Now that more young people can get our walking and cylcling we give you this suggested tour to find the datestones in and about the town of Tullamore. We are giving a free copy of Tullamore a Portrait to the first five entries received with one or more additions to this list. Entries will be drawn from the barrel. So email us at email@example.com headed Tullamore Datestone Quiz. Our blog is published every Saturday and we are providing a second issue on Wednesdays during the Covid Period.
So what is a datestone: An embedded stone with a date carved into it. This is true in the case of Tullamore and the dates can be relied upon but care must be taken because some houses get rebuilt but the old stone is left intact. Some stones are taken from ealrier buildings and some are taken from the original site to a new location. More anon.
We can start in Bridge Street beside Foxy Bean Foxy Bean’s/Douglas
This is one of the nicest and shows that the building dates from 1747 which means it is one of the oldest buildings in Tullamore. Why not do a drawing as Fergal MacCabe did. Tyrell was a tanner and Hall an apothecary. Were handmade shoes for sale here at one time? Steps up to the shop can mean a basement below as was the case in this building. Boys were sent up the chimney here to clean it – not so nice if you got stuck as may have happened in 1770.
The old Tullamore Post Office is in O’Connor Square
Now check out what date it was built. It’s easy if you know your Roman numerals. But are they still there? The canopy was designed by a young architect, Harold G. Leask, later famous for his book on Irish Castles and three volumes on Irish Churches.
Joseph Flanagan – the keystone in the arch on High Street
This lovely old shop beside the Tourist Office was built by the distiller Joseph Flanagan who decided to build some house and make some money. So stand back at the Brewery Tap and observe that the entire building is from what used to be 58 High Street to 1 and 2 O’Connor Square. In looking at buildings to find out more about them look up and look down and look at the back. In nearby GCF Insurance you will see the original windows on the top floor.
Masons Insignia but no datestone in O’Moore Street
Worth looking at for the insignia so find out. The Masons Club or chapter is the oldest in Tullamore and dates back to 1747.Now there is a gas lamp standard nearby, but can you find it.
Datestones that may be covered over
The town hall had a stone at the back dating to 1786. You will have to check out if it is still there.
So too did Acres Folly – the tower on the hill behind the town hall. Better seen from the town park. It was built before 1815 to commemorate Wellington’s victories in the Peninsular Wars. Old Acres made lots of money from renting houses in Cormac Street (the house with the two faces and the terrace) to army men when they stayed in Tullamore.
A pair of house in Cormac Street had 1898 on the shared chimney. Perhaps the presence of brick will act as a clue.
The Tullamore jail datestone
Well worth a read and lots of information to Google about. The foundation stone was laid with great ceremony in 1826 and the jail completed in 1830. Lots of good reading to be had about Tullamore jail with the Famine years and the 1880s being the most important. People were hanged here in public until 1867-8 and in private until 1903 in the case of Tullamore. Can you name who was the last person to be hanged here? And what all that about Tullamoore? If you can read the small print here it may help to send you off to find a memorial tablet to Killaly in Tullamore.
For keen walkers can you find this stone up the Birr Road and what does it tell us?
More next week on the northern side of Tullamore town. Readers might care to send in more pictures and information on datestones they know of in County Offaly.