Offaly (Irish: Contae Uibh Fhaili ) is a municipality in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom UI Failghe and was formerly known as King’s County . Offaly County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 76,687 according to the census of 2011.

Geography and political subdivisions

Offaly is the 18th largest of Ireland’s 32 counties by area and the 24th largest in terms of population. [2] It is the fifth largest of Leinster’s 12 counties by size and the 10th largest by population. It is the largest county by area and the second largest population in the Midlands.

Towns and Villages

  • Physical geografiBallinagar
  • Ballyboy
  • Ballycumber
  • Banagher
  • Belmont
  • Birr
  • Cadamstown
  • Clara
  • Clareen
  • Cloghan
  • Clonygowan
  • Clonbullogue
  • Clonmacnoise
  • cool Derry
  • Crinkill
  • Croghan
  • Daingean
  • Dunkerrin
  • Edenderry
  • Ferbane
  • Geashill
  • High Street [9]
  • Horseleap
  • kilcormac
  • Killeigh
  • Killoughey
  • Kinnitty
  • Moneygall
  • Mountbolus
  • Mucklagh
  • Portarlington
  • Rahan
  • Rath
  • Rhode
  • Shannon
  • Shannon Harbour
  • Shin Rone
  • Tullamore
  • Tubber
  • Walsh Island

Tullamore is the county seat and largest city of Offaly and is the 30th largest in Ireland. Offaly borders seven counties: Galway, Roscommon, Tipperary, Laois, Westmeath, Kildare and Meath. The Slieve Bloom Mountains are in the southern part of the county on the border of County Laois. Offaly has 24 highest county peak in Ireland. The highest point is Arderin (Irish: Ard Éireann ) in the Slieve Blooms at 527 meters (1,729 feet). Slieve Bloom Mountains contains the county’s highest points, including Stillwater Brook Hill and Wolf Trap mountain which is the county’s second and third highest peaks. Croghan Hill rises from the Bog of Allen and is located in the north Offaly. Although only 234 meters high, it is known for its views of the surrounding area and it stands out by itself.

Floodplain of the River Shannon is in the northwestern part of the county.The river runs through the city Camcor Birr and is a Wild Trout Conservation Area. The Brosna River runs across the county from Lough Owel Westmeath to Shannon Harbour. Silver River runs through several towns in the southern part of the county before he Brosna around Ferbane. The Grand Canal also runs across the county from Edenderry on the northeastern Shannon Harbour before joining påShannon. The county contains many small lakes from Lake Boora Pallas lake and it also includes 42 hectares of swamps.There are a number of ridges in the counties of the province, including Esker Riada.

Offaly consists mostly flat landscape and is known for its extensive peat bog and peat lands. There are many large bogs in Offaly including the Bog of Allen, Clara bog, bog and Raheenmore Boora Bog that are scattered throughout the county with the Bog of Allen extends into four other counties. The county consists of approximately 42,000 hectares of peatlands, which is 21% of Offaly’s total land area.

Offaly contains approximately 9,000 hectares (22,000 acres) of forest and woodland, which amounts to only 4.5% of the county’s land area. This includes forests in the Slieve Blooms and Lough Boora Parklands.Approximately 75% of Offaly’s forest area is high Conifer forest.


Baronies of Offaly

The following are the historic baronies located in County Offaly:

  • Ballyboy
  • Ballybrit
  • Ballycowen
  • Clonlisk
  • Coolestown
  • Eglish
  • Garry Castle
  • Geashill
  • Kilcoursey
  • lower Philipstown
  • upper Philipstown
  • Warren Town


One of the earliest known settlements in Offaly are Boora bog dating back to the Mesolithic era. Excavations have provided evidence of a temporary settlement since no structures were found at the site. Stone axes, arrowheads and blades were discovered which date between 6800 -. 6000 BC[10]

The Dowris stores dating from the late Bronze Age was found in a bog at Dowris, Whigsborough near Birr. It is the largest collection of Bronze Age objects ever found in Ireland. [11] It contains more than 200 articles of which about 190 are preserved, 111 in the National Museum of Ireland and 79 in the British Museum. [12] Forty four spearheads were found, forty-three shoulders, twenty-four and forty-four trumpets crotals (a type of watch or clock instruments, unique to Ireland). A bronze bucket was also found, it was constructed of sheet bronze riveted together, this point is considered an imported item, two other buckets also found and these are believed to be native of copies. [12]

After the Christianisation, the monastery complex was erected Clonmacnoise at the River Shannon near Shannon Bridge. There is today an important tourist destination.

The county itself was formed after the Tudor plantations of Laois and Offaly in an attempt by the English crown to expand its influence in Ireland that had fallen due to the Norman conquest of Ireland. Both Laois (Leix) and Offaly (UI Failghe) was a petty kingdom in Gaelic Ireland is just outside Pale (an area around Dublin and the middle east of Ireland, which remained loyal to the English crown after the Norman Conquest). The older kingdoms Leix and UI Failghe not coincide with today’s county was formed. The Kingdom of Uí Failghe where the name Offaly descended, ruled by Ó Conchobhair Failghe (Anglicized as: O’Conor Faly) whose territory stretched from the eastern part of the county in north Kildare. Kingdom Firceall controlled byO’Molloy clan constitute a large part of the center of the county. Kingdom Firceall was part of the kingdom of Meath, while Uí Failghe was part of the kingdom of Leinster. A large part of the southern part of today’s counties (as well as North Tipperary) ruled by Ó Cearbhaill of Eile (Anglicized as: Ely O’Carroll). Ely was part of the Kingdom of Munster. These petty kingdom were swept away by the Tudor plantations. In 1556, an Act of Parliament Ireland created the “Kings County”, named after Philip, the then King of Ireland. [13] It replaced the old kingdoms of baronies and present County System. Despite the county’s name is maintained as Offaly by the Local Government Act 2001, no legislation ever adopted after independence explicitly to change the name of Kings County, formally named the 1898 Local Government Act, which continued to have legal effect.

Science: George Johnstone Stoney from Birr introduced the concept ofelectron 1891st

Local governments and politics

Offaly County Council is the local authority for the county. The Council is responsible for local services such as housing, social and cultural services, economic development and planning, taxation motor and infrastructure policy in the county.

After the implementation of the Municipal Reform Act 2014, the number of Council back was reduced to 19 from 21 councilors. [14] The reforms also reduced the number of electoral areas 3 which is Tullamore (7 members), Birr (6 members) and Edenderry (6 members). Before the reforms were 4 choices fields in Tullamore (7 members), Ferbane (4 members), Edenderry (6 members) and Birr (4 members). The Council also elected to the City Council in Birr, Tullamore and Edenderry abolished.

Until 2011 general election Offaly was part of the Laois-Offaly constituency that elected five TDs to the Dáil. Between 1921 and 2011, this consisted of the entire territory of both counties. For the 2011 general election certain electoral divisions in South Offaly where part of North Tipperary.

The Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil constituencies) Act 2013 established a new constituency called Offaly for the 2016 general election. [15] The new constituency will incorporate all existing Offaly Laois-Offaly constituency, and twenty-four electoral divisions from Tipperary North . This new constituency will select three TDs to the Dáil.


Population 2006 figure for Offaly is the highest for the county since 1881. [16]The Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that the population increase between 2002 and 2006 (7205) consisted of a natural increase of 2,026 people with the balance of 5179 accounted for by net migration from within Ireland and abroad . The population increased by 11.3% between 2002 and 2006, which was a higher rate than the national average of 8.2%. This can be attributed to the county’s proximity to the Greater Dublin Area, increased accessibility to Dublin (M6, M7 and improved rail services) and lower house prices than in Dublin. [16]

The population of many cities increased during the period 1996-2006: + 21.5% Birr, Tullamore + 28.8% and Edenderry + 53.9%. The population of Port increased by 50.1% between 2002 2006e. [16]

The population as of the 2011 census is 76.687 people with 35.7% (27.378 people) under the age of 25 and 11.6% (8909 people) over 65 years [1]

Tourist attractions

  • Birr. In the southern part of the county is best known for its castle and gardens of Birr Castle is owned by the Parsons family (the family bears the title “Earl of Rosse), and is best known for its 19th-century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsonstown .
  • Georgian Birr
  • Sculpture in the park areas around Lough Boora in Boora Bog.
  • Charleville Castle is located in Tullamore
  • Ancient Christian monastery site of Clonmacnoise with old examples of Irish High Cross as the “Cross of the Scriptures”, the round tower and visitor center.
  • Kinnitty Castle
  • Slieve Bloom Mountains with panoramic views of County Offaly and Laois
  • Banagher and Shannon River cruises along the river.
  • The Boora bog reserve is a haven for wildlife and in particular contain the last Irish population in the partridge.
  • Durrow Abbey and Highcross
  • Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre
  • Birr Theatre and Arts Centre
  • Clara Bog Nature Reserve
  • Leap Castle
  • Old churches Rahan and Lynally
  • Croghan Hill, a 230 m high hill where an old mummy discovered. It is known that the Croghan Bog Man. It is now found in the National History Museum.
  • Moneygall is the ancestral home of the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Located in the village, is a visitor center and gas station called Obama Plaza. [17]


Gaelic games are popular in the county. Offaly GAA consists of about 44 clubs playing Gaelic football and hurling in communities throughout the county. Birr is generally considered a hurling stronghold of Birr GAA winning four All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championships. County teams also had national success in both hurling and football, winning the Liam MacCarthy Cup four times and the Sam Maguire Cup three times. The football team is perhaps best known for Seamus Darby goal in the dying minutes of the 1982 football final as Offaly took the title by one point denying Kerry a historic five All-Ireland titles in a row. Traditionally, West Offaly hurling stronghold been with clubs like Birr, Cool Derry, and kilcormac / Killoughey enjoying success in the Leinster and All-Ireland Championships

Known from Offaly hurlers include:

  • Brian Whelahan, Birr
  • The Dooley Brothers,
  • Brian Carroll, Cool Derry
  • Rory Hanniffy, Birr
  • Shane Dooley, Tullamore
  • Michael Duignan, Banagher

Famous Footballers from Offaly include:

  • Matthew Conor Walsh Island
  • Richie Conor Walsh Island
  • Ciarán McManus, Tubber
  • Niall McNamee, Rhode
  • Martin Furlong, Tullamore
  • Seamus Darby, Rhode
  • Mick Brady, Edenderry
  • Finbarr Cullen, Edenderry

Other popular sports in the county include rugby and association football where Tullamore Town FC is a championship.

There are many golf courses located in the county. Esker Hills is one of the most popular. Irish golfer Shane Lowry is a member here. He is from the city Ferbane outside Tullamore. As an amateur, he won the Irish Open in 2009.


Traditionally, agriculture and industry has been the main driving force in the economy of the county. Offaly has extensive swamps, especially in the northern parts of the county, which is part of the Bog of Allen .Bord na Mona was founded in 1946 and employed hundreds of people in Offaly by peat briquettes (for domestic household use) and delivers peat power stations operated by ESB. Peat briquettes are currently made at Bord na Mona factory in Derrinlough near Birr. Power plants are working at Shannonbridge and Edenderry. With the continued impoverishment of the marshes a number of power stations have been closed in recent years. ESB power station at Lumcloon, Ferbane was a major employer in the Midlands but closed in 2001. Rhode power station was shut down shortly after. These were important landmarks in Offaly with large cooling towers that were visible for miles around Offaly and outside, but was demolished shortly after the stations closed. Many marshes now used as a nature reserve or for tourism Lough Boora.

The opening of the Grand Canal in the 18th century brought prosperity to cities like Banagher and Tullamore. Both cities were important stop on the Dublin to Limerick navigation that supported a number of industries and brought cheap and efficient water transport to the county at the time.

The Celtic Tiger also brought an increase in economic activity for Offaly with business and industrial parks to open in Birr, Edenderry and Tullamore.Many people especially in the eastern part of the county is within easy commuting distance to Dublin where many find work.



Offaly is well served by rail. Railway stations are at Tullamore and Clara.Both stations are on the main Dublin-Westport / Galway railway line with regular trains serving the area especially for Dublin commuters. Port railway station is just across the County Laois border and is in a catchment area of southeastern county. Port railway ~~ POS = TRUNC station ~~ POS = HEAD COMP is the main Dublin Cork Railway with regular commuter to Heuston Station, Dublin and regular service to Cork, Limerick, Killarney and Tralee.

The Limerick Ballybrophy railroad traveling through the southern part of the county but there are no stations on the line in County Offaly. The nearest stations are located at Cloughjordan and Roscrea both just outside the county line. A train from Birr connected to the line at Roscrea until it was closed in the 1960s. A railway line connected even Birr to Portumna.


Three main national secondary roads passing through the county. The N52 road passes from Kilbeggan to Tullamore and Birr which then continues to Nenagh where it intersects with the M7. The N62 from Athlone passes through Ferbaneoch Birr and continues in Roscrea and Thurles. The N80 route starts in Tullamore and continues to the southeast passing Portlaoise and Carlow. There are no major national primary roads in the county, however, M6 skirts county in north ochM7 bypasses the county to the south through Moneygall. Road infrastructure has improved with the completion of Tullamore bypass in 2009 and improved access to regional cities after the completion of the motorway network lines.


Bus Éireann provide public transport services throughout the county with regular bus service to Limerick and Waterford Athlone bus station. Other private bus services provide direct bus services from Birr to Dublin Kearns bus that runs several services daily. Slieve Bloom buses run services from Tullamore and Portarlington Dublin.


The Grand Canal which connects Dublin to the River Shannon was built through the towns of Edenderry and Tullamore and joins the Shannon at Shannon Harbour. Traditionally, an important route for transportation, communication and trade between Dublin, Limerick and the Midlands of Ireland. The route fell into decline as road transport became more popular. A large part of the road is now used for boating and recreational activities.



Midlands 103 (originally Midlands Radio 3) which sends Laois, Offaly and Westmeath are based in Tullamore and has studios across the Midlands.RTÉ’s medium wave transmitter broadcasting RTÉ Radio 1 was also located in Tullamore, but the transfer ceased in 2008.


A number of local newspapers published in Offaly. The Offaly Independent and Tullamore Tribune is based in Tullamore. Midland Tribune based in Birr includes local news in the west and south of the county and parts of North Tipperary, including the cities of Birr, Roscrea and Nenagh and surrounding areas. The Offaly Express was a former newspaper based in Tullamore. It was closed in July 2012 after 29 years in operation.


  • George Brent, Hollywood actors
  • Ged Corcoran, rugby league player, former Halifax RLFC of Super League and currently plays for Toulouse Olympique
  • Brian Cowen, the former prime minister, was born in Clara January 10, 1960 and now lives in the outskirts of Tullamore
  • Neil Delamere, comedian
  • Barry Glendenning, journalist
  • Rex Ingram, Hollywood silent film director, born in Dublin but lived in Kinnitty
  • John Joly, researcher, born in 1857 Bracknagh
  • Shane Lowry, golfers
  • Mundy, musicians
  • William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, astronomer
  • George Johnstone Stoney (1826 – 1911) Physicists. Born, Oakley Park, Clareen.
  • Bindon Blood Stoney (1828 – 1909) Engineer and inventor. Born, Oakley Park, Clareen.

See also

  • List of abbeys and priories in Ireland (County Offaly)
  • Lord Lieutenant of Kings County
  • High Sheriff of King County


  1. ^ Jump up to: ab “Offaly”. Central Bureau of Statistics . 2011.
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  3. Jump up ^ For the 1653 and 1659 figures from the Civil Survey Census of those years, the paper Mr. Hardinge Royal Irish Academy March 14, 1865.
  4. Jump up ^ Census of post 1821 figures.
  5. Jump up ^ “Home.” Histpop.Org. 1 July, 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  6. Jump up ^ NISRA. “Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency – Census website.” Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  7. Jump up ^ Lee, JJ (1981). “On the accuracy of pre-famine Irish censuses”. In the Gold Strom, JM; Clarkson, LA Irish population, economy and society: Essays in Honour of the late KH Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  8. Jump up ^ Mokyr, Joel, O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). “New Developments in the Irish population history, 1700-1850”. The Economic History Review. 37 (4) :. 473-488 doi: 10.1111 / j.1468 -0289.1984.tb00344.x.
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  10. Jump up ^ “Activities in Offaly: The Bogland – Na Portaigh (section)”.Offaly Historical & Archaeological Society. In 2009. Retrieved June 2, 2009.
  11. Jump up ^
  12. ^ Jump up to: ab
  13. Jump up ^ 3 and 4 Phil & Mar, C.2 (1556)
  14. Jump ,
  15. Jump up ^ “Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil constituencies) Act 2013: Schedule”. Irish Statute Book database. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  16. ^ Jump up to: abc “demography” (PDF). Offaly County Council Development Plan 2009-2015 is taken. 28 June 2008.
  17. Jump up ^ “Moneygall – Welcome to Obama Plaza”.