Purcells

Purcells of Loughmore

Loughmore Castle is, undoubtedly, the most outstanding and best-known feature on the Loughmore landscape.  It was home to the well known Purcell family who were Barons of Loughmore for many centuries.

 

As indicated already, legend provides a delightful tale regarding the coming of the Purcell family to Loughmore.  The true story is less romantic.

 

Hugh Purcell accompanied Strongbow’s army to Ireland in 1169.  Shortly before 1200 his son, also Hugh, arrived in Loughmore.  Through his marriage to a member of the Butler family, Hugh acquired lands in Loughmore.  When the Palatinate of Tipperary was established in 1328 the Purcells were created titular Barons of Loughmore.  The baronetcy remained in the family until the death of  the last baron, Nicholas Purcell,  without male heirs, on 24 March 1723.

 

At the height of their power, the Barons of Loughmore held extensive estates in Loughmore and surrounding areas.  The Purcell barons remained staunchly Catholic to the end.

 

Because of their support for the 1641 rebellion and later Jacobite cause, the Purcells temporarily lost their estates.  However, on both occasions following the upheavals, they succeeded in regaining much of their lands, due to their inter-marriages with the ruling Ormond Butlers.

 

The wealth and influence of the Barons of Loughmore quickly waned during the early 18th century.  Considerable portions of the estate had to be sold to meet increasing debts.

Following the death of the last baron in 1723 the estate was divided between his sisters and daughters.  The Loughmore part of the estate was sold to the Goolds in 1787, then parts of it to George Adair in 1857, to the Cardens in 1875 and then under the 1923 Land Act to the Land Commission.  The latter body conveyed the freehold, on favourable terms, to former tenants, thus making them owners of their holdings.  Happily, the former landlord-tenant system which had caused considerable agrarian unrest, especially throughout the latter half of the 19th century, was at an end.

 

Loughmore Castle, home to the Barons of Loughmore, is now an impressive ruin which attracts the attention and admiration of thousands who annually speed by on the Dublin-Cork railway line which passes within metres of the edifice.  “The magnificent remains”, as John O’Donovan described them in 1840, comprise an earlier tower-house and a later mansion house.