THURLES, a market town of Co. Tipperary, Ireland, pleasantly situated on the Suir, and on the main line of the Great Southern & Western railway, 87 m. S.W. of Dublin. Pop. (1901), 4411. Thurles is the seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Cashel; and the cathedral of St Patrick is a beautiful building. The town is the seat of other important Catholic establishments, including an Ursuline convent; a Presentation convent; St Patrick's Catholic College (1829) for ecclesiastical students, where was held in 1850 the synod of Thurles; and an establishment of Christian Brothers, who devote themselves to the instruction of boys on the Lancasterian method. The town has a considerable agricultural and retail trade, and there is a monthly horse fair largely attended by English and continental buyers. Thurles is governed by an urban district council.
Originally the town was called Durlas O'Fogarty. In the 10th century it was the scene of a defeat of the Irish by the Danes. A preceptory was founded here by the Knights Templars, who possessed themselves of a castle, of which there are remains, erected early in the 13th century. A castle was subsequently erected by James Butler, first lord palatine of Tipperary, of which the keep collapsed in 1868. There were several other strongholds in the vicinity. South-west of the town, at a distance of 31 m., stands the Cistercian abbey of Holy Cross, one of the finest ruins in Ireland. It was founded by Donnell O'Brien, king of Thomond (1168-1194); and owes its foundation and name to the presentation to his family of a portion of the true Cross, which attracted numerous pilgrims. The shrine of this relic is in the Ursuline convent at Blackrock, Co. Cork. The ruins, beautifully placed on the bank of the river, embody a cruciform church, transitional Norman in style, and exhibiting the carving of the period in its highest development. There is a fine Perpendicular tomb in the choir. A large portion remains of the adjoining buildings, including chapter-house, sacristy, cloisters and dormitory.
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