Offaly County

Ireland lies at the western fringe of Europe andOffaly county is at the heart of Ireland approximately mid-way between Dublin in the east and Galway in the west. A small county with population of 60,000, it is easily reached by road from the east coast ferry ports and Dublin airport and by rail from Dublin.

With a pleasant predominantly rural environment, it is a County of gentle rolling hills and valleys interspersed with low lying bog and marsh lands and quiet waterways. The Slieve Bloom hills in the south, comprising the largest unbroken area of upland blanket bog and forestry in Ireland contrast with the open stretches of raised bog crossed by the remains of glacial gravel eskers, and the many smaller rivers which rise in the mountains and run into the river Shannon to the west. The varied topography has influenced the pattern of towns, villages, churches and monastic settlements as well as the many farms and rural enterprises.

With a strong sporting tradition, Offaly provides leisure facilities such as fishing, boating and horseriding as well as unspoilt walking on three waymarked ways.

Archaeological evidence at Lough Boora shows that man inhabited Offaly at least 8000 years ago, before the great bogs of the Midland region were formed. And when Christianity came to Ireland in the 6th Century, important monastic centres such as Clonmacnoise and Durrow grew up on the strategic rivers and esker ridges .

During medieval times , control of the county was shared by many chiefs or 'kings' until, in the 1600's , the territories of the O'Connor, O'Carroll and O'Molloy families were amalgamated to form King's county named in honour of King Philip of Spain.

English settlers were 'planted' in Offaly to consolidate the English rule, and the county developed as a thriving brewing and distilling region producing the famous Tullamore Dew and Irish Mist whiskeys. After Irish independence in 1922, the county became Offaly, named after the O'Connor Faly chiefs.