He supplements these personal stories with a few chapters on the historical background to those lives. There are the seminal events in the town’s history – the figures in the landscape of the town’s foundation, such as Richard and William de Burgo and later Otho de Grandison who ‘may never have set foot in Clonmel’, but whose nephew, Theobald de Grandison, certainly died here ‘on the morning of the vigil of Michaelmas’ in 1326. That ‘infant town’, still identifiable, is illustrated in maps in the book.
Accompanying those early centuries, there are the characters – ‘the figures’ who passed through the landscape, the distinguished ‘old English’ White family, the Ormonde Butlers and the Desmond Fitzgeralds, who, although closely related, fought bitterly over the Lordship of Clonmel.
And, of course there is the Cromwellian Siege, and the figures who subsequently emerged from its long shadow, the martyrs and scholars, some of whom became internationally famous such as Bonaventure Baron. The changing landscapes of land ownership and municipal power are covered in most interesting chapters on the Moores of Barne and the Bagwells of Marlfield.