Mick The Miller – A Sporting Legend – a greyhound born and bred in Killeigh, County Offaly, Ireland. By Brendan Berry

1. Sculpture of Mick the Miller by artist Elizabeth O`Kane on Killeigh village green.

Mick the Miller was the first great star of greyhound stadium racing in Britain. Born in Killeigh, Co Offaly in 1926, he had a successful Irish career before he began racing in England in 1929. By the time he retired in 1931 he had won 5 classics including the English Derby twice, the Cesarewich, the St Leger and also the Welsh Derby. He was the first greyhound to win the English Derby twice in succession and the first greyhound in the world to win 19 races in a row (both records remained unequallled for over 40 years). He won 51 of his 68 races, finished out of the top 2 positions only 6 times and also won 10 of his 13 one-on-one matches. His total prizemoney was £9,017 (€485,000 in today`s money) and he won 18 silver and 6 gold trophies. Mick equalled 2 track records and set 7 new ones (6 of which were also new world records). 

He was a very exciting dog to watch and people flocked in their thousands to see him run.

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Tullamore Credit Union marks its sixtieth anniversary. A contribution to Tullamore’s 400th series from Offaly History

The founding of Tullamore Credit Union in April 1963 was one of the best things that ever happened in Tullamore. The same can be said of the credit union movement founded in Ireland in the late 1950s. How did it come about? How was it sustained? Who were the leaders, managers and staff at the front line? The success of a community-based, people-centred and voluntary effort is all the more relevant today when people often have only machines to turn to in the provision of services and some feel disenfranchised both at local and central government level. ‘We ourselves’ was heard a lot in this ‘Decade of Centenaries’. It was also the cry of the credit union founders in the Lemass-led early 1960s when practical steps were taken to stem the flow of emigration and provide employment opportunities at home through the provision of credit where it could be useful.

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Kenny’s ballroom, GV 12 High Street, Tullamore now forms part of the Esker Arts Centre. Another story in the Tullamore 400th series contributed by Offaly History

Today, 14 April 2023, will see the first event in the new Esker Arts Centre at High Street, Tullamore. Part of the new arts building was once ‘a ballroom of romance’ when owned by the Kenny family of musicians with their own dance hall to the back of their house at no. 12 High Street. Memories of that hall and the Kenny Band were recalled almost forty years ago in reports compiled by the Tullamore Tribune. We had no county archives at that time and wonder have the precious posters and scrapbook mentioned in the articles survived. In an earlier blog we looked at the story of no. 13 High Street. No. 12 dates to 1790 and nos 13 (Esker Arts) and  GV 14 (Ulster Bank) may well be 1750s in date although the head lease to 13 and 14 High Street was to Elizabeth Crofton and dates from only 1801.

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The ‘Second Reformation’ and Catholic-Protestant relations in pre-Famine Ireland’ with a case study of the Crotty Schism in Birr. By Ciarán McCabe

On 24 October 1822, the newly-appointed Church of Ireland archbishop of Dublin, William Magee (1766-1831) delivered a sermon (a charge) in St Patrick’s Cathedral, calling for a greater and more zealous endeavour to evangelise among the Irish Catholics. While Protestant evangelicals and missionaries had been active throughout Ireland since the late eighteenth century, Magee’s sermon is seen as significant in returning acute religious controversy to the Irish public sphere.

The ‘Second Reformation’ initiated by Magee was marked by:

An exhibition charting the development of the ‘Second Reformation’, one of the most significant periods of nineteenth-century Ireland, is currently running in Birr Library and is open to the public. Furthermore, a public lecture by Dr Ciarán McCabe (QUB) in Birr Library on Wednesday 5 April (at 6.30pm) will discuss the ‘Second Reformation’ (including the infamous Birr Crotty Schism) and the development of the exhibition.

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Irish Mist Liqueur: a unique Tullamore product, and now a chance to talk, recall and publish recollections. We need your help. By Michael Byrne

For about forty years Tullamore was home to the production, bottling and marketing of a world-class product, Irish Mist liqueur. The background to the project to establish a whiskey-based liqueur came from English contacts of the Williams distillery company, B. Daly, and arose out of the scarcity of whiskey in England as the war came to an end in 1945. By late 1947 production of the liqueur compound – a mixture of honey, sugar and whiskey – commenced in Tullamore. Sales were good initially, but with the return of competitors to the market, such as Drambuie, and difficulties with the English shareholders progress slowed.

The good news is that with the support of Creative Ireland and Offaly County Council we are on an excursion to find out what made Irish Mist a product distributed worldwide and using the best designs for packaging. It was all started in Tullamore in 1947 so you can help fill in the gaps. We want to hear from people with memories. We want to record it in book form while there are people who can give first-hand accounts. You have a story to tell and you may have pictures. Please contact John Flanagan, Ardan Heights, Brian Jaffray or Michael Byrne. Why not email us info@offalyhistory.com or call to Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore. The work on the project has now started so get in early with your contribution of a memory or a picture.

Desmond Williams, a grandson of the founder of the firm was with the product from the start. He concentrated his sales skills on the wealthy Irish in America and by 1953 had established a small market there. It was his famous father-in-law, Oliver St. John Gogarty, who introduced Irish Mist to the U.S. when he personally conveyed four miniatures to a trade agent there in late September 1949, by way of samples of the new product.[1] Later, it was Irish connections such as that with Jim Costello (formerly of Ferbane, Offaly) and owner of a unique bar and restaurant in New York with an avant-garde clientele who gave an order for two cases and was willing to take another eight of a small shipment in 1950.[2

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