Tullamore Catholic church at Chapel Street: a short history


The Church of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady, Tullamore, 1906-2006

[A published book with the
pictures of the old church is available from the Offaly Historical at Bury
Quay, beside Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre]

 Michael Byrne

Church of the Assumption

Tullamore Catholic Parish celebrates in October 2006 the centenary of a church which has been a significant architectural landmark for the town and district.  Much more so it is for so many Tullamore people a place of devotion and recollection and of memories of joy and sadness over so many years. As to sadness not least back in October 1983 when the second church on the Chapel Street/Harbour Street site was destroyed in a fire which saw little survive except the spire. This second church was completed in  October 1906 and is on the site of a church built about 1802.  The third church which incorporates the spire of the old church and most of the stonework at the lower level was completed in August 1986 and as to the interior is contemporary in design.

Little is recorded of the pre-1902 church in historical sources unlike that of the 1906 church the progress of which from the foundation stone in 1898 to its completion eight years later was well documented. Although this church was largely destroyed twenty three years ago the memory of it is still green for many people.  For some it is perhaps a special event such as a marriage, funeral or a christening.  For others it may be ‘the Missionsermon’ or the old crib at Christmas time. The old confessionals may hold memories of solace or discomfiture.  For the great majority it will be daily or Sunday mass and the many other devotions, from the Confraternity to the Women’s Sodality,  that seemed to absorb a fair share of one’s waking hours in the Ireland of the pre-1970s and early 1980s.  For mass servers of the 1960s it will be serving First Friday mass at 6.30a.m. on a frosty morning or 7.00a.m on Sundays.

Church building in the Tullamore district began with the Early Christian foundation at Durrow in the middle of the sixth century.  The old Durrow church, now after a long struggle under restoration as a visitors centre, and dating back to the 1700s and earlier was probably built on the site of the first church in the parish.  The Durrow High Cross of  c. 850 AD is the oldest religious relic in the parish with the exception of the seventh- century Book of Durrow, now in Trinity College, and which was removed from Durrow in the early seventeenth century.  The Reformation had taken place in the mid–sixteenth century and saw the end of tolerated Catholic worship in the parish church at Durrow and the chapel of ease at Kilbride. Both now passed into the ownership and use of the Established Anglican Church.  It was over 200 years before another Catholic church was built in the parish.  Its location at Ballyduff meant it was close to Tullamore, a town which was by the late eighteenth century starting to grow and had a population of perhaps 4,000.
The Ballyduff church was not so near as would attract unwelcome attention from the authorities at a time when the enforcement of the Penal Laws preventing Catholics enjoying religious freedom had eased. This, the  first post-Reformation Catholic church in the Tullamore area was a small T-shaped building some of the walls of which are still standing in the immediate vicinity of the new Axis Business Park.

 By the 1790s further reliefs had been granted to Catholics so that in 1794, Charles William Bury, Tullamore’s landlord, was able to offer free of charge (but without the security of a long lease) the present site at Chapel Street and behind the new William Street which had, in 1790, been laid out for house building.   At that time neither Harbour Street nor the harbour had been constructed.  The site was in the back of the town in a poor area and away from the finer houses in the town centre and the southern side approaching the demesne of Charleville where the town’s landlord resided.  By all accounts the new church was a fine building, to which additions were made in 1808 and again before 1850.  In 1808 the then parish priest, Fr Kearney, petitioned the directors of the Grand Canal Company for a contribution towards the building of an addition to the chapel because ‘the enlargement of the chapel has in part become necessary from the great number of people that resort it, in proceeding to your passage boats, more particularly from the province of Connaught, and also the large portion of the labouring poor employed on your works, whose morals, if not attended to, might become so depraved as to endanger the security of your extensive works, which tho’ executed with great judgment, are still vulnerable in many parts’.  Fr Kearney’s entreaties, some might say threats, did not go without notice and he received £50 from the canal company for the church building fund.  The church must have been in a good state of repair by 1815 because it was now possessed of an organ suitable for a concert as is recorded in the recollections of   William Joseph O’Neill Daunt who was born in Tullamore in 1807. O’Neill Daunt, the friend of Daniel O’Connell, records in his memoirs his conversion to Catholicism while growing up in Tullamore in the early 1800s.

 The first place of worship to which, in early childhood, I was brought was the Catholic church in Tullamore, the servant who attended me being herself a Catholic.  Born of Protestant parents, and nurtured in the house of a Protestant grandmother, I had scarcely passed the years of infancy when I felt the strongest desire to be a member of the Catholic Church.  I do not remember when this desire began; but of this I am sure, that it was not produced by any external influences, such as the solicitations of Catholic servants or friends.  When I was about eight [in 1815] I was brought one night to the Catholic church to hear a Mr. Wilman, a Dublin musician, perform sacred music on the organ.  With our party was a Protestant boy, named William Dawson, whom I had a great desire to impress with the belief that I was a Catholic….  “Why,” he said, surprised, “are you a Catholic?” “Yes,” said I; and so I truly was in affection and desire…  My teachers had represented the Catholic religion as perfectly unscriptural.  I found in the book-room of my grandmother’s house [in High Street] an old Douai catechism printed by Flynn, at Cork, in 1776, and I eagerly read it.  I shall never forget the pleasure with which I verified the scriptural quotations in the catechism.  I was then about ten or eleven years old. Meanwhile, my desire to be incorporated into the Catholic Church became a passion.  It absorbed nearly all my thoughts.  I used to look with a feeling like envy at the peasantry around me who could go to Mass, and possessed a privilege from which I was debarred by family influences… In 1826 my father died, and his death removed one obstacle to the public avowal of my religious predilections. But other obstacles remained.  I used to shut myself up in my room, praying to God to remove them.  I loved to haunt the Catholic chapels.  I have gone into Father Mathew’s old chapel in Cork in the dusk of a summer evening, and sat there when not a worshipper except myself was present.  Whence came this resistless impulse?  This rushing tide of enthusiastic love for the Catholic Church?   In boyhood I had learned the Hail Mary from the old Douai catechism already mentioned, and, unknown to all around me, I habitually associated that touching prayer with my ordinary devotions.  I was finally received into the Catholic Church in Cork by my dear and venerated friend Father Mathew, and soon afterwards I received the sacrament of Confirmation from the Bishop of Cork, Dr. Murphy, in the chapel of the Blackrock Convent.

Thomas Lacy who published an account of Ireland in the 1850s visited Tullamore in 1855 and described the first Catholic church on the site (see illustration) as a ‘large structure, upon which improvements have been made from time to time, which has the effect of interfering to a considerable extent with its original style.  Its main feature as it appears at present, are those of Grecian style of architecture.  It is 120 feet in length, by 75 in breadth. . . ’ 

Father Hugh Behan, the parish priest in the 1890s, had mooted the idea of a new church in
1898 as the old church had fallen into serious disrepair.  The original cost of the project was
estimated at £15,000, although at completion it ran £13,000 over budget coming in at £28,000.  While the foundation stone had been laid in 1898 progress was slow at first. The town was recovering from a long period of depression which had seen the population fall below 5,000 in 1891.   Building work began in January 1902 almost three years after the death of Father Behan, who was succeeded by Father Philip Callary – now recalled in the name Callary Street. The Church of the Assumption, Tullamore, was opened on Rosary Sunday, 7   October 1906 and in design was the concept of two of Ireland’s distinguished architects, William Hague, and his pupil and late junior partner, Thomas F. McNamara. Hague had designed churches at Trim, Dunshaughlin, Termonfeckin and Cathedral House at Mullingar while McNamara had carried out the less successful Kinnegad church and a better earlier work, Castletown Geoghegan church.  Hague’s best known work is the French Gothic style cathedral of St Eunan’s in Letterkenny.  One architectural historian, writing after the fire of 1983 and  the decision of the local authority to demolish the east and west gables of the church on safety grounds, stated that  ‘works  of an equivalent elaboration and richness to St Eunan’s  and Tullamore church will never be built in Ireland again’.  Tullamore church was he noted ‘one of McNamara’s richest and most successful designs’ after the style of his senior partner, the Cavan born, William Hague.  Building work at Tullamore was carried out by James Wynne of Dundalk and the church was in use at Christmas 1905 when nine people were baptised. The last stone of the new church was uplifted to the spire on Holy Thursday 1906 and the cross placed in its position (209 feet up) by one of the curates, Fr. Fitzsimons.  The new church was designed to accommodate 1,600 persons, with another 500 on special occasions. 

 The Most Reverend Doctor Gaughran, the newly elected Bishop of Meath, dedicated the new church on October 7 1906, an autumn day filled with sunshine.   In his sermon to the packed congregation, Fr John Brady, PP of Dunboyne said that the community of Tullamore had very much made the building of the church a work of their very own. He noted that there had been no break in the work, no flagging of zeal. ‘You have done a great work’ he said, adding ‘with stone and marble and stained glass, with brass and silver and with gold you have written in bold characters the story of your faith and your love’.  Father Philip Callary P.P. assisted in the service of consecration. Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament followed the mass.

 The dedication of the new church was considered the ‘most remarkable event that occurred in the parish within living memory. . . At night the town was illuminated… there was scarcely a window which did not shine brightly, and indeed the whole scene was a remarkable manifestation of the faith of the Catholics of the county town. The splendid band of St Conleth’s, Philipstown [Daingean Reformatory]  was present, by special arrangement and played a charming selection of music.  The band of the Tullamore Trade and Labour Association also played through the town, and a large crowd kept walking the lighted streets until a late hour’.

 A description of the church in The Irish Builder (20 Oct. 1906) is worth reproducing.

A large and important church was dedicated on Sunday week by the Most Revd. Dr. Gaughran, Bishop of Meath, at Tullamore.  The church, which has but recently been completed, was designed by the late Mr William Hague, and built under the supervision of Mr. T.F. McNamera, of Dublin.  The building, which is Gothic, is about 200 feet from the ground, 172 feet is the length from outside east wall to the west door, the nave 36 feet wide, side aisles 18 feet wide each.  The sanctuary has on each side two chapels, behind one of which is the sacristy, and near the other a well-lighted room reserved for the nuns who have easy access to their convent.  The chancel arch rests on two columns and smaller pillars of Galway granite.  Over the altars the groined roof is of fibrous plaster, while that of the centre is of pitch pine.  The windows contain cathedral glass, and perfection appears to have been reached in the ventilation, heating, and lighting, the last being by means of electric installation.  At the west end is the organ, an instrument the look of which is in harmony with the whole edifice, and was supplied by Telford, of Dublin.  The High Alter is a magnificent proof of the sculptor’s art.  It is of Sicilian marble with panels of Carara and shafts of Cork and Connemara marble, the artists being Messrs. Malone, also of Dublin.  There are already also stained glass windows and the Stations, in oils.  The stone materials were taken from the local quarries and, as far as possible, local tradesmen and labourers were employed throughout. . .

In 1930 the walls of the sanctuary were decorated in mosaics at a cost of over £2,500, by the firm of Oppenheimer of Manchester, who were responsible for other work in the diocese of Meath, including the cathedral at Mullingar.  In 1970 the Tullamore church was sandblasted and pointed and the spire repaired.  In 1972 the organ, considered to be one of the finest in the midland counties, was completely rebuilt under the supervision of Mr Kenneth Jones and at the instigation of the then parish priest, Monsignor Denis Clarke.  In
1977 the sanctuary of the church was reconstructed in accordance with modern day liturgical requirements as well as redecorated and rewired. Improvements were made to the grounds also. All this was to change in the early hours of the 31st of October 1983 when the Church of the Assumption was destroyed by fire. By morning all that remained was a burnt out shell. 

Edward N Smith and Partners, architects, were selected by the then parish priest, Fr P Fallon, to design the new church.  The architect’s brief was to re-build the church in such a way as ‘retain or regain as much as possible of the character of the old church but in a modern idiom’. This was next to impossible to achieve.  He reused much of the old stonework especially on the Chapel Street side and went for a contemporary interior. What was lost of the Gothic exterior and interior was replaced in the self finished timber ceilings and laminated structural frames of the interior.  Full restoration of the exterior was not possible in the 1980s.  For many the most attractive feature of the new church was the warm and modern interior with its timber spans. John Flanagan & Sons Limited was appointed builders and work began in October 1984 and was completed for the opening of the present and third church on the Harbour Street site in August 1986.  The new church had cost £2.6 million with the surplus after all collections and donations placed in a trust fund for the continuing upkeep of the church into the future.

The Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society has pleasure in presenting to the public a reproduction of a souvenir booklet of the early part of the last century depicting the old church now being celebrated.  The work of the Society is to serve as a storehouse of community and family history and to make it available to a wide public so as to help people to appreciate what they have and where it came from.  Our thanks to Fr Sean McGearty, for many years a curate in Tullamore, and now in Australia, who did so much to kindle interest in church records.  Thanks also to Breda Hoey for a copy of the original booklet.  To Brid Broderick for her input on the works of art in the present church and finally to the parish priest, Fr Sean Heaney, for his support. A more detailed treatment of the history of the church was published almost twenty years ago.*


* Michael Byrne, Tullamore Catholic Parish: a historical survey (Tullamore, 1987)


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A Walk through Tullamore streets in 1980 Michael Byrne

A Walk through Tullamore: the view in 1980

Michael Byrne


Interest in Irish history is growing rapidly.  The Offaly towns are all relatively modern and generally owe their origins to the plantations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Tullamore appears to have been one of the last of the Offaly towns to develop; its growth is
difficult to document for a period much earlier than 1700.  Yet, within a little over a hundred years it became the largest town in the county. This study is mainly concerned with the physical development of Tullamore between 1700 and 1900.  I have written the book in the form of a walking tour so as to encourage readers to look at the remains of several centuries of development.  Visitor and native are invited to observe an evolving landscape in a  middle sized Irish town.  The tour is a long one and it is recommended that it be taken in two stages or even broken up further as suits.

There are, perhaps, some who will be disappointed on seeing no references to Charleville castle or the other interesting historical remains in the area.  It is intended to look at the countryside about Tullamore in a second volume, now in course of preparation.  This study is strictly confined to an area between the canal on the north and the railway line on the south.

This book is no more than a summary of the history of Tullamore, yet its publication would not have been possible without the assistance of a considerable number of people.  I should like to record my thanks to D.E. Williams Ltd. for their generous sponsorship of this publication.  I am indebted to Lakeland Tourism for their help in the erection of signs about the town to facilitate the tourist and native alike.  I wish to thank Oliver Connolly for the drawings, Noel Doran of Eugene Garvey and Partners for the map and Richard May for the photographs.  Numerous individuals assisted in various ways and my only regret is that I cannot name all of them.  I am grateful to Brendan Broderick, Miss Geraldine Clarke, W.B. Hutton-Bury, Seamus Houlihan, Edward MacParland, Brian Mahon, James Scully, Jim and Eileen Scully and John Sweeney.  Finally, I want to express my thanks to the librarian and staff of the Offaly County Library for their unfailing help and courtesy over several years.

M.B., Convent View, Tullamore.




The town of Tullamore occupies a central position in County Offaly and is the capital town since 1833.  The town is situated on the Tullamore river which divides it into more or less two halves.  To the north is the gravel ridge, the Eiscir Riada (the chariot ridge), known locally as the Arden hills and to the south the Slieve Bloom mountains.  On the east and west lie the flat boglands relieved only on the eastern side by the stump of an extinct volcano now known as Croghan hill.

The name Tullamore or Tulach Mhor, meaning the big mound or hill, probably refers to Hop hill, a natural mound, near the town, and now the site of St Catherine’s church.  In the eighteenth century the town was also known as Tullamoore, a name introduced by former owners of the town, the Moore family.


The 17th Century

The town is part of the ancient district of Fer Call which was ruled by the Gaelic family of Molloy.  Two members of a branch of this family, Susanna and Matilda O’Molloy, daughters of Donald O’Molloy who had married Elizabeth Cowley (daughter of an English settler) sold the property to John Moore of Croghan about 1609.  Moore was the son and heir of Thomas Moore an Elizabethan soldier defending Croghan castle in 1599.  Tullamore in the 1620s was no more than a very small village with a water mill and a castle (site unknown).  The Moore family continued to reside at Croghan  and in 1633 they leased their Tullamore property for 81 years to a relation by marriage, Sir Robert Forth.  In 1641 Forth built a house was demolished in the 1800s and replaced by evidence for anything more than a small village at Tullamore throughout the seventeenth century.  The population probably did not exceed 400 (about the same as Philipstown now Daingean and about half that of Parsonstown now Birr.


Growth in the early 18th century

The town grew at a moderate pace in the first half of the eighteenth century.  For an explanation of this one may look to a general quickening of the pace of economic development throughout the country but more particularly to the fact that John Moore (to become the first Lord Tullamore in 1715) built a house in the area of what is now O’Carroll Street about 1700 and also the fact that a military barrack to house 100 foot soldiers was built in the vicinity of the present Garda station in 1716.  In the 1720s the Moore family had a church erected in the area known as the Shambles (roughly the site of the Foresters hall and to the west of it).  At this time the town probably consisted of no more than a long street running from the new church Bridge Street, High Street and O’Connor Square were
more or less built up.  During this period the town experienced some industrial development based primarily on the processing of agricultural raw material, for example a tanning industry was in operation in what is now Tanyard Lane in the 1750s and a linen factory in Church Street at about the same time.  Despite these developments the rate of growth was slow especially after 1764 when Charles Moore, the first earl of Charleville, died.


An improving landlord

Charles Moore was married but died without issue and his 20,000 acre estate in the King’s County passed to his sister’s husband,  John Bury of Shannongrove, Co. Limerick.     However,  John Bury died soon after and the Bury property in Limerick and the Moore property in King’s County were inherited by Charles William Bury, a minor and less than a year old.  Few buildings were erected during the landlord’s minority which lasted until 1785.  The latter year is remarkable for several reasons: it could be said to mark the beginning of a period of phenomenal growth which many Irish towns experienced and which lasted until 1815; it was the year Bury came of age and therefore empowered to grant leases and generally develop his property; it was the year of the Tullamore balloon fire.


From the balloon fire to the Famine

The fire in Tullamore which occurred on Tuesday 10 May 1785 is perhaps the best known but most misunderstood aspect of Tullamore history.  The fire was caused by an air balloon taking fire in what was possibly only the third attempt to make an ascent in Ireland.  This led to the destruction of about 100 houses in the Barrack Street (now Patrick Street) area.  Probably about one-third of the housing stock was destroyed if one assumes a total housing stock in the town of about 300 with a population of roughly 2,000.  A few houses in Barrack Street survived the fire including the house now used as the head office of the Williams Group. About a week after the fire the landlord C.W. Bury arrived in the town and distributed £550 to relieve those in distress.  In a sense the fire was a long term benefit because it gave the landlord the impetus to develop the town in a proper manner, an opportunity of which he availed to the full over the next fifty years until his death in 1835.  The period between the fire in 1785 and the Famine (1845-9) were the years of expansion.  The population expanded three-fold and stood at 6,343 in 1841.  The new streets – Columcille Street, Harbour Street, Cormac Street, O’Moore Street, Church Street (lower) were laid out on the grid pattern with attention given to frontage and roof-line.  The landlord had a town hall erected in O’Connor Square in 1789 and contributed half the cost of the new church of St Catherine’s which was opened in 1815.  The Catholic church (on the same site as the present one) was opened before 1802.  The high point of Bury’s achievement was reached in 1833 when he succeeded in having Tullamore made a county town.  The county jail was opened in 1830; work on the county court-house began in 1833 and was completed in 1835.

The fifty-year period 1785-1835 was also one of significant economic development.  The coming of the Grand Canal in 1798 was of major importance in that it gave the town a direct link with Dublin for the first time.  The period also saw the development of Michael Molloy’s distillery (later B. Daly) from small beginnings in the 1790s.  The town continued to be an important centre – evidence of which survives in the landlord’s provision of a second market square, an unusual town feature.

The famine took its toll especially in the slum district on the Puttaghan side of the canal.  The next fifty years saw the population decline and the town stagnate.  The population had dropped to 4,522 in 1891 but thereafter conditions improved and the first increase in a half-century was recorded in 1901.


The 20th century

In the present century the population has continued to expand (perhaps the most useful indicator of economic conditions) and in 1971 stood at 7,474.  It is now acknowledged to be
about 8,500.  It may be said in passing that the expansion of the town’s population is no natural progression.  The population of Birr has fallen since 1901, while Portlaoise, Athlone and Mullingar have grown more rapidly than Tullamore.  The character of the town has
changed: the building schemes of the Tullamore U.D.C. have led to the rehousing of many families outside the traditional town boundaries.  The town’s many lanes, once teeming with people, have been cleared and some now serve as car parks.  On the industrial side it is difficult to make any assessment as yet, but it may be said that the firms of D.E. Williams
Ltd., Tullamore Yarns Ltd., and the Midland Butter and Bacon Co. Ltd. have all made an important contribution to stability and growth.  Also of value to the town but even more so to the county, are Bord na Mona and the E.S.B.   In recent years increasing reliance has been placed on international firms, which have established factories here, to generate new industrial employment.  In the growth league table Tullamore fell back in the 1960s and early 1970s but is now developing rapidly.


Conservation and amenity

The town has yet to produce a sensible, coherent conservation policy.  The current town plan is largely concerned with infrastructure.  Of course, if a solution to the town’s traffic problems were found it would take the strain off the historic town centre.  The U.D.C. has concentrated its attention on beautifying  the canal banks, and with good results.  Efforts are now being made to improve the streets of the town by planting trees and perhaps a small park in O’Connor Square.  Should a second edition of this guide be required in years to come perhaps it may require assistance from a dendrochonologist!




Bridge Street

The Tullamore river divides the town in half, but the northern side of the river has a greater density of population.  It is probable that the town has its origins in a river crossing of the 17th century.  It has been suggested that the oldest bridge in the town is that behind the county library in O’Connor Square but this cannot be confirmed.  The bridge at Bridge Street was certainly in use by 1748 when the landlord gave a building lease for the house between the lane and Adams’ chemist shop.  The river had several water mills including the manor mill located about 50 yards from the bridge on the western side.  During  the drainage scheme of the 1850s this was removed.  The only water mill now surviving in the town is that further down the river in the old distillery.  The river is said to be less polluted than formerly.  As far back as 1768 the then local authority, the town’s manor court, noted: ‘Whereas upon complaint made this day to the grand jury that William Keoug, skinner, hath and does make a practise of throwing dead carcases and other filth into the river of Tullamore, we present that the said manor do remove all such dirt and filth out of said river…’  Pollution cannot have been too severe as how otherwise are we to explain the name, the Maiden Bridge Street, along with the upper part of Church Street and High Street are the oldest streets in the town.  The width of a street is often a good indicator of age.  Bridge Street, was in fact, much narrower but was widened in 1938 when part of Dann’s tea rooms was removed (now Tormey and Adams).


Bridge House

Bridge House, Tullamore

The houses in Bridge Street are almost all of an early date.  The Bridge House originally consisted of three distinct buildings, some of which may date back to the 1720s.  The present facade of red brick with elaborate limestone dressings was erected in 1910 for P. & H. Egan Ltd.  With Gleeson’s shop in Columcille Street the two fronts reflect the increased prosperity of Irish towns in the first decade of this century, and the changes taking place in Irish retailing.  The age when clay pipes lolled shop windows was being left behind.  Until the 1960s the Bridge House was the headquarters of P. & H. Egan Ltd., a family business established in 1852, and involved in agri-business, mineral waters, wine and spirits and retailing.  The shop here was considered to be the finest in the town.  The company went into voluntary liquidation in the late 1960s.


Douglas and Lawless

Beside the Bridge House is a building erected by Maurice Tyrrell, a tanner, in 1747.  In 1777 the owner of the house was instructed to rebuild the chimneys because they were considered ‘public nuisances by not being kept regularly swept.  It is alleged they are so narrow as not to admit a boy to get up’.  There is an inscription over the entrance door to Douglas’ jewellery shop.



Hoey and Denning

This house was built about 1756 by John Vaughan, a merchant.  Vaughan bequeathed the house to his two daughters for use in their marriage settlements.  The house was then divided into two parts and in the southern end one Joseph Flanagan established a distillery, not later than 1782.


Tullamore distillery

Tullamore Distillery

The distillery buildings, some of which are still standing, were erected on the back garden of Flanagan’s house which extended to the river.  The distillery went out of production in the 1800s but was re-established in 1829, as is shown on the entrance gate in the lane beside the Hoey and Denning building.  Production in the 1840s and 1850s suffered because of the temperance campaign and the rise in the spirit duty.  However, the distillery was considerably expanded in the 1870s to cater for a growing export market.  Aside from the years 1925 to 1937 the distillery was in production until 1954. The passing of the distillery was a matter of regret because of the long association of the industry with the town.  On the other hand its demise may be seen as part of an evolutionary process because since the late 1940s the town has been associated with the production of Irish Mist (more about this below).  The distillery chimneys can be seen from the Distillery Lane beside Hoey and Denning.  Access to the distillery is closed to the public because of the
dangerous condition of some of the buildings.


Bank of Ireland

The Bank of Ireland has carefully restored and improved this building.  The conservation work here represents a turning point in the town’s attitude to its architectural heritage.  That portion of the building in the less than brilliant Portland stone represents the original Hibernian Bank branch established here in 1864.  The Bank of Ireland opened a ‘second class’ branch at High Street in 1836.  In recent years the bank acquired adjoining buildings, including a yellow-brick building in O’Connor Square.  This gothic-style building was erected for T.P. & R. Goodbody in the early 1870s.  The Goodbodys sensibly decided to have warehouse features at the front because of poor or non-existent facilities at the rear of the building.  So faithfully have the bank’s architects sought to reproduce the original facade that a new hoist has been placed under the gablet.



O'Connor Square

The gradual development of this area into a square is reflected in the variety of names it has had.  In 1713 it was simply known as the Market Place.  Building on the southern side began in the 1740s when the L – plan house west of the post office was built by Matthew Moore, a soap boiler and tallow chandler.  A building on the site of the post office was erected in the 1750s as also was the next house with the round-headed Gibbsian doorcase.  The last house, before Tanyard Lane, was not erected until 1786.


Library and civic offices

This was formerly a Vocational school and was erected in 1937.  A very fine three-storey, seven-bay building stood on the site until 1936.  In 1750 Thomas Wilson, a quaker, carried on business here as a wool comber and tanner.  In the 1760s it became the property of Gideon Tabuteau who had come from Southampton and was of French huguenot   extraction.    It was here that Benjamin Yeats, ancestor of the poet, married Mary Butler.  In 1788 Tabuteau sold the property to Joseph Manley who erected a brewery and a maltings.



Tanyard Lane has always been an industrial rather than a residential area.  The changes in manufacturing activity here nicely reflects the development of industry over two centuries.  The location is accounted for by the availability of a water supply from the river.  The tanneries had closed by the end of the eighteenth century but had been replaced by two breweries and several malting establishments.  It is not clear as to when the two breweries ceased operation, but the maltings continued to function until recent times.  Malsters were able to send their malt to Guinness by canal when the local breweries ceased production.  A walk through the Tanyard and a check on the inscriptions on the buildings indicates just how important the malting business was to the economy of the town early in this century.  Many of the present buildings date from the 1900s.

Return to O’Connor Square again to the north side, we find two three-storey houses with round-headed doorcases.  These were built between 1786 and 1810.

The Market House

Market House, O’Connor Square

The market house or town hall, built by the earl of Charleville, is certainly the most important building in the square.  It is a two-storey, seven-bay building with a pedimented central breakfront.  On the roof is an octagonal timber lantern with a lead dome.  The arches on the ground floor have been glazed in.  The indefatigable John Wesley gave a sermon here in 1789 and recorded in his journal: ‘About noon I preached in the beautiful new court house at Tullamore.  Deep attention sat on the rich as well as the poor…’ In 1821 a loan fund bank (akin to a credit union) was established here and surplus funds from it were used to erect a clock in the 1840s. With the building of the market house the square was completed, assuming that the two houses to the east of it were erected at the same time.  On the post office or southern side of the square houses were built at both ends about 1786.  Joseph Flanagan, the distiller, was responsible for building the property from Dunne’s shoe shop to Barry Keegan’s in 1787.  He had a 999-year lease from the earl of Charleville and when the building was completed Flanagan let it to undertenants for ‘short’ leases of 31 years.  An inscription may be seen over the coach entrance of Dunne’s shop.


High Street

As with O’Connor Square we have rushed into High Street.  However, I wish to start on the other side at G.N. Walsh’s car show rooms.  It must be said that here, as also in O’Connor Square and Bridge Street, almost all the houses were erected in the eighteenth century.  When Arthur Young made his unnecessarily brief remarks about the town in 1776 he noted that part of Tullamore was well built.  He was surely referring to the High Street-O’Connor Square area.


G.N. Walsh car show rooms

This house with its projecting wing at the front is similar to the house beside the post office and could be as early as 1720.  The next house was built in 1786 by the town’s leading business man in the late eighteenth century, Thomas Manley.  At the time Manley also owned the car showrooms house.  Manley was a quaker, as also were the owners of the property in the 19th century, T.P. & R. Goodbody.  The two Goodbody brothers were members of a remarkable family who had a profound influence on the economy of the nearby town of Clara.  The Goodbodys established a tobacco factory here in the mid-19th century and employed up to 200 men.  There may still be a few people about who remember such delightfully named tobacco mixtures as ‘York River’, ‘Bird’s Eye’ and ‘Golden Shag’.   Unfortunately for Tullamore, the factory was destroyed by fire in 1886.  The factory was rebuilt but at Greenville, Dublin.  In 1929, the firm, then in liquidation, was taken over by the Dundalk firm of P.J. Carroll.

Brewery Tap

The site of this house was leased to a tobacco spinner in 1713 but the house may have been rebuilt in the 1780s.  A brewery was established here in the 1830s when William Deverell
transferred from a premises further up High Street.  The brewery continued to function until the first world war.  In the 1880s it was capable of turning out from 30 to 40 barrels per day and employed 50 men at not less than £1,600 a year in wages!

Next to the Brewery Tap is G.N. Walsh’s shop, probably built before 1786, and an R.I.C. barrack in the last century.  The premises of Messrs. Conway and Kearney, solicitors, has a doorcase with fluted doric columns and a fanlight.  The building dates from the 1780s but the doorcase may be later.  Further up the street are McGinns and Tuttys which both have nice shopfronts with fasciaboards and console brackets.  The Ulster Bank was opened in 1892 and rebuilt in recent years.

Bank of Ireland

Beside the Ulster Bank is the Italianate-style old Bank of Ireland premises.  The limestone facade of two storeys replaced a front of three storeys and was erected in 1870.  It is often worthwhile to look at buildings from the back as well as the front for evidence of  rebuilding.     The Bank of Ireland premises provides a good example for those interested in such an exercise.

Beside this building is the three-storey County Arms erected about 1786.

Hibernian Insurance and others

At this point it would be well to take a look at the eastern side of High Street before proceeding further. After Dunne’s shop is a fine three-storey, seven-bay house with a Gibbsian doorcase.  This house was built in 1750 for Colonel Thomas Crow.  Next is the Ritz cinema built in 1946 at a cost of £30,000.  The cinema seats 1,200 and was remarkably good for a provisional town in the post-war years.  Further up is a private residence of two storeys over a basement built in the 1780s.   Beside it are the showrooms of J.A. Kilroy and Sons.  Behind the facade of c. 1959 was an interesting early 18th century building.

Christian Brothers house

This is a large three-storey, five-bay house over a basement and was erected in 1789 by Revd Dr Thomas Wilson, professor of natural philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin.  Dr Wilson married a daughter of Nicholas Crawford, the Tullamore barrack master, who lived
in the house next door now used as furniture show rooms.  Wilson is reported to have spent £2,000 on the house – his wife’s marriage portion.   One of the children of the marriage, Jane Wilson, married Joseph Daunt of Co. Cork and it was in this house that the politician and historian, O’Neill Daunt, was born in 1807.  On the back garden of the house is the Christian Brothers secondary school for boys, erected in 1960.

It will be noticed that at this point the street line changes on the eastern side.  There is evidence to suggest that the houses from Allen’s shop to Horan’s shop were built in the 1750s.  The same holds true of the houses between the entrance to the car park at Tara Street and the Presbyterian church (with the exception of the two houses nearest the church on the town side).

The Round House

An interesting house is the bow-fronted Round House with the Gibbsian doorcase.  We already saw a doorcase of similar style in O’Connor Square.  The houses here could be as early as 1720.  Edward Crow lived here in the 1780s.  Crow was responsible for the building of Crow Street (now Tara Street) of which nothing survives except the gable wall of a Methodist church, near the entrance to the Garden of Eden dance hall.


The Crow Street houses were built about 1810.  In the 18th century this road led to the demesne of Revd Daniel Jackson which may have been located near the railway line and was described in 1766 as ‘a large convenient, well furnished house, containing twelve rooms on the first two floors, with closets to five of them, besides hall and pantry; with all necessary out-offices, stables, coach-house, dairy, laundry, brew-house, hen-house, and bleach yard; with out-rooms for men servants and store rooms; a large garden, well walled in, with several divisions planted with all kinds of fruit trees; likewise fish ponds, well stocked, and a large pigeon-house…’ In a memoir of O’Neill Daunt, his grandmother, Mrs Wilson, provides us with a nice account of life for the better off in the 18th century.  She says of Mr Jackson’s house: ‘His apartments were furnished expensively and with elegance.  There were paintings by foreign artists, and ornamental china.  Mrs Jackson’s dressing-room was a perfect toy-shop of recherche nicknackery.  The domestic staff included a butler, two footmen, a coachman, three gardeners, a housekeeper, two housemaids and a waiting-maid, besides the kitchen officials.  Breakfast was at nine, dinner at three, tea at six, after which cards filled the time until ten, when supper was served…’ Nothing now survives of the house but I thought the above worth reproducing because it illustrates the social life of the period.  More importantly, it points to how much the landscape below the dance hall has changed.  The large bonded warehouse beside the grain drums was built in 1870 on the site of a gazebo probably connected with the Jackson establishment.  Behind the dance hall is a field with broiler houses on it, erected in the 1960s.  In a deed of 1761 the field was described as the island meadow surrounded by a mill race and the river.  The mill race now ‘serves’ as a dangerously polluted drain.  Near the bonded warehouse is a corn mill erected in the 1800s.  These buildings are all on the distillery property and some are in a dangerous condition.

The Presbyterian church

Leaving the now deserted Crow Street we proceed to an attractive, plain church with pedimented ashlar facade and a projecting enclosed porch of identical design.  The church was built for £300 and opened in 1865.  The now-amusing Victorian equation of class with intelligence is apparent in a newspaper report of the opening ceremony: ‘About 160 persons of a respectable and intelligent class attended the opening services on Friday, and were all comfortably seated’.

Motor works house

Opposite the church is a three-storey, five-bay house built about 1758.  In the 1820s and 1830s the house was used as a classical school for boarding and day boys preparing for university.  Later in the century the very fine De Burgo O’Malley chalice (now in the National Museum) was found in a chest in the attic.

Marian Hostel

The houses between the Motor Works house and J.J. Horan’s shop are all late 18th century and early 19th century in date.  Part of what is now the Marian hostel was once a boarding school.  It has also the distinction of being the first house in Tullamore to install piped water when it became available in 1895.  Prior to that time householders had to depend on wells which it was alleged were contaminated with seeping sewage.


Apart from one or two houses in Patrick Street we have now viewed all the mid-eighteenth century houses in the town.  Almost all of the remaining houses in the main streets of the town were built between 1786 and 1840.

Acres Hall

We should now be standing outside a very handsome house built in 1786 by Thomas Acres.  The house faces down O’Moore Street and has a lawn in front.  It was considered to be the finest in Tullamore in the 19th century but now there are several others which could compete for the title.  Acres was a remarkable man about whom little is known of his early life other than that he was in some way connected to the earl of Charleville.  He was responsible for building Cormac Street, O’Moore Street, Columcill Street, and less successfully, Offaly Street and Chapel Lane.   Acres was the town’s leading property developer over a 50-year period until his death in 1837.  Acres Hall may have been the first house to go up in Cormac Street.  On the back garden of the house, better observed from the court house, is a mock tower house known as Acres folly, and said to have been erected about 1812.  The houses between Acres Hall and Poole’s shop were built on the garden of Acres Hall and nearly all date from the 1800s.

Patrick Lloyd’s shop

However, close to Acres Hall are two houses built in 1899.  Worthy of special mention is Patrick Lloyd’s shop with well carved console brackets, and in front of the windows polished brass rods.

Brian P. Adams house and the terrace

On the opposite side of the street is a massive three-storey house over a basement with four bays to O’Moore Street and four bays to Cormac Street.  This was built about 1800 as
also was the terrace of six two-storey houses.  The houses were first used to accommodate the army during the Napoleonic war years when its size was greatly increased in preparation for an invasion from France.  A temporary barrack was built at the rear of the Cormac Street houses while the permanent barrack was located at Patrick Street.  Benjamin Woodward, the architect, was born in the house beside that of Brian P. Adams,
solicitor, in 1816.  His father was in the Meath militia and the family moved a few years later.

Kilcruttin graveyard

As one proceeds up Cormac Street past Poole’s shop a large field can be seen, in the southern corner of which is Kilcruttin graveyard.  The graveyard has been closed since 1893 and is now in a terrible condition.  There are about 60 tombstones here all of which date from the 1770s to the 1850s.  The most interesting tombstones here are those erected to members of the German legion in the first decade of the 19th century.  Also of interest, but in a deplorable state, is the Burgess mausoleum.*  It should, of course, be remembered that the number of slabs does not in any way represent the number of burials.  We are reminded of the horrors of the Famine years in a letter written by the Revd. E.F. Berry to the Tullamore board of guardians in 1852.  Berry wrote ‘ I beg leave to inform you that within the last few days I have been inspecting the graveyard of Kilcruttin where the greater number of persons who die in the Tullamore Poorhouse are buried, and I find that it is now so full that no more than 1,000 paupers have been buried within the last few years and according to Patrick Gorman’s return to me, 200 have been laid there within the past year…’

Almost immediately after the letter had been received, the earl of Charleville made land available at Clonminch for a graveyard (near the water tower) and also land at Arden Road
for a graveyard for the work-house.  However, Catholics continued to use the graveyards at Durrow and Kilbride until a graveyard was opened at Clonminch Road in 1893.

From Cormac Street a view can be obtained of the Tullamore river taking its meandering course towards Rahan where it meets the Clodiagh and eventually flows into the Brosna.  Once again in view, are the distillery buildings and the corn mill.  The modern, massive grain storage bins can also be seen.  No malt is made at Tullamore now.  This is a grain collection point where the grain is dried and stored until ready to be sent to a pneumatic plant at Banagher.  Between here and the railway line are three urban council schemes, Marian Place, Pearse Park, and O’Molloy Street.  The latter was erected on the site of houses built for army pensioners in the 1820s or 1830s.

* Both graveyard and mausoleum are much improved because of repair word carried out by the urban council in recent months.

The Court House


The building of a county court at Tullamore in 1833 signified complete victory in a 50-year old battle to have Tullamore designated the county town in place of Daingean (Philipstown) ten miles east of Tullamore, which was no longer considered suitable because of its remote location and poor accommodation facilities.  The owners of Daingean, the influential Ponsonby family, successfully defeated moves in the Irish house of commons to have the assizes transferred in 1784 and again in 1786.  The building of a county gaol at Tullamore in 1826 was seen as an essential preliminary in the transfer.  As soon as the gaol was completed it was argued that the county court house should follow, much to the chagrin of the Ponsonby family and the people of Daingean.  Lord Tullamore reckoned that the building of a county court house at Tullamore would bring as much as £500 profit to the town each time the assizes were held.  The Ponsonby influence was a great deal less at Westminister than it had been at College Green, and with the backing of the government an act was put through parliament in 1833 transferring the assizes to Tullamore.

The passing of the act confirmed the grand jury (the oligarchical predecessor of the Offaly County Council) in its intention to build a new court house at Tullamore, and in 1833 almost £10,000 was voted for this purpose.  Following a competition in which there were over 20 participants, J.B. Keane was named as the architect.  Keane’s plan was for a Grecian or neo-classical court house, not unlike that William Vitruvius Morrison had built at Tralee and Carlow.  Here, access had been provided to two semi-circular court rooms from corridors surrounding them.  Apparently, the prototype was Sir Robert Smirke’s Gloucester court house.  In a letter to the Irish Chief Secretary in 1829, Lord Tullamore wrote: ‘I have been at Exeter and shall visit Gloucester court-house, on my road to Ireland, for the purpose of adopting all the latest improvements.’  Lord Tullamore opted for a neo-classical design, but he would have preferred something more akin to the style of the gaol.  Writing to his wife in 1833 he remarked: ‘We have selected a capital plan of the court-house as far as internal accommodation and convenience, but with Grecian elevation, which I fear will clash with the gaol, but I could not get them to give a decent Saxon, Norman, rustic or Elizabethan plan!  The democratic party runs so high, that out of all the plans, all Grecian, we chose the plainest exterior, fearing a traverse of the assizes.  On the 29th we meet to declare a contractor…’  The court house was completed in 1835.  It was often remarked afterwards that it was virtually impossible to make oneself heard in either of the semi-circular court rooms.  Not that it prevented election meetings from being held there which were a great deal more boisterous than anything we know.

The visitor to the court house today will note that only one semi-circular court room survives – the crown court where criminal cases were tried.  The court house was burned in 1922 on the departure of the republican forces from the town.  The Free State government decided to rebuild and work began in 1925 under the supervision of the architect, T.F. McNamara.  He decided not to adhere to the original ground plan and only one of the semi-circular court rooms was retained.  The new building cost £32,000 and was opened in 1927.

County Gaol now Tullamore Yarns Ltd. 

County Gaol

Further up Cormac Street is the gothic-style facade of the old county gaol.  Behind the facade are modern factory buildings.  Gaols and workhouses are often viewed as the symbols of ‘British tyranny in Ireland’, but the truth is often complex.  The gaol at Tullamore was one of a number built in the first half of the 19th century as a result of the prison reform acts of 1810 and 1826.  In 1820 the King’s County Grand Jury appointed a committee ‘to fix upon a site and procure plans for a county gaol’.  A report on the Daingean gaol, then the county gaol, found it to be out of touch with the reforming spirit: ‘On the whole the establishment seems adapted to further corruption of the prisoners and increase of vice from the want of all power of classification, inspection and employment’.  The grand jury’s committee, after looking at Galway decided upon that at Limerick designed by James Pain in 1821.  However, the Tullamore gaol was to be smaller by about two-fifths.  Like Limerick it had a polygonal tower at the centre but with four rays of buildings diverging from it instead of five.

Lord Tullamore, eldest son of the earl of Charleville, was very much involved in the political manoeuvring that apparently was necessary to obtain support for the building of a gaol and later a court house at Tullamore.  In a letter to his step-brother he gives us an amusing account of the laying of the foundation stone of the gaol: ‘I feel it will give you great pleasure to hear that the first stone is laid, and of my great success.  I shall leave others to describe the scene.  I feel it is impossible to do justice to it, and to you it will appear impossible as you did not witness it.  The lowest calculation makes the multitude amount to 30,000.  Mr Killaly says between 70,000 and 100,000, and is so convinced he is right he is going to measure the ground they covered and make a calculation… Such dense, enormous masses of well-dressed, orderly good-humoured people, such extraordinary enthusiasm; when I addressed them, you might have heard a pin fall, and the enthusiastic shouts of applause were tremendous.  Everything went off beyond my most sanguine expectations; and after the ceremony I was chaired in a crimson and gilt chair, covered with laurels, and in my life anything like the wild hissing and shouting.  I never saw or could have imagined.  The town, every single house, was illuminated, many most tastefully…  A beautiful fire-balloon with my arms etc. was sent up, so constructed as to discharge fireworks and have the appearance of a fiery meteor’.  To be fair to Lord Tullamore, not that he needs anyone to speak for him, he did play a major part in having the gaol and court house built at Tullamore.  In regard to the number attending the ceremony it should be remembered that prior to the Famine the population of the county was about 150,000 or three times the present figure.

The gaol was opened in April 1830, the prisoners having been transferred by canal barge from Daingean.  In the first report of the board of superintendence made to the grand jury in July of that year it was noted: ‘As this was the first attempt at gaol discipline in the King’s County, the prisoners when ordered to work, made violent opposition, some of them
refused to obey and became refractory, but steady and cool remonstrance with a few instances of solitary confinement brought them to a sense of duty’.  The gaol was built to accommodate 120 prisoners but during the Famine years the number ‘accommodated’ rose dramatically and in 1849 the gaol had 321 inmates.  Many had committed petty offences in order to get into gaol to be fed.  Tullamore prison gained considerable notoriety in the 1880s when the leading Plan of Campaign prisoners, William O’Brien, John Manderville and T.D. Sullivan were incarcerated here.  Manderville died soon after his release, allegedly from ill treatment.  On the morning of the inquest the prison doctor, George Ridley, tragically took his own life.  Ridley comes across as a generous individual who had been put under great strain by nationalist opinion on the one side and the prison authorities on the other.  The last public hanging in Ireland took place at this gaol in 1865 when Laurence King was hanged for the murder of Lieutenant Clutterbuck.  The case was tried by the 89-year old Lord Chief Justice Lefroy and was made the basis for a charge of incapacity against the Lord Chief Justice in the house of commons.  Lefroy retired in 1866.  Tullamore gaol was also the scene of the last hanging of a woman in Ireland in 1903.

By the 1900s the number detained in the prison had declined considerably.  However, the prison was again in the news in 1913 when some of the suffragettes were sent to Tullamore.  During the Anglo-Irish war (1919-21) the gaol and the court house were taken over by the British military.  The remaining prisoners were transferred to Mountjoy in November 1921.  During the civil war (1922-3) both the gaol and the court house were taken over by the ‘Irregulars’ or republican forces who sand-bagged the place in anticipation of an attack from the national army.  The republican forces had a change of mind about this and on the morning of 19 July 1922 the gaol, court house and military barrack were set on fire by the departing republicans.  In 1937-8 the site of the gaol was cleared to provide a site for a spinning mill for Salts (Ireland) Ltd., now Tullamore Yarns Ltd.  The factory was the backbone of the town’s economy for over 30 years.  Prior to 1966 the work force was up to 1,000 strong but has now fallen to 250.  The iron work to the front of the gaol and court house dates from 1835.  At the gaol entrance gates may be seen the Roman symbols of authority, the fasces, a bundle of rods from which an axe projected.

Before leaving Cormac Street it should be mentioned that the six houses between Coleman’s Lane and the court house date from the 1830s to the 1850s.  The two houses nearest the court house have good round-headed doorcases with doric fluted columns.  Beside the gaol gates is a terrace of houses for gaol warders of turnkeys and dated to the 1860s to 1880s.  The same looseness surrounds the dating of the terrace of ten two-storey houses opposite the gaol.  These may have been built in 1879.  Only four of the houses still retain their original porches with pierced bargeboarding.  At the end of the terrace is an attractive pair of single-storey houses over basements, in yellow brick.  These ‘cottage’ style houses were erected in 1841.

The Railway Station

Railway Station

We now move to the railway bridge.  The Great Southern and Western Railway Company was responsible for building the railway line through Tullamore.  The first stage from Portarlington to Tullamore terminated at Clonminch in 1854, and a railway station was built there.  By October 1859 the line from Tullamore to Athlone had been constructed and opened.  Two years later, the inhabitants of Tullamore, through the Hon. Alfred Bury, petitioned the railway company to build a station nearer the town because Clonminch was considered to be a great distance from the town centre.  By 1865 a new station had been completed at Charleville Road.  The pedestrian bridge over the railway line was recently taken from Roscrea and re-erected at Tullamore.  Beside the station is the road to the Kilcruttin national schools.  This road is of recent date.  To the right of it is Kilcruttin Lane which terminated at the graveyard.

The demesne of Charleville will be looked at in another publication dealing with the environs of Tullamore.  The Charleville Road houses all date from the 1900s with the exception of Elmfield – the house between the railway line and the road to Spollinstown -which is late 18th century in date, but perhaps with 19th-century additions.


O'Moore Street

Moving back down Cormac Street and into O’Moore Street, opposite Acres Hall, we find ourselves once again beside houses built by Thomas Acres on the right or southern side.  This street was formerly known as Earl Street and also Windmill Street.  There were two windmills situated in a field behind the Cormac Street-O’Moore Street houses.  Both windmills seem to have been out of use by 1800 and today only a pile of stones remain.  The terrace of seven two-storey houses with gardens in front, on the southern side near the road to Spollanstown were built by a Tullamore printer, Richard Willis in 1837-8.  Willis took a 100-year lease of the plot of ground for £21 a year and gave similar leases of the houses for £14 each annual rent.

Moore Hall

Moore Hall

On the town side of O’Moore Street are two very attractive houses, Moore Hall and The Cottage.  Both these houses are opposite the terrace just mentioned and have gardens in front.  Moore Hall was erected about 1750 and was built for Richard Moore who had a shop in High Street.  The house was considerably improved in the mid-19th century and has an impressive doorcase.  Beside the house is a castellated coach entrance and gothic-style stables in a cobbled yard.  The remains of a gas lamp may be seen on the railings at the front.

The Cottage

The Cottage is thought to have been built in the early 1800s and is a single-storey house over a basement.  It has a very fine pointed doorcase and large three-light windows.

Masonic Lodge

Beside the Cottage is the masonic lodge with the masonnic arms over the door.  The house was used for quaker meetings until 1884 when it was purchased by the Tullamore masonic lodge.  The original glazing bars are still intact.

From this point to the Motor Works has been considerably developed since the 1850s.  Originally there were 16 single-storey houses here, built on the back garden of the Motor Works house by a speculative builder and cabinet maker, Christopher Woods.


Those who like walking are recommended to go to the Clonminch bridge to see the old railway station opened in 1854 and closed about ten years later.  Near the bridge is the Catholic graveyard opened in 1893.  The large celtic cross was erected as a memorial to a parish priest, Fr. Behan, in 1900, and was carved by Messrs. J. & H. Bracken of Templemore.  Beyond the Clonminch bridge and near the water tower is the Church of Ireland graveyard opened in 1852.  Beside the bridge on the left is Chancery Lane, or Lovers Lane, the only country lane near the town.

The houses between the Catholic graveyard and O’Moore Street all date from the 1900s.  The two ‘fine blocks of double villas’ on the eastern side were erected by a former secretary of the Offaly County Council in 1909.  On the western side are eight houses erected by P. & H. Egan Ltd. in 1935.  Looking down towards Bachelors Walk or New Road is a fine red brick house erected in 1910.  Red brick was used in a number of houses in Tullamore in the 1900s.  This house was built for £1,700 but was sold in the 1920s for a £1,000 – a reminder of the very different economic circumstances then prevailing.


Bachelors Walk, also known as New Road, was laid out about 1815 or the year St Catherine’s church was opened.  The road was part of the earl of Charleville’s scheme for the improvement of the town.  The avenue was planned so as to command a view of Croghan hill, the home of the Charleville family until the 1700s.  It is not clear who was responsible for the design, but it may have been John C. Loudon, the botanist and garden designer, who was employed at Charleville in 1812.  In recent years the road has been under attack from the motor vehicle and the local authority sanitation schemes and is showing signs of the strain.  The houses here were erected from the late 1940s.

St Catherine’s Church

St. Catherine's Church, Hop Hill

The church, designed by Francis Johnston, was built in the gothic style with a Latin cross plan, side-aisles, a tower at the west, and a crypt at the east end.  The impressive site of Hop hill was chosen by Parson Gouldsbury in 1808.  It is frequently stated that this hill is an artificial mound formed from the material excavated to make Charleville lake.  However, the truth is less fanciful.  Originally more pointed, the hill is a natural one.  The church was erected at a cost of £7,000 and completed in 1815.

The church contains ‘an elaborate memorial now partly broken up’ to Charles Moore, first earl of Charleville of the first creation, who died in 1764.  The monument, by John Van Nost, was commissioned by the first earl’s brother-in-law, John Bury.  Unfortunately, Bury did not live to enjoy the 20,000-acre estate he had inherited and was drowned while bathing at Ringsend, Dublin in the same year.  Dying before the monument was completed he is commemorated on the monument in the form of a bust.  John Wesley saw the monument in the old church and wrote in his journal at 25 June 1767: ‘I was desired to look
at the monument lately erected for the earl of Charleville.  It observes “That he was the last of his family, the great Moores of Croghan”….’

The glebe house near the church was erected in 1814 at a cost of £821.  It was in this house that the astronomer Charles Jasper Joly was born in 1864.



The second stage of the tour begins at Hayes’ hotel on the northern side of the river.  A church was built here in 1726 on a site now occupied by the Foresters hall and McCann’s shop.  It remained in use until the opening of St Catherine’s church in 1815.  The new church can be seen at the foot of Church Street.  The street did not extend any further than the old church until the erection of a factory building by enterprising linen merchants in 1754.  This factory was located opposite the county infirmary at the turn for O’Carroll Street.  The bridge beside the bacon factory was erected in 1795, opening up the street for traffic from Daingean, and later Killeigh and Geashill.  Until that time the street was not much more than a lane and was sometimes referred to as such.

Building leases for the upper half of Church Street date from 1786 and 1790.  The lower half is wider and leases for it date from 1790 on the north side and on the south side from 1805.  Francis Johnston, the architect, was responsible for the design of lower Church Street. Johnston was visiting Tullamore at the time in connection with the building of Charleville castle.  Most likely, he decided on the width of the street and the size and height of the terrace between the methodist church and the county infirmary.  Most of the houses below the Charleville school were built after 1840.

Hayes’ Hotel

Hayes’ hotel, formerly known as the Charleville Arms, was erected by the first earl of Charleville in 1786 at a cost of £200.  It was then leased on a perpetual renewalbasis for £15 a year.  It is probable that the inn was built to promote that case for having Tullamore made the county town, then under review by parliament.  The hotel had 13 beds at this time which was considered by the Grand Company to be inadequate.  As a result an hotel was built by the company at St Brigid’s Place in 1801.  Mr James Hayes acquired the hotel in 1876 and sold it to P. & H. Egan Ltd. in 1905, who later set up the Midland Hotels Co. Ltd.  The garden of the hotel extended as far as the Methodist church.  The buildings here all vary in date from the 1840s to the 1880s.

Methodist Church

This church was opened in 1889 and cost £2,000 to build.  The building is in local limestone with some use made of Portland stone.  The entrance door and most of the woodwork is pitchpine.   There were two earlier Methodist churches on the site dating from 1786, if not earlier.


The houses here were erected from 1805 to 1810.  Francis Johnston fixed on eleven building plots but thirteen houses were built.

County Infirmary

This is Tullamore’s oldest public building and was erected in 1788.  The building is of considerable architectural importance because of its function.  There is no doubt that O’Carroll Street was designed so that the county infirmary would close off the vista at the western end.  The infirmary is to be demolished but it is expected that the old facade will be restored should a new building be erected on the site.

The building of a new infirmary at Church Street in 1788 coincided with the redevelopment of the town by the earl of Charleville.  The infirmary was built for £490 but was enlarged in 1812 at a cost of £800.  It was reported in 1801 that the infirmary ‘is humanely attended to by Lady Charleville, and a machine for restoring life to persons apparently drowned, is now erecting at her ladyship’s expense!’  The somewhat notorious judge, Baron Smith, of Newtown near Geashill, very kindly offered to give 114 yards of good linen annually for the patients underwear so long as he approved of the management of the institution.  The infirmary, which catered for up to 50 patients at a time was closed in 1921.  The workhouse hospital served the area until the building of the county hospital in the late 1930s.  The infirmary building accommodated the Civic Guards for a few years followed by the county library which was housed here until 1977.


Over the river bridge is D.E. Williams Ltd cash and carry.  This was first used as a glass factory in the years 1943 to 1945.  The barrel-vaulted shed beside it operated as the Tullamore laundry, later the Snow White laundry, from 1906 until about 1938.  The creamery and bacon factory were established in 1928 and 1944, respectively, and give employment to about 100.

Charleville School

Moving back into Church Street again, there are no buildings on the southern side of interest other than the Charleville school.  This very attractive building in rough-cut limestone ashlar and with georgian glazing bars, was built in 1811.  Erected by the earl of Charleville for the education of the poor children of the parish, it was operated originally on the plan on Joseph Lancaster.  Lancaster’s system was to have small classes with the elder pupils doing much of the teaching of the younger.  Louisa Tisdall, a daughter of the countess of Charleville by her first marriage, wrote a few interesting details about the school in 1824: ‘The school was built by Papa and is a handsome building.  It was originally arranged by dear Mama on the Lancasterian plan, but in our absenceit was remodelled and is now a mixture of the Bell system and Lancaster’s with other additions.  Introducing the bible among the school books has given great offence to the Catholics, and the whole thing was nearly overturned: there are still however a tolerably good attendance of children in the boys school; the girls we hope to revive soon again – but subscriptions were withdrawn in our absence and as usual it will all fall again on Mama’s purse.  The schoolmaster is clever but appears methodistical… The Irish peasantry have great natural quickness and talent, and a warmth of feeling very congenial to my own.  Were they but educated, civilised, done justice to, would they not be a charming people’.

Patrick Street

Standing at Hayes’ hotel we can get a good view of Patrick Street, formerly Barrack Street.  A barrack was erected here for two companies of foot in 1716.  It was burned in 1922 and U.D.C. housing and a Garda station built on the site.  The military barrack brought about 100 soldiers to the town and is thought to have been a major factor in the town’s growth because of the increased demand for goods and services that followed its arrival.  After the 1870s, soldiers were stationed at Tullamore only at infrequent intervals.

Head Office of Williams Group

Patrick Street was rebuilt after the balloon fire of 1785, and probably widened at this time.  The fire destroyed about 100 houses, mostly thatched, or about one-third of the town’s housing stock.  A few houses survived the fire, including the head office of the Williams Group.  This house was built about 1760 by George Ross, a brewer.  It now serves as the headquarters of a leading Irish company associated with Tullamore since 1884.

Supermarket (now Quinnsworth)

Near the head office of the Williams Group is a D.E. Williams Ltd supermarket.  This building was reconstructed in 1941-2 to a design of Michael Scott, and was finished in Clonaslee stone.  In the Murals Bar beside the supermarket may be seen work by the artist Sean O’Sullivan.

Marrons Shoe Shop (now Domnic Feely)

It is always interesting to trace back a business to its roots.  Marron’s shop on the southern side of the street originated in a tannery established by Michael Mulready in the 1830s.  Mulready occupied the building, now the Oasis cake shop, and had his tannery at the rear.  In the car park at the rear of the Copper Urn public house may be seen his name and the date 1832 inscribed on the warehouse building.  The move from tannery to manufactured shoes purchased elsewhere illustrates the general trend away from the self sufficient country town.  The ease with which goods could be imported from Britain following the building of the railways played a big part in undermining small industries.

Capital Bar

Past the head office of the Williams Group is the Capital Bar.  This three-storey building dates from about 1840.  The date stone of the original building on this site with the inscription ‘Andrew Grier 1742′ may be seen set in the path near the entrance.

Bolger Arms

The Bolger Arms hotel can be dated back to the 1850s but it has been enlarged since that time.

R. Smyth

On the southern side of the street again, the public house of R. Smyth was formerly a mill house with stores, a flour mill and kiln at the rear.  The mill was incorporated in the Tullamore distillery in the 1830s.

K. Dunne, Walsh

Before leaving Patrick Street the very fine shopfronts of K. Dunne and Walsh are worth noting.  Patrick Street is now the major shopping area of the town and is likely to lose such residential character as it still retains.

Mallet Tavern

The most interesting house in Kilbride Street is undoubtedly the Mallet Tavern, the only surviving thatched house in the town.  This house may predate the fire of 1785.  It has been in the Molloy family for many generations.  Many of those who frequented it in the last century were masons working at the limestone quarries at Ballyduff and Sragh.

We can return to Columcille Street (William Street) through Kilbride Park.  On the left, across the canal are the Clontarf Road houses thatched cabins. The very fine bonded warehouse beside the canal was erected by Daniel E. Williams in 1897.  The company had its own canal barge which continued to ply between Tullamore and Dublin until 1957.

Irish Mist Liquer Co. Ltd.

East of the bonded warehouse are the attractive offices of the Irish Mist Liquer Co. Ltd, erected in 1966-7.  The whiskey-based liquer has been manufactured here since the late ‘forties and is now exported to over 100 countries.  Visitors are welcome at the company’s office after 3 p.m. each day.


Beside the Irish Mist buildings is Offaly Street, formerly known as Wheelwright Lane.  The street was developed by Thomas Acres who purchased portion of the back garden of the Columcille Street houses he already had.  However, the street was in a backward, sunless area and failed to attract very much besides cabins, many of which have since been demolished.  The large two-storey houses at H. Collins Ltd. represent the beginning of an ambitious plan that failed to take off.  Proceeding through Offaly Street we emerge at Byrne’s public house and make our way towards Hayes’ hotel.


Better known as William Street (after Charles William Bury, first earl of Charleville) but prior to the 1800s known as Pound Street.  The pound was in the area of the derelict houses at the Kilbeggan bridge.  There was little development here before 1790. In that year a plan of the street with building plots was made by the architect, John Pentland.  Where we now have the opening to Harbour Street was reserved in 1790 for a court house.  However, another 40 years was to pass before a site would be required.  Thomas Acre took leases of almost all of this street from the landlord and building began about 1795.


This was a massive drapery store by provincial standards and was erected by Malachy Scally in 1911-14.  Scally is said to have taken the design from a shop in Brussels, but T.F. McNamera supervised the work here.  The original, more decorative window frames, were recently removed.  It is said locally that Scally’s business declined as a result of the building of this grand store because country people were afraid to go into it!

Allied Irish Banks

The Allied Irish Banks branch is by J. Boyd-Barrett and was erected in 1949-50.

Dolan’s Pharmacy

Beside the bank is the very nice shop front of Dolan’s pharmacy with six engaged doric fluted columns.  An interesting fact about this shop is that successive chemists or apothecaries have carried on business here since 1796, which must be a record in the town in regard to continuity of function.  There is not a great deal else in Columcille Street that is of particular interest therefore let us turn right into Harbour Street.


Like Church Street, Patrick Street and Convent Road, this street is at a right angle to the main street in accordance with the first earl’s grid iron style town plan.  The harbour at the
eastern end was completed in 1799.  There is no evidence of residential development here prior to that date.  The landlord made building plots available on the northern side of the street (from the Co-op to Cunninghams) in 1805 and building began immediately.  The development was an orderly one with uniformity in regard to frontage and elevation.  The southern side from Finlay’s shop to the maltings is not so well planned and is a development of the 1820s.  Progress on this side was restricted because the back garden of what is now Finlay’s shop extended to the E.S.B. office.  The lease dated from 1790 and indicates that the landlord had not envisaged the development of Harbour Street some years later.


Access to Tullamore’s second market square, an unusual town feature, can be gained from Deane Place, opposite the Church gates in Harbour Street.  The leaseholders on the northern side of Harbour Street and the southern side of Church Street had to go without
the benefit of long gardens so that the landlord could provide a new market place.  This square was formerly known as the Cornmarket and was laid out about 1823.

Grand Central

Of interest here is the Grand Central cinema.  The cinema is on part of the site of the old meat market which in turn was erected on the site of the town’s first Protestant church.  Mr T.F. McNamera provided plans for the erection of a cinema and alterations to the Tullamore Co-operative Society building erected in 1921 and incorporated in the Foresters’ development.  The work was carried out by Duffy Brothers and the cinema opened in 1924.

Egan-Tarleton Ltd

At the eastern end of the square is the Egan-Tarleton property which contains grain handling plant etc.  This place was built in 1822 as a distillery and continued as such until the 1840s.  It was then used as a temporary workhouse and later as a steam saw mills and a maltings.


We now leave the Market Square and return to Harbour Street through Gas Works Lane.  Tullamore obtained piped gas in 1880 and this continued to be used until electricity became generally available in 1921.  At the foot of Harbour Street is St. Philomena’s girls primary school erected in 1932.  The school was built on the site of the old Foresters hall burned in 1920 by the Black and Tans.


Opposite St Philomena’s is the new Vocational School opened in the early 1970s and north of it the Sacred Heart secondary school for girls opened in the 1950s.  O’Carroll Street also known as Henry Street (probably after Henry Manley) dates from 1810.  The terrace of 12 two-storey houses on the eastern side was built in the late 1830s.  O’Carroll Street was the site of a house built by John Moore in the 1700s.  John Moore became the first Lord Tullamore in 1715.  His son Charles, moved to Redwood, a house near Charleville castle in 1740 and the Tullamore house fell into ruin.  It is thought to have been located near the Charleville school.


In an attempt to keep the narrative in some kind of chronological order we move back to Chapel Street.  Chapel Street did not share the same fate as Offaly Street probably because of the Catholic church on the eastern side.  Like Offaly Street most of it was on the Acres estate.  One or two good houses were erected here on the western side and also on the eastern side nearest Harbour Street but the development failed to take off.  The rest of the houses were cabins let on short leases. There has been a lot of rebuilding here since the 1900s.  In this street is the town’s last farmyard.  This contrasts remarkably with the position in 1900 when a lot of people in the town kept cows and pigs etc. on the back gardens of their dwellings.  The cock crowing in the early morning can still be heard in the town but is becoming very rare.

The church of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady

This church was completed in October 1906 and is on the site of a church built about 1800.  The first post-Reformation Catholic church in the Tullamore area was erected in 1775 at Ballyduff (near the Burlington factory).  This was a small T-shaped building some of the walls of which are still standing.  In 1794 the proprietor of Tullamore presented the present site to the parish priest and a church was erected here before 1802.  By all accounts it was a fine building, to which additions were made in 1808 and again before 1850.  In 1808 the parish priest, Fr Kearney, petitioned the directors of the Grand Canal Company for a contribution towards the building of an addition to the chapel because ‘the enlargement of the chapel has in part become necessary from the great number of people that resort it, in proceeding to your passage boats, more particularly from the province of Connaught, and also the large portion of the labouring poor employed on your works, whose morals, if not attended to, might become so depraved as to endanger the security of your extensive works, which tho’ executed with great judgement, are still vulnerable in many parts’.  Fr Kearney’s services as moral policeman were accepted and he received £50 from the canal company for the church building fund.

The church was getting into a bad state of repair by the end of the century and the then parish  priest, Fr Behan, decided to build a new one.  The foundation stone was laid by Dr Nulty, bishop of Meath, on 5 June 1898.  Mr William Hague was commissioned as architect, and it was expected that the building would cost £15,000.  In the event it cost over £25,000.  The architect died while the work was in progress and the new church was completed by T.F. McNamera.  A description of the church in The Irish Builder (20 Oct. 1906) is worth reproducing.

A large and important church was dedicated on Sunday week by the Most Revd. Dr. Gaughran, Bishop of Meath, at Tullamore.  The church, which has but recently been completed, was designed by the late Mr William Hague, and built under the supervision of Mr. T.F. McNamera, of Dublin.  The building, which is Gothic, is about 200 feet from the ground, 172 feet in the length from outside east wall to the west door, the nave 36 feet wide, side aisles 18 feet wide each.  The sanctuary has on each side two chapels, behind one of which is the sacristy, and near the other a well-lighted room reserved for the nuns who have easy access to their convent.  The chancel arch rests on two columns and smaller pillars of Galway granite.  Over the alters the groined roof is of fibrous plaster, while that of the centre is of pitch pine.  The windows contain cathedral glass, and perfection appears to have been reached in the ventilation, heating, and lighting, the last being by means of electric installation.  At the west end is the organ, an instrument the look of which is in harmony with the whole edifice, and was supplied by Telford, of Dublin.  The High Alter is a magnificent proof of the sculptor’s art.  It is of Sicilian marble with panels of Carara and shafts of Cork and Connemara marble, the artists being Messrs. Malone, also of Dublin.  There are already also stained glass windows and the Stations, in oils.  The stone materials were taken from the local quarries, and, as far as possible, local tradesmen and labourers were employed throughout.  For the dedication, the new R.C. Bishop of Meath, Dr. Gaughran, attended, and he was assisted by Dr. Hoare, of Ardagh.

In 1930 the walls of the sanctuary were decorated in mosaics at a cost of over £2,500, by Messrs Oppenheimer of Manchester.  The church and grounds were renovated in 1977 at a cost of £35,000.


Moving through the church grounds to the eastern end of the church we emerge at Store Street.  The making of this street was a direct result of the completion of the Grand Canal as far as Tullamore in 1798.  Over the high wall opposite the church is the canal harbour. Stores were built on the harbour side of this street about 1800.  The plot of ground between the canal at Convent Road and Harbour Street was conveyed to the canal company by Lord Charleville for the provision of a harbour, stores and a hotel.  Building on the western side began in 1805-6.  One Laurence Behan, erected six three-storey houses the first of which is at Cunningham’s car show rooms and the last at the house north of the Store Street church entrance.  When Behan was declared bankrupt in 1810 the six houses were sold for £1,000.  The next two houses are identical in style and were built by William Frazer in 1807.


Between Chapel Street and Store Street is Benburb Street, perhaps better known by its former name Thomas Street (probably after Thomas Manley).  Most of the houses here date from the 1830s replacing cabins erected in the 1800s.  St Mary’s hall, originally a single-storey building was opened about 1861 for the C.Y.M.S.


Following the road east of Benburb Street we move into St Brigid’s Place.  The nice georgian house on the corner with two storeys over a basement, was built in 1800 to accommodate the boat fare collector.  Beside this house  is a community centre, formerly St Brigid’s national school.  The school house was built by the Christian Brothers about 1875.  Next, is the new parochial house built for the Catholic clergy of the parish and completed in 1974.  This building is on the site of the old Grand canal hotel.

The canal hotel

The hotel was erected in 1801 and demolished in 1974.  The building, with three storeys over a basement and seven bays, was identical to that at Roberstown which still survives.  Tullamore was the terminus of the Grand canal for six years until the extension to Shannon Harbour was completed in 1804.  It was an enormous benefit to the town because it provided a direct link with Dublin and made it possible to transport goods at low costs.  A canal engineer, Captain Evans, had recommended in 1798 that a hotel be built in the town because of the inadequate accommodation available.  A hotel was needed  for passengers, who, having left Dublin at 6 a.m. would not arrive in Tullamore until 8 p.m.  The canal company built five hotels in all, but they were not a financial success.  The competition from coaches and the desire of passengers to travel to their destinations as quickly as possible made the hotels unnecessary.  On completion of the Tullamore hotel in 1801 the company leased it for three years at £114 annual rent.  This was not allowing very much for return on capital as it had cost £4,399.  The lease was renewed in 1804, but by 1807 business had declined because of a change in boat timetables.  At this point the company decided to employ their own hotel keeper at two guineas a week, but he was later dismissed because of ‘the misconduct of his wife’.  In 1838 it was reported that the hotel ‘is
generally empty’.  The building was used as a temporary hospital in the years 1845 to 1851.  In 1859 the building opened as St. Brigid’s seminary, and from 1862 it was shared between the Christian Brothers.  When the seminary closed in 1866 that part of the house came to be occupied by the Catholic curates.  The parish priest took up residence with his
curates in 1893 on the departure of the Christian Brothers.  The building was demolished in late 1974.

Across from the new parochial house is Bury bridge built in 1799. The bridge and the area of the east of it are also known as Whitehall.


North of Bury Bridge, across the canal, is the old road to Mullingar.  Before the canal was constructed this area was known as Connaught Street and had a number of cabins.  After the building of the canal the principal’cabin suburbs’ were north of the canal at Clontarf Road and Rapparee Alley (the above mentioned old road to Mullingar).  Convent Road, also known as Bury Quay, was laid out for building plots in 1805.  The area between Store Street and Bury bridge was already owned by the canal company and stores (still standing) were erected here in the 1800s.  On the corner is St Columba’s classical school built in 1912.  Part of this is still used as a school and the rest as a recreation centre.  Like many other buildings in the town it was designed by T. F. McNamera.

Convent of Mercy and schools

Although it fronts Benburb Street and Store Street I have left the convent of Mercy and schools until now so that the visitor could be referred to the inscriptions on the building at Convent Road.  These buildings were erected between 1961 and 1967 and replaced structures of varying dates including a convent in the gothic style completed in 1841.  The Mercy nuns arrived in Tullamore in 1836 having come by canal from Dublin.  The first convent was situated near the principle entrance to the present convent in Store Street and was a dwelling house similar to the houses still standing in that street.  That the nuns came to Tullamore was largely as a result of the efforts of the town’s best known and most influential parish priest, Fr James O’Rafferty.  Funds to found a convent at Tullamore were provided from the estate of a Miss Penthony, a wealthy Dublin lady who retired to Tullamore to work among the poor.  She died in 1835.


From the school to the Kilbeggan bridge are seven houses similar to those in Cormac Street.  These houses were erected about 1807.  Plots of ground for the two houses west of the entrance to Chapel Street were leased to John Coffey.  The houses are identical and have retained their original features including the glazing bars.  The public house on the corner, built in two stages, exhibits the landlord’s concern for how the town looked.  The portion of it fronting Columcille Street was erected in 1791-2, and that part fronting Convent Road about 1805 to 1807.  There is a date stone set in the wall fronting Columcille Street.  The lease, Charles Berry, undertook to build a house uniform with other houses to be erected in Convent Road, rather than with his own in Columcille Street.  Incidentally, Berry received £125 compensation from the canal company for damage done to this house.  The building of the canal bridge had placed the middle floor of his house on a level with the height of the street.


The Kilbeggan bridge, the last point in our walking tour, was erected in 1801-03.  The bridge was reconstructed in 1929-30 by Duffy Brothers.  Apparently there had been a good deal of opposition when the canal bridges were constructed, possibly because of the difficulties it created for horses trying to pull a load across it. In December 1802 Lord Charleville ‘promised to use his best endeavours to put an end to the opposition heretofore existing to the proposed situation and number of bridges to be built at Tullamore’.  Apart from the building of a workhouse in 1841 very little development took place on the Arden Road until the present century.  Most of the workhouse was demolished in recent years.  Further out the Arden Road is the county hospital, erected in the late 1930s to a design of Scott and Good.  The building was fronted in local limestone in order to encourage employment.  Other interesting examples of modern architecture on this road are the Day Care Centre and Welfare Home on the site of the workhouse and the Health Centre on the hospital lawn.

The canal is now Tullamore’s most valued amenity.  From the Kilbeggan bridge a good view can be obtained of the improvements carried out here since the 1960s by the U.D.C. in co-operation with Lakeland Tourism and Irish Mist.  It is hoped that these improvements will continue and that the town itself will be planted with trees in years to come.

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Egans Bridge House Tullamore in 1915

Messrs. P. & H. Egan described in 1915.

One of the three great businesses in Tullamore a century ago

In a central position in the town stands the fine imposing business premises of Messrs. P. & H. Egan, Ltd., the well-known Midland firm of whiskey, wine, and beer purveyors.  The shop front, which was designed some few years [1909-10 – now just 100 years old] ago by Mr. Crossley, C.E., is one of the most magnificent to be seen in any town in the province, and has only one rival in Tullamore, namely, Mr. Scally’s .  The firm of Messrs. P. & H. Egan, was established in 1852, and was formed into a limited liability company in 1896.  The chairman of the company is Mr. Henry Egan, J.P., the directors being Messrs. P. J. Egan, J.P., (managing director), James F. Egan, George A. Moorhead, J.P., and Kevin F. Egan, late Bridge House Manager, now an officer in the Royal Irish Regiment.  Messrs. P. & H. Egan were also the proprietors of Dooly’s Hotel, Birr, and of Hayes’ Hotel, Tullamore, before the formation of the Midlands Hotels Co., Ltd., in which concern they have a large interest.  There are branch establishments at Moyvore, and Tubber, Co. Westmeath, Rathangan, Co. Kildare, and Kilcormac, Kinnitty, and Ballycumber in King’s County.  The firm are also extensive buyers of barley grown in the King’s and adjoining counties, and have a large brewing and malting as well as a mineral water making establishment where the finest of non-alcoholic beverages are manufactured.  They are also the brewers of the famous Tullamore Ale which, as a dinner ale, has no rival amongst ales manufactured in this country.  Messrs. Egan are also wholesale wine and spirit merchants, and carry on an extensive business over King’s and Queen’s Counties, Tipperary, Limerick, Clare, Mayo, Cork, etc.  The premises were remodelled some years ago at considerable expense, and are now most elaborately fitted up for the business which has grown to an enormous extent during the past ten years and which continues to expand daily.  The main portion of the building is devoted to the hardware and provision business, which is the largest conducted in any house in the province.  To the rere are the coal, iron, and timber departments.  The firm’s coal trade for some years past has developed enormously, as well as the trade in farming implements, feeding stuffs, seeds, and manures.  A special feature of the establishment is the coachbuilding establishment, which has been recently extended and from it some beautiful up-to-date traps and vehicles of all sorts are turned out.  The firm execute contracts for the erection of iron railings, hay barns, bridges, etc.  About forty horses are kept, and the firm’s drays, in addition to two motor lorries, are continually on the roads delivering goods through the county.  The firm also own a motor boat on the Grand Canal, by means of which regular weekly deliveries to and from Dublin are maintained.  In the brewery yard is the whiskey and beer bottling section, where a large number of hands are constantly engaged in the bottling process.  The whiskey stocked has the reputation of being the best on the market while the wines bottled are of the finest vintage.  Messrs. Egan, like Messrs. D. E. Williams, Ltd., have also done their share to develop the town, and to make it second to none in the provinces.  How far they have succeeded in that direction is known to all who take an interest in the welfare of Tullamore.  They have built up a business which has helped the town and benefited the inhabitants in every conceivable way.  The managing director of the firm, Mr. P. J. Egan, occupies the municipal chair, and during his term of office has evinced a very keen interest in and attention to the matters which concern the ratepayer.  The scheme of steam-rolling which was commenced during the chairmanship of Mr. Lumley has, with the exception of a few perches of road, been satisfactorily completed during his term of office.  He was one of the first to advocate the steam rolling of the roads, and streets, and to him alone the people of Tullamore are indebted for the present up-to-date clean, and healthy thoroughfares.  It is to be hoped he will be continued in office until other much-needed improvements are effected.  The chairman of the company, Mr. Henry Egan, was for many years after the passing of the Local Government Act, Chairman of the King’s County Council, a position which he filled with dignity and ability.  His resignation occasioned much regret throughout the county because it was felt it would be very difficult to replace him.

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The new canal hotel for Tullamore of 1801 demolished 1974

Proposed new hotel for Tullamore in 1798

by Michael Byrne

Part 1

The first hotel in Tullamore in 1786 (212 years ago), cost £200.  The second in 1801, some £4,000.  Even by multiplying by 200 for the cost of living today, this expenditure was light in the context of the  two new hotels in Tullamore which will possibly represent a total expenditure of some £15,000,000 for 150 beds.


The first hotel (that we know of) to be constructed in Tullamore was the Bury Arms Hotel (now the Phoenix Arms), erected in 1786 as an inn for Tullamore at a cost to the landlord, Charles William Bury, of £200.  We know from the letter below that in 1798 it had 13 beds for letting.  The hotel was first leased to John Tydd at a yearly rent of £20.  John Tydd and his son Benjamin were both dead by 1798 at which point the innkeeper was one Mr. Doherty.  The letter below was written by Captain William Evans, who had been a director of the Grand Canal company until c. 1796, but remained with the Company providing engineering advice until 1805.  His departure possibly coinciding and following soon after the completion of the works to Shannon Harbour in 1804.  Notwithstanding Evans’ criticism of the hotel Sir Richard Colt Hore who stayed at the hotel in 1806 wrote: ‘At Tullamore I found a good inn and accommodation at Doherty’s (the Charleville Arms) near the Bridge’ (Tour, p. 32).  The hotel had changed its name in line with that of the enobling of the town’s landlord who became Lord Tullamore in 1797, Viscount Charleville in 1800 and earl of Charleville in 1806.


The canal had been completed to Tullamore in March of 1798 and was the terminus for six years until the line to Shannon Harbour was completed in 1804.  In March 1798 Captain WIlliam Evans, a canal engineer wrote:

‘Our canal to Tullamore is so nearly finished that the passage boats will begin to ply to and from that place on the second day of April next though it is probable it may be opened some day sooner.’  In April, Evans wrote from Tullamore complaining of the inadequate accommodation available for boat passengers in the town and suggesting to the board that a hotel, a harbour and a bridge be built (see below).  In May the board decided that ‘the plan for the harbour at Tullamore marked on the sketch no. 1 and estimaed at £566.7.3 be adopted’.  Later in the same month, Captain Evans was instructed ‘to use the utmost diligence in laying before the board plans for an hotel, stores, a collector’s house [at St. Brigid's Place] and dry docks at Tullamore, together with separate estimates of the expense of  each’.  In December ’98, Evans put before the board the proposals of Michael Hayes and Maurice Ellis for executing the stonework for the harbour.  Hayes’ tender was accepted because in April 1801 he was paid £600 for his work on the harbour and  stores.  The harbour, stores and Bury Bridge (now Whitehall Bridge) were all built in 1799 but the collector’s house and hotel were not completed until late 1801.  John Killaly, the well known canal engineer (and who later designed Tullamore jail), was responsible for the design of the collector’s house (two-storey, three-bay with round-headed doorcase, south of the old St. Brigid’s boys’ school) and Captain Evans for the hotel.


Evans had recommended that a hotel be built because of the inadequate accommodation in
the town and the board accepted his advice.  The plan of the Tullamore hotel was to be  identicial to that at Robertstown which Evans had designed and on which work began in 1799.  The building of the Tullamore hotel began in 1801.  In February 1801 the boardinstructed Killaly to stop Mr. Hayes from proceeding in building the hoel until he signs his contract.  The contract was signed quickly.  ‘Mr. Hayes has executed his contract for building an hotel at Tullamore in the same manner and on the same principle as to payment with that subsisting between the company and Mr. Semple [the contractor at Robertstown}'.  The hotel was supplied with water by means of a one-inch bore from the canal into the scullery of the hotel.  A passage boat quay was built opposite the hotel and the road between the hotel and the quay paved (near St. Brigid's Place).


Other building work carried out at this time included the erection of the lockhouses and bridges.  The twenty sixth lockhouse (Bolands, about one mile east of Whitehall Bridge) was erected about 1800 but the board was displeased at the expense 'It appearing to the Board, that the extraordinary and unnecessary expense incurred in building the house of the 26th lock-keeper near Tullamore was not authorised by the Board, ordered that the sum of £42.11s.7d. be struck out of Mr. Hayes' account until he furnish the board with the authority on which he put the company to the extraordinary expense in building the same.'


The Kilbeggan Bridge (formerly Pound Bridge) was erected 1801-03.  The canal company had to compensate house owners who suffered damage by the raising of the approach road to the bridge.  Charles Berry (now Eugene's pub) was paid £125, Mrs. Foley £45 and Thomas Washington £73.  The Clara Bridge (Cox's bridge) was built in 1809.  This is surprisingly late but may perhaps be explained by the local opposition to the building of the  bridges.  In December 1802 Lord Charleville 'promised to use his best endeavours to put an end to the opposition heretofore exisiting to the proposed situation and number of bridges to be built at Tullamore.'  The Kilbeggan bridge was rebuilt in 1929-30 by Duffy Brothers at a cost of £1300 and the Clara Bridge in the 1960s.   The steel footbridge at the northern end of Store Street was erected by Smith and Pearson for £390 in 1934.


Travelling on the canal was expensive.  When the canal reached Tullamore in 1798 a new scale of charges was introduced.  On the Dublin-Tullamore run (561/2m) a state cabin cost 10s 10d and a common cabin 5s 111/2d.  When the link up was made with the Shannon in 1804 the Dublin-Shannon Harbour trip (781/2 m) cost a state-cabin passenger 16s 3d and a common passenger 9s 51/2 d.  The journey was slow, the Tullamore-Dublin trip took about fourteen hours in 1798.  When the fly boats were introduced in 1834 the Tullamore-Dublin trip was made in nine hours.  Formerly Grand Canal Place,  the name St. Brigid's Place was adopted by the urban council in the early 1900s.


The Canal Hotel was a three-storey building over a basement, seven bays with a central breakfront of three bays and was demolished in 1974.  The canal company leased the hotel to George Forrest in August 1801.  Forrest agreed to pay a rent of £113.15.0 a year on what was a three-year lease.  The canal company lent him £800 to furnish the hotel.  The building had cost £4,399.  Forrest renewed his lease in 1804 but by 1807 he was complaining that the change in the passage boat timetables had deprived him of much business.  In an attempt to meet the competition from canal owners the canal company had been forced to provide a through service to Shannon Harbour and most of the passengers decided to continue the journey rather than stay the night at Tullamore or Robertstown.  When Forrest did not renew his lease the board appointed its own hotelkeeper, Robert Boucher, a passage boat master.  Boucher was paid two guineas a week and employed for two years until dismissed because of the 'misconduct of his wife'.  Andrew Morgan, a hotel keeper, leased the hotel for £52 per year in 1814.  In the 1820s his lease rent was halved when he reported that his business was declining, and finally in 1834 he terminated his lease.  The building was leased to Bridget Purcell in 1834.  In October 1838, the board was told that the hotel is 'generally emtpy'.  She surrendered her lease in 1839 and the local canal collector was placed in charge of the building.  William Morgan used part of the building as a hotel for two years from June 1841 but the rent went into arrears and he had to surrerender the lease.  The board of guardians of the Tullamore workhouse took a lease of the building in 1848 and it was used as a temporary infirmary until June 1851.  In 1856 the Midland Great Western Railway  Company took a short lease while they were constructing a line from Streamstown to Clara.  Finally in April 1859, the board let the hotel, yard and garden to Rev. Fr. MacAlroy, PP, for sixty one years at £20 per annum provided he would undertake to spend £100 on repairs to the property.  The building was opened as St. Bridget's seminary in September 1859 under the charge of Rev. Fr. Dunne who remained there until the arrival of the Christian Brothers in January 1862.  Fr. Dunne was associated with the large scale emigration to Queensland.  The house was now in part occupied by the Brothers and in part as a seminary.  When the seminary closed in 1866 that portion of the house came to be occupied by the Catholic curates of the parish.  When the Brothers left the hotel in 1893 the parish priest took up residence with his curates.


The house continued to be used as a Catholic Presbytery until it was demolished in 1974 and replaced by a new presbytery to the rear of the old one.


St. Brigid's Boys National School:  a two-storey four-bay building with projecting bay at the centre.  The national school (lately used for community purposes and now falling into ruin) was erected in 1876.  The collector or harbour master's house at the corner of St. Brigid's Place is a private dwelling, two-storey three bay, round-headed doorcase and was designed by the canal engineer John Killaly in 1800 and built for the boat fare collector.

of St. Brigid's Place in 1901:

No. of inhabitants:                      13

No. of families                              2

No. of houses and condition,      2 slated first class houses. 

Outbuildings,                               2 stables, 1 harness room, 1 cow house, 1 dairy, 1 piggery,

                                                       1 fowl house and 1 barn.

Canal Harbour: 

The harbour was made in 1799 and the stores (on the site of the old cattle market) were erected at the same time.  The stores ere three-storey in height and in the beginning were leased for three year eriods at £25 each annual rent.  For anyone transporting goods on the canal the possession of a store at the harbour would be essential.  In 1809 alternations were carried out, with a flight of steps being placed outside each store and the stairs inside removed.  In 1843-54, most of the stores were leased to T. P. and R. Goodbody and Robert Perry and Co.








Proposed new hotel for Tullamore in 1798


Michael Byrne

Part 2


The first hotel in Tullamore in 1786 (212 years ago), cost £200.  The second in 1801, some £4,000.  Even by multiplying by 200 for the cost of living today, this expenditure was light in the context of the  two new hotels in Tullamore which will possibly represent a total expenditure of some £15,000,000 for 150 beds.


The first hotel (that we know of) to be constructed in Tullamore was the Bury Arms Hotel(now the Phoenix Arms), erected in 1786 as an inn for Tullamore at a cost to the landlord, Charles William Bury, of £200.  We know from the letter below that in 1798 it had 13 beds for letting.  The hotel was first leased to John Tydd at a yearly rent of £20.  John Tydd and his son Benjamin were both dead by 1798 at which point the innkeeper was one Mr. Doherty.  The letter below was written by Captain William Evans, who had been a director of the Grand Canal company until c. 1796, but remained with the Company providing engineering advice until 1805.  His departure possibly coinciding and following soon after the completion of the works to Shannon Harbour in 1804.  Notwithstanding Evans' criticism of the hotel Sir Richard Colt Hore who stayed at the hotel in 1806 wrote: 'At Tullamore I found a good inn and accommodation at Doherty's (the Charleville Arms) near the Bridge' (Tour, p. 32).  The hotel had changed its name in line with that of the enobling of the town's landlord who became Lord Tullamore in 1797, Viscount Charleville in 1800 and earl of Charleville in 1806.


In the Evans letter set out below, the following points should be noted:

1.         The area beside the De Montfort hall (erected in 1912) came to be known as 'The Bell'.  It should be remembered the terminus was here to the back of the old hotel for  six years.

2.         The time difference with Dublin.

3.         Michael Hayes was a construction contractor specialising in the masonry work at  bridges, harbours etc.  Richard Griffith, father of the famous engineer, joined the board in 1784.  Joseph Huband, another director of the company as was Lord Charleville himself.


4.         References to prisoners coming from Birr reminds us that the rebellion of 1798 got  going in earnest in May of 1798, a month after the line to Tullamore was opened.  The  Grand Canal was closed from June 1798 because of the rebellion.  The line was used by Lord Cornwallis to convey troops from Dublin in August 1798 and to convey French prisoners to Dublin in September 1798.


5.         Beahan is probably the Laurence Behan, a canal 'tasker' who erected six houses in Store Street c. 1806.

6.         Lord Tullamore's old house - this is believed to have been in the vicinity of the present harbour and must be the house erected c. 1700 and in use by the Charles Moore, the  first earl of Charleville until c. 1740 when he moved to the old house known as  Redwood which was near the site of the present Charleville Castle.  After 1740 the house may have been used as a second barrack as was suggested by the late Dr. Moran in his Early History of Tullamore.


6.         Connaught Street appears to have been a narrow street connecting the Daingean road with the present Ball Alley Lane behind Eugene's Bar at Bury Quay (now Convent    Road).


The bad weather has prevented us doing much these two days, but the banks which required the closest attention from the heavy rains, which has detained me here - The passage boats are doing well already; on the 2nd inst. [April] from Dublin four state and twelve common passengers, on the 3rd ten stated and four common passengers but I am sorry to find there is by no means the accommodation I expected in this Inn, [now the Phoenix Arms, 212 year old hotel] there are 13 beds only, Doherty also charges a shilling for carrying each passenger from his house to the boat; I have argued the point to no purpose. Upon the whole I conceive competition as well as accommodation, necessary and without loss of time.  I have taken the liberty to write to Mr. Dowling for a large Bell which is necessary for regularity.  Mr. Reynolds and I were obliged to call Boatmen, passengers, and alarm the Town by the Horn this morning, as however the boat went off to the minute, as there is no clock at the Inn and the watches here differing with Dublin materially, there is the utmost necessity for an eight day clock immediately.  The Boat arrived ten minutes past eight last night notwithstanding the levels being low, and the sluices not compleat, it is therefore evident that this passage will be made sooner than that from Athy.  I have been forming a Plan for an Hotel, at Lowtown or elsewhere; if the Board should find it expedient to build one here.  Mr. Jones is ready to take it.  There are two plans and estimates some time at the Canal House, which I request the Board will send me, one was drawn under my direction but I now see some alterations necessary, the plan we are preparing I think more compleat but the Estimates are the object to regulate prices.  The person in possession of the house I expected to have procured for the Collector refuses possession and cannot be put out; the only situation I conceive he can do his duty in is a cabin on the Company’s ground which Mr. Hayes repaired and added to for temporary accommodation, this Mr. Reynolds is perfectly satisfied with if put in order, the expence will be between £20 and £30; there is a stable for the Packet Houses, and an enclosed yard, the situation is in the corner of the  Company’s field above the Pound; the best for his residence at present and it will always pay well.  What may be expended on it after he may be removed.  I have and will endeavour to induce people to get beds prepared for travellers by the boats as I am much alarmed at the danger there is of people coming by the boat being disappointed, which would be a most serious evil, there has been some distress already, few as the passengers have been in proportion to what may be expected immediately, some people who have gone by the Boats had no idea of it when they arrived here – I have received a report from Forrest of six Brackets being stolen from Lowtown lock.  I also received information of where they might probably be found, and the persons concerned.  I gave the ltter to Mr. Huband who was so kind to take the trouble of delivering it to Mr. Griffith my not being able to leave this neighbourhood to follow it up.  I have just received information that 16 yeomen are coming in here, and are to be accommodated in this house, they are bringing prisoners from Birr, if there are passengers I do not know how they will be accommodated, they shall have Mr. Reynold’s and my bed of course, and I will make every exertion to prepare for them.  I am sorry to say I have done little good; an inferior kind of Inn (Murphy’s) have all their beds, namely six, occupied by the common course of Business, another Public House (Flanagans) say they will have six beds some time hence, Beahan a canal tasker promises to prepare six, but his rooms are occupied by lodgers, these are poor hopes for the accommodation of the canal people coming in from the country for the Boat or otherwise, get possession and the people coming in by the Boat are too late to be accommodated – out of the 13 beds in this House two are occupied by a gentleman receiving rents and many continue for weeks, two occupied by Mr. Reynold’s and me; these I do not reckon or as we have both got lodgings after today, and will give them this night to passengers if necessary, Officers frequently occupy a great part of the House, the private houses object to let beds, from the trouble of the early and late hours; upon the whole Mr. Reynolds and I are quite at a loss what to do after each exertion.  Part of Lord Tullamore’s old house through in ruins might soon be fitted up, as the walls are dry, and lined with brick, but this would be inconvenient to one of the proposed lines, however at all events a branch to it and Harbour would soon be made and at amoderate expense, being Embankment, and I do not see how a convenient Harbour can be made any where else, as the line towards the Pound, being from 13 to 14 feet deep, from the quantity of stuff that must be put on the Banks and again removed, especially in the wide excavation of a Harbour, and the impossibility of landing goods even then unless the Banks or both sides are lowered to a reasonable height above water, which would altogether cost a considerable sum, be tedious in the execution and at best be a less eligible situation; from the foregoing circumstances and the certainty that the best place for a Harbour is where the excavation will just form sufficient Banks and as there is a great quantity of stuff that must be disposed of and the entrance to Tullamore that would form the embankment for the Harbour.  I do recommend that a Bridge be built at Connaught Street and a Harbour formed between that and the old house, as the cheapest, most expeditious and most adviseable situation, whatever line may be determined on, with which I feel this point totally unconnected.  I have requested Mr. Reynolds to keep a good look out what company is coming to the Inn, and if he sees danger of a crowd to bespeak such beds as he may think adviseable to pay for  such as may not be occupied, to be charged by him to the company, if the Board do not approve this, I request he or I may be informed.  I am utmost ashamed of the length of this letter but I feel it necessary to state the whole to the Board.


I am EcEc, 

(Signed) Wm.

A copy of a letter from Captain William Evans to the Board of Directors of the Grand Canal Company.  Evans, a Director of the company, resigned from the Board about 1796 and from the company in 1805.  (See Ruth Delany, The Grand Canal of Ireland (London, 1973) (p. 42).  The letter is taken from the 1798 minute book of the Board of Directors, pp 167-72 (housed at Heuston Station, Dublin).

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Education in Tullamore: a note by William Moran


By Very Rev. Dr. Moran,
P.P., V.F.

From Centenary records, Christian Brothers, St Columba’s Tullamore,1862-1962.  Athlone 1962, pp 28-35

Corr. mb 071003

Dr William Moran, a distinguished man of letters and former parish priest of Tullamore  (1949-65) published the article below in 1962 and in the same year as his pamphlet on the history of Tullamore.  In many ways it is a seminal  overview that has not as yet been superseded.  Material has of course been published  by Sister Dolores Walsh on the history of the Mercy schools in Tullamore while others have written of the Presentation  schools in Rahan, primary schools in Durrow, Tullabeg College and the vocational schools in county Offaly including Tullamore.  Dr Moran’s strongly held and trenchantly expressed views come across in this piece.



Between 1682 and 1685 Dr. Dopping, Protestant Bishop of Meath, conducted a visitation of the united parishes of Durrow and Kilbride.  In the copybook1 , in which he kept a record of his visitation, he wrote a note on this occasion, which reads, “Owen Conroy, a popish school (master) teacheth at Tullamore”2 .  If, as seems very probable, he is not referring to the townland of Tullamore, but to a village of that name, his note is not only the earliest reference we have to education in Tullamore, but it is also the earliest certain indication we have that a village of Tullamore was then in existence.  From the kind of houses in Tullamore a century later, and from the kind of schools in Tullamore at the beginning of the nineteenth century, we can infer that Owen Conroy’s school was “a hedge school”- in fine weather he taught his class in the open air; in inclement weather he took his children into his thatched cabin.  As a result of the establishment of a large cavalry barrack in Tullamore in 1716 and another one about forty years later, the trade and population of Tullamore expanded greatly during the eighteenth century.  But education did not keep pace with the growth of population and trade.  When Dr. Plunkett made his first visitation of the parish in 1788, he found only four Catholic schools (all of the hedge school type) in the whole parish.  He does not mention their location; but we may take it that there was at least one in the town.  The Protestants, who at that time numbered at least 1,000, including most of the well-to-do people of the town, seem to have been no better served in the matter of schools.  As late as 1801, Sir Charles Coote3 tells us: “I do not learn that there is yet established a school of consequence in Tullamore.

If Sir Charles Coote had returned about twenty later, he would have found that some schools  “of consequence” had been established in the meantime.  From a list of the principal inhabitants of Tullamore (and their occupations), drawn up in 18234, we learn that there were then in the High Street area four “academies”- two for boys, and two for girls.  We are told nothing about the girls’ academies, except that they were both boarding schools.  The boys’ academies are described as “classical schools.”  One of these, as we learn from an Education Report a few years later, prepared boys for admission to the university – the university in question being, of course, Trinity College, Dublin.


In 1824 a pious and well-to- do Catholic lady, named Pentony, came from Dublin and bought a house in Store Street, near its junction with Thomas Street.  She was then in her seventies, but still fairly active.


Finding, that many children were badly in need of religious instruction, she began to give lessons in her own house.  She also interested a number of Catholic ladies in the town in this work; and for some years religious instruction continued to be given in Miss Pentony’s house, and, probably, also in the church.  Being convinced that the only effective way to give permanence to this good work was to get a convent of nuns established in the town, Miss Pentony made a will , in which she left all she had to the Parish Priest (Rev. Dr. O’Rafferty) for the purpose of establishing a convent in the town.  Miss Pentony died in 1835.  About the same time the business, in which most of her money was invested, went bankrupt.

The result was that Dr.O’Rafferty got little more out of Miss Pentony’s estate than her house and furniture.  Nevertheless, he went ahead with the convent project.  He found some difficulty in getting a foundation, but eventually got a small group of Mercy Nuns – the first Mercy foundation outside the parent house in Dublin. The nuns lived in Miss Pentony’s house from their arrival in 1836 till the new convent was ready for occupation in 1841.


Meanwhile, many other things had been happening, which it is necessary to mention.  The National Board of Education had been established for some years; and the Commissioners decided to have a detailed survey made of the educational position throughout the country, especially in respect of primary education.  The results of this survey appeared in the Education Report of 1826.  The following table gives the list of schools (in the parish of Tullamore) conducted by Catholic teachers, together with details about the numbers of Protestant and Catholic pupils, male and female, etc.



Location Teacher Description of
P. C. M. F.
Church St. … T. Fitzgearld Slated house 20 20 40 -
Chapel St. James Farrell do. - 50 28 22
Store St. Thos. Cannon Stone and Lime 3 27 18 12
Bury Quay Darby Berry Slated house 1 24 20 5
Tea Lane James Carthy Stone and lime - 22 16 6
Barrack St. James McCabe do. 2 64 40 26
do. Mrs. Mite (or
A hired room 16 14 14 16
Collier St. Patrick Kelly Stone and Lime 3 22 20 5
Ballinamere John Dowling A poor cabin - 34 24 10
Ballydaly James Regan Stone and mud 2 26 16 12
do. James Rooney A bad house - 15 10 5
Kunnikar James Kelly A poor cabin - 45 22 23
Kildangan John Daly A miserable
- 65 30 35
Belleek Wm. Kendillon Stone and lime - 60 30 30
Kilclare L. Clooney do. 2 34 20 16
Totals        …
49 522 348 223

C-Catholic;  M-Male;  F-Female.

In addition to the above there were a few Protestant schools, in which there were 125 Catholic pupils.  The number of mixed schools (Protestant and Catholic) explains why Miss Pentony found so many Catholic children badly instructed in their religion.  In the light of the Education Report of 1826, plans were devised for the setting up of schools “in connection with the National Board of Education” – the forerunners of National Schools as we now know them.  The Commissioners of Education were not yet prepared to pay the teachers.  But they were prepared to consider applications for grants to supplement local contributions raised to build schools.  They were also prepared to pay part of the cost of books and school equipment.


In 1830, Dr, O’Rafferty began the erection of a boys’ school; “in connection with the National Board of Education.”  The cost of the building was defrayed entirely out of local subscriptions.  In August, 1832, when the building was almost completed, Dr. O’Rafferty applied to the Board for a grant of £150 to buy desks and other equipment for the school.  In the same letter he asked for a grant of £250 to help him build a girls’ school, “equal in extent to the boys’ school now erected.”  This latter grant (or at least £245 of it) was given eight years later, when the new convent school was opened in 1840.

In June, 1834, the new school for boys was opened.  It was the building now known as St. Mary’s School – part of the present convent schools facing Bury Quay[the old convent was demolished over the period 1963-67].  Dr. O’Rafferty was anxious to open a similar school for girls about the same time; and in fact opened one the following month (July, 1834).  As the convent project had been already mooted, he waited for the coming of the nuns before beginning the erection of a new school for girls.  For use during the interval, he obtained a house in Thomas Street, and there the girls’ school was opened in 1834.  When the new convent school was completed in 1840, the children were transferred to it.


The Commissioners of Education had a new survey made in 1835.  The Report shows, as might be expected, that the opening of the two National Schools in Tullamore in 1834, had put most of the older private schools out of business.  The 1835 Education Report gives us a few interesting items of information.  The boys’ school with an average attendance of 280 (out of 490 on rolls), had only one teacher, Michael Sullivan.  His salary was £30 a year, paid by local subscriptions, most of which was made up of the children’s fees, which varied from a penny a week to five shillings a quarter.  The programme included: reading, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, geography and “scripture extracts, as recommended by the Board.”  This last item also appears in the programme for the girls’ school.  On the other hand we find in a few of the private schools, that still survived with diminishing numbers of pupils, the programme is given as, “reading, writing, arithmetic and Roman Catholic Catechism.”

The omission of any reference to catechism the in the programme of the two national schools, and the mention of scriptural extracts instead, tend to show that no religious instruction was given in these schools.


The 1835 Report also gives us some information about the secondary schools in Tullamore at that time.  John Fitzgerald had a boarding and day school (40 boys, number  increasing”).  The programme was, “a general course of classics and mathematics for admission to the university.”  George Lougheed had a day school, opened in 1833 (19 boys);  programme, “English and the classics.”  Mrs. McDonaod had a boarding and day school for girls (number, 20 “stationary”); programme, “English, French and music.”  Miss Lock had a day school (number, 25, “increasing”); programme, “English, French and music.”  Miss Burton had a day school (number, 18, increasing”); programme, “reading, writing, arithmetic, French and Needlework.”


Apart from some minor changes in the convent schools, the situation, so far as Catholic education was concerned, remained the same till Dr. O’Rafferty’s death in 1857.  Rev. Matthew McAlroy, a native of Rahugh, succeeded as Parish Priest of Tullamore.  The following year, Rev. Patrick Dunne, born near Tullamore, but in Kildare Diocese, and already known to Fr. McAlroy, returned to Ireland from Australia.  He had serve for six years in Brisbane diocese, which at that time included the greater part of Queensland.  Fr. Dunne was anxious to devise some scheme for stepping up the supply of priests to Australia; and seems to have proposed to Fr. McAlroy the establishment of a junior seminary in Tullamore, in which young men willing to go on the Australian Mission would be prepared for admission to Carlow College.  Fr. McAlroy was willing to help Fr. Dunne, but was doubtful about the feasibility of the proposal.  There were several difficulties to be
met.  The first was financial – the difficulty of raising funds to build a seminary.  The second was the difficulty of getting suitable men to staff it.  Eventually Fr. McAlroy thought he saw a way of getting round both difficulties.  The Grand Canal Co. had discontinued passenger services on the canal about five years before; and the Grand Canal Hotel soon became a white elephant on the Company’s hands.5 It was probably closed down altogether before 1858.  Fr. McAlroy approached the Canal Co. with a proposal to rent the hotel, and found the Company willing to deal with him.  He appears to have rented the hotel and adjoining yard and garden from year to year for a trial period of three years (at £20 a year), with an option of taking out a long lease during that period.  This was about the first of May, 1858.


He now had a building for the seminary; and only required a suitable master, capable of teaching classics, or at least Latin.  He hoped to get a teacher from the Christian Brothers, but they could not give him one at the time.  He wrote again about the middle of 1859.  About the end of August (1859), Rev. Thomas Nulty (subsequently Bishop of Meath) and Bro. Maxwell, Superior of the Brothers in Mullingar, arrived in Tullamore “to commence some negotiations about getting Christian Brothers for this town, as also for opening a classical school for young men.”6   We have no record of how these negotiations went; but we can deduce the trend they took from what happened soon afterwards.


The Brothers must have held out hopes of a foundation for Tullamore in the near future. It would consist of primary teachers to take over the boys’ school, together with a classical teacher if and when there were sufficient applicants for admission to Fr. Dunne’s proposed school.  A few days later (8th September, 1859), Fr. Dunne opened “St. Bridget’s Seminary” in the Grand Canal Hotel.  Pending the coming of the Christian Brothers, he took charge himself, though he was already due to return to Brisbane.


Three months later (December 13th), we find Fr. McAlroy writing again to the Superior of the Christian Brothers:  “I have been waiting in the hope of hearing that you could say, ‘we are ready’. . . Let me hear what you can do.  I dread the loss of another year.”  The  Superior replied that when prior claims had been satisfied, he would send a Community to
Tullamore.  It was not till October, 1861 that two Brothers from headquarters came to examine the proposed accommodation, prior to the sending of a Community.  They reported favourably, and it was arranged that the first Brothers would come in January, 1862.  Confident that all would be well with his seminary, Fr. Dunne prepared to return to
Brisbane, and left Tullamore a few days after Christmas.


We have no record of the number of students Fr. Dunne had succeeded in enrolling.  Apparently, the Superior of the Christian Brothers did not think the number was yet large enough to justify the sending of a classical teacher.  In any case the Community that came in January, 1862, consisted of two primary teachers and a Brother to look after domestic affairs.  They were given half of the Grand Canal Hotel for living quarters, while Fr. McAlroy tried to keep the seminary alive in the other half, till he could get a Brother to take charge of it.  For that purpose he got Fr. Farrelly to take charge temporarily; and after Fr. Farrelly was compelled by illness to leave, he got a Fr. McCann.  

Meanwhile, Fr. McAlroy took out a lease of the Hotel on 29th April, 18627 .  The lease was for 61 years, to count from 1st May, 1858 (presumably, the date on which Fr. McAlroy first rented the Hotel).  For three years, the Hotel was occupied in part by the Brothers (who had taken over the boys’ school), and in part by the seminary.  On the death of Fr. McCann in1866, the seminary was allowed to lapse.  Fr. McAlroy’s curates then agitated to be allowed to leave their cramped quarters in the presbytery for the more commodious accommodation available in the hotel.  The result was that the Hotel became practically two houses, one occupied by the Brothers, and the other by the Curates.


In 1874, Fr. McAlroy began erection of a new school beside the Hotel.  When it was completed in 1876, the Brothers were given charge of it; the boys were transferred to it from the original boys’ school; and the latter was handed over to the nuns to be used as a girls’ school.  Fr. McAlroy stipulated that one room in the new school should be reserved to be used as a classical school.  As the Brothers had no classical teacher available at the time, a lay teacher was employed.  He was not a success; and after several others had undertaken the work without much success, the classical school was allowed to lapse, and the room was taken into the national school.


As a result of the failure of Fr. McAlroy’s efforts, Tullamore remained without a Catholic secondary school till Fr. Callary built St. Columba’s classical school.  When it was completed in 1912, he invited the Christian Brothers to take charge of it, and they accepted.  The number of pupils steadily increased until the school became too small to accommodate them.  In 1960, the Brothers erected their present school in High Street;  and the building previously known as St. Columba’s Classical School, became the centre for all forms of Catholic Action in the town, under the name of De Montfort Hall.



Still preserved in Marsh’s Library, Dublin.

For this and a few other items I am indebted to Rev. John Brady (Diocesan Historian).

Statistical Survey of King’s County, page 178.

See Cooke’s History of Birr, Appendix 18

The Dublin Evening Post of Aug. 18th, 1801 carried this advt. :-

“Grand Canal Hotel at Tullamore.”

“The public are hereby acquainted that the said Hotel is now completely finished, and that the Directors of the Grand Canal are ready to receive proposals for renting the same.   No one need apply who is not capable of furnishing the said Hotel in a complete manner: and to such a tenant, if eligible in other respects, the Directors would rent the premises on terms that would be found highly advantageous.”


Quoted from the annals of Mercy Convent, Tullamore

It was about this time that “numerous friends and admirers” of Dr. O’Rafferty, wishing to erect a “suitable monument to his memory,” subscribed funds to buy “St Bridget’s Seminary to be a residence and school for Christian Brothers.”  Fr. McAlroy probably inspired this move – the school to be established in the in the Hotel to be a classical school.  The Canal Company, however, was either unwilling to sell its title outright, or else demanded a price that Fr. McAlroy could not pay; and so Fr. McAlroy had to be satisfied with a lease for a term of years.


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Short history of Tullamore John Johnston written in the 1950s not published




The Bury Family: John Bury married Catherine Sadlier of Sopwell Hall,Tipperary, and left one son, Charles William who became Baron Tullamore in 1797; Viscount Charleville in 1800; and Earl of Charleville, (second creation) in 1806. He married in 1798, Catherine Maria Townley-Dawson a widow; and he died in 1835. Charles William, 2nd Earl, born 1801, married in 1821 the daughter of Earl of Argyll by whom he had 4 sons and 2 daughters. He died in 1851. Charles William George, third earl, born 1822; married Arabella Case by whom he had 2 sons and 3 daughters (1850) He died in 1859. Charles William Francis, the fourth of the Earls died in Staten Island in America unmarried in 1874. He was succeeded by his uncle Alfred Bury, 5th Earl born 1829; married 1854 Emily Frances Wood; he died Brighton sine pr.1875. The title became extinct. Lady Emily Bury, daughter of 3rd Earl married. Captain Kenneth Howard , who took name of Bury 1881. He died 1885 leaving one son, Chas Kenneth, born 1883 and one daughter born 1885.

The 17th century; The name of Tullamore does not occur in the Survey of 1659 which gives a list of parishes with populations and we may conclude that there was only a village then on the site of the present town. That there was some collection of houses we may conclude from a study of the populations and their comparison with one another. Both Kilbride, which is the official name of the parish of Tullamore, and Durrow, which is the out parish are mentioned and the populations given; Durrow; 165, and Kilbride, 171 i.e. a total of 336. There are two parishes in the barony of Ballycowan, i.e. Tullamore and Rahan and the pop. of the latter is given as 358. Hence the whole population of barony is 694. To get some idea of these comparative figures we give the following populations for other places. The King’s Co. – 8310; Birr the largest town – 337; Philipstown 129; (of whom 34 were English and 95) Irish); Edenderry 55; Kilcormac, 42; Mullingar, 334; Ballyboy, 45; and Kilbeggan 99; with Geashill, 67 etc. In support of the contention that there must have been at least a small town at the time we are told that there exists a token penny upon which is written Robert Worrell …[illegible]. The name is spelled … [illegible]. 

The 18th century: At the beginning of the century (1716) a large barracks was built on the site of the present Garda Barracks and houses behind to accommodate cavalry and its presence must have presupposed a growing town. There was a company of soldiers in Philipstown and also in Birr. The Barracks were used occasionally by the British army up to 1914. In the Dublin intelligence of Sept. 25th 1712, we read; On Tuesday night last 16 of the people of the town apprehended the popish bishop of Dromore and his chaplain near Tullamore. We delivered them into the hands of the gaoler of Philipstown. In 1747 John Wesley in his Evangelical Tour of Ireland preached to the people of Tullamore where he was peaceably listened to. Probably from that time a small Methodist group began to exist: it afterwards included many of the leading merchants of the town. About 1788 (the date used to be over the entrance) the County Infirmary was built in Church Street and it might be asked, why it was not built in the County Town, Philipstown, except that the latter was entering on that period of obvious decline from which it never recovered. In 1761 there was an entertainment given to the people of the town in the drill yard of the Barracks by Lord Charleville to commemorate the accession of George 111. At this time there was another barracks on the site of which the Harbour was excavated about the end of the century. There was a permanent garrison in the town from about the middle of the century and in 1785 it was cavalry garrison of three troops of the 171st Regiment. About the middle of the century there must have been a good population and many houses following the street plan that still exists. In the High Street a house was built in 1748 by Richard Haycock (perhaps house that juts out opposite Bank of Ireland?) The house in Bridge St. (now Offaly Phar) has date 1747 Alex. McMullen. Bridge House (Hoey and Dennings) was built 1756. There were other houses in High Street, (difficult to identify) built at this time also Thus: in 1748 a house by Mrs. Herbert Jones; (in 1748 by Molloy who was a distiller): in 1750 the shop that used to be O’Carrolls pawn shop. A house in Market Square built in 1750 by John Wilson …[illegible] beside Williams’ office a house built in 1744 by…[illegible] We have a map of the roads leading from Tullamore about the year 1777 and it gives one an idea of the shape of the town then. There was no canal and only the main exits from the town were marked (Taylor and Skinner were the authors of the road map book) There were no roads continuing Earl St. Church St., Barrack St. but there must have been some road to Geashill or Killeigh. At that time the houses mentioned above would be there with the infirmary, the Military Barracks, the Protestant church was situated in the shambles where its entrance pillars are still seen. [1] The Catholic Church was probably on the site of the Church that preceded the present building (it was re- constructed in 1827). About this time there were four schools in the town and one can imagine the appearance of the majority of the houses from those that existed up to recent times. There were many backlands so that the population was greater than one would judge at first sight and probably the bridge in the center of the town was there for quite a long time since it is in the map.



The Fire of Tullamore May 12th 1785.

Taken from Walker’s Hibernian Magazine 1785: On May 12 a most dreadful fire took place on the fair day by which nearly a hundred houses and offices were totally consumed. The melancholy accident was occasioned by the liberation of a fire-balloon or Montgolfier, which two gentlemen of that quarter encouraged an English adventurer to prepare for the amusement of their friends. Having been launched from Dr. Bleakleys yard it took it’s direction with a smart wind towards the barrack where it’s progress was interrupted by the chimney and having on the shock taken fire it communicated to Christopher Becks house and raged with ungovernable fury nothwithstanding the efforts and the assistance of a number of people collected by the circumstance of the fair till every house front and rear in Barrack Street (except one thatched and four slated houses) were entirely destroyed. The utmost distress had been experienced by the miserable inhabitants whom the remaining houses are scarcely sufficient to afford shelter and several of the wealthier residents have suffered losses nearly to their total ruin, particularly Mr. Norris whose dwelling house, office and malt house containing a considerable quantity of grain were destroyed. The dreadful calamity rendered more poignant perhaps from the absurd and dangerous practice from which it proceeded has overwhelmed this ill-fated town with inconceivable distress and inconvenience.


Sir Charles Coote remarks that owing to the fire Tullamore was built more regularly than most towns and that all the better houses were erected between 1785 and 1800.


In the Charleville rent office one can see evidence of this and if the records were more complete they would throw much light on the rebuilding of the town. As it is one can see how the river checked the fire and there were no houses burned beyond the bridge. Some of the houses in High Street and that part of the town from Charleville rent books are: Richard Haycock 1748? (Perhaps the house jutting out opposite Bank of Ireland) Bridge Street The Distillery house now Hoey and Denning built 1756 Occupants, Molloy. From 1847 Bernard Daly. Offaly Pharmacy and other shop buildings1747. Alex McMullen Quirkes Pharmacy 1796. John Shay 1790. Michael Cuddy 1790; William Adams 1786. Acres Hall 1786. Bank of Ireland 1802. Bollard (Robert Mills) 1753; Geo Evans Mrs. Herbert Jones 1748. Crofton (Charleville Office) 1790. The house that used to be the pawnshop pf Allo Carroll built 1750 (High Street) In the Market Square: John Wilson 1750; George Pierce 1786.

The following built in Barrack St. after fire: Geo Hamilton; Eleanor Ridley; Thos Murphy; Wm Ruddock; Matt Wade; all in 1786; Atkins (Corner House) 1801;Geo.Wade 1801 The house of Abraham Greer built 1744 (beside Williams’ office) must have escaped. The North Offaly Co-Op (Burgess Drapery) built 1790.


Between the Fire 1785 and the end of Century. In the parliamentary Gazetteer, we read under Tullamore (Part 1X. 415) About 14 years ago said Sir Charles Coote in 1801 Tullamore was but a very mean village with scarce any better houses than thatched cabins which were almost destroyed by accidental fire, occasioned by the launching of a balloon and has since risen phoenix like from the ashes to it’s present pre-eminence. It is certainly the best town in the county and bids fair to be little inferior to any town in Ireland. The houses are all slated, mostly two stories in height, and ornamented with window stools and top courses of a fine hewn stone…Lord Charleville gives the utmost encouragement to building. The improvement of the town previous to 1800 was probably more rapid than that of any other town in Ireland… first the opening of the Grand Canal, next it’s extension, next the introduction of light passage boats; and next the increase of its traffic by the introduction of light passage boats; and next the increase of it’s traffic by the introduction of steam navigation on the Shannon, have successively exerted a beneficial effect upon Tullamore: and finally, the accomplishment of the project-so long desiderated, and so unaccountably delayed- of removing hither the county business from the miserable bog environed village of Philipstown, has given a powerful and permanent acceleration to the town’s prosperity. A curious fact however is that the best private residences in the town were built before the commencement of the present century.


The following is from Topographia Hibernica of 1795.

Tullamore: Market town and post town in barony of Ballycowan, King’s Co. Province  Leinster. 40 miles from Dublin. It is but a small place yet gives title of Baron to a branch of the family of Moore and is a chapelry of the Dioc. of Meath. The river Tullamore divides the town into two nearly equal parts. Here is a barracks and near mile from the town of ruins of a castle; a mile further is Charleville formerly the seat of the Earl of Charleville. Opposite to it is Merryfield the seat of Mr. Crofton, situated on the banks from a small but fine river. Fairs 10 May; July; 21st Oct.




Tullamore in 1798, and the early part of the 19th century. About the year 1798 the Grand Canal reached Tullamore and created another great source of prosperity for the town.


The canal was run by a company formed by a private act of Parliament in 1772; and up to 1950 when it was taken over by C.I.E. it was governed by a board of directors and was the oldest corporation in Ireland. The cost of construction was £1, 137, 680 and by 1805 it had completed it’s course to the Shannon; it had been linked with Barrow at Athy ; in 1827 it had been continued to Ballinasloe; in 1830 to Mountmellick: and in 1834 to Kilbeggan. The company created the village of Shannonharbour. In days of horse drawn traffic, goods had to be transshipped down the Shannon and large ware houses were built, but when motor boats could complete the journey down without change the ware houses were no longer used. In the old days passenger traffic was very important and 5 hotels were built to accommodate travelers at Tullamore in 1802; Portobello in 1805; and St. Jame’s Harbour; Robertstown; and Shannon Harbour. They were all built on the same plan and the one in Tullamore is the Parochial House at present (1953).


Traffic increased steadily up to the peak year 1837 and 100,695 passengers were carried but it declined after that owing to famine and then railway competition, In the year 1853 passenger service was discontinued. While it existed packet boats left the Harbour of St. James, night and morning or the evening and morning for Athy, Tullamore, Shannon Harbour and Ballinasloe. There were two classes, 1st Class traveled from Dublin to Tullamore for 9/2; and the 2nd Class for 4/9 (which was the same as the 3rd class single on the Railway in the old days (before 1914). The second class on the boat was the same as the outside on the coach.  The boats were pulled by 4 horses and they did 8 miles per hour but there was no night travel for the packet: there was however a Third Class boat that traveled day and night and also carried traffic.

At first the canal came to an end in Tullamore opposite the Christian Bros. School. It was at this stage when in 1798, Gen. Lake brought his troops from Dublin by boat and about 1799 the Harbour was made on the site of the old Cavalry Barracks and the bridge called Bury Bridge built. In 1802 the Kilbeggan Bridge was built and for a time it was the only bridge until 1809 or 1807 Cox Bridge was built for the Clara road.

Tullamore in 1798. There were 3 men hanged in Tullamore in connection with the Insurrection of 1798. Their names were Dempsey and Coffey, and they are mentioned in Musgrave “Hist. of Rebellion.” Appendix 1801 edition 33-34 and the author gives the reaction of the people of the town to the executions. At the hanging of the Dempsey brothers “the inhabitants of the town to testify their concern for the fate of their fellow traitors closed their doors and windows and observed a dead silence during the executions”

Musgrave, also mentions a Ballycumber conspiracy for which four men were committed to Philipstown Gaol and three hanged. The parish priest of Tullamore, Fr Geoghegan died in 1799 as a result of a cold caught when he was hiding from the yeomanry who had expelled the congregation from the chapel at Ballyduff in 1798.

The earliest estimate of the population of the town is given about this time in the survey of Ireland by Wakefield. 1812. as 4000 of whom 2500 were Catholics and 1500 non-catholic.

The Battle of Tullamore. 1806


The following extract is from Walker’s Hibernian Magazine. Aug. 1806: July 28th:

By a letter from Mullingar we learn that the late melancholy dispute at Tullamore originated in the following trivial circumstance. A boy of the town passing with a stick or switch, which struck the fancy of one of the German soldiers and the boy refusing to indulge him with it, some violence was resorted to by the soldier. This conduct induced the interference of one of the Militia quartered there, and the contention between these individuals brought forward others of both regiments.  The militiaman being made prisoner, his companions determined on his rescue, and matters took so serious a turn that an express had been sent to Gen. Dunn at Birr, when the contest was with difficulty suppressed. The consequence however of the unlucky event has been  fatal in the loss of some lives and several desperately wounded, among the latter we are informed, two of the German officers, one of whom is said to be mortally injured. In the Dublin Penny Journal of Jan 5th 1833 there is a description given of the fight, and according to it the German casualties were: three officers, twenty-two men and five horses wounded. Lieut. Baron Marachalk was shot but recovered. The Militia casualties were nine wounded of whom one died. The discrepancy is explained by the fact that the Militia had more ammunition than the Legion.

The authority for these figures is the “History of the German Legion” by Beamish. The Militia engaged consisted companies from the Derry, Monaghan, Limerick, and Sligo Regiments. After the fight they were ordered to rejoin their respective regiments. The commanders of the German Legion were Major-Gen.Von Lingingen, Co, Von Alten, Captain Dusing, and Lieut Von Marscalk. These German detachments had been sent from England to Ireland and had arrived after a stormy voyage at cork on May 20th; they were drafted to Tullamore and the fight took place in the following July.

The traditional date of the battle is always given as 1808 but it is evident from the above that that date cannot be correct. The probable cause of the mistake is the monument in Kilcruttin Graveyard to Baron Von Oldenhausen who died in that year: he was confused with the officer who was wounded because he was German.

The Military Report of 1806: “country in perfect state of tranquility” sighed: Baron Linsingen Major-General. (Brigadier in Birr to whom report was sent was Durham. Oct. 13th same year. “All quiet” Major –Gen. GN. Vansittart Com Central Dist.


(There is no mention of the riot in the Memoirs of Gen Dunn.)




The account of the riot is given in Vol 1 of the History of the German Legion by Beamish. Page 95.

The account sent by Gen. Floyd who investigated the matter to the Duke of Cambridge.

On Tuesday 22nd July 1806; 5 Militia Light Companies marched into Tullamore on the way to rejoin their regiments. About 7 o’ clock when the troops were collecting for roll call a boy on the bridge desired a militiaman to beware of the Germans, applying the coarsest epithets to them. A German soldier was passing and a militiaman knocked him down. Three other unarmed Germans passing by were also knocked down with a stick. A patrol from the main guard of the Germans came up and seized a militiaman who seemed to be the principal rioter. As they carried him off about 20 militiamen followed intent on rescue. Capn. During parading with his company for roll call moved down with it to cover the patrol and the Militiamen faced about, threw stones and then fired wounding 5 Germans. Maj-Gen Von Linsingen hearing the riot ran out among the militiamen entreating them in his best English to desist. He ordered the streets to be cleared and acquainted the commander of the Militia with the facts. This Gen Floyd who adds that the Germans were attacked without any provocation and they had no ammunition to defend themselves. He said he talked to the chief magistrate of Tullamore and some of the prominent men and all praised the Germans.

The letter was dated July 28th 1806 and Beamish gives a separate account.The Legion consisted of the 1st Light Battalion and one squadron of the 1st Dragoons and when the Militia arrived they were invited by the German officers to dine with them but declined on the plea of fatigue. About 7 o’clock a man from the Legion was peaceably crossing the bridge which formed one end of the main street of the town was knocked down by one of the militiamen who was immediately joined by one of the comrades. Three other Germans who were passing and came up to see what was happening met with the same fate. Major-Gen.Von Linsingen happened to be about to leave the  officers’dinner room at the adjoining hotel and was attracted by the noise and looked through the inn window. He saw 2 or 3 of the Legionaries surrounded by militiamen.  He hurried to the spot and in hi best English entreated them to desist. For the moment his intervention was effectual, but two Germans were already wounded. The Germans under During attacked the militia forcing them across the bridge where the Militia turned and opened fire. Seven Germans were wounded. During charged, driving the militia into the side streets while Alten formed the main German force in the Main street and advanced while the militia fired from lanes and  houses. On the German side Captains Alten, Peters, and Marschalk were wounded. Capn Marschalk died of wounds. Twenty-two men wounded none died and 5 horses. On the side of Militia nine were wounded and one died.


The Legion consisting of Hanoverians who were English subjects because George 111 was Elector of Hanover was formed after the Hanoverian Army had been abolished by Napoleon in 1803. They came to England and in 1806 some of them came to Ireland the detachment above-mentioned coming to Tullamore about the end of May 1806. They were a couple of months there when the Militia from Derry,Monaghan, Limerick and Sligo regiments came from Birr to Tullamore.


The Legion was ordered to prepare to leave Ireland at the end of the year but some remained owing to the outbreak of the Peninsular when Capn Count Alten commanded a company of the Legion in the army of Sir John Moore. He was in the retreat to Corunna 1808 and survived to become Marshal of the reestablished Hanovarian army after the fall of Napoleon. In July 1807 the 1st Dragoons of the Legion were in Tullamore. They were: – 681 officers and men with 606 horses. In Aug the number was 41 officers and sergeants and 316 rank and file with only 4 horses. The total Legion everywhere in 1807 was about 13000.


Causes given for battle:

Revenge from punishment inflicted on militiaman who stole a pipe from one of the Legion.

The belief that the arrival of the Germans was the reason why the Militia had been broken up.

The faithlessness of some of the Tullamore “sweethearts” between the regiments.

Mar 19th 1807 Capn. August Von Quernheim died in Tullamore of illness and on Dec 22 1808 Capn. Baron Fred. Von Oldershausen died of illness and his monument in Kilcruttin has caused the date of the battle to be given as 1808 under the mistaken impression that he was killed. The above facts ought to discredit that legend. From 1808 to 1823. The Topographia Hibernica already quoted says that Charleville was in 1795 the ‘former’ residence of the Earls of Charleville and the question might be asked: Where did they live at that time? It is said that about that time they tried to build a house in the town. It would have been situated on the site of the houses that form the block Henry St and Church St. to river. The foundations were laid but owing to flooding the project was abandoned and the present castle was begun in 1802. It was in connection with this building that the Tullamore Shilling came into existences to pay the workmen on the credit of the Earl.

When the Cavalry Barracks in Charles St. had been turned into the Canal Harbour an additional barracks-called Wellington Barracks at the top of High Street where the town ended at that time. It would be about 1812. In Cooke’s Hist. of Birr etc’ a list of the principle inhabitants of Tullamore is given for the year 1823 and from it we learn that Earl Street (O’Moore St) was then known as Windmill street on account of a Windmill there; and it with Crowe St, seemed to be the more ‘respectable’ neighborhood.

Many of the houses in Harbour Street were built about this time. They were either new or rebuilding-it is difficult to conclude that all were new since a street already existed there. Those of which the dates are known are: John Dean (corner public house opposite entrance to Church 1826. The street off Harbour Street at this point is called Deane St. The house next to Deane’s (now Gilligans) was at first a public house  1823; John Melvin (Egan’s public house) built 1823 was for a time the Masonic Lodge. The public house of M. Kelly, was built by Ed Scully in 1823. Other houses in Harbour St difficult to identify were Condrans 1823; Flynn 1824; Laur. Behan 1805; Dan Belton 1805; Art Clusky1804. Store Street. Some of the houses in Store St. were dated: 1807 such as J. Molloy and in the year 1823 Miss Pentony came from Dublin to live in Store St where the school for boys is at present. In 1823 there was a silk factory attached to the house that is Adams today. Chapel Street in older form (it has been almost completely rebuilt since dated from 1812 and for a time it was a street consisting of certain trades such as shoemakers. Henry St. is later dating from about 1836. The Malt house, which was a distillery, owned by Manley family was built in 1858 and rebuilt in 1892. (Egan’s) Church St. James Stirlilng (Corner Public House) built 1824; other earlier houses were Daniel Warren 1805; Michael Cuddy 1805; Daniel Belton 1806; and Eliza Jordan (beside Stirlings) 1825.

Bridge Lane off Bridge St. had 8 houses

Distillery lane had 10

Water Lane off Barrack St. had 31

Canal bank had …(11?)

From 1825 to 1850: – In 1826 Tullamore Gaol and Court House were built. It was a time when many new gaols were being built throughout as a tribute to the English reliance on “the resources of civilization” in ruling Ireland. The Gaol in a free Ireland is no longer used: it is a factory at present. The Courthouse besides being used for legal work is also the headquarters of the County Council. The Gaol contained about 130 cells and in the early years after it’s establishment it had an average yearly compliment of about 120 prisoners. It was under a Governor up to about 1910 when it became a second-class establishment with only a head-warder in control. During the civil war it was occupied by the ‘irregulars’ who tried to blow it up and set it on fire on the approach of the national troops in 1922. During it’s history the Gaol has been the scene of some incidents of a historic character. In Balfourian Reign of Terror 1886-92, several members of Parliament were imprisoned there as ‘suspects’ including William O’Brien and T.D.  Sulllivan. John Mandeville died from ill treatment when he was sick; and fearing the result of an investigation, the prison doctor, Dr. Ridley, fled and committed suicide in a hotel in Fermoy July 18th 1888. It was at this time too that Wm O’Brien refused to put on the prison garb and succeeded in outwitting the prison authorities. The prisoners were released on the change of Government in 1892. There were some executions in the Gaol. In the early nineties a man from Clara district was hanged for the murder of a child; a brother and sister called Shiels were hanged for the murder of a cousin near Daingean; and in 1903 (on Jan. 9th) Mary Daly was hanged here. She was the last woman to be hanged in Ireland and her crime was that she and her paramour-Joseph Taylor-murdered her husband. Both were from Leix; and he was hanged in Kilkenny Gaol on Jan 7th. He was a Protestant: she was a Catholic. In connection with this fact there was a curious story. She had been conducting herself as a very pious Catholic receiving the sacraments with genuine devotion, very penitent and a source of edification to the other prisoners and a consolation to the chaplain, Rev. Thos. Gilsenen. It was thought that being a woman she would be reprieved and when a telegram was handed to the chaplain it was taken for the expected reprieve until it was opened. It read Make sure Mary Daly is baptized, and it came on the day before her execution-from an old woman in England who had been her nurse and had just heard in time to telegraph –of her impending death. She was baptized before she was hanged.

This had brought us far from 1825 and the next important event about that time is the transfer to Tullamore from Philipstown in 1833 of the dignity of County Town. The parliamentary Gazetteer of 1845 is very uncomplimentary to Philipstown and while it says that Philip 11 of Spain once slept there when it was being made the capital of the new King’s County in 1557, it thinks it no longer worthy of that honour being “ one of the ugliest and most rueful little town in Europe. An old doggerel couplet does it no injustice in designating it ‘an odious heap’ Great Bog of Allen, swallow down: that odious heap called Philipstown”

In Griffith’s Valuation we have a complete list of the heads of households or occupier of all the houses in the town in 1850. The following is not a complete but is a comprehensive catalogue. First with regard to the streets. They were little changed all the years until recently and there were many side lanes that have disappeared as residential quarters. The streets were: -Earl St. High St. Crowe St. Charleville Square. Bridge St. Thomas St. Chapel Lane. Barrack St. Church St. Harbour or Charles St (called New Street in the 1869 map) Barrack St. William St. Pound St. Bury Quay.

The lanes were:- Wheatley’s off High St. with 20 houses                  

                              Sallygrove below Crowe St. with one house

                              Brewery lane had 6 houses

                              Flanagan’s lane had 6 houses

                              Bridge lane off Bridge St. had 8 houses

                              Distillery lane had 10

                             Waterlane off Barrack St had 31

The town in 1850 (continued) The Lanes:

Milestone lane off lower Barracks St. had 21 houses

Pensioners’Row had 47.

Gunood Lane off Lower Barrack St. had 12

Barrack Land or Tea land (O’Connell St.) had 37

Lower Barrack St. had 71

Ruddock’s lane 41 at end of Bulgers hotel.

Market Lane off Church St. 12

Baldwin’s lane off William St. 9

Wheelright lane (Offaly St) 29

Ball alley lane off Pound St.7

Back lane off Pound St. 6

Emmets Lane off William St. 8

The following are the Streets and their inhabitants:-

Charleville St. (top of High St-called later Charleville Parade) 11 houses: Geo Pierce M.D. vacant; M Connolly; John Connolly; M Farrell; John Sexton; vac John Connor John Doolan; John Lynch; Rich Keary.

Earl St. Miss I. Crowe vac; Marg. Crossthwaith; Wm McCartney; vac Cath.Pinefoy; vac; M. Hayden; John Canty: Fred Forbes; Comm. Of Public Works; Wm Wilkinson; Eliza Woods; Wm Lumley; vac; Sam Drought.16 houses.

Wellington Barracks had 12 houses and continuation of Charleville St. had 14 as follows vac; vac Capn. Cassen; vac; Matt Knaggs; vac; Lee; John Kelly; Francis Berry; vac; Eliza Molloy; Wm Biddulph; George Johnson; Robert Goodbody.

Wellington Barracks houses were: Geo Pierce; Thos Millar; vac; Mary Parker; Abr. Curtin; Jos Taylor; Phil Reilly; James Duignan; Thos Doyle; Phil Greene; Murphy: M.Grennan.

High Street:- TB Goodbody; D.O’Carroll; Rob Deverell: Mrs M. Molloy ( two houses) John…[illegible] John Flanagan; John Daly; Louis Downes:Ed Gilmor; John Brien; Ed Scully; Paul Fawcett; Mary McMullen; Miss Berry Abigail Lowe; Bej; Lumley; M McDonnell; Wm Colsh; vac; Dispensary; Peter Lumley; Jas Reid. C.J.; Jane Slater; Rob Gunning; Matt Dunne; Chaswood’s Lodging House (two) Cath Daly; Wm Adams; Chr. Woods; vac; R. Goodbody; Dawson Keach; Mich Moorehead; vac Geo McMaclen; John Wilcox; Goodbody;

Charleville square: – Cath Elcoate; Police Barracks; Rich Willlis; Rob Whelan; Thos Bartley; Pat Aylward; Henry Manley; Emely Deverell; Austin O’Malley; Chapel of Ease; vac: Tan Yard; Crowe St; vac; Rev Wm Anderson; Jas Deane; Jas Adams; Wm Morgan; Par Maxwell; vac; Methodist chapel; vac; vac; John Egan; John Cantwell; The Sally Grove; Thos Roberts. (Miss Crowe owns most of the houses in Crowe St.)

There was a Quakers Meeting Place in Earl St. (probably present Masonic Lodge) Bridge Street; Pat Egan (two); M Reilly; John Dooley; Jos Carroll; vac; Bernard Daly; Mrs. Ma Ryan; Pat Lynam; Pat Gorman; John Delany; Joseph Dann.

William st. Jas Jackson; Francis Ridley (two); John Brady; Jas Coulter; John Byrne; Thos Ed Cantwell (two); John Burke; John Flanagan; Dan Carroll; Eliza Whelan; Mary Carty; C.D. M. Leddy;P. Flanagan (smith); Ann Sharpe. Thos Dunne; Rich Hayden; Pat Mooney Wm Murray; John Spain; Wm Byrne; Geo Daly; Thos Allen; Eliz Conway; Ed Rosney; Jas Hynes; Theo Conlon; Wm Ryan; Kate Flynn; Pat Greene; Sam Flaherty; Mag Stephens; Henry Burgess; Eliza Pat Salmon; M; Mulready; Pat McGuinness; Pat Daly (two); Mat Kinsella; Mary Lynam; Wm Brown Esther Malone; Jas Kinsella; Luke Casey; John Daly; Brian McManus; Wm Ward. Esther Malone; Jas Kinsella; Luke Casey; John Daly; Brian McManus; Wm Ward;

Barrack St; Eliza Gunning; Tim Phelan; Peter Fitzgerald; Wm Kermoount; Ceo , Bulger; Pat Grehhen;…[illegible] John Gorman; John Malone; Barracks.

…[illegible]Whittiker. C Woods; Infirmary; Jas …[illegible] Rev.R.F. …[illegible]

Church St. Miss Turpin: C Woods; Thos Stanley; Rev; Wm Molloy; Lydon; Wesleyan Ch; (from Chapel to Hotel Corner) Henry Manloy; John Lynam; Wm Delany; H. Mulhalland; Geo Ridley (from opposite Pound0 Thos Clooney; Chris Crowley; Maurice Summers; Protestant School; Mau Dillon; John Maw; P Kelly; M. Dunne; Hugh McMonagle;(three houses) Rob Fitzpatrick; Jas Byrne; Thos Stirling (two) Thos McGill; John and Arch. Warren; Chas Atkins; Ed Duggan; John Little; Jas Irwin; M Nugent;

Omitted from above: John Flynn before Rob Fitzgerald and John Pilkington beside infirmary.

Henry St. (from Prot. School); John Kelly; P. Delaney; M. Dunne; T. Bradford; Mrs. E; Woods; (lodgers); Dan Commins (lodgers); Geo Prettie; Ed Farrell (lodgers); vac; John Fitzgerald; Wm Malone; Phil Warren; Thos Bracken; Jos Bracken; Rob Atkins; Tom Lalor; vac; Alice Foxl Mat Keys; Jas Gorman (two0.

Harbour or Charles St.- (from corner of William Street) Step Ryan (barber); C. Gorman; John Coleman (tailor); Paul Coughlan (pub) Jas Gibbs; John Boland; Wm Dunne: (these two houses made into one in Reilly’s shop.); Geo Cobb (corn house); round corner: Sam Robinson: Pat Sexton; Chas McDonnell; Opposite side of Dean place John Dean (painter); Matt Whelehan (pub) Brigid Rowe; John McGarry (coach builder); Wm Ber…[illegible] M Guinan; M Mulcahh; Geo Prettie; Peter Kelly; three vacant houses towards Henry St. Starting opposite Step Ryan at other corner of William or Pound St; Peter Kenny (two), John Rivers; Thos Kenny; M Flanagan; Jos Lynch; Vac; vac; vac (offices and Flour mills) Geo Wade; Pat Hussey; John Caffrey; Rose M’Kearns; Mrs D; Kelly; Dan Donaher; vac; P. Maguire; Henry weir; ELO’ Rafferty; (niece of Fr; O’ Rafferty); Cath Flanagan: Ed Nally; Jas Molloy; vac; vac; Dan Crowley; Chapel land here; Cath Donagher; Sara Melvin (pub) Denis O’Brien. Here entrance to Catholic Church. vac; vac; vac; Denis O’Brien; Wm Matthews; Pat M’Donne Store Street: Corner house Eliza Blakely: then 5 vacant houses; Thos Murphy ; Mat Murphy;Jas Connor; Mary Flynn; The school ; the lane off Store St. had four houses El. Galvin; vac; Ann Murray: P Keenan.

Thomas St; Hodgins; John Healy; Ed Flynn; rob Delany; P Coleman; Ed Farrell; P Masterson; Rob Bell; Wm Canavan; John Smollen; Oliver Foley;

Chapel Lane; Wm Taylor; Mat Hanly; Rev James ‘Rafferty p.p. Thim Hammon; M; Bridle; Thos Dempsey; Phelan; Susan Doyle; Thos Whelehan; M Harley; Ann Ennis; Corigan; Peter Cronly; M. Cummins; Ann Bradley; John Teelling; El Freer: Mick Lynam; Geo Stephens; Brig Canavanagh; Wm Guinan (two) Mick Pender; Thos Price; Jas Daly; Jas Craven; J Connolly; Wm Flanagan Duffy; Brig Rooneh; vac.

Bury Quay: Martin Minnock’s lodgers (two); John Malone; M Kearns; Geo Ruxton; John Byrne; Miss Rose Cox; John Drought; vac (belonging to Fr Rafferty) schools and convent ( the fi…[illegible] schools were those of the Christian Bros, not the Convent ( see section on Educational History)

Market Lane off church St. (Pike’s lane) had 12 houses; and there lived in the Market:

Rob Willis in charge of Toll for Shambles and corn Market; Ben Pike; Ben Delanh; J. Den …[illegible] C. Woods.

Along the canal banks there were 16 houses ( probably Quarry View, but not so named; they are put down as in the townland of Shragh).

 From 1850 to 1880; After the formation of the Union of Tullamore (the workhouse built in 1841 received its first inmates in June 1843; and the Guardians elected were:messrs Hussey; Walsh; Berry; Aylward; Wallace; Baggot; A; Molloy; Colgan; D Molloy; W Molloy; W Scully; Delanh; Dunne; Robinson; O’Flanagan; Jackson; Kennedy; O’Loughlin; Haughran; Cantwell; J. Walsh; Jas Walsh; Bryan; Mulready; Andrews; Hand; Conroy; Delamer; & Blakeney.

In 1860 the Towns” improvement Act was adopted in Tullamore and for the town the Guardians were replaced by the Town Commissioners; They were:- Dawson-French; H. Manley; Capn. Y Acres-Pierce; Con Molloy; R. Goodbody; P Alyward; R. Gunning; Jas Jackson; P. Egan sen; M; Mulread. M. Moynan; Thos Stirling; Alex McMullen; Jas Minnock; Henry cane. C.E.

Chairmen. 1860-5; Dawson French: ’65 –70; T A Pierce: 70-5; Dr Moorehead:75-80 Henry Egan:80-5; Wm Adams: 85-90 Con Quirke. The clerks were Thos English to 1872; then Step Lynam.


As an indication of the gradual change from the exclusive representation by members of the English connection to more National minded representatives we have in 1890:- Con Quirke; W. Adams; Pat Egan; John Shiel; Bern Smith; Wm Brophy; Henry Egan; John Tarleton; Jas Sullivan; AB. Tarleton; P. Lenehan; Jas Hayes; M Ryan; Jas Stirling; Pat Moran. All except J and A Tarleton in this list were Catholic.


The Distilleries: Even in the 18th century there were Distilleries in Tullamore but it was not till the coming of the Canal as an easy mode of transport that they assumed the importance they have in the business of the Town. In 1829 the Distillery (non D.E. Williams was established by M. Molloy; it became Daly’s Distillery in 1847; and later on it passed to present owner Williams. The premises cover 7 acres

Egan’s Brewery dates from about 1852; and a tobacco factory was founded by Goodbodys in 1848. It employed 140 men and 9 women and it covered one and a half acres. It was burned down about 1884 and was not rebuilt, being removed to Dublin whither many of the families employed went with it.

The Malting Establishment of John and Abr. Tarleton in the Tanyard employed 50 men during the season. The malt was sold to Dublin Distillers.


Note: When the Guardians were appointed about 1850 they advertised for a public officer whose duty it would be to keep the streets clean and see that the houses of the dwellers in the lanes were periodically white washed at a weekly salary that was not to exceed Five shillings!


The coming of the Railway in 1862 made a change in the life of the town but since the station was on a branch line business was not helped to the extent that it might have been. At first there was a terminus at Clonminch so that travelers had to walk or be driven to the Old Station as it was called; then when the connection went on to Clara and Athlone there were complaints of the want of accommodation in the small station provided. Now the Railways are paying for the blatant disregard for public convenience that marked their period of monopoly.




The chief sources for the Catholic History of Tullamore are the History of the Diocese of Meath by Dean Cogan and its continuation by Rev. John Brady. One might begin with the entry from the History of the Councils. Hefele (French ed.111 part 1) “ At the council of Magh Lena, near Tullamore, held in 730, there was an unanimous vote to adopt the Roman custom of keeping Easter”


In 1682-5 Wm Geoghegan was P.P. of Kilbride-Durrow. He was followed by Brian Geoghegan who died in 1712. In that year we read that Edmond Carolan and John Doonan, alias Moran, were the priests in Kilbride-Durrow. They were not registered and in 1714, Fr. Carolan was tried and convicted. Both were put into gaol. We do not know who succeeded but in 1744, Anthony Nowlan was P.P. He was made V.G. by Dr. Cheevers and transferred to Drogheda in 1773. He died in 1782. The next P.P. was Fr. Pat Geoghegan, who was born in 1746, ordained in Flanders in 1768; became P.P. in 1773 and died of a cold caught when hiding yeomen in 1799.

The first Post – Reformation chapel was at Ballyduff. It was a T-shaped building and some of the ruins are still visible. It was from this that the yeomanry drove and congregation  in 1798. Dr. Plunkett speaks of a New Chapel in Tullamore in 1802 and he thanks Lord Charleville and Protestants for helping to build it. In 1805 he notes improvements in it; and Pigot’s Directory of 1824 calls it a handsome Roman Catholic chapel built in modern style. It was enlarged and decorated in 1827. Lewis calls it “ a fine building but unfinished” (1837). It was succeeded on the same site by the present imposing Church. The foundation stone was laid by Dr. Nulty, 5th June 1898, and the sermon preached by Dr. John Healy, Bishop of Clonfert. Fr. Callery, who succeeded in 1899, completed the work. There was a temporary chapel of wood from about 1902 to 1905 and the New Church was opened by Dr. Gaughran Oct. 7th 1906 the sermon being preached by Rev. B. Brady P.P. Dunboyne. Cost about £25,000. In 1930 mosaics in sanctuary cost £2,500; erection of statue of Christ the King £500; and the Clock and chimes £1,000.


Rough map of old church 1802-1906, Not to scale.



We have already mentioned the Parish Priests to 1799 but for convenience we put all together here;

1704 – Brian Geoghegan aged 52; sureties; Jeffrey Luther, Ballyduff and Edward Barnes Tullamaore. He was buried in Durrow.

1712 – John Dermot of Doonan succeeded but he was arrested, as was also Edmond Carolan as not being registered 1714.

In 1744 Anthony Nowlan a Friar and native of Durrow succeeded. He was transferred to Drogheda in 1773.

1773 – Pat Geoghegan 1746; ord in Flanders 1768. Died 1799.

1799 – Rev James Murray was transferred from Rahan to Tullamore (20 March 1799) He built the original church in the town and also the old parochial house He died in 1807, 12 May and was buried in Durrow. He was only 49 years.

1807 – Rev Michael Kearney was P.P. until 1820 when he went to Kells. Before coming to Tullamore he had been P. P. of Kilcormac and  Frankford. He died in 1827.

1820 – Rev Jas O’Refferty ordained 1809; P. P. Kilcormac 1814; Tullamore 1820. V.G. Built Convent died 22 June 1857.

1857 – Rev Matt. Mallory. succeeded. He was born in Rahugh 1810; ord. 1836; C C. Milltown; then seminary; afterwards C.C. Mullingar, from 1840 to 1850 when he became P. P. of Multifarnham;1854 P.P. of Enfield; July 1857 P.P. Tullamore. He was V.G. and he died Sept 19th 1892. He helped Wm O’Brien when he was a prisoner in Tullamore Gaol; he preserved Dr. Plunkett’s papers; and by his will he left £750 for a burse in Maynooth: also a house in Store St; (the rent of which was to be used in charity) and a bequest for a new church. He was buried in Durrow.

1892 – Rev Huge Behan succeeded. He was born in Delvin 1833; Stud. Paris. Ord. 1858; Curate in Enfield; Athboy, Navan (Adm), then PP Rathkenny 1875; Enfield 1878; then Trim, Nov 1888; and Tullamore April 1893; He died 25th May (saying mass in a house in William St) 1899; and was buried in the Cemetary of Clonminch (which he had opened some years earlier. He was V. F. 1899; V. Rev Philip Callary succeeded. He had been born in Oldcastle June 1849; ord. 1873; (in Walshestown by Dr Nulty); Curate in Athboy, Navan, Mullingar (Adm) then P. P. Drogheda 1890; Trim 1893; Tullamore 17th Sept 1899. At Episcopal election that followed death of Dr Nulty  (1899) he was dignior after Dr Gaffney with six votes. He built present church also St Columba’s schools. Made V.G. 14th July 1806 by Dr. Gaughran: he celebrated Golden Jubilee in 1923; died 1925 and was buried in Clonminch. He wrote articles for the I.E.R. and a short life of Dr Plunkett for the CT soc.

1925 – Rev Thos Mulvany succeeded and became Bishop of Meath 18 April 1929. Born Moynalty 1889 ord 1893; died 1943 aged 73. He was VF in Tullamore.

1929 – Rev Patrick Duffy succeeded. B Dunderry about 1872. ord 1896 ( two years in Dunboyne) then Seminary from 1898 to 1910 when he became Adm Mullingar. In 1916 P. P. Kilshyre; and in 1937 to Oldcastle; thence to Tullamore in 1929. He became V.G. in 1933 and died very suddenly Jan 6 1937. He was buried in Clonminch.

1937- Rev Jas Flynn succeeded. B Kinnegad 1873; Maynooth and Dunboyne which he left in 1899 to come to a temporary curacy in Tullamore after death of Fr Behan. He went to teach in Seminary in 1900 where he remained until 1912 becoming Curate, then Adm and Bishop’s secretary in Mullingar. 1917 he became P. P. Rahan; then Delvin in 1924; Clara 1935; and Tullamore in Feb 1937 where he was VG. He died 1949 and was buried in Clonminch.

1949 – Rev Wm Moran D. D. succeeded from Trim. He is VF.



In 1682 –5 Dopping speaks of  popish schoolmaster, Owen Conroy, who taught in Tullamore. After that we have no information until 1788 when we read that four schools were in operation; in 1826 there were 15 in Tullamore-Durrow; They were as follows; Thos Fitzgerald, church St. slated house; male 20 Cath, 20 prot. James Farrell Chapel lane, Slated house: All Cath. 28 boys and 22 girls. Thos Cannon Store St. stone and lime house mixed 27 Cath; 3 Prot consisting of 18 boys and 12 girls. Darby Berry, Bury Quay; Slated; 1 Prot. 24 Cath; 20 boys 5 girls. Jas Carty Tea Lane. Lime. 22 Cath 16 boys 6 girls. Jas McCabe Barrack St. Lime. 2 Prot; 64 Cath; 40 boys 26 girls. Mrs Martha Mite Barrack St; hired room. 16 Prot 14 Cath. 14 boys 16 girls. Patrick Kelly.Collier St. lime. 3 Prot 22 Cath. 20 boys, 5 girls. Total 288 Cath and Prot; Prot 45; girls 92. at a time when the population was about 4500. In the country there were 7 schools with 283 pupils of whom only 4 were Protestant making grand total for parish-571. In addition to those there were some non-catholic schools of a more exclusive type where 125 Cath children were taught. Most of these schools had ceased to exist by 1836.

Convent and Schools: -  Miss Pentony, a wealthy and charitable gentlewoman came from Dublin to live in Tulamore. She had been moved by zeal to help in educating Catholic children and  she selected Tullamore as her centre. She was very old then having been born in 1749 and she died 7th Sept 1835 after having laid solid foundations. She associated several good women with her in her work, most of which became sisters of Mercy. There was one still alive in 1881. They were Miss Barnwell; Miss Locke; Miss Delamer; The first a Sr Gertrude Barnwell died in Tullamore 1848 aged 51 years; Sr Clare Delemer died in Kells in 1870; Fr O’Rafferty was anxious to give permanence to work of Miss Pentony by bringing a teaching order of nuns into the town. It was a choice between the new Mercy nuns who had been founded shortly before by Mother McCauley, and the older order of Charity of Mother Aikenhead. The Order of Mercy came and the first superior in Tullamore was Mother Doyle. With Rev Walter Murtagh as the spiritual director. In 1834 the National School was opened by Fr O’Rafferty. The school built by private subscription accommodated 520 boys. At the same time the Girls National school was opened in 1834. The building cost £450.

These schools were on Bury Quay and Mr. Molloy; a wealthy and pious Catholic gentleman gave the nuns a house near the convent that they could use as a hospital 1838. In the  ‘big wind’ of 1839 the chimney of the new convent was blown down. The school has been built before the convent and at first the nuns lived in Miss Pentony’s house, which was on the site of the present infant school. The foundation stone of the Convent was laid in June 1840 and the building occupied in 1841 after which Miss Pentony’s house became the infant school in 1848 (it was probably the chimney of this part that was blown down in …[illegible]; it was then the temporary convent)

In  1859 (8th Sept) the school opposite canal (at present convent school) was opened by Father Dunne of Kildare diocese to train boys for the Australian mission. Another Fr Dunne who was educated there became Bishop of Wilcanin. (Father Dunne was born in East Offaly in 1846 studied in St. Brigids and Carlow where he was ordained in 1870. He went out to Australia and became VG of Goulburn Diocese. In 1887 when the new diocese of Wilcannia was founded he became its first bishop). The first superior of St. Brigid’s, Fr. Dunne, was succeeded in 1862, by Rev Cornelius McCann, who died in 1866, and the property was purchased by the Christian Brothers who remained there until …[illegible]; 1876 when Fr M’Alroy built the present Boys school into which they  moved and occupied until1893 when they were succeeded by lay teachers. Their former school on Bury Quay passed to the Convent. Before that the convent had not the portion including the present Chapel and Refectory. In 1912 the Christian Brothers were brought by Fr Callery who built for them the corner school, which they still possess (1953). …[illegible] they are negotiataing for larger premises in another part of the town. This was …[illegible] St. Columba’s classical School.

…[illegible] Catholics and 1430 non-Catholics in the united parish of  …[illegible] figures were 6,620 Catholics and 63 non-Catholic families.

From 1889 to 1920; During the 80s the history of the town is identified with the progress of the struggle that was being carried on nationally for Home Rule and Land Reform and during the chief Secretatyships of Forster and Balfour the Gaol was kept in constant use. The members of Parliament for the two divisions of Tullamore and Birr were Mr. Molloy and Dr Fox.


County Council 1898. Was…[illegible] v Bernard? Daly





While the proceedings in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day were still a matter of public comment, a new development occurred at Tullamore on Monday Evening 20th of March. Ill feeling which had been smoldering in the town for some time against the Sinn Fein Volunteers was manifested at a hurling match in aid of the Wolfe Tone memorial on Sunday, 19th March, when a spectator attempted to remove a flag from one of the Sinn Feiners, who, it was alleged, retaliated by drawing a revolver. The feeling was accentuated the following morning. Monday 20th March, at Tullamore Station, where a number of women were taking leave of their husbands, who are serving in the Leinster Regiment. A body of Sinn Fein Volunteers who appeared on the platform were the object of a hostile demonstration. Those incidents culminated in a shooting affray in the Sinn Fein Hall in William St. the same evening. A number of children catboohing and cheering, stone throwing began, and the windows of the hall were smashed. The volunteers inside retaliated by firing revolvers, and a large force of police proceeded to search the hall for arms. A general melee then took place, revolvers were fired at the police and several of them were injured. Ultimately several men were arrested and charged next morning with having fired at and attacked with intent to murder County Inspector Crane, District Inspector Fitzgerald, Head Constable Stuart, and Sergeant Aherne. Subsequently another batch of volunteers were arrested and remands were granted several times, as Sergeant Ahern was unable to appear, he having been seriously injured and conveyed to Stephen’s Hospital, Dublin (page 5) (continued on page 127) An official report issued on Thursday 22nd June from Military Headquarters, in Dublin states: The following prisoners from Tullamore, viz: James O’Brennan, Frank Brennan, John Delaney, Joseph Morris, Thomas Duggan, Joseph Graham, Peter Bracken, Thomas Byrne, James Clarke, Henry McNally, Thomas Hogan, Joseph Wrafter were tried by court-martial on the 26the of May. They were charged with the attempted murder of Co Inspector Crane, Dist, Inspector Fitzgerald and Sergeant Ahearn (sic) while an attempt was being made by the police to enter the Sinn Fein hall at Tullamore on the 20th March, and disarm a number of men who were in possession of the hall, from which shots were being fired and sergeant Ahearn received a bullet wound which placed his life for several weeks in danger. The prisoners after having been brought before the local magistrates, were handed over to the military, and at their court-martial, which followed, Mr Healy, K.C who appeared for them, contended that they had been illegally transferred from the civil to the military authorities. The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief has not confirmed the proceedings, and has ordered their release from military custody.



[1] Built in 1726, it was a chapel of ease attached to Durrow.

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Tullamore Architectural Heritage a Review by William Garner in 1980

An Foras Forbartha,

William Garner,

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


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


Tullamore Courthouse


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

Bridge Street

        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.

        East side:

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

        O’Connor Square


        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

        Tanyard Lane

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.

        High Street

        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

        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.

        East side:

        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

        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

        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.

        Bachelors Walk

        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

        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.

        Water Lane


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

        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

        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.

        Church 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.

Harbour Street


        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.

        North side:

        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


O’Carroll Street

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.

        Market Square

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’. 

        Chapel Street       

`      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.

        Store Street

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.

        Convent Road

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.

        Kilbeggan Bridge

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.

        Clontarf Road

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.

        Convent View


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

        Arden Road

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

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Tullamore town council chairmen 1900-2010

The Chairmen

Source: Tullamore Tribune 20/06/1992

The present Chairman of Tullamore UDC, Mr. Larry Dunne, is one of the 22 persons to have held that office since the inaugural meeting of the Council held on 2nd April 1900. Many of the chairmen including Mr. Dunne himself have occupied the office for more than one year. The full list is as follows:

1900 – 1906 Cllr W.P. Adams
1907 – Cllr I. Shelly
1907 – 1912 Cllr L. Roe
1913 – 1914 Cllr J.A. Lumley
1915 – 1924 Cllr P.J. Egan
1925 – 1940 Cllr J. Kearney
1940 – 1942 Cllr J.A. Ennis
1942 – 1943 Cllr J. Kearney
1943 – 1944 Cllr J.A. Ennis
1944 – 1945 Cllr J. Kearney
1945 – 1946 Cllr W.J. Keegan
1946 – 1956 Cllr  J. Kearney
1956 – 1967 Cllr J. O’ Connor
1967 – 1968 Cllr M. Killcavey
1968 – 1969 Cllr W. Bracken
1969 – 1970 Cllr S. Forrestal
1970 – 1971 Cllr A. Kelly
1971 – 1974 Cllr L. Byrne
1974 – 1975 Cllr E. Mc Guire
1975 – 1976 Cllr W. Bracken
1976 – 1977 Cllr V. Wynter
1977 – 1978 Cllr P. English
1978 – 1979 Cllr L. Byrne
1979 – 1980 Cllr E. Mc Guire
1980 – 1981 Cllr W. Bracken
1981 – 1982 Cllr V. Wynter
1982 – 1983 Cllr L. Dunne
1983 – 1984 Cllr L. Byrne
1984 – 1985 Cllr E. Mc Guire
1985 – 1986 Cllr W. Bracken
1986 – 1987 Cllr M. Keeley
1987 – 1988 Cllr M. O’ Callaghan
1988 – 1989 Cllr T. Mc Keigue
1989 – 1990 Cllr L. Byrne
1990 – 1991 Cllr E. Mc Guire
1991 – 1992 Cllr L. Dunne
1992 – 1993 Cllr M. Keeley
1993 – 1994 Cllr L. Byrne
1994 – 1995 Cllr T. Mc Keigue
1995 – 1996 Cllr E.J. Mc Guire
1996 – 1997 Cllr M. Buckley
1997 – 1998 Cllr S. O’ Brien
1998 – 1999 Senator P. Gallagher
1999 – 2000 Cllr S. O’ Brien
2000 – 2001 Cllr J. Feery
2001 – 2002 Cllr T. Mc Keigue
2002 – 2003 Cllr L. Byrne
2003 – 2004 Cllr A. Starling
2004 – 2005 Cllr M. Buckley
2005 – 2006 Cllr T. Mc Keigue
2006 – 2007 Cllr L. Byrne
2007 – 2008 Cllr R. Egan
2008 – 2009 Cllr S. O’ Brien
2009 – 2010 Cllr T. Mc Keigue
2010 - Cllr M. Buckley
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Tullamore Swimming Pool opens in 1938

Progress of Tullamore New Housing Scheme and Swimming Pool

Formal Opening Performed by Minister

Tributes to Urban Council and Officials

Offaly Independent 28/05/1938

Mr Sean T. O’Kelly, Minister for Local Government, was accorded a warm reception on the occasion of his visit to Tullamore on Thursday of last week, to formally open the recently completed hosing scheme at O’Molloy Street, and the new Swimming Pool.

Considerable interest was taken in the proceedings, and many parts of the town were decorated with the National Flag.

Speaking at a luncheon held in his honour, the Minister paid tribute to the splendid achievements of the Urban Council in the matter of providing decent housing accommodation for the working classes of the town.

By providing a magnificent Swimming Pool, in which young and old can bathe with complete safety, Tullamore has set an example which might well be followed by other towns in Ireland.

Address of Welcome

On his arrival the Minister was received at Hayes’ Hotel by Mr P. F. Adams, Co. C. Vice-chairman; Mr H.F Brennan, L.L.B Town Clerk, and a number of members and officials of the Urban Council.  He was met outside the hotel by a guard of honour of Civic Guards, under Chief Supt. N. Murphy, Naas, and Supt. N. Delaney, Tullamore.

At O’Molloy Street an address of welcome was presented to Mr. O’Kelly on behalf of the Urban Council.

The opening ceremony having been performed the houses were blesses by Very Rev. Jas Flynn, P.P, V.G., Tullamore, who was assisted by Rev. J.J McManus, C.C., do.

The address, which was read by Mr. Brennan, was as follows;-

“We the members of Tullamore Urban District Council, on behalf of the inhabitants of our town and district, bid you a hearty cead mile failte to the capital of Offaly.  We acknowledge with gratitude your splendid national services to Eire, and we believe that you welcome this opportunity of coming to our town, because tour visit is primarily concerned with the opening of our new hosing scheme.  You see before you 146 houses, all of them now occupied, and erected and completed in a manner which we suggest is a credit to the architect, contractors and workmen employed.  The present tenants have been removed from dwellings condemned by our medical officer of health, and which are now demolished.  The tenants now occupy comfortable and health houses at a low rent, only made possible by the provisions of recent housing legislation and the co-operation of the ratepayers of our town.

“We would like you to know that this Urban Council and its predecessors have availed of every opportunity provided by successive Governments to provide proper homes for the people.  We realise, as you have done that the solution of the housing problem is an essential condition to the prosperity of our country.  In this town over 300 houses for members of the working classes have been built by the local authority, and you will be pleased to know that the plans in connection with a further scheme have been lodged with your Department.  We venture to hope that generous financial assistance from your Government will be available to build decent homes not only for those who are at present residing in condemned houses, but also for the numerous families who are compelled to live in lodgings.

“You will be also asked to open a swimming pool, probably the only one of its type erected in an urban district like ours.  We have no doubt that this will afford health-giving enjoyment to a large number of people, and it is our intention to have the advantages of the pool available for all.

We trust that you will enjoy your visit here, and we can assure you that no effort on our part will be spared in trying to further the interests of the people whom we have been elected to serve”

The address was signed by Mr Joseph Kearney, chairman; and the Town Clerks (Messrs. Hoey & Denning).  It was read by Mr. H. F. Brennan, LL.B.

Minister Pleased

The Minister replying first spoke in Irish.  Continuing he said he was very grateful for the kindness of the Urban Council in presenting him with an address and for the compliment paid in regard to his part in housing work.  It was his second visit to Tullamore within little more than a year.  He was very happy on his first official visit to see the progress that had then been made, and he was much more pleased now to see the great housing progress that had been made since.  It showed what could be done and that Tullamore and its public men had done well for its people.  He was very grateful to them for taking advantage of every opportunity and every facility afforded by the present and previous Governments to do good, progressive public health work, and good civic work for the benefit of the community as a whole.  They had done well and they deserved every credit, and he was happy to be associated with their excellent work. 

Similar work had been done in other places, but he did not know of any public body that had in a short space of time done as much in proportion to the needs of the town as the Urban Council of Tullamore. (Applause)

 He availed of that opportunity of thanking Father Flynn, who at great personal inconvenience, had come to take part in the inspiring work and to bless the houses.  (Applause)

Mr O’Kelly was presented with a silver key by Mr Peter Duffy, who represented Messrs. Duffy Bros, Contractors.  The tape having been cut the Minister and party proceeded on a tour of inspection of the houses.  Later, the Minister and party proceeded on a tour of inspection of the houses.  Later, the Minister paid a visit to Mr Joseph Kearney, chairman, Urban Council, at his residence.  He visited the Co. Hospital building, the foundation stone of which he laid over 12 months ago, and the new Worsted Factory building in progress of erection on the site of the old jail.

The Luncheon

Mr O’Kelly was the guest of honour at a luncheon in Hayes’ Hotel, where a company of about sixty public representatives and officials were entertained by Mr H.F. Brennan, L.L.B. (Messrs Hoey & Denning, Town Clerks and Law Agents, and Mr T.S. Duggan, County Surveyor.  The luncheon was admirably served by a capable staff, under the supervision of Miss Payne, the highly efficient manageress.  Proposing the toast of Eire, the chairman (Mr. P.F. Adams) said all of them regretted the absence of Mr Joseph Kearney.  His Messrs had made it impossible for him to attend, but Mr. O’Kelly would pay him a visit before leaving Tullamore.  They also much regretted the absence of Mr. Lumley, who had writers to say that he could not attend.  Mr. Lumley was a great loss to the function and a great loss to Tullamore.  (Hear, hear).  Proceeding, the chairman said that it was indeed appropriate that Mr. O’Kelly’s name should be coupled with the toast of Eire.  Anyone who knew the town of Tullamore six years ago and saw it today would have to agree that the wonderful change for the better which had been affected was due to Mr. O’Kelly and his Department.  (Applause).  In 1932 they were surrounded by military houses on all sides and since that year, between 300 and 400 of these had been demolished and replaced by really first class houses.  “Tullamore has done well”, declared the chairman.” And in fact has done better than most towns of its class in Ireland.  They had just been told that by the Minister and that was a very big tribute from him.

[Last paragraph cannot be read]

He would not be allowed to leave office until he had completed the task to which he had set his hand, and which he had so successfully carried out up to the present.  But Mr. O’Kelly was a gentleman who had done a good deal more for Tullamore than was generally appreciated.  “I availed of a visit that he had paid to Birr,” continued the chairman, “to interview him with a number of others in connection with the new Co. Hospital, now being erected here.  We were all very anxious, for obvious reasons, to have it built in stone and when I explained the position, and the reasons to Mr. O’Kelly, he said there and then, “If the hospital does not cost for stone more than £10,000 over what it would cost for concrete, I will see that it is built in stone.”  A remarkable fact about the tenders was that when we were opening them up at the Board of Health, we found the difference between concrete and stone was, in almost every case, about £10,000.  That shows you the type of man Mr. O’Kelly is and how accurate and precise is his knowledge.”  (Applause)  Mr. O’Kelly sanctioned one of the tenders immediately, and the work started, and consider what that meant to the cut stone industry in this town.  That gesture to the people of Tullamore was very generous on the part of Mr. O’Kelly.  It was in fact a present of £10,000.  Mr. O’Kelly had also been most generous about the swimming pool.  “I was, in Dublin one day,” preceded the chairman, and I met Mr. Lumley there, and I persuaded him to accompany me to Government buildings, where I was taking a chance of seeing Mr. O’Kelly.  And we did see him though we had no appointment, or any arrangement made at all.  We managed to get past the two soldiers who were guarding his apartments, and he received us most kindly, although when Mr. Lumley saw the two soldiers he thought he was “for it at last”.  Anyhow Mr. O’Kelly, like the gentleman he is, listened patiently to all we had to say and then without another word, said he would give us a grant of £800.  Mr. Lumley was thunderstruck, and coming away said to me, “Paddy, who was that we were speaking to,” and I said, “That is Sean T. O’Kelly himself.”  Mr. Lumley was amazed, and then said “Well, he is a perfect gentleman anyhow.” (Applause)

Minister’s Speech

On rising to respond to the toast, Mr. O’Kelly received a great ovation, and having congratulated the Urban Council on their housing activities, said that other problems would have to be tackled by them in the future – for instance, the problem of overcrowding.

“Our population,” he said, “is not increasing with the rapidity with which it ought in these days, and we will have to provide houses in sufficient quantities – if housing is an encouragement, and I think it is – to encourage more and more people to marry at an early age and make the population of this country what it ought to be, and what it was less than a century ago.  That is work that must be tackled.

“I have been asked why we would not give as generous grants for the housing of newly married people as for the clearance of insanitary houses.

“Well, first problems must come first.  To get rid of insanitary houses is the first problem, and I am satisfies if I have anything to say to it, that people who want to get married and rear families will certainly be considered,” he declared.

Continuing, he said the Government had provided large sums and generous grants for various public health works, and if some people complained at taxation, he would point out that they could not improve country towns, as the Government had done, without somebody paying for it.  So far as he had been able to gather from conversations with taxpayers throughout the country, none of them objected to the amount of money that was being expended by the Government in housing grants, or on water or sewerage schemes.

“We are not backward in matters of public health in this country,” Mr. O’Kelly declared.

“I know wealthy countries in Europe which have complete management of their own affairs for many long centuries, but whose smaller towns, villages and rural areas are not as well advanced as we are in matters of public health.

“We are giving people a chance”

“There is nothing to beat our people in physique; nothing to beat them in intelligence, and all they want is a chance,” Mr. O’Kelly declared amidst applause.

“In insanitary dwellings they cannot get that chance, and we must do the best that men can to help them to lead virtuous, industrious and useful lives.

“We have tried to do that in various ways, and we have achieved something.  We have gone through a period of six years that have not been without their troubles.

Thirty – Two Counties

We have had differences of opinion on various matters, and we will have them to the end of time.  “We will continue to differ and have our political parties,” Mr. O’Kelly continued, but I think the acerbities of the past will be modified and decreased as the days go on, and possibly to a large extent will disappear, so that we will in our national politics, as well as our local politics, be just as we are here sitting round a table, all imbued with the highest ideals for the welfare of our people, and only anxious to secure that we shall reach that ideal in the quickest, most efficient and best manner.

“That, with God’s help, will be our work in the future.”

“At any rate, there is hardly anyone in the country who would stand up today in Ireland and say that Ireland should not have the completest and most absolute freedom to do what she like in her own way.

“We want to have an Ireland consisting of 32 counties, and not 26 counties.  With God’s help that will be reached by us let us hope, in our own time.

“There is now an open and free field for every man, whatever his view, party or upbringing, to join the majority of the people in Ireland in helping them to win back the unity and absolute freedom of the country, and to make Ireland, as God intended it to be an independent nation, living its own life, separate and working out its own decisions in the way the Irish people want to go.”

Tribute to Urban Council

What has been done by the Urban Council for the housing of the working classes of the town in the past six years might be realised when it was considered that in such a short period 202 houses had been erected, while in the previous 50 years, from the passing of the Housing Chairman Act, 1800 the number erected was 156.

In other words the average number provided by the Council per annum in the past six years was ten times the average of the earlier period.  These figures in themselves indicated in a forcible way the enormous tag in meeting housing needs which had to be overcome, when six years ago they asked the Dáil to provide the generous subsidies set out in the Housing Act of 1932.

It was most gratifying to learn from the report of their County Medical Officer of Health that the results of the slum clearance policy in Tullamore provided that when people from insanitary dwellings obtained the new houses they kept their houses in a clean and orderly condition.

A new feeling of cleanliness and airness pervaded the new houses, and this was much appreciated by the tenants, as evidenced by the manner in which they kept their houses.

As their County Medical Officer had stated, one could measure the change that had occurred in Tullamore in the conditions of living by recalling to mind the spectacle of the old, dilapidated, insanitary hovels that had been cleared away.

These hovels had no garden back or front; in many cases they had no yards; they were huddled together in narrow lanes, often shut off from sunlight and fresh air; sanitary arrangements were of the very worst; in short overcrowded and filthy tenements.

An Exhibition

Up to the end of the financial year 126 insanitary houses in the town were demolished.  Of the 202 houses erected under the 1932 Act, 173 were provided for persons living in condemned dwellings, by the Urban Council.

Even with the amount of work already done he was glad to learn that the Council were arranging to provide a further 110 houses to meet the needs of such working people of the town as are living in unsuitable houses, either insanitary or overcrowded.

The population of the town under the 1936 Census shows an increase as compared with the 1926 Census.  It was evident that the Council were fully alive to the growing needs of their town by enlarging their original building programme.

When the plans of these houses were settled by the Council, he had no doubt the scheme would be rapidly put through.

As far as one could see at present the new scheme with the schemes already carried out should go a long way to fulfil the town’s housing requirements, but he might say that they were about to call upon all Urban Local Authorities to review the position in the form of a new survey.

There was no Government in Europe – he would almost say the world – that had provided as generous grants for the housing of the working classes as had their Government since 1932, the Tánaiste went on.

So far as their national resources were concerned there was no end to their exchequer where housing mattered. So long as there was need for decent sanitary houses for the people, he felt sure that this Government would find money to meet the need and that any Government following them would do the same.

In the few years they had control of their national resources in Ireland they had achieved marvellous results.  The work which they carried out was an evidence of what Irishmen of all classes, creeds and politics associated together could do for the national good.

The Late Harry Egan

Concluding, Mr. O’Kelly said that was his third visit to Tullamore.  It was more than 25 years ago since he paid the first visit.  He was being motored to the West by a friend and they turned their course towards Tullamore.  He wished to see the home town of one of his dearest friends – the late Harry Egan – one of the founders of Sinn Fein.  Harry Egan was a great and good man – a man of wonderful vision who saw a long way ahead, and who had very sincere convictions, and made great sacrifices for these principles.  If he had been spared he would have filled a big place in the work of national reconstruction.  As it was they, gathered round that board, were of the generation that had reaped where Harry Egan and his associates had so generously sown.  His second visit to Tullamore was last year, when he came to lay the foundation stone of the hospital.  He felt very grateful to Monsignor Flynn who had, at great personal inconvenience, waited that day to bless the houses.  He would like Father Cooney to convey his (Mr. O’Kelly’s) sincere thanks to Mgr. Flynn.  Another gentleman whom all of them missed  was Mr Joe Kearney, the Chairman of the Urban Council, who had been so long and intimately connected with the public affairs of the town and county.

Father Cooney, proposing the toast of the Tullamore Urban Council, said they had carried out a very big programme with great patience and determination, overcoming many obstacles, even at a time when sympathy was not so great at headquarters, but they never lost heart, they never let down any schemes which they considered was for the welfare of the town (applause).  In words like these Fr. Flynn gave him a message to convey to the company assembled there, and he added that Tullamore was second to no other town in Ireland in the way of development and improvement.  The good work they had done was a fitting monument to the Council, it was work of which they might well feel proud.  Judging by the Minister’s remarks they had no excuse for saying they were tied up in any way in the matter of further development.  He (Fr. Cooney) joined with all present in regretting the unavoidable absence of Mr Joe Kearney, Chairman of the Council and it was probably the first important event he had missed in the town for thirty years, and it was a pity he was not there to get  a pat on the back which was richly deserved (applause).  The Council still had many problems to face, but they had a sympathetic Government behind them.  There were skeletons in the cupboard yet; they had the problem of a big sewerage scheme and the coming of the factory and other industries were making problems that the Council would have more headaches over, but they had a Government to back them up all they could.  There was the question of an improved water supply – another skeleton in the cupboard (laughter).  If these problems did not exist they would be in a poor state it would mean that the town was seas of defunct, and Tullamore had no notion of becoming either dead or defunct (laughter and applause)

Another advantage to the town which it would be worth while making use of was that the fire engine that had been demonstrating in Tullamore during the week.  It €1,200 expenditure was an insurance against serious damage by fire; it had got to be done. (Hear, hear).

Rev John McKeever, P.P.; Tobar is one of a large body of Irish priests attending the Eucharistic Congress at Budapest.

At Kilkenny about 200 passengers joined the special tram to Kilkenny, on Sunday last in connection with the senior football champion ship tie – Offaly v. Wexford – which ended in a draw.  The replay has been fixed for Croke Park.

Confirmation at Clara

Most Rev. Dr. Mulvany, Bishop of Meath, administered the sacrament of Confirmation to a large number of school children in St. Brigid’s, Clara, on Thursday week.  The celebrant of the Missa Cantate was Rev. T.C. Donohoe, C.C., and the sacred music was rendered by the choir, under the direction of Rev. M. Jennings, Diocesan Organiser of Plain Chant.  A large congregation attended, and the clergy present included: Very Rev. J. Flynn, P.P., V.G., Tullamore and Very Rev. J. McCormack, P.P., V.F., Clara.

Inspiring Spectacle

An edifying and impressive spectacle was witnessed in St. Brigid’s, Clara, on Sunday, the occasion being the general Communion of the children.  The neat appearance and general demeanour of the children, a number of whom made their First Communion, were worthy of the highest praise.  Mass was celebrated by Very Rev. J. McCormack, P.P., V.F., who was assisted at the altar rails by Rev. N. Casey, C.C.


Prices at Tuesday’s markets varied little from the previous weeks. Butter, 1/2d. To 1/3d. Per lb; eggs, 8d to 9d. Per do., fowl, 4/6d, to 6/6d. Per paid: Bonham’s, 25/- to 35/- each; potatoes, 3d. To 4d. Per stone.

Wesley Bi-Centenary

Wesley Bi – Centenary celebrations took place in the Methodist Church, Tullamore on Tuesday night.  There was a full attendance of members of the local congregation, and in addition, friends were present from Athlone, Mullingar and Clara.  The service was conducted by Rev. Edward Bennett, Tullamore and a brief address was delivered by Rev. R.G. McDonough, Athlone.  Miss Knowles ably presided at the organ.  At the conclusion of the local service the congregation listened to the broadcast of the special service in Wesley Chapel, City Road, London, including the sermon by Rev. R. Bond, M.A., President of the British Conference.  Visitors were subsequently entertained to tea in the Lecture Hall by ladies of the Tullamore congregation.

Regretted Death

Much regret has been caused by the death of Patrick Lynam, Harbour Street, Tullamore, which occurred on Wednesday.  Deceased was a member of a highly esteemed local family with whom deep sympathy is felt.  The funeral took place yesterday (Friday).

Tullamore Flag Incident

Debate at Special Meeting

Mr P.F. Adams vice-Chairman presided at a special meeting of the Tullamore U.D.C. on Tuesday night.  Also present – Messrs M. J. Walshe, J.A. Ennis, J. Condron, M.J Killeavey, J. Clarke, M. Digan, W. Nolan and A.O’Brien.

Mr. Farrell said that the meeting had been called on a requisition signed by 5 members.  Mr Clarke said that as the member of the Council who had protested on Thursday morning last against the absence of the flag from the hotel where Mr Sean T. O’Kelly was entertained, he felt that the U.D.C. as representing the people of Tullamore should ask an explanation as to why the flag was not flown.  At the luncheon he heard many eloquent tributes paid to the Minister but the best tributes that were paid to Mr O’Kelly were those paid by the people in the houses in O’Molloy St., each one of whom displayed the national flag.  Mr Nolan said he fully agreed with Mr. Clarke.  O’Molloy Street was a credit to the tenants of the new houses.  It was a shame the way the Minister was insulted.  Mr. O’Brien said that as one of the members of the Council who had stood in with Mr. Clarke in making the protest on Thursday, they should be fair and ask themselves had this thing been done deliberately?  Everybody respected the flag as the national flag, and it was very hard to think that anybody would deliberately insult the national flag.  Mr Clarke said that there was something in what Mr. O’Brien had said but the omission was pointed out to the manageress and she had been given ample time to display the flag.  Mr Digan said they could not blame the proprietors of the hotel who had displayed the national flag from Bridge House.  Mr. Clarke said the flag was the emblem of nationality.  It had been insulted and thereby the whole nation had been insulted.  No apology had been offered for the incident.  What they wanted now was an assurance that if and when a Minister again visited Tullamore for the opening of the new factory, that he will not be similarly insulted.  Mr O’Brien asked had the flag been flown from the hotel on the occasion of the Minister’s previous visit.  Had it been flown from the hotel when Mr Cosgrave, as President, had visited Tullamore? The Chairman said that he could not remember.

Mr O’Brien said that if it had not been flown, there had been no reference to it. 

Mr Clarke said that Mr Power, Town Inspector, should give a full explanation of what had happened last Thursday.

Town Inspector’s Version

Proceeding to do so Mr Power said that after Mr Brennan had read the address to the Minister at the top of O’Molloy St., two or three members of the Council informed him that the national flag was not displayed from the hotel premises.  He procured a flag from people in O’Molloy Street.  He had the best intentions in the world.  He went to the hotel with the flag and asked the person in charge to have it put up, and she said: “I am catering for the Town Clerks and I won’t take orders from anybody else.”  He then came out and say Mr Farrell, and Mr Farrell went into the hotel and he came out in a minute with the flag.

Mr Clarke – Aye, and stuck in a barrel at the gable end.

Mr Power – Yes, he stuck it in the barrel or flower pot and then I told Mr Brennan what happened.  After that I went up Church Street and two members of the Urban Council ordered my back and told be to remove the flag and I did so.

Mr Digan – I am one of the men that ordered Mr Power to remove the flag and when he explained to me the way in which the flag had been displayed, that was why I ordered him to remove it.

Mr Condron – I am not so well versed with all the circumstances.

Chairman – that will do you now.  You know as much about it as anybody else.  Don’t be trying to wriggle out of it.

Mr Condron – I am not trying to wriggle out of anything.  I only wanted to explain that the position with regard to the flag had reached a certain stage before I became acquainted with it, and when those who were protesting against her action suggested completely withdrawing from the function I endeavoured to put patience in them and I said that if they did so their withdrawal would be a bigger insult to the Minister than the absence of the flag.  I do not think that she acted deliberately.  I am not here to defend her for I hardly know the lady at all.  I do think that her action was purely temperamental.  I am satisfied that she never meant to insult the flag of the Minister.

Chairman – there was no malice in her attitude at all.

Mr. Condron said, that he thought the case would be met by writing to the directors calling their attention in a nice way to what had happened.  No doubt there would be an explanation coming from these gentlemen, and they could also write to Mr O’Kelly and express regret, and point out that no insult was intended.

The Chairman said that when the matter was reported to him at O’Molloy Street, he at once told Mr Farrell to procure a flag and have it displayed.  Then when the Minister was finished at O’Molloy Street, he (Chairman) took him to accept new hospital, and kept the???? For nearly half an hour, hoping that mean while the whole thing would have been fixed up.  Mr Condron said that while the Minister…..

At Tuesday’s sitting of the Circuit Court, Mr McEnery, B.L. called the attention of the Judge to the name of a witness who was to be called in a running down action from the Edenderry district.  The name was “Stephen Roman” and his Lordship remarked “That is a very distinguished name indeed.  It is the name born by a most distinguished Judge of the High Court – the late Lord Justice Stephen Roman”.  It may be mentioned that another distinguished name also figured in the business before the Judge.  Michael Dwyer was the name of an applicant for compensation in an action against the Grand Canal Company.

Flag Incident

The visit of Mr. Sean T. O’Kelly, Minister for Local Government, to Tullamore on Thursday of last week, will be cherished in the memories of all who took part as an event that marks an important stage in the progress and development of the town.  The cordiality of the welcome extended to the visitor was apparent on all sides.  Reception arrangements operated with remarkable smoothness and efficiency, for which a hearty tribute of praise is due to everybody responsible, the members and officials of the Urban Council, to Mr. Henry F. Brennan, LL.B. Town Clerk, and Mr Thos. S. Duggan, Town Surveyor, who gladly accepted the duty entrusted to them of entertaining Mr. O’Kelly and a large company of representative citizens in Hayes’ Hotel on the eventful day.  Last, though not least, must be mentioned the capable and efficient management and staff of the hotel, the result of whose efforts was a well laden, artistically arranged table, which could not fail to whet the appetite of the most fastidious of diners.  As already stated the day’s proceedings were carried through with machine like precision and regularity – the much discussed “flag incident.” Which has since been the subject of a special meeting of the Urban Council, was the only “fly in the ointment,” but one hesitates to believe that any individual concerned in the reception arrangements, either inside or outside the hotel, had the remotest idea of showing disrespect to the National colours.

Rent Reduction Demand

Father Cooney referred to housing schemes, embarked on by the Council before 1932, which necessitated such high rents as 12s 4d a week, beyond the power of many tenants to pay.  He expressed the hope that a way would be found to provide for a reduction commensurate with the needs of the situation.  Concluding, he congratulated the Council and their officers. 

They did not have to go to Dublin for their plans for the swimming pool, and there were lots of other useful schemes for which their engineer was responsible.

Now that the people were provided with decent houses it was their duty to see that they were all kept, and that what they had given would be preserved and respected (applause).

Responding, Mr Condron said while he did not believe the Council deserved all the nice things said about them, he was sure all the members had done their best, but he wanted to make it clear that they would be a poor enough body without the officials that they had to guide and help them.  They could travel Ireland and fail to find a better body of officials.  Personally he believed it would be almost impossible to go wrong under the guidance of Mr. Brennan, and if the Minister required a man to give him any special knowledge he should come down to Tullamore and have the benefit of Mr Brennan’s services (applause).  The ordinary man in the street could not have an idea of Mr Brennan’s work, but anyone going through the town could see Mr Duggan’s work.  Mr Duggan had one very serious fault and that was that he was not able to do the work without money (laughter).  Mr O’Kelly had been very generous with the Council in the past and in future when they required financial aid they would send Mr Duggan to the Department and if he got the money no doubt he would do the work.  There was one body deserving of more credit than those already mentioned; he referred to the ratepayers, whose generosity was never found wanting.  They might criticise, now and again, but they never grumbled much, although on various occasions they were practically bled white (laughter).  What they needed now was a transfusion of blood, and he thought the Minister was the only person that could give his services there (laughter and applause).

Mr Graham also responded.  He said he looked upon that occasion as a historic one for the town.  Early in the day they had seen occupying decent houses people who had been living in hovels for 40 or 50 years, and he could assure Mr O’Kelly that these people were deeply grateful to him for the help he had given in providing them with good healthy dwellings (applause).  More houses were needed in the town and he had no doubt the Minister would be prepared to finance another scheme.  In complimenting the local officials, he (Mr Graham) could not let the occasion pass without referring to the noble work done by their engineer, Mr Duggan (applause).  They had evidence of it in the housing scheme and in the swimming pool.  They were indeed fortunate in having such an accomplished official.

Concluding, Mr Graham said he had come across a number of essays written by schoolchildren on the impressions they gleaned from attendance at a meeting of the Urban Council.  He read extracts from some of them as follows:

“The majority of Councillors seem to be ordinary and respectable.”

“Some members are always anxious to speak on all subjects, but others seem not to say anything at all.”

“When an increase in the rate was about to take place we were prepared for some disturbance, but we were quite disappointed when the vote was unanimous.”

“Perhaps it would be well for some if the meeting started a little later, because some members arrive after the finance business is completed so that they would not be surcharged.”

The reading of the extracts caused much laughter.

Mr Graham said he was delighted to participate in the welcome to Mr O’Kelly.  Before very long he hoped they would have the pleasure of seeing him again when the factory was completed, and when the new Co. Hospital was finally opened (applause).

Happy and Contented


Mr Ennis, proposing the toast of “Our Guests,” said the duty was rendered all the more pleasant by the number of happy and contented people he saw around him.  He did not wish to refer individually to them all, but he would be pardoned for making individual mention.  Everything that could be said had been said about the Minister, and everything said was well merited.  Mr O’Kelly was a national figure, with a record in the struggle for independence, but there was one that was not often adverted to and that was his long record in social work in Dublin, which rendered him particularly fitted for the high position he now occupied.  It had often been well said that sound minds and sound bodies went to make a happy and contented people, and certainly Mr O’Kelly was attempting to provide the sound bodies.  For that reason he (Mr Ennis) welcomed to the function Father Cooney and the priests of the parish who were present, as well as the clergy of other denominations (hear, hear), because he realised how closely allied were the Minister for Public Health.  The work in which the Council was engaged that of supplying housing needs, was, more than any other function of the State, God’s work (hear, hear).

There were not a few critics who said that the State should devote its attention and its energies to the fostering of those marketable commodities that added to the welfare of the nation.  He disagreed with that view, and where those critics would have the State do less he would have them do much more.  (Hear, hear).  For that reason he welcomed the statement of the Minister on the continued policy of the Government in removing forever the eyesore that had blotted the fair name of the country for many years.

He had to welcome also the representatives and officials of the other public bodies of the county – the County Council and Board of Health.  The Tullamore Urban Council had always worked in the closest harmony with those two bodies, and he particularly welcomed the representatives of that much harassed body – the ratepayers.  Any demand made on the ratepayers of Tullamore, for the welfare of the people, particularly of the working and poorer classes had always been met and sacrifices had been made and made generously and unanimously by the large and small ratepayers of the town (applause).  He welcomed also those guests whom he could not describe under any particular heading.  If he might finish in a personal note he had only to mention Mr Duggan.  Few men had given such a service as Mr Duggan had given both to county and town.  In the town he had been ably assisted by another group of officials to whom no reference had been made that evening – the officials of the L.G.D.   These officials were criticised sometimes for being slow, but he believed that was a narrow, parochial and selfish view to take, because those men were dealing with a great national problem, and they were not giving Tullamore any less attention than they were giving to both towns.  For that reason due allowance should be made for officials who had such a great task in hands.  He wished to pay special tribute to the Secretary of the L.G.D. (applause).  Ministers were Ministers and they were the guests of honour at all functions and they got all the bouquets (laughter), but he was sure the Ministers themselves would be the last to grudge to their principal officials the tribute that was their due and that he (Mr Ennis) now wished to pay to them from the Tullamore U.D.C. (applause). 

“If at any time,” continued Mr Ennis, your letters to them have been over – critical.  I pray the indulgence of those officials and even though it may occur again.  I want to assure them that our nerves are not always of the best (laughter).  Sometimes we may not have slept well, or maybe we may have drunk too well (laughter), but when they get those letters let them be assured that they are merely attempts to expedite the matter in hands and they were not to be taken as any serious criticism.  Mr Ennis concluded by commending the work of the local doctors.  It was peculiarly their job to look after the health of the poor and they had done it nobly and well (applause).

A Noble Tradition

Mr P.J Egan said, before responding to the toast, he would like to thank Mr O’Kelly very sincerely for his very graceful references to his (Mr Egan’s) brother, the Late Harry Egan, who did quite a lot of work in the early days of the Gaelic movement, in which he was associated with the late Arthur Griffith, Douglas Hyde and others.  On behalf of the guests, he wished to return thanks for the excellent hospitality extended to them, and for the opportunity given them of being associated with a very definite and progressive step in the public life of Tullamore.  It was interesting to note that Mr Adams was one of the chief managers of the swimming pool, because he had always taken a very active part in urban affairs, and because Mr Adams father, the late Mr William Adams, about 45 years ago, was one of the sponsors of the water supply which they now had in Tullamore (applause).  Mr Adams was carrying on a noble and very worthy tradition.  He (Mr Egan) had had experience of public bodies for most of his life, and he knew that they usually received more kicks than halfpence (laughter), and there was rarely anything nice said about them.

“As responding a certain rate paying interest in the town,” Mr Egan continued, “and having lived here all my life I wish to pay a thoroughly deserved tribute to the excellent work of the Urban Council on behalf of Tullamore.

“Their housing programme did not begin six years ago, and it is only necessary to refer to the great work Mr Adams’ father did years ago in the matter of housing.”  Referring to the recent housing scheme and the swimming pool, Mr Egan said a lot would depend on how both schemes were going to be worked, and he recommended the Urban Council to take particular care that both enterprises were kept under regular and proper supervision.  If that were not done, a lot of benefits would be lost.  He hoped the Council would arrange a series of competitions at the swimming pool, and he put forward the suggestion that one event should be confirmed to politicians (laughter).

Chairman – they would never come up (laughter).

Mr Egan said politicians were a particularly agile type.  A floating competition would be appropriate, because it was one of the things a politician had to specialise in (laughter).  Personally he was no good in the art, and he sank (laughter and applause).

Good Social Work

Mr Rogers said he was glad that the ratepayers had been referred to.  They were all familiar with the old tag by which the harassed ratepayer loved to describe the local corporator as a person “without a body to kick or a soul to be dammed” (laughter).  He believed the definition was literally true, but he thought this was not an occasion on which to remember such things, and he would suggest that a truer picture might be given of the city or town fathers by describing them as jolly good fellows (laughter).  It was not an occasion for exaggeration or for flattery, and it was certainly not an occasion for a review of the Urban Council’s work, but it was one on which all might take some pride, and on which they might give some credit to the Council.  One of the urgent problems that had been in rapid process of solution all over the country was that of providing houses for the workers and the poor, in which they could bring up families and take their full share in the Christian civilisation.  He thought, as a ratepayer, that the Council had done their full share in that.  There were other pressing problems, but if the Council felt justified in providing such an amenity as a swimming pool, one might take it that they had the situation well in hand.  He had a theory that local authorities must continue to play a large part in the national development of the country, and in its progress towards the great ideal and the great destiny that we all believed she was to achieve; and if that were so, then executive officers would have to shoulder perhaps larger responsibilities.  It was important, therefore, to have the right men there – men of imagination and initiation, as well as technical training.  With such men things would happen, and he supposed the Department of Local Government would sit up and take notice and ask questions.  He was not going to dwell upon the shining qualities of Mr Brennan and Mr Duggan.  Anyone who knew their Town Clerk would have seen his fine Roman hand in the perfect organisation of that day’s function; and the houses which the Minister had just seen and which they all admired, as well as other houses in Tullamore, would certainly become monuments to Mr Duggan (hear, hear).  It remained for them yet to see the swimming pool.  He did not like to dwell too long on the subject – in fact he dwelt between the two gentlemen concerned, and when he went to the courthouse they were nearer still (laughter).  There was a Commandment which told us to love our neighbours, and one which told us to love our enemies, and the late G.K. Chesterton explained that these were a most inevitably the same people (laughter).  If he (Mr Rogers) was to be envied for anything it was for having “enemies” like those two.  He hoped they would all live to see, not only the housing and kindred problems solved, but all other problems that affected the country.  If he might digress, he might say that he, too, appreciated very much the graceful tribute paid by the Minister to a patriot whose early death was a tremendous loss to the country – the late Mr H Egan (applause).  The health of Messrs. Brennan and Duggan was proposed by Fr McManus, and enthusiastically honoured.

The Higher Officials

Returning thanks, Mr Brennan said that after 27 years as Town Clerk of Tullamore it was a great source of satisfaction and gratification to know that the Urban Council and ratepayers appreciated his work, and he was sure Mr Duggan felt the same.  He was especially glad to see that they were honoured not only by the presence of Mr O’Kelly, but by the attendance of two important officials of his Department – Mr Hurson and Mr Moylan (applause).  He assured them that it would be quite impossible for any local official to carry on without the good work of the gentlemen in authority in the L.G.D.  Everything the Urban Council had sent to the Department or submitted to Mr Hurson or his predecessor, Mr McCarron, or Moylan, had always received the most friendly and favourable consideration (applause).  As long as he was spared he would do his best as liaison officer to continue the friendly relations that existed between the local public bodies and the officials in Dublin, to whom they owed so much (applause).  Mr Hurson said it was a great pleasure to him to be present with the Minister.

He felt very much the great progress that had been made in Tullamore.  It was a real eye-opener to see the wonderful changes that had taken place – to see the slums removed and replaced by sanitary dwellings.

He was very grateful for the kind words said about the officials in Dublin, but it was their duty, as public officials, to do everything possible to help the Government in the great work they were accomplishing.  There was a feeling of optimism throughout the country, and he felt that the future would be one of continued progress.  He would like to say a word of encouragement to Mr Duggan and Mr Brennan, than whom there were no abler officials in the public service (applause).  Dr Meagher said that while he appreciated the magnificent work the Urban Council had done, he thought there was an absolute need for a proper town planning scheme.  The work done was excellent, but there was an outstanding lack of system.  Progress in housing and the operation of the school medical system were going to cut across disease as they knew it in youth, and later on they might possibly have an A.1. population (applause).  Dr Meagher concluded by joining in the tributes paid to the Minister by previous speakers.

Opening of Swimming Pool

After the luncheon, Mr O’Kelly accompanied by Mr Hurson, Secretary of the Department; the members of the Urban Council, many representative public men, and all the principal officials of the county proceeded to the new swimming pool, which is situated off the main road to Geashill, a short distance from the town.  A great crowd of people awaited the Minister’s arrival.  The Tricolour floated gaily, while multicoloured streamers spanned the pathway leading from the entrance gate.  Mr O’Kelly inspected the boxes, etc. and the County Surveyor explained the various matters connected with the construction of the swimming pool; which is, without doubt a splendid example of engineering and architecture.  Mr P.F Adams introduced Mr O’Kelly who received a great ovation, and said that was the first occasion on which he had had the privilege on taking part in the inauguration of a swimming pool, and he congratulated the U.D.C. on the public spirit displayed in providing such an amenity for the town.  The project had been carried out with the aid of a contribution from the Government.

“It is one of the first to be completed,” said Mr O’Kelly, “and I hope the example of your U.D.C. will be followed in other urban districts.  The pool has been skilfully designed by your surveyor, Mr Duggan.  It is on modern lines, and I understand the purity of the water is safeguard at all times.  For those who enjoy health, there are very few better forms of exercise than swimming.  The cleanliness which results from swimming exercises is a great aid to health.  Sports fields and football grounds are important in their way, but they can generally be provided without the aid of the public authority.  It is important to provide opportunities for people of every age and temperament to invigorate the body and occupy their leisure properly.”

Continuing, Mr O’Kelly said swimming will always have its adherents.  There was high medical authority for the benefit claimed to be derived from open air swimming, and it was generally accepted that the plunge bath is very beneficial.  Swimming in cool water hardens the body, and doctors tell us it promotes full activity of heart and lungs, and does not lead to over – development of any group of muscles.

“There is also another aspect of the matter that must not be overlooked,” went on Mr O’Kelly.  “In the year 1935 there were 113 deaths from drowning in the country.  In 1936 there were 73.  Many, if not most, of these deaths might have been avoided if everyone learned to swim in youth.  Young people need little inducement to learn the art of swimming, but I would suggest that, for a limited period at least, instruction be provided in swimming.  I would like also to emphasise the necessity for adequate supervision and proper maintenance.  I am sure the council’s officers will all co – operate in making the project a success.  I have great pleasure in formally declaring the pool open.” (Applause).

An Exhibition

Mr J. Lalor, or the Munster and Leinster Bank, then proceeded to give an exhibition in diving and swimming.  Mr P. Egan, The Hall, Tullamore also gave an exhibition.  The Tánaiste shortly afterwards left the grounds and proceeded to the new factory which he inspected.  Earlier in the day he had visited the new hospital, also in course of erection.  Mr J.J. McCann led the singing of the National Anthem at the conclusion of the luncheon ceremonies.  As well as those already mentioned as having spoken, those at the luncheon included all the members of the U.D.C. with the exception of Mr J. Kearney, the Chairman, who is ill; Mr J.A. Lumley, a former Chairman, who is now resident in England; and Mr John Clavin who was unavoidably prevented at the last moment from attending; Dr J.M. Prior, Kennedy, Dr Geo. A. Moorhead, Dr J.O’Meara, Dr P.S O’Gruagain, County M.O.H.; Rev. P.Fagan, C.C.; Rev. J. Byrne, Chinese Mission; Rev. D. Cecil, Henderson, B.A., Presbyterian Minister; Rev. Bro. M.F. O’Mahony, M.A.; Mr T.S. Duggan, County Surveyor; Mr M.J. (Continued in next issue).

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Catherine McAuley visits Tullamore in the 1830s

To the Reverend John Hamiliton                                                                 Rahan Lodge [Endnote 9]

                                                                                                                        November 24, 1835

Dear Mr Hamiliton

I have compressed the Relatio Status [Endnote 10] into twelve pages of this size; and as I am anxious to get it out of my sight as soon as possible, I pray you to pay the postage of it, together with that of the letter Doctor Cullen.  Let the lecturer to Mr. Lalor be also thrown into the post.

   The cough is, I may say, gone; and tho’ the storm is at this moment somewhat menacing, I hope, by and by, to get my little walk.  I did not expect to see the correspondence with the London Tract Society, travelling back to us here, but those gentry are, I suppose, fond of seeing themselves in print.

   It appears that Revd. Mr. O’Hanlon is about to give up his charge of Confessor at Baggot Street. [Endnote 11] Doctor Meyler should take care that his Friend Mrs. McAuley should suffer no inconvenience from this occurrence.  This is not a good season for long excursions in the North; so I suppose his return will be rather speedy. [Endnote 12] All here quite well, and join as usual in best regards.

                                                                        Most truly yours

                                                                         + D. Murray.

Autograph: Dublin Diocese, Hamilton Papers  P1/35/1-2, no. 38


35. To Sister M. Ursula Frayne                                              [Tullamore]

  Baggot Street [Endnote 17]                                                      [c. May 27, 1836]



                My own dearest child, your letter so kind

                Was most gladly received by you Mother [Endnote 18]

                ‘Twas in every way quite to my mind

                I pray you soon give me another.

                I’m delighted that Sister Cecilia is well

                And that dear Sisters Frances is better

                O’er Celia I wish you could cast you own spell

                And make her write a fanciful letter. [Endnote 19]

               Poor Sister Joseph has something to do

               Your partner in school is a treasure

               I hope my Teresa is well employed too

               And not wasting time out of measure [Endnote 20]

               To dear little Ellen [Endnote 21] pray give my best love

               Tell her to tune well the harp

               Let the notes be all soft, like those of a dove

               Like her own, sweet and lively, not sharp.

               The Professor to-day went on very well [Endnote 22]

               We’d two voices of exquisite tone

               Who as private singers are deemed to excel

               One sang most sweetly alone.

               About thirty priests, and ladies by dozens

               Some of whom had got cards of admission

              But their Nieces, their Aunts, and their Cousins

              Came with them without our permission

              And while forcing their way in crowds thro’ the hall

              Feared much they did greatly intrude

              And hoped that the chapel would not be too small

             And that we would not think they were rude [Endnote 23].

             At the usual hour the preacher [Endnote 24] began

            And gave a most excellent view

            Of God’s various designs in relation to man

            And His graces to carry them through.

            He proved how both Martha and Mary were blest

            By our Lord, while on earth He did stay

            But did forcibly all our attention arrest

            With “Mary has found the best way.”

            Then with a voice so subdued and so mild

            Addressing our Sister, he said

           “How consoling to you, my much favor’d child

            Are the words of the Gospel just read.

            For were our Redeemer on earth at this day

            And saw you at the Altar appear

            The very same words, I am sure would He say

            For were our Redeemer on earth this day

            And saw you at the Altar appear

            The very same words, I am sure would He say

          For his words, my dear Sister, can ne’re pass away

          How would lovingly bid you draw near.

          The sick and the poor were His own constant care

          You are trying His footsteps to trace

          And He will invisibly oft meet you there

          Till you see Him at length face to face.

          Let us join in a prayer to this Saviour of love

          That he may His best graces inpart

          That your Vows may this day enter Heaven above

          And His blessing descend on your heart.

          May he be your safeguard and guide in your way

          May you to His counsels attend

          And may you advance in perfection each day

          And with joy persevere to the end.

          And oh! may the Order to which you belong

          Be increased by the power of the Lord

          May the young and the virtuous round it still throng

          And to Him greater glory afford.”

          Thus far, my dear child, I have been most exact

          In telling you what the Priest said

          But I have not, as yet, like you got the tact

          To carry it long in my head.

          The Profession now ended, the ladies proceed

          To the rooms with refreshments provided

          Though numerous, they all were nice persons indeed

          In the first room the Bishop presided,

         Who graciously hearkened to every call

          To carve and to help condescended

          Extending the kindest attention to all

          With grace and with dignity blended [Endnote 25]

          At length they are done, the guests gone away

          And all is in peace as before

          But oh! with what mingled sensations I say

         That not far remote is that troublesome day

         When they must assemble once more. [Endnote 26.]

          Read this first alone, in an audible tone,

          Till you gloss over every mistake.

          What you can’t read you’ll spell

          Till you know it quite well

          Do this for your poor Mother’s sake.

                                                                                                               [M. C. McAuley]

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