April 2018 newsletter
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April 2018

The April lecture at Offaly History Centre
23 April, Monday, 8 p.m.    Bernie Moran on River Systems - Superhighways of Early Christian Ireland.

A blog on the subject was contributed by Bernie Moran on Offalyhistoryblog on 7 April
Bernie writes: On 23rd April I will get another chance to show you some modern clues to our ancient past. I have a lot more evidence than I had when I gave a presentation in 2010. My article on the subject is in OHAS Journal 6, pp 84-98, published in 2011. Here is the short version again just to whet your appetite and encourage you to attend the lecture at Offaly History Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore at 8 p.m. on 23rd April. Feel free to email me your questions to so I can answer them on the night.

The Inny, the Shannon, the Brosna and the lakes (Lough Ennell and Lough Owel) create an island. This is particularly obvious from a small hill called Cnoc Aiste in Rosemount near Moate. This photograph of Cnoc Aiste was taken from Ardagh, Co Longford with a clear view of the Slieve Blooms on the Laois/Offaly border in the background. Cnoc Aiste is now in County Westmeath but before the county boundary it was in the territory of Mide and was an important landmark which would have to be known to those who travelled in an otherwise flat landscape. The waterways are not very obvious to us now because we cross the bridge at Kilbeggan, Athlone, Ballymahon or Ballinacarrigy near Mullingar. Before those bridges people crossed at the most logical (to them) place between their home and their destination. Shallow river crossings or fording points, usually created by nature, provided a safe place to cross and were well known. Settlements such as Clonmacnoise and Rahugh grew to serve those who crossed on foot or by coracle or boat. Natural obstacles such as hills or human obstacles such as warring tribes also had to be considered and can be factored in to our study of their times. Many clues to their routes remain in the form of castles, churches and other ruins or place names.

The people of Rosemount are very proud of their ancient hill and have created a graphic explaining the view of 14 counties. It is based on a letter written by Harold Leask who was then the head of the National Monuments Service in 1932. The counties are Westmeath, Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Tipperary, Galway, Roscommon, Longford, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Fermanagh, Meath, Kildare, Dublin and Wicklow. I expect that with improved technology it should be possible to see more distant hills but it is the gaps between those hills that create the line of least resistance for walkers and water. The attached photograph looks over Rosemount church and community centre to Keeper Hill in Tipperary in the middle distance. We use routes left of Bellair Hill (with the trees in the centre of the photograph) but right of Cloghan as we weave our way past lakes, rivers and bogs and over eskers on our way to Limerick via Borrisokane.

It turns out this area, the territory of Fir Cheall, was rocking during the Golden Age, circa 700AD and is the subject of a well-researched book called Celtic Leinster by Alfred Smyth. The Department of Environment and the National Roads Authority have studied the area while working on the motorway and reported it on and A Bronze Age home was found by the National Roads Authority in Tober, near the modern cemetery at Kilcurley. 


Programme for May to July 2018 at Offaly History Centre.

28 May, Monday, lecture by Helen Bracken at Offaly History Centre
The heritage of Durrow: progress to date and what is to come, an illustrated presentation in the days before the annual pattern of 9 June. Please note change of date from that previously announced.

30 June, Saturday, Dublin Outing
From Tullamore Railway Station and then by shared taxis, Dublin outing: Marsh’s Library, National Print Museum, Little Museum of Dublin, the new headquarters of the Irish Georgian Society, optional walking tour.

8 July, Sunday, Kilcormac and Ballyboy Outing
To meet in grounds of Catholic church at 3 pm (ample parking) The historic sites of  Kilcormac and Ballyboy to include the Catholic church, the parochial grounds, the Mercy Convent, Bord na Mona housing and on to Ballyboy, the village, church, cemetery and old hall concluding with refreshments in Dan and Molly’s celebrated historic pub.
Our bargain book this month is Mapping Offaly by Dr Arnold Horner. It has been reduced by  more than 50% to just €10 at our Offaly History Centre (beside Tullamore DEW). Call and collect from 9 to 4 Mon- Fri and Thursdays from 7.30. Only for April and while stocks last. Also online at our shop on
Mapping Offaly in the Early 19th Century with an Atlas of William Larkin’s Map of King’s County, 1809 (Bray,  2006), 76 pp, HB, €20. Arnold Horner

This book describes the geography and early mapping of Offaly (known as King’s County between c. 1560 and 1920) with particular reference to the huge manuscript map of the county made by William Larkin.  Larkin’s long-neglected map of King’s County has fortunately been preserved in the National Archives of Ireland.  The version reproduced here in atlas form was made in 1809 at the request of the newly formed Bogs Commissioners, and was used to guide their engineers.  This book now tells the story of this map and makes it widely available for the first time.  Included also are many other early map images, among them extracts from the near-contemporary surveys of the bogs engineers.  The result is an exceptional introduction to the Offaly of 200 years ago, the rural world of the generation before the Great Famine.
Hannah Sheehy Skeffington
9 May at Offaly County Library at 2.15 pm. Tullamore Central Library is hosting a talk by Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, granddaughter of Hannah on Wednesday 9th May at 2.15.  Offaly History members are very welcome to attend.

New books of local interest and PDF catalogue for 2018 is now available and has been emailed to members. Please forward a copy to all your friends who may be interested.

Our history bookshop has been further improved. If you have second hand histories you would like to donate to our library or for resale we would be glad to have them.

Group for the Study of
Irish Historic Settlement

in association with
 Waterford County Museum Society


 Lawlors Hotel, Dungarvan

11-13 May 2018
Annual Conference


Historic Settlement Dungarvan and West Waterford
With the support of Waterford City and County Council
The Heritage Council
Booking at


Friday, 11 May 2018

(Pearse Room, Lawlors Hotel)
7.00 pm Registration and opening reception
Session 1
8.00 pm Keynote speaker
John Martin (Author, IHTA Dungarvan)
The Development of an Urban Centre at      Dungarvan

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Session 2 (Pearse Room, Lawlors Hotel)
9.30 am   Dr Nora White (Dublin Institute for Advanced Study)
The Ogham Stones of West Waterford
10.10 am Dave Pollock (Archaeologist with Archaeografix)
The Archaeology of Medieval Dungarvan
11.00 am Coffee
Session 3 (Pearse Room, Lawlors Hotel)  
11.40 am Dr Paul MacCotter (UCC)
The Round Hill at Lismore
12.20 pm Eamonn Cotter (Independent        Archaeologist)
A New Interpretation of the 'Monastic Castle' at Rincrew
1.00 pm Lunch
2.00 pm Field Trip  by Bus
Sites include Molana, Lismore and
7.15 pm Reception
8.00 pm Conference Dinner

Sunday, 13 May 2018

(Pearse Room, Lawlors Hotel)
9.30 am Annual General Meeting
of Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement
Session 4 (Pearse Room, Lawlors Hotel)  
10.00 am Dr James Lyttleton (Senior Heritage Consultant with AECOM UK and Ireland)
Richard Boyle's Patronage of Architecture and Building in early seventeenth-century Lismore and West Waterford
10.40 am Dr David Fleming (University of Limerick)
The Dungarvan Potwallopers
11.20 am Coffee
Session 5 (Pearse Room, Lawlors Hotel)  
11.40 am William Fraher (Waterford County Museum)
Wretched and unsanitary' - 20th century    Public Housing in Dungarvan
12.20 pm Christina O’Connor (Waterford County Museum)
 The Dungarvan Community Archaeological project
1.00 pm  Lunch
2.00 pm
Walking Tour of Dungarvan led by Dave Pollock and William Fraher
Visit to Waterford County Museum


Many thanks for recent donations to the society: James Scully  for the Banagher Review for the library; Bridie Dunne for a copy of her book Thanks for the Memories; Joe Bracken for an archival collection of Eddie Martin and former member of OHAS; and James Heenan for copies of The Lamp, from the Lorrha and Dorrha Historical Society for our library.
2018 Offaly History Committee: Helen Bracken (President), Michael Byrne, Dorothee Bibby, Pat Wynne, Charlie Finlay, Darrell Hooper, Noel Guerin, Henry Edgill, Peter Burke, Niall Sweeney, Angela Kelly, Rory Masterson, Shaun Wrafter, Oliver Dunne, Stephen Callaghan, Frank Brennan, Declan Monaghan and Pádraig Turley.
Renew your membership for 2018
Copyright © 2018 Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society, All rights reserved.

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