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

Disbandment of the Leinster Regiment based at Birr Barracks 100 years ago. By Stephen Callaghan

The 12th of  June 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the disbandment of the historic Southern Irish infantry regiments of the British Army at Windsor Castle. Disbandment was brought about by economic cuts to the British Army after World War One (Army Order No. 78 dated 11 March 1922 “reduction of establishment”) and in part due to the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the establishment of the Irish Free State. The Royal Irish Regiment, Connaught Rangers, Leinster Regiment, Royal Munster Fusiliers, Royal Dublin Fusiliers (and South Irish Horse) were all earmarked for disbandment and would surrender their colours to King George V.

The various detachments of the six regiments made their way to Windsor Castle via the 9:55 am train from Paddington Station, London. The historic ceremony took place at 11:30 am in St. George’s Hall in Windsor Castle with each battalion of the various regiments consisting of a colour party of three officers and three other ranks, with the respective colonel of each regiment also present.

Considering the Leinster Regiment was the local regiment for King’s County (Offaly), their regiment depot being established in Birr in 1881, the colour party of their 1st and 2nd Battalion consisted of the following men (for interest, the place of birth is included for other ranks):

Colonel of Regiment

Major General G. F. Boyd C.B., C.M.G, D.S.O.

1st Battalion

Colonel E. T. Humphreys, C.M.G., D.S.O.

Captain T. B. Deane

Lieutenant F. A. Levis

Company Sergeant Major A. Bradley M.M. (Born Silsden, Yorkshire)

Company Sergeant Major J. Newton (Born Dublin City)

Company Quarter Master Sergeant A. Madden (Born Roscrea, County Tipperary)

2nd Battalion

Lieutenant Colonel R. A. H. Orpen-Palmer D.S.O

Captain W. S. Caulfield M.C.

Captain T. E. M. Battersby

Regimental Sergeant Major C.H. Smith, M.C., D.C.M. (Born Faversham, Kent)

Company Sergeant Major James Finn (Born Youghal, Cork)

Colour Sergeant John Cannon (Born Maryborough, Queen’s County)

Windsor Castle, 12 June 1922

During the ceremony King George V addressed the men and said “We are here today in circumstances which cannot fail to strike a note of sadness in our hearts. No regiment parts with their Colours without feelings of sorrow. A knight in days gone by bore on his shield his coat-of-arms, tokens of valour and worth. Only to death did he surrender them. Your Colours are the records of valorous deeds in war and of the glorious traditions thereby created. You are called upon to part with them today for reasons beyond your control and resistance. By you and your predecessors these Colours have been reverenced and guarded as a sacred trust – which trust you now confide in me.

As your King I am proud to accept this trust. But I fully realise with what grief you relinquish these dearly-prized emblems; and I pledge my word that within these ancient and historic walls your Colours will be treasured, honoured, and protected as hallowed memorials of the glorious deeds of brave and loyal regiments”.

The King also made a promise to safeguard these highly prized colours of each regiment. The ceremony finished with a royal salute and God Save the King played, and with this a chapter in Irish military history closed.

The days following the disbandment, the local papers were full of articles about the disbandment, one notable article in the Leinster Reporter, titled “The Last of the Leinsters” outlined the history of the regiment and its movements prior to disbandment, and how the 2nd Battalion and depot staff had been inspected in Colchester. After the evacuation of the British Army from Ireland the depot staff had moved to Colchester in February 1922.

Birr Barracks about 1900. For more about it tune in to the lecture on 13 June.

Despite the regiment’s short lived history, the Leinsters were immortalised in their spiritual home of Birr in 1964, with the unveiling a memorial stained glass window at 12 noon on 9 May, by The Earl Alexander of Tunis, a decorated Field Marshall of the Second World War. The window which commemorates all ranks of the regiment was unveiled in St Brendan’s Catholic Church in Birr. The gothic style two light window depicts the crucifixion of Christ in the left panel with the following text below: “IN MEMORY OF ALL RANKS OF THE/PRINCE OF WALES’S LEINSTER REGIMENT (ROYAL CANADIANS)/WHOSE DEPOT WAS AT CRINKLE/BIRR 1881-1921”. The right panel depicts Archangel Michael, the following text is bellow: “BATTLE HONOURS ON COLOURS/NIAGARA, CENTRAL INDIA, SOUTH/AFRICA, AISNE 1914, YPRES 1915-17-18/SOMME 1916-18, GUILLEMONT, VIMY 1917/MESSINES 1917, ST QUENTIN, MACEDONIA/GALLIPOLI 1915, JERUSALEM”. The quatrefoil above bearing the regiments cap badge.

The window unveiled in 1964. The event was reported by Pathe News and can be viewed via YouTube.

Today, 100 years on since disbandment, the regiment is still very much remembered within the county and the country due to the efforts of initiatives such as the Decade of Centenaries and the work of local historians and historical groups.

Thanks to Stephen Callaghan for his article and his forthcoming lecture. Pics Stephen Callaghan, caps Offaly History.

OHAS Lecture Monday 13 June 2022 at 8 p.m.                                    

Stephen Callaghan:  Paper title: Birr Barracks: an overview from construction to destruction

Synopsis:

With the approaching centenary of the burning of Birr Barracks, join Stephen Callaghan for an insight into the history of Birr Barracks from its construction at the start of 1800s, during the height of the Napoleonic Wars, to the evacuation of the British Army and handover to the Free State Army, and finally its destruction by fire during the Irish Civil War in 1922. Stephen’s talk will focus on how the barracks’ use evolved over time and how it shaped the Birr and Crinkill we know today. Notable and interesting events which took place over the barracks’ lifetime will be recounted, such as the murder of Adjutant Robertson Mackay or the presentation of new colours to the 53rd Regiment of Foot by the duke of Connaught to the construction of mock trenches in the Fourteen Acres during the Great War.

Speaker bio:

Stephen is a native of Dublin and has been described as an “honorary Birr person”, probably due to his keen interest in the town. Stephen has written on the town’s military history and his most recent book (Birr Military Cemetery: a history of the cemetery and those interred there, published in 2020) was about the military cemetery connected to Birr Barracks. He was also involved in the excavation of a First World War-era training ground in 2018 and the conservation of the oak cross memorial to Captain Lancelot Studholme in 2019.

All are welcome to come to Offaly History Bury Quay for the presentation.

At  8. 00 p.m. on Monday 13 June 2022

For the Zoom link, please email [email protected]

For more about the Leinster Regiment and Offaly 1912-23 check our Decade of Centenaries platform at http://www.offalyhistory.com for over 100 articles. See also Offaly and the Great War (available to purchase). At Offaly History Centre and Offaly Libraries you can view Whitton’s Leinster Regiment (two vols) and much more.

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