The Birr Courthouse: From Cooke to Courts Service 1803-2013, Part 1

The Birr courthouse has been in the news again lately in the context of its being used as an arts school for painters and others. It would be good to find a use for it that ensures the conservation of the building. Some years ago the idea was put forward that Birr should be considered the Bath of Ireland because it has such fine terraces, good shops in its narrow streets, fine churches, a Pugin convent (now the Birr library), the workhouse, John’s Hall, Oxmantown Hall, the Crotty church, maltings, a distillery and more. Continue reading

What happened to Nancy Delaney of Moneygall? By Dr Liz Rushen

On 4 April 1836, Bidy (Bridget) and Nancy (Anne) Delaney wrote to the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin from their home at Moneygall, requesting information about emigrating to Van Diemen’s Land. The letter was well-written and the language used indicated that the sisters were responding to the newspaper notices and posters which had recently advertised the sailing of female emigrant ships to the Australian colonies: Continue reading

The families and streets of Birr in 1821

While many are now familiar with the value of the 1901 and 1911 censuses for family history, less use has been made of these documents for social history and population studies. Great excitement was created when the censuses were made available free online through the good offices of the Irish government and the people of Mumbai in India who transcribed them for us at no great expense. Now the department of heritage proposes to make the 1926 census available by again outsourcing the work to a far country. However, we will have to wait until 2026. How much more excitement there is for some places where the 1821 census survives. This is the case with Birr and the entire barony of Ballybritt.

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From Edenderry to the Cape of Good Hope: The Story of the Right Rev. Bishop John Rooney, Vicar Apostolic of the Western Cape. By Maurice Egan

‘I found him’ I declared to my wife.

You see, as a child his was the Consecration Cross above my mother and father’s bed. On enquiring the significance of the cross, my mother would dismissively direct ‘Ask your father’. So, the story went that the cross came all the way back from Cape Town, South Africa to Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland and was the Consecration Cross of the late Bishop John Rooney, Vicar Apostolic of the Western Cape Vicariate of the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

Bishop Rooney died 90 years ago in 1927. Continue reading

Burial Grounds of Birr, by Stephen Callaghan

Birr is well known for its Georgian streetscape, mighty telescope and castle, however it might be a surprise to learn of the number of burial grounds to be found in and around the town. A total of nine burial grounds can be found within a short distance of the town.

While this blog post does not claim to contain the definitive history of each burial ground, as such a work would be several volumes of books, it does however hope to make the reader aware of the number of burial grounds in the town and give some interesting information about each. Continue reading

The Egan Brothers and the Battle of Messines, 7-14 June 1917, a precursor to the 3rd Battle of Ypres, by Maurice Egan

The battle was an offensive planned by the Allied forces on the western front, taking place from the 7th to the 14th June 1917. British, Canadian and ANZAC forces were actively involved in the objective of taking the German, heavily fortified and ‘impregnable’ 15kms long, Messines Ridge in western Belgium. The New Zealand division was assigned the task of attacking the southern bastion of the German defences upon the ridge. The Irish 16th Division, including the Royal Irish Regiment were assigned the task of attacking the north eastern fortified ridge. Continue reading

Liam Ó Briain visits Tullamore on Easter Sunday morning 23 April 1916 to issue countermand orders to the Volunteers and tell them the Rising was off.

Ó Briain set off early on Easter Sunday morning 1916 in a motor taxi to deliver the countermand order to  the local Volunteer contacts in Offaly and Tyrrellspass. Beatty he located in Edenderry but not finding Smith in Tyrrellspass, went on to Tullamore to a small shop owned by Eamonn Carroll. O’Carroll had worked in Scally’s shoe store  in Columcille Street, now the AIB bank, but was dismissed after the fracas on 20 March and how had his own store in the same street. In the kitchen of a house in Church Street Ó Briain met Séamus O’Brennan, who was on the run since the fracas in Tullamore and had been in Kimmage.

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KILBEGGAN GRAVEYARD HAS A FEW INTERESTING STORIES TO TELL, by Stan McCormack

 A group of volunteers, supporting the work of Renew Kilbeggan, got together some time ago with the idea of cleaning up St Beccan’s Church of Ireland graveyard. The result of this work has recovered 28 gravestones and a booklet has been produced showing the inscriptions. However, there is much more to this event, as the  gravestones reveal stories that travel from Ireland to Australia, a young woman described as the first female paediatrician in Ireland, events like the 1798 rebellion, the founding of Kilbeggan Distillery,  the famous Knighthood of a local innkeeper,  Ribbonmen and  Secret Societies, cattle driving, a rector who had an affair with the wife of  Kilbeggan MP John Philpott Curran, and a Wesleyan who provided the first building for the  Sisters of Mercy in Kilbeggan in 1879.

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