase in ether consumption (much more dangerous than alcohol) by those seeking intoxication but not willing to break their pledge.

Fr. Mathew died on 8th December 1856 in Cobh (then known as Queenstown), County Cork after suffering a stroke. He is buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery, Cork city which he had himself established.