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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

A Civil War Ambush Centenary at Raheen, Geashill, County Offaly, January 1923-2023. By P.J. Goode

Oliver Mulpeter was heard to say he ‘would not miss it for the world’ and carrying the national flag which he proudly bore as the nephew of one of the wounded soldiers, he was among the first to arrive.

The commemoration was to honour soldiers of the National Army who were wounded in a Civil War ambush, two of whom died some weeks later. Relatives of all four casualties gathered for a roadside ceremony on a bitterly cold January day with traffic thundering past inches away on that busy road between Raheen and Geashill in North Offaly.

An honour guard of soldiers of The Irish Defence Forces Veterans group was present led by Declan Sheridan. They came to attention and gave the salute as the ceremony progressed – a poignant mark of respect to their comrades-in-arms of a century ago, their presence there an important and vital element of the event.

It was one hundred years to the day that the ambush took place at that spot, within sight of old Raheen chapel, on a bend of the road overlooked by rising ground. The ambush party opened fire with rifles and a Lewis gun from both sides of the road on a platoon of fourteen soldiers marching from their Geashill garrison to Sunday mass. Luckily the Lewis gun jammed, otherwise casualties would have been much higher.

John Lacey of Clopook in Laois, the senior officer leading the party and the lieutenant in charge of the garrison was hit in the shoulder but continued to organise a defence from the ditches where his men had taken cover. Private Patrick Lynch of Ballyfore, Croghan was struck in the leg and died on January 12th from sepsis in the Curragh Military hospital. Private P.C. White of Blessington, Wicklow was struck in the left shoulder and died on January 18th from secondary haemorrhage, also at the Curragh. Private Patrick Mulpeter of Tober, Daingean was struck in the leg also but both he and Lieutenant Lacey recovered from their wounds.

Members of The Irish Army Veterans group led by Declan Sheridan (left) and Ned Sheeran, nephew of Volunteer Lynch, along with Ned’s son.

The event organiser local historian P.J. Goode spoke of how privileged he was to have this opportunity, being the son of a National Army volunteer who was also wounded in the Civil War. He described the ambush and named the casualties, spoke of how most of that new army had previously been volunteers of the IRA. Lynch was the adjutant of Croghan Company, White was a member of Blessington Flying Column, Lacey was extremely active in his part of Laois and the Mulpeters were members of Cloneygowan Company IRA.

P.J. Goode gives the first oration to be followed by Dr. Philip McConway (to his right).

Dr. Philip McConway spoke at length about the events leading to the ambush and its aftermath. He is the leading historian on the Revolutionary period in Offaly and is preparing a multi-volume work on the subject. Declan Sheridan of the Army Veterans group spoke of the failure of the state, being neither capable nor willing to honour the seven hundred or so fatal deaths of National Army soldiers, casualties of the Civil War and leaving it to local volunteer groups like those present to address their shortcomings. He spoke of the state’s ongoing neglect of its duty to the army and neglect of army veterans.

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Cloneygowan community by P.J. Goode and on behalf of Lieutenant Lacey by members of his relatives from Laois and Oliver Mulpeter made his contribution too.

Among the relatives of the Lieutenant were his cousins Raymond and Paddy Lacey, others were Olive Lacey, Patsy Dwyer, Mary McDonald and Jennifer Taggart. Among the relatives of Volunteer Lynch were nephews Sean Lynch and Ned Sheeran along with his son and grandson, grandniece Elizabeth Rigney Alexander, Patsy Feery, Michael Hannon, along with neighbours of the Lynches of Croghan. Present also were the Davis brothers from Bogtown, Brendan Berry, Niall and Amelia Goode.

It might have been a windswept corner on a biting cold winter’s day yet in the hearts of the men and women present beat a compassionate desire to remember and honour those young men, especially the two who had given all they had and all they would ever become in defence of the emerging state, Saorstát Eireann.

Relatives group which includes Laceys and relatives from Stradbally, Lynchs and Sheerans of Croghan, the Davis brothers from Bogtown, Brendan Berry of Killeigh, Bill Pilkington of Daingean, Oliver Mulpeter flying the national flag and the Goodes, on the extreme right.

P.J. Goode   2023

Dublin and Cloneygowan, organiser of the event at the ambush site.

Our thanks to P.J. Goode for this article. His book is available from the Society at Bury Quay, Tullamore and at our website


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