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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

THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE IN OFFALY: ACTIVITIES AND PART1CIPANTS Report from Offaly Brigade 1. Who was in or about Clara on 2 June 1920?

Clara RIC Barracks in 1920 and a hotel in 1960

The first week of June 1920 was a momentous week in Offaly with the major raid on Clara Barracks in the early morning of 2 June with upwards of 200 men. The outcome was a defeat in the short term with four men seriously injured, one of whom died in 1921. In the same week the first county council elections since the changed political landscape after 1916 were held and now with proportional representation. Clara’s Sean Robbins topped the poll. It was a victory and a defeat in the same week. The bomb and the ballot in different times. The Brigade Activity Reports reports, now published online from the Military Archives (forming part of the Military Service, 1916-23 Pensions Collection), provide a useful summary of activities in Offaly in the War of Independence, 1919–21. The reports from Offaly Brigade 1 were submitted by officers, Peadar Bracken of Tullamore and Seán Kelly (Gorteen Coy) of Mucklagh in 1940 to the Military Service Pensions Board. Particulars for the 4th Batt, Offaly No 1 Brigade were submitted by James Earle of J.K.L. St., Edenderry.

Now all of us need to collaborate to compile a listing of all men and women who fought in the War of Independence in Offaly. The listing of the participants in the Clara Barracks raid is a good place to start and a list from the Offaly Brigade 1 report has been made below. If you have details or photographs send a scan from your phone to [email protected]. We will keep these details for research and publication. Relevant original material is already being placed in Offaly Archives. Diaries and letters are regularly uncovered and helping to build a more comprehensive picture. Call or email us if you have documents you want to see noted in the future. We welcome additional information and amendments.

Week ending April. 3rd, 1920 – General burning of evacuated barracks and general raids on Income Tax offices.
2nd June, 1920 – Attack on Clara Barracks.
26th June, 1920 – Attack on Borrisokane Bks., Co. Tipperary.
8th July, 1920 – Two soldiers kidnapped at Ballycommon Canal Bridge, near Tullamore. Attempt made to disarm a party of soldiers searching for them.
21st Sept., 1920 – Sergeant Maguire fatally wounded at Ferbane.
22nd Oct., 1920 – Three Lorries of police attacked at Park Wood, Clara. One killed and one wounded.
31st Oct., 1920 – Sergeant Cronin wounded returning to Barracks, at Tullamore. Died subsequently.
8th Nov., 1920 – Military convoy ambushed between Ferbane and Limerick (?). Two wounded.
Jan., 1921 – Ambush at Belmont. Eight rifles and 900-rds. Captured.
22nd Feb., 1921 – Police ambushed near Philipstown; five wounded.
22nd Feb, 1921 – Police lorry ambushed at Mount Lucas, Edenderry.
21st March, 1921 – Police fired on at Portarlington; one wounded.
(6th Period) – Blueball – planned ambush.
1st April, 1921 – Policeman wounded in Tullamore.
18th April, 1921 – Philipstown Barracks attacked; one wounded.
23rd April, 1921 – Edenderry Barracks attacked.
15th May, 1921 – Constable wounded at Edenderry.
17th May, 1921 – Two constables killed and two wounded at Birr.
3rd June, 1921 – Edenderry Barracks attacked.
4th July, 1921 – Crossley tender ambushed at Ballycara
[3] 6th July, 1921 – Military and police ambushed at Raheen, Geashill.
8th July, 1921 – Police ambushed near Ballyduff.
8th July, 1921 – Skirmish in Mitchell’s Lane, Tullamore.
(7th Period) – Banagher – planned attack.
11th July, 1921 – Policeman wounded at Edenderry.

So who was out on 1/2 June 1920

June 1st, 1920, attack on Clara R.I.C. Barracks included the following:-
Daniel Lynam, Clonminch Tullamore
John Duggan, Tullamore
Andrew Gallagher, Tullamore, (deceased)
William Fitzpatrick, Tullamore
John Daly, Tullamore,
John Connor, Tullamore,
Michael Dempsey, Tullamore,
Patrick Finlay, Tullamore (deceased)
Martin Mileady Ballydaly,
Michael Galvin, Tullamore,
John Killeavy, Tullamore,
Michael Hensey, Tullamore
Edward Brennan, Tullamore (now Dublin)
Frank Mooney Tullamore (now U.S.A.)
Michael Dempsey, Convent View, Tullamore,
Edward O’Toole, Tullamore,
John Finlay, Tullamore (deceased)
William Mooney, Tullamore (now U.S.A.)
Harry Feehan, Tullamore (now deceased)
Rail –lifting on G.S. & W. Rly. Line between Clara and Tullamore, same night in conjunction with Barrack attack by: –
Patrick Bracken, Tullamore (in charge)
Clement O’Loony, Tullamore (now Co Clare)
Patrick Ennis, Tullamore,
Patrick Daly, Tullamore, (deceased)
Patrick Lloyd, Tullamore,
Malachy Lynam, Tullamore (now U.S.A.)
William Lucas. Tullamore
Joseph Spollen, Tullamore,
John Hughes, Tullamore
All of the above were armed.
Road- blocking at Ballyduff Hill (between Clara & Tullamore) same night by:-
Sean Talbot, Tullamore,
Seamus Clarke, Tullamore,
Michael Cleary, Tullamore,
Martin Poland, Tullamore,
Patrick O’Toole, Tullamore,
William Johnson, Tullamore (deceased)
William Walshe, Tullamore,
Thomas Duggan, Tullamore,
Michael Vickers, Tullamore,
Thomas McDonald, Tullamore,
Thomas Collins, Tullamore,
Patrick Collins, Tullamore,
Michael Whelan, Tullamore,
John Dunne, Tullamore,
[10] Planned attack on R.I.C. Ctd.
Matthew Keane, Tullamore (deceased)
Edward O’Toole, do
John Killeavy, do
James Whelan do (now U.S.A.)
Sean Barry do (deceased)
Malachy Lynam do (now U.S.A.)
Thomas Duggan do (deceased)
Michael Garry do
Thomas Kinahan do
Patrick Egan do
Patrick Daly do (deceased)
William Fitzpatrick do
Andrew Gallagher do (deceased)
Offaly No 1 Brigade 1st Batt Tullamore Coy

[11] 1920 Continued
Road blocking Ballyduff Hill Ctd:-
Michael McDermott, Tullamore
James Hogan do
Thomas Berry do
Michael Clarke, Tullamore conveyed arms from Ballydaly to Ballyduff for the work.
After attack on Clara Barracks guns which were dumped about Arden hills were conveyed the following night to Ballydaly by: –
Daniel Lynam, Clonminch.
Sean Talbot, Tullamore. And six or seven others.
The following conveyed ammunition from McDermott’s, Durrow to dump at Ballydaly by: –
John Drum, Tullamore.
Denis Walsh, Tullamore.
The following conveyed seven or eight rifles from about one mile from Clara to dump at Ballydaly, some night as above:-
Patrick O’Toole, Tullamore,
Michael McDermott, Tullamore.
June 1920, on the night of the attack on Clara R.I.C Barracks the following men from Gurteen Coy, took part.
Sean Kelly Bunaterin, Tullamore in Sergts, house and the following men were rail lifting near Clara Railway station while the attack was on , co-operating with the men From Tullamore Coy, and were under the charge of Patrick Bracken Tullamore, Guns were carried by some of the men;
Matthew Brien, Denis Conroy, Charles Kelly, John Morris, William Tobin, James Flanagan, Joseph Kelly, Michael Cooke, James Conroy,(dec).

The mill was to the left and RIC Barracks to the right

[From Kilbeggan Coy:]

June 1st. Clara R.I.C. Barrack attack men actually in Clara from Coy. Included;-
Sean McGuinness, Patrick Heffernan, Chris Bastick, Patrick Guilfoyle, Patrick Bohan, John Farrell Horseleap. William Matthews Raphoe, remainder of the Coy road blocking, majority armed.
[29] Durrow & Brackiln Coy. I.R.A. 1920
June Men at Clara R.I.C. Barrack attack included;-
Joseph Pidgeon, John Ravenhill, Daniel Ravenhill, from position in mill, remainder of Coy, road blocking and guarding road on that date were;-
John Fox, James Ravenhill, Thomas Finlay, Patrick Ravenhill, Patrick Gorman, Thomas Pidgeon all armed;
Patrick McDermott, Patrick Connor, Lar Connor, Lar Bracken, Wm Shaughnessy, Terence Pidgeon, Charles Pidgeon, William Pidgeon, Patrick Finlay, Joseph Finlay, Denis Finlay, all unarmed
June 1920 Clara R.I.C Barrack attack, Men from 3rd Batt. engaged were: –

Patrick Geraghty (dec’d, Edward Carly, John Keegan, Castlegeoghan, Jas. Daly, Castlegeoghan, Jos. Cowley, Jos, Begley, Miltown, Terry Dune, Violetstown, Patk. Casey, Dalystown, John Corrigon, Rochfordbdge, Patk.Seery (dec’d) Tyrellspass Coy.
Barty Byrne, Cruith, Thos, Biringham, Ballycommon, Jos.Byrne (dec’d) do, Jos. Malone, Daingean, John Dunne, Daingean, Patk.Keating do, William Mann, Ballyshannon, John Todd Kildmurray, Kilconfert Coy.

Patrick Lynch, Croghan, Patk.Egan, Croghan, P.J Carlyle do ,John Rigney do, William Dame do, Patk.Smullen dp (dec’d), Micheal Troy do, John Hannon, Croghan Coy.
1920 Attack on Clara Barracks: [some addresses and battle stations on the night]
John Barry (deceased) [Williams’ Hotel]
William Mooney Hotel
John Killeavy Hotel
Patrick Egan, The Lawn, Tullamore, [Goodbody’s Mill] Andrew Gallagher (deceased) Mill
Frank Mooney Mill
Malachy Lynam Mill
John Doody Mill
James Whelan Mill
Tom McDonald, High St, Tullamore Mill
Edward Toole, Tanyard, Tullamore. Mill
Martin Meleady Sergeants HO & yard
Edward Brennan ““
Michael Galvin, Rosegrove, Tullamore ““
Jos Gallagher, Henry ST, Tullamore ““
Michael Dempsey, Convent View, Tullamore ““
Daniel Lynam, Clonminch, Tullamore ““
Patrick Finlay (deceased) ““
John Finlay (deceased) ““
Harry Feehan (deceased) ““
John Daly, O’Molloy St, Tullamore ““
Michael Hensey ““
[48 contd] John Connor, l Davitt St, Tullamore. “ “
John Duggan Healy St, Tullamore ““
William Fitzpatrick, O’Moore St, Tullamore ““
Patrick Daly (deceased) ““
Thos Duggan (deceased) Outpost Duty
Patrick Toole, Offaly St, Tullamore ““
Michael McDermott, Garryhinch, Portarlingtron ““
Martin Poland, Church St, Tullamore ““
William Johnson (deceased) ““
Sean Talbot, Patrick St, Tullamore. “ “
Patrick Collins, Muinagh, Tullamore ““
Thomas Berry, Tullamore ““
Martin Connell, Dillon St, Tullamore ““
William Walsh, Clonminch, Tullamore ““
Michael Whelan, Patrick St, Tullamore ““
Patrick Lloyd, Cormac St, Tullamore ““
Patrick Bracken ““
James Hogan, Clontarf Rd, Tullamore ““
Patrick Ennis ““
Joseph Spollen ““
Nicholas Walsh ““
John Dunne, Tullamore ““
John Hughes William St, Tullamore ““
Michael Cleary, Henry ST, Tullamore ““
James Clarke, Convent View, Tullamore ““
James Egan, Henry St, Tullamore ““
James O Neill ““
Thomas Gaffney ““
Arms etc. removed by Patrick O’Toole and Edward O’Toole.

[75] D Company 1st Battalion No 1 Offaly Brigade I.R.A

I, William Dowling, was an active member of above company from 1918 to 1923. I held the rank of company quarter-master and took part in the following operations:
1919-1920-Raiding for, seizure, collecting, transferring, securing and safe custody of arms and ammunition from the houses of the following: James Clavin, Lynally, Edward Kelly, Lynally, Patrick Walsh, Kilbride, John Handy, Cartron West, Joseph Grogan, Brocca, James Hanlon, Ballydrohid, Loughlin Smollin, Aharney, Peter Gonoude, Mucklagh.
1920- Was associated in attack on Clara R.I.C Barracks on armed outpost duty, blocking and isolating area. With me were: Daniel O’Brien, Ballinamere, Joseph Cummins, Ballycowan, Daniel Keyes, Ballard, Joseph Neville, Lynally, Jer Neville, U.S.A, Frank Horan U.S.A, Anthony Grennan, U.S.A, Patrick McDonald U.S.A, Thomas Mooney, Church St Tullamore.
Attack on Geashill R.I.C. Barracks 1st. June 1920, a diversionary tactic
The Barrack in Geashill was to be attacked 1st June 1920 at the same hour as the Clara Barrack, but in Geashill it was only to be a covering for the Clara attack, further there was to be no attempt to take the place. Patrick Quinn was in charge. Arrangements proceeded and at about 11.45 p.m. the men having moved to the positions as indicated, opened and kept up fire on building for about two hours which was returned by Barrack occupants. Men name as under scattered around the different positions as indicated:
A. Coy , Daingean- Denis Finlay, Jas O’Brien, Jas Dunne, John Shaughnessy, John Lynch, John Whyte, Patrick Cuskelly, John Brien, John Grace.
B. Coy, Walsh-Island – Patrick Quinn, Chas Kelly, Chas Mallon, Chas Dunne, Michael Quinn, Michael Fennelly, Edward Quinn, John Hickey.
C. Coy, Ballinagar—Chas Kelly, Patrick Mc Elduff, Jas Scully, Thomas Hackett, Patrick McGovern, Daniel Dunne, John Treacy, Jas Kelly, Denis Kelly, Murt Kelly, John Aspell, Patrick Whelehan, Jas O’Brien, Patrick O’Brien, Thomas Treacy, Thomas Cronly.
D. Coy, Cloneygowan- John McEvoy, Christy McEvoy, Daniel Finlay, Lar Aspell, Joe Guinan, Michael Feeney, John Dunne, Wm Dunne, Peter Dunne.
E. Coy, Ballycommon- James Mahon
The three men who were at positions marked (d) on Sketch were the nearest to the barrack and were armed with revolvers and carried one bomb each which they threw into building which although part of barrack building was not directly connected, the petrol was also thrown but no damage resulted. Men were: – Chas Mallon armed revolver and bomb. Charles Kelly armed with revolver and bomb, Patrick Mc Elduff, armed with revolver and petrol also. All the rest of the men concerned carried shotguns, some also had revolvers. All roads leading towards Geashill were blocked on the occasion.

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