The shooting of Jack Finlay of D.E. Williams, Tullamore, in a robbery at Lemanaghan, Ballycumber, County Offaly on 12 February 1923. By Jackie Finlay.

My story starts as a small boy growing up in Dillon Street, Tullamore in the 1940s. I remember seeing a cutting from a newspaper which I presumed was from a Tipperary weekly paper. The article covered a report of a feis and sports held in a field at the Golden Vale Hotel in Dundrum Co. Tipperary. It mentioned about the Misses Crummy from Ballydine taking part in the Irish dancing. A small report on the opposite side of the cutting was headed

Shooting near Birr.  Charged at Birr with conspiring in 1923 to kill and killing John Finlay, Tullamore.  Chas and Peter Molloy and Michael Coyne were sent for trial.

What is so unusual about this paper cutting from 1923?

My mother, one of the Misses Crummy mentioned in the article, was now working in Tullamore for T. English & Co. She met and married my father Thomas, brother of John Finlay some ten years later.

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A rare item for Offaly Archives: Hibernian Magazine for the year 1785

Offaly History have a vacancy for a qualified archivist at Offaly Archives (see our blog of 6 Jan. 2023 in regard to the post). Arriving for interview by air balloon would strike a chord. Speaking of which the balloon fire of 10 May 1785 is perhaps the best-known event in the history of Tullamore and yet there are few surviving accounts.

First there were almost no local newspapers serving the midlands at the time. Neither have diaries or letters survived of any of the townspeople of that period save one letter of 12 May 1785 published by way of reportage in the Hibernian Magazine of the fire that occurred on the fair day. This would have been on Tuesday 10 May 1785. The letter from the Tullamore correspondent is clearly the most useful and more informed than similar reports in Finn’s Leinster Journal and Faulkner’s Dublin Journal. Some of these reports put the loss at 130 houses and not 100 as advised to us by the letter writer. One other short note was penned by Molly Burgess (née Pennington) of the Methodist Community who lost their church (dated to 1760) in Swaddling Lane off Barrack/Patrick Street. This lane was also known as Ruddock’s Lane and post 1905 as Bride’s Lane. After the fire the Methodists build a new chapel or preaching house on the site of the present-day church. The current church was build 101 years after the first

on that site.

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Clara and Ballycumber men among twenty that went over the wall at Mountjoy in 1919. By Pat McLoughlin

On the 29th March 1919, 20 IRA Volunteers escaped from Mountjoy jail in broad day light.  This escape was planned by Michael Collins on the outside and Piaras Béaslaí on the inside.  A prison strike had been taking place in the jail in support of four prisoners who were not being afforded political status.  In the lead up to the escape this strike was halted because the escape plan had a better chance of success with a quieter atmosphere in the prison.

The plan was to get Piaras Béaslaí and JJ Murphy both MPs and Padraig Fleming a volunteer from the Swan, Co. Laois out, followed by the four prisoners not being afforded political status.  A list of men with long sentences was created and it was decided that men serving short sentences or who had sentences close to completion would not escape.  Padraig Fleming had conducted an extraordinary fight for treatment as a political prisoner in Maryborough (Portlaoise) jail, enduring hunger strike, torture and physical mistreatment for months.  In Mountjoy he was the Officer Commanding the political prisoners.

The escape was planned for 3 p.m. on Saturday March 29th.  On the previous Monday the four prisoners being denied political status broke away from the warders in charge of them and led them on a big chase around the field before being recaptured.  As a result, they were kept in a metal cage for exercise and guarded by no less than eleven warders.  If these precautions were continued their chances of escape were slight, while the presence of so many warders also presented a serious obstacle to the escape plan.  On Fleming’s orders the four prisoners caused no more problems for the warders and the prison authorities were lulled into a false sense of security.

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The Last Bend: A Personal History of Peter Henry’s Travelling Shop. By Vincent Henry

The stories in this book by Vincent Henry are based on real events and are as accurate, he states, as he could make them, with many factual accounts that document characters and happenings from the end of World War II to the beginning of the 1980s.

Prologue

Two months after the end of World War II, my parents, Peter Henry and Elizabeth O’Brien, who had recently married, made a far-reaching decision. Responding to an advertisement in the local Westmeath-Offaly Independent, they purchased a grocery shop with attached living premises, in Clara, County Offaly, right in the centre of Ireland. A Protestant lady called Miss Poff sold the house, shop and sizeable garden to my parents for the princely sum of £900. This was money my mother had received as an inheritance from her father.

My father, who was thirty-two years of age at the time, had spent his working life farming but wasn’t particularly fond of that occupation. He was the eldest male in his family, but his younger siblings were eager to take over the farm and he was more than happy to venture into a new career in the grocery business.

‘The Emergency,’ as World War II was known in Ireland, was still in operation at that time. Each family continued to use ration books for basic necessities such as tea, bread, butter and eggs. Showing his entrepreneurial spirit, my father circumvented the letter of the law by securing basic foodstuffs from the surrounding rural areas. He dealt directly with local farmers, and as a result was able to provide a lot of basics over and above ration allocation quotas.

Thus began our travelling shop – or ‘the van,’ as it was invariably called.

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Have an ‘Offaly History’ Christmas with over a dozen new books this year

It has been a good year for new publications contributing to the history of County Offaly and helping us to get to know ourselves and our place better. When the annual report of the Tullamore Credit Union is dropped in the door you know Christmas is close. Seeing the cover and that the credit union is now sixty years old set us thinking of phases in our history. The year 1923 marked the end of the civil war. After a period of growth from 1891 to 1918 things got difficult. You could write off 1923–63 in terms of the economic engine. It was mostly switched off with exceptions in Tullamore Yarns, the Bacon Factory, Tullamore and the Williams and Egan businesses serving the midlands. The emerging Bord na Mona and ESB were providing jobs in west Offaly from the 1950s and east Offaly later, but it was the 1960s before a general ‘all boats’ lift up occurred. Equally you could say that since September 2001 (and the mobile phone) we have been living with anxiety which seems to grow every year especially since Brexit 2016 and now the war and climate change. Not to mention all the things we have to do online to comply with the requirements of banks and government. These books are all available from Offaly History, Bury Quay (and online http://www.offalyhistory) and our friends in Midland Books, Tullamore.

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The Mulock family of Bellair/Baile Ard, Ballycumber, County Offaly. By Eamonn Larkin

Specially contributed to mark the Decade of Centenaries in Offaly #DecadeofCentenaries @DeptCultureIRL @DepartmentofCultureIRL Tourism-Culture-Gaeltacht @offalyheritage @offalylibraries

Bellair or Ballyard is in the Parish of Lemanaghan, in the Barony of Garrycastle and has an area of 1,198 acres and borders Hall, Westmeath in the north, Cappanalosset in the west, Moorock to the east and Springpark to the south. The dominant feature is the Hill of Bellair, which is visible from adjoining counties. The most striking feature of the Hill is the wonderful plantation of Beech and Fir trees which were planted on the instructions of Rev. Doctor Mulock. The Mulock or Mullock family were not planters, but were Irish landowners, who originated in the North of Ireland in the lands of Dal Araide.

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ORAL HISTORY PROJECTS in LAOIS & OFFALY. By John Gibbons

In this article John Gibbons talks about the value of oral history and the importance of making the recording. John started recording in Offaly in conjunction with the Offaly History in December 2014.  Since then over forty people have volunteered to be recorded. You do have a story so why not contact John or we can put you in touch via Offaly History. John has contributed material to Offaly Archives which will prove very useful in years to come. A story worth telling is a story worth saving.

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Tullamore – Places to visit to mark Tullamore’s 400th anniversary. Contributed by Offaly History with water colours courtesy of Fergal MacCabe

Township could be said to have begun in Tullamore in 1622. On 30 September the anniversary will be marked with an outdoor exhibition of drawings by Fergal MacCabe and a Timeline of Events showing the story of the town since the earliest times. We have covered many stories of Tullamore in over 420 blogs published in this series. All can be accessed on www.offalyhistory.com. For a quick link to all these resources see @offalyhistory

[Offaly Heritage Office writes on 24 9 2022]

Offaly Heritage identifies the wonderful engaging blogs by Offaly History outlining how the town of #Tullamore has developed.

Join us on Friday 30th in Millennium Square, Main Street, to see #OffalyHistory blogs presented in a picturesque timeline to celebrate #Tullamore400. We have entertainment from 2pm to 6pm in association with Up Close & Personal Promotions with thanks to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for their #LocalLivePerformance support.

Visit Offaly Tullamore Chamber

#Offaly #SpaceToExplore #SpaceToGrow ]

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Moorock House, Ballycumber: the first Big House burned in Offaly in the 1919–23 period. By Eamon Larkin

Thomas Armstrong, son of Andrew Armstrong and Lucy Charnock, was born on 22nd August 1702 and when he retired from his position as First Director of his Majesty’s Engineers, Chief Engineer of Minorca and Senior Engineer in the service, purchased the estate of Moorock and built a house there. He died in 1747, unmarried and the estate passed to his brother Warneford Armstrong.

On the 9th October 1793, Warneford Armstrong (1699- 1780) made a lease agreement for three lives and thirty one years of the House, Gardens and Land of Moorock to Richard Holmes, a gentleman of an old King’s County family based in nearby Prospect House. The 390 acres had been leased to James and John Reamsbottom. In 1795 Warnesford Armstrong demised the whole estate of Moorock to Richard Holmes of Prospect House for “lives renewable forever”. 

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Offaly GAA blessed with some great club history publications. By Kevin Corrigan

Offaly GAA is very fortunate to have a number of fabulous club history publications at its disposal, not to mention a myriad of other book. Clubs such as Clara, Daingean, Edenderry, Kilcormac/Killoughey, Seir Kieran and Tullamore have produced particularly comprehensive and detailed club histories and their value to members is immense.

  I  started research last year on my latest project, a comprehensive, detailed history of Offaly GAA. It is a very big undertaking with a huge volume of research required before you even consider putting pen to paper. It will be a three year plus project and trying to get a picture of all eras and factors in the growth of the GAA in Offaly is quite daunting.

  My aim is to do a proper history of Offaly GAA, one that transcends its mere sporting contribution to the county. To a very large degree, the GAA successes from the 1960s through to the 2000s contributed greatly to the well-being of Offaly and helped give the county its own distinct, unique and powerful identity. Whether you have any interest in sport, GAA doesn’t float your boat or you prefer other sporting codes, the importance and contribution of the national games to Offaly simply can’t be understated.

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