This year marks the 200th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Birr Methodist church in Emmet Street (formerly Cumberland Street) in Birr. However the communities in Birr and Tullamore are much older and date back to the 1760s In this short piece we can only look at some of the sources. It is important because Methodists like the Quakers made a distinct economic and social contribution to the well-being of the towns and villages where their churches were associated. One has only to reflect on families in Birr and Tullamore such as Fayle, Haslam, Morrison, Lumley, Bradley, Burgess and more.
This week as a substitute for our cancelled lectures during Covid we list some of the older books on Offaly History and some of which are still of use and must be consulted. The list is by no means complete and does not cover archaeology or geology. By older we mean studies mostly published before 1920 and many being diocesan histories. One book that is essential to look at is the Dublin Society survey of the county in 1801. This is the first book published about County Offaly/King’s County and deserves a read before moving on. John O’Donovan when preparing the ordnance survey memoirs in the 1830s had occasion to use Coote, among other books, and considered Coote a blockhead and worse. Yet, there are some nuggets for those who are patient. Coote was trying to promote for the Dublin Society (later Royal Dublin Society) agricultural education. The farming societies were not started until the 1840s and wilted in the Famine years. It was the 1900s before countrywide education in agricultural methods began with Horace Plunkett, agricultural cooperation and the Department of Agricultural and Technical Instruction.
In the time leading up to Heritage Week 2020, and conscious of the restrictions on movement, lectures and classes, we are starting a new blog to issue every Wednesday. This will be on Sources for Offaly History & Society. We will draw on the extensive material in our library at Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore, the county’s Offaly Archives at Axis Business Park and the Local History Collection at Offaly Libraries. The aim being to build a helpful online resource to assist Offalians and those interested in our past and now spread across the world. We want to hear from you with what you would like to see covered and to get your feedback on what we are doing. We will continue to publish our history articles on the Saturday blog at offalyhistoryblog.wordpress.com