Mapping Offaly Specially contributed for Offaly History

Larkin Tullamore
Tullamore from the William Larkin map of 1809. The church had not yet been built at Hop Hill.

For Offaly History Mapping Offaly began as a project to map the archaeological sites in Offaly in the mid-1970s. The state archaeological survey was in progress but nothing had been published and some members of the society decided to embark on a project they knew little about but were excited about the prospects. The then president of the Society, Monsignor Denis Clarke, allowed a sum of £50 out of the Society’s savings of £120 to buy a full set of the county ordnance maps of 47 sheets at £1 each from the Stationery Office. This was almost half of the society’s capital and led to the quiet resignation of Society secretary Fr Conor McGreevy. When he saw that the young students joining up at that time were serious  he came back to his history flock and went on to publish a history of Killoughy with the PP of Kilcormac.
The first Ordnance Survey set of maps for the county were created in 1838 and that in Offaly County Library was the only set in Offaly at a time when there was no copying, digital cameras or scanning. Three or four of the Offaly towns maps were published in Sources for Offaly History in 1978. This book and the flood of others such as Slieve Bloom (1979) by John Feehan took the mystique out of local history and made it widely available for the first time. In the last thirty years upwards of 700 articles and books have been published on Offaly History and 150 of these can be bought in the Offaly History shop, Tullamore (and online) and the rest viewed at Irishhistoryonline and most of them are in the Offaly History Centre library.


Mapping Offaly.

Bog commissioners 2
Dr Arnold Horner’s lecture title at the Offaly History Centre on Thursday 11 April 2019 at, 8 p.m. is ‘Using early maps to explore local history and heritage – a midlands perspectives’. His new book on Documents relating to the Bogs Commissioners, 1809–1813. will be will be given an Offaly launch immediately after his lecture at Offaly History Centre on Thursday 11 April 2019 at 8 p.m. with refreshments to follow and signed copies available.

Temora and Kilcormac c. 18111

2 Temora 1811 from bog map

His book on Mapping Laois (2018) is an exemplar on what can be done for many counties in Ireland.

Mapping Offaly - Arnold Horner - Wordwell - OHAS - OC Council

Arnold Horner formerly lectured in Geography at University College Dublin. He has written widely on the geography of Ireland, giving increasing attention in recent years to the history of maps and mapping in Ireland. He has had three books concerning the innovative county maps produced in the early nineteenth century by the roads engineer and surveyor William Larkin: Mapping Offaly (2006), Mapping Meath (2007) and Mapping Sligo (2011). His Mapping Offaly is a great favourite and was the lead in book for the others in the series.

Documents relating to the Bogs Commissioners, 1809–1813 Edited by: Arnold Horner

The bogs of Ireland have changed greatly over the last couple of centuries. The records of the Bogs Commissioners help in assessing the extent of these changes, feeding into local and national studies of environmental change.
This book describes the large volume of documents associated with the government-appointed commissioners who in 1809 were charged with enquiring ‘into the nature and extent of the several bogs in Ireland, and the practicability of draining and cultivating them’.
Operating until 1813, the commissioners compiled maps and reports on bogs in some 22 counties across Ireland. Much of their working materials, including many of the manuscript reports and many of the fine manuscript maps and diagrams prepared by their engineers, are now preserved in the National Library of Ireland. Other records are in the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and among the Foster papers in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
The present edition identifies and draws together a diverse range of material, thereby allowing the potential significance of the work of the bogs commissioners to be appreciated better. The principal document in this edition is the minute book, in the NAI collections, which recorded transactions of the commissioners over four and a half years. Attention is also given to the manuscript maps and other documents now in the National Library of Ireland. The records associated with the commissioners include much local detail and offer insights into various aspects of early nineteenth-century Ireland, particularly its administration and the countryside. Price: €40.00. On the night we can give a discount to reduce the price to €34.99.
In Mapping Laois from the 16th to the 21st century, Arnold Horner reviews and seeks to provide context for the extraordinarily rich diversity of manuscript and printed maps that record the changing political, economic and social circumstances of an Irish county over nearly five centuries. The flavour of these varied, informative and often colourful maps is captured in over 400 illustrations, among which are reproductions of six early county maps and a unique assemblage of images from the Ordnance Survey ‘fair plans’ of c. 1838–40.

The 1560s Map of the old Laois and Offaly

Laois Offaly 1550s map
With a map record that stretches back more than 450 years, County Laois (formerly Leix and Laoighis, and between 1556 and 1920 officially known as Queen’s County) has a distinguished place in the history of cartography in Ireland. This book explores that record, from the first map of c. 1560, covering the eastern part of the county, through to the present century. The aim here is to draw attention to the extent, variety and interest of the maps made during a period of major transformation across the county—a period when far-reaching changes in landownership and settlement were accompanied by significant environmental modifications.

Key features:
• Comprehensively illustrated with 400 maps
• Comprehensive coverage of County Laois from the 16th century to the 21st century
• Detailed index
Price €30. We have an offer on the night of just €22.99
Mapping Offaly in the Early 19th Century with an Atlas of William Larkin’s Map of King’s County, 1809 – Arnold Horner (Bray, 2006), 76 pp. You can buy this for €20 and have it signed on the night. If you already have it bring it with you for signing. This book describes the geography and early mapping of Offaly (known as King’s County between c. 1560 and 1920) with particular reference to the huge manuscript map of the county made by William Larkin. Larkin’s long-neglected map of King’s County has fortunately been preserved in the National Archives of Ireland. The version reproduced here in atlas form was made in 1809 at the request of the newly formed Bogs Commissioners, and was used to guide their engineers. This book now tells the story of this map and makes it widely available for the first time. Included also are many other early map images, among them extracts from the near-contemporary surveys of the bogs engineers. The result is an exceptional introduction to the Offaly of 200 years ago, the rural world of the generation before the Great Famine.
So what is there to the old maps of Offaly?
Below is the first six-inch map of Tullamore town in 1838

139 1838, Tullamore

Tullamore on the 5th foot scale in 1838 – in MS format in National Archives.

Market Sq, Tullamore in 1838 and about 1885

TheDown Survey map of 1685 based on the 1650s survey and showing a part of Offaly in what is now County Kildare. This map was published in Petty’s atlas.

Offaly Petty' Map

See you on THURSDAY 11 APRIL at 8 p.m. All are welcome. Members €2 and non-members and this includes Teas, coffees and cake after the meeting.

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