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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

Cécile Gordon is Senior Archivist and Project Manager of the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Project in the Military Archives of Ireland. The MSP Project is a Government initiative led by the Department of Defence and supported by the Defence Forces.
The MSP Collection contains around 250,000 unique records covering the period of the Irish struggle for Independence. The Project’s core mission concerns the preservation of the material and the provision of access to this major primary source.
Cécile has been involved in the MSP Project since its inception (2008) and prior to her current position, she worked as a Local Authority Archivist for counties Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. Her areas of interest include archival theory, the impact of the work of the archivist on the use of archives and the connection between archives, commemorations, collective memories and individual identity building.

This lecture was by Dr Philip McConway and was given on 25 April at our centre in Tullamore. It is particularly important to the Society as it was the last public lecture at Offaly History Centre chaired by our president Stephen McNeill who died on 9 May 2016.

The study of the 1916 period was very important to Stephen and so it good that we are able to bring you a record of this memorable occasion and of a chairman of the Society whose services and enthusiasm for the work will long be remembered. His contribution over the last sixteen years was always selfless and always in the pursuit of the higher goal of serving the people of Offaly in the cause of a pursuit he loved and which he helped to bring to so many.

A video recording of a presentation by Professor Mary E. Daly (UCD). Her paper – The final years of the workhouse and its dissolution – was given as part of a Birr Historical Society conference on Birr Workhouse, which took place in September 2013. Professor Mary E. Daly is an expert on the social and economic history of nineteenth and twentieth century Ireland. She is the author of many books including The Slow Failure. Population Decline and Independent Ireland (Wisconsin University Press), Dublin, the Deposed Capital: A Social and Economic History, 1860-1914 (Cork University Press), Industrial development and Irish national identity, 1922-39 (Syracuse University Press; Gill & Macmillan) and The Famine in Ireland (Historical Association of Ireland).

The Tullamore incident is a simple story and yet underneath the surface it shows the varieties of tension and the complexities that existed in the Tullamore community and in every town in Ireland at the time because of divided loyalties to the status quo, the men at the Front and to the independence of Ireland. Apart from that the incident has a significant place in the sequence of events leading to the rising, although views differ on how it was perceived at the time.

A look at some of the events which took place around Offaly in 2016 to mark the centenary of the 1916 rising.

Offaly County Council and Aura Productions.

This documentary presented by Tullamore born historian Paul Rouse tells the stories of two Offaly men who took part in the 1916 rising, Peadar Bracken from Tullamore and Eamonn Bulfin from Birr.

Offaly County Council/Ireland 2016

A hellocamera production

The film made of the 1966 Commemoration parade on Easter Monday 1966 may be the first film made of a public civic event in Tullamore. It was commissioned by the organising committee for the parade and was made by Eamonn O’Connor Studios, Limerick. The cost was £265. In 2015 funds were provided under the aegis of the 2016 commemoration to have the film restored and digitised (Midland Tribune, 2/7/2015). The script was by Denis Wrafter and the commentator was Padraic O Raghallaigh who worked with Raidió Teilifís Éireann (which commenced broadcasting on 31 December 1961). The Offaly committee had been chaired by Alo O’Brennan and the secretary was Paddy Minnock of Offaly County Council (Midland Tribune, 14/1/1967). The film was later deposited in the Offaly County Library and was shown on a few occasions since the 1970s. It was made available to the public in 2016 and has now been uploaded to the Decade of Centenaries site on the platform provided by on behalf of the contributors to the project. The film is about twenty minutes long and in black and white.

The grand jury system in Ireland was a precursor to the county council or local authority system we know today, and the records generated by the grand jury and its offices reveal the history of towns, cities and boroughs all over Ireland. Unfortunately this body of records suffered significant losses during the twentieth century.

On 25 May 2021, Beyond2022:Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland in association with Local Authority Archivists and Records Managers (LGARM) hosted a research showcase to mark the centenary of the burning of the Custom House during the War of Independence, an event which resulted in the destruction of the archive of the Local Government Board for Ireland. This event was echoed just over a year later with the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland at the beginning of the Civil War and whose losses in terms of documentary destruction is being valiantly and virtually rebuilt by the Beyond2022 team. The top floor of the PRO was where the grand jury records from all over the country were kept and ultimately perished during that terrible fire. Between the fire in the Custom House and the more well known 1922 PRO(I) fire, vast quantities of records relating to local government were destroyed. In Offaly, a further loss of records occurred when on 19 July 1922, a couple of weeks after the PRO in Dublin was destroyed, the courthouse in Tullamore was also completely destroyed in a fire by anti-Treaty forces. This consolidated the records losses suffered in the PRO and the Custom House fires and ultimately resulted in the almost complete destruction of grand jury records for Offaly.

LECTURE: Falling between the cracks of remembrance: who were the dead of the Irish Revolution, 1916-21?

Delivered via Zoom Monday, 30 August 2021


In terms of the Irish Revolution there has been tendency to focus on well-known events such as the 1916 Rising, Soloheadbeg and Bloody Sunday, among others. While welcome, this provides only a snapshot of the grim human toll of the Irish Revolution. Until the publication of The Dead of the Irish Revolution there was no agreement on so vital a fundamental as the number of people who died, let alone their life stories or why they were killed. This paper will discuss the scale of lethal violence in which 2,850 people – civilians, republicans, police and British military – died. It will set out both national and local trends, explain causes of and responsibility for death, and examine a selection of individual but largely forgotten cases from Offaly and the Midlands. Lastly, it will explain how the stories of the dead were recovered and why this is important.

‘Offaly and the Rising: an educational resource’ provides an overview to County Offaly’s connections to the 1916 uprising. The two videos (Offaly and the 1916 Rising – Part One & Offaly and the 1916 Rising – The Aftermath), charting the Rising and its aftermath, are a key component of this educational resource. The videos contain photographs, memorabilia, links to film footage from the time, ballads and propaganda ephemera. This educational resource has been divided into two parts. Each part references its corresponding video and includes Teachers’ notes with a brief narrative to the background of the Rising, its aftermath and its impact on Offaly

Offaly and the 1916 Rising: The Aftermath (Video 2)

‘Offaly and the Rising: an educational resource’ provides an overview to County Offaly’s connections to the 1916 uprising. The two videos (Offaly and the 1916 Rising – Part One & Offaly and the 1916 Rising – The Aftermath), charting the Rising and its aftermath, are a key component of this educational resource. The videos contain photographs, memorabilia, links to film footage from the time, ballads and propaganda ephemera. This educational resource has been divided into two parts. Each part references its corresponding video and includes Teachers’ notes with a brief narrative to the background of the Rising, its aftermath and its impact on Offaly.

The Dáil Éireann Courts were the legal branch of the government of the Irish Republic (1919-21). Formally established on 29 June 1920, the Dáil Courts became the public face of Dáil Éireann’s authority across 31 of the 32 counties of Ireland. After the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, the Winding-Up Act of 1923 began to dismantle these courts, with the last known sitting taking place in 1925. This paper discusses the history and development of these revolutionary courts in County Offaly between 1920-22, specifically focusing upon the “golden age” of these courts in 1921/22.

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