Tinahely is a charming market village located in a valley in south Wicklow near the Carlow and Wexford border. The village and its surrounding rural hinterland have a fascinating heritage of human settlement and we hope that this board informs you of some of the rich tapestry of our long history.

The story of Tinahely goes hand in hand with the glorious rural landscape that surrounds the village. From the majestic Wicklow Hills to the magical Tomnafinnoge Oak Woods, the people of Tinahely are privileged to be the current custodians of this natural and built inheritance.

Points of Interest in Tinahely

Tinahely is unusual in that it possess a diamond shape village centre layout. This village plan is mostly found in Northern Ireland and was fashionable of village design in the 19th century. The Market Square building was used as an indoor market and a furniture shop while, at one time, the Church of Ireland Primary school was located upstairs. The building and the square are the focal point of the village and many public events are held in this area. The ground floor is the current home of Tinahely’s much loved and used public library.

Tinahely Courthouse was completed in 1843 and was used as a working courthouse complete with holding cells until the early 19th century. Following its end as a courthouse, the building fell into disrepair but, through the support of the Irish training and employment authority (FAS) and local fundraising, it was restored to its former glory during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It is now the home of a professional, atmospheric and intimate Arts Centre which presents and supports local, national and international artists of a wide and varied nature.

The cemetery at Whitefield was once the location of a Catholic church but now only the historic cemetery remains. It is reputed to contain graves from the tragic period of the Great Irish Famine of the 1840’s which caused widespread suffering, disease and death, in conjunction with mass emigration from the Tinahely area. In November 1850, Father Hoare, the local Catholic priest, led former Killaveney tenants aboard the clipper ship Ticonderoga which set sail for New Orleans and a new beginning.

Black Tom was a nickname printed on pamphlets to tarnish the reputation of Thomas Wentworth (1593-1641), Earl of Strafford and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Wentworth was a towering political figure in the tumultuous period leading up to the beginning of the English Civil War and had a ruthless reputation when he was sent to Ireland in 1633 as the King’s representative known as the Lord Lieutenant. In Ireland he managed to succeed in proving himself unpopular with both the Catholic and Protestant population leading to his blackened name.

Although a strong supporter of King Charles 1, Thomas Wentworth was ironically convicted of high treason and was beheaded on 12th May 1641 on Tower Hill in London. On hearing of the King’s agreement to his execution, Wentworth was said to have famously remarked not your trust in Princes”.

His association with Tinahely dates to the beginnings of the Coolattin Estate which was owned initially by Thomas Wentworth. The foundation for a hunting lodge were being constructed in Tinahely leading to the area being referred to as Black Tom’s Cellars located near the Wicklow County Council Offices in Tinahely. Wentworth’s lands in Wicklow were retained by his descendants and the Coolattin Estate endured until the mid-20th century.

Tinahely and its surrounding hinterland played a prominent part in the 1798 rebellion led by the United Irishmen. The Tinahely area with its location on the Wicklow, Wexford and Carlow border was a hive of activity during this turbulent period in Irish history. The village itself was destroyed by rebels during the many violent events of that year as it had a reputation for supporting the hated yeomen who were the British Crown’s militia fighting the local rebels. Battles and skirmishes also took place in Ballyrahan, Gurteen and Toberpatrick. Of the many violent and tragic events that took place in the area during 1798, one of the most evocative was the execution of brothers Philip and Patrick Lacey at Ballinglen Bridge on the 21st June 1798 by yeomanry. They were recognised at the bridge while returning home after taking part in the defeat at Vinegar Hill, which effectively ended any hope of success for the rebels.  Their graves are located at Prehan Cemetery.

The Coollattin Estate, which at its height contained a massive 90,000 acres, was founded by Thomas Wentworth, the first earl of Strafford. Later the estate came to be held by his descendants, the Fitzwilliams, one of the wealthiest families in Britain. Many of the surrounding villages to the estate such as Tinahely owe their very foundations to the existence of the Coolattin Estate and the Fitzwilliam family. Tinahely is regarded as an estate village rebuilt with support from the Fitzwilliams following the destruction of the 1798 rebellion.

There are many St. Patrick’s Wells across Ireland – this one is located in Toberpatrick, Tinahely. Toberpatrick means ‘Patrick’s Well’ in Irish and is reputed to have been blessed by Saint Patrick on his travels around Ireland 1,500 years ago. The well was restored in the early 1990’s. The well was also used as a source of spring water for many families in the area. Today it remains a respected site with religious medals, rosaries and other items often placed on the tree above the well as people offer their prayers at this holy site.

The Derry River rises north of Tinahely and flows through Shillelagh before entering the Slaney at Clonegal. It is primarily regarded as a spawning river for the Slaney. The Derry River holds small brown trout, one of Ireland’s most popular native freshwater species. The Derry name derives from the Irish for oak (dair) alluding to the history of oak woodlands in the area.

On the link between the Ballycumber and Kyle looped walks lies a monument to Luke O’Toole who was the first full time General Secretary of the Gaelic Athletic Association from 1901 until his death in 1929. O’Toole who was born in Ballycumber was instrumental in the promotion of the GAA as Ireland’s largest sporting and cultural organisation. He was also a key figure in the purchase of Croke Park, the GAA’s historic headquarters, and in steering the young organisation through the War of Independence, the aftermath of Bloody Sunday and the tragedy of the Civil War.

The railway line from Woodenbridge to Shillelagh was built to facilitate access to the Fitzwilliam Estate at Coollattin.  At considerable expense to the Fitzwilliam family, the line was opened in 1866 with stops at Woodenbridge, Aughrim, Ballinglen, Tinahely and Shillelagh. The steam train era brought many advantages to local trade and agriculture in the area and supported Tinahely’s development as a market village.  The line proved too expensive to keep open due to the shortage of coal caused by the Second World War and the last train was in 1944. The line was left to be reclaimed by nature but, due to the work of Tinahely Community Projects and the generous support of the landowners, the local sections of the railway track were reconstituted as a flat walking tail, providing a wonderful amenity for young and old. The first section of the walk opened in 2007.

The Wicklow Way is one of Ireland’s best known and loved walking trails and runs from Marley Park in South Dublin to the small village of Clonegal in Carlow. At a length of 127km, it continues to be one of the most travelled of Ireland’s long distance walking trails. Tinahely is one of the closest villages to the Wicklow Way and has provided shelter, sustenance and entertainment to many weary walkers over the years. Building upon that legacy and with the support of many landowners, there are now several looped walks off the Wicklow Way in the surrounding hills around Tinahely, providing additional train walking for those interested in seeing more of the beautiful Wicklow landscape.

Tomnafinnoge is one of the last remaining mature oak plantations in Ireland. The magnificent oak was planted by the Fitswilliam Estate several hundred years ago and timber from the forest is said to have been used in the construction of Trinity College Dublin, King’s College Cambridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral London. During the 1980s, a public campaign by locals, politicians and artists such as U2’s ‘The Edge’ ensured the survival of the woods from total destruction and the remnants are now protected as a ‘Special Area of Conservation’ owned and maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Tomnafinnoge Wood is a magical site for walking and includes a 2km walk along the Derry River and two shorter looped walks, the Oak Walk 3.2km and the Hazel Walk 1.3km.

Dermot Troy (1927-1961) was a famour Irish tenor who was born on Barton Street, Tinahely. Troy is acknowledged as Ireland’s finest lyric tenor since John McCormack. By the time of his sudden death in 1962, he had gone on an extraordinary journey from singing as a member of a musical group in Inchicore to performing as the principal lyric tenor of the Hamburg Opera House, one of the most prestigious in the world. Dermot Troy shared the stage with some of the most sopranos of the 20th century including Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland and Elizabeth Schwartzkopf.