When he died early in January, 1913, no man's passing was more widely regretted than that of Thomas Walsh, the proprietor of the"Cashel Sentinel". When his remains were brought to the Parish Church a hearse was to have carried the coffin but an immense concourse of "respectable gentlemen" present insisted on bearing the remains in their own hands into the place of repose. On the day of the burial an enormous number of mourners lined the streets as the cortege proceeded round the town before the remains were interred in the cemetery adjacent to the Parish Church.
Thomas Walsh was a veteran Nationalist. When a young man he gave a taste of his patriotic proclivities by throwing himself into the Fenian movement. With several other Cashel men he travelled to Ballyhurst, near Tipperary where a great mustering of the Brotherhood met. The inception of the Land League saw him enrolling himself in the new movement for the extirpation of dual ownership. In that strenuous fight he came to be prominently identified.
"The Cashel Sentinel"
In 1885 he launched the "Cashel Sentinel" as a weekly paper, which devoted its columns to the dissemination of the numerous grievances that actuated the founders of the Land League in their efforts to secure redress and reform. His outspoken articles and strong denunciation of the policy and administration of the Government of the day incurred for him the ire and vengeance of Dublin Castle. In one of the issues of the paper, for daring to quote from a speech, he was tried and convicted and incarcerated with John Dillon, William O'Brien and Patrick Moclair, M.C.A., Chairman of the Cashel Board of Guardians, for three months in Clonmel gaol.
The imprisonment seemed to increase the spirit of patriotism and resolve in Thomas Walsh for, on his release, he continued to excite the attentions of Dublin Castle by his trenchant articles. A case of libel was taken against him. The trial lasted for several days and Walsh was sentenced for four months in gaol. He commenced the term in Clonmel gaol and was afterwards removed to Tullamore where an outbreak of typhoid fever was responsible for his premature release. On the day following his release he received the following telegram from T. M. Healy: "It's an ill wind that blows nobody good". Patrick Moclair was released at the same time for the same reason.
Thomas Walsh was an indefatigable worker in the National fight for freedom and continued his participation in the popular movements until his death. The formation of the United Irish League afforded him an opportunity of again entering into the struggle carried on by a united party and people. He was secretary of the Cashel branch from the institution of the League.
In local affairs he was equally zealous. For twenty-seven years he sat on the Corporation and no member enjoyed such whole-hearted favour and respect as he did. He was also a member of the County Infirmary Committee of Management, the Loan Fund Board and the Town Tenants' League.
His support for the G.A.A. was enthusiastic from the beginning. Again and again he exhorted the Gaels of Cashel in the editorials of the "Cashel Sentinel" to come together and get a strong club going in the town. He was disappointed when attempts failed and started immediately to initiate new efforts. But he wasn't content merely to wield the pen on behalf of the new movement. He, himself, attended many of the meetings and contributed of his wisdom to the proceedings. Equally sincere was his involvement with the sportsfield committee and the establishment of a good field for Gaelic games in the town.
Thomas Walsh may be long dead and mostly forgotten in 1985. There are no descendants of his left in the parish of Cashel and Rosegreen. But any account that failed to remember his contribution to Gaelic affairs in the parish would be incomplete and not a true record of events.
On the occasion of his death Francis Phillips contributed the following poem to the "Tipperary Star". In a preface to it he said: "The deceased was a patriot of the old school, a sterling and uncompromising Nationalist, and one who in the days now passed stood fearlessly and independently for the cause of Justice, Liberty and Right".
Into the great eternal home,
Where lives the Living Light,
A patriotic noble soul
At last has taken flight,
And from our ranks God called away
As sound a heart as beat this day.
For many long and weary years,
Through tempest and through shock,
He held the "flag" despite our fears,
His faith was like "The Rock".
And when the waves with fury roared,
The prouder still his spirit soared.
Out from his kind and generous heart,
And from his genial face,
There burst a beam 'twas more than art,
A beam of nature's grace.
That you might judge that fire did blaze,
That Fenians lit in by-gone days.
He loved to talk of colleagues gone
Of heroes who have been,
Forever with the faithful throng,
Those sons who loved the' green.
And with him strove that SHE' might be,
A Nation rocked in Liberty.
An yet though death has stilled that heart,
His memory shall not fade,
With Spartan strength he played his part,
Such stuff are heroes made.
Some day when Freedom's lights will burn,
One flickering ray may gild his urn. I reckon.
Post Advertiser, Jan. 1986, Vol. 1 No. 12