Offaly History Archives online catalogue

Offaly History Archives will shortly launch a searchable online catalogue of its holdings. Not only that, the website will contain a large amount of digitised resources and will also host the catalogues of other Offaly repositories so that researchers will be able to search for related material in one place. Here are some facts and figures about the new catalogue.

When will it be launched?

We are hoping to launch the catalogue in August 2016. It is a work in progress so parts of the catalogue will be released in stages to allow further work on the remainder. The first collection to be released is from a hosted repository, Offaly County Council Heritage Office. In 2013, OCC’s Heritage Officer, Amanda Pedlow, arranged for the digitisation of the Digby Irish Estates papers which are kept by Lord Digby in Dorset. The papers contain the annual reports sent to the Lords Digby by successive land agents on the Geashill Estate.  The first tranche of these reports, containing over 1000 digital objects, will be the first section of the catalogue to go live. These comprise the annual reports written by William Steuert Trench and his son, Thomas Weldon Trench between 1857 and 1872. The reports are a goldmine of information on the tenantry, containing full rentals of all townlands in the 30,000 acres which made up Lord Digby’s estate. They also contain vivid descriptions of housing conditions, poverty, emigration, agrarian unrest and even assassination plots against the Trenchs. Although generally reviled amongst the tenants for their cruelty,  the Trenchs were improvers and the reports also contain detailed explanations of land improvements, drainage schemes, establishment of new farms, construction of new housing, repairs to existing housing and plantations of woodlands. Continue reading

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Health is cheap at any price

Health is cheap at any price wrote Dr George Moorhead to the Tullamore Town Council in 1930. This letter is of interest on the background to the adoption of the water scheme for Tullamore in 1895  and the shortfalls thirty years and more later. The Tullamore Town Council was established in 1900 and followed on the Town Commissioners in 1860. 156 years ago we had only a candle in O’Connor Square to serve as public lighting, no piped water and no sewerage. We did have a town clock and bell (now in the Tullamore DEW Visitor Centre).

Letter from Dr G. A. Moorhead M.O.H. to Tullamore Town Council, 4 Feb 1930 from the minute books of the council, now housed in the Tullamore Central Library archives room.

“As you will have under discussion this evening various schemes for improving the supply of water to the town, I wish to make a few remarks on the subject, nearly thirty years of age as M.O.H. it became my duty in the interest of the public health to take an active part in the establishment of a public water supply to the town, and I may say I was largely responsible for the adoption of the present scheme now in force. Continue reading

1916-2016 ephemera

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We are collecting ephemera relating to the 1916-2016 commemorations in Offaly in order to reflect the breadth and scope of the centenary commemorations held throughout the county this year. Do you have any posters, fliers, leaflets, programs, invitations or other memorabilia that you would be happy to donate to us? If so contact us at info@offalyhistory.com or call in to us at Bury Quay, Tullamore and we will happily add your material to our collection.

Henry Brenan, Crown Solicitor, King’s County 1916

 

The crown solicitor, as the title suggests, represented the government much as the state solicitor does today.  It was, and is, the practice to appoint a legal representative in each county to whom the garda refer their cases for prosecution.  The document shown here was Brenan’s appointment on 27 July 1916. Brenan was saved by a few months in having to act against those concerned in the Tullamore Incident (released June 1916).

 

712 Henry F Brenan 1912

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What’s in our archives?

Offaly History has been collecting primary historical sources in the form of manuscripts, photographs, maps, plans and drawings for many years. Until recently, this material has been kept safe and secure but inaccessible. It was understood that the material would have to be professionally catalogued and carefully preserved before it could be offered as a resource for historians and other researchers. There are hundreds of bound volumes, thousands of manuscript pages and dozens of trunks full to the brim with historical treasures. In 2015, an archivist began the mammoth task of physically rehousing the material in archival boxes, and cataloguing the contents for publication in our new online catalogue which we hope to launch in the coming months.

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