County Offaly in the Military Service Pensions Collection: an exploration by Cécile Gordon

Cécile Gordon is Senior Archivist and Project Manager of the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Project in the Military Archives of Ireland. She will give a lecture on Offaly in the Military Service Pensions Collection on Monday 21 October, 8pm in Offaly History Centre, Tullamore. The talk will include an overview of the records available in MSPC for county Offaly and will illustrate how they interconnect. The highlight will be put on the IRA Brigade Activity Reports for Offaly Brigades. A selection of some of the most interesting pension cases will be presented with a focus on newly catalogued records and claims lodged by the women involved in the independence movement in Offaly.

The Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection – General

 The Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection (MSPC) Project is one of the leading projects of the Irish government’s plan for the Decade of Centenaries, led by the Irish Department of Defence and supported by the Defence Forces. With around 250,000 files, it is the largest collection in the Military Archives and the largest collection covering the revolutionary years, anywhere.

In a nutshell, the MSPC records are the pensions applications lodged by over 80,000 people who took part in the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War.  Veterans applied under various legislation from 1923 onwards, enacted to recognise active military service or to award gratuities for wounds or injuries contracted during active service. Dependants of deceased members of certain organisations could also claim in respect of their relatives. Continue reading

Tullamore, a magical place for Cafés and Coffee by Cosney Molloy

High St 1960s cafe
High St in the 1960s with St Anne’s on right (now Midland Books)

I was down from Dublin last week to visit some of my Molloy nieces in the Tullamore/Killoughey and Banagher areas and I am beginning to think there are as many coffee shops in Tullamore as there are in D 4 where I have lived (mostly in flats) since the 1970s. I counted five new coffee shops open in Tullamore, or on the verge of grinding the beans and not a one by a Molloy as far as I know. Besides my old haunt of Chocolate Brown there are the new King Oak out in Cloncollig, the Foxy Bean (nearly ready in Bridge Street in Egan’s old seed and manure store), Olive and Fig (in the not so old Caffé Delicious and close to where Chip Kelly used to be), the Blue Monkey at No. 1 Bridge Street (where Foxy used to be), Mark Smith’s Little Coffee Hut (out of town) and a new one in O’Connor Square that I could not get near to handy with all the road works in the old square. It’s in the old Hibernian office where I worked for a while and was a place called Bake for a short time (near the lovely new library). In High Street there is a place called Conway & Co where I used to buy cigarettes (one or two) when I was going to the Brothers’ school when there was no free education. It was a shop called Daly’s and had a Mills and Boon lending library. It was beside Dermot Kilroy’s. Reading a piece in the Irish Times about three weeks ago about Tullamore being a magical place in the 1950s got me interested in all the new cafés and goings-on. Sure when all this ‘enhancement work’ is finished the streets will be full of coffee tables and umbrellas.

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Jonathan Binns and the Poor Inquiry in Philipstown (Daingean), King’s County, November 1835 By Ciarán McCabe

 

The decades before the Great Famine witnessed a growing interest, in both Ireland and Britain, in the problem of Ireland’s endemic poverty. The sheer extent of poverty in the country and the very nature of that impoverishment – the relative lack of capital investment; an over-reliance on small agricultural holdings and a single staple crop; the complex and pervasive culture of mendicancy (begging) – were among the most striking characteristics of pre-Famine Irish society highlighted by foreign travellers and social inquirers. As outlined in a previous post on this blog(https://offalyhistoryblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/poverty-in-pre-famine-offaly-kings-county-by-ciaran-mccabe), a Royal Commission for Inquiring into the Condition of the Poorer Classes in Ireland (aka the Poor Inquiry) sat between 1833 and 1836, and examined in considerable detail, the social condition of the poorer classes throughout the island. The resulting published reports, totalling more than 5,000 pages (much of it seemingly-verbatim testimony taken at public inquiries) illuminates more than any other source the experiences of the lower sections of Irish society on the eve of the Famine; fortunately for us, the Poor Inquiry collected evidence from witnesses in King’s County.

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Heritage Events from Offaly History 18-31 August 2019

Yes we are extending our events to conclude on 31 August with the Mary Ward book launch about which more in our blogs of 24 and 31 August. In the meantime you
can download a PDF from Offaly County Council Heritage Officer Amanda Pedlow of all the county events. Lots of things including book launches in Geashill and Banagher. Read below about the very special Mary Ward book launch and commemoration in Birr on 31 August. It will be available at the launch and from 1 September at our bookshop. Order now so as not to be disappointed. Here we look at events being organised by Offaly History and with a note from Amanda Pedlow, county heritage officer.

Old Industries of Tullamore (see the blog on Tanyard Lane on 10 August).
Sunday 18 August at 2.30pm from the library in O’Connor Square
The tour includes talks by Noel Guerin and Dan Geraghty on the Tullamore Bacon Factory; John Flanagan on the Tanyard Lane industries from the 1960s; and Michael Byrne on tanning, malting and brewing.
Venue: Tullamore Central Library, O’Connor Square, Tullamore
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com
Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com

RM 48676 (21)
The New Offaly Archives Building
at Unit 1F, Axis Business Park.
The good news is that the new archives building is completed and building costs and fees will come in at about €600,000.

 

The first tour of the recently completed building will include a talk by archivist Lisa Shortall, ‘Introduction to the new Offaly Archives’.
Venue: Offaly Archives, Unit 1F, Axis Business Park, Clara Rd, Tullamore
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com
Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com
Date Start Time End Time
Mon 19th 11:00 12:00
Mon 19th 19:00 20:00
(Suitable for Children under 12) (Wheelchair Access – Full) (Car Parking Available) (Booking Required) (Free)

The archival records will be moved to the new archive
TOUR, EXHIBITION

IMG_3293
Heritage week at Durrow in 2017

Offaly History Library & Exhibition CentreThe tour will be of the library, exhibitions and history shop of the society. The Society premises was opened in 1992 and its holdings, especially the library, have been expanding ever since. The book collection is upwards of 20,000 volumes of which 12,000 are distinct titles. The maps and photographs are also extensive. Some artefacts are collected but these have to be small given size and expertise constraints. The archives collections will be moved out to our new building from September 2019. The lecture hall is much used and seats 80 to 100.
The society’s bookshop has over 2,000 history titles of which 150 are new books on Offaly History for sale in the shop and online.
Venue: Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com

004 Offaly Exhibition & Research 1998Centre

Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com
Date Start Time End Time
Tue 20th 14:00 16:00
Thu 22nd 14:00 16:00
(Suitable for Children under 12) (Wheelchair Access – Full) (Car Parking Available) (Free)
OUTDOORS AND ACTIVE, TOUR

The Castles of West Offaly
James Scully and Kieran Keenaghan will lead tours of castles at Coole, Kilcolgan, Clonlyon and Lisclooney. Booking required.
Venue: The Crank House, Banagher
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com
Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com
Date Start Time End Time
Sat 24th 10:00 16:00

Castle Heritage Event 24th August 2019 to include Balliver House (Castle Iver)

There will be a presentation on these matters ,on Balliver House (Castle Iver) itself and the role of the Armstrongs on the forecourt of Balliver House Saturday 24th 1030 am

Baliver House Banagher

Thanks to Mary and John Naughton and family Balliver House, formerly known as Castle Iver, is a substantial mid eighteenth-century property with gate lodge, walled garden and farm complex contained within its extensive grounds. The house itself is impressive with full-height bows flanking the central entrance of finely tooled limestone. Though the house was adapted over the passing of time, seen by the glazed and timber porch on the east elevation and large fixed windows to the ground floor, it also retains many original and early features which are typical of the Neo-classical idiom, examples being the curved timber sash windows to the flanking bows. Balliver House, as well as its associated structures, makes an architecturally important contribution to the heritage of County Offaly.

Thanks to De Renzy MSS and Maps c1620s we now know that the townlands of Balliver ,Park,Attinkee , Guernal,Carrick,Kilcamin, Crancreagh etc were all included in Lomcluna ui Flatile (Lumcloon of the Flatterys) . Lomcluna features a number of times in the annals but until now it was incorrectly assumed that Lomcluna Ui Flatile was the townland of Lumcloon ie 2 mile on the Cloghan Road towards Tullamore.. Lumcloon Powerstation etc.
The De Renzy maps show that some of the lands of Lomcluna Ui Flatile -including Balliver – were granted to Arthur Blundell in the Plantations of the 1620s.(De Renzy regrets that “half appertains to MacCoghlan). Blundell was the first sovereign of the Borough of Banagher, he built Fort Falkland and played an active role in local affairs for almost 30 years.
De Renzy mentions Lomcluna a number of times in his letters
“…And Lomcluna na Flaitire being one of the best and greatest plowlands in that countrie….”
One of the De Renzy maps show the 13 plots of land which Banagher Burgessmen owned in Lomcluna.
The MacCoghlans were the chieftains who controlled the Barony of Garycastle for several hundred years . However genealogists say that MacCoghlans “derive their descent and surname from Coghlan son of Flatile”.

“Gillacainnigh Ua Flaithfhileadh Lord of Delvin Beathra (Garycastle) was slain by his brother Aedh ,son of Cochlan Ua Flaithfhileadh” Annals of the Four Masters 1089

Queen Elizabeth granted pardons to several Flatterys for their role in rebellion – swordsmen from Lomcluna !!

 

OUTDOORS AND ACTIVE, TOUR

Durrow High Cross and church 25 3 12 (12)
A Tour of the Cemeteries of Durrow
This tour will explore the cemetery at Durrow Abbey, as well as the nearby Catholic and the Church of Ireland cemeteries. Readings have been done by members of the society over the years and many are on our website Roots Ireland.
Venue: Durrow High Cross, Durrow Abbey Estate, Durrow
Organiser: Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society
Email: info@offalyhistory.com
Telephone: 0579321421
Website: offalyhistory.com
Date Start Time End Time
Sun 25th 14:30 16:30
(Suitable for Children under 12) (Wheelchair Access – Full) (Car Parking Available) (Free)

Amanada Pedlow, Offaly County Council Heritage office writes:

We have 9 days of Heritage Week starting tomorrow so I am encouraging you to get out and explore the talks, walks and events that communities, individuals and organisations have put on for the week. Some updates below – for the full listing of events see http://www.heritageweek.ie and there are still county brochures available in the libraries.

Carrigeen Farmhouse tour (near Five Alley ) on Saturday at 4.00pm and Monday at 11.00am – there was only an email address provided so if you would like to place on this tour of this very special interior with its original fixtures and fittings please call Anne-Maria Egan on 087 6989650

Gloster Arch Folly and Demesne – Tuesday 20 August – 6pm to 7.30pm
There is an error with the phone number for Tom Alexander so if you have got stuck do try 087 2342135. The conservation of the folly is complete and the evenings at Gloster are always special to see the landscape and house too.

Offaly Archives Tour 11am and 7pm on Monday 19 August – book directly with Offaly History 057 9321421 / info@offalyhistory.com. This is a nationally significant project developing the county archive and well worth getting the insight.

Tour of Raised Bogs in the LIFE project bus tour on Thursday 22 August 10am to 3pm – no charge – book direction with Rona Casey 076 1002627 ronan.casey@chg.gov.ie

NEW EVENT – The Importance of Raheenmore Bog – 22 August, 8pm – 9:30pm, hosted by the Living Bog, Kilclonfert Community Centre
Find out why Raheenmore Bog SAC, 5km from Daingean is one of Europe’s most important raised bogs with an evening at Kilclonfert Community Centre featuring Ronan Casey (The Living Bog) & other guests. Raheenmore Bog is home to some of Europe’s rarest species. Designated as a SAC by the Irish State & a Natura 2000 site by the EU, it is one of the finest remaining examples of a relatively intact raised bog, with deep peat & extensive areas of wet, living bog. It’s being restored by The Living Bog, who are working with the local community on raising awareness of the bog. Find out why it is one of the best examples of Europe’s oldest near-natural eco-systems. Refreshments served.

 

image
A London editon of Mary Ward’s, The Microscope

Mary Ward’s Sketches with the microscope, reprinted by Offaly History
Launch and commemoration on Saturday 31 August 2019 at 3.30 p.m. Price of book €20. Very limited run, so book your copy now. It’s in full colour hardback, a delight for all the family of all ages.
Born in Ferbane to the King family of Ballylin, and cousin of the 3rd Earl of Rosse, Mary Ward became a well-known artist, naturalist, astronomer and microscopist. To mark the launch of the reprint of Mary Ward’s first publication ‘Sketches with the Microscope’, Offaly History, Birr Historical Society and Birr Castle invite you to a special afternoon to commemorate her life and work on the 150th anniversary of her death, 31 August 2019. Beginning at the Castle end of Oxmantown Mall, Brian Kennedy of Birr Historical Society will lead a walking tour marking the last journey Mary made from the Castle to the site of the fatal steam-car accident near St Brendan’s Church, the first recorded road fatality in the world. The tour will continue to Emmet Square and to the former premises of F. H. Sheilds the printers who published a limited run of 200 copies of ‘Sketches with the Microscope’ in 1857. Brian will continue to St Brendan’s graveyard and to the Rosse vault where Mary Ward is buried before leading the group to the Courtyard Café in Birr Castle where Offaly History’s new reprint will be launched with the Earl and Countess of Rosse and members of the Ward family of Castle Ward in attendance. The reprint is a faithful full-colour facsimile of the original publication and features new introductory essays by Michael Byrne and John Feehan.

Jacket Ward

Tanyard Lane, Tullamore: a hive of economic activity. Michael Byrne

Offaly History has organised a walking tour of Tanyard Lane on Sunday 18 August as part of Heritage Week at 2.30 pm meeting at the Library. The place has changed over 270 years right up to 25 July when the new Lidl store opened largely on site of the laundry, glass factory/wholesale and part of the creamery/bacon factory – the latter all post 1907.
Passing through Tanyard Lane, Tullamore today is to see almost total change since the 1970s. At that time it was full of old malting and grain stores the last of which to be built was also the first ferro-concrete building in Tullamore and one of the earliest in Ireland – that of Tarleton’s and now Oisin O’Sullivan Furniture, in about 1908. Beside it is another later grain store and now Robbins Limited of 1901. Below them is the plumbing store of zz, also housed in a former grain building. These are the only old buildings left now of an industrial legacy stretching back to 1750. Older photgraphs show the malting houses there with their louver chimneys (4).

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The Harbour of my Dreams – Tullamore’s very grand canal dock by Fergal MacCabe

Aerial View Canal Harbour 2002

All over the world, as maritime trade moves downstream and heavy goods are transported by motorway, redundant docks and harbours have become prime targets for urban redevelopment. In my work as a town planning consultant, I visited renewal schemes from Buenos Aires to Barcelona and from Boston to Bilbao. Some have been very successful – others less so. Two common problems with many schemes is that they are either remote from the centre of the city with consequent costs and difficulties in integrating them seamlessly into the urban fabric or else they have to be developed as stand-alone districts; which can tend to have a rather soulless character- particularly if the dominant use is commercial offices.

With a few notable exceptions (Liverpool and Galway certainly, but even these are on the edge rather than within the centre of the city) the opportunity to integrate a large waterbody into the very heart of an urban area is rare, if not unique. That is why the now mooted redevelopment of Tullamore’s canal harbour is of such significance and offers such extraordinary opportunities.

Tullamore Habour 1950s
The Old Harbour
When I was growing up in Tullamore in the 1950s, commercial traffic on the Grand Canal was at its height as barges brought Guinness to Limerick and turf to Dublin. Recreational boating was rare but increasing and the arrival of a visiting cruiser was still an event. Though it was a busy place, my recollection of the harbour is that it was relatively open and accessible and was so public that some of us kids made rafts and sailed or swam around it.

Sometime in the 1960s, the harbour became the central depot for the maintenance and repair of the waterways network in the Midlands. Surrounded on all sides by high walls and rendered virtually invisible, it became an enclosed commercial property and public access or activity was discouraged. Over the years the memory of it as an attractive and vibrant part of the town gradually died.

Whithall Bridge July 1994

A New Quarter for the Town
Gladly, change is at last at hand. The redevelopment and reintegration of the harbour into the heart and life of the town has become a priority project for the bodies that matter. Identified by the recently adopted Eastern and Midlands Regional Strategy as a key driver in the renewal of the centre of Tullamore, it will be eligible for renewal funding from the Regeneration and Development Fund. Offaly County Council and the owners of the harbour, Waterways Ireland are combining their skills and powers to deliver the project.

Convent View, spring

Though it may have to await the next tranche of funding in 2027, it is now possible for the people of Tullamore to begin to imagine the enjoyment of a development of hopefully world class quality. Like any major but worthwhile project, there will inevitably be setbacks and disappointments, but by making it a designated objective in the regional and local plans, the right initial steps have been taken and it is now only a matter of time before things begin to happen. What are the likely next steps?

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Old friends in Bank of Ireland, Tullamore: forty years on, 1979–2019 by Cosney Molloy

62123 (18)

I once again visited my old friends in Tullamore in the last few weeks. I was down from D4 to sort out a charity account with Bank of Ireland in O’Connor Square. I had to make my way through the bollards with the footpath widening. I came on the train of course (thanks Charlie, nice one). I was reminded by a customer that the Bank of Ireland opened in Bridge Street in the summer of 1979. At the time of my visit I was too busy to pay attention because between money laundering forms and this new GDPR stuff I was fit to be tied. And the account is 60 years old. What is all the fuss about small money. Now the new bank of 1979 is so different to the one I remember in High Street where Hoey & Dennings are now.

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Flann O’Brien and the Tullamore Connection. Offaly Literary Associations, no 5. Michael Byrne.

The flat countryside around Tullamore left a deep impression on the future writer’s mind. And when, 20 years later, he wrote an existentialist murder mystery called The Third Policemen, set mainly in a nether afterworld, he used Offaly as his model.

Best of Myles OHFlann O’Brien (1911-66) was the well-known Irish novelist and political commentator. He was born in County Tyrone as Brian O’Nolan and raised mostly in Dublin. The writer spent about four years in Tullamore where his father, Michael V. Nolan, worked with the Revenue keeping an eye to the duty or taxes to be collected on Tullamore whiskey when it was removed from the bonded warehouse. From 1940 until his death, Flann wrote a political column called ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ for The Irish Times under the pseudonym of Myles na Gopaleen; his biting, satiric commentaries made him the conscience of the nation. As Flann O’Brien, he published three novels, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939), The Dalkey Archive (1964), and The Third Policeman (1967). He also published a play, Faustus Kelly (1943). The Third Policeman is now considered his best and it was possibly in Tullamore he got his poky and spooky ideas for this quirky book which after a struggle in the late 1930s was published in 1967 after his death. Continue reading

Local Government in Offaly: The county council and marking 120 years of local democracy. Michael Byrne

 

Poor Law Unions from 1838
The development of local government institutions in County Offaly can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century when poor law unions under boards of guardians were established at Roscrea, Birr, Mountmellick, Edenderry and Tullamore. Each union had its workhouse financed by the striking of a poor law rate. The board of guardians, most of whom were elected by the rate payers, were entrusted with the management of the workhouse, but subject to detailed control from a central authority, the poor law commissioners. Continue reading

A whiskey distilleries trail for Tullamore: a first draft. Michael Byrne

Tullamore is still to this day a vibrant and friendly Irish market town which has never lost sight of its commercial heritage. It’s one of the very few Irish towns that still preserves that friendly main street social-commercial atmosphere that I spoke about earlier. Today, The Bridge House is one of the largest town centre hotels in the midlands and it is really great to see the way that the modern owners show their appreciation of the past by maintaining the look and utility of the building facade.
With Egan’s and Tullamore D.E.W.‘s combined influence still so visible in today’s town, surely it is only a matter of time before a whiskey savvy historian develops a Tullamore Town Whiskey Walking Tour. (Stuart McNamara in a recent blog on Egan’s whiskey).

Tullamore has its town guides and an app but, as yet, no whiskey trail. What with over 50,000 visitors to Tullamore DEW Old Bonded Warehouse every year it would be good to assist those visitors to see other parts of Tullamore connected with the story of Tullamore’s whiskey traditions. The commercial heritage of Tullamore is closely linked with the town’s malting, brewing and distilling history.

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