The Nore at Thomastown

Joe Dunphy

I was born within two throws of a stone from the “sweet valley of the Nore” in Grennan, Thomastown that I believe sums up the Nore in all its best aspects. I refer to its beauty, its value and its centuries of history in the lovely region we are blest to call home. For all but eight of my over eighty years I have roamed, fished and loved every inch of it.

The river Nore at Thomastown

Grennan is a townsland, but to us, in our childhood days, it was only the huge field that takes in the hurling pitch, Grennan Castle and a lovely three fishing stands. In those days hurling on that pitch and the games we invented at the Castle was great. The famous hurling field served our town and produced its fair number of stars for club and county. The castle was founded by the Norman, Thomas FitzAnthony, after whom our town is named. But for the bulk of my life, and, up to the present day, the pleasure I have got from roaming and fishing Grennan Banks with my rod and line, has been the highlight of a long fishing life. So I would like to concentrate my thoughts on this stretch of the river bank and deal with a huge amount of information for such a small area.

Looking upriver from Thomastown Bridge. Photo credit Brian Walsh

The names of two adjoining fishing stands in the area need explaining and I will deal with these firstly. The Sceirdíní, or Sceirdeens, simply translated means the Cascades, water bubbling over stones in a beautiful stream. 100 metres down it relaxes into a gentle pond which locally is erroneously called Poll Crab. But, no there are no crabs. The proper name, however relates to the Irish, Poll Creamh. “Creamh” means garlic, and thus this means “The Garlic Pool.” It gets its name from the prolific amount of garlic growing on both banks. This is from the original beds of garlic grown in the Castle Garden from back in the 13th Century. Every Spring, daffodils appear there too adding to the already abundant beauty of the spot.

The Nore at Thomastown. Photo credit Brian Walsh

The Castle Stream, the third salmon stand, is self explanatory and when we add in the colour of the leaves on the island in late Autumn we have a real beauty to behold. When I then tell you that the earliest inhabitants fished that same Castle Stream back in the 13th Century by means of a net attached to a rope that entered the Castle Wall through a hole high in the wall and tinkled a bell when a salmon got entangled in the net in the Stream. This is true and the hole can still be seen high up on the river facing wall. Here we have heritage added to the picture of fun, fishing and beauty describing in this short stretch of the River Nore at Thomastown. I now live in Dangan on the other bank but still within viewing distance of all this wonder, so I have seen it all from both sides. Lucky me!!!

Joe kindly submitted this piece for our Placenames of the Three Sisters project for Heritage Week 2020