July 2020
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JULY 2020

Dear members and friends,
We are open again at Bury Quay and taking care of visitors and staff. You can call to renew your membership or buy a book. Our research facilities are closed save that if you want to consult some books we have a members and readers only room where you can sit. Public Wifi is available. Since March we have painted the entire building, moved 10,000 books to new shelving and greatly improved the presentation of the interior and exterior. You are welcome to call but must adhere to Covid 19 avoidance rules. Bring a mask and wash your hands coming in and going out, and practice sensible social distancing. We continue to make progress with the work at the new Offaly Archives.


Ciarán McCabe, Events Officer

In addition to continuing work on our Heritage Week programme of online events (15-23 August), details of which we will circulate next month, we currently have two speakers confirmed for autumn 2020, subject of course to prevailing government public health guidelines. 
21 September, Monday, 8pm. Declan O’Keeffe (Clongowes College) will deliver a lecture on the contributions of Charles Kenneth Howard Bury of Charleville (Tullamore) and Belvedere (Mullingar), and Anthony Adams Reilly (Belmont House, Mullingar) to the development of modern mountaineering and the ascent of Mount Everest.
19 October 2020, Monday, 8pm. Prof Alistair Rowan (TCD), an esteemed architectural historian, will deliver a lecture on aspects of architectural history, with a particular eye to Offaly and the Midlands, and his own extensive collection of pattern books.
Renew your membership for 2020


Renewing your membership for 2020
Friends it is vital that you renew your membership. Like all charities this is a difficult time for us with income down since March. Please. Renewing is only a click away, the  or you can call in or post.

The trip to Germany, 18 to 23 April 2021
As you may know, or have expected, the trip in October is now deferred to 18 April 2021. We have paid for 21 seats at a cost of €4,200. The balance of funds received we hold in our account for those travelling. Dorothee will in touch soon with those who are travelling. We can take another five or six people comfortably.

Heritage Week and lecture programme
Heritage Week will be online this year and we will contact you again next month with information on events. We have lectures lined up for the autumn but must wait and see how social distancing will go and how many we can have in attendance.

Donations to Offaly History
We wish to record our thanks to the following for contributions to the Offaly Archives Capital funding programme;
  1. The J.V.M. Trench Trust
  2. Mrs Helen Bracken
To Offaly History Centre for its ongoing charitable purposes and library
  1. Sean Hackett for an important collection on James Lynam Molloy and Irish histories
  2. Hugh Digan, wonderful books on Irish history
  3. Marie Kearns, a book on mapping the Irish Famine
Renew your membership for 2020


At least five new books on Offaly History are coming out over the next four weeks. Our own Poet Egan book issued in May. A history of P. & H. Egan of Moate and Tullamore should be available by the end of July. James Scully is completing a book on Banagher tombstones and a new book on Printing and Bookselling in Offaly in the nineteenth century is almost ready.
Poems and ballads of Edward (the Poet) Egan: a window on the social and political history of Tullamore in the 1890s is our latest publication. It is 132 pp and priced at €15. Full colour soft back.

Available online at and at Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore.
This book studies the Irish law dating from ad 697, called Lex Innocentium or the Law of the Innocents. It is also known as Cáin Adomnáin, being named after Adomnán (d. 704), ninth abbot of Iona, who was responsible for its drafting and promulgation. The law was designed to offer legislative protection for women, children, clerics and other non-arms-bearing people, primarily though not exclusively, in times of conflict. It will be of interest to historians, both professional and lay, in many fields, with special relevance for historians of warfare, the laws of war, and of attitudes towards violence in general. The study seeks to identify the place of this law in the history of the laws of war and, in so doing examines many of the relevant sources in the Christian West, with conclusions that some will find surprising.
James W. Houlihan practised law as a solicitor in the Irish midlands for many years. On his retirement he completed a MA and a PhD in UCD.
Four Courts Press. 240pp. Hardback. 978-1-84682-849-2  €50.00
Available online at and at Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore.
Who were the Egans and where did they come from? What national and international impact did they have on nineteenth-century Irish political reform? How did they become successful lawyers and businesspeople? Considered to have descended from the ancient Brehons, the Egans (MacAodhagáins) were advisers and lawyers to the Kings and Queens of Ireland.  They were one of the midlands of Ireland most influential families both in business and politics for over two hundred years. How did they survive the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim? During the penal times they somehow remained significant land holders around Mount Temple, Moate, Tubber and were benefactors to the Carmelite order. As Catholics how did they manage and balance holding office in the colonial British administration as well as being staunch advocates of both unity with Britain and Home Rule? How did they manage to change colonial rule in the areas of land and prison reform? How did they navigate the difficult world and civil war periods of the early 20th century and remain in business up until the late 1960s?
Tracing over two hundred years of history and deciphering how an influential merchant family helped shape the political and business landscape of 1800s and 1900s Ireland, family members Maurice and David Egan have researched the path taken and relate the associated remarkable stories that followed.

Hardback, €24.99. Available online at and at Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore. This will ship from 31 July. 
‘Photographer James Fraher was invited to document the process of making briquettes at the Derrinlough Briquette Factory at it approached its 60th year of production. His stunning black and white photographs record each stage and a number of the workers at the factory. This project was led by Jimmy Shortt of Bord na Mona and Birr Historical Society who also wrote notes to accompany each image. Published by Offaly County Council with support from Creative Ireland.

Softback, €15. Available online at and at Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore. 


OFFALY ARCHIVES- help us record the history of Coronavirus in Offaly
We are living in extraordinary times - a moment in history that will be remembered forever. Just as historians and scientists today have learnt from the contemporary accounts kept during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, we can ensure that the experience of COVID-19 is documented for future researchers. 

How can I help?
Keep a diary, as simple or as detailed as you like, recording your everyday lived experience in Offaly during the pandemic. You can make it anonymous or personal. We will preserve it forever in Offaly Archives.

What will I write about?
No detail is too big or too small. How is the situation affecting you, your friends and family? What is the weather like? Do you have any observations on nature/wildlife? How are you spending each day? What are you eating/cooking? What can you buy or not buy in the shops? What do you miss doing? Are you able to continue with your work/hobbies? How has your schooling or university education been affected? 

Who can take part?
Anyone can take part from all walks of life and all ages, including children.

Your diary can be in electronic format (for example, a Word document) or hand-written on any type of paper. You can submit photographs of your street/area, or maybe an oral-history recording. 

How will I send it in?
When the time is right we will let you know through the newsletter, on our website and through social media how to submit your diaries to the archives. 

What will happen my diary in the Archives?
All diaries will be treated sensitively. Archives, such as a diary with personal information, are often closed from access for a long period of time. When this period of time elapses, a diary can become a valuable record with a wider significance. For future generations, it can become an important historical source.

Renew your membership for 2020

Offaly history blog every week

Handy Links

  1. Our Laois-Offaly family records are posted on Roots Ireland site and comprise over one million items.
  2. Our books about Offaly for sale are in the shop section of and the catalogue can be downloaded also.
  3. The Library catalogue is also there and serves as a useful local and family history bibliography. It currently runs to almost 12,000 titles and 20,000 books.
  4. We publish a local history article every week on Offaly History Blog and the site now has over 120 illustrated articles all to help you and for you to enjoy. We welcome contributions marked Editor, Offaly History Blog to be sent to
  5. We have uploaded guides to County Offaly including the towns of Tullamore, Birr and Banagher. See touring information in the Touring Offaly section of
  6. We publish Offaly Heritage with ten issues since 2003 containing over one hundred articles and over one million words of Offaly history.
  7. We have completed a new Offaly Archives at an overall cost of €750,000. We have a donate button on our website if you would like to assist us.
  8. Email us at

2020 Committee: Helen Bracken (President), Michael Byrne, Dorothee Bibby, Pat Wynne, Charlie Finlay, Noel Guerin, Henry Edgill, Peter Burke, Niall Sweeney, Angela Kelly, Rory Masterson, Shaun Wrafter, Oliver Dunne, Ciarán McCabe, Frank Brennan, Stephen Callaghan, Reneagh Bennett, Michael Scully. In addition the committee has agreed the co-option of Paddy Clarke, Tullamore and Jim Keating, Tullamore together with the renewed co-option of Stephen Callaghan, Reneagh Bennett, Michael Scully.

Renew your membership for 2020
Copyright © 2020 Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society, All rights reserved.

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Copyright © 2020 Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society, All rights reserved.

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Copyright © 2020 Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society, All rights reserved.

View our previous newsletters

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