Joining / Renewing Offaly History Membership for 2014 / 2015

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<Forthcoming events>

Connecting Leinster and Connacht: the construction of the new bridge at Banagher in 1843. 20 October 2014

IMG_2147A richly illustrated and humorous presentation from Eoghan Broderick, James Scully and Kieran Keenaghan

Offaly History Centre, Monday 20 October at 8pm at Bury Quay, Tullamore. Ample free parking. Admission members €2  and non-members €5. Tea/coffee after the meeting included.


Banagher Bridge 1843

Banagher Bridge 1843



The acquisition of two historic lithographs of Banagher Bridge from the Institute of Civil Engineers archives in London will be marked with a presentation in Tullamore on the 20th of October. The lithographs, commissioned by the contractor William Mackenzie are richly detailed and depict the bridge during construction and on the day of the ceremonial opening on the 12th August 1843.

The presentation will also include material from William Mackenzie’s diary and the correspondence between the Shannon Commissioners and their engineers in Banagher during the construction period .The involvement of the Banagher Masonic Lodge – of which Anthony Trollope was then a member - particularly in the opening ceremonies will also be included .Contemporary illustrations from George Petrie, Henry Albert Hartland, Captain William Smith and Haverty will also be be on display .

To aid with our discussion and presentation, architect Eoghan Broderick will provide graphic illustrations and photo-montage concerning the landscape at Banagher Bridge prior to the Commissioners’ work. This study focuses primarily on the architectural form and location of Banagher’s ‘Old Bridge’ prior to its controlled demolition in 1843

Trollope Vanity FairANTHONY TROLLOPE Anthony Trollope arrived in Banagher in September 1841 to take up his first position in Ireland as a sub post office inspector. During his stay he commenced his first novel, The Macdermotts of Ballycloran. He was also a member of the local masonic lodge and was likely to have attended the grand opening of Banagher Bridge where the lodge members played a prominent role in the ceremonial activities. On the 11th October, 1841, Anthony Trollope, who afterwards became so distinguished as a novelist, was proposed for membership by Bros. J.J. Bird and Harrington. “Being an official and ordered on duty,” he was initiated in an emergency Lodge, held on the 8th of November, and on the 13th December, 1841, he was raised to the degree of Master Mason. Trollope’s autograph signature appears in the attendance book on 5th August, 1844, and during the ensuing year he ceased to be a member of the Lodge.

WILLIAM MACKENZIE’S DIARY 1840-50 – a copy is in the Offaly History Library for consultation
Amongst the historic sources for Banagher in the early 1840s is the diary of William Mackenzie. The diary covers a period of eleven years including the six years when he would have visited Banagher, 1840-45. His untimely death in 1851 meant these writings were never revised or amended with a view to propriety and consequently still hold their original spontaneity. The following extracts, recorded as written, are typical of his colourful memories.
Friday 27 May 1842
“We left Killaloe at 9 oCk in the Lady Landsdowne wrote up diary on Loch Derg. We arrived at Meelick about 2p.m. went to the Lock with Mr. Woodhouse who met Mr. Rhodes – Kenneth and I – we went to the Keelogue side where the waggon work is starting returned and drove to Banagher to Dinner – I received a Petition from 5 married & 39 I suppose Maiden Ladies of Banagher expressing their desire to be acquainted with me and as the best mode of a general introduction of each others society would be to give them a Ball by inviting the young Gentlemen Engineers of the Shannon Works Military Officers of the neighbouring Barracks and Gentlemen of the Town and neighbourhood I read the petition and considered the best reply was to take no notice of it and therefore I cast it into the fire We retired to bed about 11oCk”
Friday 11th August 1843 (The day before the bridge was opened)
“I sauntered about all day on the works at Banagher – found the Bridge finished and compleat except a little coping on the wing walls on the Banagher side which will be on in about 10 days the stone is being quarried out of the Shoal below the Bridge – The Gazelle Steamer arrived about 4 oCk and Brought Mr. Rhodes & Captn Tully with her from Killaloe – weather very fine”



100 quirky facts about County Offaly

Limited stock remains of this informative gem:

Did you know…..? 100 quirky facts about County Offaly

Buy it now for €10 + P&P



Engage 2013 Patrick StreetEngage with Architecture 2013; Mapping Towns : Patrick St. Tullamore

This project is a result of co-operation with OHAS, Transition year students of Tullamore College and Kenny Lyons and Associates Architects.

The main aim of the project was to survey the levels of occupancy of Patrick Street and to consider the results with the proposals on how to improve Patrick Street streets-cape. Check out the findings!

Free to download

Lectures on Offaly History Topics for 2015 and available to towns and villages in Offaly

kings_baronies_1770.jpgOffaly History want to develop a list of lectures and walks that we can advertise on line as being available from our members and friends and dealing with County Offaly.

The drawing up of this list arises from the fact that each year local societies/towns and villages are looking for speakers and topics and we want to make the story of our own County and subjects  available to the public for a nominal charge to cover expenses and to ensure that adequate preparation is done locally to facilitate the talk. The intention is to promote the subject in County Offaly and border counties.

Please note the list is a draft only and your help in improving and extending it would be appreciated. No one has been excluded intentionally so please send your suggestions. The Society will make projection facilities, screen and stand available as may be required.

List of Lectures on Offaly History Topics

  1. Scully, James
    1. The Grand Canal in County Offaly/
    2. The building of Banagher bridge
  2. Reilly, Ciaran
    1.  Edenderry The 1798 rebellion in north Offaly
    2. The Great Famine in Offaly
    3. Researching the landed estate in Offaly
    4. The burning of country houses in Offaly 1920-1923
    5. The Big House in Offaly
  3. McNeill, Stephen
    1. Leamanaghan Parish
    2. What the newspapers say – studying the old newspapers of Ireland
  4. Sweeney, Niall
    1.  Mapping the maps of County Offaly
    2. The development of the roads of County Offaly
  5. Byrne, Michael
    1. The distilling industry in County Offaly
    2. The Development of Provincial Newspapers in County Offaly
    3. Sources for Offaly History
    4. The Growth of Tullamore from 1700 to recent times
    5. The Story of Charleville Demesne Tullamore
    6. Book Collecting for Irish and Offaly History
    7. Shopping in Tullamore since the 1960s
    8. Offaly and the First World War – county generally or Birr or Tullamore
  6. Guerin, Noel
    1. Internet sources for Irish family history
  7. Kearney, John
    1. The Story of Daingean Co Offaly
    2. The Development of Killeigh
  8. Delaney, Mary
    1. The Trench Estate at Geashill 1857 – 1871
  9.  McConway, Philip
    1.  Offaly and the 1916 Rising
    2. The Offaly IRA’s Attack on Clara RIC Barracks
    3. The Experiences of the RIC and Loyalists in King’s County, 1920-’23
    4. The Impact of the Anglo-Irish ‘Treaty’ on Offaly
    5. Offaly Republican Prisoners 1918-‘23
    6. A great harvest for rogues? Crime and Anarchy in Offaly 1922-’23
    7. Researching the Revolution in Offaly

10. Murphy, Ger

  1.  The Sources for Crime in County Offaly in the 1820s to 1840s
  2. Faction Fighting and Crime in West Offaly in the early nineteenth century

11. Hooper, Darrell

  1. Researching one’s family history – a case study.
  2. Monastic Way – A Monastic trail from Dublin to Galway.
  3. Pre Christian Offaly – Providing Emotions since 6,500 B.C.
  4. Illustrated Talk on Rahan Early Christian Monastic site.
  5. Illustrated Talk on Lynally Early Christian Monastic site.
  6. Francis Johnston – Irelands greatest native born Architect – Charleville Castle, Tullamore, many building in Armagh and Dublin, and around Ireland.

12. Pedlow, Amanda

  1. Offaly Heritage Officer -  aspects of Offaly Heritage Plans discussed relative to the area of the talk

13. O’Brien, Caimin- Archaeological topics

14. Cunningham, George

  1. Introducing the Heritage of the Killavilla area
  2. A Bookman in Ely O’Carroll
  3. The Round Towers of the Midlands: Offaly, Tipperary, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, East Clare
  4. From Kinnitty to Gloster, via Seir Kieran and Leap Castle.
  5. The Story of Mount St Joseph Abbey
  6.  Can and I Will….Pat Carroll, one of Offaly’s All Stars

15. Rory Masterson

  1. Early Christian Offaly
  2. Medieval Offaly

16. Hogan, Margaret

  1.  Gospel Book of Macregol of Birr
  2. The Faddenmore Psalter
  3. Birr workhouse
  4. The architecture of Birr
  5. Birr Georgian architecture
  6. Women’s suffrage in the Midlands
  7. The third Earl of Rosse and Birr

17. Pey, Brien

  1. The Barony of Eglish;
  2. Thee O’Molloys Jacobite history

Dr John Feehan18. John Feehan

  1. Aspects of the Geology and Landscape of Offaly









19. Tim O’Neill

  1. Offaly and the Famine

20. Margaret White/John Kearney

  1. Sources for Family History in County Offaly

21. Jim Houlihan

  1.  Cáin Adomnáin, the Law of the Innocents

22. Arthur Guest

  1. Folk medicine

23. Fergal McCabe

  1. Tullamore and town planning

24. Helen Bracken

  1. Durrow Monastic Site, Tullamore

25. Paula Lalor

  1. Queen Victoria’s visits to Ireland, 1849, 1853, 1861, a view from the County House.


It is suggested that we have an arrangement that expenses be paid to lecturers in the sum of not less than €100 to provide for the preparation, travel and expenses involved.

The Society may subvent this where necessary. Depending on local organisations finances, fees may be waived by individual lecturers.