The first article in this recent series to mark the 400th anniversary of the grant to Sir John Moore of Croghan and Tullamore of a licence to hold fairs and markets and establish manorial government was about Tullamore in 1804–7 and was based on two surviving Grand Canal maps. The earliest surviving comprehensive map of Tullamore is that of 1838 and can conveniently be found at osi.ie and its Geohive platform. The purpose of this article is to review the street plan and buildings of the town of Tullamore as shown on part of the Ordnance Survey six-inch sheet no. 17 of which the first edition was published in 1838. It will take three or four blogs to view the 1838 map of Tullamore and in OS fashion and matching the design of Tullamore town from the 1790s we can proceed in gridiron format from the north west of the town to the south east.
North of the Grand Canal (1798–1804) were four roads and three minor routes.
The road to to Srah and Ballycowan Castle via Kilbride was from a junction in Lower Barrack Street (Kilbride Street) where the old road to Clara branched off with Milestone Lane, represented today in the connection of O’Molloy Street to Pearse Park and the turn on Srah Road at the old Keegan’s house. The ‘old road’ to Clara survives in the turn at 57 Clontarf Road to house no. 78 and contained 12 to 15 houses of which Hogan’s and Freer’s survived into the 1960s and 1970s. The others were demolished in 1945–50 to allow the completion of the new houses by the town council. The ‘new road’ to Clara followed on the building of Cox’s Bridge in 1809. Here there was very little building save at what was later Joe Kearney’s farmyard (demolished in the 1970s). The boundary of Puttaghan on the west was drawn to include the canal company field north of Cox’s Bridge (now Colton’s Garage). The fields either side of the new Clara Street were owned by the canal company.
From the ‘split’ in Clontarf Road to no. 57 was Tinkers Row. To the east was a field behind what was later known as East View Terrace on the west side of the road to Kilbeggan and north of Kilbeggan Bridge and excluding the East View Terrace plot may have been owned by Manly or Acres. Opposite East View Terrace were three houses owned by Thomas Acres. The terrace and the Acres’ houses were included in the townland of Tullamore and not Puttaghan. The boundary line from there moved south at Thornburgh Lane (the road to Park Avenue now and sometimes called the Bog Road). Before the canal this lane to the bog connected in with Connaught Street. The 1808 Ordnance Magazine is shown and the ground beside it shaded. Only a part of the east wall of the magazine survives at 20/21 Convent View (G. Scully). Connaught Street ran from the road to Daingean as far as the old pound in William/Columcille Street opposite what is now Eugene’s pub. The junction of the road to Puttaghan and Connaught Street would have been in the vicinity of the present-day Parochial House. The owners of the head leases of the town parks (generally for 31 years and not ‘for ever’ as with the head leases of house property) were compensated to facilitate the works on the line of the Grand Canal. The ‘town of Puttaghan’ (1841 census) was decimated during the Famine years and many of the fourth class houses ‘cleared’. It is interesting to see how the townland boundary of Puttaghan on the south east continued to include the ten to twelve cabins on what was later a ball alley (post 1945) and now a free car park. The third minor road was east of Puttaghan (Rapparee Alley) and may have been an old road to Ballydaly and Ballycosney.
South of the canal, from the west side to the east
Following the pattern of the later large-scale 25-inch Ordnance Survey we move in blocks west to east south of the canal. Milestone Lane (after the canal milestone) was the old road to Kilbride and Ballycowan broken by the new canal. This would also suggest that the new road to the Clara Bridge from 1809 (from about where the opening is now to Marian Place) is post 1800. That should mean that so also is the terrace including the Mallet Tavern and therefore not predating the balloon fire of 1785. North of Lower Barrack Street can be seen the line of the old road to Clara and the quarry hole giving the name ‘The Quarry’ to what is since the 1960s called Kilbride Park. The lane at Hugh Lynch’s known as Gunnoudh’s Lane or Lumper Lane (now St Kyran’s Street) is likely to be 1790s to early 1800s in date. Barrack Lane, also known as Tea Lane (now O’Connell Street), has its roots in a lease of 1794. North of it and where Offaly History and the bonded warehouse are located (since 1897 as to the latter) was land purchased by the Grand Canal company possibly as an intended harbour or quay beside the town. It was only post 1798 and 1801 that the harbour in its current location was built.
North and south of Milestone Lane and its intersection with Pensioners Row to the west there is uniformity about the gardens with the boundary line of Tullamore townland drawn accordingly. The 30 to 40 houses in Pensioners Row date from the demobbing of soldiers after the end of the Napoleonic Wars with the Battle of Waterloo. The large field behind the barracks of 1716 was known as the ‘Barrack Meadow’ until the 1950s when Marian Place was built. Some of the old walls have survived on the eastern and northern boundaries of Marian Place.
Water Lane west with its fifteen houses and cabins may not have been connected to Sally Grove and Crow Street (now Tara Street) in 1838. A road leading to the ‘lost demesne’ of Daniel Jackson (more in a later article) is shown coming from Crow Street and passing the gazebo of the Crow family built as an ornamental feature beside the river and west of the post 1838 ‘Old Mill’ apartments on the river today. It was the development of the distillery with new buildings and purchases from the adjoining owners that led to the extensive holding of B. Daly distillery that was intact until sales to the council in the 1930s and to C. Maye (Ravine Ltd) from the late 1980s to provide land for the new Bridge Centre.
Barrack/Patrick Street is one of the oldest streets in Tullamore and was located east of the 1716 barracks. The much shallower and broader river before the drainage scheme of the late 1840s provided boundary constraints and the want of the usual long garden strips on the southern side. The leases here (that we know of) date from the 1740s such as for the former De Brun’s and c. 1750 for the Williams building (more recently the Music Academy). The cabin complex of the 100 or so houses that was destroyed in the 1785 fire may have been confined to the street west of the credit union and including all the cabins in what was then called Swaddling Lane or Ruddock’s Lane and now Brides Lane (behind the two Italian restaurants in Barrack Street). The gardens on the north side were extensive and part of one of them was purchased by Thomas Acres in 1795 to allow him to create the new Wheelwright Lane (now Offally Street). Acres already had most of William/Columcille Street then known as Pound Street so it made sense to try and make a street out of the back of the west side of Columcille Street (now Offally Street). It did not work as the area was unattractive and only two large houses (the Burgess leaseholds of 1834 and 1838) were built. The gardens on the east side of Columcille Street upper were used as to part by Acres to provide Chapel Lane. This land was much improved by the new Catholic church of 1802 but not otherwise.
The big changes in Tullamore in the late 1790s and early 1800s came with the building of the harbour, hotel, collector’s house, ‘the passage to the wharf’ beside the collector’s house, Store Street, Thomas Street, Ball Alley Lane and Bury Quay (now Convent Road). The new Bury Quay houses were built over the period 1800 to 1840 starting with gusto at what is now Eugene’s pub, but fizzling out by 1830. The lack of demand left the way open for Catholic institutional uses such as the first national school of 1834. This was soon to be managed by the Mercy Nuns who came to Tullamore in 1836 and built a new convent by 1840. This adjoined the school. The new street following on from the completion of the canal to what is now the first footbridge saw the removal of the old Connaught Street that came from the Daingean Road to the pound south of where Pound Bridge (now Kilbeggan Bridge) is located. The pound, jutting out into the street, was still there in 1838, but the function was moved to Church Street about that time.
The canal connection from Bury or Whitehall Bridge to the new harbour meant massive banking works in front of what is now the entrance to the Sacred Heart School and the removal of cottages in the path of the new canal and harbour entrance. It also led to the plan for Harbour Street and the Market Square. Only five years earlier the road junction at Harbour and Columcille Street had been intended for a courthouse/ sessions house.
It has been suggested that there may have been a road connection from the Daingean Road to O’Connor Square but there is no indication of any such in the surviving road plans or the physical layout of the plots for sites. We can look again at this topic when considering how the town developed between Harbour Street and Church Street in the next article.
Our regular blog is every Saturday. If you would like to contribute an article email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Tullamore series marking the 400th continues shortly.