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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 , 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 Open 9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri
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Flights of Fancy, Offaly Follies and their Demesnes – Rachel McKenna

December 7, 2017 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Dec. 7th, 8PM, Offaly History, Bury Quay, Tullamore

Members €2 non members €5

At the Tullamore launch of Flights of Fancy: Follies, Families and Demesnes in Offaly, the author, Rachel
McKenna (Architect, Offaly County Council), will discuss the premise of the book which seeks to describe
and illustrate the built heritage contained within the country house demesnes of county Offaly. It will
look at the remarkable range of follies within the county including towers, eye catchers and gazebos.

From the grotto at Charleville, designed by Hester the 1st Countess of Charleville in the 1740s and
‘built… (in the words of Sir Charles Coote) to give employment to the poor… in a season of scarcity’. To
the first monumental column in Ireland designed by Samuel Chearnley a protégé of Sir Laurence Parsons
of Birr Castle (3rd baronet), and erected in Emmet Square in 1746. It will include the three follies on
adjoining estates in Ballycumber along with Offaly’s oldest remaining folly the classical arch at Gloster
designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce around 1730.

The lecture will also cover the families who were responsible for their creation based on memoirs,
diaries and publications, touching on John Warneford Armstrong of Ballycumber House, Rev Franc
Sadleir of Mullagh Hill and Count Louis le Warner de Hamon of Prospect House. It will be illustrated with
contemporary and archive photographs, dwelling on historic maps to gain an understanding of the
landscaped demesnes into which the follies were set.

This collection of follies provides group of architecturally rich demesnes within Offaly while highlighting
the importance of such structures. These structures, sometimes overlooked, provide a vital, tangible link
back to the demesnes and families which created them.


December 7, 2017
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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Offaly History Centre
Bury Quay
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