Lost Archives of Offaly: Part 1

The lost archives series: no 1, the original diaries of Bishop Plunket of Meath (1738-1827) and the Meath Diocesan Archive

Michael Byrne

An  Offaly History Project for 2016-22

Offaly History has embarked on the provision of an archive for the housing of historical records for County Offaly. A building has been acquired and the work of renovation and fitting out will soon begin. Partners will be needed and financial support for a capital project that will cost €300,000 at least. The Society opened its present offices in 1992 at Bury Quay, Tullamore. That building is an historical research centre, comprising a public reading room, a bookshop, library of 15,000 volumes (catalogue on line at offalyhistory.com), exhibition space and a lecture hall. Archival material has been collected by the society since the 1990s and now needs a safe home. Each item needs to be catalogued and  housed properly. The work of bringing it to the notice of the public has started, and for this see http://www.offalyhistoryarchives.com, where an ever increasing amount of material is now being placed online. This weekly blog is intended to keep you informed of historical matters in the county. If you would like to contribute a piece email us at info@offalyhistory.com. If you have papers to donate be sure to call us. We will visit, assess and advise on retention or not (in itself a big decision).

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The Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement and its South Kildare meeting, 5-7 May 2017.

The Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement

South Kildare meeting, 5-7 May 2017

Michael Byrne

Welcome to the South Kildare Conference on Friday 5 May from Kildare County Council

The Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement (GSIHS) was founded by Dr Robin Glasscock, then of Queen’s, in 1969. We are now talking of a celebratory conference in Dublin in 2019 to mark that occasion. GSIHS can rightly be proud of all that it has achieved over the last forty-eight years. Not only has it held together but it has gone from strength to strength. The aim of the Group was clearly set out at its inaugural meeting and was often repeated in the bulletins and newsletters of the 1970s. Continue reading

The Crowd in O’Connor Square, the spatial strategy and Tullamore as the ‘Kilkenny of the midlands’.

 

O’Connor Square has been an open space and at times a crowded place over its 300 years in existence. Described as a market place as early as 1713 it was not until 1789 that the market house (now the Rocket restaurant) was built. For over 250 years the square fulfilled the important market function of any provincial town. A place where town met country and where people came to sell their farm produce and livestock. Trading was carried on in the formal setting of the market house for just thirty years. By 1820 that function in the square was modified with the provision of a new Cornmarket (now the Market Square) off Harbour Street and close to the Grand Canal harbour. Continue reading

The war memorial in O’Connor Square: the first of the public memorials in Tullamore Town

The 2016-17 €3m enhancement plan for Tullamore town contains a broad proposal that the war memorial in O’Connor Square be moved to a widened footpath opposite the Brewery Tap. The reasoning is unclear, but may be to have a broad sweep in the square for a covered market or band stand idea to the front of the library. A Fergal MacCabe drawing of 2013 was able to provide for the retention of the war memorial where it was first placed in 1926. The purpose of this article is to provide a history of this and other memorials in the square with a quick overview of Tullamore’s monuments to recall ‘those who should not be forgotten’. Continue reading

The families of O’Connor Square, Tullamore over two centuries

There may be no families resident in O’Connor Square in 2017 and the area is now almost entirely a public and commercial space with well-designed buildings, a memorial in memory of the war dead of 1914-18, a public library, the restaurant ‘Bake’ and a market house/’town hall’ to which the public have access for the most part due to its being a restaurant at ground level. The great footfall recipient today is the Post Office, fulfilling in the square what the credit union does in Patrick Street. Continue reading

Tullamore is the best town in the county and ‘Little inferior to any town in Ireland’

 

Some of the options around the €3m Enhancement Plans for Tullamore town envisage O’Connor Square as a tree-lined open space with perhaps a band stand and from time to time one assumes the holding of local markets including a Christmas market. The market function goes back over 300 years and survived intact for the first 100 years up to the 1820s. By that time the town had expanded and a new market function, near the commercial harbour (an inland port) was developed in a rectangular area perhaps twice the size of O’Connor Square. Even so the main square continued to be used for the sale of light goods on the big trading days or Fair Days. That custom pertained until the 1980s when it came under fire from a pincer movement Continue reading

Planning in Tullamore and the making of O’Connor Square

Agreeing on what will make Tullamore better is not a simple task

O’Connor Square, Tullamore is in the news because of the proposed enhancement works for Tullamore based on a budget of €3m which will see Main Street connected to the Bridge Centre, the laying underground of cables in some of the streets and the re-ordering of O’Connor Square to remove the motor car, in so far as politically possible. What are proposed now are enhancement works to have more pedestrianisation Continue reading

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

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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