It’s a right royal long way to Tipperary from Buckingham Palace but Queen Elizabeth 2ndof England has roots here. After a visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth 2nd, the first by a British Monarch for some 90 years, the people of Thurles have a special interest in the Royal family, and Mrs Joan Fitzpatrick of Dublin Road, Thurles, in particular.
For she is linked on her ancestral family tree to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. And an RTE programme, ”Who do You think You Are” told us that ex Miss World, Rosanna Davison, daughter of singer, Chris de Burgh, is linked to the English monarchy.
An ancestor of the Queen, Lady Elizabeth Poyntz of Thurles( 1590-1673) is buried in the St Mary’s Church of Ireland in central Thurles, birthplace of the GAA.
She was reputedly a saintly person, a great champion of the underdog and good to the poor of the town. Her portrait can be viewed in the Library in Thurles.
And her castle, known locally as the Black Castle, still stands in the centre of the town today near the town’s Parnell Street car park. Mrs Fitzpatrick says that she and Diana had in common a love of children.
”What I have in common with Queen Elizabeth 2 of England is that I cannot stand waste, I am not a mean person but I cannot stand waste of any kind.” Mrs Fitzpatrick is also linked t o a Jesuit priest and
Saint who was hanged drawn and quartered in England for his
St Mary’s War Museum in St Mary’s Church, Thurles, houses a unique Famine Museum.
There is a Memorial Gravestone in the burial place of Lady Elizabeth Poyntz on the left hand side of the altar. It was her wish to be buried there.
Lady Elizabeth of Thurles(1590-1673) was a common ancestor of both Queen Elizabeth 11 and the late Diana , Princess of Wales.
None of the Royal Family has ever visited St Mary’s, it is believed.
One local man said: here, in Thurles, is where it all started. In the past it has been the case that Heads of State visited their roots, people such as Ronald Regan who visited Ballyporeen in 1984.”
If the Queen visited Thurles she would be able to see how Thurles looked in 1846 as there is a model of the town and military paraphernalia and dress of the period on view also in the museum..
St Mary’s Museum was opened in March 1995 and in it’s first year attracted some 7,700 visitors.
The project had the backing of Thurles Town Council and North Tipperary County Council. Tourism in County Tipperary increased by 25 per cent that year.
Thurles is also ancestral hometown of pop singer, Boy George (alias George Alan O Dowd). George’s grandmother, harmonica player, Maggie Boyle O’Dowd was from Bothar na Naomh(The Road of the Saints) in Thurles. Billy and Mary Quinn, parents of former Republic of Ireland striker, Niall Quinn, hail from Rossestown and Ballinure. Three Thurles men won Victoria Crosses in World War 1 and this is a record for any town outside England, and there is a memorial in St Mary’s to 78 men from Thurles and district, who died in the service of the British Army in World War 1.
One local historian in Thurles told this writer that Americans in particular are fascinated by the monarchy - any monarchy in any shape or form, So, is it not time we in Thurles started to exploit this roots connection with the royals for tourism purposes. Maybe, in time, we shall see valuable tourists photographing the Black Castle near the car park opposite the Credit Union? or heading up in droves to see the Famine Museum in St Mary’s Church where Lady Elizabeth Poyntz, a common ancestor of the Queen of England and the late Diana Princess of Wales, is reputedly buried.
The late Ned Ryan of Upperchurch, who was a confidante of Princess Margaret, once told this writerin the Munster Hotel, Thurles that Princess Margaret said that she would love to have visited the Thurles area, including Upperchurch.
Willliam Fitzpatrick, MA, who has a keen interest in genealogy and has written a wonderful family history has been in touch with Earl Spencer.