The Grand Canal, Tullamore
|Elevation||73 m (240 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference||N335248|
|Website||Tullamore Town Council|
Tullamore was designated a 'gateway' town in late 2003 by the Irish Government, making it eligible for increased infrastructural investment. The town retained Gold Medal status in the National Tidy Town Awards in 2015 and also played host to the 'World Sheep Dog Trials' in 2005 which attracted international interest in the region. The Tullamore Show is held near the town every year.
The town's most famous export is Tullamore Dew – an Irish whiskey distilled by Tullamore Distillery – that can be traced back to 1829. The distillery shut in the 1950s with it being produced in Cork instead by William Grant & Sons. However the owners have invested in a new pot still whiskey and malt whiskey distillery near Tullamore, bringing whiskey production back to the town.
In ancient Gaelic Ireland, Tullamore was located in what was then known as the landfill territory of Firceall ruled by the O'Molloy clan. Firceall was then part of the ancient Kingdom of Meath. Following the plantation of Offaly in the 16th and 17th centuries, Firceall was divided into the baronies of Ballycowan, Ballyboy and Eglish, with Tullamore located in Ballycowan.
Tullamore was part of the first English plantation of Offaly in the 1570s. By the mid-1500s the lands that were originally ruled by the O'Molloy clan were securely "planted" and in the hands of the Moore family. From this point on a dynasty was established which endured into the late nineteenth century, commencing with the grant of the Tullamore area, comprising some 5000 acres, to Sir John Moore in 1622. At that time the Tullamore estate included a ruined castle, ten cottages and two water mills. Sir Robert Forth, who leased the lands from Thomas Moore (son and heir of Sir John), built a mansion house c.1641 in what is now the Charleville demesne. Charles Moore, Lord Tullamore, grandson of Thomas, eventually regained possession of the estate and when he died in 1674 it went via his sister to Charles William Bury. Charles William was later (1806) created the 1st Earl of Charleville in a second creation of the title.
On 10 May 1785, the town was seriously damaged when the crash of a hot air balloon resulted in a fire that burned down as many as 130 homes, giving the town the distinction of being the location of the world's first known aviation disaster. To this day, the town shield depicts a phoenix rising from the ashes. The event is yearly commemorated by the Phoenix festival which celebrates Tullamore's resurrection from the ashes following the accident.
The Grand Canal linked Tullamore to Dublin in 1798. During the Napoleonic Wars, a clash between troops of the King's German Legion and a regiment of British Light Infantry who were both stationed in the town, became known as the Battle of Tullamore. Tullamore became county town of County Offaly in 1835, replacing Daingean.
Tullamore has a history of whiskey distilling. The first modern factory distillery, founded by Michael Molloy, can be traced back to 1829. When Molloy died, the distillery passed into the hands of the Daly family, with Captain Bernard Daly in charge of the business. One of his colleagues, Daniel E. Williams, took over as general manager, and by 1890 he had the distillery in full production. Williams brought electricity to Tullamore in 1893. The distillery installed the town's first telephones and introduced motorised transport. Williams ran various commercial businesses throughout the Irish midlands – drinks businesses, tea importing, seed and grain retail, and a network of 26 general stores.
Following this period, Prohibition in the United States, an economic war with Britain in the 1930s, and World War II all harmed the industry. Tullamore was one of many distilleries affected by a general decline in Irish whiskey sales worldwide. After World War II, Desmond Williams, grandson of Daniel E. Williams, used modern marketing techniques to re-establish Irish whiskey in world markets. In 1947, Desmond Williams also developed Irish Mist, an Irish liqueur made from a blend of whiskey, herbs and honey, using a recipe alleged to have disappeared in the late 17th century and to have been rediscovered in a manuscript 250 years later. Williams also capitalised on the Irish coffee concept, and promoted blended whiskies.
The Tullamore Phoenix Festival is an annual celebration of extreme, art, culture and heritage first held in August 2000. Thursday 17th to Sunday 20 July 2008. The festival holds many events including – Hot Air Balloons, Sky Diving, Live Outdoor Concerts, Street Entertainment, Fire Parade, Fireworks and much more.
The Queen of the Land Festival takes place in Tullamore each year on the third weekend in November. Primarily a personality contest it seeks to find the best examples of a modern Irish woman. It is organised by Offaly Macra Na Feirme. Each year about 25 girls between the age of 17 and 35 compete to be crowned Queen of the Land. The festival provides a host of entertainment throughout the town over the weekend, primarily at night.
An annual Tullamore Show takes place in August every year. It has grown considerably over the past number of years and is now the largest one day show in the country. It was cancelled in 07 and 08 due to heavy rain, though it did run again in 2009 .
Hugh Lynch's Pub on Kilbride Street has been operating as a public house since the early 1800s. In the early 1900s it was bought by the Williams Group, founders of the D.E. Williams Distillery, and run as a public bar and grocery, along with many other outlets in the Irish Midlands, from which they sold their growing whiskey brand "Tullamore Dew". It has been in the Lynch Family since 1971 and attracts a mix of older and younger clients. One of the highlights every year is their outdoor festival where they put a roof over the street and provide 3 days of live free music.
Places of interest
Charleville Estate is located on the edge of the town. One of Ireland's most splendid Gothic buildings, Charleville Castle, stands in this parkland setting which contains the King Oak, one of the biggest and oldest oak trees in the country. The castle is said to be haunted and was featured on series 1 of Living TV's Most Haunted. The oak woodland is botanically an important survivor of primeval stock. The park was the location of the annual Tullamore Agricultural Show. However following the cancellation of the show for two consecutive years due to heavy rainfall the event was moved to a new location with improved drainage in the Blue Ball area, south of the town.
Tullamore is an ideal base for discovering the Slieve Bloom Mountains to the south of the county. The 'Slieve Bloom' mountains have many beautiful walking and cycling trails as well as excellent picnic areas with some panoramic views of the surrounding lowlands.
Just south of Tullamore are the unique 'Lough Boora' parklands. The boglands are a landscape for a wide range of flora and fauna. The magnificent wetlands and wildlife wilderness of Lough Boora now host some of the most innovative land and environmental sculptures in Ireland. The artists, inspired by the rich natural and industrial legacy of the boglands, have created a series of large-scale sculptures that are now part of the environmental sculpture park Sculpture in the Parklands.
Within 5 minutes' drive is the Celtic cross of Durrow. In the middle of the 6th century a monastery was founded here by Saint Columba. The monastery is famous for an illuminated manuscript, written here in the 7th century, known as the Book of Durrow.
There are four metal sculptures located on the N52 Tullamore bypass funded under the percentage for arts scheme where 1% of the budget is allocated to roadside art. Sculptor Maurice Harron created the figures presenting symbols of learning and sanctity. From the north the 1st figure holds up a chalice, the 2nd a book, the 3rd a crosier and the 4th shows the release of a flock of birds representing souls. The figures are located on esker ridges that the new roadway cuts through.
As the county town of Offaly many government services are located here such as the headquarters of Offaly County Council, the Midlands Regional Hospital and HSE services. Government departments located in the town include the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Education and Skills.
Tullamore has traditionally been an important industrial, retail and services centre for County Offaly. When the Grand Canal opened in the late 18th century, it offered increased connectivity to the town and offered an increased market for goods produced in the area. Tullamore Dew, a brand of Irish Whiskey was first distilled in the town in 1829. Tullamore was connected to the national railway network in 1854 by the Great Southern and Western Railway company, now Iarnród Éireann. Tullamore is also located near the boglands of the Bog of Allen. This provided employment through the work of Bord na Mona. Agriculture is also important to the local economy.
In recent years, more high end employment has been brought to the town with the opening of industrial estates in the town such as at Srah Industrial Estate. Employers here include the following multinationals, Sennheiser, GeneMedix, Covidien, Isotron and Zannini.
The Bridge Centre, is the main shopping area in the town with a variety of shops including Dunnes Stores, Jack & Jones, and more. The Tullamore retail park on the Portarlington road also has a mix of shops including Tesco, Heatons, Petmania and Woodie's DIY.
From 1975 until 24 March 2008 Tullamore was the home of RTÉ Radio 1's principal medium-wave transmitter, broadcasting the AM version of Radio 1 on 567 kHz, at a power of 500 kW. Before this, the main transmission centre had been sited near Athlone. Tullamore is also home to the headquarters of Midlands 103. It hosts a number of local newspapers including The Tullamore Tribune and The Offaly Topic.
Tullamore features in several books by best-selling author Lyn Andrews.
The population of Tullamore (and its environs) rose by 28.8% from 1996 to 2006 from 10,029 to 12,927. The current population as of the census in 2011 is 14,361.
Transport & access
Tullamore lies on the N52 national secondary road. This connects to Birr in the southwest of the county and continues towards Mullingar which is located to the northeast. At Kilbeggan (about 12 km north of Tullamore) the N52 forms an interchange with the M6 motorway which connects Dublin and Galway. The N80 national secondary road connects Tullamore with Killeigh, Mountmellick and Portlaoise, travelling in a southwards direction. A number of Regional roads run through the town such as the R420 connecting Tullamore to Moate, Clara and Portarlington, and the R421 which connects to Kinnitty.
N52 Tullamore Bypass
In 2009, Tullamore was bypassed. This involved re-routing the N52 road away from the centre of town forming an eastern bypass of the town. The bypass is 14 km (8.7 mi) single carriageway standard and leaves the previous N52 approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) southwest of Tullamore town, intersecting with the N80 road, crossing over the Grand Canal, before rejoining the original N52 again 3 km (1.9 mi) north of the town. A spur has been constructed from the northern section of the route to the Tullamore Western Relief Road R443 resulting in the creation of an almost-full orbital route around Tullamore. The N80 now terminates at its junction with the N52. The scheme began construction in April 2008, and it was officially opened in late 2009 by an Taoiseach, Brian Cowen.
Tullamore has a variety of sporting organisations and clubs in the town. Gaelic Games, Association Football, Rugby Union and Athletics are all popular in the town with a number of high quality facilities.
Gaelic Games are represented by Tullamore GAA, Ballinamere Gaa and Durrow Gaa. Tullamore have been successful in winning three senior football championships and one senior hurling championship in recent times. Between football and hurling championships, Tullamore is the most successful club in the history of Offaly GAA. While Ballinamere recently won the intermediate hurling championship in 2013 which now means they are also playing senior along with Tullamore. While Durrow partake in the senior 'b' football championship. O'Connor Park is the Offaly GAA home stadium for both the Offaly Gaelic Football and Hurling teams. The stadium has a capacity of 20,000 following a major upgrade in 2006. The ground currently consists of a covered stand on one side of the pitch, with terracing on the other three. A stand was built in 1991, but replaced by the current structure in 2006. It seats 7,000 people and also includes a press box and a special section for wheelchair users.
Soccer is the most popular sports in the town, which is represented by Tullamore Town F.C.. It was founded in 1941 and currently have teams in the Leinster Senior League, Combined Counties League (2nd team Women's and Youths) and the Midland Schoolboys League.
Notable current and former residents of Tullamore include:
- Donal Lunny, Traditional Irish musician and performer, born in Church Street Tullamore.
- Gerald Gardner (1922–2009), geophysicist and social activist whose statistical analysis led to the banning of classified advertising segregated by gender in a 1973 ruling by the US Supreme Court.
- Alfie Lambe (1932–1959), Missionary and founder of Legion of Mary in South America
- Brian Cowen, former local TD and Irish Taoiseach (2008–2011), originally from the nearby Clara.
- "Tullamore Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011.
- Census for post 1821 figures.
- Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
- Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x.
- "Charleville Demesne & The Burys, 1600–1900". Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- Byrne, Michael. The Tullamore Balloon Fire – First Air Disaster in History, Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society website, 9 January 2007 (retrieved 7 July 2011), which in turn cites:
- "Tullamore Show cancelled for second year after downpours". Irish Independent. 11 August 2008.
- The 2009 Fleadh Ceoil
- "Season 1 Episode 16". tv.com. 10 September 2002.
- "Demographic context" (PDF). Offaly County Council Development Plan 2009 – 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
- "Tullamore station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
- N52 Tullamore Bypass Scheme – www.nra.ie
- Weber, Bruce. "Gerald Gardner, 83, Dies; Bolstered Sex Bias Suit", The New York Times, 28 July 2009. Accessed 29 July 2009.
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