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Offaly History (short for Offaly Historical & Archaeological) was first formed in 1938 and re-established in 1969 and is located at Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly since 1993(next to the new Tullamore D.E.W Visitor Centre).

We are about collecting and sharing memories. We do this in an organised way though exhibitions, supporting the publication of local interest books, our website , Facebook, open evenings, our library and offices at Bury Quay.

Our Mission
To promote Offaly History including community and family history

What we do:

  • Promote all aspects of history in Co. Offaly.
  • Genealogy service for counties Laois and Offaly.
  • Co. Offaly photographic records for study and sale in addition to a limited number of publications on Laois and Irish general historical interest.
  • Purchase and sale of Offaly interest books though the Society’s book store and website.
  • Publication of books under the Society’s publishing arm Esker Press.
  • The Society subscribes to almost all the premier historical journals in Ireland.

Our Society covers a diverse range of Offaly Heritage:

  • Architectural heritage, historic monuments such as monastic and castle buildings.
  • Industrial and urban development of towns and villages.
  • Archaeological objects and artifacts.
  • Flora, fauna and bogs, wildlife habitats, geology and Natural History.
  • Landscapes, heritage gardens and parks, farming and inland waterways.
  • Local literary, social, economic, military, political, scientific and sports history.

Offaly History is a non-profit community group with a growing membership of some 150 individuals.

The Society focuses on enhancing educational opportunities, understanding and knowledge of the county heritage while fostering an inclusive approach and civic pride in local identity. We promote these objectives through:

  • The holding of monthly lectures, occasional seminars, exhibitions and film screenings.
    Organising tours during the summer months to places of shared historical interest.
  • The publication of an annual journal Offaly Heritage – to date nine issues.
  • We play a unique role collecting and digitising original primary source materials especially photographs and oral history recordings
  • Offaly History is  the centre for  Family History research in Counties Laois and Offaly.
  • The Society is linked to the renowned Irish Family Foundation website and Roots Ireland where some 900,000 records of Offaly/Laois interest can be accessed on a pay-per-view basis worldwide. Currently these websites have an estimated 20 million records of all Ireland interest.
  • A burgeoning library of books, CD-ROMs, videos, DVDs, oral and folklore recordings, manuscripts, newspapers and journals, maps, photographs and various artifacts.
  • OHAS Collections
  • OHAS Centre Facilities

The financial activities of the Society are operated under the aegis of Offaly Heritage Centre Limited, a charitable company whose directors also serve on the Society’s elected committee. None of the Society’s directors receive remuneration or any kind. All the company’s assets are held in trust to promote the voluntary activities of the Society. Our facilities are largely free to the public or run purely on a costs-recovery basis.

Acting as a policy advisory body –  Offaly History endeavors to ensure all government departments, local authorities, tourism agencies and key opinion formers prioritise heritage matters.

Meet the current committee:

Our Committee represents a broad range of backgrounds and interests. All share a common interest in collecting and promoting the heritage of the county and making it available to the wider community.

2017 Committee

  • Helen Bracken (President)
  • Pat Wynne (Vice President and Joint Treasurer)
  • Niall Sweeney (Vice President)
  • Michael Byrne (Secretary)
  • Lisa Shortall (Deputy Secretary)
  • Dorothee Bibby (Record Secretary)
  • Charlie Finlay (Joint Treasurer)
  • Darrell Hooper
  • Brian Pey
  • Fred Geoghegan
  • Noel Guerin
  • Henry Edgill
  • Peter Burke
  • Angella Kelly
  • Rory Masterson
  • Shaun Wrafter
  • Ronnie Matthews
  • Oliver Dunne
  • Ciara Molloy
  • Stephen Callaghan (Heritage Items)

If you would like to help with the work of the Society by coming on a sub-committee or in some other way please email us or let an existing member know.

+353-5793-21421 [email protected] Open 9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri

Twilight of the Ascendancy – Mark Bence-Jones.


Out of stock


The old land-owning families of Ireland, known collectively as the Ascendancy long after they had ceased to be in the ascendant, lost most of their political power towards the end of the 1870s, the same time as their economic foundations began to be sapped by agrarian unrest. For them the hundred years that followed was a twilight period; yet despite the shortage of money and the break-up of their ancestral homes and estates, not to mention two World Wars and the Irish Troubles, they still managed to enjoy life. This book is a highly entertaining chronicle of the Ascendancy’s twilight years; a chronicle rich in anecdote with memorable scenes in fast-moving narrative. The mood is constantly changing from comedy to tragedy and back again. Country houses are seen in all the glory of a royal visit; they are seen burning during the Troubles and Civil War; they are seen in the last stages of dry rot, inhabited by a solitary old lady who keeps body and soul together by selling off the contents of her drawing room. A hundred years of the Ascendancy world, from the Victorian heyday of the Viceregal Court at Dublin Castle to the 1960s when Dior and dogs’ dinners went hand in hand, is portrayed in fascinating detail – the world of George Moore, Somerville and Ross, Elizabeth Bowen and Molly Keane. Most of these writers feature in Twilight of the Ascendancy, along with a host of other characters, serious, eccentric, pleasure-loving, tragic, ranging from the philanthropic Horace Plunkett to the rider, yachtsman and pioneer motorist Sir Hercules Langrishe; from Lord Castletown who was a Druid and believed in fairies to Lady Fingall who on hunting mornings used to sit in her bath wearing a top hat and veil. They may have been ‘a doomed aristocracy’, as the novelist George A. Birmingham called them; but they were, in the words of Yeats – who appears more than once in this book – ‘no petty people’.

This rare and secondhand book is out of print.

Additional information

Weight 0.950 kg
Dimensions 24 × 17 × 3.0 cm

Hard Or Paper Back


Place of Publication

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