Tullamore, a magical place for Cafés and Coffee by Cosney Molloy

High St 1960s cafe
High St in the 1960s with St Anne’s on right (now Midland Books)

I was down from Dublin last week to visit some of my Molloy nieces in the Tullamore/Killoughey and Banagher areas and I am beginning to think there are as many coffee shops in Tullamore as there are in D 4 where I have lived (mostly in flats) since the 1970s. I counted five new coffee shops open in Tullamore, or on the verge of grinding the beans and not a one by a Molloy as far as I know. Besides my old haunt of Chocolate Brown there are the new King Oak out in Cloncollig, the Foxy Bean (nearly ready in Bridge Street in Egan’s old seed and manure store), Olive and Fig (in the not so old Caffé Delicious and close to where Chip Kelly used to be), the Blue Monkey at No. 1 Bridge Street (where Foxy used to be), Mark Smith’s Little Coffee Hut (out of town) and a new one in O’Connor Square that I could not get near to handy with all the road works in the old square. It’s in the old Hibernian office where I worked for a while and was a place called Bake for a short time (near the lovely new library). In High Street there is a place called Conway & Co where I used to buy cigarettes (one or two) when I was going to the Brothers’ school when there was no free education. It was a shop called Daly’s and had a Mills and Boon lending library. It was beside Dermot Kilroy’s. Reading a piece in the Irish Times about three weeks ago about Tullamore being a magical place in the 1950s got me interested in all the new cafés and goings-on. Sure when all this ‘enhancement work’ is finished the streets will be full of coffee tables and umbrellas.

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Central Leinster: some reflections on the architecture of County Offaly by Andrew Tierney

 

Medieval architecture
In a region crowded with fine buildings, County Offaly has a lot of significant works of architecture of which to be proud. It is rich in early Christian and Romanesque remains at Kinnitty, Durrow and Rahan, while the monastic settlement at Clonmacnoise is one of the outstanding survivals of this period in Ireland.

1. Clonony Castle
PHOTO 1. Clonony Castle, a seat of the MacCoghlan clan. From 1612 the home of German planter Mathew de Renzi

The county is less fortunate in its late medieval ecclesiastical buildings, but of the three Central Leinster counties (Laois, Offaly and Kildare) retains perhaps the most extensive architectural legacy of its Gaelic lordships – notably in tower houses such as Leap, Cloghan and Clonony, among others.

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Memories of Rural Electrification and the Arrival of the ‘Electric’ in County Offaly An Oral History Project John Gibbons

 

SCAN0302In October 2014, following an introduction by Amanda Pedlow and Stephen Callaghan, an understanding was reached with the late Stephen McNeill, the then President and Micheal Byrne Secretary of the Offaly and Archaeology Society for them to assist and source interviewees in connection with my project to record persons talking about their memories of life around and about ‘The arrival of the rural’ in Offaly, to date I have recorded over 30 persons in Offaly. Since August 2016,utilising excepts from recordngs, a 45 minute audio/slide presentation which was shown by me to members of History Societies in Edenderry, Tullamore, Rhode, in March 2019 a fourth presentation was shown to members of the Ballinteer Active Retirement Association. A fifth presentation is scheduled for showing in Bury Quay, Tullamore in early 2020.
This Blog seeks to briefly explain aspects of the Rural Electrification Scheme in Ireland and what Michael Shiel in his book called The Quiet Revolution (Dublin 1984) [JPG0292]

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Jonathan Binns and the Poor Inquiry in Philipstown (Daingean), King’s County, November 1835 By Ciarán McCabe

 

The decades before the Great Famine witnessed a growing interest, in both Ireland and Britain, in the problem of Ireland’s endemic poverty. The sheer extent of poverty in the country and the very nature of that impoverishment – the relative lack of capital investment; an over-reliance on small agricultural holdings and a single staple crop; the complex and pervasive culture of mendicancy (begging) – were among the most striking characteristics of pre-Famine Irish society highlighted by foreign travellers and social inquirers. As outlined in a previous post on this blog(https://offalyhistoryblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/poverty-in-pre-famine-offaly-kings-county-by-ciaran-mccabe), a Royal Commission for Inquiring into the Condition of the Poorer Classes in Ireland (aka the Poor Inquiry) sat between 1833 and 1836, and examined in considerable detail, the social condition of the poorer classes throughout the island. The resulting published reports, totalling more than 5,000 pages (much of it seemingly-verbatim testimony taken at public inquiries) illuminates more than any other source the experiences of the lower sections of Irish society on the eve of the Famine; fortunately for us, the Poor Inquiry collected evidence from witnesses in King’s County.

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An Encounter with Banagher’s Faithful Departed by James Scully

Brendan Dolan in his role as Thomas Donahoe, stonecutter.
Brendan Dolan as Thomas Donahoe, the nineteenth century stonecutter from Banagher.

The fifth That Beats Banagher Festival held this summer was a great success. As in previous years the festival included an imaginative heritage event. This year participants were brought on a walkabout in the old graveyard on the ancient monastic site of Saint Rynagh. The event was entitled An Encounter with Banagher’s Faithful Departed which hinted at the scenes which were to unfold.

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The Troubles in Cloneygowan, 1920–23, by P.J. Goode

Gibson Memorial Cloneygowan

‘Well, Tommy, I am sentenced to death on this day 23rd February [1923] and tomorrow will face it. I feel quite happy thank God only I feel very lonesome when I think of you… I am praying for you as I know you will for me, and I hope they will be heard… from your old chum Tom, Goodbye ever, it’s a long way to Tipperary.’

Last letter from Thomas Gibson who was executed at Portlaoise during the Civil War.

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Mary Ward, artist, naturalist, and astronomer: a woman for our time

Mary Ward jacket jpg
The jacket for the 2019 edition designed by Brosna Press, Ferbane.

Mary Ward takes her place alongside the Rosses, Jolys and Stoneys in the King’s County/Offaly people of science gallery. Born Mary King, at Ballylin, Ferbane on 27 April 1827 she died in a shocking accident at Birr on 31 August 1869 (see our blog of 24 August 2019). On Saturday 31 August 2019 we mark the 150th anniversary of her death and say something of her achievements. So join us on Saturday from 3.30 pm at Oxmantown Mall, Birr. All are welcome. The book launch is at 5 pm in the Courtyard Café, Birr Demesne. The book will be general sale from 1 September at Birr Demesne, Offaly History Centre and Midland Book, Tullamore.

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Marking the Wonderful World and Tragic Death of Mary Ward on the 150th anniversary of Ireland’s first recorded road fatality in Birr in 1869.

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How many people have died in road fatalities since the first to occur in Ireland at Birr in county Offaly (then known as King’s County) on 31 August 1869, just 150 years ago next week? Few of us have not been touched by some sad incident involving collision with a motor vehicle. That in Birr involved a steam-powered carriage possibly constructed by the fourth earl of Rosse, a brother of Charles Parsons, later famous for his steam turbine. Perhaps the making of the engine was the work of the two brothers. The fatal accident occured at the corner of Oxmantown Mall and the junction with Cumberland/Emmet Street near the church and close close to where the theatre is today. It was here that the young Mary Ward, then aged 42, a woman of talent and a mother of a large family (11 pregnancies), was killed on the last day of August 150 years ago.

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In search of bog memories By Emily Toner, Clara Bog Visitor Centre, Monday 19 August at 2-4 p.m.

 

As a Ferbane student wrote in the School Folklore Collection: “There’s a large amount of bogland in the locality round here.” County Offaly is a place covered in peatlands–more than a third of the county was classified as peat soil by in the National Soil Survey of Ireland published by Teagasc in 2003. Offaly is also the county with the highest proportion of homes using those bogs for turf. At 37.9% of households heated with turf according to 2016 Central Statistics Office data, Offaly outcompetes the next county highest county, Roscommon, where 26.6% of households have the turf fire burning. The prevalence of bogs and bog-connected people is what brought me to live in Tullamore for a year.

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Heritage Events from Offaly History 18-31 August 2019

Yes we are extending our events to conclude on 31 August with the Mary Ward book launch about which more in our blogs of 24 and 31 August. In the meantime you
can download a PDF from Offaly County Council Heritage Officer Amanda Pedlow of all the county events. Lots of things including book launches in Geashill and Banagher. Read below about the very special Mary Ward book launch and commemoration in Birr on 31 August. It will be available at the launch and from 1 September at our bookshop. Order now so as not to be disappointed. Here we look at events being organised by Offaly History and with a note from Amanda Pedlow, county heritage officer.

Old Industries of Tullamore (see the blog on Tanyard Lane on 10 August).
Sunday 18 August at 2.30pm from the library in O’Connor Square
The tour includes talks by Noel Guerin and Dan Geraghty on the Tullamore Bacon Factory; John Flanagan on the Tanyard Lane industries from the 1960s; and Michael Byrne on tanning, malting and brewing.
Venue: Tullamore Central Library, O’Connor Square, Tullamore
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com
Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com

RM 48676 (21)
The New Offaly Archives Building
at Unit 1F, Axis Business Park.
The good news is that the new archives building is completed and building costs and fees will come in at about €600,000.

 

The first tour of the recently completed building will include a talk by archivist Lisa Shortall, ‘Introduction to the new Offaly Archives’.
Venue: Offaly Archives, Unit 1F, Axis Business Park, Clara Rd, Tullamore
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com
Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com
Date Start Time End Time
Mon 19th 11:00 12:00
Mon 19th 19:00 20:00
(Suitable for Children under 12) (Wheelchair Access – Full) (Car Parking Available) (Booking Required) (Free)

The archival records will be moved to the new archive
TOUR, EXHIBITION

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Heritage week at Durrow in 2017

Offaly History Library & Exhibition CentreThe tour will be of the library, exhibitions and history shop of the society. The Society premises was opened in 1992 and its holdings, especially the library, have been expanding ever since. The book collection is upwards of 20,000 volumes of which 12,000 are distinct titles. The maps and photographs are also extensive. Some artefacts are collected but these have to be small given size and expertise constraints. The archives collections will be moved out to our new building from September 2019. The lecture hall is much used and seats 80 to 100.
The society’s bookshop has over 2,000 history titles of which 150 are new books on Offaly History for sale in the shop and online.
Venue: Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com

004 Offaly Exhibition & Research 1998Centre

Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com
Date Start Time End Time
Tue 20th 14:00 16:00
Thu 22nd 14:00 16:00
(Suitable for Children under 12) (Wheelchair Access – Full) (Car Parking Available) (Free)
OUTDOORS AND ACTIVE, TOUR

The Castles of West Offaly
James Scully and Kieran Keenaghan will lead tours of castles at Coole, Kilcolgan, Clonlyon and Lisclooney. Booking required.
Venue: The Crank House, Banagher
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com
Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com
Date Start Time End Time
Sat 24th 10:00 16:00

Castle Heritage Event 24th August 2019 to include Balliver House (Castle Iver)

There will be a presentation on these matters ,on Balliver House (Castle Iver) itself and the role of the Armstrongs on the forecourt of Balliver House Saturday 24th 1030 am

Baliver House Banagher

Thanks to Mary and John Naughton and family Balliver House, formerly known as Castle Iver, is a substantial mid eighteenth-century property with gate lodge, walled garden and farm complex contained within its extensive grounds. The house itself is impressive with full-height bows flanking the central entrance of finely tooled limestone. Though the house was adapted over the passing of time, seen by the glazed and timber porch on the east elevation and large fixed windows to the ground floor, it also retains many original and early features which are typical of the Neo-classical idiom, examples being the curved timber sash windows to the flanking bows. Balliver House, as well as its associated structures, makes an architecturally important contribution to the heritage of County Offaly.

Thanks to De Renzy MSS and Maps c1620s we now know that the townlands of Balliver ,Park,Attinkee , Guernal,Carrick,Kilcamin, Crancreagh etc were all included in Lomcluna ui Flatile (Lumcloon of the Flatterys) . Lomcluna features a number of times in the annals but until now it was incorrectly assumed that Lomcluna Ui Flatile was the townland of Lumcloon ie 2 mile on the Cloghan Road towards Tullamore.. Lumcloon Powerstation etc.
The De Renzy maps show that some of the lands of Lomcluna Ui Flatile -including Balliver – were granted to Arthur Blundell in the Plantations of the 1620s.(De Renzy regrets that “half appertains to MacCoghlan). Blundell was the first sovereign of the Borough of Banagher, he built Fort Falkland and played an active role in local affairs for almost 30 years.
De Renzy mentions Lomcluna a number of times in his letters
“…And Lomcluna na Flaitire being one of the best and greatest plowlands in that countrie….”
One of the De Renzy maps show the 13 plots of land which Banagher Burgessmen owned in Lomcluna.
The MacCoghlans were the chieftains who controlled the Barony of Garycastle for several hundred years . However genealogists say that MacCoghlans “derive their descent and surname from Coghlan son of Flatile”.

“Gillacainnigh Ua Flaithfhileadh Lord of Delvin Beathra (Garycastle) was slain by his brother Aedh ,son of Cochlan Ua Flaithfhileadh” Annals of the Four Masters 1089

Queen Elizabeth granted pardons to several Flatterys for their role in rebellion – swordsmen from Lomcluna !!

 

OUTDOORS AND ACTIVE, TOUR

Durrow High Cross and church 25 3 12 (12)
A Tour of the Cemeteries of Durrow
This tour will explore the cemetery at Durrow Abbey, as well as the nearby Catholic and the Church of Ireland cemeteries. Readings have been done by members of the society over the years and many are on our website Roots Ireland.
Venue: Durrow High Cross, Durrow Abbey Estate, Durrow
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com
Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com
Date Start Time End Time
Sun 25th 14:30 16:30
(Suitable for Children under 12) (Wheelchair Access – Full) (Car Parking Available) (Free)

Amanada Pedlow, Offaly County Council Heritage office writes:

We have 9 days of Heritage Week starting tomorrow so I am encouraging you to get out and explore the talks, walks and events that communities, individuals and organisations have put on for the week. Some updates below – for the full listing of events see http://www.heritageweek.ie and there are still county brochures available in the libraries.

Carrigeen Farmhouse tour (near Five Alley ) on Saturday at 4.00pm and Monday at 11.00am – there was only an email address provided so if you would like to place on this tour of this very special interior with its original fixtures and fittings please call Anne-Maria Egan on 087 6989650

Gloster Arch Folly and Demesne – Tuesday 20 August – 6pm to 7.30pm
There is an error with the phone number for Tom Alexander so if you have got stuck do try 087 2342135. The conservation of the folly is complete and the evenings at Gloster are always special to see the landscape and house too.

Offaly Archives Tour 11am and 7pm on Monday 19 August – book directly with Offaly History 057 9321421 / info@offalyhistory.com. This is a nationally significant project developing the county archive and well worth getting the insight.

Tour of Raised Bogs in the LIFE project bus tour on Thursday 22 August 10am to 3pm – no charge – book direction with Rona Casey 076 1002627 ronan.casey@chg.gov.ie

NEW EVENT – The Importance of Raheenmore Bog – 22 August, 8pm – 9:30pm, hosted by the Living Bog, Kilclonfert Community Centre
Find out why Raheenmore Bog SAC, 5km from Daingean is one of Europe’s most important raised bogs with an evening at Kilclonfert Community Centre featuring Ronan Casey (The Living Bog) & other guests. Raheenmore Bog is home to some of Europe’s rarest species. Designated as a SAC by the Irish State & a Natura 2000 site by the EU, it is one of the finest remaining examples of a relatively intact raised bog, with deep peat & extensive areas of wet, living bog. It’s being restored by The Living Bog, who are working with the local community on raising awareness of the bog. Find out why it is one of the best examples of Europe’s oldest near-natural eco-systems. Refreshments served.

 

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A London editon of Mary Ward’s, The Microscope

Mary Ward’s Sketches with the microscope, reprinted by Offaly History
Launch and commemoration on Saturday 31 August 2019 at 3.30 p.m. Price of book €20. Very limited run, so book your copy now. It’s in full colour hardback, a delight for all the family of all ages.
Born in Ferbane to the King family of Ballylin, and cousin of the 3rd Earl of Rosse, Mary Ward became a well-known artist, naturalist, astronomer and microscopist. To mark the launch of the reprint of Mary Ward’s first publication ‘Sketches with the Microscope’, Offaly History, Birr Historical Society and Birr Castle invite you to a special afternoon to commemorate her life and work on the 150th anniversary of her death, 31 August 2019. Beginning at the Castle end of Oxmantown Mall, Brian Kennedy of Birr Historical Society will lead a walking tour marking the last journey Mary made from the Castle to the site of the fatal steam-car accident near St Brendan’s Church, the first recorded road fatality in the world. The tour will continue to Emmet Square and to the former premises of F. H. Sheilds the printers who published a limited run of 200 copies of ‘Sketches with the Microscope’ in 1857. Brian will continue to St Brendan’s graveyard and to the Rosse vault where Mary Ward is buried before leading the group to the Courtyard Café in Birr Castle where Offaly History’s new reprint will be launched with the Earl and Countess of Rosse and members of the Ward family of Castle Ward in attendance. The reprint is a faithful full-colour facsimile of the original publication and features new introductory essays by Michael Byrne and John Feehan.

Jacket Ward