(Contae Uíbh Fhailí) is a county
, bordered by seven other counties: Galway
, and Tipperary
. Originally the name referred to the Kingdom of Uí Failghe
. The present county was shired
in 1556 by Mary I of England
during one of the Plantations of Ireland
, and was then named King's County
after King Philip II of Spain
, and the county town was Philipstown (now called Daingean
) until the nineteenth century. The county town is now Tullamore
. Its former name of "King's County
" is still used when the title deeds
to a property are transferred from a buyer to a seller today.
Before the plantation of modern day Offaly by English settlers, the territories it comprises were controlled principally by the Ó Conchubhair Fáilghe clan in the North/East of the county and the Ó Céarbhaill of Ely in the south. The county was shired
in 1556 from some of the remnant Gaelic captaincys on the borderlands of the ancient kingdoms of Meath
and therefore does not correspond to the territory of the Kingdom of Uí Failghe
. Its former name of "King's County
" derived from Philip, the consort of Queen Mary I
, who later ruled as Philip II of Spain
. As a result Daingean was formerly known as Philipstown. The county was renamed in 1922 after the Irish War of Independence
The southern part of the county is occupied by the Slieve Bloom Mountains
, the northwestern part is the floodplain
of the River Shannon
and the remainder consists of large bogs
including the Bog of Allen
and Boora Bog
Towns and villages
- Tullamore (County Town)
- Ballinagar, Ballyboy, Banagher, Birr
- Cadamstown, Clara, Cloghan, Clonygowan, Clonbullogue Clonmacnoise, Crinkill, Croghan
- Daingean, Dunkerrin
- Kilcormac, Killeigh, Killoughey, Kinnitty
- Moneygall, Mountbolus
- Portarlington (half of which is in County Laois, the River Barrow forming the county boundary)
- Rahan, Rhode
- Shannonbridge, Shannon Harbour, Shinrone
- Walsh Island
The population of County Offaly has grown as follows since 1961:
- 1961 ... 51,533
- 1971 ... 51,829 ... +0.57%
- 1981 ... 58,312 ... +12.51%
- 1986 ... 59,835 ... +2.60%
- 1991 ... 58,494 ... -2.24%
- 1996 ... 59,117 ... +1.07%
- 2002 ... 63,663 ... +7.7%
- 2006 ... 70,868 ... +11.3%
The 2006 figure is the highest population figure for the county since 1881. The Central Statistics Office estimates that the increase in population between 2002 and 2006 (7,205) comprised a natural increase of 2,026 people with the balance of 5,179 accounted for by net in-migration from within Ireland as well as abroad. Offaly’s population growth during the period 2002-2006 (11.3%) has been stronger than the National average (8.2%). This may be attributed to proximity to the Greater Dublin Area, recent increased accessibility to Dublin (M6, M7, and improved rail services) and the differential in house prices between Dublin and Offaly.
The population of many towns has risen dramatically over the period 1996 to 2006: Birr +21.5%, Tullamore +28.8% and Edenderry +53.9%. Portarlington has had a population increase of 50.1% from 2002 to 2006 alone.
In 2006 the age profile of the population is as follows:
- <15 years ... 22.52%
- 15-64 yrs ... 66.54%
- >65 years ... 10.95%
Transport and communications
Places of interest
- A notable tourist attraction is the narrow gauge Clonmacnoise and West Offaly Railway in Blackwater Bog.
- Birr in the south of the county is best known for its castle and gardens. 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 current Taoiseach (head of government, equivalent to prime minister of Ireland) Brian Cowen, was born in Clara, County Offaly on 10 January 1960. He now lives on the outskirts of Tullamore.
- The short story writer, novelist and playwright William Trevor (KBE) was born in County Offaly, and raised in County Cork.
- United States Senator Barack Obama's great-great-great grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, was born and raised in Moneygall, County Offaly.