Offaly Main Towns


The picturesque town of Banagher is located on a Shannon crossing. It is fortified on the Connaught side by a Martello tower and other batteries. Anthony Trollope the novelist was stationed here as a post office surveyor in 1841. Cuba House, once described as the most masculine school in Ireland, is now demolished. Sir William Wilde, father of Oscar Wilde, was a pupil here.

Located in an area almost overflowing with rivers. Within close proximity are the Rivers, Blackwater, Brosna, Gowlan and Boor.

Birr is one of Ireland’s finest examples of an 18th/19th century Georgian town; formal, spacious and well-planned with Georgian houses along its tree lined malls. Birr Castle Demesne, seat of the Earls of Rosse for fourteen generations, boasts award-winning gardens, and what was once the largest telescope in the world. The telescope has been restored and moves and works as it did 150 years ago. (Demonstrated daily). New and exciting Science Galleries – Ireland’s Historic Science Centre – are open seven days a week. (Birr – meaning Spring Wells).

Clara has a long industrial tradition. Principal industries today include polypropylene weaving, plastic compounding, meat processing clothing and textiles. Clara has a well-developed structure of sporting and social organisations.

The village of Cloghan lies along the N52. There are several good fishing lakes and rivers in the immediate vicinity.

Clonmacnoise, wonderfully sited on the water meadows of the River Shannon, remains one of Ireland’s holiest places. Even in ruin, this monastic city of St Ciaran, with its cathedral and churches, its high crosses and round towers, its decorated grave-slabs and pilgrims’ paths is a must for all visitors. Its story of stone, metal and manuscript is evocatively recalled in the adjoining visitor centre. The Centre houses the original high crosses, and grave-slabs and includes an audiovisual show (English, French, German, and Italian versions – 8 minutes long) as well as a number of exhibitions. In medieval times, the centre of veneration was the tomb of the founding saint, who lies buried here at what was once the centre of Ireland and where the main east-west roadway crossed the main north-south traffic artery of early Ireland, the River Shannon. The Shannon still brings many visitors by boat – but it was a helicopter which brought Clonmacnoise its most famous pilgrim-visitor, Pope John Paul II – who visited the site in 1979.

During the plantation of Offaly, during the reign of Mary and Philip, the centre of these planted lands became Philipstown, the county town of the king’s new county in Ireland. It was the centre of power for O Connor Faly, and the modern Irish name for the town comes from the Irish for Fortress. A new fortress called Fort Governor, and its successor Fort Castle were erected. As Offaly enlarged, Philipstown was too far away from places in the south such as Birr, and resisted all efforts to make Tullamore the county town until 1834. It is situated on the Grand Canal.

Pleasant village located close to Shaw’s Bridge, well known to artists and photographers for this is one of the more beautiful stretches of the River Lagan. Beside the waterway is the famous linen mill around which the 19th century village grew up. Within walking distance is the 4000 year old Giant’s Ring, the mysterious monument surrounded by circular earthworks where horse races were held in the 18th century.

Situated on the River Brosna, Ferbane is a town,which has prospered through peat development and electricity generation by state agencies. Other industries include engineering, printing and vehicle bodybuilding.

The economy of this town, once called Frankford, is closely linked to the commercial development of nearby Boora Bog by Bord na M?na. Traces of the Stone Age man living here in the heart of Ireland some 9,000 years ago were discovered during an archaeological excavation in 1977. The town of Kilcormac (Cormac’s Church) where the oak-carved Pieta now rests was called Frankford for some 400 years before reverting to its ancient title. Frankford would appear to relate to Francis Magawley who founded the town on a ford across the Silver River. When travelling on the road to Kilcormac make a detour to visit Rathlihen Cemetery, a pre Famine graveyard and medieval church ruins which are well worth a visit.

A little village that is dominated by its castle which now offers high quality accommodation.

A village located outside of Edenderry. The Grand Canal passes nearby. A number of rivers flow in the area making it ideal for fishing and walking. To the north the twin towers of Rhode peat-burning station can be seen on the skyline.

Found on the Offaly / Laois border Roscrea is a town of some historical importance. It has a castle, abbey and round tower all within the towns borders.

Shannonbridge is situated 4 miles north of Clonmacnois, where St Ciaran founded a monastery here in 548 which became the most famous of all the monastic cities of Ireland. It flourished under the patronage of many kings; the last High King, Rory O’ Conor, was buried here in 1198.

Just northeast of Roscrea is the village of Shinrone. The Brosna river runs through the area, providing good fishing.

Tullamore is the county town and the marketing centre of a fertile agricultural district. Among the imposing buildings are the Catholic Church of the Assumption, the Court House, and the modern County Hospital. There is an outdoor swimming pool, and golf (18) about 2 miles (3 km) away, pitch and putt, tennis. The whiskey liqueur Irish Mist is made in Tullamore.