Genealogy Centres in Offaly
Laois & Offaly Family History Research Centre
The Laois & Offaly Family History Research Centre is the designated research centre for the counties of Laois (formerly called Queen's County) and Offaly (formerly called King's County).
The Main Surnames of Counties Laois and Offaly
Kelly, Dunne, Molloy, Carroll, Egan, Dempsey, O'Connor, Daly, Fitzpatrick and Lalor.
Among the famous people whose family roots lie in Counties Laois and Offaly were: Charles Carroll who was a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence, William Bulfin who wrote the famous 'Rambles in Eirinn', Col. Oliver North of the U.S. Army and the internationally renowned poet Patrick Kavanagh.
Church records in the Laois & Offaly area have various starting dates:
- The earliest Roman Catholic parish records at this centre start at 1763 and the latest start in 1862
- The earliest Church of Ireland (Anglican/Episcopalian) records date from 1699 and the latest from 1876
- Methodist records commence in 1830
In addition to the usual primary source material the Laois & Offaly Family History Research Centre have indexed:
- The Birr Workhouse register
- Births, marriages and deaths recorded in the 'King's County Chronicle' newspaper (1845 - 1865) and the 'Leinster Express' (1831 - 1851)
- Entries in trade directories for the period 1788 to 1908
- The Geashill Estate rental (1883).
About 750,000 genealogical records have now been computerised at this centre.
Emigration from Counties Laois and Offaly
There was some emigration from this area from the late 18th century onwards but emigration dramatically increased during the period of the Great Famine. The chief destinations were Australia, Canada and the United States of America. During the period of the Great Famine the area overall lost about 25% of its population with some towns experiencing population reductions of up to 50%.
Chief Towns of Counties Laois and Offaly
The main towns in Laois and Offaly include Tullamore, Birr, Clara, Edenderry, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Mountmellick and Mountrath. The ancient monastic site of Clonmacnois is located in this centre's designated area as are Birr Castle and Gardens which house the famous Birr Telescope and Science Centre. Clara Bog is now a major tourist attraction as are Portarlington (which was settled by Huguenots) and Emo Court.