Nellie Scully (née Craven) of Kilgortin, parish of Rahan and Kilbeggan Bridge, Tullamore, July 1922 – May 2018. James Scully with thanks to the Tullamore Tribune

001 east view Terrace, taken from Kilbeggan Bridge 1948
East View, Terrace beside the Kilbeggan Bridge in the 1940s

James Scully on the life and times of his mother Nellie at her funeral oration on Monday 7 May 2018 in Clonminch Cemetery, Tullamore.  Mrs Scully, her late husband Jimmy (died 2000) and their friends and neighbours represented the life and times of another generation and many of our readers overseas will be happy to recall these days. The importance of housing can be seen too and of having good and appreciated neighbours.

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James A. Ennis, 1901-83, Solicitor, County Registrar and founder member of the first Offaly Historical Society in 1937-8. By Valerie Ennis

James A. Ennis was born in 1901 at Rhode, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, the fourth of six children of parents, James and Sarah (Grogan) Ennis, Shopkeeper, Merchant, Publican and Farmer, Offaly County Council representative.

The Ennis siblings were Patrick (later York, USA), Michael (Clonmeen) Rhode, James A. (Tullamore) Mary, Catherine, and Rose (nee Stephenson). The girls all lived their lives in Rhode as did Michael. All were educated in Rhode national school but James Anthony was sent to Mount Saint Joseph’s College in Roscrea where he received his secondary education completing his leaving cert in 1920.

Below a First Communion in Rhode where James A. Ennis would have had his early schooling.

Rhode church communion 1900s (1)

James Anthony went to University College Dublin to study law, received a distinction in his studies and trained as an apprentice solicitor with F. B. O`Toole (solicitor) in Edenderry. He qualified in 1924 and in 1926 went to Tullamore where he joined James Rogers of Rogers & Co. Solicitors, and became a partner. Mr Rogers was appointed County Registrar immediately and left the practice to James who managed the practice until Mr Rogers returned after he retired in 1943.

c (50) Opening of the reconstructed courthouse in 1927. James A. Ennis is in the back row.

In 1927 James attended the opening of the newly rebuilt courthouse at Tullamore where sixteen years later he was employed as County Registrar. In 1928 he was initiated into the Knights of St. Columbanus in Edenderry (CK29), he transferred to Tullamore (CK83) where he now resided. He held various offices during his career up to Grand Knight and was a founder member of the first executive of the newly formed Area 11(Meath) where he took a position of Advocate, He became a loyal member of the order receiving the long service medal 1950, Honorary Life member 1974 and awarded the 50 year membership in 1979. He remained a member up to his death.

In 1932 he became a member of Tullamore Urban District Council and was elected chairman on two occasions. Like his father James A. was elected on to the county council on the Fianna Fáil ticket. Elected in the same year he held his position until 1939. During this period he became a close friend of Eamon de Valera and had brought him to Tullamore for a public meeting, entertained him in his house where he was to come on two other occasions during his election campaigning.

c (51)
Opening of O’Molloy Street in 1938. James A. Ennis is second from the right.

Also in 1932 he employed Margaret Gibbons a young solicitor and a first female solicitor in Co. Offaly in his practise. Ms Gibbons was one of a dozen female solicitors who had qualified in Ireland that year.

In 1938 he was a founder member and honorary president of Offaly Historical Society

James A. was a much travelled man taking holidays in and around the Mediterranean Sea. In 1936 while on holidays with his pal Kevin Adams in Spain they were extradited to France as aliens during the start of the Spanish civil War.

In 1939 he married Bernadette Rowan from Rochfortbridge Co. Westmeath. They went to Deauville in France on their honeymoon but after two days had to leave and return home as the Second World War was declared. During that year he had his own house on the Charleville road, built by John Duffy and called the house Deauville. He represented the urban council at the official opening of O`Molloy street new scheme of council houses by President Sean T. Ó Ceallaigh in the company of parish priest Monsignor James Flynn Tullamore, Tom Duggan County Engineer, John Duffy, builder contractor, and members of the Urban Council. Tullamore was thriving in that year with the opening of the outdoor swimming pool by the urban council on the Geashill Road and the new county hospital on the Arden Road very much in progress. In 1942 he was invited to become a board member of the Central Council of the Red Cross Society

056637 James Rogers Founder of Historical Society
James Rogers, possibly on the day of his second marriage in 1943-4.

In 1943 James A. Ennis was was appointed Offaly County Registrar to replace the retired James Rogers who returned to his practice, James Ennis carried out the duties of registrar with great pride. A fluent Irish speaker he enjoyed the courts which he attended around the county. His love of elections and as the director in Offaly he was always out early on polling day to visit as many polling booths as possible within the hours of opening and then the count on the following day in Portlaoise where he and his counterpart in Laois would manage the count until completion. He had two hobbies in his life and the first was as honorary member of the Tullamore Bridge Club he and his regular partner Roly O`Neill won many competitions around Ireland and represented Ireland abroad. He was installed as President of the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland in the Lake Hotel, Virginia Co. Cavan in 1962. His second love was GAA games and he never left his roots. He was chairman of Rhode GAA Club for many years and was a loyal supporter of the team arriving at a match with a football or refreshments for the team. His favourite players were Mick and Paddy Casey, Paddy McCormac, Eugene Mulligan and Seamus Darby. His love for the game gave him the pleasure of setting up the homecoming of the Offaly minor team after winning the All Ireland final in 1968. He also was chairman of the welcoming committee for the Offaly Senior Footballers in 1971 and 1972 with Sam Maguire.

James and Detta Ennis had five children: James M. (Fr. Hyacinth OFM), Michael (Kells), Rufina Recks (Clara), Barbara Canella (Montreal Canada), Patrick (died in Infancy) and was buried in Mucklagh Cemetery, a church of Rahan parish. His family home was on the Charleville Road in the parish of Rahan.

James was involved with the formation of the L.D.F. during the emergency. His life was based on community activities and he loved sport of all nature and was rewarded with success by all his children. His children were away at boarding school, when Jimmy Jnr. attending school at Gormanstown College announced he was joining the Franciscan order at their Novitiate in Killarney 1958. He took Hyacinth as his religious name, He was summoned home in 1959 on the news that his mother was critically ill. Detta Ennis died October of that year and was buried in Rhode Cemetery

Rufina and Barbara were at the Bridigine School in Mountrath and Michael was doing his leaving at CBS Tullamore. By 1961 James A. found the house on Charleville Road too big so he sold it to Dr Ted Vaughan and family and bought a bungalow on the Ardan Road where he remained until his death. Rufina married Richie Recks (Clara) in 1965 and James married Madeline Dunne, Rosenallis in 1966. He celebrated his son Hyacinth`s primary vows in Killarney 1959, his graduation at UCG and final vows in Galway 1962, his doctorate at Louvain Universary 1972 and ordination in Rome in March 1968. That same year in September Fr. Hyacinth assisted at the marriage of his brother Michael to Ina Kavanagh of Chapel street, Tullamore. In 1980 Barbara married Jose Canella (Montreal Canada) at Durrow Catholic church.

James Ennis enjoyed the addition of grandchildren to his family up to his death on the 5th March 1983 where he was laid to rest beside his first wife Detta in Rhode Cemetery. His  funeral mass was concelebrated by Fr Hyacinth Ennis and Fr Pat Fallon, PP, Tullamore  with  priests from Meath and Kildare and Leighlin diocese together with friars from the Franciscan Order.

Valerie Ennis wishes to acknowledge the assistance she received in writing this article from members of the Ennis family. Offaly History has fond memories of Mr Ennis during his time as treasurer of the Society in the 1970s and we recall meeting him for dinner with T.P. O’Neill, the author the Longford O’Neill biography. On that occasion Mr Ennis recalled seeing de Valera at the Mansion House in Dawson Street and later at UCD in the aftermath of the signing of the Irish Treaty in London. To him and his law firm partner, James Rogers (died 1967), the Society owes a debt of gratitude for their initiative in the late 1930s and steady support thereafter.

The 1918 by-election in North King’s County/Offaly: victory for Sinn Féin and the abandonment of Westminster Michael Byrne

Congratulations to the people of Offaly in having secured as their member Ireland’s Ambassador to America. Their unanimous endorsement of his mission is particularly opportune. Dr McCartan will voice a united Ireland’s demand that the Irish people be given the right of self-determination and will tell the world that Irishmen will not fight as England’s slaves. De Valera telegram to Dan MacCarthy, McCartan’s election agent for North King’s County by-election, April 1918. Irish Independent, 20 April 1918.

‘Up Offaly’ the Tullamore and King’s County Independent told its readers that ‘Offaly men can proclaim through their votes that they are no sons of a miserable English province’ but descendants of a royal race. They were not to be deceived by the ‘hireling band’ of paid politicians who would descend on the county for the by-election. ‘Poor Ned Graham’, it said, drove them out in 1914 aided only by a few priests and local nationalists. Tullamore and King’s County Independent, 30 Mar. 1918.

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Sun too slow, sun too fast – Ethel and Enid Homan Mulock of Ballycumber House. By Lisa Shortall

Anyone who has read the Ballycumber chapter of the recently published Flights of Fancy: Follies, Families and Demesnes in Offaly by Rachel McKenna, may have noticed a remarkable set of snapshots from a photograph album of the Homan Mulock family of Ballycumber and Bellair. The album is still in Ballycumber House, now owned by Connie Hanniffy and thanks to her generosity, its pages have been digitised revealing life in the big house in the early 1900s. The album is more of a scrapbook filled with illustrations, sketches, and notes alongside the many photographs relating to the leisure pursuits of the Homan Mulocks. Particular interest is shown in horses and equestrian events locally and in England, with photographs from the Pytchley, Grafton and Bicester Hunts; racing at Punchestown; the Moate horse show; and polo matches and gymkhanas at Ballycumber House in the early years of the twentieth century. Continue reading

So who were the Offaly women leaders: the first woman bishop, a literary ‘salon’ hostess, a formidable woman whose home was her castle, a multi-talented photographer with dash and dosh, an artist and microscopist with a difficult husband, some teacher activists and a playwright. By Cosney Molloy


St Brigid of Croghan Hill, Offaly

Mary McAleese kicked off International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018  with a lecture outside the walls of the Vatican – no codology there.  She could have adverted to the first woman bishop in Ireland (no man handed her the veil), St Brigid. St Brigid was born at Croghan Hill, County Offaly and not near Dundalk or in Kildare. Her father was of the Fothairt people, mercenaries to the Uí Fhailge dynasty (Kissane, 2017, p. 105). Cogitosus says she was consecrated a virgin at Croghan Hill by Bishop MacCaille who is associated with that place. Will you be there on St Patrick’s Day for the burning of the furze?

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Interview with Dan Lawlor, a Mount Bolus character of the last century Interviewed by Jim Kenny. Recorded on 22nd November 1994. Dan Lawlor died 20 years ago this month. “She’s a good girl, she’ll earn her keep”

Dan Lawlor was born in 1907 and in this interview (extract – for the full interview follow the SoundCloud link) he talks about his early memories of growing up in the early 1900s, attending national school in Mount Bolus. Starting to work at the age of 14, where the wage was 3 shillings for a boy and 5 shillings for men and the working day was 8 or 9 hours at least.  He also recalls growing up during very disturbed times, the 1916 rising, the Black and Tans and the First World War.  Going around the rambling houses and the stories he heard about the Famine 1846 – 49, the big wind in 1903 knocking down all 13 acres of Colonel Biddulph trees, the big storm around 1803 (or was it 1839).  The telling of ghost stories, attending wakes, clay pipes and match making where the father gave £100 and those who couldn’t afford it and gave nothing would say “she’s a good girl and will earn her keep”.  His love of hurling in Killoughy, making their own hurleys and using a tin can if they couldn’t afford a leather ball.  He also speaks about the 1920s not being great times, but the crops were good for anyone who minded them, farming all his life also all his family, the farm evictions and the Economic War.  He also mentions about 80 years ago there was a brewery in Monasterevin called Cassidy’s and a monk in Clara who worked miracles with the mortar, they called him Cassidy’s Monk. Continue reading

Remembering Michael McDermott, Durrow, Co. Offaly (1895-1976), an old IRA soldier of the War of Independence, by Máirtín D’Alton

My grandfather Michael McDermott of Durrow, County Offaly was born in 1895 and died on 30 March 1976. My mother later stated that he was actually aged 81 years (not 79 as on the gravestone) when he died. What caught my particular attention was that his gravestone records him as ‘CO (sic) North Offaly Batt. IRA’.  But he was not in fact the OC of the North Offaly Battalion as claimed. For the funeral, as is usual for old IRA men, the coffin was draped in the Irish tricolour, and the ‘Last Post’ was played, with a firing party over grave. My cousin still has one of the spent cartridges from the blanks. Continue reading

Memories of the old days on Charleville Road, John Mahon, sleeping sickness, school to the nuns, O’Moore Street people, Mrs Kenny’s dancehall, Mahons of Killurin and more. Part 2, By Nuala Holland (nee Mahon)

You can read part 1 of this story on Offalyhistoryblog. This is our 51st blog this year and have had almost 16,000 readers. Enjoy this one and thanks to all our contributors living and remembered. Nuala Holland, now deceased, late of Charleville Road, Tullamore lived in England in her later years. About fifteen years ago she wrote for Offaly History of her childhood memories in Tullamore. She was a daughter of Sean or John Mahon (the county accountant with the first Offaly County Council) and her mother hailed from Kerry.  They lived at Knockaulin, Charleville road. This was one of the first of the new houses on Charleville Road and was almost opposite the entrance to Dew Park on the Birr side. Nuala recalled the War of Independence, saving turf in Ballard bog, and schooling and living in Tullamore. Part one appeared in our blog last week. This week Nuala has recalled for us her own father John Mahon, the sleeping sickness in Tullamore, school in Bury Quay, Killeavy’s butcher’s stall, some people who lived in O’Moore Street and Mrs Kenny of the Tullamore musical  family. 

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Memories are made of this. Jackie Finlay on social life in Tullamore since the 1950s, political intrigue and the music scene in Ireland

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


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