September 2019 newsletter
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September events

‘Poverty and Poor Relief in Pre-Famine King’s County (Offaly)’ by Dr Ciarán McCabe, Monday 23 September at 8 p.m.
This lecture, to be given by our committee member and Fixtures Secretary will look at Offaly people’s experiences of poverty and charity in the decades before the Great Famine of the 1840s. Ireland’s endemic poverty was among its traits most commonly seised by social reformers and foreign travellers in this period, and a large proportion of the population scratched out a subsistence existence. In this lecture, the local conditions prevailing in King’s County (Offaly) and responses to poverty in this area will be explored, in particular those of charitable societies, parish vestries, medical institutions and private individuals.
Dr Ciarán McCabe is an historian of poverty, charity and religion in Ireland between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. He is an Irish Research Council postdoctoral research fellow at UCD and his current project examines the experiences of women in Dublin’ tenements. He is the author of Begging, Charity and Religion in Pre-Famine Ireland, published earlier this year by Liverpool University Press, as well as a number of scholarly articles. A former journalist and court reporter from Dublin, Ciarán now lives in the Midlands, is a committee member of the Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society and regularly speaks to local history societies throughout Ireland.
Begging, Charity and Religion in Pre-Famine Ireland
Ciarán’s lecture will be followed by the Offaly launch of his recently-published book Begging, Charity and Religion in Pre-Famine Ireland (Liverpool University Press). Michael Byrne (OHAS Hon. Secretary) will launch Ciarán’s book. Begging, Charity and Religion in Pre-Famine Ireland is the first comprehensive study of the ubiquitous practices of begging and alms-giving in nineteenth-century Ireland, and is unique in the range of records consulted from archives throughout Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Begging, Charity and Religion in Pre-Famine Ireland examines contemporary legal and moral views of begging and alms-giving, and asks to what extent perceptions and responses were influenced by religion, social class and gender. The book makes a valuable contribution to the history of poverty and welfare not only in Ireland but also in a wider international context, as well as enriching our understanding of Irish local history and social history.
Begging, Charity and Religion in Pre-Famine Ireland will be sold on the night at the special launch price of €25 (usual price €35)
On Friday September 20th at 8pm. The Midlands Branch of the British Legion will host a lecture at Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore on:
The Offaly Admirals: the extraordinary men from County Offaly who rose to the rank of Admiral in the Royal Navy and changed the course of history.
Speaker – Mr Des Grant
Des Grant is a newspaper editor of 25 years, he has worked as a journalist for several national newspapers, and is currently editor of the Drogheda Leader Newspaper, and a director of Dundalk Leader newspaper. He is a Director of Drogheda Museum, and a Director of the Old Drogheda Society. 
He is a published contributory writer for the Trafalgar Chronicles – the Journal of the 1805 Club. He is currently editing his first book. The Irish Admirals, in which he gives the biography of all the Irish born men who have served as an Admiral in a navy.  He is a member of the RNA, and a grandson of a Westmeath man who was an Irish Army captain stationed in Athlone. 
There will be a small coverage charge for admission and it will include tea and biscuits after the meeting.
Thanks to all who contributed to Heritage Week events organised by the Society. This includes John Flanagan, Noel Guerin and Dan Geraghty at the Tanyard. Lisa Shortall and Michael Byrne at the new archives. Staff members at OHAS for the visits to Offaly History Centre and James Scully and Kiernan Keenaghan for the wonderful West Offaly Castles Part 2. Also to Helen Bracken and Fred Geoghegan for their tour of the Durrow cemeteries.
Mary Ward’s Sketches with the microscope, reprinted by Offaly History
Launch and commemoration on Saturday 31 August 2019 at 3.30 p.m. Price of book €20. Very limited run, so book your copy now. It’s in full colour hardback, a delight for all the family of all ages. Put away that Christmas present now.
Born in Ferbane to the King family of Ballylin, and cousin of the 3rd Earl of Rosse. Mary Ward became a well-known artist, naturalist, astronomer and microscopist.   To mark the launch of the reprint of Mary Ward’s first publication ‘Sketches with the Microscope’, Offaly History, Birr Historical Society and Birr Castle invite you to a special afternoon to commemorate her life and work on the 150th anniversary of her death, 31 August 2019. Beginning at the Castle end of Oxmantown Mall, Brian Kennedy of Birr Historical Society will lead a walking tour marking the last journey Mary made from the Castle to the site of the fatal steam-car accident near St Brendan’s Church, the first recorded road fatality in the world. The tour will continue to Emmet Square and to the former premises of F. H. Sheilds the printers who published a limited run of 250 copies of ‘Sketches with the Microscope’ in 1857. Brian will continue to St Brendan’s graveyard and to the Rosse vault where Mary Ward is buried before leading the group to the Courtyard Café in Birr Castle where Offaly History’s new reprint will be launched with the Earl and Countess of Rosse and members of the Ward family of Castle Ward in attendance. The reprint is a faithful full-colour facsimile of the original publication and features new introductory essays by Michael Byrne and John Feehan.
We had a successful launch and thanks to all who contributed. Some copies of the book are still available but order soon online or call to Offaly History Centre.
Supported by Creative Ireland.

New books of local interest

Newly published this month is Michael Carton’s Kilmonaghan Graveyard Memorial Recordings (€7). This is the second book of cemetery readings in as many months following Breda Condron’s very successful Remembering the Past: a history of Killoughey Church and Graveyard. Will there be another one from the Banagher direction before Christmas?

Lettice Baroness of Offaly and the siege of Geashill by Clemens von Ow is the colourful story of a strong-minded woman who owned the entire barony of Geashill from 1619 until her death in 1658.

Clemens von Ow tells the story in a handsome publication of 93 pages and full colour (Tullamore, Print Plus, €15)  and is available in our shop and online.
Offaly Archive Completed at Unit 1F, Axis Business Park
We had over fifty visitors to the new archive building as part of Heritage Week 2019. The committee and the board of the company met there for the first time on 21 August. Work starts soon on transferring collections to the new building. There was a good response to our appeal but we still need your help with donations. A sum of €40,000 would help to liquidate the debt and put us in a position to get on with the work of the new archive.
Offaly History Lectures and Events Programme for winter 2019
All lectures commence at 8 p.m. at Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore
(Unless otherwise stated)
Adm: members €2, non-members €5
Includes tea and biscuits
31 August, Saturday, 3.30 pm. Book launch (Mary Ward’s Sketches with the Microscope, reprinted by OHAS) and commemorative walking tour, Birr.
20 September, Friday, 8 pm. Des Grant ‘The Offaly Navy Admirals: the extraordinary men from County Offaly who rose to the rank of Admiral in the Royal Navy and changed the course of history’. This event is being run by the Midland Counties and Kildare Branch Royal British Legion ROI. Admission: €10.
23 September, Monday, 8 p.m. Dr Ciarán McCabe on ‘Poverty and Poor Relief in Pre- Famine King’s County (Offaly)’. Followed by the Offaly launch of Ciarán’s book, Begging, Charity and Religion in Pre-Famine Ireland (Liverpool University Press). Launch by Michael Byrne.
10 October, Thursday, 8 pm. Book launch, Dr Andrew Tierney Buildings of Ireland: Central Leinster [Offaly, Kildare and Laois], fifth volume of Buildings of Ireland    architectural guide series.
21 October, Monday, 8 p.m. Cecile Gordon (Military Archives) ‘Offaly in the Military   Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection’
18 November, Monday, 8 p.m. Dr Diarmuid Wheeler, ‘“Strongest…in the English Pale,   walled with stone and guardable against any Irish rebel”: the Tudor transition in the    midlands, c.1547-1603’
6 December, Friday, 8 p.m. James Scully and friends presentation on Bell/Charlotte Bronte connections to Banagher.  Fundraising event for Offaly Archives.  Admission €10 followed by Christmas refreshments. The lecture on the Napoleonic fortifications will be held in 2020.
Renew your membership for 2019
Copyright © 2019 Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society, All rights reserved.

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