Printing and bookselling in Offaly in the Nineteenth Century – Michael Byrne
Printing and bookselling in Offaly in the Nineteeth Century – Michael Byrne
Delivery following publication on 28 November.
Birr is the only town in County Offaly which can be said to have a printing tradition dating
from the late eighteenth century. This book argues that it could not have come about without
the significant cultural influence of the town’s landlords, the earls of Rosse, and that this was
particularly evident after 1800 when both the second earl and the third earl were resident in
Birr. The pursuit of astronomy by the third earl and the building of the great telescope
furthered intellectual pursuits and printing in Birr including the provision of the first county
newspaper. Very little printing was done in the other towns and villages save Tullamore and
here the dominance of Birr came to be felt from 1860 until the mid-1890s. Thereafter the
pendulum swung in favour of the growing Catholic merchant class with the three new
nationalist newspapers in County Offaly in just fifteen years from 1880 bringing an end to
unionist dominance of the printing press.