Offaly Ireland      
King's County



County Offaly, Ireland

  Major Towns of Offaly

Part of the kingdom of Offaly in ancient Ireland, was known as King'sCounty
from 1556 until the Irish Free State was established in 1922. 

It is a County with a glorious past, and is symbolised by the monastic settlement of
Clonmacnoise,  burial place of Rory O'Connor the last High King of Ireland,
and an
internationally known place of learning from the 6th century A.D.
The width of the
county is crossed by the Grand Canal traversing the County from

East to West, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful and tranquil waterways in Ireland.  
Danish raths, or hill fortresses, and remains of ancient churches and monasteries
are among the points of interest.

The River Shannon flows along most of the western border of Offaly.
It has an area of 1,997 sq km (771 sq mi) and the Slieve Bloom Mountains rise to
518 m (1700 ft) in the southwest. The Bog of Allen covers the northeast.

Offaly is within one hour of Dublin to the East, and of Limerick and Galway to the West.

Dried peat is produced here. Often compressed into briquettes, it is used in many
European countries, particularly Ireland, as a fuel. It is not as efficient as coal because
of its large content of water and ash.

Farming is the chief occupation, with wheat and barley being the dominant crops.
Furniture, shoes, textiles, processed foods, and whiskey are important industrial products.

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1820s/30s Tithe Books

Irish 1901 Census Index

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County Offaly Chat Room
Chat with other County Offaly Researchers
Meet and discuss topics of interest

County Offaly Chat Diary

Visit the Coolderry Central School web site
for information on Coolderry, Brosna and Birr at:
This site has many historical articles about County Offaly

The pupils of Colderry Central School have a web page at:

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IBGIFTS - - Fine Gifts From Ireland


Chestnut Cottage
Mcdonalds farm,
Lusmagh, Banagher,
Co. Offaly,
Phone: In Ireland 0509 51509
International ++35350951509

Irish Graveyard place......
Headstone photos from
Cemeteries in Dunkerrin, Offaly, Ireland
All Photos taken by: Dr. Jane Lyons

Photo Courtesy of
Dr. Jane Lyons, Dublin, Ireland.


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New York State Archives  full of information
Irish Midlands Ancestry, Laois and Offaly
Family History Centre,  
Bury Quay, Tullamore,
Co Offaly, Ireland
Phone/Fax: 353 506 21421     E-mail:
Web Address:

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The Fox Clan Website
For information on the Fox Clan Gathering,

Town of Clara, County Offaly Homepage

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"Beannchar na Sionna,"
[  "The place of the pointed rocks on the Shannon".  ]

Population: 1,423
Banagher is Offaly's most westerly town and Situated on the River Shannon,
and makes it the"main port" in the county.
Full of literary associations, it was home of Anthony Trollope
The Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls, Rector of Banagher,
who married Charlotte Bronte, the authoress of Wuthering Heights,
who died in Banagher in 1906.
William Wilde The father of Oscar Wilde, Sir
The Mac Dermots of Ballycloran (1843-7)

Crank House

The house dates from ca. 1760.
This is a two story, six bay Georgian townhouse with a bow front,
and a superb limestone doorway. The building was used as a residence
into the 19th Century, when a two story granary was attached.

"Well that beats Banagher"
"And Banagher beats the devil"



Population: 3,280
The internationally famous Birr Castle Gardens
are a major tourist attraction. Birr is only 48 miles from Limerick.

Dooly's Hotel  dating from 1747 is locate in Emmet Square and is one of
the oldest coaching inns in Ireland,
Birr is an old market and former garrison town dating to the 1620's.
The early monastery founded in Birr by St. Brendan of Birr produced
the Gospels of Mc Regol, named after the Abbot at the turn of the
century and now can be seen in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
In the 16th century the O' Carrolls of Ely had one of their castles here
and this was granted to Sir Laurence Parsons in the course of the
Stuart plantation, c. 1620. Sir Laurence Parsons built most of the
structure of the present castle. The castle was twice besieged in the
17th century and one of the towers still shows the scars of the artillery
of Patrick Sarsfield, who tried unsucessfully to take it. The castle
still remains the seat of the Earls of Rosse, but as a family home is
only open to the public on special occasions.
The Birr Castle Demesne surrounding gardens contain many fine
trees and shrubs set in a landscaped park with waterfalls, river and lakes.
At the centre is the case of the Great Telescope built by the 3rd Earl of
Rosse in 1840's. This was the largest in the world until 1917. Rated
with five stars in the official list of gardens of Outstanding Historic Interest
in the Republic of Ireland, and double-starred
in the Good Gardens Guide,
the Birr Castle Demense has won both Bord Failte's Special
Award and Property of the year Award.
To scientists and astronomers, it offers what was, for over
three quarters of a century, the largest telescope in the world;
to classical purists. It offers the formal gardens and layout including
the Box Hedges which are in the Guinness Book of Records as
the tallest in the world.


Population: 2,505
Clara has a well-developed structure
of sporting and social organisations.

Visit the Town of Clara Website at:


History states that St. Cronan established a monastery here
in 600, later thought to have been attacked by the Vikings.
The Normans fortified the remains of the monastery in 1203.
The monastery was a cluster of small stone buildings, which
is called a Cloghan in Irish.
The Normans built a defensive wall around the monastery,
a part of which still exists.
In 1336 Eoghan O' Madden, the greatest
chief of the O' Maddens, conquered the
territory of Lusmagh. He is thought to have
built the present keep.
The O' Maddens lost the castle in 1595 during a siege
at a cost of over 200 lives. Two companies of
Cromwellian soldiers occupied the castle
from 1651-1683 and built several extensions, including two towers.
The castle figured in the Williamite Wars when the Irish Jacobite Army
camped outside the gate in 1689. A number of gun metal coins,
dated 1844, were found on the site.
The estate was 3,200 acres then, but was reduced after
the Famine, and reduced still after 1908.
At the present time, it is set on 70 acres of beautiful park land
with another 80 acres of ancient woodland, which is a wildlife sanctuary.
It is the oldest inhabited home in the country.

Visit the local history of Croghan.
Croghan National School at


Clonbullogue village is one of the best kept in Ireland




Population: 3,525
Situated on the Grand Canal,
it is an ideal location for industry requiring
ready access to sea and airports.

Edenderry is a market town on the Enfeld-Tullamore road
at the edge of the Bog of Allen.
Immediately south of the town is
Blundell's Castle which was acquired by the second Marquees of Downshire,
married to a Blundell.
Most of the town was built by the Downshires,
including the Corn Market (Court House)
dating from the 1830's.
 There are many border castles in the area around Edenderry,
which stands near the edge of the English Pale, some of
which belonged to the Bermingham family.
Three miles north of Edenderry the remains of the
medieval Bermingham church and castle of Carrickoris
stand on Carrick Hill. The road to Enfield crosses Cadbury Hill
(4 miles East) from Edenderry where there is a motte.
In the 14th century the castle and district
were acquired by the Birminghams, but in the 15th century
it was granted to ancestors of the Duke of Wellington and
they built the Tudor-Jacobean stronghouse.
 Sir John Bermingham, Earl of Louth
founded a Franciscan friary in 1325 two miles west
of Edenderry in Monasteroris.
The overgrown ruins of the friary, a dovecote
on a motte and a small parish
church still remain.
A modern cross commemorates Fr. Mogue Kearns and Anthony Perry
who were hung at Edenderry for their part
in the 1798 Insurrection.
Remains of the Bermingham castle of Kinnafad
which commands a ford of the Boyne,
lie three and a half miles North West of Edenderry.

Population: 1,285
Situated on the River Brosna, Ferbane is a town,
which has prospered through peat development.

Ferbane is situated on the Clara-Cloghan road, and
within about a Half mile south on the south bank of
the Brosna stands Gallen Priory (now the Convent of
the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny).
The Priory is said to get its name from St. Canoc,
who was born in Wales and who formed
a monastery called Gallen of the Britons.
In the middle Ages the monastery became an Augustinian priory.
The ruins of a 15th century parish church
is situated a short distance south of the
convent and an early carved slab and cross-slabs are displayed.
In fact, at Gallen and Clonmacnois are a large
number of early Christian slabs
Offaly has some 400 of the 1,000 recorded.
Six miles north of Ferbane are the remains
of Doon Castle, with a carved figure
called a "Sheela-na-Gig.


Geashill is a neat village on the Tullamore-Portarlington road.
Early Anglo-Norman occupation is indicated by the presence of a motte,
but in the later Middle Ages the district
was first held by the O' Dempseys and the O' Connors,
and then by the Fitzgeralds, Lords of Offaly.
Near the Protestant Church are the remains of the castle
which was held in 1642
by Lettice Fitzgerald against her cousin Lord Clanmaliere.

Population: 973
Once called Frankford, it is closely linked to the commercial development
of nearby Boora Bog by Bord na Móna. Traces of the Stone Age man
living here in the heart of Ireland some 9,000 years ago were discovered
during an archaeological excavation in 1977.

Kilcormac is a small town on the Tullamore-Birr road,
at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains. There is a missal
preserved in Trinity College, Dublin, which belonged
to a 15th century Carmelite priory in the town.

 There's a treasure here well worth breaking a journey
to stop off and see, it is the 16th century Pieta
which is kept in the parish church, just off Main Street.
The Pieta is a statue of Our lady holding
the body of Jesus after he had been taken from the Cross.
The scene was a very popular subject for sculptors
in the in the middle ages in Europe,
the most famous one that exists to this day
by Michaelangelo in St. Peter's in Rome. But the Kilcormac Pieta
is different, being carved from a block of solid oak
and measuring 5 ft. x 3 ft.
It is a very beautiful carving and is thought to be
the only one of its kind and era in Ireland.
It is a subject of great devotion in
the area and the wonderful story of its survival,
which was passed on by word of mouth
for generations was finally written down by a former
parish priest of Kilcormac, the late Father Andrew Shaw.
It is thought that the Pieta is of Spanish origin
and according to tradition, it was donated to the parish by a rich lady
in the 16th century. It was placed in the parish church,
which at that time was in Ballyboy, about 1 mile
from Kilcormac. There it remained until 1650
when Oliver Cromwell's army was reported approaching
from the direction of Cadamstown. Everyone gathered up their possessions
and prepared to flee to the woods when two women thought of
the Pieta. They rushed to the church, carried the Pieta
outside and buried it in a heap of rubbish.
Later, under the cover of darkness, a number of men
brought it out and re-buried
it in a bog, where it was to lie for over sixty years.
Had the Pieta not remained safely preserved in the bog
for those years, it is unlikely that it would have
survived to this day.  The Pieta, it is thought
that sometime between 1700 and 1720, only one man remained
alive who knew where it was buried, and according
to tradition, he was carried on his deathbed to point out the spot.
The carving was carefully recovered and when
it was examined it was found to be in perfect condition.
It was then placed in the church that had
recently been built in Kilcormac, the whole parish
was overjoyed to have their valued Pieta among them again.
It almost left the parish some years after that
when a priest, who was moving to Borrisokane ,
took it with him!
However, the parishioners brought it back and it has remained
in the parish church of Kilcormac to this day.
So if you travel through Kilcormac some day,
visit the church and see for yourself this wonderful sculpture.
The town of Kilcormac (Cormac's Church) where the oak-carved Pieta now
rests was called Frankford for some 400 years before reverting to its ancient
title. Frankford would appear to relate to Francis Magawley who founded the
town on a ford across the Silver River. When travelling on the road to Kilcormac
make a detour to visit Rathlihen Cemetery, a pre Famine graveyard and medieval
church ruins which are well worth a visit. Turn left off the main road about
a mile from Blueball towards Mountbolus. The road to Rathlihen is signpost
on the right hand side. The graveyard has been brought to its present beautiful
condition by Mrs Daly of Ladywell. Three miles north west of Kilcormac,
excavations in Lough Boora uncovered the earliest known traces of human activity
in the Midlands. These dated from about the 8th millennium B. C.. Stonework
which was discovered indicated a temporary fishing and hunting community.



Killeigh is a very pleasant village of historical importance situated
on the Tullamore-Mountmellick road.
This 6th century ruins was the chief church of east Offaly for almost a thousand
years and the earthworks now remaining do no justice to a once royal centre.
In 1433 all the learned and artistic people of Ireland gathered together
at a festival given by Margaret O' Carroll of Offaly.
The Franciscan friary was looted by Lord Deputy Grey, who stole the organ
and windows from the church in the 530's.
The cemetery adjoining the Church of Ireland commemorates old Offaly families,
including the O' Connors, O' Dunnes, O' Molloys and O' Dempseys.


Kinnity is situated on the Birr - Mountmellick road. To the south and
east rise the Slieve Blooms, which are full of beautiful scenery and have
well signpost routes. Kinnity is worth a day trip for its pleasant ambience,
historic sites and village pubs.
The Protestant Church has a curious stone in the porch inscribed with a cross
and contains stained glass windows by Catherine O' Brien and Ethel Rhind.
One and a quarter miles to the north east is Castle Bernard, which was formerly
the property of the Department of Forestry.

The castle is believed to built  by the Pain brothers and dates from
the 1830's. It was destroyed in the "Troubles" of the early 1920's and rebuilt
such that the interior has little to offer. There is a shaft of a High Cross
on the terrace with figure carvings including a Crucifixion on one face,
and an Adam and Eve on the other. This could be a relic of a monastery founded
in Kinnity in the 6th/7th century. One and a half miles north north west
of Kinnity on the north of the Camcor is a fragment of the head of a High
Cross which could be from the monastery founded by St Barrind in the 6th
century. Beside it is a Norman motte.



Mucklagh Moneygall


Portarlington: Population: 3,211
Industries include cosmetics and jewelry,
flour milling, engineering and peat production.
It is on the main Dublin-Cork rail line.




Population: 8,622, is the county capital
Home of Tullamore Dew and Irish Mist.

Walsh Island

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