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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


2. Kilbeggan War Memorial 1916, includes Stan McCormack and Kitty Flynn

The conversation about the 100th anniversary of World War 1 this last month is on-going, with reference to poppys and Easter lilies, as part of the story. It should be a lot simpler as it has always been about remembering the people who died or who were injured in World War 1 and during the 1916-21 period in Irish history, without exclusion. In Kilbeggan we have two small memorials on the Green remembering World War 1 and Ireland between 1916-21, almost beside each other, as it’s the same history, the same nation, and in many ways the same ideals.

Ever before Donald Trump there was Barbara Bush who said “War is not nice”. Indeed it was organised slaughter of brave innocents by leaders, who became known as the “widow makers”. Over ninety per cent of those killed were in the infantry and aged between 17 and 25. It is still hard to believe that the Battle of the Somme involved over two million people on a 30 mile front. People were machine gunned, trenches bombed, killed by shrapnel, dirty water, rats and lice spreading disease, chlorine gas, liquid fire and more in the most horrific war of mankind.

3. Michael Dawson McCormack with two French Children

We should remember the full known list of Kilbeggan dead (23) because they all had a story to tell – John Boland (1917), James Doonan (2017), Simon Fagan (1914), Daniel Flynn (1915), Tom Fogarty (1917), Joe Hamilton (1916), James Heffernan (1915), John Lynagh (1916) Joseph McCormack (1914), Michael McCormack (1915), Patrick McCormack (1915), Patrick McGlynn (1918), Matthias McManus (1918), James Nannery (1919), Christy O’Nell (1914), Patrick O’Neill (1915), John Nooney (1917), Joseph Pilkington (1916), Robert O’Grady (1917), Michael Tiernan (1915), Joseph Tierney (1915), John and Michael Tormey .

1. Jim Carey father of Moll T Carey won a Military Medal and DCM

The individual tragedies concerning Kilbeggan included Christy Neill, who died in September 1914 at Ypres just 42 days after joining and his brother Pat was killed at Gallipoli. Another tragedy was Michael Tormey, Leinster Regiment and John Tormey, Connaught Rangers , who both died on 26th April 1915. The three McCormack brothers died in the war and they were the sons of John a musician by profession who gave violin lessons to children of the gentry including Boyd Rochfort in Middleton. Four Kilbeggan men are buried at the Menin Gate Memorial with over 54,000 names unidentified in “Known Unto God” graves – James Heffernan, Leinster Regiment died 12/5/1915; Michael “Dawson” McCormack 16th March 1916 whose brother Patrick“Stack” was killed just the day before him (aged 22) both at Hooge; Joe Pilkington, Machine Gun Corps, 16th March 1916; and John Tierney, Connaught Rangers.

4. Sgt Dan Flynn KilbegganEnter a caption

One of the most notable was Sergeant Dan Flynn, Main Street Kilbeggan who may have been the first Clerk of Petty Sessions to volunteer in Ireland. He had been a Sergeant in the American Army before the war and was 34 when he joined. He died in the Balkans on 17th December 1915 and there is some account of his life there through letters home. His last letter home was on 15th December when he stated “I will never forget this if I get away with my life” and he wished the family a happy Christmas and thanked them for the cake sent to him. He was killed a few days later but the family only got final confirmation in 1919. One of the more unusual men was Private M.J. McManus (died 17/11/18 serving the Western Front and was buried in Karori Cemetery, Wellington. He related back to Mathias McManus founder of Kilbeggan Distillery and whose son John was the Kilbeggan leader during the 1798 rebellion period in Kilbeggan.
One who did survive was our beloved Moll T.Carey’s father Jim who lost a leg in the war but came back and managed to work. He sent home beautiful French Post Cards from the front that were shown on RTE many years ago. He won a Military Medal by saving a comrade and also got a DCM
Whatever you believe, people should stop for a minute to remember the brave people who died. It costs nothing but a little humanity and it should apply equally to people who fought during the period 1916-1921. They were all Irish and Kilbeggan people.

Now available in Offaly History Centre, http://www.offalyhistory for online books and at Robbins and Midland Books, Tullamore


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