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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

Urban Patronage and Social Authority (The Management of the Duke of Devonshire’s Towns in Ireland, 1764-1891)


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While scholars traditionally have considered land to be one of the great issues in Irish history, towns, by contrast, have frequently been regarded as the creation of intrusive colonial elites and therefore not fully representative of Irish culture and identity. Even today, despite the recent reinvigoration of Irish historical writing, Irish urban history remains largely neglected by scholars. Very few works have explored the causes and consequences of the widespread urban improvement that occurred throughout the country during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Here for the first time the traditional historical concerns for landownership and agrarian society are combined with an analysis of the social and demographic structure and functional role of provincial Irish towns. Against the backdrop of the broad economic, social, and political events affecting all of Ireland, Lindsay Proudfoot examines the role played by successive dukes of Devonshire–members of one of the wealthiest English aristocratic families with holdings in Ireland–in promoting the modernization and redevelopment of the five Irish towns they owned in the period between 1794 and 1891. Proudfoot’s work challenges many previously held assumptions about the character of the landowning minority and its role in Ireland’s economic, social, and political history. It is demonstrated that, contrary to what some historians have asserted, landlords were not the supreme arbiters of local life in Ireland, and that the landlord’s choice of action was limited by economic circumstance and local social attitudes and political opinions. Proudfoot also shows that the relationship between successive dukes and their tenants was characterized by a surprising degree of tacit collaboration, as each party sought to profit from the maintenance of what were essentially mutually beneficial tenurial ties. The eventual weakening of these ties owed far more to national events than to any inherent contradictions in the landlord-tenant relationship itself. Urban Patronage opens up new avenues of approach to the study of urban estates in Ireland and in so doing tests and challenges many accepted notions about the actions and motivations of Irish landlords. Because it adds significantly to our understanding of the role and influence of the landed aristocracy in the urban communities of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Ireland, it will be of particular interest to scholars and advanced students specializing in Irish history, cultural studies, or historical geography.Lindsay Proudfoot is reader in geography at Queen’s University, Belfast, where he has taught since 1977. He has published extensively in the field of Irish historical geography and is the coeditor of An Historical Geography of Ireland (1993).

Additional information

Weight .889 kg
Dimensions 23.5 × 15.7 × 3.5 cm

Hard Or Paper Back


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