skip to Main Content

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 info@offalyhistory.com Open 9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri
  • An Encounter with Banagher’s Faithful Departed by James Scully

    The fifth That Beats Banagher Festival held this summer was a great success. As in previous years the festival included an imaginative heritage event. This year participants were brought on a walkabout in the old graveyard on the ancient monastic site of Saint Rynagh. The event was entitled An Encounter with Banagher’s Faithful Departed which … Continue reading An Encounter with Banagher’s Faithful Departed by James Scully

  • The Troubles in Cloneygowan, 1920–23, by P.J. Goode

    ‘Well, Tommy, I am sentenced to death on this day 23rd February [1923] and tomorrow will face it. I feel quite happy thank God only I feel very lonesome when I think of you… I am praying for you as I know you will for me, and I hope they will be heard… from your … Continue reading The Troubles in Cloneygowan, 1920–23, by P.J. Good

  • Mary Ward, artist, naturalist, and astronomer: a woman for our time

    Mary Ward takes her place alongside the Rosses, Jolys and Stoneys in the King’s County/Offaly people of science gallery. Born Mary King, at Ballylin, Ferbane on 27 April 1827 she died in a shocking accident at Birr on 31 August 1869 (see our blog of 24 August 2019). On Saturday 31 August 2019 we mark … Continue reading Mary Ward, artist, naturalist, and astronomer: a woman for our tim

  • Marking the Wonderful World and Tragic Death of Mary Ward on the 150th anniversary of Ireland’s first recorded road fatality in Birr in 1869.

    How many people have died in road fatalities since the first to occur in Ireland at Birr in county Offaly (then known as King’s County) on 31 August 1869, just 150 years ago next week? Few of us have not been touched by some sad incident involving collision with a motor vehicle. That in Birr … Continue reading Marking the Wonderful World and Tragic Death of Mary Ward on the 150th anniversary of Ireland’s first recorded road fatality in Birr in 1869.

  • In search of bog memories By Emily Toner, Clara Bog Visitor Centre, Monday 19 August at 2-4 p.m.

      As a Ferbane student wrote in the School Folklore Collection: “There’s a large amount of bogland in the locality round here.” County Offaly is a place covered in peatlands–more than a third of the county was classified as peat soil by in the National Soil Survey of Ireland published by Teagasc in 2003. Offaly … Continue reading In search of bog memories By Emily Toner, Clara Bog Visitor Centre, Monday 19 August at 2-4 p.m.

  • Heritage Events from Offaly History 18-31 August 2019

    Yes we are extending our events to conclude on 31 August with the Mary Ward book launch about which more in our blogs of 24 and 31 August. In the meantime you can download a PDF from Offaly County Council Heritage Officer Amanda Pedlow of all the county events. Lots of things including book launches … Continue reading Heritage Events from Offaly History 18-31 August 2019

  • Tanyard Lane, Tullamore: a hive of economic activity. Michael Byrne

    Offaly History has organised a walking tour of Tanyard Lane on Sunday 18 August as part of Heritage Week at 2.30 pm meeting at the Library. The place has changed over 270 years right up to 25 July when the new Lidl store opened largely on site of the laundry, glass factory/wholesale and part of … Continue reading Tanyard Lane, Tullamore: a hive of economic activity. Michael Byrn

  • Vintage Week before it was Vintage! Military sports and spectacles at Birr Barracks in August 1919. By Stephen Callaghan

    For the past 51 years Birr Vintage Week has commenced around the month of August, with only in recent years it taking in the August bank holiday weekend. While the festival is in its 51st year, 100 years ago on 4 August 1919 the army at Birr Barracks had organised a program of military sports … Continue reading Vintage Week before it was Vintage! Military sports and spectacles at Birr Barracks in August 1919. By Stephen Callaghan

  • The Harbour of my Dreams – Tullamore’s very grand canal dock by Fergal MacCabe

    All over the world, as maritime trade moves downstream and heavy goods are transported by motorway, redundant docks and harbours have become prime targets for urban redevelopment. In my work as a town planning consultant, I visited renewal schemes from Buenos Aires to Barcelona and from Boston to Bilbao. Some have been very successful – … Continue reading The Harbour of my Dreams – Tullamore’s very grand canal dock by Fergal MacCab

  • Old friends in Bank of Ireland, Tullamore: forty years on, 1979–2019 by Cosney Molloy

    I once again visited my old friends in Tullamore in the last few weeks. I was down from D4 to sort out a charity account with Bank of Ireland in O’Connor Square. I had to make my way through the bollards with the footpath widening. I came on the train of course (thanks Charlie, nice … Continue reading Old friends in Bank of Ireland, Tullamore: forty years on, 1979–2019 by Cosney Molloy

Back To Top