The town of Cloughjordan is in the North West corner of County Tipperary roughly half way between Roscrea and Nenagh. People have lived in the area for millenia: a prehistoric burial cairn was discovered in nearby Ardcroney which dates back around five thousand years and a gold collar was also discovered in the area which may date back three thousand years.
The surrounding area is full of signs of later habitation including a major ring fort at Rathurles, megalithic burial sites and fulacht fia. A large hoard of bog butter was discovered near Cloughjordan which dates back to Viking times and castles in the area can be dated to the coming of the Normans.
Modreeney was the original place of settlement in the area prior to the Cromwellian plantation in the mid-seventeenth century, which saw the establishment of the town of Cloughjordan as the main centre of population.
One school of thought holds that the town was named after Jordan de Marisco, who is reputed to have built a tower house at Cloughjordan and inserted a stone which he brought from the Holy Land in its walls. A native of Somerset but of Norman origin, his exploits in the Holy Land earned him the name Jordan. He was the son of Geoffrey de Marisco, who may have built Nenagh castle. After the Norman invasion in the late twelfth century, the de Mariscos became a powerful family in the area of Lower Ormond, with castles at Latteragh, Ballycapple and Ballinaclough also. The name survives today in the area as Morris or Morrissey.
St. Kieran’s Church of Ireland
It was through marriage to a Harrison that the Prittie family and later Lord Dunally became very powerful figures in the life of the town of Cloughjordan. From the early eighteenth century onwards, as owners of the land on which the town was built, successive Lords Dunally controlled the economy of the town and to a large extent the lives of its inhabitants. This situation lasted until well after the middle of the twentieth century, when the last tenants bought out the ground rents for the land on which their properties were built.
Catholic Church of SS Michael and John
The town of Cloughjordan consists of one main street, with three branching side streets. Halfway down Main Street, is the Church Meadow or Town Green, bordered by a stone wall and mature lime trees; setting the stage for the elegant St. Kieran’s Church of Ireland church, built to the design of James Pain in 1828. To the left of the church are the Militia Houses, reputed to have been built as a nineteenth century army barracks, but never used as such. To the right is the modern St. Kieran’s hall, standing on the site of the first purpose-built school in the town. The beautifully simple Methodist Church, built in 1875 is on Main Street, while on Templemore Road, the impressive Catholic Church of SS Michael and John, built to the design of George Ashlin in 1899, creates a dramatic vista at that entrance to the town. The oldest and most historically significant domestic building in the town, Cloughjordan House, is situated on the Shinrone Road.
(Edited extract from “The Evolution and Architecture of Cloughjordan 1841-1901” by Lillian M. Mounsey, used with permission)