Irish Place Names ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 91

Sliabh na mBan, Co, Tipperary

The vast majority of Irish places derive their names from the Irish language. One such place is Clonmel which first entered my consciousness on a dark wintery morning  in 1976 when Father came racing up the stairs of the Bank House in my beloved Drogheda and announced to me while I was still half asleep: We’ve been transferred to Clonmel.  I looked at him blankly with my heart breaking and said: Where’s that?

I dug out my old school atlas and my eyes and heart went down, down the page ’til I hit South Tipperary and Clommel that was to be ‘home’ for the next ten years.

In hindsight, I think if he had said we’ve been transferred to ‘The Valley of  Honey’ which is how Clonmel ~ Cluain Meala translates from its Irish name, I would have been a lot more receptive and geared up for the marvels that were in store.

Gladstone Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
Gladstone Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

Clonmel  is built on the banks of the River Suir and has immense natural beauty and social history associated with it. The outstanding features, for me,  are the mountains that peer down on the bustling town.  The Comeraghs, with places like the stunning  Nire Valley are just a few short miles away and to the other side is Sliabh na mBan ( Mountain of the Women).

I was in Clonmel just a few days ago and  Sliabh na mBan was decorated with snow as if donning her winter clothes for the last time this year.  I wondered  if this historic mountain knows how much she means to the people of  Tipperary and how ‘the anthem’ of the county, that resounds around places like Semple Stadium and Croke Park when Tipperary hurlers and footballers  battle it out, is all about her!

The Valley of  Honey also conjures up visions of the apple orchards associated with Bulmers, the cider people and the sweet scent of apples that wafts over the town.  And, of course,  there’s  the amazing story of Charles Bianconi who set up Ireland’s historic public transport system, that pre-dated railways, from Clonmel.  Ach sin scéal eile ~ ( But that’s another story).

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

5 thoughts on “Irish Place Names ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 91”

    1. Thanks SV. I am simply amazed always by the natural beauty around Clonmel and the extent of the history associated with the town. I’m even more amazed that I’d never even heard of it before we were sent there.

      1. Cluain means meadow though doesn’t it. There used to be the poppy field field on the Cahir side until about 10 years ago, (though I don’t know how it was there before that), when it became another bloody shopping centre. I always associated that field with the town name.

  1. Now I wonder if you are not my doppleganger! Weirdly, Daddy worked in the bank, was in Drogheda and met Mammy there. He was then transferred to Clonmel and from there to Thurles, where I was born. Love the music and keep making me weepy! I love your blog.

    1. Mary, what a coincidence about your parents and bank places. I suspect that a lot of us ‘bank kids’ have lots of similar stories.
      Thanks for your kind comments about the blog. The ‘weepy’ part worries me a bit!!!!

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