| Irish grid reference|
Mitchelstown (Irish: Baile Mhistéala), was founded in the 13th century by the Norman family of FitzDavid de St Michel, who named it after their patron, Saint Michael the Archangel. It is situated in the medieval parish of Brigown (Irish: Brí Gobhann). It is a country town in County Cork in the south-west of Ireland with a population of 4,500. Mitchelstown nestles in the valley to the south of the Galtee Mountains close to the Mitchelstown Caves and is 27 km from Cahir and 50 km from Limerick. It is best known for its cheese production. The Gradoge river runs by the town into the Funshion river, which in turn is a tributary of the Blackwater river.
Mitchelstown was established in the area situated between the present day King Square and the Dairygold factories in Mitchelstown demesne. Brigown, to the south-east, was a monastic site founded in the 7th century by Saint Fanahan (Fionn Cú = White Hound) a warrior monk famed for his hot temper Saint Fanahan.
The town evolved as a hotchpotch of cabins and laneways beside which stood Mitchelstown Castle. In the 1770s the medieval town was replaced by the present town which is situated east and south of King Square. It was laid out in a grid pattern of two main streets intersected by a number of smaller streets. The medieval town was demolished and the owners of Mitchelstown, Robert, Viscount Kingsborough (later 2nd Earl of Kingston) and his wife Caroline, built a new palladian mansion to replace the earlier castle which had stood on the site. Mitchelstown is today regarded as one of the best planned Georgian towns in Ireland. Some of its streets are named after members of the King family, namely Robert, George, Edward, James, Thomas and King (the family name). The other streets of the Georgian town are Church Street and Baldwin Street, Alley Lane, Chapel Hill, Convent Hill, King Square, New Square and Mulberry Lane.
The layout established by the second and third Earls of Kingston between 1776 and 1830 was utilised the natural features of the site to give panoramic views of the Galtee Mountains. Mitchelstown Castle as rebuilt in the 1820s by the third Earl of Kingston who created the biggest house in Ireland. During the Irish Civil War in 1922 the castle was occupied by the Republican Army. After six weeks, its contents were looted and the building was burnt ostensibly to prevent it from being used by the Irish Irish Free State Army.
In 1887, Irish Land League campaigners, led by John Mandeville, organised a rent strike at the estate of Lady Kingston near Mitchelstown. On September 9, three men - John Shinnick of Fermoy, John Casey of Kilbehenny and Michael Lonergan of Galbally were shot by police during a Land League meeting after Mandeville and MP William O'Brien had been brought for trial for inciting non-payment of rent; this event became known as the Mitchelstown Massacre and is commemorated by a memorial to Mandeville unveiled in 1906 by O'Brien. In years to come the phrase "Remember Mitchelstown" (first coined by William E. Galdstone, was subsequently much bandied about in the British House of Commons when Irish affairs were under discussion.
Up to 1989, Mitchelstown was the headquarters for Mitchelstown Co-Operative Agricultural Society Ltd, which for over fifty years had been Ireland's largest co-operative. This farmers "co-op" was founded in 1919 under the leadership of local farmer Con O'Brien of Killickane, who chaired the co-op for its first 40 years and then became Honorary Life President until his death in 1968. Between 1919 and 1989, Mitchelstown Co-op Creameries became the largest and most important Dairy Processing business in the island of Ireland. It became famous nationally for its processed cheese brands but was better known in overseas dairy industry circles for the high quality and large variety of its natural cheeses which were extensively exported around Europe and for which it earned many international prizes.
In the 1930s the Co-Op promoted the introduction of intensive pig production in the Mitchelstown area as another source of farm income. A noted agriculturalist, Alexander Aloysius ("Sandy") McGuckian from Cloughmills, near Ballymena, County Antrim was engaged by the Co-Op to help train local people in modern intensive animal production methods. As a result, several of Ireland's largest Industrial pig production units are based in the Mitchelstown area to this day. McGuckians' sons (Alastair and Paddy) subsequently established Masstock International. Masstock became one of the pioneers of the establishment of a modern dairy industry in Saudi Arabia as a result of its minority shareholding (largely disposed of in 1991) in the Almarai Group, a joint venture with majority shareholder HH Prince Sultan Bin Mohamed Bin Saud Al Kabeer.
In 1989 Mitchelstown Co-operative merged with Ballyclough Co-operative (based in Mallow, County Cork) to create an enlarged Dairygold Co-Operative. However the Dairygold Co-op entity failed to retain the leading competitive position held by Mitchelstown Co-op and is no longer a premier national dairy food enterprise. In a recent restructuring, Dairygold Co-op moved its headquarters out of Mitchelstown to the Cork city area breaking an important historical link first established over 87 years ago, in 1919. A further restructuring of the co-op led to a hiving off of its major assets to Reox Holdings plc. Its brand names were sold off to Kerry Foods. the Co-op has since returned its headquarters to Mitchelstown, but is considerably reduced in size and turnover.
The first manager of Mitchelstown Co-operative Creameries, was Eamon Roche. Roche was a Dairy Science Diploma graduate of the Albert College in Dublin (now called Dublin City University - DCU) who had been active in the Irish War of Independence from Britain between 1916–1921. Roche was also a close personal friend of Éamon de Valera who subsequently became leader of Fianna Fáil, Irish Prime Minister and later President of the Republic of Ireland. He was succeeded (following his sudden death) in 1952 by J.J. Lynch who, following his sudden death in 1964, was succeeded by John McCarthy.
Mitchelstown has a wide variety of retail such as Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Super Valu, Centra and Boots. Boots opened its Mitchelstown store in the LivingHealth Centre in early 2009. Doodys, Murphys and Fitzgibbons are also pharmacies in the town, which now has all its medical practitioners located in the LivingHealth Centre. Mitchelstown also has a variety of shops, including cafes, boutiques and restaurants.
Road transport dominates in Mitchelstown. The town is situated close to the M8 Dublin to Cork motorway, which runs to the east of the settlement. A relief road located to the west of the town serves to filter N73-bound traffic towards Mallow and Limerick. The construction of the relief road to the west and north, and its connection to the M8 to the east of Mitchelstown means that the town has become the smallest in Ireland to have a full 360 degree ring road. Prior to the opening of the relief road in 2006, the N8 ran through Mitchelstown itself, seriously congesting the main street. The R665 road connects Mitchelstown to Clonmel, while the R639 provides an alternative link from Mitchelstown to Cork, Fermoy and Cahir.
Mitchelstown railway station opened on 23 March 1891, closed to passenger and goods traffic on 27 January 1947 and closed on 1 December 1953.
The Mitchelstown Caves are located on the R639, between Mitchelstown and Cahir. The caves were formed by the action of water on the limestone bedrock. They are a privately owned local landmark and tourist destination, with a number of caverns open to the public through a guided tour. Some of the geological formations are noteworthy including the Tower of Babel formation. Various other stalactites, stalagmites and rock formations are also named and famous for their unique and impressive structure. The acoustics of the largest cavern are impressive and the cave itself plays host to various musical events throughout the year including a recent performance by the Irish Tenors.
Liam Hamilton - became Chief Justice of Ireland.
Lieutenant General Jim Parker, a local farmer's son, was born on 15th. April 1929 in Skeheen and was educated in Mitchelstown Christian Brothers School. He had a long and distinguished military career as an army officer in the Irish Army. He served as Chief of Staff of the Irish Army from 1989 until his retirement in 1992.
John Roach - the proprietor of America's largest post-American Civil War shipbuilding empire, John Roach & Sons.
Eamon Roche's son, Kevin Roche celebrated American architect
William Trevor nominated for the Booker Prize on four occasions.
Louis McRedmond - Author
A music festival is held in Mitchelstown every year on the August Bank Holiday Weekend is called the Indie-pendence festival. It originally started as a free festival but in 2009 moved to a new site and began to charge for entry.
- Placenames Database of Ireland
- "Mitchelstown station". Railscot - Irish Railways. http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
Bill Power, 'Another Side of Mitchelstown,' PsyOps Books, 2008.
Bill Power, 'White Knights, Dark Earls,' the rise and fall of an Anglo-Irish Dynasty,' The Collins Press, 2000.
Bill Power, Mitchelstown Through Seven Centuries, Eigse Books, 1987.
Bill Power, 'The Mitchelstown Saints,' Mitchelstown, 1980.
Bill Power, 'Evensong, the story of a Church of Ireland country parish,' Mount Cashell Books, 1994.
Tom O'Donnell, 'The Turbulent life of Dean Morgan O'Brien,' Mitchelstown 2009.
Elizabeth Bowen, 'Bowen's Court,' London, 1940.
- Mitchelstown Poor Law Union and Workhouse
- Mitchelstown Website
- INDIE-PENDENCE Festival Website
- Mitchelstown Brass Band Homepage
- Website dedicated to all things named Galteemore
- Find local information about Mitchelstown
- Great old pictures of Mitchelstown
- A journey throughout Ireland, during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1834 by Henry David Inglis.]
- A Visit to the Town and Caverns of Mitchelstown Impressions at home and abroad by James Roderick O'Flanagan, 1837