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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 [email protected] Open 9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri

Buildings of Central Leinster: Kildare, Laois and Offaly. By Andrew Tierney


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This is the fifth volume in the Ireland series and Offaly History is delighted to have the county published and to such a high standard of scholarship from Andrew Tierney. Some of the entries for Offaly were co-written by Professor Alistair Rowan and Dr Michael O’Neill. To the author, to all the contributors, to the Buildings of Ireland Trust and to Yale we are very grateful.

Many of Ireland’s most rewarding and distinctive buildings may be found within the region. On the westernmost flank, by the Shannon, is Clonmacnoise, a cradle of early monasticism, with its Hiberno-Romanesque ruins, sculpted crosses and round towers. English urban settlement began in Pale towns such as Naas, Celbridge, Leixlip and Maynooth, with their towered churches. Much of the best Georgian streetscape appears in the settlements further west, at Mountmellick, Portarlington, Birr and Tullamore. Country houses include the Palladian mansions of Kildare, such as Castletown and Carton, and the romantic Castles of Offaly, notably Francis Johnston’s masterwork at Charleville Forest. Neoclassicism flourished in Laois, with grand houses by James Wyatt at Abbey Leix, James Gandon at Emo, and the Morrisons at Ballyfin. The Victorian contribution includes ecclesiastical buildings by A.W.N. Pugin at the Maynooth seminary and the convent at Birr, and by his Irish acolyte J.J. McCarthy. Among the highlights of Protestant architecture are G.E Street’s restoration of Kildare Cathedral and James Franklin Fuller’s fusions of Continental and Hiberno-Romanesque at Rathdaire, Millicent and Carnalway. From more recent centuries, the area boasts innovative work by Sir Edwin Lutyens, Michael Scott and Heneghan Peng.

Each place has its own detailed entry in the gazetteer. A general introduction provides a historical and artistic overview. Also included are plentiful maps and plans, over 100 colour photographs, full indexes and illustrated glossary. The result is both an indispensable reference work and an invaluable guide.

The Buildings of Ireland was founded by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Alistair Rowan as a sister series to those on England, Scotland and Wales. When complete, the series will guide the reader to all the buildings of significance in Ireland, in city, town and country, from prehistoric times to the present. Each area is described place by place in a detailed, comprehensive and incisively written gazetteer. A thematic and chronological introduction explains the broader context, and full indexes and a glossary are provided for ease of use. Each book includes maps, plans and a selection of over a hundred photographs to aid the explorer and bring the buildings into clearer focus.

Central Leinster, the fifth volume in the Irish series of Pevsner guides, covers counties Laois, Offaly and Kildare, extending southwards from the territory in North Leinster (1993), which itself is bookended to the north by the more recently published South Ulster (2012). It follows the established form for the series. The Introduction provides an overview of the three counties’ topography, architecture and building materials, with a comparative discussion on each period, arranged chronologically. The gazetteer entries follow, in alphabetical order. In some cases, churches are described before any public or commercial buildings, followed by domestic architecture and other structures of interest. Demolished buildings normally do not appear in the gazetteer, unless they form part of a succession of buildings on the site, or where – as in the case of larger country houses – estate buildings survive and warrant discussion. Similarly, demolished buildings in towns are described where they informed the design of a square or street line, but otherwise omitted unless mentioned in the discussion.

Andrew Tierney is a researcher in architectural history at Trinity College Dublin. He has an M.A. in the history of art and a PhD in archaeology from University College Dublin, and has taught at UCD, NUI Maynooth, and the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool. In 2017 he published The Doctor’s Wife is Dead, which retells the true story of a suspicious death and murder trial in the early Victorian Tipperary.

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