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Offaly History (short for Offaly Historical & Archaeological) was first formed in 1938 and re-established in 1969 and is located at Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly since 1993(next to the new Tullamore D.E.W Visitor Centre).

We are about collecting and sharing memories. We do this in an organised way though exhibitions, supporting the publication of local interest books, our website Offalyhistory.com , Facebook, open evenings, our library and offices at Bury Quay.

Our Mission
To promote Offaly History including community and family history

What we do:

  • Promote all aspects of history in Co. Offaly.
  • Genealogy service for counties Laois and Offaly.
  • Co. Offaly photographic records for study and sale in addition to a limited number of publications on Laois and Irish general historical interest.
  • Purchase and sale of Offaly interest books though the Society’s book store and website.
  • Publication of books under the Society’s publishing arm Esker Press.
  • The Society subscribes to almost all the premier historical journals in Ireland.

Our Society covers a diverse range of Offaly Heritage:

  • Architectural heritage, historic monuments such as monastic and castle buildings.
  • Industrial and urban development of towns and villages.
  • Archaeological objects and artifacts.
  • Flora, fauna and bogs, wildlife habitats, geology and Natural History.
  • Landscapes, heritage gardens and parks, farming and inland waterways.
  • Local literary, social, economic, military, political, scientific and sports history.

Offaly History is a non-profit community group with a growing membership of some 150 individuals.

The Society focuses on enhancing educational opportunities, understanding and knowledge of the county heritage while fostering an inclusive approach and civic pride in local identity. We promote these objectives through:

  • The holding of monthly lectures, occasional seminars, exhibitions and film screenings.
    Organising tours during the summer months to places of shared historical interest.
  • The publication of an annual journal Offaly Heritage – to date nine issues.
  • We play a unique role collecting and digitising original primary source materials especially photographs and oral history recordings
  • Offaly History is  the centre for  Family History research in Counties Laois and Offaly.
  • The Society is linked to the renowned Irish Family Foundation website and Roots Ireland where some 900,000 records of Offaly/Laois interest can be accessed on a pay-per-view basis worldwide. Currently these websites have an estimated 20 million records of all Ireland interest.
  • A burgeoning library of books, CD-ROMs, videos, DVDs, oral and folklore recordings, manuscripts, newspapers and journals, maps, photographs and various artifacts.
  • OHAS Collections
  • OHAS Centre Facilities

The financial activities of the Society are operated under the aegis of Offaly Heritage Centre Limited, a charitable company whose directors also serve on the Society’s elected committee. None of the Society’s directors receive remuneration or any kind. All the company’s assets are held in trust to promote the voluntary activities of the Society. Our facilities are largely free to the public or run purely on a costs-recovery basis.

Acting as a policy advisory body –  Offaly History endeavors to ensure all government departments, local authorities, tourism agencies and key opinion formers prioritise heritage matters.

Meet the current committee:

Our Committee represents a broad range of backgrounds and interests. All share a common interest in collecting and promoting the heritage of the county and making it available to the wider community.

2017 Committee

  • Helen Bracken (President)
  • Pat Wynne (Vice President and Joint Treasurer)
  • Niall Sweeney (Vice President)
  • Michael Byrne (Secretary)
  • Lisa Shortall (Deputy Secretary)
  • Dorothee Bibby (Record Secretary)
  • Charlie Finlay (Joint Treasurer)
  • Darrell Hooper
  • Brian Pey
  • Fred Geoghegan
  • Noel Guerin
  • Henry Edgill
  • Peter Burke
  • Angella Kelly
  • Rory Masterson
  • Shaun Wrafter
  • Ronnie Matthews
  • Oliver Dunne
  • Ciara Molloy
  • Stephen Callaghan (Heritage Items)

If you would like to help with the work of the Society by coming on a sub-committee or in some other way please email us or let an existing member know.

+353-5793-21421 [email protected] Open 9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri
  • The Fair of Frankford (Kilcormac): old times in the barony of Ballyboy. By Paddy Heaney

    We are publishing this essay of thirty-five years ago to honour all the people of the barony of Killoughy who have kept the Irish musical tradition vibrant and have a great love of their local history. It is also to mark the passing of Ashling Murphy and in support of her family and all her … Continue reading The Fair of Frankford (Kilcormac): old times in the barony of Ballyboy. By Paddy Heaney

  • Offaly and the Treaty Debate: widespread acceptance. Specially contributed

    Early 1922 saw just two local organs of public opinion in Offaly – the Midland Tribune and the King’s County Chronicle. The Tribune was owned by the long-term nationalist Mrs Fanning, widow of the late Dr Fanning and herself active in regard to Sinn Féin policy on amalgamation of the workhouses. Her editor was James … Continue reading Offaly and the Treaty Debate: widespread acceptance. Specially contributed

  • Well that Beats Banagher!! A humourous expression of amazement. By Kieran Keenaghan and James Scully

    This famous phrase or exclamation or some version of it has been in use for hundreds of years. There are few instances if any in the English-speaking world where a placename appears in this manner. In all cases it was used dramatically to emphasise in a humorous way what has been said or written. The … Continue reading Well that Beats Banagher!! A humourous expression of amazement. By Kieran Keenaghan and James Scully

  • The parish of Clonmacnoise (in the diocese of Meath and King’s County/Offaly) by Revd Patrick Fitzgerald, c. 1814–16. Presented by Offaly History

    An account of  Clonmacnoise in the early years of the ninteenth century was published by William Shaw Mason (c.1774–1853), as part of his three-volume A Statistical Account or Parochial Survey of Ireland, drawn up from the communications of the clergy (1814–19).  Included in this survey is one Offaly parish – that of Clonmacnoise, published as … Continue reading The parish of Clonmacnoise (in the diocese of Meath and King’s County/Offaly) by Revd Patrick Fitzgerald, c. 1814–16. […]

  • The ‘Elite’ of Tullamore skating at Charleville Lake on St Stephen’s Day 1864. By Cosney Molloy

    Skating on Charleville Lake, Tullamore was a popular pastime when I was a young lad. I remember the cold icy winters of 1962, 1982 and 2010. I can recall as a young man the Tullamore people skating on Charleville Lake in 1962. I am a long time now in D 4 but I got down … Continue reading The ‘Elite’ of Tullamore skating at Charleville Lake on St Stephen’s Day 1864. By Cosney Molloy

  • A novel approach to Charlotte Brontë’s honeymoon. By James Scully

    Pauline Clooney’ Charlotte & Arthur, an imaginative recreation of the Charlotte Brontë’s honeymoon in Wales and Ireland, is an exciting combination of fact and fiction. The extensive historical research which preceded the writing of the book is evident throughout and this coupled with the creation of less historic characters and the weaving in of more … Continue reading A novel approach to Charlotte Brontë’s honeymoon. By James Scully

  • King’s County Infirmary – its closure in 1921 in an era of change. By Aisling Irwin

    King’s County Infirmary was established under the reign of King George III with the passing of the Irish County Infirmaries Act of 1765. This act enabled the creation of infirmaries in thirty Irish counties. During the redevelopment of Tullamore town by the Earl of Charleville, a new infirmary building was erected in 1788 on Church … Continue reading King’s County Infirmary – its closure in 1921 in an era of change. By Aisling Irwin

  • Tullamore: ‘A good business town’. By Fergal MacCabe

    Why has there been so little public interest in the conservation of the architectural heritage of Tullamore? Sharing a pot of tea in the Brewery Tap in the early 1980s with a well-known local builder, I remarked that demolition and redevelopment rather than conservation and reuse always seemed to be the first choice option. His … Continue reading Tullamore: ‘A good business town’. By Fergal MacCabe

  • The internees released from the camps following the Treaty of 6 December 1921. A time of ferment in politics. By Michael Byrne

    The scene at the railway station [Tullamore] will long be remembered. Long before the hour for arrival of the train, the stream of people to the station premises and surroundings was continuous. There was joy everywhere and the light and hope that the glad tidings brought were seen in the faces of the huge gathering. … Continue reading The internees released from the camps following the Treaty of 6 December 1921. A time of ferment in politics. By Michael Byrne

  • Cassandra, Countess of Rosse (1851-1921) – a profile of her life on the centenary of her death. By Graham Sykes

      During the summer of 1908 the 4th Earl and Countess of Rosse made their customary journey to London in order to enjoy the society ‘season.’  Sadly, this was to be their final visit together, for although the sixty-seven-year-old Earl had been in declining health for some time, soon after they returned to Birr Castle … Continue reading Cassandra, Countess of Rosse (1851-1921) – a profile of her life on the centenary of her death. By Graham Sykes

  • Rathrobin and the Two Irelands: the photographs of Middleton Biddulph, 1900–1920. Michael Byrne

    Rathrobin is a book that keeps on giving. Its 250 Biddulph photographs from the 1870s to 1920s, all carefully captioned, depict the two Irelands – unionist and nationalist, Catholic and Protestant, landed and cabbage garden. What is interesting about the photographs taken by Colonel Biddulph (1849-1926, of Rathrobin near Mountbolus) are the nuances. He was … Continue reading Rathrobin and the Two Irelands: the photographs of Middleton Biddulph, 1900–1920. Michael Byrne

  • Christmas Reading from Offaly History – twelve new titles of Offaly interest, one for every day of the Festive Season. Another bumper year for...

    All the books here can be purchased from Offaly History (Bury Quay, Tullamore and online) and at Midland Books, Tullamore. You can also view/ borrow at Offaly Libraries and consult at Offaly History Centre. Rathrobin and the two Irelands: the photographs of Middleton Biddulph, 1900-1920. Michael Byrne (Offaly History, Tullamore, 2021), 330 pages, 280×240, hardcover, … Continue reading Christmas Reading from Offaly History – twelve new titles of Offaly interest, one for every day of the […]

  • Judge John Neilan, late judge of the district Court, no 9: a journalist recalls. By Declan McSweeney

    The recent death in Roscommon of Judge John Neilan, at the age of 76, evoked many memories for me, of years covering his court cases for the now-closed Offaly Express (the print version). While I joined the staff in 1988, I didn’t start covering courts on a regular basis until after the retirement of the late … Continue reading Judge John Neilan, late judge of the district Court, no 9: a journalist recalls. By Declan McSweeney

  • The 14th and 15th earls of Huntingdon of Sharavogue, Shinrone and the Birr barracks scandal. By Stephen Callaghan

    Warner Francis John Plantagenet Hastings was born on 8 July 1868 at 54, St Stephen’s Green Place, Dublin. He was the son of Francis Power Plantagent Hastings, 14th Earl of Huntingdon, and Mary Anne Wilmot Westenra. The title of Earl of Huntingdon was an English peerage title originally created in 1065, the current title is … Continue reading The 14th and 15th earls of Huntingdon of Sharavogue, Shinrone and the Birr barracks scandal. By Stephen Callaghan

  • Centenarian philosopher: Tullamore Man’s Recipe for Happiness “Take Life as it comes” – 80 years married and never quarrelled’ – Michael...

    Take the good and bad in life as it comes; be satisfied with your fate; if you find yourself in an argument, get out of it as quickly as possible. This was the philosophy of Mr Michael Coughlin (or Coughlan), of Rapp, Tullamore, who celebrated his 107th birthday in November 1929. I am told by … Continue reading Centenarian philosopher: Tullamore Man’s Recipe for Happiness “Take Life as it comes” – 80 years married and never quarrelled’ – Michael and Mary Coughlin of Rapp Road, […]

  • ‘The present war will be the greatest and most appalling the world has ever seen. The results will be proportionately as great both to conqueror...

       If only the American policymakers of late years since 2001 (Afghanistan), (or even Kennedy and LBJ) had read B.C. Molloy. A former MP for King’s County, Bernard Charles Molloy, was one of the few to predict that the First World War would not be over by Christmas 1914. Molloy read the signs well, besides … Continue reading ‘The present war will be the greatest and most appalling the world has ever seen. The results will be proportionately as great both to conqueror and conquered.’ […]

  • Opening of Offaly Archives by Minister Malcolm Noonan, 18 Nov. 2021.

    Offaly History is pleased to announce the opening of Offaly Archives at unit 1F, Cluster Two, Axis Business Park, on Thursday 18 November 2021, by minister of state at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan. Offaly History completed the building of its second premises in 2019 to coincide with its 50th … Continue reading Opening of Offaly Archives by Minister Malcolm Noonan, 18 Nov. 2021.

  • Scallys of Kilbeggan and Tullamore: the height of fashion, mechanics and aviation. By Maurice Egan

    One could only marvel at the grandness of the shopfront, its curved plate glass display windows, its fine chiselled limestone three-story edifice, as well as the coming and goings of customers. This was what was on view to the townsfolk and visitors to Tullamore when coming across the shop owned and operated by proprietor Malachy … Continue reading Scallys of Kilbeggan and Tullamore: the height of fashion, mechanics and aviation. By Maurice Egan

  • A new insight into some Tullamore families.

    Overview In mid-December we publish a book by Maurice Egan, ‘Merchants, Medics, and the Military Commerce and Architecture’ It provides an exciting insight on the social history of Ireland from 1875 to 1925, as seen through the lives of influential Irish families. We are now taking orders and expect to be able to fill them … Continue reading A new insight into some Tullamore families.

  • Sean Barry: a Volunteer who ‘was in any operation worthwhile in Offaly’, and Three Cheers for Mrs Nurse Barry. By Michael Byrne

    Some of the more recent contributions to the narrative of the 1912–23 period, such as that of Ferriter and Dolan, have looked at the personal histories of the combatants and less at causation and the course of the military campaign (Hopkinson and Laffan). Others such as Foster (and earlier Thompson) examined the cultural background for … Continue reading Sean Barry: a Volunteer who ‘was in any operation worthwhile in Offaly’, and Three Cheers for Mrs Nurse Barry. By Michael Byrne

  • ‘Opening the Hidden Bridge  and A New Theory of The Early Origins of Tullamore’. By Fergal MacCabe

    Introduction Amongst the recently announced projects for the rejuvenation of the centre of Tullamore is the long promised opening of the ‘Hidden Bridge’ behind the County Library and the linking across it of O’Connor Square and Church Street by a new public park. Though the age and function of the bridge are obscure, clues may … Continue reading ‘Opening the Hidden Bridge  and A New Theory of The Early Origins of Tullamore’. By Fergal MacCabe

  • One hundred years of Clara History: a Goodbody perspective. Michael Goodbody and Offaly History

    One hundred years of Clara History: The diary of Lydia Goodbody, 1841–86; Harold Goodbody’s history of Clara, 1887–1945. Illustrated with over 200 photographs, 360 pages (Offaly History, 2021). To be launched at GAA Centre, 8 pm on 4 Nov. Orders also per shop at http://www.offalyhistory.com and to callers (from 5 Nov.) to Offaly History, Bury … Continue reading One hundred years of Clara History: a Goodbody perspective. Michael Goodbody and Offaly History

  • Tim Guiney: the Tullamore Golf Club historian. An appreciation by Michael Byrne and Kevin Corrigan

    Tim Guiney, late of Cork and Tullamore died at Tullamore Regional Hospital on 15 October 2021. It was only a few weeks earlier – on Sunday 5 September –  that we gathered in Tullamore Golf Club for the launch of a 125th anniversary publication on the club. Tim had led a team in publishing this … Continue reading Tim Guiney: the Tullamore Golf Club historian. An appreciation by Michael Byrne and Kevin Corrigan

  • The records of the Valuation Office in local and family history. By Laura Price.

    The records of the Valuation Office stretch all the way back to the 1830s and are an invaluable source for the genealogist or local historian. They allow a researcher to trace the occupiers of land and buildings for decades. Just as importantly they give us insight into our ancestors’ lives in Ireland long ago. The … Continue reading The records of the Valuation Office in local and family history. By Laura Price.

  • ‘The town of Birr or Parsonstown, is the prettiest inland town in Ireland.’ – The Illustrated London News of 1843.

    A two-page feature on Birr and its new telescope (s) was featured in the Illustrated London News of 9 September 1843. It was the first such international treatment for Birr and was combined with valuable illustrations of the town. It was also the first treatment by a national or international publisher promoting ‘Offaly Tourism’. It … Continue reading ‘The town of Birr or Parsonstown, is the prettiest inland town in Ireland.’ – The Illustrated London News of 1843.

  • Grand Juries in Ireland: the politics of power in the counties. By Michael Byrne

    The county grand jury system will be the subject of much focus from mid-2022 with the uploading of links to the county archives records throughout Ireland by way of the Beyond 2022:Virtual Record Treasury Project. The first thing to say is that a useful and well-illustrated booklet People, Place and Power: the grand jury system … Continue reading Grand Juries in Ireland: the politics of power in the counties. By Michael Byrne

  • The assassination in 1856 of Valerio, the fourth Count Magawly of Temora, Kilcormac and of Parma. By Michael Byrne

    On the road to Birr, and not far from Kilcormac, are the classical gate piers of Temora – all that is left now of the home of the family of Magawly family. This Catholic family owned much of Kilcormac and, after a long legal battle, had the benefit of the articles of the Treaty of … Continue reading The assassination in 1856 of Valerio, the fourth Count Magawly of Temora, Kilcormac and of Parma. By Michael Byrne

  • Profitless Bog- The impact of energy generation on the landscape of the Midlands. By Fergal MacCabe

    ‘….The lean road flung over profitless bog, Where only a snipe could nest… …..The soft and dreary midlands, with their tame canals, Wallow between sea and sea, remote from adventure….’ ‘Dublin Made Me’      Donagh MacDonagh Lumcloon Once a month, my uncle Billy Holohan who was the Assistant County Engineer for West Offaly, would … Continue reading Profitless Bog- The impact of energy generation on the landscape of the Midlands. By Fergal MacCabe

  • A Rethink: Colmcille’s Copying of a Psalter. By Dr M.J. Fox

    We are pleased to welcome a new contributor and old friend Dr Mary Jane Fox. She has contributed to Offaly Heritage journal. Saint Colmcille[1] is very much a part of Offaly’s history, almost exclusively due to the early monastic site of Durrow. It is not certain exactly when he founded Durrow, but the land for … Continue reading A Rethink: Colmcille’s Copying of a Psalter. By Dr M.J. Fox

  • Geoff Oakley, newspaperman, Birr and Tullamore, died 21 September 2021, editor of the Tullamore Tribune, 1978-94. By Seamus Dooley and Offaly History

    We were sorry to hear of the death of that great newspaperman Geoff Oakley who died on 21 September in his 93rd year. Geoff and his late wife Dorothy, who died in March 2020, had no immediate family but that is only in the narrow sense. Their children were the people of Offaly and both, … Continue reading Geoff Oakley, newspaperman, Birr and Tullamore, died 21 September 2021, editor of the Tullamore Tribune, 1978-94. By Seamus Dooley and Offaly History

  • Catherine Maria Bury and the design of Charleville Castle. By Judith Hill

    ‘Catherine Maria Bury and the design of Charleville Castle’ is the title of an online lecture via Zoom provided by Offaly History for Mondy 20 September at 7. 30 p.m. Our speaker is Dr Judith Hill. She has kindly provided this note for Offalyhistoryblog readers on her forthcoming lecture. When I started researching my PhD … Continue reading Catherine Maria Bury and the design of Charleville Castle. By Judith Hill

  • Turning on the electric light in Tullamore and Birr: 100 years ago – September 1921. By Michael Byrne

    Tullamore made the switch from gas lighting to public lamps powered by electricity on 27  September 1921 and Birr about a week earlier. The change in Tullamore was coming for over twenty years and Charleville Castle and D. E. Williams both had electric light from about 1900 and earlier. Lord Rosse had it in Birr … Continue reading Turning on the electric light in Tullamore and Birr: 100 years ago – September 1921. By Michael Byrne

  • Clonmacnoise parish, County Offaly supports Charles S. Parnell in his defamation action against The Times in the late 1880s. By Padráig Turley

    While perusing some late 19th century newspapers a reference to The National Indemnity Fund 1888 caught my eye. The object of this fund was to provide an indemnity for Parnell against an Order for costs in the event of him loosing a defamation action against the Times. This fund received contributions from virtually every parish … Continue reading Clonmacnoise parish, County Offaly supports Charles S. Parnell in his defamation action against The Times in the late 1880s. By Padráig Turley

  • The Midland Tribune was 140 years old in September 2021. By Michael Byrne

    The Midland Tribune and King’s County Vindicator was first published at Birr on 15th September, 1881. The aim of its promoters, three Birr Catholic priests of the Killaloe diocese,  was to provide a ‘thoroughly independent organ of popular opinion in a district hitherto without the semblance of national journalism’.  In politics it declared itself as … Continue reading The Midland Tribune was 140 years old in September 2021. By Michael Byrne

  • The Earliest Arrivals/Humans in Offaly. By John Dolan

    Dealing with time periods that trace back thousands and hundreds of thousands of years can be difficult to handle because of the range of dating systems used such as BC, AD, CE etc. For this blog dates will be recorded as BP – before present. This is to avoid conflicting terminology and confusion. Simplistic timelines … Continue reading The Earliest Arrivals/Humans in Offaly. By John Dolan

  • Homan Potterton sale features three painters with Offaly connections. By Michael Byrne

    The Homan Potterton sale on 7 September 2021 at Adam’s, Dublin features three painters with Offaly connections. But first a word about Potterton. After secondary education at Kilkenny College and Mountjoy School he began studying to be a solicitor, but (great for him ) he switched to art history at Trinity with the formidable Anne … Continue reading Homan Potterton sale features three painters with Offaly connections. By Michael Byrne

  • My four years as a boarder at Tullabeg/ St Stanislaus College, Tullamore, 1882–86 recalled seventy years later in 1951. By Senex and Offaly History.

    Starting in Tullabeg as a boarder in September might mean not getting home until the following June. Tullabeg, the Jesuit boarding school near Tullamore was opened in 1818 and closed in 1886 as a boarding school, following amalgamation with Clongowes Wood. This account of the four years spent there as a schoolboy was written in … Continue reading My four years as a boarder at Tullabeg/ St Stanislaus College, Tullamore, 1882–86 recalled seventy years later in 1951. By Senex and […]

  • Stills from Offaly Remembers 1916 – the film of the 1966 Commemoration Parade in Tullamore. By Offaly History

    The film made of the 1966 Commemoration parade on Easter Monday 1966 may be the first film made of a public civic event in Tullamore. It was commissioned by the organising committee for the parade and was made by Eamonn O’Connor Studios, Limerick. The cost was £265. In 2015 funds were provided under the aegis … Continue reading Stills from Offaly Remembers 1916 – the film of the 1966 Commemoration Parade in Tullamore. By Offaly History

  • Founding families: the Legacy of the Moores and the Burys. By Fergal MacCabe

    ‘Tullamoore’ Over the years, Tullamore has been known as ’Towllaghmore’,‘Tullaghmore’ or ‘Tullymore’ -all  anglicizations of ‘Tulach Mhór’ and most likely deriving from the high land to the south of the river. By the middle of the 19th c. the name of the now extensive town had morphed into ‘Tullamoore’- reflecting the influence of the Moore … Continue reading Founding families: the Legacy of the Moores and the Burys. By Fergal MacCabe

  • Eliza and Catherine Dooley from the Parsonstown Workhouse to Sydney in 1850. By Dr Perry McIntyre

    This is the second of two Heritage Week 2021 blogs by Dr Perry McIntyre AM, a Sydney-based historian, who has used the Birr Workhouse registers to research the lives of workhouse girls who emigrated to Australia under the ‘The Earl Grey Scheme’ during the Great Famine. An accompanying podcast featuring Perry in conversation with Lisa … Continue reading Eliza and Catherine Dooley from the Parsonstown Workhouse to Sydney in 1850. By Dr Perry McIntyre

  • Elizabeth Walsh: Birr (Parsonstown) Workhouse Orphan Girl to Australia 1850. By Dr Perry McIntyre

    Our favourite week of the year has rolled around again – Heritage Week 2021 – and we are delighted to publish the first of two blogs by Dr Perry McIntyre AM, a Sydney-based historian, who has used the Birr Workhouse registers to research the lives of workhouse girls who emigrated to Australia under the ‘The … Continue reading Elizabeth Walsh: Birr (Parsonstown) Workhouse Orphan Girl to Australia 1850. By Dr Perry McIntyre

  • Let’s Talk Tullamore: Tullamore Harbour plans and the local economy. By Reg McCabe

    There’s no shortage of very ordinary towns in Ireland but Tullamore certainly isn’t one of them. How could it be? After all it has its proud legacy as one of the original trading and transport hubs on the Grand canal from its arrival in the town in 1798. That early advantage over competing centres like … Continue reading Let’s Talk Tullamore: Tullamore Harbour plans and the local economy. By Reg McCabe

  • The D.E. Williams branch shops in the midlands, 1884–1921: A revolution in retailing. By Michael Byrne

    There are only a few studies available on the development of retailing in Ireland, either of a general nature or in connection with particular firms. It is well known that in the first half of the nineteenth century and up to the Famine years retail outlets were not widely available and many in the smaller … Continue reading The D.E. Williams branch shops in the midlands, 1884–1921: A revolution in retailing. By Michael Byrne

  • The Railway Men: 1st Battalion, Offaly No. 2 Brigade the War of Independence and the attacks on trains in the Ballycumber- Clara area. By Pat...

    We welcome Pat McLoughlin this week as a new contributor writing about attacks on trains in the Clara-Ballycumber area during the War of Independence. Pat writes: I grew up between Clara and Ballycumber in the townland of Clonshanny.  Thomas Bracken who was Adjunt Officer 1st Battalion, Offaly No. 2 Bde. is my grandfather, Brigid Bracken … Continue reading The Railway Men: 1st Battalion, Offaly No. 2 Brigade the War of Independence and the attacks on trains in the Ballycumber- Clara area. By […]

  • Francis Berry and the Charleville estate (Tullamore) on the eve of the Great Famine. By Ciarán Reilly

    Francis Berry was employed as agent of the 23,000 acre Charleville estate at Tullamore for over forty years from c1820-64. As agent, Berry enjoyed a cordial relationship with Lord Charleville, correspondence between the pair frequently referred to enquiries as to the health of their respective families. Berry was an active agent and his correspondence highlights … Continue reading Francis Berry and the Charleville estate (Tullamore) on the eve of the Great Famine. By Ciarán Reilly

  • Tom Furlong of Wexford and Tullamore: saved by the Truce from a British noose. Furlong was the father of a great GAA dynasty. By Pat Nolan

    Offaly History welcomes this contribution from Pat Nolan and is delighted to be able to include it in our Fifty Blogs for the Decade of Centenaries. This story, and much more, will soon be uploaded to our new Decade of Centenaries platform on www.offalyhistory.com. The portrait is from chapter one of Pat Nolan’s ‘The Furlongs … Continue reading Tom Furlong of Wexford and Tullamore: saved by the Truce from a British noose. Furlong was the father of a great GAA dynasty. By Pat Nolan

  • The Truce in Offaly: ‘The developments give ground for confidence and hope. The first and most important step has been taken, and by it Ireland is...

    Welcome to this our 48th blog for the Decade of Centenaries. All of them will soon be posted to the Decade of Centenaries site hosted on www.offalyhistory and with thanks to all our contributors and partners and especially Offaly County Council, Offaly Libraries, the heritage office and Offaly Archives. We have now posted 302 blogs … Continue reading The Truce in Offaly: ‘The developments give ground for confidence and hope. The first and most important step has been taken, and by it […]

  • The courts of assize in King’s County/Offaly in the years from 1914 and the last assizes of July 1921. By Michael Byrne

    The administration of law in Ireland in 1914–19 was pervasive with petty sessions’ courts across the county in the smallest villages and towns. These were attended to by paid resident magistrates and on a voluntary basis by local gentry and merchants, both Protestant and Catholic, who had been deemed suitable by Dublin Castle for the … Continue reading The courts of assize in King’s County/Offaly in the years from 1914 and the last assizes of July 1921. By Michael Byrne

  • Daingean GAA Club experienced lean times during the Revolutionary Years, 1913-23. By Sean McEvoy

    While Daingean celebrates the completion of its new Sports Centre it is good to look back to how things were 100 years ago. The country is currently celebrating and remembering what have become popularly known as the Revolutionary years or era spanning the timescale 1913–23.  These years witnessed the formation of the Irish Volunteers in … Continue reading Daingean GAA Club experienced lean times during the Revolutionary Years, 1913-23. By Sean McEvoy

  • Catherine Mahon (1869-1948) – Birr’s radical republican feminist. By Margaret Hogan

    This week’s Decade of Centenaries blogpost is by Margaret Hogan, retired teacher of St Brendan’s Community School, Birr, and local historian. Introduction Catherine Mahon is represented in most of the strands of the Decade of Centenaries: the labour movement, the women’s movement, the nationalist movement and even the implications of World War One for women … Continue reading Catherine Mahon (1869-1948) – Birr’s radical republican feminist. By Margaret Hogan

  • The moving bog at Kilmaleady near Clara: the account of Richard Griffith in 1821. By Michael Byrne

    Bogs are in the news again and were very much so 200 years ago this month because of the phenomenon known as ‘the moving bog at Kilmaleady [Kilmalady big] near Clara’. It was reported in the national press (there was no local press back then) and in 1825 in Brewer’s account of Ireland. It had … Continue reading The moving bog at Kilmaleady near Clara: the account of Richard Griffith in 1821. By Michael Byrne

  • Sir Edmund Spenser and Croghan Hill -a Damascus moment? By Dr Mary O’Connor

    When renowned Offaly archaeologist Caimin O’Brien, cited Sir Edmund Spenser’s inclusion of a verse on Croghan Hill in his most famous poem, The Faerie Queene, in Stories from a Sacred Landscape: from Croghan Hill to Clonmacnoise; the curiosity bells began to ring.  This was an amazing revelation and posed questions as to how Spenser was … Continue reading Sir Edmund Spenser and Croghan Hill -a Damascus moment? By Dr Mary O’Connor

  • What If? 1919-1923: Columb Kelly, executed at Birr during the Civil War. By Maurice G. Egan with thanks to Hollie M. Eilbeck and dedicated to the...

    Introduction The Summer of 1921was heralded as having some of the best Irish weather days in ten years.1 Many people used the opportunity to cycle their bicycles along the countryside roads and lanes, whilst keenly observing the fields of green and gold ripening barley. The slight breeze gently blowing the ears of grain with the … Continue reading What If? 1919-1923: Columb Kelly, executed at Birr during the Civil War. By Maurice G. Egan with thanks to Hollie M. Eilbeck and dedicated to the […]

  • Tullamore on the verge of the War and Home Rule: the image of stability. By Michael Byrne

    Change is always about but perhaps more so since ‘Nine Eleven’ 2001 and March 2020 than we care to appreciate. Changes in eating out in Tullamore’s streets in recent days would have come as a shock to our predecessors of 1914. We are not Spain as Brewery Tap owner, Paul Bell, recently remarked but the … Continue reading Tullamore on the verge of the War and Home Rule: the image of stability. By Michael Byrne

  • Clara at the time of Partition – the lives of David Beers Quinn, historian (1909 – 2002) and Vivian Mercier, literary historian (1919-1989). By...

    There are many people of note from Clara, but two particularly can be seen as associated with the period of  Partition; David Beers Quinn and Vivian Mercier. Despite the ongoing War of Independence, the British government passed the Government of Ireland Act in December 1920, providing for the setting up of two parliaments in Ireland. … Continue reading Clara at the time of Partition – the lives of David Beers Quinn, historian (1909 – 2002) and Vivian Mercier, literary historian […]

  • Colmcille or Columba – the founder of Durrow. By Brian Lacey

    We welcome Brian Lacey this week. He agreed to contribute this blog in advance of his lecture to Offaly History on Wednesday 9 June at 7.30 p.m. via Zoom. You can book a place via [email protected] Congratulations on his new book on Adomnán , the great biographer of Colmcille. This is the 1500th anniversary of … Continue reading Colmcille or Columba – the founder of Durrow. By Brian Lacey

  • Offaly’s Grand Jury records: recovering local archives in a national context. By Lisa Shortall

    The grand jury system in Ireland was a precursor to the county council or local authority system we know today, and the records generated by the grand jury and its offices reveal the history of towns, cities and boroughs all over Ireland. Unfortunately this body of records suffered significant losses during the twentieth century. On … Continue reading Offaly’s Grand Jury records: recovering local archives in a national context. By Lisa Shortall

  • Derravane: a safe house in the bog at Lemanaghan during the War of Independence and the Civil War. By Angela Kelly

    The name comes from the Irish Daire which means an oak grove on an island that is surrounded by peat or bog land Derravane House is situated on a little bog island on Lemanaghan bog, in the townland of Thumbeagh.  The house was owned by the Connor family.  John Connor, Thumbeagh (1838-1921) married Ellen Costello, … Continue reading Derravane: a safe house in the bog at Lemanaghan during the War of Independence and the Civil War. By Angela Kelly

  • The 1821 census and the town of Birr: exciting opportunities for exploration of town, family and social history 200 years ago. By Michael Byrne

    Birr sometimes called Parsonstown In the Pigot directory of 1824 Birr was described ‘as far the most considerable of any of the towns in the King’s County. It is situated on the river Birr [Camcor], and adorned with a fine castle, built by the family of the Parsons, the residence of the second earl of … Continue reading The 1821 census and the town of Birr: exciting opportunities for exploration of town, family and social history 200 years ago. By Michael Byrne

  • Babies, Beggars and Belligerents: A Case Study of Unidentified Death Records in Co. Donegal, 1870-1950. By Megan McAuley, the Offaly History/P. and...

    William Dudley Wordsworth accurately noted in his 1876 study of the Dublin Foundling Hospital that: ‘dead children, like drowned sailors, tell no tales’. The same can be said in the context of this analysis of Civil Death Records in County Donegal where unidentified (those registered as deceased without a known forename or surname) infant deaths … Continue reading Babies, Beggars and Belligerents: A Case Study of Unidentified Death Records in Co. Donegal, 1870-1950. By Megan McAuley, the […]

  • The story of John de Jean Frazer, a somewhat forgotten poet from Birr. By Pádraig Turley.

    When the well-known musical historian Terry Moylan drew my attention to the Offaly poet John de Jean Frazer, I was forced to confess I had never heard of him, much to my shame. I made enquiries about him and surprisingly few had knowledge of him. Shannonbridge native, James Killeen, currently resident in Illinois, was able … Continue reading The story of John de Jean Frazer, a somewhat forgotten poet from Birr. By Pádraig Turley.

  • Saint Manchan’s Shrine – Art and Devotion in 12th Century Ireland

    ‘A rich and dazzling Celtic bewilderment, a perpetual challenge to the eyes and a perpetual delight.’ T.D. Kendrick (Archaeologia 86, 1936) Saint Manchan’s shrine is one of the most remarkable survivals from Ireland’s medieval past, having been safely kept and venerated in the same locality since its creation in the early twelfth century. This masterpiece … Continue reading Saint Manchan’s Shrine – Art and Devotion in 12th Century Ireland

  • Mercy Nuns, Tullamore: pragmatic women in a time of change. By Declan McSweeney

    The role of religious orders in Irish society is a subject which frequently arouses passionate debate and, like many other debates, often generates more heat than light as extreme positions are taken, with members of orders seen as either saints or demons. The sisters of the Tullamore Mercy Convent are held in high esteem for … Continue reading Mercy Nuns, Tullamore: pragmatic women in a time of change. By Declan McSweeney

  • Crannógs in County Offaly. By John Dolan

    While Offaly has a huge range of Early Christian church and monastic sites it would not have been noted for crannogs, unlike its neighbour in Co. Westmeath.  Surprisingly, Offaly has 13 crannog sites recorded in the National Monuments database, however they are in many ways different from the usual picture of the small, man-made island … Continue reading Crannógs in County Offaly. By John Dolan

  • An Englishman’s walk through Birr, Kilcormac and Tullamore in mid-1921, as the War of Independence intensified. By Michael Byrne

    An Englishman, Wilfrid Ewart (1892-1922), walked from Cork through the Irish midlands to Belfast during the War of Independence in April-May 1921. His book A Journey in Ireland 1921 (London, April 1922) was his account of that dangerous journey through the Irish heartland. Ewart commenced his journey on 18 April 1921 and finished it on … Continue reading An Englishman’s walk through Birr, Kilcormac and Tullamore in mid-1921, as the War of Independence intensified. By Michael Byrne

  • Marking the opening of the first public library in Tullamore: May 1921. By Michael Byrne

    For many the habit of reading started with the local library and has never left us. Recollections of the several libraries we have had in Tullamore remind us that so far as reading and comfort goes we have never had it so good. This is the time to recall the first public library in Tullamore … Continue reading Marking the opening of the first public library in Tullamore: May 1921. By Michael Byrne

  • Inspired by Water: Four Conjectural Views of a Past and Future Tullamore. By Fergal MacCabe

                                                                            A Village by a Ford Water created Tullamore and will form its future. Long, long ago, a rocky outcrop … Continue reading Inspired by Water: Four Conjectural Views of a Past and Future Tullamore. By Fergal MacCabe

  • A ’roundy’ birthday tribute to John Flanagan, builder, Tullamore

    We seldom write a blog on a living person but we are making an exception for John Flanagan, the modest man from the Meelaghans, Puttaghan and New Road, Tullamore who has invested his whole life (so far) in making Tullamore a better place for people to live, work, bank and even pray in. We in … Continue reading A ’roundy’ birthday tribute to John Flanagan, builder, Tullamore

  • Teresa Wyer (1868–1959): the first woman chairperson of a public board in County Offaly and prominent in Sinn Féin in the revolutionary years. By...

    Teresa Wyer was born in Ballykeenaghan, Rahan, Tullamore, County Offaly on 29 November 1868. She was the third youngest of eleven children of Michael and Anne Mary Wyer. Teresa Wyer went to Rahan National School and thereafter to Killina Secondary School. She joined the Convent of Mercy Athy, County Kildare on 22 February 1890 where … Continue reading Teresa Wyer (1868–1959): the first woman chairperson of a public board in County Offaly and prominent in Sinn Féin in the revolutionary […]

  • James Lyle Stirling Mineral and Medicinal Water Manufacturing, Importer of Wines and Brandies, Athy and Tullamore. By Noel Guerin

    James Lyle Stirling was born 16 May 1858 to Thomas Lyle and Anne Stirling of Tullamore. He was a business man who ran several businesses in Tullamore, between the years of 1880 and 1898, and is best remembered for his mineral water manufacturing company. His father, Thomas Lyle Stirling, was a brewer and merchant in … Continue reading James Lyle Stirling Mineral and Medicinal Water Manufacturing, Importer of Wines and Brandies, Athy and Tullamore. By Noel Guerin

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