Brigadier General James P. Cullen died at his home in Scarsdale, New York on 8 December 2017 at the age of 72. He was born in Queens, New York on 27 January 1945 to Agnes Gorman and Patrick Cullen but came to Ireland and to Rahan, Co. Offaly when he was four and spent almost four years in the Offaly parish before returning to New York where he took his first job soon after. Thereafter Jim never stopped working, giving of his time whether for remuneration or in a voluntary capacity. Continue reading
Flights of Fancy; Follies, Families and Demesnes in Offaly by Rachel McKenna has just been published by Offaly County Council at £30. It’s a large format coffee-table type book with over 350 pages, in full colour and hard cover. It can be bought across the county, Irish Georgian shop, Dublin and Offaly History Centre, Tullamore.
The book looks at the evolution of the demesne in Offaly with no less than fifteen studies of demesnes across the county from Charleville, Birr, Gloster, Tubberdaly, Ballycumber, Moorock, Busherstown, Prospect, Acres, Belview, Mullagh Hill, Ballyeighan, Hollow House, Kinnitty to Loughton. The big names such as Birr are well-known but there are others that provide surprising and interesting excursions into the county’s landscape, architectural history and family history. There are lots of curious things that are fascinating such as the story of the ‘mummy’s hand’ at Prospect House and Lord Bloomfield’s experiences as ambassador to Russia in its glittering heyday. Continue reading
Memories are made of this is the title of a book of memories by Tullamore man, Jackie Finlay. The new book will be launched at the Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore on Friday 1 December 2017 at 8.30 p.m. The book runs to 224 pages with about 70 pictures. It will sell for just €14.95. Copies can be collected at the Centre that evening and thereafter. It can be ordered online free of post in Ireland by going to the shop at http://www.offalyhistory.com.
Thomas Prittie’s recollections of Tullamore from the Famine to the Easter Rising serve to confirm how much the town had improved both physically and in civility in that narrator’s own time. Thomas Prittie died on 29 April 1916 just at the close of Easter Week and was described by the Tullamore and King’s County Independent as ‘one of the oldest inhabitants of the town’ who helped in ‘our historical sketch of Tullamore published some months ago’. He was aged 83 according to his death certificate, but the reporter put him at ninety. He lived, unmarried, in Henry/O’Carroll Street, Tullamore and, said the local press, left considerable house property. Continue reading
Birr has been referred to as Umbilicus Hiberniae, the navel or centre of Ireland. For many years it was also known as Parsonstown taking that name from its then proprietors, the Parsons family, earls of Rosse. That it is the centre of Ireland is often disputed but few will deny the accuracy of yet another appellation that of the ‘model town’. The late and much loved Jim Dooly, who was chairman of the town council in the mid-1960s, appeared on a Frank Hall programme in 1971 to defend Birr’s claim. He was no lover of television as can be seen in his performance, now viewable on the Frank Hall Archive of RTE on Youtube (‘Dead Centre of Ireland’). Continue reading
Is Conor McGregor related to the Molloys? He probably is. He did his country proud last night as did Michael Molloy 150 years ago. Michael Molloy was the founder of the Tullamore distillery established in 1829. The date is to be seen over the gate beside the Tullamore Credit Union in Patrick Street. Molloy’s distillery is better known today as Daly’s distillery, Williams’s distillery or indeed, the Tullamore Dew Distillery. The first Bernard Daly was the owner of the distillery from the 1850s and was a nephew of Michael Molloy. Daniel E. Williams was the general manager of the distillery from the 1870s and, effectively, the owner of the distillery from the early 1900s. When Alfred Barnard visited the distillery in 1886 he noted that it had been founded in 1829 by an uncle to Bernard Daly and that Williams was the general manager. Much has been written about Daly and Williams, but who was Michael Molloy and where does he fit into the story of the Tullamore distillery? Continue reading
Kilcruttin cemetery is located off Cormac Street and close to the boundaries of what is now Scoil Mhuire. Indeed, the original access lane and entrance to this cemetery is still to be seen. It’s the oldest cemetery in Tullamore town and dates back to the 1700s. At one time it was on the outskirts of the town and in soft poor ground close to the Tullamore river. It was not the cemetery of choice for the upper ten in Tullamore, but nonetheless has some very good monuments including that to the Methodist merchant Burgess and the German baron Oldershausen of the King’s German Legion, the heroes of Waterloo.
Presented by Offaly History
The men were taken from their cells and subjected to a savage beating. Half-conscious they were led into a courtyard at the giant fort of Guise in northern France. All hope was extinguished once they saw that a ditch had been dug. The men were executed by a German firing squad in batches of six and dumped in a shallow grave. A German officer provided the coup de grâce to the French civilian Vincent Chalandre. When his body was exhumed after the war, he was found to have a bullet in the back of his head. Continue reading
This is the second part of the article on Birr courthhouse. It was held over from last week to allow for an article on the 100th anniversary of de Valera’s visit to the county.
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The Birr courthouse has been in the news again lately in the context of its being used as an arts school for painters and others. It would be good to find a use for it that ensures the conservation of the building. Some years ago the idea was put forward that Birr should be considered the Bath of Ireland because it has such fine terraces, good shops in its narrow streets, fine churches, a Pugin convent (now the Birr library), the workhouse, John’s Hall, Oxmantown Hall, the Crotty church, maltings, a distillery and more. Continue reading