An Foras Forbartha,
Tullamore Architectural Heritage (Dublin, 1980)
The name Tullamore derives from the Irish Tulach Mhor meaning “big mound”, whish was probably the hill where St. Catherine’s church now stands. In ancient times the area belonged to the Molloy family who sold their property, which included the Village of Tullamore, to the Moores of Croghan in
Tullamore remained a town of small significance until the Moore family started to develop it at the beginning of the eighteenth century. At that time the main axis of the town appears to have been east-west with houses running from Church Street along Patrick Street, to the site of the present Garda Station, with south-wards spur though Bridge Street to High Street. Several of the houses in High Street date back to this period including the round House and house occupied by Mercantile Credit. However, in 1764 the direct line of Moores died out leaving the estate to their cousins, the Burys of Shannongrove, Co. Limerick. Charles William Bury, who inherited the estate, was a minor and was therefore unable to grant leases. Without leases building work was restricted and the town’s expansion severely curtailed. His coming of age in 1785 coincided with the great fire of Tullamore and the two events heralded a new era in the town’s development.
In the spring of 1785 an ascending hot-air balloon became entangled in a chimney of a distillery and landed on a thatched cottage causing a disastrous fire which destroyed the whole of Patrick Street with the exception of a few houses. This fire cleared the way for the rebuilding of Patrick Street which might account for the greater width of the street in comparison with Church Street, its extension to the east. Further building in this part of town took place in 1790 with the laying out of William Street, now Columcille Street, by the architect John Pentland, and also along High Street and in O’Conner Square where many of the more substantial houses date from this period.
Sir Charles Coote writing in the Statistical Survey of the King’s County (1801) exaggerates somewhat the changes brought about in the previous twenty years:
About fourteen years ago Tullamore was but a very mean village, with scarce any better houses than thatched cabins, which were almost all destroyed by accidental fire, occasioned by the launching of the balloon, and has since risen, Phoenix-like, from its ashes, to its present pre-eminence. It is certainly the best town in the county, and bids fair to be little inferior to any town in Ireland.
Though less poetic The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland (1846) may be more accurate:
The improvement of the town previous to 1800 was probably more rapid than that of any other town in Ireland, and seems to have been occasioned partly by the reaction which followed its calamity, but chiefly by the judicious, liberal, and stimulating encouragement of Lord Charleville.
With the arrival of the Grand Canal in 1789 and its extension to the Shannon in the first decade of the nineteenth century Tullamore saw an increase in trade and subsequent expansion in Church Street, Charles Street (now Harbour Street) and O’Carroll Street area. Charles Bury, created Earl of Charleville of the second creation in 1806, employed Francis Johnston to design his new house, Charleville Castle, and retained him to design the new Church of Ireland church at the east end of the town. The previous church had been in Church Street, and it was in this street that Johnston also laid out sites for new houses. At the east end of Church Street is O Carroll Street, a majestic open space terminated by the former county Infirmary which was built in 1788. As a space it owes much of its effective proportions to the mass of the Infirmary at the south end.
Although Tullamore had been the most important town in County Offaly for many years it did not become the county town until 1833. The influence of the Ponsonby family had kept this function in Philipstown (Daingean) despite fifty years of claims by Tullamore. By 1841 Tullamore had a population of 6,454 and among its industries were distilling, brewery, milling and Tanning. Distilling in particular, in the form of Daly’s Distilling, prospered in the latter half of the nineteenth century and contributed to the development of the town into the early twentieth century.
Two particularly interesting building which date from the early twentieth century are the ‘Bridge House’ and ‘Gleeson’s, formerly ‘Scally’s’. Attractive local authority houses and the massive French-gothic Catholic Church by William Hague were also built in this period. Tullamore has two important examples of the mid-twentieth-century architecture by Scott and Good and Michael Scott. These are the County Hospital, and the shops and offices of D.E. Williams in Patrick Street.
The presence of the famous Tullamore limestone quarries in the vicinity of the town has guaranteed a plentiful supply of excellent buildings stone over the last two centuries. Examples of the skill of local stone masons are visible in many of the building in the town, notable the Court House, the Market House, the Catholic Church and the massive stone warehouses. This supply of stone and the presence of skilled stone mason must have influenced the choice of rusticated limestone for the County Hospital at a time when cut stone was no longer in common use for building. Also of note is the use of Rosenallis sandstone on the facade of D.E. Williams shop and offices.
Tullamore is remarkable for the number of excellent eighteenth-and nineteenth-century door cases. The round-headed, blocked-architrave variety, which through its massiveness sometimes attains the standing of a Gibbsian doorcase, is particularly impressive. The delicate architraved examples are only found in south Westmeath, Offaly and north Laois and have a considerable rarity value. Mention should be made of the large number of houses fronted by railings, an indication, perhaps, of the prosperity of the town in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Much of the character of the town has changed little in the last hundred years and the description found in The Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland (1846) is still very relevant:
The streets are regular, wide, and well-aligned; many of the shops and the private dwellings displays a neatness, an amplitude, and a pretension, which would do credit to a place of much greater population and importance; and the general appearance of the town…is cleanly, modern, and respectable.
The Catholic Church of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady
- Church of the Assumption
The Church is a large French-gothic building designed by William Hague and completed by T F McNamera. It was erected between 1898 and 1906 replacing an earlier church of circa 1800. The church is sited in the centre of the block between Harbour Street and Benburb Street and is built of rusticated limestone with a long nave and aisles. The west end has a large and complex rose window over an elaborately carved doorcase which is flanked by octagonal turrets and flying buttresses. On the north –east corner is a tall tower and spire with buttresses, gargoyles and clock faces on each side. The interior is relatively plain in comparison with the exterior. The nave is flanked by arcades of polished red granite and there is a simple clerestory. The main point of interest is the hammer-beam roof supported by thin clasping columns which are set between the windows of the clerestory. There are no transepts and the nave ends with a chancel arch of clustered columns. The sanctuary, which is flanked by side chapels, has a polygonal apse with gilded rib-vaulting, dark red ceilings and walls covered with mosaic. The main alter, backed by a tall, imposing and delicately carved reredos, and is still in situ.
Beside the west end of the church is a small shrine composed of primitively carved, fluted, Doric columns and fragments of cut stone. The entrance gates to the church, in Harbour Street, have octagonal piers and appear to be earlier than the present church. They are set in line with a similar pair of gates, on the north side of Church Street, which now leads into a builder’s yard.
St Catherine’s Church of Ireland church
St. Catherine's Church, Hophill
St Catherine’s is set on Hop Hill, a mound about half a mile east of the town. It was designed by Francis Johnson in 1808 and finished in 1818 at a cost of over £8,000. It is a very large cruciform plan church of rough cut ashler, with battered walls and a very heavy base batter at the east end where there is a crypt. It has a five-bay nave, aisles, transepts, a rectangular sanctuary, and three-stage tower at the west end. The walls are crowned by simple crenellations; the tower and aisles have diagonally-set buttresses. The pointed windows in the aisles and clerestory have limestone, church-warden tracery. The doorcases are pointed and chamfered; the west door has exceptionally fine blank tracery.
The interior is spacious and contains the memorial (1764) to the first Charleville by John Van Nost the younger. It was moved from the earlier Church of Ireland church in Church Street which may explain its present broken up state. The monument shows the recumbent effigy of lord Charleville flanked by figures of Justice and Religion. The figures are of white marble set against a pyramid of black marble: for a fuller description see Irish Church Monuments by Homan Potteron.4
The church, as an attempt to build a gothic church with spaces i.e. nave, transepts and sanctuary, similar to those found in mediaeval churches, marks an important point in the movement away from the ‘preaching box’ of the eighteenth century. It is, however, a rather dull church and lacking in ornament.
L The Gable House dates from the same period and is a simple five-bay, two-story house with rough-cast walls and a hipped roof. The windows have retained their Georgian glazing-bars, but a porch has been added obscuring the doorcase. Lewis states that it was built in 1815.
The Methodist Church
The Methodist church, in Church Street, was designed by G F Beckett in 1889. It is a tall building with a facade of rusticated limestone in which there is a triple lancet window over a simple pointed doorcase which is flanked by paired pointed windows. The facade is fronted by simple railings.
The Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church, at the junction of Cormac Street and High Street, dates from 1865 through its unaffected classicism suggest an earlier date. It has a short nave and a severe pedimented ashler facade with a heavy cornice and Doric pilasters. Projecting from the facade is a small enclosed porch of identical design containing a plain round-headed chamfered doorcase. On the south side is a vestry with a similar pedimented porch. The church is set back from the street and is fronted by cast-iron railings.
The Court House
The Court House, designed by John B Keane and built between 1833 and 1835, is similar to Keane’s Court House in Waterford which was built in 1849. Tullamore Court House was burnt in 1922 and rebuilt in 1925. It is set back from the road behind a battered wall, topped by heavy railings, and a row of mature trees. The main feature of the buildings is a splendid portico of fluted ionic columns with a parapet and acroterion over the pediment. Under the portico are five round-headed arches, the centre three with doorcases. The doorcases have no windows over them, but there are windows over the outer arches. Flanking the portico are blank walls, channelled on the ground floor and sunken panels on the first floor. The walls of the wings facing the road have fine pedimented windows on the ground floor and architrave windows on the first. Since there are so few windows on the facade the building looks forbiddingly impressive. The returns of facades, of seven bays and two storeys’, have more incidents. The centre three bays are slightly recessed, with cornices over the ground floor windows, then single bays, Doric pilasters and further single bays flanked by pilasters which terminate the facade. The whole building is unified by a full entablature.
The Gaol, now Tullamore Yarns Ltd
- Tullamore Gaolhouse
The building of the Gaol is recorded on a plague over the entrance: ‘The first stone of this prison was laid by Charles William Baron Tullamore on the 13th day of September in the year of our Lord 1826 and in the 7th year of the reign of his Most Gracious Majesty George the fourth. Commissioners Lord Baron Tullamore M P, Colonel Thomas Bernard M P, William Trench, John Head Drought, Valentine Bennett and Francis berry Esquires. Engineer John Killay Esq., Contractors Henry, Mullins and MacMahon. John Rafter sculp’.
The gaol was laid out on the radiating principle and had a huge castellated central tower. When the gaol was demolished in the 1930 only the front wall and gate-house were retained. The gate house has two crenellated towers flanking a lower, machicolated centre. Running away on either wide of the gate-house are high walls. Although the architect of the gaol is unknown, it follows the layout of the Limerick Gaol which is by James Pain. On the road is a battered wall topped by heavy railings similar to those in front of the Court House. The entrance gates have cast-iron piers in the form of Roman fasces.8
L To one side of the entrance is a row of two story houses built of rough-cut limestone ashlar with brick dressings, enclosed porches, eaves and dormer windows with pierced barge-boards. This attractive row dates from the mid-nineteenth century
Bridge Street is a short street linking the wider spaces of O’Connor Square and Columcille Street. The presence of the Tullamore River is minimised because the buildings on both sides of the street flank the bridge tightly.
R Bridge House, an unusually flamboyant building for a provincial Irish town, is designed in a faintly Jacobean style which is rare in Ireland. It was built in 1910 for P and H Egan Ltd. who owned the maltings at the east end of Harbour Street. The facade of Bridge House, four bays and three storeys is built of red brick with elaborate limestone dressings. The ground floor has four, wide, pointed arches placed on short, bulbous, Doric columns set on pedestals, and windows brass frames. The first floor has very wide windows in the centre flanked by wide Doric pilasters. The second floor windows are smaller, paired in the centre but flanked by wide Doric pilasters. The curvilinear parapet is topped by moulded coping with obelisks over the pilasters. In the centre is a decorative bracket, a curvilinear gable and the dates 1852-1910 channelled into the limestone. The building has stylistic similarities with ‘Gleeson’s’ in Columcille Street and, therefore, may be by T F McNamera.
L To the south, beyond Distillery Lane, is a large six-bay, three-storey house with rendered walls and nineteenth-century glazing-bars in the windows. It has a mid-eighteenth-century cornice on the facade and wrought-iron railings with urns along the front. The interior has handsome mid-eighteenth-century cornice with dentils and egg and dart moulding in the ground-floor rooms.
R The Bank of Ireland, formerly the Hibernian Bank, has a facade of five bays and three storeys, plus an extension of four bays and two storeys, on the Bridge Street Side. On the O’Connor Square side the facade has three bays with a pair of round-headed windows on the ground floor. It is built of Portland stone, channelled on the ground floor and ashlar above with chamfered raised coigns and a heavy limestone cornice. It was designed by W H Byrne in 1908.
L Hayes Hotel, at the northern end of the street, has good massing and colour. It was built as an inn by the Burys in 1786
Although the houses in the square are irregular in size it has a unity which is largely achieved by a uniformity of scale and common building materials.
L In the centre of the square is a First World War memorial: an obelisk with a wreath and sword on one face. It is signed E W Doyle Jones A E B S.
South side from the west end:
R On the corner is a large three-story house, built in 1787, with five bays to the square and three to the High Street. The walls are rendered and the house has pleasantly proportioned windows. On the ground floor are two simple shopfronts: ‘Tony Corcoran and ‘J Ginnelly’.
R The next house, built at the same time, is of similar height and also of five bays. It has a round-headed architraved doorcase, but has lost the original glazing-bars in the windows.
R Jutting out into the square is an L-plan house of five bays and three storeys. It is lower than the previous houses and has small windows, rendered walls, a hipped roof and a plain square-headed doorcase. This house, dating from 1743, is thought to be the earliest house in the square.
R The Post Office, probably by J Howard Pentland, is dated 1909. Nevertheless, it is in keeping with eighteenth-century houses of the square as it has a roof of similar pitch and Georgian-style glazing-bars in similarly proportioned windows. The facade is of four bays and three storeys, rough-cast, with strip pilasters between each bay and an exceptionally wide eaves-cornice with mutules.
The most striking features is the limestone door-case which has shouldered architraves, a canopy supported by brackets and a bronze fanlight incorporating the date 1909 in Roman numerals.
R Beside the Post Office is a very handsome, mid-eighteenth-century, four bay, three storey with rough cast walls, Georgian glazing-bars in the windows, a substantial limestone cornice and frieze a sprocketed roof and a round-headed Gibbsian door-case with timber fanlight. Fronting the house is a low wall with railings. The house dates from 1752. 30
R On the corner is a splendid, six-bay, three-story house with rough cast walls, a simple cornice and graduated slates on the roof. It has a fine round-headed blocked-architrave doorcase with a scroll keystone and a leaded fanlight. The door itself is of high quality with eighteenth-century moulding on the panels and an attractive brass door-knocker which has a shell and a hand on it. On one side of the facade is a carriage arch with cobbled entrance. In front of the house are cast-iron railings with urns set on a low wall. On the corner of the wall beside Tanyard Lane is an octagonal spur-stone. This house gives the impression of being later than the previous house and is said to date from 1786.
At the east end of the square is the library and civic offices, formerly the vocational school, which was built in 1937.
L On the north side, east of Bridge Lane, is a plain four-bay, two-storey house with a high-pitched roof with an outline typical of the mid-eighteenth century. The walls are lined and rendered, painted, and topped by a simple cornice. The windows are small and there is a rudimentary round-headed, blocked-architrave doorcase.
L On the west side of the Bridge Lane is a plain, rendered, three-bay, three-storey house with a cornice.
R The next building is a large, five-bay, three-storey house, taller than the previous building but equally plain. It has lined and rendered walls, windows which are small in proportion to the area of the facade, a cornice and a blocking course. The round-headed doorcase has a simple architrave which could date from the last decade of the eighteenth century.
N In the centre of the north side is the Market House which was built in the late 1780s by the first Earl of Charleville of the second creation. The architect may have been John Pentland who was working in the town at this period. The facade is of seven bays and two storeys with a three-bay, pedimented break-front, of limestone ashler on the ground floor and rough cut ashlar on the first floor. The arcaded ground floor, which was once open, has a square- headed architraved doorcase set into the central arch. Over the ground floor is a plat-band and wide windows which have Georgian glazing –bars. There is a simple limestone cornice while the tympanum of the pediment contains the Charleville monogram under a coronet. The hipped roof still retains its graduated slates and is crowned by a very attractive octagonal timber lantern with a lead dome which is probably original.9
R Between the Market House and the Bank of Ireland is a remarkably colourful warehouse of circa 1870. It has a facade of five bays and three storeys with windows which are square-headed on the ground floor, canted on the first floor and pointed on the second floor. On the east side of the gable with pierced barge-boards, the hoist (still in place) and large openings on each floor. The banding and limestone crosses the building (windows included) at the eaves level of the Market House. This individual gothic house has been cleaned recently, and adapted for use by the bank Ireland.10
L Tanyard Lane is a narrow street leading off the south-east corner of O’Connor Square. It is flanked by a high wall and bordered by several substantial stone warehouses. Of particular note are large warehouses and malting occupied by ‘J A Lumley’ which are built of coursed-rubble limestone with yellow-brick window-dressing.
Most of the houses in the street date from the mid-eighteenth century and several may be earlier. Both the northern and southern ends of High Street face important open spaces: the northern end forms the west side of O’Connor Square and the southern end broadens out to form a triangular open space at the junction of O’Moore Street and Cormac Street. The latter is a particularly attractive urban space where the three approaches are dominated by excellent buildings: O’Moore Street by Acres Hall, Cormac Street by the last house on the east side of High Street and High street the first house on the east side of Cormac Street.
West side from the north end
R ‘G N Walshe’ is on a large, L-plan house of five bays and three storeys with two bays jutting out onto the street. The walls are rendered, lined and painted and there is a string course on the lintel level of the first floor. A heavy cornice helps to date the house to the mid-eighteenth century. On the end, projecting from the gable is a rectangular-plan brick stack which also suggests a mid-eighteenth-century date.
L The next building is a three-storey, three bay houses with small windows which are set close to the centre in rural Irish manner, rendered and painted walls and a simple cornice
L Next is a five-bay, three-storey house with a rendered and painted facade and windows with shallow reveals, nineteenth-century glazing-bars and a simple cornice
L ‘Walshe’ is on a substantial four-bay, three-storey house which probably dates from the late eighteenth century.
R Beside ‘Walshe’ is a low, three-bay, three-storey house with a rough-cast facade. The elliptical headed doorcase is unusual in living fluted Doric columns which do not support any form of entablature. It has a leaded cobweb fanlight set in a scooped-out surround decorated with fluting, and a very good panelled door. The doorcase probably dates from circa 1820, although the squat appearance of the house suggests a mid-to late-eighteenth-century date.32
L ‘T Colgan’, ‘P Cleary’ and ‘Quirke’s Medical Hall’ are on plain two-storey houses with simple cornices; they probably date from the late eighteenth century.
R ‘P Ginn’ is on a similarly proportioned three-bay, two- story house which also has a simple cornice. The windows have shallow reveals; the round-headed doorcase has a crisply carved architrave and fluted keystone of circa 1790. ‘McGinn’ has two attractive, grained shopfronts with excellent gilded lettering on the fascia-board, highlighted by dark paintwork.16
R ‘T Tutty’ is on a plain, late-eighteenth-century, four-bay, two-story house with a round-headed architraved doorcase and a scroll keystone. The shop front of circa 1870 has good console brackets and painted lettering. Protecting the display window are projecting iron bars and underneath is an enamelled advertisement.15
R The former Bank of Ireland was designed in the Italianate style by Sandham Symes in 1870. It has a robust limestone facade of five bays and two storeys and is slightly set back from the street. The ground floor is channelled and has segmental-headed windows and a doorcase inset in an arch with a scroll keystone. Over the ground floor is a heavy cornice and a string –course on the first-floor sill-level. The first-floor windows have architraves and cornices supported by console brackets and the facade is topped by a frieze, cornice and blocking course. Fronting the building are heavy cast-iron railings.11
L The ‘County Arms’ is a long, eight-bay, three-storey house with windows grouped in fours. The rough-cast walls are battered, the windows are small with wide frames, and the facade is topped by a simple cornice.
L To the south of Tara Street there are two, plain, three-storey houses, one of which has two, simple, late-nineteenth-century shop fronts, with console brackets. At the area rere of ‘Finnegan’s house is an early-eighteenth-century, brick, pie-crust cornice.
L Next is a two-storey, two-bay house with a simple cornice and a round-headed architraved doorcase with a scroll keystone. The single ground-floor window is protected by bars.
N ‘The Round House’ and flanking houses were built together and many possibly date from as early as 1720. Originally there was a five-bay house in the centre flanked by two, three-bay houses. However, two bays from the central house are now added to the three-bay house at the north end. This end house is now of five bays and has a cemented facade and nineteenth-century glazing –bars. Nevertheless it still retains the heavy cornice and a round headed architraved doorcase which probably dates from the late eighteenth century. In front is a low wall with coping and simple railings. On the return (at the rere) is a venetian window of debased design with heavy, early-eighteenth-century, glazing bars.
The Round House has a deep bow with a painted, rough-cast facade, a heavy cornice and good Georgian glazing-bars in the window. The bow has a very fine Gibbsian doorcase with large blocks of limestone, a lintel, and a blank slab of limestone instead of a fanlight. The central window of the first floor is slightly wider than those on either side, thus giving the bow a very good proportion of wall to window.12
Flanking the Round House on the south side is a two-bay, two-storey house with a projecting bay at the southern end. The house continues the heavy cornice, although it has a cemented facade, altered fenestration and a round-headed doorcase.
L Set back slightly from the street-line is a four-bay, two storey house with eighteenth-century slates on the roof, shallow reveals, wide timber frames to the windows and a carriage arch.
L The next building is a plain, five-bay, two-storey house with eighteenth-century slates on the roof, shallow reveals, wide timber frames to the window and a carriage arch.
For the Presbyterian church: see above
East side from the south side:
R The first house on this side of the street occupies an important visual position when seen from Cormac Street. It has five bays and three storeys, gable-ends with rough cast battered walls and a high pitched, sprocketed roof. The windows are small and have a good rhythm which slows towards the centre. However, they have lost their original glazing-bars. The house was built in 1758 and has a simple round-headed, architraved doorcase which is probably later in date.
L Beside it, and undoubtedly later, is a small, two-storey, two-bay house with a rough-cast facade and a plain round-headed doorcase. Both this house and the previous house are set back from the street-line.
L On the street line is a five-bay, two-storey house with rendered, lined and painted walls and a round-headed doorcase with a simple scroll keystone.
L The Marian Hostel is a seven-bay, three-storey buildings which was formerly two houses, both of two storeys, one of the doorcases survives and has a good architraved dressings, a cobweb fanlight and a scroll keystone supporting a tiny cornice. The building is fronted by a low wall and eighteenth-century railings with urns.
L Next is a pair of three-storey houses dating from the early nineteenth century. Both houses were probably the same originally, but the first is now altered and is part of the Marion Hostel. The second house has rough cast walls, a cornice, windows which are four panes wide with all the glazing-bars present, and a round-headed doorcase with architraved dressing and a plain scroll keystones. It also has a segmental-headed carriage arch and fancy railings which probably date from circa 1900.
L To the north are four, two-bay, three storey houses with rendered walls and a single cornice.
L ‘ Lawless ‘ and ‘Allens’ are on plain, four-bay, three-storey, eighteenth-century houses with rendered lined and painted facades.
N The Christian Brothers occupy an impressive, cliff-like house, built in 1789, which is set back from the street-line to emphasise its importance. It has a very tall, five-bay, three-story facade of rough-cut limestone ashlar over a basement. There is a distinct batter to the facade which is topped by a parapet and a simple cornice. The widows have their original glazing-bars, block and start dressings set flush with the facade wall, and an interesting rhythm of fenestration which slows towards the centre. The round-headed Gibbsian doorcase, with a fine panelled door, has a scroll keystone supporting a tiny cornice. The house still has its original lead rain-water hoppers (a great rarity) and is fronted by a low wall with simple railings and stone piers on either side of the hall-door steps. The house is of considerable distinction and is preserved in its original condition.13
R ‘Kilroys’ is on a five storey, two bay, U-plan house which apparently dates from the early or mid-eighteenth-century. The ground floor has been obscured by a modern shop front but the first floor shows that the house has a facade of considerable coigns, architraves and keystones on the central windows and lunettes (half-moon windows) with architraves and fanlights on the advanced end-bays. The roof is hipped and sprocketed.
R Beside it is a fine, five-bay, two-storey, late-eighteenth-century house set over a high basement. It has a rough-cast walls and large windows with nineteenth-century glazing-bars. The round-headed doorcase, which is set up a flight of steps with moulding nosing, has a blocked-architrave dressing and a keystone. Fronting the house is a low wall with moulded coping and cast-iron railings. Beside the house is an elliptical-headed carriage-arch topped by a cornice.14
R ‘Mercantile Credit’ occupies a substantial seven-bay, three-storey house (built in 1750) with a three-bay breakfront. It has no cornice or pediment and has lost its original glazing- bars, but has painted lime -rendered walls and a tall, narrow Gibbsian door-case with an open-bed pediment dating from the early eighteenth century.33
R The next building is a four-bay, three-story house with a rough-cast and rendered wall and a cornice. On the ground floor ‘W Dunne’ has a simple timber shop front. Beside it is a three-bay, three-storey house which extends round to O’Connor Square. On the ground floor is ‘J Ginnelly’ which also has a simple timber shop front. These houses were built in 1787.
Cormac Street is a wide, residential street with several terraces of Georgian houses. It also contains the Court House and gaol which, although they are of considerable architectural interest in themselves, have little effect on the streetscape as they are set back from the street line.
West side from the north end:
N Set back from the street line is Acres Hall which was built by Thomas Acres in 1786. It is a very handsome, five-bay, two-storey, gable-ended house with a limestone ashlar facade, similar to the house now occupied by the Christian Brothers. The windows have a block and start dressing set flush to the wall, but have lost their original glazing-bars. The windows on the first floor (with one exception) have wrought-iron balconies. The round-headed Gibbsian doorcase has blocked-architrave dressings with fluted blocks and a scroll keystone supporting a tiny cornice. Flanking the house are single-bay, two-storey, lean-to wings with rendered walls. One has a double-sash window set over a niche containing an urn.17
On the north side is a wall which leads to a small, two-story lodge with tall, slender, engaged columns and a facade inset under a hipped roof. Balancing the lodge on the south side of the house is a carriage-arch also with tall, slender, Doric columns. In front of Acres Hall is a lawn, a rockery, a majestic beech tree, and tall railings with two flat-headed arches. Each arch is composed of four slabs of limestone decorated with pulvinated panels.
L At the rere of Acres Hall is Acres Folly. It was erected in 1814 to celebrate the successful outcome of the Peninsula War. It is a rectangle tower of three storeys, with rendered walls and iron railings on the top.
L To the south of Acres Hall is a pair of two-bay, two storey houses with rendered walls, brick string-courses and brick cornices. The segmental-headed doorcases have blocked-architrave heads and chamfered jambs. The two houses share a single stack which is dated 1898.
R ‘Patrick Llyod’ is on a three-bay, three-storey house with lined rendering on the facade and parallel raised coigns. The admirable shop front, which dates from the late nineteenth century, is of timber and has beautifully-carved console with a dentil course and simple painted are protective brass bars.18
L Opposite the old gaol is a row of ten, two-bay, two-storey houses built of coursed-rubble limestone with brick window-dressing and brick stacks. Except for three houses the facades are now all rendered. Four houses still retain their original porches with pierced barge-boards.
R At the end of the row is an attractive pair of two-bay, single-storey, semi-detached houses over basements. They are built of yellow brick with raised coigns, a single central stack. Each house has a tall square-headed doorcase with a rectangular light, simple bracket, and a planked door. In the front is a stout wall of rusticated limestone similar to the wall of the railway bridge. The houses probably date from circa 1840.19
L The station, a simple building of limestone ashlar, consists of single storey of five bays, with four Italianate stacks, and two single-bay wings. The station was built in 1865.
L the railway bridge is a wide arch of rusticated limestone with a robust parapet wall.
For the former gaol and the Court House: see above.
R Beside the Court House is a pair of three-bay, two-storey houses over high basements. The walls are rough-cast and the houses are roofed in two spans. Both houses have a tall flights of steps and elliptical-headed doorcases with engaged, fluted, Doric columns. These doorcases are similar to that on the house next to ‘Walshe’ at the north end of High Street; they probably date from circa 1820. One house has its original door. Between the two houses are a carriage arch and very attractive wrought-iron gates with decorative spirals.
RNext is a pair of houses which were designed as a single unit. They are of two storeys over basements and together comprise five bays. The central window is over the two round-headed door-cases which are set close together. These have panelled dressings and are approached by a flight of steps. The front is a low wall with railings.36
R To the north is a terrace of six, three-bay, and two-storey early-nineteenth-century houses. They have rough cast walls and simple, but effective, round-headed doorcases (containing their original panelled doors), with astragals on the arris and plain keystones. The houses e=are fronted by low walls and railings. One house has three wrought-iron balconies and a simple string-course. Another house has an attractive plague with a leopard’s head and swags on it.34
L Next is a cement-rendered house of three bays and two storeys. Though not part of the terraces it also has a simple round-headed doorcase. Benjamin Woodward, the Victorian architect, was born in this house.
R The last house in the street is of considerable streetscape importance as it closes the vista from High Street. It is of three storeys over a basement, four bays to Cormac Street and a single bay to O’Moore Street, with rough- cast walls, wide windows and Georgian glazing-bars. It has an unusual arrangement of steps in front of the fine, early-nineteenth-century, round-headed, architraved doorcase. The steps are set at right angles to doorcase and enclosed in a parapet wall which has wrought-iron railings and a canted wrought-iron arch. There is a low wall, also with railings, around the area. This house is part of the same block as the first house on the south side of O’Moore Street.
Birr Road has a number of detached houses dating mainly from the twentieth century and set in their own grounds.
R On the east side is a large, five- bay, two-storey, late-nineteenth or early-twentieth-century house with cemented walls and a hipped roof. In the centre is a doorcase inset in a round-headed arch with a fluted keystone. On the left-hand side is a rectangular-plan advanced bay and on the other side a half-hexagon low.
L Set to one side, and further back from the road, is a single-storey red-brick bungalow with an octagonal bow on one corner and red tiles on the roof. It probably dates from the early twentieth century.
O’Moore Street is a residential street, largely of plain two-storey houses, with exception of the striking Moore Hall at the east end.
South side from the west end:
R The first house in O’Moore Street appears to have been built at the same time as the corner house of Cormac Street. It is of three bays and three storeys over a basement with rough-cast walls and wide windows. It has a round-headed, architraved doorcase with a scroll keystone and a timber fanlight. The basement area is of particular importance in the streetscape, not only for turning the corner from Cormac Street, but also for closing the vista at the south end of High Street.
R Victoria Terrace, at the end of the south side of the street, was built in 1838 and consists of seven, three –bay, two-storey houses. One house has a full height, half-octagon bow with a cornice supported by console brackets over the door; and the last house has a Doric doorcase with engaged columns, a wafer-thin lintel and wide elliptical-headed fanlight. The gardens of several of these houses have low walls, cylindrical gate-piers and simple railings.37
North side from the east end:
R Moore Hall has a mid-nineteenth-century facade but the house is very deep and apparently dates from the 1750s. The facade is of three bays and two storeys over a basement smooth rendered and painted. In the centre is a remarkable, full-height bow of limestone ashlar, rectangular on the ground floor and a half-octagon on the first floor, with a grotesque Doric doorcase composed of short paired columns on pedestals and a squat, segmental-headed, leaded fanlight. It is not so much the strange exaggerated design but rather the massiveness of the individual elements which makes this doorcase so bizarre. Over the doorcase is a large window with reticulated tracery flanked by fluted pilasters. Brackets with carved bunches of grapes support the lintel which has a wreath carved in the centre. Over the side windows of the bow are panels with lilies carved on them. The ground floor windows have shouldered architraves while the first-floor windows are plain. The whole facade is flanked by pilasters and topped by a frieze, cornice and blocking course. On the blocking course are stylised urns and over the bow a shell. The hall door is approached by a wide flight of steps with moulded nosing.20
The garden is fronted by a low wall with wrought-iron railings, lamp bracket and limestone gate-piers. The piers to the yard entrance are octagonal, the arch into the yard is crennellated and the yard is cobbled.
R The Cottage, beside Moore Hall, is a three-bay, single-story house with lime-rendered walls and a gable ended roof. It has Wyatt windows with brackets on the mullions and a remarkable pointed doorcase with slender gothick piers inset in a wide pointed arch. This large doorcase is emphasised by white paintwork.21
The garden is fronted by a low wall and neo-greek railings similar to those in front of Moore Hall. The house is difficult to date though it could be as early as 1800.
L On the street-line is a small house with the Masonic insignia above the door. It is of three bays and two storeys with Georgian glazing-bars in the windows and a square-headed architraved doorcase, painted rendering and raised coigns.
The walk, to the east of O’Moore Street, was laid out when St. Catherine’s church was built so that the Earl of Charleville and his family could travel to church without going through the town.
L Opposite the south-western end (on the continuation of O’Moore Street) is a circa 1910, red-brick house of five bays and two storeys with advanced bays flanking the doorcase. To one side is a large timber conservatory.
Patrick Street was rebuilt after the fire of 1785, with the exception of four houses, one of which is the ashlar-faced house on the north side, now owned by D E Williams. Patrick Street is wider than Church Street, immediately to the east, which suggests that it may have been widened after the fire. Most of the houses are of two and three storeys and several date from the late eighteenth century.
South side from the east end:
L ‘Kenaney’s is a plain, six-bay, two-storey house with a rendered and painted facade, a cornice and parapet. It is not of great architectural interest but has a good colour scheme and sensitively scaled plastic lettering.
L Next is a row of four, three-storey, mid-or late-nineteenth-century houses with rendered facades and architraves to the windows. The facades are brightly painted.
R ‘K Dunne’ is on a tall, three-bay, three-storey, gable-ended house with lined and rendered walls. The glazing-bars are present in the windows and there is a very attractive round-headed doorcase with panelled pilasters decorated with pateras and a fluted surrounding to the fanlight. The simple timber shop front has painted lettering.
L ‘R Smyth’ is on a house with a plain painted facade, with striking trompe l’oeil work (painting which simulates stones) on the ground floor. Beside the house are the entrance gates to the Tullamore Distillery which have fine ornamental ironwork.
L ‘Talbot’ has marbled paintwork on a plain shop front.
The circa 1940 Garda Barracks closes the vista at the west end of the street.
North side from the west end:
L ‘Walsh’ has a simple timber shop front with neatly painted lettering on a five-bay, two storey house which has shallow reveals to the windows.27
L ‘Bolger Arms’ is a three-bay, three-storey house with painted rendered on the facade and a simple cornice.
R The head office of ‘D E Williams’ is a handsome four-bay, two-storey house which survived the fire of 1786. It is set back slightly from the street-line and has a facade of crisply cut limestone ashlar set over a basement. The windows have simple keystones, but appear to be proportionately too small for the facade; the open-bed pedimented doorcase with channelled blocks, although in proportion to the facade, looks to large for the windows. The facade is topped by a heavy cornice and blocking course and the building is separated from the street by neat railings. At the rere is a long range of bonded warehouses, three storeys high, built of coursed-rubble limestone with many openings, arches and hoists. It is a splendid range, well kept, unusual in its length and a relic of past mercantile glories.22
R The general offices and shop of D E Williams were built in 1941 and designed by Michael Scott. The facade is of nine bays and three storeys with painted rendering and wide metal-frame windows. The seven centre bays are grouped together. The ground floor and the centre bay of the facade are faced with rusticated Rosenallis sandstone, an unusual choice of facing for a building of this date. A curious feature of the facade is the circular display window dressed with radiating rusticated sandstone.23
L On the corner of Patrick Street and Columcille Street is a two-storey building with an attic storey od dormer windows which were added in 1911. The building is lined, rendered and painted. All the windows have architraves; the dormers have pierced barge-boards.
R At the west end of Patrick Street is a short street with several massive buildings of rough-cut limestone ashlar and three hefty stacks.
Kilbride Street, to the west of Patrick Street, has been redeveloped with local authority houses on the south side but still retains some of the original two-storey houses on the north side.
R At the west end of north side is E Molloy’s public house. It is a four-bay, two-storey house with lime-rendered walls and a thatched roof, the only example of thatching in the town. The simple shop front has good sign-writing on the fascia-board and marbled trompe l’oeil work on the shop front.26
Columcille Street, formerly William Street, was laid out by the architect John Pentland in 1790. The street is wide and flanked by two and three-storey houses, few of which are of particular architectural interest.
East side from the south end:
R ‘Gleeson’s’, formerly ‘Scally’s, occupies an ostentatiously large, six-bay, three-storey building with very wide display windows on the ground floor and first floor. The facade on the ground and the first floor are divided into three bays by channelled piers which have paired brackets with swags on the first floor. The facade on the ground and first floors are divided into three bays by channelled piers which have paired brackets with swags on the first floor, and capitals with swags on the first floor. The original window frames, the oriel in the centre and the fascia-boards have been removed and replaced by less decorative alternatives. The top floor is of six bays of segmental-headed windows with limestone shouldered architraves and keystones set against the brick wall. The facade is topped by a limestone cornice, balustrade, urns, a central pediment with the letter ‘S’ incised on it, and a top-knot crowned with an urn. The building dates from 1911; the architect was T F McNamera, who may have also designed Bridge House which has stylistic similarities.
R The Allied Irish Bank is a stark three-storey building with a facade of limestone ashlar which is channelled on the ground floor, a cornice and a flat roof. It was designed by J B Boyd Barrett and built in 1949-50.
R ‘Dolan’s Pharmacy’, on a plain three-bay, three-storey house, has a well-kept Doric shop front with six, engaged, fluted columns which probably date from the mid-nineteenth century. The door to the shop has a broken pediment and is slightly art nouveau in character.
West side from the north end:
L At the north end of the street is a row of four, plain, three-bay, two-storey houses with rough-cast walls probably dating from the early nineteenth century.
L Facing down Harbour Street are the two of ‘J J Byrne’ which are rendered, lined and painted. The shop fronts have fluted pilasters, pateras on the capitals, marbled paintwork and some attractive lettering.
L ‘Clarkes’ also has a good painted lettering.
On the corner of Patrick Street is a two-storey house with dormers, described under Patrick Street.
L Originally the street was little more than a lane, as the narrow western end testifies. It was extended eastwards in the last decade of the eighteenth century when Francis Johnson was involved in the laying out of plots for houses.
South side from west end
L At the rere of Hayes Hotel is a mid-nineteenth-century, seven-bay, single-storey building with brightly painted, lined and rendered walls, parallel raised coigns and a long panel under the parapet. The windows have drip moulds, are pointed and grouped in threes. In the centre is a pointed doorcase.
For the Methodist church: see above.
From the Methodist church to the former County Infirmary is a handsome serious of early-nineteenth-century houses whose sites were laid out by Francis Johnston. As a group they warrant an ‘R’ designation.
Nos7, 8 and 9 are of three-bays and two storeys with rough-cast walls and good round-headed door-cases, of which Nos 7 and 9 have plain dressings; No 8 is architraved.
No 10 is a four-bay, two-storey house with a round-headed, architraved doorcase with a fluted keystone.35
No’s 11 and 12 are both of three storeys are both of three-storeys (three bays and four bays respectively), with round-headed, architraved doorcase with fluted keystones. No 11 has windows with architraves and keystones.
No’s 13, 10 and 19 are of tw3o bays and three storeys with rough-cast walls and simple round-headed doorcases with fanlights. The plain limestone dressings have astragals on the arris similar to the terrace on the east side of Cormac Street.
For the former County Infirmary: see below under O’Connell Street.
North side from the east end:
L This side of the street is less regular and has a mixture of residential houses and shops. The houses are generally two-storey; one house, of three bays and two storeys which is slightly taller than the others, has a round-headed, architraved doorcase with a scroll keystone.
L Just before the entrance to the Market Place is another house with a round-headed, architraved doorcase and fluted keystone.
L ‘Colm McCabe’ has a simple shop front with good painted lettering.
This wide street, formerly Charles Street, is lined with two-storey houses: those on the north side date from 1805, and those on the south side from the 1820s. There is little of distinction apart from the malting at the east end.
South side from the west end:
L ‘A Gorry’ has an elementary shopfront set into an arch.
L ‘Kelly’ has a plain timber shopfront with simple console brackets.
L ‘John Wrafter’, on the east side of Deans Place, is painted and has raised coigns on the ground floor and good sign writing.
L To the east of houses are mainly residential, of two storeys and with rough-cast walls.
R At the east end of the street is the substantial malting of ‘P and H Egan’. There is the date 1852, but this refers to the founding of the firm. The main buildings were erected in 1822 and the malting built in 1890. These buildings present a massive rubble-stone wall, the equivalent of three storeys, to the street.
There is little of note, apart from the octagonal entrance gates to the Catholic Church and a few simple shopfronts.
L ‘E Kelly’, ‘O’Reilly and ‘T Smollen’ each have small shopfronts with neatly painted lettering. ‘Smollen’ is inset into a low arch and ‘O’Reilly’ has a particularly decorative panel.25
N O’Carroll Street is a most impressively proportioned open space, laid out with low terraces of two-storey houses overlooking a wide market place. At the southern end a public building, the former County Infirmary (1788), is the same width as the street and therefore closes the vista successfully. It asserts its importance by being three storeys high. Examples of such careful town planning are rare in provincial towns: O’Carroll Street has more in common with Late-eighteenth-century Dublin where the vistas are closed by public buildings.24
R The former County Infirmary, later a library, is of five bays and three storeys with rough-cast, battered walls, a simple limestone cornice, hipped roof with graduated slates, four stacks and a fine rhythm of windows. The large round-headed, blocked architrave doorcase is proportioned to suit the facade and has a scroll keystone and sidelights. Fronting the building are tall, heavy, cast-iron railings.24
L The east side of O’Carroll Street has a row of fifteen two-storey houses, many of which are painted in bright colours.
L On the corner of O’Carroll Street and Church Street is a range of buildings containing the Chareville School, built by the Earl and Countess of Charleville in 1810. It continues the two-storey line but is built of rough-cut limestone ashlar with wide segmental-headed windows and Georgian glazing-bars in the windows.
L On the west side of the street is a row of seven, two-storey houses.
R To the north of the entrance to the Market Square are P and H Egan’s malting which are surrounded by a high wall of coursed-rubble limestone. On the street to Market Square is a filled-in, elliptical-headed arch with a cornice. In Market Square is another handsome arch belonging to Egan’s, and a three-storey warehouse.
L North of the malting, diagonally set on the corner of Harbour Street and O’Carroll Street, is St. Philomena’s School (1932), of nine bays and two storeys with a cemented facade, block and start dressings to the ground –floor windows, a hipped roof and a copper-roofed lantern.
L The Grand Central Cinema, designed by T F McNamera, is a two-storey hall with a five-bay bable to the square. In the upper storey three windows are grouped in the centre and flanked by strip pilasters; beneath is a round-headed doorcase. A plague states ‘Irish National Foresters, 1923’.
` Facing the Catholic church are eight, two-bay, two-storey, mid-nineteenth-century houses with cement rendered facades. All are neat and simple and act as a suitable foil to the elaborate Catholic Church.
For the Catholic Church: see above.
R Behind the Catholic Church are four early-nineteenth-century houses, one of four bays and three storeys and the others of three bays and two storeys. They have rough-cast walls and simple, round-headed, block and start doorcase.
St Brigid’s place
R Facing the canal harbour is an attractive, three-bay, two-storey, gable-ended house with painted, pebble-dashed walls and raised coigns. The windows have Georgian glazing-bars and the round-headed architraved doorcase has a timber fanlight.
L Beside it is a rendered five-bay, two-storey building, with limestone coigns and drip-moulds over the windows. It was built as a school by the Christian Brothers in 1875. The entrance door, at the head of a flight of steps, is in a projecting gable in the centre of the building. Above the door is a niche containing a statue of St Brigid.
L At the west end, on the corner of Columcille Street, it’s a public house, ‘Pat O’Dowd’, of six bays and two-storeys, with rendered and painted walls and a simple round-headed doorcase. The corner of Convent Road and Columcille Street is nicely turned by a diagonally-set bay on the corner.
L To the east is a pleasant row of three-bay, two-storey houses with round-headed doorcases. All apart from the first house have gardens in front. The first house has an architraved doorcase with a fluted keystone and simple architraves to the windows. The next three houses have simple dressings to the doorcase and one has a cobweb fanlight.
L Next is a tall, three-bay, three-storey house with a simple round-headed doorcase, flat dressings and a timber fanlight.
L To the east is a simple, four-bay, two-storey house with rendered walls and a four-bay, three-storey warehouse with lime-rendered walls.
L On the corner at the east end is St. Columba’s Classical School, dated 1912. It is of five bays and two storeys, with rough-cast walls. The windows on the ground floor are round-headed; those on the first floor are segmental-headed. The door-case is set in a wide surround, with small double Corinthian pillars a semi-circular architrave around the head. On St Brigid’s Place the gable has a three light, traceried window on the first floor.
R Crossing the entrance to the canal harbour is Bury Bridge, dated 1799. It is an elegant canal bridge with its original parpapet walls and plague. It is the last of the three canal bridges in Tullamore to survive unaltered.
R Kilbeggan Bridge carrying the main Kilbeggan road over the Grand Canal is an elegant massed concrete bridge of Circa 1930. It is remarkably thin at the crown and has a wrought-iron balustrade with concrete piers.
R To the west, on the south side of the canal, is a well kept, bonded warehouse built in 1879. The canal facade is of eleven bays and three storeys built of rough- cut limestone ashlar with yellow brick window-dressings and bars across the windows. At the east end is a large canopy roof to shelter the hoist. Beside the canal is a crane for loading barges.
L On the north side of the canal, to the west of Kilbeggan Bridge, is a row of local authority houses with rough-cast walls, small panes in the windows, high pitched roofs and tall gables. This attractive row of houses dates from the late 1940s.
L On the north side of the canal, to the east side of Kilbeggan Bridge, is a row of twelve, plain semi-detached , local authority houses, each of three bays and two-storeys, with rough-cast walls and small panes (originally) in the windows. This row dates from 1911-1912.
L To the east is Convent View Terrace, built about 1907. They have rough-cast walls with red-brick dressings to the wide segmental-headed windows, Georgian glazing-bars, eaves and gables with barge-boards. The terrace was designed as a composition with a large gable in the centre flanked by smaller gables.28
L Emmett Terrace, on the east side of Arden Road, is a row of twelve, single storey houses dating from 1902. They have rendered walls, small window-panes in wide segmental-headed windows which have red-brick dressings, and gable-ended roofs with eves and barge-boards.
R On the west side of the road is the Union Workhouse, designed by George Wilkinson in 1841. The main range survives; it consists of fifteen bays and two-storeys, plus advanced ends of two bays and three storeys with paired gables, wide eves and barge-boards. It is built of limestone ashlar.
N To the north is the County Hospital designed by Scott and Good in 1937. It is an early example of their work and consequently of considerable architectural interest. Although it is built in a style which is usually termed ‘Modern Movement’ the walls are of rusticated limestone. The main facade faces south and is of twenty-three bays and three storeys. In the centre is a three bay section which has a full-height bow. Flanking it are ten-bay wings arcaded on the ground floors. The windows are wide and have metal frames; the roofs are flat. A glass-walled feature is made of the main staircase which is at the west end, and beside it is the entrance. The entrance block is a single storey and, since the ground rises at this point, it is on the same level as the second floor of the main block.
There rere of the main block contains the lift-shafts, and the design gives the building am impressive massing. To the east is the chapel which is also of rusticated limestone, with high blank walls, windows with dark-blue stained glass at the frieze level, and a flat roof. Several subsidiary buildings, including the porter’s lodge, are also of rusticated limestone with flat roofs.29