The island of Ireland is subdivided into 32 counties. "County" in this context is analogous to the subdivision "state" in the U.S.A. When the Irish won hard-fought-for independence from the British in 1922, Ireland became divided as a part of the settlement. Twenty-six of the counties made up the Republic of Ireland. Six-counties remained in the British Empire and became known as Northern Ireland.

County subdivisions in Ireland were imposed by the British as a part of their system of local government. The subdivision of the island began in the twelfth century and was completed in 1606.

County Tipperary is an inland county with an area of a little over one-million acres, 80 per-cent of which is arable agricultural land. Historically was partly in the old Gaelic territory of Ormond and partly in Thomond. Invaded by the Normans in 1172, who were assimilated into the local population (as they were in other parts of the country). The result was that English influence waned and became negligible until the seventeenth century. Irish Gaelic was the common language of the people and even as late as 1841 around 8 per-cent of the population spoke Gaelic only. In 1641, the Irish and Norman chieftains of Tipperary joined the rebellion of the Catholic Confederacy but were defeated by Oliver Cromwell in 1649. The lands of those who had were rebelled were confiscated and divided among English adventurers and soldiers.

Tipperary was badly affected by the potato famine of 1845-47. The population reached a peak of 436,000 in 1841 - 364,000 of these lived in the rural areas outside the towns. Almost 70,000 people died in the county between 1845 and 1850. Huge numbers also emigrated. By 1891, the population of the county had fallen to 173,000 - a 60 per-cent drop from 1841. In 1988, the population stood at 135,000.

The church parish of Clonoulty in Tipperary covers 18,029 statute acres and essentially consists of two civil parishes - Clogher and Clonoulty. There are two chapels in the parish. One in Clonoulty, the other in Rossmore. The first modern chapel in Clonoulty was built in 1803. The first in Rossmore in 1831. The catholic population of Clonoulty church parish in 1835 was 5,893. By 1841, it had risen to 6,726. By 1851, the population had dropped to 4,302. By 1861, to 3,484. And by 1891, to 2,401.

The 1803 Clonoulty chapel was replaced by the present chapel, on the same site, in 1878. During the erection of the 1878 chapel, Mass was said in a private chapel in Ballymore. The remains of this chapel, which was later a coach-house, are attached to the lodge at Ballymore House side entrance.

The drop in population after 1841 is attributed almost solely to the potato famine. The decline is startling. In the twenty years after 1841, the population declined by 48%. The poorer classes were affected the most. They either died or emigrated. The resulting decline in marriages and births is even more striking. In 1846 there were 46 marriages. In 1865 there were 12. An almost 74% drop. In 1846 there were 211 baptisms. In 1865 there were 83, a drop of more than 60%.

[The above history of County Tipperary and Clonoulty parish was taken from two sources: Tipperary: History and Society edited by William Nolan, Geography Publications, 1985 and Priest, Politics and Society in Post-famine Ireland by James O'Shea, Wolfhound Press, 1983.]